Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tagged by a Foodie

Being tagged in blogland is fun for me. It makes up for all the times in fifth grade I wasn't tagged "it" on the playground. Here's thanking Beth for thinking of me. Hope it's not cuz I look like I love food! If so, I just say, "never trust a skinny cook."

1. What’s your #1 comfort food? potatoes, any way, shape, or form. Fave: mashed w/ gravy
2. If you were on a deserted island, what one food would you want to have with you? banana
3. What is/are your signature dishes?Lots of people like my White Chicken Chili. My family is crazy about Beef Burgundy. Neither one's original to me. What everyone asks me to bring to their dinner would be hot rolls from the bread machine.
4. It’s Friday night, you don’t know what to cook. You opt for…Vocelli's in Abingdon. Best Italian carryout around.
5. What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to food? Dunkins Boston Cream Donuts
6. What food can you absolutely not eat? sushi
7. You need a drink. You grab...water, Snapple, juice. I'm not a beverage snob.
8. What’s the most decadent dish you’ve had? Butterfish at Roy';s Restaurant, followed by their chocolate lava souffle.
9. What’s your favorite type of food? Mexican
10. Favorite dish? Anything made by a good cook who has invited me over
11. If your partner could take you to any restaurant you wanted, which one would it be? Roy's Hawaiian Fusion downtown Balto
12. Are you a soup or salad person? Soup in the fall/winter! Salads in the summer
13. Buffet, take-out or sit-down restaurant? Sit down. Be served. No self-bussing. I'm easy to please:)
14. What’s the most impressive dinner you’ve ever made? A sweetheart dinner for 3 other couples several years ago, I think.
15. Do you consider yourself a good cook? occasionally
16. Do you know what vichyssoise is? does anyone? nope. Bet my French friends Isabelle does. I'll tag her.
17. Who’s your favorite TV cook? Emeril.
18. Can you name at least three TV cooking personalities? Rachel Ray, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay
19. Homemade or homemade from a box? homemade
20. Name 3 or more other foodies you are going to tag. Anyone can feel free to tag themselves for this!
I tag Isabelle, Christina, and Ashleigh. (Danielle if you have time.)

Friday, March 30, 2007

When You're Short $4400...

Call on the Lord.

Calling all prayer partners to intercede for Sarah and me. As of yesterday at 4 pm when Sacha told me the deposit date was moved from the 13th to the 6th, I confess I slightly panicked. Not because we don't have it (we do, with 8 bucks to spare) but I looked it up and discovered the rest of the money is due is April 20th.

So our yard sale has to be moved up. There's already hobby day fundraiser the 14th for the Boston missions trip, and Mitzy wants to go to that (so do I) but that would leave us the 7th., not giving us time to publicize and organize and collectize (had to use the "ize" thing for parallel construction, you guys. Yougize.)

Please pray. As of yesterday at 4, we had $1508. First I prayed. I keep hearing the Lord say, "sell" in the name of living more simply and doing the work of an evangelist. It's not all preachin' and prayin', that's for sure! Next I went online and told my Tapestry forum on the buy/sell board that I have lots of curriculum to sell. One lady bought $80 worth of stuff for $90!

A friend with good taste in clothes and home dec donated a bunch of stuff, most of which is so good I'll eBay it,and the rest yard sale, per her advice! You know who you are; thanks!

Sarah wonders what will happen if we don't raise all the money. Paul said she would go alone. She said she'd rather I go alone than her. I'm not entertaining either idea, for, according to scritpture, "a double-minded man [or woman] is unstable in all his [her] ways."
I am fixed on the mark. We're getting set. To go. Both go! Yesterday I was reading in Exodus when Moses had reached the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh's massive army of mena, horses, and chariots ready to descend, and the people were wondering if they'd all come out of Egypt to just to die, the Lord said, "set out your hand over the sea, and do. Tell the Israelites to go forward.: I pictured my hand stretching out over the paperwork that needs to be done. I see myself in a sea of yard salers, happy and eager to wheel 'n deal for the sake of the gospel.

IN faith, Sarah and I are turning in our passport and registration deposit today. Yes, with only 25% of what we need to make it all happen.

IF Jesus can feed 5000 with a little bread, He can certainly bring us 4400 pieces of "dough"!

Trust God with us, please.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seeking Yard Sale Advice

My friend Mitzy has come up with what I consider a brilliant fundraiser for our Russia trip: a multi-family yard sale of people we know. She has gone so far as to secure an ideal location in Fallston--her parents' place. Huge garage for keeping stuff protected from the elements the night before, and a big yard on a main street in a nice neighborhood.

Date: Saturday, April 28

Here's where you, my gentle readers, come into play. I have never had a successful yard sale. Probably for a combination of reasons, I'm sure, so I need advice from seasoned yard salers --both buyers and sellers.

Please give me advice on:

-what sells and what doesn't
-what makes a good ad
-what time to start and end
-how to make the yard sale inviting from the street and comfortable for shoppers
-what not to do
-how to prepare
-how to price things efficiently and effectively
-how best to discard of leftovers (I want to donate the winter clothing to GAiN)
-anything you can think of to make the most of the opportunity

Also, anything you want to put on this yard sale that fits into the "will sell well" category is welcome! The drop-off place and time will be at Mitzy's parents' garage the day/evening before the sale.

Thanks! We appreciate your input.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Praying through the Alphabet

If you're anything like me, you have a hard time concentrating in prayer for any lenght of time. For me, I've had to use a couple of tools in staying focused. Mind you, it's not to be legalistic or formulaic, but this helps me in my effort to commune with God for greater lenghts. It's my hope and goal this year to be able to pray like a friend of mine does for 2 hours at a time. As of today ,I prayed for 25 minutes straight, which fuels me for a half-hour tomorrow! My intention in writing this is not to brag. Not at all. It's to give you as much hope in your prayer life as God has given me. (I remember the days of thinking I would never stay committed to reading the Bible through in a year because four chapters a day was too much. Well, God faithfully showed me in 2006 that it was altogether possible, and not only that, necessary and enjoyable. Seriously enjoyable!)

So here are the tools I've been using:

1) ACTS (borrowed this, heard about it years ago and then again recently)
Adoration (of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit)
Confession (of my sins and only MY sins!)
Thanksgiving (self-explanatory)
Supplication (making requests)

2) Set the timer. Maybe this sounds rigid to set the timer, but believe me, the timer is my friend. I use it to stay focused on many tasks--cleaning up the kitchen, moving the laundry, boiling water without forgetting about it. I use it to remind me how many minutes before I need to walk out the door for carpool. Or when the youngest among us can get up from his time-out chair. So for the sake of motivation and memory, the timer is my friend.
On the first day of my prayer "extension," I set it for 5 minutes. I didn't know if I would be distracted, but if I could talk to a human friend for 2 hours, I was sure hoping I could take five undistracted, very focused ones with the Lord.
Day 2, 10 minutes. Day 3, 15 minutes. Today I got up to 25 minutes which SPED by!

3) Pray your adoration through the alphabet. Since I started in the Bible study at church with a group of ladies praying around the circle, we got up to "O" and I continued at home with "P" and now, today, I was at "Y." I had to refer to my concordance for help. Came up with "yoke" and began to praise Jesus for being my yoke-bearer. When you are equally yoked in marriage, the burden is much lighter than if you are unequally yoked (one a Christian, one not). I pictured the heavy mantel that's placed across the shoulders of two oxen. Jesus, of course, bears our burdens, but we are still linked! What an honor to be yoked to the One who has already carried the yoke of sin in His own body. What a joy to know that our side of the yoke is light and easy. Your yoke may be a strained relationship. Or a chronically sick child. Or a rude and demanding boss. Or a seemingly unbearable loss. Nevertheless it is light by comparison to what He carries.

3) Confess the sin you're aware of specifically. I don't have the humility to confess through the alphabet yet! Ask me tomorrow. My faith might have grown by then!

This morning I was halfway through my confession when Joel woke up and came down. He knelt beside me as I was on my knees, put his little arm around me while I was saying, "And Father, I confess that I am sometimes a grouchy mom--." Joel interrupted with a soft voice, "you're a grouchy mom all the time." And I said, "No, I'm not!" and he said, "yes, you are. Remember I said that funny thing about wanting to buy a new mom from eBay?"

4) Pray your thanks through the alphabet. I started with "A," thanking God for the alphabet itself. Then I asked Joel, while he was still engaged, to thank God for something that starts with "B." He said "Ben." A great way to make supplication for my firstborn as well. (Baby pictures here of my boy who turned 19 last Wednesday.) I asked him for "C" and he said, "Cartoon network." Short thanks or no thanks? I'm wondering. "D" for "Dad" and then my timer rang!

Time to switch the laundry over. I guess I can pray through the laundry pile now. Thank God for Stephen when I hang up his school uniform, Paul when I iron his work shirts, for hot showers when I roll the towels, etc. I love how God gives us a pile of letters and clothes to help us worship Him in the everyday repetitions of life.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hearing from God

In light of some thought-provoking things I've read recently (which, as you know by now, provokes me to comment in most cases, especially on spiritual matters), I'm curious how other people hear from God. How do you personally hear from God? In what ways does He speak to you?

Not to be overly analytical, but for the sake of being specific. could you give us rough percentages of how God communicates to you?

Finally, could you describe what it's like for you?

Since it's my blog, I'll tell you how I hear from God.

1) Probably 85% of the time, it's through the Bible. The Bible is God's Word, breathed by His Spirit through the pens of humans. The Holy Spirit often makes the written words on the page fresh to me even when I've read the same thing at different times for the past 30-odd years. Sure, I have dry times, but they are few and far between. By saying "to me" I am in no elevating my place on any kind of hierarchy of Privileged People or anything like that. I'm simply trying to be clear that God is not "out there somewhere" in my experience. I have a close and deepening relationship with Him, and He often just highlights one word or phrase to me, even I'm reading 3 or 4 chapters at a sitting in the morning. My mind will go back to that one word or phrase. (It's ususaly what I'll journal about.)

2) About 10% of the time, I hear the voice of God through Jesus Himself in my mind as if an audible tenor is standing next to me. Usually His sentences to me are short questions as they were to his first disciples. I remember once in Dundalk I was making excuses for not hosting a backyard Bible club for children because we had showings while the house was on the market and I needed to pack (in faith, of course). I said, "I don't have time" to the lady asking if I'd host. When I hung up, God spoke up, "Whose time?" Gulp. I called her back and said, "How does the first week of June sound?" At the club, a mother and her son were given eternal life!

Jesus is the Word (Logos, in Greek). He calls Himself the Good Shepherd and says, "My sheep know My voice." When you've been in relationship with someone a long time, you know their voice. Even if you don't have caller ID on your phone, and it's been five years since you heard from your best friend in high school, you know as soon soon as they say your name who it is. My friend Kelly is like that. All she has to say is, "Zoanna?" and I burst out, "Kelly!"

I know God's voice, and it keeps me from being confused. It's also why I'm not a big subscriber of the "open door" philosophy popular with Christians. ("The Lord opened a door, so I ...."). Satan opens doors, too, and often to very attractive things that call for no faith, whereas the Lord may open a door to something that's immediately scary to me, and calls for great trust.) Sometimes Jesus says to me while I'm reading something that sounds like a tenor whisper. It's not lifted right off the page. It may be, "You need to pray for Linda" (while I'm reading about Moses, and see no connection). Or sometimes while I'm driving He has spoken, "Go left" when my sense of direction says to turn right. I have made some serious mistakes from not listening to that Voice.

3) About 3% of the time, I hear from God through other people. It's often my hubby, my kids, one of the pastors, a sermon on the radio, a friend, a stranger in the grocery store.

4) ABout 1% of the time, it's through music.

5) Less than 1% it's the interpretation of a tongue given in public worship. I used to bristle at tongues, used to be utterly embarrassed when they were given (because I usually had a Baptist guest with me). Had many an argument why they should be kept between a person and God alone. But would God who has a sense of humor, let me, who loves all language, let me off the hook, especially a rebellious hook? No. Pretty soon I was hearing what used to sound like gobbledegook come to me in English. Again, short sentences, often repeated for emphasis.

When I first discovered He had given me the gift, my reaction was, "No, I'm not going to actually use it.. I could be wrong and God might strike me dead. Besides, there are plenty of people who believe women should be silent in church." So I dragged my feet until the Lord made it clear (don't know if He spoke it directly or thru a different means) but it was, "If you don't, you're withholding a blessing."

So that's it from this Listener. What about you?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Name Those Graces (see bold phrases)

Our ladies' retreat theme was "Path of Grace." For me it was the most relaxed and special one in terms of really experiencing rest. No great highs of emotion, no depths of tears, but a steady sense of sustaining grace that is like that of being in a family on a normal weekend. Comfortable. Peaceful. A "this-is-where-I-belong" assurance.

What assured me was how easy it was to mingle with anyone any time. In the past I've been too self-conscious. I don't think I'm the only full-grown woman to worry about finding a place to fit in at the cafeteria without flashbacks to high school where you always sat at the same table with the same people. You know, the jocks, the preps, the nerds, the brains, the normals. (I think I was a Normal, but we didn't have a name. ) It was in high school that I developed a hatred for cliques. Still hate them, so I really purpose not to hang out with the same people all the time when given the opportunity. I didn't room with my care group ladies even when asked. I roomed with Bonnie and Dana; yes, Bonnie and I hang out a lot together, and Dana and I are good friends, but we were by no means shadowing each other all weekend.

After Friday night's meeting, a bunch of us who don't normally chat on the sidelines got to cluster 'n cackle while eating chocolate-smothered strawberries and cocktail shrimp till nearly midnight! Then I went up and watched about 20 ladies around the fireplace playing something called "The Bowl Game," giving word clues and gestures to a partner across the coffee table. We then moved to a more distant table to play Mad Gab. Kate B and Rebekah S were especially gifted at clue-giving there. My mind was fading with my body at that hour, but I wasn't too tired for Good 'n Plenty, a treat that Karen brought and offered me, knowing immediately I share not just her birthday but her fondness for the pink and white licorice capsules.

Not that the retreat was all fun and food (but hey, you can't knock it for creating memories!).
A few highlights for me personally:

-The picture of my path. Not how I drew I it, of course (never!), but what it represents. Our first "assignment" was to start the retreat by drawing a path of how we picture our life right now. I was so encouraged that my path , straight and narrow, though fraught with boulders, pebbles, potholes, and mountains, is also filled with fellow travelers, and that my little hand is in His BIG nail-scarred ones and He is bigger than all the mountains and can see past all the clouds to the bright Day of His return.

-Debbie's analogy of the importance of many trials in our lives for the good of perseverence. She said that a maranthoner friend of hers never gets a pedicure before a race. Callouses on your feet prepare you to go the distance.

-Laurie's teaching on The Path of Grace for Ordinary Days. Between our few mountaintop experiences and our deep valleys in life are hundreds of ordinary days. We aren't as aware of our need of grace in those. I know I needed her illustration of a situation where a mom could view a child's outburst of anger during a pre-dinner game of Battleship as a bothersome interruption to her meal preparations. (I'm not doing this illustration justice from memory.) An ordinary day in an ordinary home where children are. Mom should instead see that her own anger is every bit as bad has her child's, and she could use it as a prime time to pray with him and repent together of their sin for which Jesus died. I know I often don't even realize that if I get interrupted or offended while doing good (ie. performing my duties in the home or reaching out or having devotions), I put the sins of that offender in a category of their own. If I were to name that category, it'd be "SINS OKAY TO GET ANGRY ABOUT." It was the reminder I needed about divine interruptions being all about the need for grace in the ordinary times.

-Dana and I swapped stories of our past and how God redeemed what Satan meant for evil. I have known her a long time but never knew these details! In the end, just before saying goodnight, I realized a few bad memories had been stirred up regardless of redemption, and Dana had the wisdom in the moment--GRACE !--to say, "Hey, guys, before we go to sleep, can we say the Lord's prayer out loud together?" And we did. Such peace came over me and I slept really, really well in the remaining hours of the night. I mean day! Asleep at 2, awake at 6. Not bad for a retreat!

During our 2-hour designated time of Solitude on Friday afternoon, which I APPRECIATED SO MUCH!!!, the Lord was so sweet to me, as always. I adored him, He talked to me, I was gently convicted in some areas, and I also got a word picture with scripture to share with a friend who'd lost her dad recently. It really ministered to her to hear that God is her Everlasting Father and that He collects all her tears in a bottle (Ps. 56:8, I think). Tears are never wasted in God's economy. He pours them back over us like a balm for healing when we need it.

We also met and had the joy of getting to know a couple ladies from the Philly church named Leigh and Renee. It felt like we'd known each other all our lives.
Despite a sheet of ice covered by 4 inches of snow, it had virtually all melted to a safe slush or had been plowed by the time we had to leave Black Rock. Seeing the plowed pavement was just one more visual aid for me to recall that Jesus goes before us, making rough places plain. (Or,in this case, slippery places unslippery!)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hopping onto the "Path of Grace"

Many of us Chesaapeake bloggers are soon heading off to our bi-annual ladies' retreat for the weekend. Our theme is "Path of Grace."

Please pray for us while we are there (and before--since we know we have an Adversary resisting us). Pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to us and through us, and to those we love back home.

Looking forward to getting away and basking in the love of Jesus with a bunch of my Christian sisters!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Quick and Sincere Thank-you

God used those of you who prayed for me to lift me up. Truly He is the Lifter of my Head. I think your prayers must've included not letting me despair. I didn't reach that point, but if anyone who has experienced depression knows, the downward spiral can be fast and furious. God spared me from that. Yesterday at Bible study we had an intense time of prayer, using the acrostic ACTS (Adoration, Confession/contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication).In our group we went about praying through the alphabet to adore God for his attributes or names (Almighty, Bright & Morning Star, Compassion, Deliverer, etc). By the time we got to "O" our time was almost up. Someone squeezed in Omniscient!

Then Marilyn, our youth pastor's wife and dear friend of mine who prays earnestly and purposefully and with deep faith, held my head front and back and prayed for me when I requested that God bring me out of it and not let me suffer as I have perenially from March to Mother's Day. She prayed that I would experience joy that very day. While she was praying, Daryl spoke an encouragement to the whole group that really zeroed in on my problem: I had been listening to the lies of the Enemy. He has no other power than that of deception. I had let him tell me things like "You're a bad mother," "You're a big hypocrite," "You'll never change." and so on.

Truth #1 Sometimes I do bad things as a mother. And when tempted to call myself good, remember even Jesus asked,"Why call Me good? There is only one that is good, and that is my Father." So I am a work in progress as a mother.

Truth #2: I am often a hypocrite but don't know a single soul who isn't, or hasn't been, at one time. If you're human, you've been a hypocrite. And by God's grace, I have changed and am being changed from glory to glory. The only one who will never change is God. Other sisters in the prayer circle also laid hands on me and prayed. Marilyn added that she sees me walking in newness of life this year. What hope!

I walked out of there different, I'm telling you. I was able to eat my lunch in peace. My children looked especially beautiful to me. I came home and took a much-needed nap, then went shopping at Tuesday Morning (a fave store of ours) to buy a new journal and some springtime kitchen towels. Then went to JoAnn's with Sarah and found some lovely fabric--though,in the end, when I couldn't find an internationally flavored print, I abandoned my quest for that and found one colors that goes with my decor. By the time I was done, I had 4.75 yards of a gorgeous floral fabric for my sliding glass door valance, a homey plaid for a pillow and beautiful twisting cording for it. The employee at the home dec counter was most generous; when she saw I had no coupon, she went to her purse in the back and fetched her personal one for me. I told her she's such a blessing. So I got 50% off the trim. The floral print was $3 a yard on closeout, and the 2/3 yd of plaid was a Supervalue at $3.96 a yard. So I have a couple projects before me that I now have the peace to proceed through. All for under 20 bucks!

I must emphasize that the peace and joy did not come while or after I was shopping. It came while and just immediately after praying. You might say the joy happened Tuesday morning, but not at Tuesday Morning:).

So today I continued this prayer through the alphabet, praising God. He is my Prince of Peace .

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Dozen and Seven Years Ago

A week from today, Lord willing, Ben will be 19. I thought you might enjoy taking a stroll down Memory Lane if you're related to us, or maybe just curious. I posted pictures on Kidbits of Ben as a toddler. It lifted my spirits to do that.

Sinking into Vulnerability

Or call it depression in this case. It happens every year about this time. When most people are welcoming spring with open arms and open windows, I sink lower and lower emotionally. Maybe it's a seasonal allergy I have yet to pinpoint. Maybe it's that my creativity goes into overdrive and doesn't keep pace with the realities of budget, time, or personal skill. My husband is the one with roots; I have wings, and every year I just want to fly the coop if I can't change everything that bothers me about it.

For example, I hate my family room. But it doesn't bother anyone else around here. It embarrasses the heck out of me, so I spend as little time as possible there as I can. Translates: I don't spend time with Paul watching TV (his nightly habit) because I can't stand the look of the broken Queen Anne TV armoire that we bought FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!!! (It wasn't broken then, but it's beyond repair even for my live-in Mr. Fix It.) The sliding glass door tracks are breeding ground for mold and mildew. I could take bleach to them I guess, and exacerbate this cough I've now had for over a month. The carpet is stained badly. The end tables are a hodge podge that scream Glorified Dorm Room. And yet I'm told in every book of excellent wifery (if that's a word) not to tell my husband because it makes him feel like he's not providing well.
Which he is. Very well, just not in every department that I care about. And if you can't be intimate about external things, then how can you pour out your heart about internal woes?

I am having difficulty with certain relationships which I shall keep private, but which I care too much about to ignore.

I have been diligent in God's word but haven't exactly had insights popping off the page like they did last year. Music is irritating me. Same old same old. Only a few songs touch me; the rest grate on my nerves, they are so over-sung. Mainly on the radio. I long to write music but I have only written one in my whole life.

The things I've advertised on Ebay that I wish would sell aren't, and the things I secretly want to hang onto are being scooped up at a price I kick myself for starting at. (Lousy sentence there, but who cares?) I have rarely had buyer's remorse, but seller's remorse is killing me internally. Why do I cling to pieces of fabric that once clothed my girl when she was little?

Of course this post is riddled with "I", "I" and more "I." How dreadful is that?

God bring me the grace to lift me up out of this mini-depression before it's full-blown.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

In a Sewing Mood

Seeing fellow bloggers' new pillows (Ashleigh and Beth Y) makes me want to freshen up the look of my family room with throw pillows. I am a theme person. Everything has a theme in my mind. What's wrong with me? Can't I think outside the theme? Anyway, as I was pondering what sort of pillow collection to make, I thought of my love for all things global or international. I started realizing I would really like to make 7 pillows, one to represent each continent. Question is, how to pull them together chromatically? The color of my walls is sage green, trim is white. Sofa, leather rocker and (stupid) Ikea chair (which I long to toss to the basement but my family's butting heads with me)--are all tan/beige. I want to take down the outdated vertical blinds on the sliding glass doors and make an upholstered cornice over a cellular shade that's up during the day for beautiful views, down at night for privacy. The cornice would have to be echoed in the adjacent kitchen since it's all one big space.

So, international pillows. I need your help. Here's where my mind goes when I think color schemes of the continents:
North America--Americana, Canadian maple leaf
South America-- vibrant jewel tones.
Europe--French toile and Battenburg lace
Asia -Chinese red silk
Australia-? khaki and crikey!
Africa- animal prints
Antarctica-pure white

Got ideas?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I said I Wouldn't, But--

This is a prayer request . The mom in me can't help but ask.

Ben went snowboarding with Stephen and Allan yesterday. It was Stephen's very first time and I was very concerned (had to repent of worry) for him. He has a track record for breaking bones. I told Ben to keep a close eye on him. I also told Ben to be careful. "You don't have to worry about me, Mom. I won't get hurt."

"OH, you're omniscient and invincible?" I asked.

"Okay, well, I don't think I'll get hurt. And don't worry about Stephen. He'll spend the whole time on his butt." (That kind of brotherly love is common around here.)

Allan drove, at my request, since Ben usually offers to drive friends places (near and far) and has put a lot of miles on the car we let him drive.

Well, they got home right at 9 per my request. Ben was hurt. He could barely walk down our snowy driveway, let alone manage the steps without great pain. I asked him what happened.

"I did a fun box and landed really, really hard on my hip. I think it's out of joint or something. This is the worst pain I've ever been in. I wanted to cry when it happened. "

"Did you cry?"


I helped him settle in bed with a pillow between his knees. I offered to pray for him, he accepted, and then added that a back rub would help him get to sleep. Even when they're 6'7" they still look pitiful and helpless when they're in such pain.

This morning he was still shuffling his feet and asking what kind of doctor he should see.

I still don't understand how "fun box" and "landed really hard" go together, but suffice it to say that Ben has either a hip out of socket, a hip flexor sprain/severe tear, or something else going on. He did drive to school today to in case the English teacher popped a quiz, plus he has a macro midterm at 12:45.

Please pray for:
1 )wisdom as we discern whether to take him to a doctor or take a wait-and-see approach
2) surefootedness--that he won't slip on any ice at school which would be a HUGE mistake
3) reduced pain
4) his ability to concentrate thru the pain during his exam today. It's a class in his major (business).
5) me--that I won't baby him too much but will serve my BIGGEST "baby."

PS Stephen was fine. Sore, but fine!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

From Blog Fest to Blog Fast

Time for me to fast from blogging again. It has become, yet again, what I want to do more often than what I should do with God's time.

I need grace, for sure. I am not one of those people who can just "sign off" and that's that.
You may pray for me in this area, that God will increase my desire for what's important to Him, not what's fun for me. In and of itself blogging is not evil. We all know that. But like anything else, it can crowd out or muffle the still, small voice of God. I have felt my passion for spiritual things waning this week. My prayer life has resembled the local fast-food drive thru. I "pull up" to God and say, "Yes, hi, I'd like a combo of peace, joy, and love. Hold the suffering. I'd also like a cup of water, no ice, please, and a large bank account to cover whatever I don't have the faith to ask for right now. "

I much prefer meeting Him for a long, relaxed breakfast over coffee, where He is ordering my steps, not vice versa.

Blogging interferes with that kind of communion, in my world.

I plan to return to posting and commenting after a four-day fast.
Toodle-oo, my friends.

Morningstar Sausage and Mushroom Medley

Here's a quick (12 minute?) Vegetarian Appetizer or main dish (depends on your hunger level)

Serves: 2-3

Recipe by: me (Zo Z.)


1/2 bag (about 6 oz) Morningstar Meal Starter, Sausage Style (from freezer case; it's crumbled and pre-cooked)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
2 handfuls watercress
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cup thick salsa (I used Old
El Paso Wild for Mild Thick 'n Chunky)
1 stale steak roll, sliced into 1/2 inch thick discs
2 slices Swiss cheese, cut into squares to cover each "disk"
salad oil or butter (I used oil since I was out of butter)

Toast the stale bread. In a large skillet saute the 'shrooms and onions in oil or butter.
When the shrooms are almost soft, add sausage and salsa. Stir till hot and then scoot the mixture to one side of skillet. Toss in watercress.

Add toasted rolls slices to the empty side of the skillet (may need to add butter first). Heat the bread slices a couple minutes on one side, flip them over, top each one with the hot mushroom mixture and cheese on each one. Cover a minute with lid if you want cheese to melt faster.

It'll be a bit sloppy; don't worry about it. "It all ends up in the same place," as my dad used to say when my mom's food presentation flopped. (Seldom happened, but no one's perfect.)

Plate it and enjoy. I thought it went well with Chinese beer, but I'm sure whatever suits your palette will be just fine.

I thought it was 4.5 stars. Paul picked at it and approved with 'mmmmms' but I didnt' ask for stars. All the kids are elsewhere for dinner tonight, so no rating from them.
Try it--you brave , adventurous food lovers--and tell me whatcha think.

This makes 4 new recipes tried for 2007. My goal is 27.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Thanks a lot for your warm compliments about my mug shots below. I couldn't get my shirt over my head this morning; it was so big after reading my comment box. Truly I have never thought of myself as either pretty or beautiful. Beauty must be , as the poet says, in the eye of the beholder. I don't behold either one in myself.

I asked Joel one time the difference between "pretty" and "beautiful"; this was his astute answer:

Pretty means you look pretty. Beautiful means you make the world beautiful.

I asked, "Which one am I?" and he replied after a moment, "Pretty AND beautiful. But mostly beautiful." Melt my HEART!!!!

I used to want to be pretty; now, my little boy's definition is all that matters. If I leave this world a more beautiful place, for Jesus' sake, I shall have lived well.

Anyway, you all were too kind. I felt silly running to jump into the picture while hearing that timer beep and trying to put my face in the center of the lens, which sometimes worked but I deleted a lot of them. But someone (a truly beautiful friend whose initials are L.R.) had encouraged me to put a picture of myself up there again cuz it had been awhile. I showed Joel the picture he took of me (that I posted) and he said, "Huh! Not bad!" I complimented how well he centered the shot and didn't get more flowers than face.

Monday, March 05, 2007

More Mug Shots

These I did on self-timer.
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Joel took a few pictures of me as I sat across the kitchen table from him, peeking from behind a vase of fresh carnations. I decided to mess with the effects for the fun of it.
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(He calls me Sweet-a-kins.)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This 'n That

Sort of a catch-all post here. For your levity, here's a funny clip from our house yesterday, in case you missed it on Kidbits:

Joel was helping Sarah clean her room and she handed him an index card with my writing on it. A column with words and a column with numbers next to it. "Ask Mom if she needs this," Sarah told him.

I looked at it. It was a list of people I'd sold wreaths to, and the amounts. The bottom number, the total, was 500.

"Do you need it?" Joel asked.

"No," I said, "it's just shows how much I --"

"Weigh?" he asked.

Paul gave me the green light to launch an ebay seller's account. I sold my first two items today and am so thrilled. A nerdy thrill, of course, since I'm actually LOSING money on the first one. The first one is from Hawaii and he bought a brand new (with tags) LL Bean shirt . I started it low to generate bidding excitement. Yeh, I think the buyer's the only one excited. He was the only bidder and got the shirt for a buck. He lives in Hawaii, so I probably undercharged shipping. And the eBay fees and Paypal fees actually mean I've been charged more to list it and receive payment than the shirt sold for. Oh, well, live and learn. The upside is that the ties I listed, which Paul thought no one would take, got 4 bids! I am enjoying this little venture, but have SO much to learn. It's not in my nature to ask enough money, I guess. ANy tips from you all w/ ebay experience would be greatly appreciated.

Ben wants to go to France on a missions trip with Dan this summer. We are discussing it and praying about it. It doesn't cost nearly as much as the trip to Russia. I want to stow away in his suitcase, but not for evangelistic reasons. I want to see meet Isabelle and Renee in person, and have personal, Christian tour guides show me around one of God's prettiest countries!

If you haven't discovered Deal Detectives, you must. It's Paul's and Sarah's stompin' grounds in cyberspace for outstanding deals. SEe Every week they list retailers offering rock bottom prices on stuff you just might be looking for.
I also like for great finds on home dec stuff. I haven't actually purchased anything from them, but am ready to make the plunge for window treatments for my kitchen/family room.


I want a good crab cake recipe. I made some the other night and shaped them into muffin tins, mostly so I could make 12 (2 for each of us, the same size). Despite the fact that I sprayed what I thought was a generous amount of Pam into each muffin cup, the cakes still stuck. Any tips?
I wasn't thrilled with the recipe (which was my adapatation of the one on the side of the crab meat container).

I'm loving Genesis through and through. I just reread the story of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers. I always cry when I read that he excused himself and went away alone to weep before he did this. I can just picture Jesus doing this when He's on the verge of revealing Himself to someone coming to Him for mercy, forgiveness, and the Bread of Life that He is. I like that Joseph understood his brother's language (Hebrew) but they couldn't understand his (Egyptian) and he kept that fact secret until he was ready to reveal himself. Like God , who knows every human language (because he authors language) but no one "speaks His language" until He gives them understanding through His Holy Spirit.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Coffee Table Tale

I advertised a Queen Anne coffee table for sale in the local Pennysaver this week and got about five calls.

The call that turned into a sale went something like this:

Nancy (calls at 10:45 pm Thursday night while we're listening to Stephen rehearse his government speech. "Let it go," Paul says,after seeing a strange number. (The caller leaves a message that it's about the coffee table, apologizing for the lateness of the hour.) I return her call at 10 the next morning.

"Will you be home today so we can come look at it?" I think of errands, house cleaning, carpool, youth group, Children of Zion at Mt. Zion.

"I'll be in and out, but the best window of opportunity will be from 4:15 to 5:30, if you'd like to come by during that time."

They came at 4:15 on the nose and I thought it might take 10 minutes tops. You either want the table or you don't. Well, they came in, I ushered them to the living room and for some reason blurted out the reason we're selling it. "We are trying to simplify our lives and at the same time my daughter and I are raising funds for a trip to Russia."

"May I sit down?" asks Tom. He's about 70, she's probably a bit younger, but weak and winded.

"Certainly," I said, "Make yourselves comfortable."

"Well, this is very comfortable furniture," Tom says, and Nancy does some "mmhmming" . "Yes, it is," she agree, stroking the top of the sofa. I wanted to say, "It's not for sale," but instead I say, "This is my nappin' couch. I come here to get away and I read here every morning."

"Russia, eh? What're you going there for?" says Tom.

" A missions trip," I say, "My daughter is graduating this year and wants to care for orphans with me."

"We're Christians, too," he says, and they seem to settle in for the afternoon. Neither mentions the coffee table.

Before long, Tom told me his testimony: when he was 38, had all the world could offer him--successful law practice, big house in the 'burbs, nice cars, you name it. But he had no hope and was planning his own death. He recounted the Friday that was to be his last, as he planned. He took his daughter, then a teen, to the dentist. In the waiting room was a smattering of Christian literature. He picked up two pieces: one a Chuck Colson "Born Again" comic book, the other Power of Praise. He got absorbed in the latter but coudlnt' take it home, so he stopped by Waldenbooks after the appointment.

"I walked into Waldens and right there on display was Power of PRaise, and there was a light shining on it. What are the chances?"

"In Waldenbooks? Supernatural," I said.

"I couldn't read, I had no peace, andn couldn't put the book down. Read it all night, and reread some parts. Next morning I got down on my knees and prayed to God. I don't even know what I said, but told him I was desperate. I was Catholic all my life but this was the first real pray I prayed to God with my heart. Went about my day, nothing felt different, so I called a Chrsitian TV hotline and told I prayed but it didn't work." (He explained that he meant there were no feelings, he didn't feel changed. The TV lady prayed with him adn told him he was definitely a new creation, saved by God's grace. Feelings didn't validate or change truth." He told his wife to join him for a country drive and on the way, he told her of his prayer and "suddenly in the car, as I drove and told her this, I felt a peace come over me like I'd never known. I knew it's what I'd been missing all my life. I was a changed man. I started going to every Bible study I could find, and learn all I could. Unfortunately for some groups it was their mission to get Tom to stop being Catholic. Finally I had to say, "if you want me to stop being Catholic, then pray and ask God to show me why. Otherwise I'm going to have to leave because you're making me very uncomfortable. So they prayed, and I researched and I found my answer at a monastery library. I looke up basic Catholic doctrine in the official Catholic encyclopedia, and it said that Mary was immacutely conceived, she lived a sinless life, she is a co-redeemer with Jesus, and a co-mediator. Well, I got up and walked around the the library and came back and reread that, walked around again. This monastery was Trappist [sp?] which meant they didnt' talk, they just prayed , read, what have you. That's okay, I didnt' want anyone to explain it. I t was in plain ENglish. I had found the reason I could no longer be Catholic since I knew the real doctrines of the Catholic church. I'm not saying a person can't be Catholic and Christian, I am saying I couldn't because now I knew the truth of the Bible and compared it to the Catholic encyclopedia of doctrine. And that was just the doctrine of the immaculate conception! Since then it's been my mission to get my family saved before they die."

I must've raised my eyebrows when he said "get my family saved" because he added, "I mean, God does the saving, but I am determined to do all I can to lead them to Him."

Okay, this is truly a wonderful way to spend an afternnoon, having biblical fellowship with total strangers. Of all the myriad Harford County residents who wanted to look at my coffee table, I was blessed with a talkative, intelligent, ex-Catholic Christian and his quiet wife. They didn't mention the table until 5:00. "Well, honey, what do you think of the table?" Tom asked her enthusiastically.

"I like it. I like that it's oval and dark wood."

They asked if I had a young man to carry it to the car .

"Matter of fact, I have two. I'l get the bodybuilding son from the front yard," I said, and Ben came in and seemed to lift the table up and out with one hand.

Meanwhile each of them needed a turn in the bathroom, and I had to humble myself to flush the toilet first and apologize for a little boy who still needed training.

As Nancy was getting cash out to pay me, Tom said, "Honey, give her an extra five. They're going on a mission trip."

They pulled out of the driveway at 5:30.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Newsflash: Grocery Shopping was FUN!

As I've mentioned before (hopefully not ad nauseum) I have seldom enjoyed grocery shopping. It's near the top of the list of duties I dread.

I have been praying over the past months (and asking for accountability in this area from some close friends) that my perspective on this task would change. I knew I couldn't drum up excitement for it, regardless how well I was prepared, how good the deals were, how uncrowded the store would be, or whatever.

But let me tell you. For the past two weeks, or maybe longer, I have been sick. Really sick--coughing, fever at times, runny nose, chest congestion, headache, you name it. Many times I asked God for mercy to heal me on the spot. When He didn't heal me completely (one or two symptoms would disappear but new ones uprise) I wondered what He was up to. I have been sick maybe 12 times in my whole life. Just have a really strong immune system, I guess.

So two weeks of oatmeal, cereal , quick bag meals, fast food, pizza and other not-so-tempting meals to serve the family, yesterday I was a different person. The sun was shining, my spirits lifted, my body felt stronger, and I wanted to grocery shop!

Excuse me. I said I wanted to grocery shop. Me? What? I MUST be sick, not well!

But no, I ventured into Weis and it was like my senses came alive. EVerything looked so colorful,so pretty, so appetizing. I found great deals on meat, produce, and bread. I found no crowd, no lines, no glitches. I even found a plant of fresh basil that I bought because it just smelled sooooooooo good. (Even a lady I passed in one aisle said, "Is that basil? Reminds me of summer!" I said, "That's why I picked it up. I can't wait for summer!"

I came home and treated to the family to New York steak that I had marinated in oil and herbs. Joel asked if he could help, so I gave him the artist's job of arranging canteloupe, strawberries, and bananas on a bed of lettuce. Sarah cut up potatoes and boiled them for mashing. Paul and Ben kept asking, "Is it ready yet?" I whipped up some honey with mustard and oil for a dressing on a bright salad of stoplight peppers, red lettuce and juicy tomatoes.

While helping in the kitchen, JOel said, "Mom, did you get this from Rachael Ray or did you think of it out of your own head?"

How good it was that God allowed me to be down for so long that when I got up, I wanted to do the thing I used to dread.