Friday, July 30, 2010

A Baker's Dozen of Meals Planned

Some of the things on here sound fancy or gourmet. If so, they are probably from my favorite grocery place which is a food warehouse that gets restaurant grade food for below-grocery store prices. So I figure, why buy plain Jane when I don't have to?

3-Way Wings (BBQ, Old Bay, hot)-two nights ago
Lasagna (last night, from scratch)
Leftovers (tonight)
"Perfect Pulled Pork" sammies-(Sat)from Food Network mag
Steak w/ Roasted Veggies (Sun)
2-Alarm Chili (Mon)
Chicken Broccoli Bake (Tues)
Leftovers (Weds)
Shrimp w/ Tempura Veggies (Thurs)
Barb's Ham Loaf (Fri)
Grilled Salmon w/ Dill rub (Sun)
Veggie Quiche (Mon)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"I Love____" Statements Have Changed My Outlook

Blogging has its rewards, I'll admit. One of the perks I've been thinking about lately is how some
one-liners that include "I love________!" have helped change my outlook for the better .The chief area for this change has been in housekeeping, but I've seen others as well.

The following "I love _____" statements have transformed my "Really? You love doing that? I hate it!" into, "You know, this is kind of fun. Or at least I don't hate it anymore."

"I love cleaning out closets!"
"I love throwing stuff out!"
"I love grilling."
"I love planning a month of meals."
"I love taking breaks from the internet once in a while."
"I love going to bed with all the dishes done AND put away."
"I love washing, drying, folding ,and putting away a whole load in one day."
"I love decorating with things from nature."

I can't say all my habits have changed ,but my mindsets are changing or have changed, and that feels really good. Through 23.5 years of marriage, motherhood, and homemaking, I've gone through stages where I've loved being home and stages where I just wanted to fly the coop. Reading books on an area of weakness to help me improve has certainly helped mentally refocus me, but not always. I really have to credit other people, 99% of whom I know personally, for making some "I love_____" statements. Not just, "Here's what I do, " or "All you have to do is...." like there's some magic 3-step or 12-step formula to making me do--or want to do-- what doesn't come easily/appeal to me. Formulas are for robots and maybe men. But as a woman, I have adapted more feelings than formulas.

I can honestly now say the following:

I love cleaning out closets.
I love throwing stuff out.
I love planning a month of meals.
I love going to bed with all the dishes done and put away.

How about you? Noticed any changes in housework or other things as a result of the positive feelings others have expressed?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gettin' outta the (Cooking) Rut I'm In

Coming back a tad early from my blog vacation.

I've decided that life is way too short to keep eating the same old stuff. I watch creative cooks all the time on TV and so does Paul. We "ooh" and "ahh" and say, "We gotta try that sometime." He checks out cooking magazines from the library and we peruse them for three weeks, but I can't remember the last time I actually used one recipe from there. Occasionally I use a fellow blogger's recipe, or go to my stand-by "older" recipes, but usually I don't plan well enough and end up using whatever is on hand. Not bad in and of itself, but I could do so much better with a bit more forethought. Besides, when all you have in the pantry to throw together is a can of tuna, some stale Fritos, and the wax paper lining from a box of granola, you gotta be creative. And not everyone appreciates it, ya know?

(Truth told, the summer heat kills off most of my creative brain matter in the square footage of the house known as the kitchen.)

So I've been hankering for pulled pork ever since I saw it being cooked on Food Network. Paul kindly checked out the FN issue (read: "Food Network" not "f'in'" !) that says "Perfect Pulled Pork" on the front cover. Contrary to the actual directions given, I don't think I'll be babysitting a grill of wood chips for six hours, but I will adapt the recipe. Whatcha think?

Foodies, help me decide: Slow-cooked in the oven or do the Crock Pot? It calls for a 10-12 pound pork shoulder or Boston butt. I think I should throw a party.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Taking a Break

I'm taking another break from cyberspace for a little while, from sundown today to sundown Wednesday, except to be in touch with my kids and to check email.

I have, once again, succumbed to spending too much time here and not enough on my priorities. Yes, I have been making changes and improvements around the house, and have begun exercising again, and my peeps are getting "three squares a day, " and I am communing with God every morning and getting much out of reading. But I know in my heart I need to fast from here.

Why don't I just take a break instead of announcing it? Well, whenever I make an official announcement of a blog and Facebook break, I feel free. Free to turn my attention elsewhere. Free knowing that people aren't waiting for an immediate reply.

I shall return, for I do love the sense of community online, but I know in my heart, it's time again to do another computer fast.

Till Wednesday at least,


Thursday, July 22, 2010

How A Guy Wraps A Wedding Gift

You, the guy, pick from what's left of the couple's gift registry at the last possible moment. You think a wine rack is a cool gift, and it is. But your mom suggests putting three wine bottles with it so that it's "substantial."

You go buy the wine: a champagne, a red, and a white. You come home and box everything up.

Seal the box and ask Mom if you have to wrap it since it's for a guy. Mom says, "Yes, you have to wrap it. That guy will have a wife by the time he opens it."

You nicely ask Mom if she will wrap it and she says, "No, but I'll tell you where some paper is. You've got wrapping skills." You may have them, but you don't necessarily want to use them, at least not without eating first.

You wrap it in lime green paper from your sister's treasure trove of paper. Your mom is pretty proud of you, and so she whips out her camera. You shake your head and smirk. She is trying to keep things light so that she doesn't cry. She really wonders where time went that her son is now all grown up and buying wedding presents for his good friends' weddings and ushering their guests down the aisle. She is secretly glad she is not the mother of the groom yet.

Mom asks you if you'd like to put a bow on the gift and you say, "Nah, it's fine." And she says, "Do you think it's kind of plain?" And, being a guy, you repeat, "Nah, it's fine. But if you think it needs a bow, go ahead."

So she, being not a guy, but your mother who can't let a gift go unbowed, proceeds to make a "bow" out of a wine bottle opener. She says, "It's extra fun when your gift topper sort of hints at what's inside the box." And you humor her and say, "Yeh. Whatever."

Then you see her get out scrapbook paper, scissors, skinny ribbon, and stickers to make hang tags for the bride and groom's gift.

Experience tells you that now is your perfect opportunity to slip out of the room while Mom gets absorbed in her own little world; you have plenty of time to make early Fantasy Football draft picks.

In the back of your mind, though , you're fairly certain that *your* wrapped gift will show up on *her* blog.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Basement "Makeover"

Really our basement just got new carpet and paint, and our old family room furniture became our new basement furniture. But the completed project feels like an entire makeover.

Plus, it was an awful lot of work for Paul and Ben .My contribution was helping get the room under the stairs dejunked of all my arts and crafts stuff, keep iced tea coming, make color decisions, and offer "atta boys" along the way.

I could not find good "before pictures." Suffice it to say the berber carpet was badly stained and snagged.

View from the kitchen, down to the basement:

The walls were beige with a pink undertone. Not on purpose. It was just a bad call on my part several years ago to not change the color after four square feet of it looked pinkish beige. We didn't like it from the get-go, but economy won out. Lesson learned: Change your paint, even if you've spent $100 on it. If you hate it from the start, it won't grow on you. You'll respond to it emotionally the same way every time. Color affects emotions too much to make a five-year mistake with it.

Sherwin Williams color: Mega Greige, SW 7031
Paint: Behr Ultra Premium with Primer (color-matched to SW swatch)

Carpet: a nylon frieze (free-zay) from Luna. Ben made the final carpet choice when I was "stuck" between two. He's a great salesman (much better than the Luna salesman), able to reason people like me "over the hump" of indecision. This carpet feels comfy underfoot and adds a wonderful texture to the otherwise smooth surfaces everywhere.

View from the landing:

Lest you think the Renoir print of the dancing couple
is our idea of "man cave "decor, let me assure you otherwise. I bought it years ago for a dollar because I like Renoir, but it's the ideal size to conceal our junction box!

I keep hoping it will inspire ballroom dancing the way the treadmill inspires 10K running.

View into the 7x8' music room

which used to be my craft room/art room/junk room

I got choked up taking this photo. I really miss my drummer. He should be sitting here. Can't wait for him to come home and bring back some NOISE. (Feel my forehead. Is this me talking?)

Our walk-out basement offers a lot of natural light.

I still don't know quite how to decorate this space. The guys are happy just to have a remote, some chow, a drink, and the TV .

I'm up for hearing decorating ideas. Our style is pretty simple.

So ends, for now, my Summer Tour of Homes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Simple Woman's Daybook 7.20.10

Not that I am stuck for writing prompts, but A Simple Woman's Daybook helps to put a lot of them in one place outside my mind.

Outside my window...
it's dark and we saw no evidence of the tornado that threatened the northern part of our county earlier this evening. We hung out in the basement, anyway, and I thought of Kansas.

I am thinking...
of the sudden death of Paul's friend Bob last week. They had gone to school together as kids, and had run into each other many times in the past decade. We found out through a mutual friend that Bob died from injuries after falling off his roof.

I am thankful for...
life and breath, God's mercy, Dunkin' Donuts, spiritual fruit in all four of my children right now,
fresh garden veggies, that God woke me 15 minutes early one day last week to see the ambulance out front and put me in a position to minister to our neighbors; God's protection on Paul involving electric wiring and the AC unit and 24 hours without air on a 98 degree Saturday; a lovely girlfriend for Ben; when my parents ask to keep their grandson overnight; my new family room; and a host of other blessings. which I will soon consolidate into a Gratitude List post.

From the kitchen...
tonight--tempura veggies, shrimp cocktail, zucchini strips and chicken drizzled with Wegman's Basting Oil. Tomorrow morning with a friend: blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, coffee, and OJ. I love my Friends' Day Wednesdays.

I am wearing...
a purple polo, tan shorts, enough hair spray to prevent a tornado from messing up my 'do, and pale pink nail polish on all 20 nails.

I am creating...sanctuary in my bedroom, little by little.

I am schedule a cystectomy for Molly, my 10-year-old Golden. GOD BLESS VETERINARIANS who have the stomach for such things. I am still half wretching and half laughing at how cavalier the doctor was when looking at AND touching the ugly growth: "Oh yeah, it's a cyst with a wart on top, and it's oozing. An unfortunate combination."

I am reading... The Holiness of God, by RC Sproul, my favorite Bible teacher ever. Today I read something I'd never thought on before. It's a phrase from an old hymn that is not theologically correct, "God's grace, infinite grace..." Sproul admitted that he once preached a practice sermon on it in seminary, after which his professor asked him where the Bible says that. It doesn't. God is infinite. God is gracious. But His grace is not infinite. He sets limits on His grace. (I may expound more on this soon, and quote Sproul directly when the book is near me.)

I am also reading the book of Ezekiel. I have only ever read it once through in my life, but don't remember it. I hope to get through it with understanding, but I am at least taking notes this time. Recently I came to the part where God tells Ezekiel what do with his six-ingredient bread. Whoa. Betcha won't be coveting your neighbor's bread machine after reading this:

Ezek 4: 9 “And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and emmer, [2] and put them into a single vessel and make your bread from them. During the number of days that you lie on your side, 390 days, you shall eat it. 10 And your food that you eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels [3] a day; from day to day [4] you shall eat it. 11 And water you shall drink by measure, the sixth part of a hin; [5] from day to day you shall drink. 12 And you shall eat it as a barley cake, baking it in their sight on human dung.”

I am get my eyebrows threaded again by Saturday. Threading lasts so much longer than waxing and is not nearly as harsh on the skin. Men just have no idea what they're missing out on. They just have the same old bushy eyebrows month after month, year after year. If you ever see that much hair above my eyes, please check for a pulse.

I am hearing... the dinosaur AC unit puffing, blowing, rattling and squeaking. It's like music, really. From a junior high marching band. With your kid on the trumpet. You appreciate the sounds it makes because you remember the day nothing was coming out of the bell except spit and hot air.

Around the house...I am experiencing the satisfaction of being part of completing projects and anticipating new ones.

One of my favorite things...
Petty as this sounds, I'll admit it's a small thrill. It's this new lip gloss I have that has little holes that the colored gel pushes up through. I am not sure why I get such a kick out of the twist-up ritual in the morning, but I do. It also thrills me that the seller was raising money for a missions trip to Kenya and so the "fun" money is going to a worthy cause.

A few plans for the rest of the week... finish cleaning my bedroom; clean Sarah's and Steve's, too; have a friend over for breakfast to hear about her trip (and calling) to Africa; maybe date my husband (???Honey, I know you are reading this!!!hint, hint); take Joel to my parents' for another overnighter filled with Monopoly, Parcheesi, and Master Mind.

A picture thought I am sharing... for Sarah, who loves penguins.

Almost Halfway

Dear Time,

Please slow down.

I'm eating blueberries from a Star Wars cereal bowl.

I reached for it because it was blue,
but then realized
it wasn't really for the blue that
I chose it,
but for the Star Wars.
Clone Troopers, to be exact.
That's important to know,
he says.

This bowl represents the things of childhood
that will all too quickly be replaced
by things of adolescence.
And then things of manhood.

Just yesterday my boy told me
that one of his slightly older friends
is "halfway to being a man."

"How old is someone who's halfway to being a man?"
I inquired, curious as to his thinking
on the matter of maturity.

"Ten," he said.
"Cuz when you're twenty,
you're a full-grown man."

I remember waiting ten years for this child,
ten long years
of praying, losing, surrendering,
praying harder, longing...

And then he came like an early jonquil
in February.
Eight years ago.

Do you mean that in less than two years,
this child will be
halfway to being a man?

No! Please say it isn't so.
Say it!
Say it, and just let me eat my blueberries!
One at a time.
From his Star Wars bowl.

And let me savor every bite,
every morsel of sweetness
called childhood.

As I do, as I pick up one after
another, examine it, and watch
it disappear after enjoying the
sublime taste,
I notice something.

Not just the bowl
and not just the fingers

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Family Room Makeover (at last!)

Well, REALLY before (as in, before this picture was taken) we didn't have the chocolate sofa or recliner (Bassett, clearance) or new carpet (by Luna). We had a lot of small pieces that made the room look cluttered and old: broken TV cabinet, stained and dated berber carpet, too many lamps in an effort to brighten it up, and few hints at our passion for the nations. I had never liked the ways we tried to store Joel's toys, either, which are mostly Legos, and so overall, I hated the room. I'll be honest. Many a time I acted like a real baby about it rather than being grateful.

The only things I liked about the room before were the color and the view to the outside. To me, this room felt like an itchy wool sweater in the winter: it functioned, but made me feel lousy. I didn't want to be in it.

At the same time, I fell in love with a certain entertainment center from Five Star. With patience, prayer, and a conversation with the shop owner , we were able to get the lowest price on it a solid month before the price was scheduled to drop that low.

I love everything about it: the fact that it is one large piece that 1) is in cherry wood (my fave) 2) has double lights on both ends, 3) stores away the TV, game system, Legos, and much more 4) has adjustable glass shelves that I am using to display mementos from around the world, reminding us of the people and places we've loved.


Paul's proud Polish dad played this accordion. He also served as an army medic in WWII (newspaper dated Dec. 8, 1941).

Paul found this comfy (for me) reading chair at By Design, my new favorite consignment shop that brings in wares from model homes and private consignors--almost all of which I'd call "my style"!

The inspiration piece for the room was an old world map I saw at Five Star Consignments for $50, but I asked the Lord for something comparable at a much lower cost. Lo and behold, I found this framed world map at Goodwill the next day! And it was only $10 !

I scoured the loft at By Design and found a Bassett end table (below) which was exactly what I wanted in every detail . God knows and cares about my littlest desires! Dark wood with an inlay top, a drawer, a shelf, and the same height as the arm of the chair, and under $100. (It was $50!)

Yes, proper size lamps are still much needed, but I am being patient for those last accessories. So far the right ones at the right price have not appeared. Meanwhile, this little one came from the Smith family, so it reminds me of them in Belgium.

The view from the kitchen:

: a place I long to be. A place that feels like home to me.

Another Summer Project:: Linen Closet Clean-out

I'm happy to announce yet another project moved from my "to do" list to my "ta-da!" list.

This picture is a "during" shot of my linen closet clean-out. I started to take a "before" shot, but chickened out . Just couldn't expose to the world the worst closet mess I'd seen in a long time. The door wouldn't even shut.

Sadly, the real motivator for cleaning the closet was not shame or order, but pain. When I needed three little Band-aids (see post below) and couldn't find them among the chaos known as the linen closet-- where we store also lightbulbs, medicines, cleaning supplies, and a vast array of orthopaedic helps--I knew I had to do something. Next time it could be Benadryl someone needs for hives.

And besides, judging from the overabundance of bedsheets in this closet, you might think we run a bed and breakfast or homeless shelter. I needed to get a grip.

So I got rid of all the sheets that weren't part of a set, and kept only a few spare pillowcases because I change them more often than I change all the sheets. I made a few new labels. Determined to use up the travel size toiletries instead of buying more shampoo and conditioner all the time.

Not that I love the look, but I sure do like the practical
convenience of this sheet-storing method: fold all sheets and matching pillowcases of a set within one of the matching pillowcases. That way you know it's all together and you can grab the whole set out at once. I now also travel this way when sheets are required to take. ( Got that helpful tip from my friend Laurie R. )

Ta-da! Linen closet is done!

Now if I need a Band-aid, I can find one. Anyone can, which is a beauty of organization. And, yes, there is still your pick of orthopedic helps--slings, ace bandages,
knee braces, wrist supporters, pelvic girdle. You got bones out of whack? See us. We probably have your remedy in stock, free of charge .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer in the Projects: Taking Risks with Art

This terrier, done in chalk pastels by Joel, was hanging
in our little bathroom two weeks ago. I really like it,
but was ready for a small change.

A spring assignment from his 2nd grade teacher was to
draw an invertebrate. He looked through a Birds 'n Blooms magazine and
chose to do a monarch butterfly. First he drew it with pencil, then filled
in with colored pencil. I was mighty impressed with his detailed work and wanted to
preserve it.

So I decided to frame it, using this doggie frame turned on the

Got so excited while handling the pictures that I kind of forgot there was glass inside the frame.

Woops! Painful mistake. I cut myself in three places.
Went to find a Band-aid, but was prevented by a closet
too messy to allow me quick access to one. Humbling mistake.
By the time I did find one, my wounds were healed.

New art. (Click on the photo for detail.)

What I think is cute
is his indiscriminate punctuation.

"Joel, 4-27-10

age, 8."

Up next: Reorganizing a Large Space in order to Find a Small

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer in the Projects, Exhibit C: Bedroom Closet Makeover

I posted my "before shots" here, where I journaled my progress on Day One of Three. I learned
a few things from this clean-out:

1. I really like to organize closets.
2 . I like it more if I tell myself, "Just 45 minutes to take 1/3 of it out and put it back." It helped me get started. Getting started is the hardest part. In reality, I can handle 1.5 hours of this type of work.
3. Taking "before" pictures is humbling, and a step I almost skipped out of embarrassment .But then I took a look around cyberspace and realized I really am in good company. Or some kind of company.
4. I adopted the motto "Done is better than perfect." I can get OCD about organizing (every six months the disorder hits :), and in the past it has hindered my progress. I mean, you do not need to have matchy-matchy organizers before you start. You don't have to make 90 degree angles of every box. You don't need to keep clothes just because they fit or "go with" something. If you don't like it, you don't like it. Let go of it and live!

My closet now: above: top of my side of the closet.
Top of his side. I ended this clean-out with a couple of empty shelves .Who knew?

I found this treasure again, a Mother's Day gift from Joel that he made in first grade. It made me cry this time. I'm such a sap . But rather than store it, I hung up inside the closet. I highly encourage you to post something inside your closet that makes you feel good.

Uncaught shadow in the shot, but oh well .Here's the lower part on my side. (We share the shoe organizer. My feet are not THAT big!)


Summer in the Projects, Exhibit B: Kitchen Chairs Repainted

I didn't get a "before" picture of this chair and its mates,
but if you look at the table (below), they matched it. I've always liked the table in every way, particularly because it has a butterfly leaf (which means it's hinged in the center and folds away under the table when not needed).

What I decided I didn't like was everything the same color. Boring after 11 years. So black spray to the rescue. All I did to prep was clean each chair with Goo Gone. A perfectionist would have sanded each one also, but I am not that person. So yes, some of the original finish shows through in places, but I am all about two-tone, planned or otherwise.

I also replaced the chair pads in my new favorite color. I happened to find a great bowl ($5 at By Design) in that shade of sea green a couple weeks ago and filled it with fruit.

(If you look closely behind one of the chairs, you will see evidence of yet another project a la Paul: carpet cleaning machine. We broke down and bought instead of rented again; last time we rented a Rug Doctor from a nearby grocery store, there was a trace of cat pee smell in it, which I didn't notice right away ,but our keen sniffer Molly did. She decided to "reclaim her territory" if you know what I mean, while we had the machine . It was a royal pain. So now we have our own machine with our own smells, thank you very much! But I digress.

So, here's Exhibit B: Old Chairs, New Color.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Tour of Homes: Exhibits from the Projects

At last, the hostess shows up to her own party .Sorry, things came up . "People are more important than projects" is a motto I try to live by.

That said...

Paul and I joke about living "in the projects" during the summer. We work on a dozen different projects that build up over the course of the school year, many of which involve the warning: Proper ventilation required.

Such is the case with Exhibit A of my Summer Tour of Homes. (This is the first in a series of posts "in the projects".)

MAKEOVER OF OUTDOOR FURNITURE, or "Watch out, she's got a can of spray paint in her hand and she knows how to use it."

Tired of white wood and wicker after many seasons, I chose my first four victims rather quickly: the front porch chairs, swing, and flower basket .

I bought what I thought would be enough brown paint, but had to go back for more. By happy accident, I bought a different shade and didn't realize it until it was already on. Seeing the mixed tobacco color, decided I actually preferred the weathered wood effect ,so I kept it.

(The lovely blue swag is summer decor also known as a Slip 'n Slide hanging up to dry. One advantage to living on a sloped lawn is the immense pleasure of body surfing and sledding.)

(The flower was from an art student's mom. The little sign in the soil says "Thank You." So thoughtful to give me a growing reminder of that lovely little class.) I decided not to paint the magazine rack; it's not "me" anymore with the picket fence look, so I will either saw them off or replace the whole thing. For now it's the right height to set the flower basket (or move the basket and set down your lemonade).
For about $19 in paint, voila! "New" outdoor furniture.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It Will Wait

The post of Summer Tour of Homes, that is.

My neighbor was taken to the hospital this morning by ambulance and I will be getting a crock pot meal made and also having a friend over to keep us company in our air-conditioned place. Their central A/C unit bit the dust a few days ago. Today is supposed to be 92 here in MD. I have been in that place of sweltering heat/no AC/crabby kids a few summers long ago. I like to "pay forward" the relief I got from people who invited us over to their AC'd homes. (Twice I was pregnant w/o AC except for a little one in the bedroom which felt good but made me claustrophobic. I am a grouchy claustrophobe.)

So pictures and post will have to wait till tonight, probably. Besides, I don't have everything quite ready! But if you are participating, fire away!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Hour at Chincoteague

Chincoteague was one of the places Paul and I went on our childless vacation last month. My sister Jill has a friend whose generous parents let us use their beach home in Virginia about a half hour from the island famous for its wild ponies.

I was hoping to see the creatures of Misty fame up close and personal. I got neither . Now, if my zoom lens weren't on the fritz, I could have at least pretended I was up close. But this is the actual distance from the shoulder of the road to where we saw grazing ponies. (Paul has no equine interest; he only humored me .I said , "It's for Barb. She would like pictures of these wild ponies." ) Can you see them waaaaaaaay in the distance?

Here's what they live on. Hearty eats, huh?

The volunteer fire department
waters them.

The signs on the fence from whence I was taking pictures clearly state, "DO NOT FEED OR PET THE PONIES."
(They want them to remain wild and not attach to humans.)

Not too deep below my surface is a rebellious kid who longed to jump the fence and approach the four-legged beauties anyway. Look at the adorable little fillies with their skinny legs and swishy tails frisking about. Everything in me wanted to break the rules in the name of touching one (or all) of these ponies. Truly in all the world I don't think there is a more majestic beast than a horse.

I do believe God agrees. After all, what will Jesus return to earth riding?

On the way out, we hiked a short distance up a steepish hill on very hot sand to a closed lighthouse.

I went because it said "Art exhibit today." The art was photography of horses and wildlife on the island. Impressive to me, not to Paul. So we saved our cash for mutually enjoyable art that we might happen upon someday soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Joel is a New Babe in Christ!

I've been wanting to share this great news on my blog for weeks! But my heart
was so full I just didn't know where to begin.

Joel went away to New Life Bible Camp the week of June 21st, and during that time
God drew him to Himself and redeemed him through Christ. A counselor named Tian (very tall Jamaican dude) who co-counseled the 2nd-3rd grade boys with Stephen, simply asked him at one point during one-on-one devotions if Joel wanted to ask Jesus into His heart . Joel said "yes!"

Funny thing the way I found out in this day and age: Sarah texted me.

My first reaction was pure joy, bubbling up. The answer to 8 years of prayer! Then my second reaction was clearly from the Enemy to make me doubt. Words like, "probably one of those campy, peer-pressure, feel-bad-about-sin, "pray the sinner's prayer" with a grown-up, and then return just like he was." I can't tell you how I battled to fight the attacks. My oldest son, Ben, felt demonic oppression, too, and I had to say it is no coincidence. Satan no longer had my littlest arrow, God did! And he battles to get arrows back out of God's hands, doesn't he? But God prevailed. He always does! "No weapon formed against you will prosper." Satan wanted to use my last arrow in his kingdom . He'd already lost the first three to God. And yet in our quiver, God had graciously put four that He decided before the foundation of the world would be plucked and straightened and readied for straight flight in HIS kingdom!

Oh, what a happy mom I am!

To say "Booyah!" to Satan, I have already seen Joel bear fruit of repentance:
1. He's more obedient the first time, and with cheer (usually). "Joel, will you please put away the silverware now?" And he gets up and says, "Sure!" (Is this MY kid?)
2. He's ready to read the Bible. We are reading through Matthew together each morning, a portion of a chapter. (It's cute to see his interjections; the other day we came across the part of seed yielding fruit "thirty, sixty, a hundred fold." Well, my little mathematician said, "Shouldn't that be 30,60, 90?")
3. He woke up one morning and immediately started singing a worship song in bed. I stood outside the door and just listened, eavesdropping, resisting the urge to run in and hug him while he was worshiping. I nearly wept.
4. His whole countenance is different. His eyes sparkle and his skin seems to glow. I mean, he's always had beautiful eyes and skin, but his face (to me, anyway) has a "touched by God" appearance now that I can't explain .
5. He is more gentle, less critical, more encouraging, and has greater self-control. The greatest evidence came the very Sunday he returned from camp and was sitting in assembly during Children's Church. Normally he either starts or joins in on the talking with his buddies, not keeping hands to himself, not really caring what the adult up front had to say. But that very first Sunday after his salvation, his eyes were glued up front and he was called on to participate.(To note, the lesson seemed to be for me about putting on the whole armor of God.) He gently resisted his classmates' attempts to distract him and he's been getting good reports from his teachers. (Selfishly this feels really good because, at our church ,if parents ask how their kids were during class, they get honest answers.) I am not naive enough to think that he will always get good reports, but I am confident that "He who began a good work in [Joel] will continue it to the day of Jesus Christ"!

So, rejoice with me in the God of our salvation! For saving Joel from the enemy and redeeming him for Himself!