Monday, December 31, 2007

Reflections on '07: I've Grown in Faith

Since I can't find the year-end family poem I wrote (on paper) I'll have to scrap my plan of posting it tonight.

Instead, I've been pondering the past year and the grace of God I've seen in my life. Yes, I too often see my character flaws, my weaknesses, my bad habits, my this, and my that, scattered and messy like leaves on the back steps. And too often I'm prone to either feel sorry for myself or to make a list of ways to change or to come up with nothing at all when wondering if I've grown at all spiritually in the past year.

The question was posed at our care group social: "What evidence of grace have you seen in your life this year?" Well, I think I didn't answer it directly, if at all. I think I went on and on about the grace I've seen in my kids' lives (which is a lot) in spite of me. Why didn't I answer such a probing question outright? I think it was because I am reluctant to say such things for fear that it sounds like boasting, or if I start out giving glory to God, I'll say too much about my cooperation with His work and thus end up skewing the message.

So I asked God today to show me all of 2007, not just the recent months that have clouded my memory with negatives. Here is what I've seen more than anything:

I've grown in faith. Specifically...

I have much more faith in God and much less in people. I can't say I have no faith in people because I do. There are some people who can be trusted and counted on more than 50% of the time. Only God is 100% faithful, but certain servants have proven track records that make me say, "Yes, though you have been disappointed and will be again, this person CAN be trusted to care about you."

I have a lot more faith that people want to be generous, not stingy. I used to hate fundraising. Hated it. I didn't mind being asked for support, but I didn't want to do the asking. Somehow I mistook that everyone would feel coerced, manipulated, what have you. But when I took a hard look at needing $6000 for our missions trip to Russia, it was only possible by the generosity of other people (believers and unbelievers alike). God provided every penny needed. All we spent was our own money for souvenirs!

I have more faith as the mother of a young child after seeing what God has done with my older ones. Quite often I hear, "He is such a hard worker," "He's a leader, I really see that in him, " "She is so sweet and thoughtful, so kind and helpful." I see one staying up late immersed in a book by John Owen (a tough read, I think, but he gets through the archaic language). I see another trekking out the door on a cold winter morning to cut down trees and trudge home at 5:30 covered in dirt and grime. It's hard work, not something for wimps. I see another plugging away at statistics and physical science and Honors English, working 20 or so hours on her feet, being thoughtful of her family's needs, and still wanting to babysit whenever she's asked.

I have faith that I will have more opportunities on the foreign mission field. This is not that I romanticize foreign missions over domestic ones--I know intellectually that needs are right here at my back door--but I remember being deeply affected as a small child by the Spirit of God to go to the nations, plural. God gave me a love for foreigners, a love for language, a love for other cultures, and an intense desire to worship the Lord with people in their own countries. My first thought when I'm trying to communicate with someone from another country is not, "I wish they could speak English!" but "I wish I could speak their language!"

I have faith that God will use my patriotism to encourage a few more people in the military. Yes, I do love America best and make no apologies for that. But I love it precisely because I am FREE to worship, free to move about the country, free to say what I want on my blog, free to email whomever I want, free to earn as much money as I want. (Not that money motivates me, it really doesn't. Good causes, yes; money, not too much.)

I have faith that my husband's perpective on the here & now versus the future will dramatically change for the better--functionally--in the near future. He will thrive again, he will hold his head up, he will express the grace he sees in his home. If he doesn't, I will hang a sign on his front and back , tied together with ropes, a sign that says, "My wife has faith for me. My wife has faith for me. My wife has faith for me." Over and over, just like the sentences I used to have to write as a punishment for talking out in class (as if that stopped me).

I have faith that I will really grasp what it means to be forgiven, and what it means to forgive. Just when I think I've learned it, another test comes. I hope to pass these forgiveness tests no matter if they're true/false, multiple choice or take-home!

I have faith that God will revolutionize my doctrine of stewardship. From the inside out, it all belongs to Him. My mind, my body, my money, my gifts and talents, my children, my husband, my friends, my dog, my parents, my fellow believers, my church, my time, my everything. Revolutionize my thinking, God; help me truly believe that everything I have, all that I am , has come from you and deserves to be given right back to You.

I have faith for much more, but will stop here to let this sink into my soul.
Looking back at the picture of scattered leaves, I can view them now as symbols for grace, one on top of another, spread out, piled up, artistic, colorful evidence of God's handiwork. I can rejoice that, though I may be in a winter of soul right now, there has been a beautiful fall and there will be a glorious spring.

What about you? What is ONE area you've seen the most growth/grace in yourself in '07? Don't hesitate to answer. Boast in God! Sure, you've had to cooperate, but boast in God's goodness that you wanted to cooperate, that you persevered, that you are more like Jesus than you were a year ago.

Soup Swap, Anyone?

I'm going to try to post my annual Zubrowski Christmas Chronicle in poetry this afternoon/evening, but in case I don't, I need to at least post this question:

I read about friends doing a Soup Swap. You're familiar with cookie exchanges, right, where everyone makes several dozen of the same kind and then get together with others who've made other kinds and everyone takes home a huge assortment?

Well, same thing here, except that I'm proposing soup. Why?
1) it's easy to make a big pot
2) it's better nutritionally
3) it cuts out having to buy anything except fresh bread for a quick meal
4) it's winter
5) I'll be laid up for awhile after January 7th's surgery and would love to pull soup out of the freezer for lunch or easy dinner since my righthand woman (Sarah) will be in NH.

I'm thinking of having six people--5 plus me--make a 6 qt pot of soup.
1) Sign up in the comment box
2) Tell what kind you'll make and stick to it (so we have a planned variety)
3) Make it far enough ahead of the exchange time for it to cool
4) Package it in 5 qt-size ziplock bags, labeled, with any specific directions (keep one quart for yourself)
5) Bring printed copies of the recipe for five people's cookbooks

Date: January 5th (Saturday)
Time: 11 a.m.
Where: My house

I'll make Provencal soup. It's a tomato base with herbs and veggies.

Anyone want in on the soup swap?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Alliterative Hospitality for 2008

In the coming year, I want to apply the command to practice hospitality more than I have. So I started making a month-by-month list of ideas that I plan to follow through with. Didn't mean it to be alliterative, but after seeing the first two, I turned it into a game of "Start it with S." I had to force a couple of them to make them work into my plan of hosting singles, couples, families, and girlfriends.

Jan: Soup Swap ..........by Jan 5th (girlfriends--anyone interested?)
Feb: Sweetheart Banquet........ after the 14th (3 other couples)
March: Single Friends of my Son (Ben's b'day March 21)
April: Sarah's Birthday on the 22nd
May: Shower for Kelly.....need it May 1, she's due in mid-month! (care group ladies)
June: Stephen's Grad Party (classmates, teachers, neighbors,family)
July: Stars and Stripes .....4th of July (neighbors?)
August: Stephen's Birthday the 8th (extended family, very close friends)
September: School's Back in Session (homeschool moms).....late in month
October: Single Friends of Zo and Paul
November: Students from Towson (foreign) at Thanksgiving
December: Sugar Cookie Swap....between 10th and 20th

Saturday, December 29, 2007

21 Years Yesterday


This shot was taken while we were waiting for Stephen to make his now-famous Greek meal.
Last night we dressed up, took pictures, went out to dinner at the Union Hotel, then came home.
I haven't gotten around to editing the dressy pictures, and Paul hates to be photographed, so he always looks like he doesn't want to be doing whatever it is the picture is about, in this case, celebrating our marriage. Although, in all honesty, 2007 was a very difficult year for us, and we both agreed last night that '08 has got to be better. I was thinking I'm not superstitious, but you know what they say about the 7-year itch in marriage. Well, every multiple of 7 in our marital history has been a downer. The other ones were much better.
But what I've done is resolve to commit to changing, by God's grace, only myself, my actions and reactions. It seems like an impossibility sometimes, but I can change, I just know it. I have faith, we are both committed believers, and we're staying true to our marriage vows, for better or for worse being the hardest. That and submitting to him when I disagree. Or in his case, loving me as Christ loves the church. We both admit the bar is impossibly high without grace.
We went out to dinner at a place called the Union Hotel. It was built on the Susquehanna River in Port Deposit, Maryland, circa 1783. An old log cabin with a gourmet restaurant on one level and a biker tavern on the lower, it had come highly recommended to us. (by diners, not bikers).
I was not at all disappointed, but Paul was. Our appetizer was crab-stuffed mushrooms. Delicious, no complaints. The bread was fairly tasty, though a bit overdone, and Paul didn't care for the "weird butters" of honey maple and raspberry. My entree was a seafood special of jumbo lump crabcakes, butterfly shrimp, and scallops. Absolutely wonderful, succulent, barely short of perfect. He got the bourbon marinated flank steak, expecting something sweet like a Friday's steak, but it was, in his words "too vinegary." My salad was just okay. The cherry tomato was as big as a golf ball and almost as hard. I thought that if I didn't slice into it just right, it'd go boing/swoosh/splat right onto Paul's tie, but it didn't. Score one for my ability to cut a golf ball with a butter knife. Our table was wobbly in both directions. Made of original planks, there was a one-inch gap right down the center. I made sure I kept my napkin fully stretched across my lap lest I spill my chablis on my new dress. Our waitress was probably what was most disappointing. First when we got there, she and the other one kept going back and forth over whose turn it was to take a table. Come on, ,ladies, not here, I wanted to say. The longer you fuss, the smaller your tip. If you want a nice tip, treat us like you want us to be here, and differ on that point in that kitchen. They wear old-fashioned dresses and bonnets in keeping with the history, but Paul remarked to me, "they're just plain ugly." That says a lot. He almost never comments on anyone's outfit, ever--even mine when I think I look especially good--he is just not one to notice, or comment if he does. So for him to say an outfit's ugly, well, it oughta be on What Not to Wear. So our waitress was very Balmer, hon. "Yous enjoyed your meals?" Yes, weeees did, I wanted to say. But I was polite: "We did, thanks. It was a nice way to celebrate our 21st anniversary." She said, "Yous should of told me. I woulda brought yous a free dessert of the Union cake." It is their signature dish. Well, it tastes like yellow cake with Jiffy vanilla pudding, and is topped with whipped cream and some walnuts just floppped on top. (We got it to go, since we had not saved room for it and didn't think about a freebie dessert for the occasion.) ANyway, if that's their signature dish, they ought to retake penmanship. But it was okay for a free ten o'clock sweet treat.
All in all, this date was probably very symbolic date of our 21st year. Okay, but leaves much more to be desired. So here's to '08. Yous can bet it'll be better than this past year, hon.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cletus, Take the Reel

Music parodies are the best. This Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins, rivals Mark Lowery (sp?) and Weird Al for side-splitting, knee-slapping spoofs.

See "Cletus, Take the Reel " at http://www.timhawkins.net/ but make sure you've gone potty first.
Everything on the site is hilarious.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Heart Cath Today

Please pray for Boyd, my friend Barb's husband. He's scheduled in surgery today (12:30 CST)
for a heart cath. Pray for Barb, too, please!

18 Goals for 2008

This morning I sat down and made a chart with 18 goals: six categories, each with three items I'd like to accomplish in a 12-month span. Here's my chart:

Spiritual:
1) Read thru the Bible again (Josh 1: 8,9)
2) Pursue righteousness and kindness (Prov 21:21)(namely by quick forgiveness and gentle words)
3) Share gospel w/ 4 ppl (neighbor Sue, a child, a foreigner, one other) (Matt 28)

Mental:
1) Practice Russian that I know; learn 2 new words/phrases a month (I Cor 10:31)
2) Memorize a Bible verse every week (be accountable to Paul for this) (I Tim . 3:16-17)
3) Practice an art form every week (drawing, painting, cooking, sewing, scrapping, floral design)
(need a verse to support this)

Physical
1) Have surgery Jan 7th as scheduled (common grace of healing....verse?)
2) Lose 60 lbs by graduation day (my body is His temple)
3) Wean completely off Rx (Rom. 12:1-2)


Social:
1) Be a respectful wife and serving mother (Eph 6, Prov 31)
2) Host one function a month (practice hospitality)
3)  Show kindness to strangers

Financial:
1) Work 10-12 hrs/week, preferably as tutor at HCC (submitting to Paul's request, not my will)
2) Use my income as so: 10% tithe, 10% giving, 10% spending, 10% saving, 60% debt reduction (whole Bible)
3) Put pocket change each month toward foreign missions (Mexico trip, GAIN, OCC) (stretch out your hand to the poor and needy)

Domestic:
1) Redo office by April 15th (let all things be done decently and in order)
2) Finish sewing and hanging kitchen curtains (Prov 31...she works w/ her hands)
3) Plant cutting garden from seeds or others' gardens (spend less than $15) (He has created all things for His pleasure) and I love all the flowers He created and want many in my yard and home and to be able to give away to cheer up or thank someone else. Okay, I went on too long about flowers. Do you sense a bit of passion here? I've always said if I were wealthy, or got to be good friends with someone who is, I'd have fresh flowers in my home 365 days a year.


Dear, dear Father,
By your grace, for your glory and not mine, please hear me and grant the desires of my heart if they line up with what you want. I think they do, but I could be deceived. Speak to me if there are selfish ambitions here; redirect my thinking and my actions so that You are glorified. I have the most faith for the Domestic category (or should I say I am most confident because I like those things in that category?). I need the most faith to be the wife Paul needs, a true helper, a kindhearted woman, a selfless giver, and thinner too! Oh, Abba, help me. I've prayed this prayer for so many years, so many times, but rather than feel discouraged, I am sure You enjoy the fragrant aroma of your children's prayers the way I enjoy lighting a vanilla candle every day. I want to want what You want. My heart is light and thrilled when I get out of the way and watch You do what want. I am miserable and defeated when I buck Your system. Thank You for Your patience with me! Thank You for forgiving me every time I ask. Thank You for putting people in my life who love me no matter what. Thank You for putting the desire for righteousness and kindness in my heart. I am so looking forward to a happier marriage in 2008 as I seek to change rather than to change Paul. I am eager to be a more caring mom, to care about everything the kids care about by really devoting myself to their care, by really listening, by taking them out one-=on-one like the good ole days, by blessing them intentionally by keeping plenty of good food stocked, the house and my heart ready for people, and making the clock my slave, not the other way around. Give me eyes to see the needs within and without and the courage and wisdom to know if, how, and when to meet those needs. May I be able to see at the end of 2008 that much fruit has been borne from this prayer because of Your faithfulness to me and my cooperation with Your Word.
I love You, and it is for that reason that I'm compelled to change and have faith for it. May You smile as you hear my prayers. I'm smiling knowing that You care more about me than I do. Thanks again for your new mercies every day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chicken Satay Funny

What's for dinner? Chicken satay. What's so funny about that? Read this. I turned three shades of red.

Another Q&A

This past Saturday someone stole my cell phone. I had just put it in its case that hangs from my purse strap. Paul said, "Make sure it's on, we'll probably get separated in here." (We were in Value City in Dundalk, and I kept saying to myself, "I hate this place. I hate this place.") Sixty feet down the main aisle, we got separated, I thought, "better put my phone in my pocket on vibrate," but when I reached for it, it was gone. I hadn't been in the store more than 80 seconds.
Retraced my steps, asked a clerk (who rolled her eyes as if to say, "Yeh, right, lady, someone turn in a cell phone. Where you from??)
The last time we had something stolen was at Christmastime, 1992. We had gone out to get a tree around 3 pm. Got back around 5:30, and our front door was standing open, a man's shoe imprint just above the handle. (We lived in guess where? Dundalk!) They took a TV and VCR which were replaceable, but then rummaged through Paul's top drawer and stole the Brooks Robinson baseball card his dad had given him. It was especially sad because his dad had just passed away that year. Thankfully, his guitar --which sat smack dab in front of the fireplace that day--was not lifted. It was bought with money he got when his mom died (which was 20 days before our wedding). And the feeling of being intruded upon, watched, and ripped off takes a while to get over. So, "Don't go to Dundalk in December" is my new motto.

Have you ever had something stolen from you?

Q&A Wednesday

My three most favorite memories of 2007 were:
1. My brother-in-law's homecoming and party
2. Our trip to Russia
3. Having Barb here

What were yours?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes 2007






Welcome, friends, family, foes, and Fortune 500 moguls. (The first three may leave comments; the last ones please leave a donation.)


A barndoor "Z" is a year-round fixture on the porch post. I've decorated with a garland of poinsettias A pair of antique skis I found at a yard sale for $3. The wreath was made by Missy Geiwitz, the year Paul led their care group.

A pair of ice skates on an old Red Flyer sled (another yard sale treasure, $3.) Perry Penguin greets our visitors, asking, "Have you seen my lost mitten?"









I arranged cinnamon-scented pinecones and burlap fruit in a wicker bowl, plunked it down on a bed of cotton snow, and called it a bench blessing. Come sit a spell--if you're a polar bear. I'm heading inside!





Piano greenery. The clock was an anniversary to my parents from my mom's parents. The leaded glass cookie jar was a wedding present from my Granny. I have it filled with cranberries. Hymnal collection is special: one is from my Grandpa Dauber when he pastored . Another belonged to my dad.






The Dining Room. Greens in a soup tureen. The art in this room is a nod to my love of Renoir.

Below: Gifts waiting to be given
or mailed. Click on the picture
to see the toy on top of the mailbox.
I picked it up in Russia. Grab the handle, spin it, and the little chickies
peck away at the painted-on food!





















This was a picture of the table the
night Stephen made our Greek meal.










Enter the kitchen.

Kitchen table centerpiece:
Gold charger for the base,
then some aluminum foil in a circle, topped with a snowflake made from a coffee filter, and adorned with a wonderful hand-me-down vanilla candle from Beth. (Thanks, Beth!) I've threaded some copper colored poinsettia ribbon through copper cookie cutters. and tied it around the bottom of the candle. I love shiny, simple things. Cost? Less than five bucks! And when I need the cookie cutters, there they are!



On top of school bookcase: Nesting dolls and a tapestry from Russia.








Fresh arborvitae from the yard and some fake cranberries on a
glass table lamp in the family room.









A Charles Wosocki puzzle we put together as a family one winter. The puzzle is very much "us."
I framed it and just recently
moved it to a new home above the TV armoir. More candles courtesy of Beth!





Our ceramic nativity. I tried to position the wise men and shepherd straining in close to see the baby Jesus. It reminded me of the joy I had in watching people visit me and my babies when I gave birth. All eyes on the newborn!
Next to that Joel's tree that Sarah bought him at Michael's and decorated. He wanted it near the "daddy tree."






Sweet singing angel made by Diane Smith and Sue Timko.





















Our tree. Every year we've gotten a fresh tree. I just love the smell of pine. When I was a girl, my daddy and we girls planted 450 pine saplings on our new little farm. The aroma will forever bring back happy memories. Sarah and Joel usually decorate it, but this year I did it pretty much single-handedly. Decided to put 21 years' worth of sentiment on it.





Merry Christmas, One and All!








.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

10 Items or Less? NO!

Grammarians don't write express lane signs.

Walk into any grocery story (except Giant) and you'll see signs that say, "10 Items or Less." They should say, "10 Items or Fewer."

Why? Because you can count items. Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves. Count them.

With regard to the grocery store, they might be Cornish hens, but you could still count them, and if you were to put three on the checkout belt, you'd better not put more than seven of anything else on it. Not in these here parts anyhow.

With the impending ice storm, you run out to the store for bread, milk, and toilet paper. You reach the checkout and unload the gallon of milk onto the conveyor belt.
Rather, you mean to, but it slips out of your hand and bursts open on the floor. Milk seeps out, ounce by liquid white ounce. Now there is less milk in the jug and more on the floor. If you were to count the ounces, you would have fewer ounces of milk, but less milk. Get it?

You then request a book of stamps. To replace the milk, you ask? No, although that's a perfectly logical guess, but not quite where I'm headed with this grammar lesson.

The book of stamps has twenty stamps. Woops! Last time I checked, twenty stamps is roughly ten more than the ten items allotted in the express lane. Oh, you say, it's just one book, so you're okay.

Next time I'm in the express lane with ten items or fewer, I think I'll kindly (smugly?) tell the lady in front of me--the one buying a four-pack of Starbucks Frappucino and a box of powdered donut holes-- to move to the regular checkout lane. I just know from a quick count that there are more than six munchkins in that box.

On the other hand, if there's a man in front of me with a dozen roses, I'll smile and think, "How romantic." More flowers, more love. Fewer flowers, less love. (Not that I've EVER thought about love in such quantifiable terms or anything.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Catch-all post

To completely bore you, that's the reason for this post. But here's a synopsis in case anyone is still with me after such an alluring title.

1. I've gained 3 lbs.
2. Feet hurt worse than ever when I get up from a sleeping position or even if I've sat a long time. I have to take tiny baby steps till my feet sort of "relax."
3. I can't wait to send Barb her Christmas present. You know when you've got the smiles while you're wrapping it.
4. Normally I don't feel very confident in gift-giving to certain people (namely ones who don't appear wowed or especially grateful. I know, it's their problem, but I still take it personally).
5. I wanted to hear a new Christmas song (very Christ-centered one) this year. Today I heard it! Don't know if it's new or my hearing of it is. There's a line about "What kings would leave their thrones, what lords would leave their homes...for me?"
The radio didn't give a name or title. Anyone know?
6. Barb called tonight. She lives in Rice County, KS. Hasn't had electricity since Tuesday cuz of the ice storm and heavy snow. It was snowing as we spoke.
7. I spent a lot of time decorating my home for Christmas and really enjoy it.
8. Stephen made a Greek meal for the family--very fancy--on Sunday... candlelight, cloth napkins, the whole deal. One of my most memorable meals of all time. Family decided to make it a tradition to have a fancy Greek meal on the same day we get a tree every year. Pix to follow.
9. I realize after all these years I like playing w/ food more than cooking it. Garnishing, photographing, plating it just so....
10. Paul found out he gets to keep his job. They didn't even remove the Master Trust division that he specializes in. In fact, w/o losing any pay or status, they decided to take away the supervisory part . He hasn't enjoyed overseeing people very much. He's much more task-oriented and prefers that slackers have to report to ppl other than him now! Thank You, Lord!
11. I have been battling the devil this week and he was winning, sorry to say, till this morning. I'd had all the negative thinking and self pity I could handle. I rebuked him in Jesus' Name, three times, with all the strength in me, which wasn't much on my own, but in the power of Jesus' Name is able to break the venomous arrows of Satan even as they fly. I was then in tears from weakness and then sang my gratitude. It was quite an amazing breakthrough!
12. As part of my reading, it occured me again that Satan loves to use isolation as a tactic. Get Christians to stop hanging out with others, tell them they really don't need each other, that the prayer they asked for last month should get them through, don't be a bother, don't call ppl when they're obviously too busy to care, yada, yada, and don't initiate, it'll be more than you can handle. Well, I determined to take more initiative in relationships, to call people more and email less because ppl can ignore email or never get it or misread it, and walk away wondering, as I have, does anyone care? I mean, really care? INitiative is a character trait I highly value, so guess I might as well model it, huh?

Monday, December 10, 2007

She's Having Brain Surgery Right Now

Please remember to pray throughout the day today for Leannes's 8-year-old cousin, Livvie. She went into surgery at Hopkins to remove a brain tumor that's been pressing on her optic nerve.

You can read details on Leanne's blog, Learning to Be a Student (see my sidebar).

She was scheduled to be in surgery beginning at 7:30 this morning and it may take all day.

I imagine Leanne will post updates ASAP.

Friday, December 07, 2007

We Shall All Walk Again

I just woke up from an intensely powerful dream that has me thinking about heaven.

In the dream, I was standing on a curb in a big parking lot, holding a baby girl. She wasn't mine; she belonged to Mary, a friend who has four older children, but no baby. I was waiting for my parents and Stephen to pick us up. They approached slowly in a sage green Mercedes. Daddy and Stephen were in the back seat, Mama in the front passenger's seat. The driver's seat was empty as if I was supposed to hop in and take the wheel. So I stepped in front of the creeping car, walked around the side, and was reaching for the door handle just as a another car zoomed up from behind and rammed into it.

I lost my footing, but clung to the baby. I remember falling onto my back ever so lightly, as if cradled myself. With my right arm I clutched the baby girl to my chest, but my left one was still out, and the green car's wheel ran over my hand. It should've hurt, but didn't. Nothing hurt. I was conscious and only wondered if my family was hurt.

I got up, looked into the car, and despite the fact that the back seat had been dislodged, everyone appeared fine. We huddled together and someone handed me a phone.

"Call your pastor," my mom said.
"I don't know who my pastor is!" I cried, with sudden amnesia.
"Then call anyone who cares and will come to us," Stephen said.
The only person I could think of was Sharon Lilley.
I dialed a bunch of random numbers and Sharon answered. Before long, all of us were being airlifted to various hospitals.

Time passed. I don't know how long, but I was flat on my back. My mind was working just fine, but my mouth couldn't make the words come out clearly.

My mom came to visit and said everyone was okay. "Me?" I muttered. "Wah?"

My mom said, "Will you walk again? Probably not, honey.The doctors say you won't be able to stand again, either."
I wasn't prepared for that. I felt fine, even though--now that she mentioned it--I couldn't wiggle my legs.
"Whu?" I stammered. "No!"
"You broke your spine, Zo, when you fell. Right here." She drew a line with her finger across my ribcage.
"But it didn't hurt!" I managed to slur.
"I know, honey, that was God's protection."
"Bay....bee?" I asked, suddenly remembering the baby girl who had been my responsibility to protect.
"She's fine. She is absolutely fine at home with Mary."

I was on a moving bed, but it wasn't a traditional guerney. It was hooked to a wall in the hospital corridor, on one of those indoor moving sidewalks like they have at airports. Beds were being moved that way in this dream, so that nurses could transport patients at the click of a button .

We arrived at a large room called a cafeteria. Wheelchairs lined up with patients in row after row, waiting to be fed. Just three people available to feed about 50 souls.
My mom transferred me to a wheelchair. I read the poster tacked to a pole near the kitchen. It had signatures of people who had visited that week and who they had come to see. There were only seven names on the list. This was my mom's first visit so her name wasn't there yet. I cried.

"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Name!" I pointed clumsily with my half-working right fist. Mama seemed to be able to fill in the blanks.
"There aren't enough names on there, right? I agree. Well, after I feed you, I'm going to visit everyone here personally, okay?"
I nodded. Mama's tender heart never seemed to run out of love for the suffering.

She positioned herself to lift and transfer me to my waiting wheelchair. But this time, instead of telling me, "Sit down now," she said, "Stand here a minute while I make sure these wheels are locked."

Then I felt a power surge from God fill my back and my legs. They weren't strong, but they held me up. I stood there, wobbled just a tad, then straightened .

"I'm standing, Mama!" I exclaimed with full clarity. "I'm standing!"
"You sure are!" she said, eyes beaming.
I extended my arms outward, palms up. I took one step. Then another.
By this time, I had everyone's attention.
"Look, Gracie," my mom said to one of the cafeteria nurses. "Zoanna's walking!"
"Well, would you look at that!" Gracie said, nearly dropping a plate.

I surveyed the room and proclaimed, "Everyone, I am standing! I am walking!"
The ones who could clap, clapped. Some smiled. Others sat there, mouths agape.

I extended my arms out to my sides, like a worship leader. "Let's all stand," I said.

I waited. They looked at me like I had mental problems.
"Seriously, what are you guys waiting for? Stand with me!"

Then, I beheld a miracle: I saw them, one by one, use weak arms to push themselves up out of their wheelchairs. They stood, grinning from ear to ear. Nurses were dumbfounded.

"I'm standing!" cried a woman in a blue coat.
"Me too!" cried a man in a bathrobe.
"Let's walk!" I said, "Let's all walk."

Step by step, we walked around the cafeteria, hugging, laughing, weeping, telling the nurses to put those dishes away, we could feed ourselves.

--------------
The dream ended. I woke up, praising God. This dream filled me with hope. Doctors may say "Impossible!" but God is capable of miracles.

It also filled me anew with compassion for the handicapped. Not just the ones confined to beds and wheelchairs, but who are paralyzed by their own spiritual ignorance. They are waiting for the Lord to say, "Walk!" and then they'll walk. Meanwhile, there aren't nearly enough names on the "I Care" poster of people's lives. I want to sign my name today. I want to extend my arms in heaven and look around and behold all the miracles God has wrought. And I'll get to see my baby girl, too. The one I got to carry before she was born, but who God spared from harm on this earth.

We shall all walk again!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Health Progress Report Week 5

Total weight loss to date: 8 pounds

Diet wasn't great. While I'm not thrilled (wanted to lose 10 in November) I am fine with the slow but steady decline. Unfortunately my whole body, not just my weight, is in slow decline. My feet have hurt so much this week, I've not been able to sustain walking. What little I've been able to stand on my feet has been to do dishes and household chores, but even then my kids have been doing stairs with the laundry. (Mostly Stephen, I must credit. He has been a real servant, doing far more than he's been asked. So much initiative in that young man!)

To give myself added incentive, I took Tori's advice and put money where my mouth is.
I sent my friend Barb $16, one dollar for each pound I want to lose by Jan 1st. She also is trying to lose weight. (She had lost lost 11 at last check-in.) I told her if I lose the 16 by Jan 1st and keep it off, she has to return the cash. If she loses 16 but I don't, she gets to keep it. If we both lose it by Jan 1, she'll send me back half. "Better be looking over your shoulder," I warned her, "cuz once I've got my feet under me, I'm gonna catch up fast!" I really want to get the money back because:
a) it'll mean I've met my goal and
b) it's pedicure cash! I love having pedicures, but they're a treat not in the monthly budget.
So here's to more steady decline of the weight, but prayers for the rapid Return of Good Feet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Q&A Wednesday

If December 25th rolled around, and you had no gifts to give anyone, and had none from anyone else, and there was neither a tree nor decorations, and no family members at all around you (immediate or extended) would you still celebrate Christ's birth that day? If so, how, but if not, why not?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

His Words Make Me Sick

Sarah came home the other day and told me her English prof had said words that stung her. They stung me, too, because if you hurt my child, you better watch out. The prof's words make me sick.

Sick for a few reasons:
-that the Lord is so blatantly reviled on college campuses
-that this man has no idea how much this same Jesus, whom He despises, loves him so much
-that this man is in terrible danger spiritually
-that my daughter's heart breaks when exposed to this attitude
-that we are paying good money for some bad teaching

My guess is that this man may have been terribly abused within the church. Such is the case with many people who equate Jesus with His less-than-perfect people. I am sad for him.

The college campus reminds me of rocky, shallow waters near a coastline, in desperate need of lighthouses and foghorns. Sarah is among the brightest in her demeanor. She is praying for boldness to be more of a foghorn.

Scrapbooking (Dis)Organization

Today both of my feet are in pain, but I think I can manage to start organizing my tiny (7x8) office from a chair.

But the kind of help I need most will come from organized scrapbookers.

I have been at it since 1995, and keep trying new systems. I have plenty of archival safe photo boxes in use and more at the ready. I have Rubbermaid totes with hanging files, which sometimes I've used for just organizing various papers, and sometimes for holding entire layouts (memorabilia, photos, paper, embellishments).

I have a huge binder full of stickers, a plastic magazine-holder thingy for assorted papers. Just outside the office is a corner at the bottom of the basement steps. In this corner is a triangular cabinet. It reminds me of a pie-shaped Murphy bed, because when the desk surface is not in use, you can flip it up and snap-lock it away. Very cool. When the "desk" is down, it's good for sewing or scrapbooking. Shelves in the lower half of the Murphy desk currently house my sewing machine, box of scrap fabric, a Creative Memories carryall bag (which is NOT all that handy at home). The shelves in the top half contain binders for stickers and open boxes for gadgets.

So what's the problem?

When I get inspired AND have time to scrapbook all at once, I seldom have everything I want all in one place. Photos are still on the computer, I have to pull everything out to see what I have, and only a few boxes are in chronological order.

Inefficiency, I guess, is the problem.

Can you who do scrapbooks offer suggestions that will make the 'getting started' each time more enjoyable? I know the solution must be easier than I'm making it.

PS This office does triple duty for three hobbies: computer, scrapbook, and guitars.
There is a doorless closet with 2 large shelves above where the guitars sit. Lots of wall space. The end result I'm going for is #1 functional and #2 an aesthetically pleasing "his and her" space.

Whether you scrapbook or not, you can offer organizational tips! And while you're at it, please pray God's healing on my feet. I feel like I'm always asking for prayer, but then again, lately I feel like my body's been falling apart one member at a time.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Worth of a Mother

Ever find yourself wondering your inherent value as a mom?

I do.

Best I can figure, my human worth is somewhere around $22. Wanna know I how came up with that? Read this priceless gem.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What Kind of Giftie? Need your Advice Today!



I've pretty well decided on all the elements of my tablescape for tomorrow's Ladies' Christmas Breakfast. The only thing that stumps me, now that I'm at Plan B, is about the gifties. Not a requirement, but nice little something for each guest to go home with.

Whatever I decide,I've got to do it today. Can you help with creative, inexpensive gift ideas? Keep in mind the gift bag is the very small kind--maybe 4" wide by 5" high. I'm going with black shiny bags tied with curling ribbon (silver,gold,red strands).

Homemade cookies? Nope, I've had to veto (or curb) that for the sake of my weight loss goals.

Have at it, ladies. What would YOU like to find at your place setting that is from the heart AND the dollar store?:)))

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Clip-on Cardinal

Patron Saint of Losing Things has done it again. I've completely misplaced an entire box of decorations and little gifties I bought right after Christmas last year. These are things I had all picked out especially for the Ladies' Christmas Breakfast this year. The only things I've found were in my hutch--a round, gold tablecloth embossed with gold poinsettias, and some silky sage green napkins and some gold cloth poinsettia napkins.
I had also
-8 sage green ornaments tied with gold ribbon for each of the 8 ladies at my table (self included) as a keepsake.
-Dark green velvet ribbon etched in gold to accent the table somehow
-A gold tree-shaped centerpiece and some red angel candleholders, all bought at 75% off at Cracker Barrel last year

UGH! I was sooooo excited all year to put this together.

And to make me more disappointed, both people I invited backed out in the last two days. That really snuffs out a bit of excitement for me.


So here I am, having picked through dozens of boxes marked "Christmas" in the basement, having asked two tall teens to help look, too. Nothing. Nada. Not happ'nin.

It's nearly 12 midnight the night before I'm supposed to decorate. (The breakfast is Saturday.)
And here comes Plan B. (I'm the Queen of Plan B. Maybe I should just change my name to Queen B.)

Same gold poinsettia tablecloth
Chinese red patterned runner (make it myself tomorrow from fabric on hand)
4 gold napkins
4 black napkins (to be purchased; was going to anyway, for NEXT year's idea)
7 small gifties in giftie bags
Centerpiece:
the red lid of a vintage hatbox, with gold Chinese sort of looking edging (it'll do)
turned upside down to hold:
-a black pillar with a gold pillar candle (candle to be purchased tomorrow)
-various floral picks and ribbon of silver, gold, and black
-a tiny red cardinal that clips on to a floral pick. Cardinals hold a special reminder to me of Jesus on a day a couple years ago when my soul was really dark and despairing. I asked Him, "Please, God, I know You're there, You're everywhere, and that truth should be enough for me. Yet I can't feel you, I don't sense Your presence except that I wouldn't be praying right now if I didn't have a shred of belief that You're listening. I'm really on the edge. Please show me Your care." I was staring out the sliding glass door at the dark green trees in our backyard. Suddenly a bright red cardinal alighted on a branch. He sat there, as if to say, "Here I am, your living proof that Jesus has heard you." He sat there while I wept with gratitude for God's tender compassion.
Not just a winter bird for me, but a symbol of the red blood that flowed from Emmanuel's veins as He became sin for me, then died for the unbelief and ensuing depression that would make me pray such prayers as, "Show me again Your care, cuz I can't feel it."

Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!



All righty, then, I've just written myself out of a glum state. I am at peace. God doesn't have Plan B. This was His plan for me all along. How much sweeter this arrangement is to me after meditating on the cardinal! I am actually eager now to be surprised at finding out who will be at my table Saturday!!!

Health Update #3?

Lost: 7 pounds total
Exercise: gardening before Thanksgiving, lots of nonstop prepping for house guests and taking care of stuff to host TG dinner in a hot kitchen. Translate: I worked out in non-gym clothes!

Setbacks: heel pain (see post below)
Signs of change: jeans are comfortable, got into a skirt I was looking fwd to wearing to church(was even dressed to go when Joel woke up too sick to go, so I stayed home)
Other signs: I don't have nearly the sweet tooth I did; less dependent on all meds
Goal: 3 more pounds by the end of Nov, but seeings as how this is the 29th, I must say I'm just motivated, not a miracle worker.
Changes in diet: since meats are not my downfall, but bread is, I am going to do a Daniel Diet No Bread version. So, meat yes, soda no, bread no, sweets no, for 10 days/time.

From an Ellipsis to a Big Fat Question Mark








"I only took the job because I could get tuition reimbursement."


Paul Zubrowski, every time he's asked how he chose his career







My hardworking, God-fearing, intelligent, funny, talented...husband....
has been with the same company since ...1984. Yes, in today's economy that's nothing short of miraculous. He is a senior underwriter. Don't know what that is? That's okay. Just means he's the head hauncho go-to guy at work when multi-million dollar financial institutions need multi-million dollar insurance coverage on their property ,vehicles, personnel, and who knows what all else. He gets to make the tough decisions about whether big whigs like Wells Fargo, Countrywide, and M&T Bank are considered good or bad risks depending on lots and lots of factors. I find it very impressive (as I do all careers that I don't understand a monkey's nose about). And what I find even more impressive is that Paul is the only person in his company who can handle this specialized division he's in called Master Trust. His job has been more secure than many others' because he not only has the knowledge, experience, and personality to handle this kind of work, he has 24 years of doing just about everyone else's kind of job, too.

That has its ups and down. He wears the ups in his paycheck, the downs on his face. He is road weary. He is beaten down by the pressure. He hates confrontation but this past year has been in a managerial position over people who'd rather file their nails than nail their files. He has to deal with folks who--how shall we say this diplomatically?--have Masters degrees in marketing , but were a few degrees south of an A in geography.

I kid you not, the other day a new co-worker came to him scared stiff about renewing a policy in the West Indies. After all, that's a flood zone. We don't write in flood zones, do we, Paul?

The West Indies? Paul wanted to know. No, we've never written policies in the West Indies. And you're saying this an app for a REnewal? How do you know it's in the West Indies? Let me see it.
Paul skimmed the app, and saw a request for coverage in SD, MN, and WI. The return address, in bold letters, stated the bank's town, street address, plus "WI", and the zip.

Last time we checked, (Sherlock), WI stood for WISCONSIN.

(Can you hear just hear a marketing agent saying, "Yessiree, my client would like snow and wind coverage for our bank branches located in South Dakota, Minnesota, and while you're at it, the West Indies"?)

That was a good one. It was enough to make my hubby pick up the phone to tell me about it later.

All joking aside, Paul is now in the midst of preparing intensely for a huge audit next week. He's been leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. and coming home at 7pm, working on more audit stuff, going to bed at 9, then repeating as necessary. Why? Because the outcome of this audit/evaluation could mean the difference between his position being kept or eliminated.

Lest you think the only good outcome is in favor of being "kept," Paul isn't so sure. He's not even sure he'd want a lateral transfer, or a promotion. He just can't stand his job anymore. He's ready to be offered a severance package so that he can invest it while taking time off--a good long time off--to think about what it is he really wants to do with his life.

He reads books all the time that stir the latent dreams in him. He wants to teach, to make a difference in kids' lives. He'd love to start his own business but can't risk the capital while we have kids to put through college. He'd love to cruise with me to exotic places, but I am more into remote villages to help orphans than I am to sip wine in the W.I... or Wisconsin. (Well, I supPOSE I could be talked into a wine-sipping jaunt off the coast of Just-About-Anywhere, on the way to said remote village:)


This next week will be punctuated by an ellipsis (i.e. dot, dot, dot) as Paul faces uncertainty.
Regardless of the outcome, he will still have a question mark at the end. It's been the punctuation mark of his mind for the past decade. The only difference is, it could be a big, fat question mark after the audit.

I thank God I'm not in his shoes. Lord, let me content and joyful about just keeping his socks clean. A man plans his way, but God directs his steps. May I be "in step" with the man I married nearly 21 years ago, someone who will stir his dreams and put wind in his sails. Hand in hand, side by side, looking mostly ahead but occasionally into each other's eyes for that knowing, precious beam of love. No matter how our lives are punctuated.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blogging Again, flat on my back

I'm either growing more humble or just growing old fast.

Why else would the seeming majority of my posts be prayer requests for my healing??Ack, I'm sorry if you're tired of hearing my moans and groans. I'm a little tired of them, too.

I have been flat on my back , or variations thereof, since after I did school w/ Joel today. My right foot, which started gradually hurting 3 weeks ago, is now very painful and I can't bear weight on it. Not even on my tippy toes while hobbling to the bathroom without doing a scream dance.

Paul just walked in the door. I need to tell him I couldn't get a dr's appt till Tuesday and they advised me to go to Patient First. I plan to teach art tomorrow from a sitting position, Lord willing.

On Friday, maybe someone like my good daughter will offer to set my table for the Ladies' Christmas Breakfast (table has to be set sometime Friday).

Maybe Patient 1st will give me a cortisone shot so I can get some instant relief and be able to walk.

Maybe God will choose to use the prayers of his people to heal me overnight.

Or sooner, like about the time Papa John's shows up with our dinner in a half hour! Good thing my fingers still work. At least I can type. (Or maybe next post will be "pray for my fingers...they're suffer exertion pains. Blllth.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

AnySoldier.com

I found this organization that was started by a military family right here in Maryland.
I love it.

If you're looking for a way to bless a few soldiers in one unit overseas, check it out. http://www.anysoldier.com/. I'm thinking this may be where some of our "different sort of Christmas" dollars will go. I'm waiting to hear back from a contact person (contacts are soldiers who agree to receive and distribute the mail for AnySoldier.) The troops in my brother-in-law's unit was very, very grateful for the care packages we sent at Christmas. (I asked Trip when I saw the picture of many half-ripped bags, "Did they get that messed up in the mail?" He smiled and said, "No. When the guys saw gifts, they TORE INTO THEM!"

Please note: there are quite a few restrictions as to what can be sent. Most of the soldiers will request both food (prepackaged, not homemade--they have to throw that out if they don't know the sender) but NOT TOGETHER in the same box. Can you imagine Oreos tasting like bath soap? It does after living ina box for a week or more.)

Most of the contact people ask around what the guys are wanting. See for yourself. I personally want to fill some requests for "girlie" items from the female troops. They say they want hand creams, shampoos and conditioners since the weather and water are terrible o ntheir hair, and everyone wants entertainment. But the #1 requested thing? LETTERS OF SUPPORT! They can never hear it enough. Remember, the media they have to put up with is the same negative garbage WE have to put up with. Please counteract that propaganda with your own supportive "media" as God directs.

PS This is not an actual post. In the event that it were an actual post, you would have been advised.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More sickness humor

Maybe having a head full of mucus makes Joel funnier. I don't know, but he's been cracking me up all week, not even trying.

Last night he was cranky and disrespectful. He got a couple spanking for his remarks, but they kept coming. Crying would make his nose run, so he'd blow it, go back to his drawing and complaining, and get another spanking. I was in control, rational, all that good stuff, just not accepting a five-year-old telling me what to do. He didn't like the way I was redecorating the family room (he doesn't like change at all). After a couple warnings, I finally said, "Joel, if you say one more negative thing to me, I'm gonna have to spank you again. Five hard swats, not three. Now stop."

Well, he criticized again anyway. I got the wooden spoon again, and as he approached my knee, he whined, "Are you gonna spank the snot out of me?"

------
(For the record, I don't think I've ever actually said, "I'm gonna spank the snot out of you.")

Popping in for Prayer

This isn't a return to blogging. It's just faster than emailing a bunch of ppl from a computer that would require doing stairs to get to. I'm in too much pain for stairs.



I need prayer because I am having a LOT of pain in my lower back. I don't remembering an instant where I strained it, but yesterday was redecorating my family room (moved a desk, a floor lamp) and carried a sleeping 50 pound boy to bed since I was home alone. Or maybe I'm carrying too much tension. At any rate, I'm serving 15 ppl for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thankfully I will have a lot of help from relatives, cuz I am having trouble walking.

So here's my pre-Thanksgiving thanks on this day:


-my wonderful husband who, instead of going to the Inner Harbor with his brothers, went grocery shopping for me,
-relatives who are making or bringing half the meal
-our Shiatsu massager
-hot water
-ibuprofen
-options (storebought or home-made?)
-daughter who loves to cook and bake and can do so w/o supervision
-tall men who will hang up my curtains after I iron them (and a husband willing to iron)
-sons who run vacuums and scrub potties
-a low-maintenance 5-year old (most of the time)
-generally good health and motivation so the house is company ready
-my company doesn't include Martha Stewart or anyone remotely resembling her
-opportunity to be with extended family and have a bunch of ppl at the table (one of my all-time favorite things, as this family is never at a loss for words or laughs and no one has a snooty palette)





I could go on and on. I'm very thankful. My heart is grateful for so much. It's my body is groaning.


You might not have a chance to peek at blogs today, but if you do, please pray for healing of my back. (So I can move better and think better on this busy prep day.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Leaving Blogland

I'm not one of those balanced-life bloggers. If there is such a thing as addiction to blogging, I'm an addict. If it's a stronghold, I'm in the grip. If it's gaining too much pleasure out of sharing my life with people I know and don't know, then I need to redefine pleasure. At any rate, fasting from blogging for a week doesn't seem to help. I come back to it with a vengeance. I don't know what else to do besides give it up altogether. Some people can post a couple times a month or go two months. Not me. I probably have an inflated view of my life.

I still long for personal companionship-- deep, meaningful and lasting. Loneliness has triggered many an hour in blogland for me. Depression has come for a visit once again, so to do battle in my mind against it, I have to pull back from this pseudo-happyplace called blogland and get back into serious prayer and Bible study and being busy in my home. I also really want a friend like Barb here all the time. Okay, not a friend LIKE Barb, but Barb herself. (Barb, I know you're reading this. I miss you so much; you are my female soulmate.)

I was going to completely delete my blog, but there are things on it that mean something to me, if to no one else. Maybe I'll return when the back of this beast has been broken and I can control it rather than vice versa. Adios, amigos. I will be fighting urges to check in on you all the time. You know what they say, though, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Friday, November 09, 2007

Picture Post at Last


Thanks to Stephen, I now have pictures on our newer computer to blog. The old computer--the one I knew how to upload pictures on-- is nearly out of memory. This newer one is quite speedy, but I didn't know how to upload pictures. Still not sure; Stephen whips through the process like a Nascar pit crewman. These will be random shots taken from July thru September. Hope you enjoy them.




First Day of School.
Kindergarten at home.
Last child. (!) (?)


Don't be fooled: We're not this eager every morning to start our schoolwork.











Ben (middle) with friends Allan (left, with candy in his mouth) and Dan (right).
during our photo shoot at Myrtle Beach. These
guys are so vain. They have more pictures of themselves than most girls do, but I love 'em.








Joel practicing his letters.
Kindergarten, age 5, early fall 2007.
I just love to nibble his ears and
caress his soft cheeks.










The two engineers. When we had my parents and their Russian friends over for lunch in July, my dad said, "Now, who wants to sit next to Pappaw at the end of the table?"
Joel piped up, "I do!"
Pappaw: "Well, good. I'm glad."
Joel: "Yup. Just the two engineers here."




V and A from Russia (protecting ID here as they are watched by the R p'lice). He wanted
so much to play a guitar while in America. It was like a long-lost friend he embraced when Paul offered him his Taylor. Together we sat around in the living room singing and worshiping. One of the sweetest memories of the summer. This was the man who met Yeshua in his prison cell in 2000. He was first imprisoned at age 14 after being falsely accused of stealing a bicycle.
He led a life of crime, and was incarcerated for a total of 17 years, but in the last two received
the gift of salvation. His heart's desire is to minister to inmates, but Russian authorities still watch him and tap their phones. You would never know by his gentle, peaceful nature that this heavily tattooed, gold-toothed saint was once a hardened criminal. Remind you of anyone?





A boy and his dog. Joel took this shot of himself and "the sniffer." Molly, our Golden Retriever, probably has the most photographed sniffer in the world. One of these days I'm gonna do a slide show of The Sniffer.




Sarah has nearly finished reading her Bible
through in a year. I love to watch my kids
absorbed in Scripture. Better yet, when Scripture has absorbed them!










How I miss my summer roses.
I planted a small rosebush to grow up around
my lamppost. This species is named Diana, Princess of Wales .They are they most exquisite
blend of butter yellow and salmon pink with
an intoxicating fragrance. I loved being on the
passenger side when we'd get home during the summer; I'd roll down the window and inhale deeply. Only God could make such a thing of
beauty and delight.
At one point, they were so prolific, I started naming each rose after my blogging friends, according to their personality. I miss my roses, but look forward to greeting them again next summer.

Okay, I have a lot more to upload, but this is taking way too long. What do I keep doing to delete some I just saw on the screen? Oh, the bane of flying fingers.

More later.
PS This has nothing to do with pictures, but it's a little bit funny. Today someone called asking for Zoey Zublick. Whaaaaaaatt??? If I had won a skinny body, camera equipment, or a trip to Paris, I would've said, "Yeh, Zoey Zublick, close enough." But it sounded like they wanted to sell me something. Click.





















Fitness Chart & Hunger Pangs

Friday, Nov 9, 2007

Form of exercise: Walked on treadmill 9:20 a.m.
Physical Goal: burn 100 calories
Did I make it? Yes!
Mental Goal: thought I could only go 15 minutes
Did I make it? Yes--and more. Went to 23:02 for 100 cals. Wasn't as hard as I thought. 10 minutes passed, then 13, 17, 22, and finally 23. (That last minute is the longest!)
T'mill setting: Quick Speed set at 2 and 3, alternately. Incline: 1.5 entire time.
Spiritual Goal: to pray for the hungry children of the world, whose dark, gaunt faces I saw as I tried to fall asleep last night. They were African. I asked Paul if he was having any trouble with dinner. He said his stomach was growling from the bean soup. I had had cream of wheat for dinner, and some trail mix loaded with peanuts and raisins.
My stomach hurt, couldn't tell if it was hunger or nausea. The Lord prompted me to pray for truly hungry children, who live with this terrible pain day in and day out. I finally prayed, "Oh, Father, please put me to sleep. The pain will go away when I sleep. Also, please put Your dear children to sleep wherever they are so their little stomachs don't ache right now." Somehow my pain seemed so minimal. It wasn't from malnutrition. I had a pantry and fridge just one level away. The Lord heard and put me to sleep. I can only trust He did the same for them.

Weather: Too cold to be outside (high 30's at 9 a.m). Clear and sunny.
Add'l comments: Sweat is trickling down my face. Much as I hate to sweat, it feels good.

Revulse from the World?

My 18-year-old daughter Sarah (my only girl and the best there is) had something strange happen last night. Strange but true, the kind you read about in Samuel.

It came on the heels of:
1) her studying schizophrenia for a research paper for her psych class and
2) my prayers the other morning for her that she would stay strong in her faith and convictions
on campus.

She asked me this morning at 7:10, "Mom, have you ever heard of the word' revulse'?"

Me: Umm, I've heard of revolt and repulse and revulsion, but not revulse. I think "revulsion" is the noun form of "revolt" but I could be wrong. Why do you ask?

Her: I don't have time to tell you before school. You can read my blog, though.

Me: Okay.

Her: (5 minutes later as I was fixing coffee) Well, I'll just go ahead and tell you before school.
It was so weird. I thought I was going crazy. She told me about the song she heard as she drifted off to sleep, and the phrase she heard that was brand new to her, but an obvious message from the Lord. I told her that was pretty cool, that I had just been praying the other morning about this very area for her. Revulse, as we discovered, means to pull back with force.

Read her strange but true experience here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Health Progress Report , Week #1

Weight loss: 5 pounds
Amount of exercise: 2 days outdoor walks, one for 20 min, one for 35
Water intake: G- (good minus)
Soda: none
Sugar: none
Meat: none
Headaches: none
Pains: On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being best, and 10 the worst:
Foot pain: 5 (last week I would've said 8)
Back ache: 4
Stomach: 2

Energy: moderate (before Nov 1st it was very low)
Mental clarity : 7 (not that I'm more sane....)
Clothes fitting: can fit into the 3 prs of jeans I own, 1 comfortably; skirts still too tight
Hubby's attention: no more or less than usual

Praise: for five pounds lost; for self-control over sweet cravings especially around 9 pm; for nice weather to walk

Prayer requests: that I'll drink more water, that I'll exercise 4x/ wk; that I'll be able to (cheerfully) postpone my Nov 11th "day off" till Nov 14th because of a care group social. I don't want to be the obnoxious dieter at the feast when we have our Ebenezer dinner, especially since this one would have me saying no to chili, taco dip, and cake.

Thank you, if you've been praying. I can tell. This is a spiritual battle, not just physical! If anyone thinks they're humble, let them go on a diet. I daresay that'll show just how self-obsessed one can be. To remember it's about health and God's glory not just about looking and feeling better, is a challenge.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Q&A Wednesday: Regarding Psalm 139

I have just read Psalm 139 in three different versions. (I like to use www.biblegateway.com and select three versions there.) Today I tried the Darby translation and found this line which is worded differently than others:

"For Thou hast possessed my reins."


It really appeals to the horse lover in me. There is nothing like that feeling of being on the back of a majestic steed who obeys the signals coming from the reins connected to the bit in his mouth. The horse will turn right or left according to the pull of the bit. He'll speed up when the tension relaxes, and slow down when the bit is pulled back. He'll even reverse if the rider pulls back on the reins and kicks at the same time. (That was my all-time favorite maneuver once I learned it.)

I encourage you to read this psalm in three translations that you don't normally read. Do one right after the other. Not only is the poetry smooth and engaging, this text is rich with encouragement.

Question for today: Which single phrase or verse spoke to you, and why?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

If You Sew

I'd love to know of a website that gives good tutorials on how to make curtains. Can anybody reading this please recommend it? I'd like to try something a little more challenging than cafe curtains.

Or if you know of a place I could get valances for my kitchen windows for $10 each or less? I'll try Ross first. I'm wanting them to coordinate with my burgundy/sage/salmon/cream topper in the adjacent room. That is, I don't want "kitcheny" looking curtains but more "all-purpose" style.

If I can buy them on the cheap, I will. Otherwise I'm sure I can find fabric to suit me. I want to have these three window treatments done by Nov 18th. Out of town guests coming in! That's an incentive, huh?

I pray my sewing doesn't lead to weeping.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Psalm 911

I was teaching Joel his memory verse for the week. Our theme is "God Takes Care of Us" and we're studying nests.

After having him repeat after me a few words at a time, I wrote the verse down
and had him read it aloud.

He read:

Those who go to God Most High
for safety
will be protected by the Almighty.
Psalm 9-1-1."

I chuckled and said, "It's Psalm 91:1, honey, but you just taught me a great way to remember where this verse is and what it's about."

Then he acted all proud of himself for having taught the teacher.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

FYI: Set Your Clock Back Tonight

Isn't it a lovely thought? An extra hour of sleep.

zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

ColorBlends.com

Gorgeous, gorgeous flowers!
Sidebar organizes them by color, bloom time, and other methods.
How-to videos right on their site, just click and play. Includes "How to Plant 100 Tulips in 30 Minutes or Less."

Check this site out before planting just any bulbs.

There's a clever homespun song about "the history of tulipomania" by an older gentleman named Jay Leonhart. He's playing a bass or viola (?) and appears to be making up the words as he goes along. I was enchanted, the way I used to be when I listened to grandpa tell stories.

Note to self: ColorBlends even does fundraisers with a 50% profit. A bit late this year, but keep in mind for next time you're raising money for missions.

Keeping Your Meal Plans on the Computer

I vaguely remember someone posting about keeping their meal plans and shopping list right on the computer. All they do on shopping day is print out meals they want; the list is already made up. I think it was posted by one of my blogging friends. Anyone recall?

If not, can someone suggest a good program to organize meals this way? I think the main reason I don't like to grocery shop is that there are so many decisions. Truly I need to be grateful for all the choices, but I prefer 3 choices of each item I need, not 8 or 12 or 24. (Another reason to shop Aldi's. There just ain't a lot of
brands of salsa to slow down your decision making down.)

If I could just cut and paste the menus and ingredients I want to use for the week, I'd be much more inclined to shop. (Maybe.)

Today I got a bang out of coming in 4 dollars under budget for the week! That'll be Paul's for snacks. I told him I can't linger in the snacks and sweets aisle or I'll blow both budget and diet. Correction. Not "diet"--my "personal health plan."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cheer Me On or March with Me to Better Health?

Okay, Beth is a recruiter for good reason. She has a way of talking people into anything from Method wipes to better fitness. Not that she was trying to sell me a goal, but after reading her blog, I've decided to go public with my weight loss attempt. She is far braver than I am. I won't be publishing my actual weight or size (I'm a proud fat person). She wants better health and platinum blonde hair. I want better health and a good conscience toward God. I have not been a good steward of the only temple God's given me.

I started on a healthier lifestyle yesterday and here are my goals:

1) to lose 10 pounds in November
2) to lose 6 more in December
3) to have a stronger body and more endurance
4) to lose 50 pounds by Easter, 60 by STephen's graduation

What's my plan?

1) use the treadmill 2x/week and walk outdoors 2x/week
2) return to the DAniel Diet (1o days at time without meat, sugar, or soda is my version)
3) use weights once a week at least (hey,it's baby steps, don't mock)

How will I be accountable?
I'll post my results here every Thursday morning, which is a weekly basis starting with Thursday, Nov 1.

Will you pray for me and cheer me on? I need all the encouragement I can get, especially since I've made such a habit of turning to food for comfort and relaxation.

Thanks, Beth, for spurring me on to love and good works in the health arena! ANybody want to march with us on this journey toward better physical stewardship?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"It's Scary When You Start Making the Same Noises as Your Coffee Maker"

Got this email from a lady named Bev who went to Russia with us. She was always cracking us up with stuff like this:


Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: 'And what do you think is
the best thing about being 104?' the reporter asked. She simply
replied, 'No peer pressure.'

_______________________________
The nice thing about being senile is you can hide your own Easter eggs

__________________________________________________________



I've sure gotten old! I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip

replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I'm half

blind, can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40

different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to

blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly

feel my hands and feet anymore. Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have
lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver's license.

________________________________

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my
doctor's permission to join a fitness club and start exercising. I
decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted,
gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the
time I got my leotards on, the class was over.
_______________________________

An elderly woman decided to prepare her will and told her preacher she
had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second,
she wanted her ashes scattered over Wal-Mart.
'Wal-Mart?' the preacher exclaimed. 'Why Wal-Mart?'
'Then I'll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week.'

____________________________________________________________

My memory's not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory's not as
sharp as it used to be.

________________________________

Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

_______________________________

It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.
______________________________

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
and the eyesight to tell the difference.

------------------------------------------
These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, 'For fast
relief.'

______________________________

Remember: You don't stop laughing because you grow old, You grow old
because you stop laughing.

10 20 30

10 years ago

I was homeschooling 3 children ages 9, 8, and 6, living in Dundalk, teaching 2nd graders in children's church. Anne Browne, who was in that class, said to my Stephen, "You're the best friend I ever had, and I ain't talkin' crazy." I had miscarried the year before and was idolizing having another baby. My identity was wrapped up in myself as a mother, not as a child of the living God who wanted to give me far more than another baby. That's all I wanted, and so it would take years for me to let go of that, something I wanted TOO much.

20 years ago

I had been married 10 months and was 3 months pregnant, expecting my dear Ben. Such a happy, happy time in my life. A dream coming true. Never one to desire wealth or a career, motherhood held a charm that I thought would last forever.

30 years ago

I was 12, wearing huge plastic glasses, polyester knit farm-animal print shirts, skirts to the knee per HCS dress code, and knee socks. I got my first "C" ever, and it devastated me. Good grades and I were best friends. I protested, but it was no use. Judgment triumphed over mercy in that teacher's class. The "C" was in handwriting, something I prided myself on, and thought was pretty good--even better than the teacher's. To this day I don't think I deserved it, but it humbled me. I was probably perfectionistic about it, anyway. Since then my handwriting has been in rebellion.


I tag Betty. She's the only blogger I know of who is
a) reading this AND
b) older than me, so won't put "30 years ago I wasn't born."

I could add 40 to this. 40 years ago I was being potty trained. That's supposed to make me feel better, but it doesn't. You know what they say about cycles repeating themselves every 20 years!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Money-Saving Tidbits

We have really tightened the proverbial belt. I have come up with a budget and seriously need all the help we can get to cut expenses here and there.

Most of us know the traditional ways to cut little costs (turn off lights, limit errands, shop sales and thrift stores). I'm wondering what you all do that may not have occurred to me, or that I may have done but could be out of the habit of doing.

Here's a few examples of ways I save:
1) I save an old fabric softener bottle, and when I buy new, I pour half into the old, and dilute each bottle with water. Never have a static cling problem, and clothes smell great.
2) If I use a dryer sheet, I tear it in half. Same results as above.
3) I use grocery bags instead of lunch bags. Stephen doesn't complain.
4) I always check the price per pound of meat on every label of the cut of meat I want. Can't tell you how many times I find price differences. One roast will say 3.79/lb while the one right behind it says $3.59. Mars is particularly bad about mismarking meat. I told the mgr last time I was in there that about 3 of the packages were one price (lower) and the rest were higher. Ergh.
He set out to change it.
5) I'm not too proud to ask. Okay, sometimes I beg or grovel. I've blogged about the big stuff I've gotten free (dining room hutch and buffet). In a recent example, I came away with candles, a fall wreath, a crock pot cookbook, and a centerpiece for my dining room table. All for free.
6) Once in a great while, we use Restaurant.com coupons. You pay $3 or $4 and can print off a coupon worth $25 or so. Great way to save money (if you follow through) and check out restaurants you otherwise might not.

Looking forward to hear of your creative cost-trimming methods.

Q & A Wednesday: Personal Assistant

Question du jour:

If you could have any kind of personal assistant specializing in one area, to help you any time or all the time, what would you ask them to do for you?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Decorating Question: Window Treatments

I seriously need window treatments in my kitchen. I kinda liked having nothing there during the summer because it's so bright. (Our house backs to woods so it's very private all year.) But now that winter's here, I need to warm up the windows a bit.)

Our kitchen adjoins the family room. It's one big space, really. In the family room are sliding glass doors. In the kitchen is one small window above the sink and in the eating area is a large window.

What I have now above the sliders is a remnant of fabric I just love. It's burgundy with a small floral and leaf print, drapes loosely, and hangs down about maybe 20 inches. It's all I have of that fabric, it was last on the bolt (originally bought it --for only $4-- to make into a couple pillows but liked it better as a window topper).

So, question: Should I try to find coordinating fabric in a plaid or stripe, and do all 3 window treatments the same, or leave the slider topper as it, but use separate-but-coordinating fabric in the kitchen. Remember, when you look at that back wall (about 34 feet --17 FR, 17 Kitchen) your eyes take in all three at once.

The walls are painted sage green and the crown moulding is pure white.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Who Shall or What Shall?

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

I read this yesterday and for the first time in my life, a little tiny pronoun caught my attention. It is the pronoun who. Since it seemed strange to refer to things with the pronoun reserved for people, I examined it closely. Not that I went into a Greek study or even looked at notes in the margin. Not at all. Suddenly it occurred to me that "who" refers to living things, and don't those awful things like trouble, danger, hardship, seem to have a life of their own when they strike? I mean, they seem to grow, bite, entangle, withhold, blind, confuse, give off odors. Same thing real live bad guys can do.

They are real even if they're not alive. That's the point. But they can never separate us from the love of God.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The 27-Thing Fling Revisited

If you've ever visited Flylady.com, you have probably discovered her 27-Thing Fling idea. I've written about it here before as being one of the most motivational tools I have used in housework.

In a nutshell, here's what you do. Carry a trash bag around the house and throw away things, keeping count till you reach 27. (I strap one of those ubiquitous blue grocery store bags to my wrist, and when it's full, dump it and use another. ) If you're still inspired, do the same thing with stuff that just belongs elsewhere. Rather than pick it up and run to the room where it goes, simply put it in your bag like your're picking apples, and then when it's full, do the retail version of dealing with "returns," going from room to room with your full bag. That way, if you get interrupted, you know at least which room you already returned stuff to.

Try it. Don't feel pressured to do more than one fling a day. But I'm telling you, I feel so much lighter and my house looks tres better when I do the 27-Thing Fling. In fact, I'm signing off now and starting a fling in this cluttered space I call my home office! It's a room no bigger than a freestanding stove , but somehow my stove stays junkless and this room doesn't.

Adios, from the new Queen of Fling!

Bread Pudding Recipe, Anyone?

Paul wants me to make bread pudding soon. In 20 years of marriage, I've never made it. Can you believe it?

I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding in the lastest issue of Guideposts, which he saw , but preferred something more traditional. In fact, he said, "Can you find a gourmet bread pudding recipe?" He grinned just saying it.

I laughed. "Isn't that an oxymoron? I mean, bread pudding is poor man's dessert. The thing that makes it gourmet for a poor man would be the raisins."

"Ew, no! Definitely no raisins."

So, I'm asking you fellow bloggers to help me out, please, on this one. I much prefer your recipes over scouring online. Thanks!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tell All or Just Think It?

This morning in co-op I was teaching my beloved kindergartners how to draw a lion. Mind you, it's a fantastic lion--that is, out of your imagination. So my encouragement to them was, "Don't worry about how real your lion looks when he's done. He's gonna be fantastic. Maybe cartoon-like or storybookish or from a wild movie. Don't worry about his legs being in proportion to his head, or his tail being too skinny or whatever."

But I did want them to follow my directions so that the entire lion would fit on the page.

Here's what happened. One boy (I'll call him Eddie) didn't exactly track with me. He was kind of jumping ahead and drawing his lion without looking up. So one of his lion's eyes was about an inch round, the other 4 inches. The face and mane were enormous, taking up nearly the entire landscape of the page. When it came time to draw the legs, they ended up teeny tiny, and he put pinhead dots for toes on the fierce creature. So cute!

The little boy sitting two seats away , who tends toward realistic renditions, said this: "Eddie's picture looks bad." Well, I promptly scolded him as kindly as I could . "Honey, that's not nice. I said these lions would be unique, and fantastic. We never say someone's art is bad."

A little girl sitting between the boys blurted out, "That's right. Even if you're thinking it's bad, you shouldn't say it."

Marie and I had to turn away and stifle our laughs. The things these kids say! The little boy with the wild 'n crazy lion has a wild 'n crazy imagination, and let me tell you, his creature was my favorite because of its distorted face, flippy whippy tail, teeny weeny toes, and puffy muffy cheeks.