Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reflections on Homeschooling after 14 years

Having been envisioned for another long haul of homeschooling last night, I woke up this morning at 4:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. No problem, though; the house was really quiet and deliciously conducive to mental reflection. What was on my mind? Homeschooling. Namely how, after nearly 14 consecutive years of doing this, I am filled with far more positive emotions than negative. There were times along the way I wondered if I'd be able to say that.

I began to make a list of categories we've studied together, or been involved in under someone else's expertise. What I decided to do was write what went well and what I would've changed. In each category, I limited myself to three points.

In no particular order, the "results" of my self-poll (can you have a poll of one?) are as follows:


1. We insisted that each child take piano lessons for at least one full year in order to learn to read music, appreciate this art form, develop another area of self-discipline, and discover gifting or lack thereof.
2. I would have had them join a choir or band.
3. I would encourage skill in a second instrument.

1. Very good teacher named Diana G. She taught them to ID painters and their styles, how to emulate their style, how to spot a budding artist (if they can draw a good circle by kindergarten they're probably talented), why to avoid coloring books, and to always view themselves as artists for God's glory.
2. I'd do more projects with them to illustrate history, lit, science, etc.
3. We used art mostly to edify others (cards, menus, Christmas decorations)but have recently discovered it's okay to enjoy art for art's sake. (I used to view it as fluff, honestly.)

1. I would have had them participate in one major performance about every 2-3 years in some way.
2. I would have taken them to see more live,professional performances but there was/is so much "homo" stuff in theatre we can't stomach. I'm not beating myself up about this. Jusst wish there more more real men in dramatic arts.
3. I loved having them act out parables.


1. Loved birdwatching, aquarium, trips to the vet, Sonlight 5 Human Body, doctor visits, zoos, museums.
2. Would do more labs, be less lazy about setting things up and getting messy or being frustrated when I didn't know something well enough to teach it creatively.
3. I don't have the regrets I thought I would. We aren't the family with cow brains on the china hutch. That's okay.

1. Did about as well as could be expected: ).
2. Would've taught more math tips and tricks to speed up calculations.
3. Would've encouraged math competition for the boys because they were (are) good at it.

1. They learned to love the Bible and revere it.
2. They view it as the final authority in making decisions . I wished I'd insisted on more memorization in the later years not just the early ones.
3. They "are not ashamed of the gospel." They know "it's the power of God for salvation. "

1. All are good writers. Their writing has voice and it's clear, logical, creative, funny, sound ,persuasive.
2. Would encourage more poetry and skit writing. As handwriting goes, I'd insist on more cursive practice.
3. Their writing blesses readers.

1. We read a ton of books in history and literature. No regrets about volume or choices.
2. They don't all read for pleasure as much as I'd like (except Sarah) but when they do, they choose good nonfiction or fiction.
3. I'd teach the book How to Read a Book so that they'd learn to glean what they need from each book they're required to read throughout life.

Phys Ed:

1. Beachmont (a local Christian camp that caters to homeschoolers during the school year) was a really positive experience, especially when they had teachers who really pushed them beyond what they thought were their personal limits.
2 I'd set a better example. (I could echo this line in every category!)
3. All have great awareness of fitness and nutrition, though not all have good habits.

1. They are all patriotic and politically concerned.
2. They picked up good map skills and knowledge of the world,but given the chance to do it over again, I'd have them be more involved with politics and do some geography every single year. They appreciate other cultures and a couple even love foreign studies.
3. I would take more field trips! We have so much early American history right here in Maryland, DC, and VA. New England is relatively close. Why did it seem like such a logistical pain at the time?


1. Sports--overall a really good experience. Good solid friendships were borne on the fields and sidelines. Lots of car time to and from games and practice. Glad we stuck mostly with Christian teams , but with few exceptions, had very positive involvement in the rec council, too. Paul got to coach Little League baseball and I loved watching him in his element. Precious memories at Loch Raven.
2. We permitted our kids to be involved in one sport per year, not one per season. Thankfully they chose spring sports, until last year when Stephen switched to basketball in winter. Our spring schedules were crazy full, but we didn't let ourselves become addicted to activity. That's one piece of advice I pass regularly to moms of young athletes when they ask.
3. What would I change? Nothing except I'd trust my instincts more. (When you think a bone is broken, it probably is. When you observe a certain coach whose overtures make you uncomfortable as a mom, tell someone.)

Field Trips:

1. Ours were mostly science and history-related.
2. I'd do more art, gov't, and practical field trips (like visiting factories, talking to various hobbyists)
3. I'd sock away more money and time for road trips and airfare! Like Sarah told me today, "There's nothing like seeing a Sphinx to really appreciate Egypt." (Side note: we never went to Egypt. Matter of fact, never saw another country except Mexico.)


1. Did a lot of this and enjoyed it, from birthday parties, Zub Kid Cafe brunches,
sleepovers, ladies' accountability, graduation, out-of-town guests, scrapbook crops, Ebenzer brunch , Chinese students, Christmas Eve parties, Memorial Day grill-outs, Operation Gummi Worms...
2. What I'd change: we'd have singles over more often as well as whole families.
3. What I love: all our kids love having people in our home and want to do it more. They want it be a regular part of their homes when they have their own.

Spiritual Gifts:
1. This is the one BIG area where I'm so grateful for the 24/7 bird's-eye view of my children's growth in Christ. I don't think I'd see it half as much if they had been in school in all day.
Ben's gifts: hospitality, giving, administration, teaching (not so much "classroom" style as coaching, helps. He perseveres.
Sarah: serving, hospitality, giving, mercy,faith, admin, wisdom, teaching,evangelism
Stephen: hospitality, serving, mercy,leadership, discernment, wisdom, teaching,evangelism
2. I regret not pointing out their gifts and "catching" them more often using their gifts. I am doing this more purposefully now.
3. They notice other people's gifts and appreciate them, I think, rather than covet them.

And, for the fun of it, I thought of a TV channel for each child to describe him or her.

Ben -- Toss-up between ESPN and Fox News (He's all about sports, but also likes political fairness in the media and "just the facts, ma'am")

Sarah: HGTV--loves creativity and organization of home and veg garden. She's planted and tilled her own garden since she was a little girl and always beams when she presents us with her first ripe tomato of the summer!

Stephen--Comedy Channel (the clean comics) He is quick-witted AND remembers jokes. He's always made us laugh. He has memorized his favorite comics' routines.

Joel: Cartoon Network. Superheroes rule .Dora is cool, too, and so is Handy Manny and Little Einsteins.

I know I am uniquely graced to have had 14 years of homeschool "lab" with my guinea pig older kids. Joel, we hope, will glean the best of our experience and the wisdom of hindsight. I only hope we have the stamina to keep up with him!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

"I and the Boy will Return"

Never can I read Genesis 22 without coming away with something deep and powerfully moving. Whether you're a Christian or are a little familiar with the Old Testament in any way,
I encourage a regular visit to this chapter. It's about Abraham offering up Isaac to be sacrificed.

This morning I stayed home with a sick little boy and missed church. But I had a powerful encounter with the Horn of my Salvation, Jesus Christ. Here I was, sitting on the sofa, reading Chapter 22 of Genesis where Abraham, Isaac, and two young hired servants venture toward the mountain on which the boy is to be slain as the ultimate test of Abraham's faith.

I hadn't seen line -- just after Abraham tells the young servants to "Stay here"-- he adds, "I and the boy will return."

Abraham not only loved God more than he loved his only son, he believed that God would resurrect Isaac! There is no hint that Abraham will refuse to slaughter his son of promise, though I can only imagine how he wondered if maybe he was hearing wrong. Would God promise me a son who'd be the father of countless descendants, only to have me sacrifice him before he's even married, let alone fathered a child of his own? No! I must choose, then, to believe that God will fulfill His promise a different way. How? By raising my son from the dead!

On top of this "aha!" moment, I then read what has moved me before, but never like it did today. When the angel of the Lord yells to Abraham to stop because "now I know...," Abraham looks up and sees a ram whose horns are caught in the thicket.

I'm telling you, it was as if I was Abraham right there. I saw His head caught in the thorny thicket of a crown on the cross. I wept and shuddered and lifted my arms in praise and thanks and love. And today I had that distinct understanding that it was all for me and only for me. "All for me" in the sense that He endured every ounce of pain and suffering for me. "Only for me" in that I saw my own sin, no one else's, and how huge it is. That is not a common experience for me, I'm ashamed to say. I too easily lump "my sins and the sins of the whole world" into my meditations of His mercy, and sometimes--how can I be so Romans 7ish???-- wander off into the offenses against me, not mine against God.

Then, this doesn't happen often either: God told me to go to my neighbor, Susan--the one who lives just beyond my birdfeeder-- and say, "Jesus was broken for you." That's all. I was like, "Huh? God? What else? Just that?" Yes, that's all for now. Later I can add the resurrection but for now, the ram's horns caught in the thicket is what I pray she sees very soon. I pray she sees Him now, the Horn of Salvation, and when He returns!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday Chili For Sale

This is truly comfort food. We need all we can get as we lick our football wounds. For those who don't know, our Baltimore Ravens lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs. The Colts used to belong to Baltimore. They were our team for a long, long time, until one wintry night in the last century they were stolen away on the Mayflower--moving truck, not the original Mayflower, if memory serves me. So Marylanders of that era--of whom I am one--found the playoffs to be as much about revenge as about winning. And when you lose, where's the revenge? Well, "vengeance is Mine," says the Lord, and I trust that means in football, too. Besides, we know God is a Ravens fan. He sent one out of the ark to do special work. He sent ravens to feed a hungry prophet. (On a funny sidenote, when Ben was about five and listened to Veggie Tunes, he thought the lyrics "Our God is above all men" really said "Our God is a football Man.")

All that to say, I'll be making a big pot of chili for next weekend's game. GO BEARS!!!!!
If you'd like to order, please comment, call, or email by Thursday, Feb 1. Cornbread, too, by the way, is on the menu. What's chili without cornbread? OR maybe I shouldn't serve cornbread. It sort of reminds me of the Indians...apolis, Pilgrims, Mayflower.
Ah, well, I hold no grudges. You can take our Colts but you can't take our cornbread away!

$10 for a spaghetti jar size
50 cents per square of cornbread

OR $40 for a whole crock pot and $5 for a tray of cornbread (9x13 size).

Did I say GO BEARS!??!!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mystery in the Victorian Manse: Chapter 2

Between the Basement and the Banquet

How long had those people been down there screaming? Why didn't I hear them before? Who are they? Some of their voices sound so familiar. Did I know them? Were we related? One voice sounds like a woman from my old neighborhood. I can't bear to think about it! Is it too late to go back? But the invitation! Would they have an invitation to the manse even if I went to them? It doesn't matter, I just have to tell them!

Julia's thoughts were interrupted by a wonderful aroma. She looked up to the top of the staircase. She knew the banquet hall was up there because she could smell the delicious food. She imagined a white plate the size of a steering wheel, filled with sauteed vegetables and big, fluffy golden rolls, better than she'd ever tasted.

The grey-haired man reached the landing and didn't look back. He nearly skipped the top step in his hurry to exchange his invitation for a seat at the banquet table. Julia's heart bubbled with joy to think she had almost arrived.

A loud moan broke in on Julia's eagerness.

"Hellllp me, please. Some..body...I'm sorry...Tell Him I know...I want Him now...Somebody...anybody!"

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cooking, Cleaning, and Dreaming

As I take a break between cleaning two bathrooms, I have a random list of questions.

1. What are the next 3 meals you're planning to make? (I need inspiration.)
2. What is the latest dream you had that prompted you to action? (I'm curious.)
3. What speed cleaning tips actually work for you? (I need real life advice.)

Here are my answers.
1. Next 3 meals:
a. Tonight-spaghetti w/ real meat sauce for the menfolk, same except w/ Boca burger ground "meat" for Sarah and me; salad and garlic toast.
b. Friday night - Black Bean Soup with Limed-up Shrimp (Rachael Ray, Express Lane) --I'm trying to make 27 new things this year and this will be #3.
c. Saturday Night: Chicken Noodle Soup, salad?, rolls

2. Latest dream was less than a week ago. It has become a short, very short, story on this blog. See my post of part 1, "Mystery at the Victorian Manse" (below). It has increased my burden to share Jesus in the time I have left. (Part 2 coming soon. )

3. Speed cleaning tips:
a. Set the timer and race it. Most jobs take less time than I think.
b. Use 2 hands when cleaning. I don't always remember to do this, but it helps when I do.
c. Start with a strong cleaner smell that I like (for motivation). My latest fave: Lysol PowerOns GelToilet Bowl Cleaner (Target: less than $2.) I bought one for each bathroom and use it right before company comes! I start the bathroom cleaning with it, let it set while cleaning the sink, mirror, shower areas.

That's my post for the day, straight from the corner of "Mundane and Grace," as one book is so aptly titled.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup for Their Souls

It's cold out, baby! So cold you just want some hot chicken soup for your soul, right? Well, come and get it. That's what's cooking in my kitchen this weekend. Whether you're sick or not, chicken noodle soup will make you feel better.

I will be making it from scratch. That's right. No storebought broth this time, but the real McCoy. The chicken breast will be slow-cooked till it falls of the bone. A healthy dose of salt and pepper, some bay leaf and onion. Oh, boy, I could get up from the computer right now and make a pot of it.

When the broth is nearly done, I'll drop in some wide egg noodles and let them soak up all that delicious flavor.

Want some? I might even make it tomorrow (Wednesday) if you let me know by noon. I have all the ingredients on hand. Found a great deal on bone-in chicken breast today, thank the Lord!

For 16 oz....... $8
For 2 rolls $1

Remember: every bowl you order gets us one mile closer to serving Russian orphans.
Anybody want some Chicken Noodle Soup for their Souls? Even if you don't order, please pray for orphans of any age, in any place, next time you eat a bowl of soup, okay?

RR & ZZ's Mahi-Mahi, Couscous, Etc., Etc.

Rachael Ray and I sort of collaborated on this recipe. I am really bad about following a cooking recipe exactly, even when I try. I end up falling back on what I have on hand and what ingredients I imagine will taste good together. Thankfully, this one ended up getting FIVE STARS with five out of six eaters here.

The most fun part was using our new mezzaluna ("half moon" shaped blade for chopping herbs). It was $3.99 at Ross and came with a concave chopping board. I bought it for Paul (Mr. Kitchen Gadget) for Christmas. I love that word "mezzaluna." Say it like an Italian; you'll love it, too.

Anyway, in the RR cookbook Express Lane Meals that I just got for Christmas (from my gourmet sister named Rachel), the recipe is called Super-Herbed Sauteed Salmon with Creamy Leeks and Bacon. I'm seldom in the mood for salmon, and frank.ly, I didn't know what leeks were*.Love anything that has "creamy" in the title, and bacon is one of my favorite ingredients. Especially wrapped around shrimp, and grilled, but I save that for all my Gentile parties in the summer! The couscous was my addition to make this a one-pot meal with a starch. Don't be impressed; I'm truly lazy, not efficient.

Keep in mind that I am going to post here the way I made the meal. (If you try it and like it, I'll tell Rachael Ray to give me some of the royalties from her next cookbook.) Her recipe also calls for cooking the fish in a separate skillet, but I asked myself, "why dirty a separate skillet when you're only gonna return the fish to the bigger skillet anyway?') It's up to you. If doing dishes is therapeutic to you, then by all means, cook the fish in EVOO in a medium skillet. I prefer my therapy in hot bathwater, not sinkwater!

Here goes:

For 6 servings...

3 Tblsp. EVOO (extra -virgin olive oil)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (eyeball it)
1 large pinch black and red pepper mix
3/4 cup red cooking wine
salt and black pepper
1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock ( I increased it from this a little as needed to cook couscous)
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half (which I didn't have, so I squirt the last blast of sweet RediWhip creamer out of the can!)
6 portions of mahi-mahi (skins removed) each about the size of your palm
1/2 cup fresh parsley (she says flat leaf, I could only find curly; no big deal)
3 sprigs fresh dill (I used about a tsp of dried dill)
zest of 1 lemon (I used zest of 1/4 grapefruit)
couscous (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
8-10 oz frozen asparagus (ie the whole bag) OR six leeks (I used asparagus)
Crusty bread to pass at the table

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of the EVOO, once around the pan. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring every now and then. While the bacon is getting crisp, take out a mezzaluna for fun. Rock it back and forth over the herbs and just inhale God's great aromas made for such a time as this! If you have no mezzaluna, just chop it all up with a knife. on a small cutting board. The aroma is still wonderful, but you lose a bit of the fun of rocking a two-handled tool.

Anyway....after the herbs are chopped, set them aside.

Combine the following in a shallow bowl: half the garlic, thyme, black/red pepper flake mix, salt and pepper. (I'm a pepper fan.You might want to reduce your amount.)

Once the bacon is crisp, remove it to a paper-towel lined plate and pat the grease away. Don't rinse out your skillet; it's got all those yummy flavors still in it! Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and put in the ingredients you just combined.

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute on MED-LOW, then add the chicken stock and cream. Then simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently. While this sauce is simmering, season the mahi-mahi like so:
-Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper
- On your cutting board where the herbs are, add the dill, remaining garlic, and lemon (or grapefruit) zest.
-Gently press one side of each fillet into this mixture.

Then set the mahi mahi fillets herb side down in the simmering sauce. Cover and cook the fish about 2 to 3 minutes on the herb side, then turn the heat up to MED HIGH, flip the fish, and continue to cook, covered for 4 to 5 minutes or until cooked through.

Uncover and add the reserved crispy bacon to the skillet to get it hot again. Between each fish fillet put some couscous, so that it cooks in the sauce. On top of everything spread out the frozen asparagus. COVER pan. If asparagus is pencil-thin, it should cook quickly, as will the couscous. You need to watch that the liquid doesn't evaporate, so if it gets low before everything is done, add a little more chicken stock.

It's done when the mahi mahi flakes apart (it's not super flaky but not dense either), the asparagus is fork-tender, and the couscous is soft and moist like rice. You could substitute rice if you're allergic to wheat, but couscous is more fun to say.

Bon appetit!

PS I have since learned that leeks are members of the onion family. I will stick with asparagus, but if you try leeks, let me know how you liked it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Who Are You? Who? Who?

De-lurking. An odd word. Means you read a blog occasionally (or often) and don't leave a comment, for whatever reason). I'm really curious if I have more than five people who actually read the stuff I write here:). If you do, please leave a comment. Don't worry about having a blogger account. Where the box asks for a name, click "other" and then please say, "Sally here, I read your blog when I have insomnia" or " Juan here, your rich uncle who wants to hand you five grand.':

Thanks and have a good night's sleep. And don't bother telling me you're my rich uncle. I don't have juan.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

WooHoo! I've Been Tagged!

EDIT: I TAG 2 more freinds. Your last names start with B.

Thanks, FishMama! What a silly thrill it gives me, like getting tagged on the playground during a game of Red Rover.

Book Meme

EDIT: I TAG 2 friends whose last names start with B: DONNA and KATE.

Here's how this tag goes:

1) Grab the book closest to you
2) Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence
3) Post the text of the following 3 sentences
4) Name the author and book title
5) Tag three people to do the same

On page 123 is only one short paragraph and then a diagram called Desk Setup. Um...not exactly what I had in mind. So I'll go back a page. (I adopt the right to tweak the rules, just like FishMama did!)

The book: Simplify Your Life
Author: Marcia Ramsland
Page 122, sentence 4, plus the next 3.

"'If I can't manage this better, I am going to have to look for another
The stress is killing me."

All three women were in despereate need of organizing their workplace, and they needed help right away. The good news was that there were ways to streamline how they went about their work, but they just hadn't had the opportunity to learn them yet. They agreed that a lack of organization results in the stress of misplaced items, deadline pressures, and busyness without satisfaction. "

I tag Beth K, Renee in France, and Sarah, my daughter. Let me know if and when you do this and if I can link to you.

Friday, January 12, 2007

50s Party Cancelled, Soup Swap Too

Between lots of iffy and a few "no" RSVPs, and the fact that Paul and I may need to seize the weekend of the 27th now to go to Ohio, I have officially cancelled all plans for a blogging party, soup swap, or any other excuse for a get-together at my house. Sorry if this announcement messes up anything on your calendar.

Mystery in the Victorian Manse

Chapter One: Screams from Below

A faint creak in the old, red-carpeted step disturbed the solemn silence in the Victorian manse that evening. Julia gripped the smooth, worn mahagony handrail on her right as she surveyed the faces in the photos in frames on the left. She saw her father's face, and her mother's, smiling at her a welcome smile. She saw other faces, but didn't recognize them. She wished she had known them, for they looked like family, and wondered if they might come to life as she took another step.

For such a large estate, this staircase is quite narrow, Julia thought. Not enough room for two people to stand next to each other on the same step.

Her thoughts were interrupted by muffled screams from the basement.

"Don't leave me!" cried one voice.
"Please take me! Don't go!" screamed another.

Julia tightened her grip on the dark handrail. Who was screaming? Where were those cries coming from? Could anyone else hear them? She looked down the staircase and saw a woman about her age coming up, slowly, deliberately, on the red carpet, examining the photos. Neither of them spoke, nor did they dare lock eyes. Julia looked up the steps to see a tall, grey-haired man with limber legs was about to reach the top where the hallway expanded out into many rooms. Apparently he couldn't hear the cries and screams.

She remembered nothing of her journey to this mansion except that it was by invitation only. The invitation was in her hand, signed by the owner of the manse.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Soup de la Semaine: Rainbow Bean

My soup of the week is Rainbow Bean. It's a good ole fashioned 15-bean soup with a slightly sweet taste because it has delicious Manwich in the base.

In addition to the beans, it has baby carrots, whole kernel corn, potatoes and a lot of love.

This soup costs less to make than the Provencal. It's very hearty and keeps for several days in the fridge (except around here where nothing tasty lasts that long). It freezes okay, but not great because of the potatoes.

If you'd like some, please order by leaving a comment, emailing, or calling me. I still haven't found my essential bread machine part (the kneader) but will provide yummy rolls that I think will complement this soup.

I need orders by noon Friday. If emailing, please allow several hours for email to go thru. It's not always instantaneous, unfortunately.

For each 16 oz .........$7.00
For each roll...................50

Sorry I can't provide dessert. I did so last week and wound up not staying on my Daniel Diet that day. Apple crumble gets me every time! (Sarah made it superbly, in my opinion. Now dd has joined me on the "D.D.")

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bloggin' Party Query

Well, chums, when I set the date for the 50's blogging party, I didn't have Stephen's basketball game schedule. His games are every Saturday, as it turns out, and on the 20th his game is straight up NOON, right in the middle of when we'd be partying.

I really want to be present for his game, since I've missed a couple.

If I switch the day to January 27th (his game isn't till 3), who would most likely make it? Please leave a comment stating on a scale of 1-10 how likely you'd be to come. The time would be 11 a.m and I thought we could do a soup swap? (Like a cookie swap, only soup. You make a whole big pot of one kind and divvy it up in smaller containers for the rest of us.) What do you think of that idea? Still a 50's theme, so look around for your TV Land character get-up!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Gold Nuggets: Things God Has Shown Me Lately

Since my last post was on myrrh, this will be on gold, or the valuable things God has shown me from His Word lately. Perhaps a theme will emerge, perhaps not. This is probably going to be a random list of bullet points slightly developed, but I hope something resonates from God's Spirit within yours.

  • Dec 22, 2006.....Favor and Union , Zech 11: 7 "I shall become the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slaughtered by the sheep traders. And I took two staffs and named them Favor and Union. ...And I tended the sheep." Thank You, Lord Jesus, for having favor on me and bringing me into Union with the Father. You ARE my Good Shepherd. You look out for me in every way.
  • Dec 24, 2006....Malachi 1/ Priest Polluted Offerings. Give the best you have to the Lord. Don't withhold the best. Don't be lazy with your gifts and resources. For me the application: work as unto the Lord, not for Paul's or anyone else's notice. Work early. Right after Bible reading get busy at home. Make provision of good nutrition a priority. Malachi 3. I always hear verse 10 (""test me and see if I won't open the storehouses of heaven and pour down a blessing...) but I don't recall verse 11. "I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil.' Father, I thank You that I have seldom struggled to tithe and give offerings. Help me to remember that not only will you pour out a blessing, You will also rebuke the Devourer. It's part of the favor I have by being in union with you. I don't fight my own battles. I am in the battle against sin and self daily, but You, Good Shepherd, like David in front of my Goliaths of doubt, anxiety, greed, laziness, unbelief, fight before me, behind me, around me, always there.
  • Malachi 4 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord." Father, I never took this literally, never did it grab my attention. You will do as you say and there you say you'll send us Elijah before You return. I believe it! I believe you took him up just as you said--and I believe you'll return him as you said. He will "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children" and vice versa."
  • Dec 28m, 2006 Psalm 106:12-13 & 24-25... (vs 12 Then they believed His words and sang praise; vs 13 But they soon forgot His works, they did not wait for His counsel. " Vs 24 and 25 "Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in His promise, They murmured in their tents and did not obey the voice of the Lord. " They had it. I have it. All of Christ's followers are afllicted with it: Spiritual Bipolar Disorder I can manic in my praise and worship in the early morning, but by the time I'm clearing the breakfast dishes I'm murmuring in my tent, forgetting what I had learned at Your feet or in Your lap!

Sometimes I want to serve to make others happy.

Other times to be served in return.

Sometimes I feel overcome by Your abundant provision.

Other times I complain about all I think I lack. .

Sometimes I am very aware that my body is Your temple.

Other times I treat it as if it is my own.

Sometimes I remember I am here but for a moment and want to be about my Father's business.

Other times I sit and squander the hours you've apportioned me.

Sometimes I spew gossip and hatred.

Other times I protect everyone from it with fierce love and loyalty.

Sometimes I think I am the message.

Other times I am positively sure I am just the messenger.

Sometimes I want to be everyone's savior.

Other times I remember there in Only One and that is You, Lord.

Sometimes I think, "It can't get any better than this."

Other times I think, "It won't get any better than this."

Before the dagger of condemnation could penetrate my spirit and spiral me down, my Gentle Warrior quickly warded it off with a whisper of truth:

Whether you are on the North Pole or the South, I have removed your transgressions as far as the East is from the West."

Father, I recommit my will you You. Train me to think on what is lovely, pure, of good report, et cetera. Bring me back to You with a short rein in 2007. I want to be more diligent in the roles you've called mt to --wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher. "

Friday, January 05, 2007


I've always wondered about myrrh. Not only is my middle name, Marie, derived from this word, the spice is something I've never seen--until now.

My new Christian blogger friend, Renee, who lives in France (is the Lord giving me two reasons to travel to Europe?) and is a pastor's wife with a gift for cross-stitching scenes from the Bible, has posted an answer to my questions about myrrh.

In case the link doesn't work, try Renee's blog at www.bibleenbroderie.com. No blogspot, no wordpress, just dot com. Don't let it fool ya! You will see French first. Scroll down till you get to the English words in red. You'll see a picture of myrrh first, which is nothing like what I pictured.

Thanks, Renee, for the bit of education you've given me today!

Zoanna Marie

Help "Comfy Princess"

If you're like me, there are days when you can't think of anything worthy of a blog entry. Then there are days you want to share everything that's swirling around in your head, around your feet, around your heart.

Today is one of the latter.

This morning Joel was snuggling me on the coach and said, "I love you, Comfy Princess." Isn't that funny?

C omfy Princess is having a hard time narrowing down topics for the day's writing. Would you like to help me by voting?

Would you like to read about what I've been hearing from God through His word?
Would you like to see more pictures of my scrapbook, which includes Laurie's pages and pictures of when I was a curly-headed, horse-lovin' 3rd grader in Kansas?
Want a scrumptious, 5-star recipe for Mahi Mahi I used last night from a new Rachael Ray cookbook (given me at Christmas by my gourmet sister also named Rachel, without the second "a")?
Want to read my "best of" list for 2006?
Want to hear Stephen's favorite blonde joke and the one about the guys hunting?
Want to pray for my Ben who is snowboarding in New Hampshire?

Want to see me take a breather from blogging?
Want to know if our blogging party is still on for the 20th?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pronto Provencal Soup This Sunday

I NEED ORDERS BY FRIDAY NOON. I CAN ADD SHRIMP, CHICKEN, BEEF, OR SAUSAGE TO YOUR ORDER for an additional cost. Please leave comment or email me with your choice.

SHRIMP add $3.00 per 16 oz soup order
CHICKEN add $1.00 per 16 oz " "
BEEF or SAUSAGE add $2.00 " " " " "

BANANA BREAD ....... with nuts $2/slice...
without $1/slice
APPLE CRUMBLE....................$3/serving or $15/ 9x13 tray

Only making one tray of crumble and 2 loaves of banana bread, so first come, first served:).

Be sure to check out
Sacha's new blog, too,where she has posted her creative efforts.

I have decided to make Provencal soup this weekend. As I said in my post below, it's a tomato based vegetable soup, slightly spicy, and very colorful. It contains zesty canned tomatoes with green chilies, zucchini, yellow and red peppers, and herbs. For a finishing touch, just before serving, you float a blanched plum tomato (in halves) and top each with a small square of Swiss cheese, which melts immediately from the steam of the hot soup. Perfect for the cold snap we're supposed to be getting.

All portions will be 16 ounces.

I cannot promise homemade bread since my kneader is missing in action, but if you want bread, I'll post what I'd charge you whether storebought or homemade.

That way you can have soup and bread in one delivery. I will only deliver to church and must know by Thursday at 1 pm so I can shop accordingly. Please make checks payable to me at the time of delivery if at all possible. Cash is fine, too.
This week we're offering apple crumble while supplies last.

16 ounces Provencal soup........9.00
2 Rolls.........................1.00

Five Thousand for a Bowl of Porridge?

Before you sell your birthright for my soup in the name of our missions trip, please know that it's not , at this moment, definite that I am going along with my daughter. That's the ideal for which I have faith, but my hubby and I have much to consider before deciding for sure.

Sarah really wants me to go. She cries easily at suffering (and so do I), especially the suffering of children. That's one reason she wants a familiar shoulder to cry on.

Both of my older boys will probably have jobs in mid-June so their availability for Joel is limited. That leaves Paul to take off and for Joel to have other caregivers when he can't be here.

Sacha is making other travel arrangements, not going straight from the US to Russia, so besides me, she was the only person we knew and trusted to chaperone our priceless gift of a daughter to a foreign country.

So, before you decide that my soup is worth its weight in gold rubles, donate as if we are raising $3,000. When Paul gives the green light, we'll send out letters asking for dough straight out. Meanwhile, thought you might appreciate the heads up.

Thank you, Beth.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Soup Tonight, Anyone?

Local folks:

I'm launching the next product in my line of Zo Z's Cozies. Soup!

Every week I will be offering soup and fresh rolls from my kitchen. Normally I will ask that if you want to order the soup du jour (or soup du week, however you say it--help me out, Renee and Isabelle!) then I need your order by Wednesday night. I'll be cooking soup on Saturdays, and delivering it to you at church on Sunday morning.

HOWEVER, I have also made soup today. It's my own creation, so order if you dare. (Just kidding.) It's Great Norhern Beans with Chicken 'n Corn. It's got lots of different spices but is not spicy per se. (It's not White Chili. The broth is not thick.) Sarah just keeps saying, "What smells so good in here?"

I am selling soup in my continuing effort to raise money for our Russia trip.

Suggested donations will vary depending on ingredients.

Today's Soup:

.... 16 oz. $6
.... 32 oz $11 I'll have rolls today but not from my machine.

Since this is spontaneous today, if you want soup tonight or tomorrow, I need to know by 6 pm tonight or our family will eat it all.
>I'll check my email periodically until 6, or you can call me.

It'll be ready about 6:30.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

To all my friends in blogland, Happy New Year. I hope you feel the pleasure of mercy that accompanies a new, clean calendar.

On New Year's Eve I listed, rather randomly, my goals, desires, and plans for 2007. There are about 20 or so. At the top of the list is a renewed commitment to read through the Bible again. It's a treasure trove and I have just lifted the lid!

The second priority is physical: to return to the Daniel Diet. I was on it for three weeks in the fall and lost 9 pounds. The other benefits far exceeded my hopes of just losing weight. I may post them later. Basically the Daniel Diet, which I tailored to fit my needs, meant no meat, sugar or dairy for 10 days at at time. On the 11th day I would eat whatever I wanted. For me, meat and sugar and dairy are "king's meat" and I very easily overindulge myself on them. This plan also included only water and fruit juice, but to avoid legalism I would allow myself one cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer in the morning. I also ate fish when I felt starved for protein or when there was no meatless protein at Alpha and I was really
hungry. The greatest relief besides wearing relaxed fit jeans that could actually relax, was waking up without kidney pain for those two weeks.

So would you please pray for me when you think to? This area is one of the hardest to submit to God longterm, to keep in mind every day that my body is not my own, it is HIs temple, I was bought with a price and need to glorify Him in my body. I want to try to do this without becoming self-absorbed about it.

God gave me abundant grace for both of those adventures last year and I am persuaded that He is able to do it again.

Looking forward to hearing what your two top priorities are for this year.