Random Musings from My Snow Days…

Yesterday and today have been official snow days for us. It’s been beautiful! And we’re loving sitting in the new room we finished this fall and staring out the big windows at the squirrels and cardinals, bluebirds and tufted titmouses, gathering food and playing in the winter wonderland that is South Carolina right now. And they’re not the only ones playing; the neighborhood children have been sledding on any flat surface they can get their hands on. And since no one’s driving out there, they’re sledding right down the middle of the road, giggling and guffawing.

My Snow Day Spot

My Snow Day Spot

Yesterday, we started the day by making Eggs Benedict–Bryan’s practicing his Hollandaise Sauce for his mid-terms. I read An Introduction to the Chinese Mainland Soul. It’s a short book, but worth the read, and a fascinating cultural insight into the Asian culture and mindset.  Today I’m reading Teaching in a Distant Classroom: Crossing Borders for Global Transformation. And while I don’t plan on teaching overseas anytime soon, it’s always good to open your eyes to other cultures and how to relate to people who see the world differently than you might.

We made a batch of tomato soup and griddled sandwiches for supper last night. And I did take a slight break from my television fast yesterday, but only after having read for several hours and listening to music with Bryan for a while too.  In addition to the books, here are a few of the articles I’ve read recently:

  • Listening to Lies by FancyNonsense.com (Such a practical and convicting article; and it’s for everyone–married or not. It talks about listening to what people are saying–not what you think they’re saying; and repenting of being a “me monster”–in a culture that tells you to believe “It’s all about me.”
  • Friendship and Marriage by Jay Younts (“Romance that flows from friendship will have a sure foundation.” This article mentions Timothy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage; and it reminds me of Gary Inrig’s Quality Friendship, a book that Bryan and I read while we were dating that talks about being friends first and then deciding to be friends forever.)
  • To Live or Die (a new hymn by Chris Anderson of ChurchWorksMedia.com)

Now, it’s back to reading for me. Enjoy these last few hours of glorious white powder, as I hear the sun is coming out today to melt it all away. And maybe read one of the articles listed above–you won’t regret it.

Happy Birthday to My Dad: My Dad is Still My Hero!

The first one makes me laugh and cry all at the same time. The second one is just hilarious…and special because the dad has two girls and a boy, like in our family growing up.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Thanks for teaching me to love God and love others. Thanks for providing and protecting, for counseling and guiding, and for always knowing how to make me laugh…even if I didn’t always understand your humor. I love you! And you’re still my hero!

Fresh, February Feast: Cooking in Season

Tonight’s dinner was primarily made from fresh produce that is currently in season! And Bryan brought home some fresh rye and caraway bread from class today to round it all out. Throw in a little citrus and local honey, and we’re golden!

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Counter-clockwise from the top right, we have Sautéed Asparagus and Mushrooms with Fried Eggs, Creamy Cucumber and Avocado Soup, Fresh Bread with Butter, and Broiled Grapefruit with Sliced Bananas and Honey.

Here’s a closer look at the individual dishes:

Creamy Cucumber and Avocado Soup (adapted from EatingWell.com) - my friend Ashley shared this recipe and told me to double the avocado and add tarragon. It was quite tasty! (Click on image for recipe.)

Creamy Cucumber and Avocado Soup (adapted from EatingWell.com) – my friend Ashley shared this recipe and told me to double the avocado and add tarragon. It was quite tasty! (Click on image for recipe.)

Sauteed Asparagus with Baby Bella Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Garlic, Mint, Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice; and some fried eggs for some extra protein

Sauteed Asparagus with Baby Bella Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Garlic, Mint, Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice; and a side of Fried Eggs

And last but not least...Broiled Grapefruit with Bananas, Honey, and Ginger from She Wears Many Hats (click on picture for recipe)

And last but not least…Broiled Grapefruit with Bananas, Honey, and Ginger from SheWearsManyHats.com (click on picture for recipe)

It was a feast indeed!

 

Taking Time to Read

I’m not saying I’m a huge fan of Confucius, but he got this one right! And it fit with my current theme of reading more and watching less, so I thought I’d share it. Yesterday, I was able to spend a good chunk of the afternoon listening to an audio book–did you know they have audio books on YouTube now?! I listened to a few chapters of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Gamebefore falling asleep for my Sunday afternoon nap. (It’s a sci-fi classic and quite entertaining, if you haven’t read it before.)

After evening service and some really encouraging conversations with some friends afterwards, we headed home for a quiet evening in–without watching the Super Bowl, believe it or not. Bryan finished up a bit of homework, we had a quick dinner, and then both picked up books to read for the rest of the evening. Currently, I’m finishing up this one:

I don’t know much about this author, but so far, it’s been pretty encouraging. So thankful that God continues to work on each of us and gives the grace for each day. I’m looking forward to reading more of this book tonight…and maybe falling asleep to another chapter or so of Ender’s Game too.

Speaking of grace for each day, I found this article by Justin Buzzard that was written a few years ago: Grace Sufficient for Today. It starts out with the following quote: “Worry is interest paid on a debt we may never owe.” I’m not sure who first said it, but it was an illustration that hit me in a profound way. So thankful that God’s grace is sufficient in my weakness and available in the exact amount I need.

 

Writer’s Block Over: Reclaiming the Time

It has been forever since I actually sat down and intentionally wrote a blog post. I’ve written a dozen or more articles in my head, but they’ve never made it onto paper…let alone the blog. It’s felt like writer’s block, and for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s been an incredibly busy season in our lives–between work, school and church schedules; holidays and family time; and finishing up the back room project, on top of a water main breaking.
  2. We’ve had a season of sickness–about six weeks each during the holidays. (We’re both finally feeling better!)
  3. This particular season at work is recruiting and conference planning season, so it’s been especially busy; and when you add the general busyness to this, along with the lack of sleep from being sick, I was too tired to even think about writing.
  4. I think the fatigue and overall winter gloom made me lethargic; when I got home from work, the only thing I felt I had energy to do was watch TV, and that’s what I did.

So, though the season of busyness is not over yet, the sickness and fatigue is waining, and I’ve had more energy to want to think creatively again. Plus, I’ve been asked to write emails, manuals, and some ads at work recently, so I want to make sure I don’t lose my craft. And the only ways to do that are reading and writing.

I went to a book party last night, and it really encouraged me to start reading again. The last few novels I’ve picked up to read have kind of been flops that I’ve abandoned towards the beginning, so I was happy to get a highly recommended book to break the rut.

And if I want to have time to read and write, something else has got to go. So, as I talked with Bryan last night, I decided the thing that was getting the boot (for me) was television–at least for the month of February! That means watching on the TV, over the internet, Netflix, sports, movies, everything–it’s got to go if I’m going to reclaim my time! And Bryan’s promised to help me. 

I’ve been thinking about pulling the plug on television for a while now. It started with an interview our pastor did of a dear lady who turned 100 last year! She said one of the best decisions she made to improve her prayer life was not watching TV–and she doesn’t feel like she’s missed anything! I haven’t been able to shake that thought. Then our shepherding group leaders have been talking a lot recently about getting rid of everything that’s a non-essential: whether that means eliminating daily distractions or even as drastic as downsizing their home to give them more time to serve and less time working on a big, beautiful yard. Don’t get me wrong, God can use your time in the yard for His glory and He can show you the beauty of His creation through your work in it, but there’s a time and season for everything, and they have some good points.

So, I’m going to do my best to break the couch potato habit; and I’m not promising I’ll write every day, but I am promising that I will either read or write (or maybe a little of both) for at least a little while each evening. I’m also hoping that this will be an encouragement to my soul (as opposed to the needless drama of fictional characters and lack of edification on most shows these days).

My Christmas Prayer

This Christmas, as I contemplate the true meaning of the holiday, I am brought back not just to the birth of my Savior, but to the reason for His coming–to save me and my fellow sinners from our sins. So, this Christmas I think through not just the nativity but all the way to Calvary and beyond.

Speaking of beyond, I think of so many of my friends who have lost loved ones this year–spouses, siblings, children, grandparents, parents, unborn children, close friends. On one side, I can almost see them singing with the choir of angels, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” Then I started thinking, at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of our baby King, the very miracle of His birth means that God Himself gave up His Son from the glories of heaven for a while too. And I pray for those who have a painful glimpse into the glories of God’s great Sacrifice.

Dear God,
This Christmas, help me to focus on Christ and not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season. Let me show those I come in contact with the glories of your mercy and grace and love–whether it be family or friends, or those in the grocery store or shopping mall, or even on the roads–let me be an example of your patience and peace, and forgive me of my own impatience and selfishness. Whether there be snow or sunshine, whether we be near our loved ones or far away, whether we have great sorrow or great joy, great wealth or great need, may Christ shine His light and likeness into our lives–a light that is greater than even the star that shone over Bethlehem many years ago. And may I cling to the cross where King Jesus shed his blood on my behalf to save me from my sins to the glory of His great grace.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuttorosso’s Cooking Spoon Sweepstakes Ends Today

Tuttorosso just sent me a beautiful wooden spoon with their new slogan: “The most important ingredient is you.” Enter to win a new wooden spoon–or the grand prize of a Le Creuset cookware set!

How to enter? Visit Tuttorusso’s Facebook page and click on the “Cooking Spoon Sweepstakes” tab. (Note: commenting on this post will not increase your odds of winning nor enter you into the sweepstakes.)

Tuttorosso is Italian for “all red.” They’ve been creating 100% all natural tomato products since 1929, with the goal “to produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world.” See their full product line and several recipes at http://www.redgold.com/tuttorosso.

 

Finally…Flower Pictures to Share…

Here are some of the pictures of the flowers from the recent wedding I did. This wedding’s flower lineup included white hydrangeas, calla lilies and roses, blue delphinium, purple statice, peach wax flowers, green hypericum berries and grass…oh, and blue thistle! I have to admit I was a little nervous about this particular combination of flowers, but it turned out to be a beautiful mix!

The following pictures are courtesy of Joshua and Candace Spencer of Lotus Creative Studios:

20130802 Sabatini Flowers-2 20130802 Sabatini Flowers-3 20130802 Sabatini Flowers-4 20130802 Sabatini Flowers-5 20130802 Sabatini Flowers-7 20130802 Sabatini Flowers

And here are a few extra pictures I took. The best part was secretly adding the bride’s grandmother’s brooches into the bouquet–a special request of the mother of the bride that made it extra special for her daughter:

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Journey Journal: Days 232-256

Day 232-256: Tuesday, August 20, through Friday, September 13, 2013

I feel the need to write but am not sure where to start. It’s been almost a month since I was able to give some updates, but I don’t have a ton to say. We’re still enjoying our jobs, as busy as ever but enjoying it! We’re still active at church, although we’re taking a hiatus from teaching children’s Sunday school due to other responsibilities and to be part of an adult Sunday school again for a bit. We’re still working on the back room project–we’ve purchased everything at this point except final trim work stuff and are just waiting to finish putting the pieces together, but definitely making progress! Bryan’s well into his first semester of culinary school, and so far it’s going really well.

My handsome chef in the culinary lab.

Last week, I took Thursday off as a random vacation day. It was my first day off in forever and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I slept in till like 10! (It was amazing!) Then started my day with a cup of hot tea, cajun home fries and spinach asiago scrambled eggs for brunch before running errands. Priced flowers for an upcoming wedding, went to the bank, picked up flooring for the new room!, went grocery shopping, went to the Farmers’ Market, unloaded flooring…and actually took time to read! Plus, I was able to spend a long time in the Word and read a portion of my current Bible study book. Finished the day by making supper for Bryan, while watching some cooking shows. It was such a nice day, I got so much accomplished, and I feel human again! If you haven’t taken a random day off in a while and you can, I highly recommend it!

In other news, we had a week or so that we ate out a lot, primarily due to busy schedules, and we’ve decided that we do not want to make that a regular pattern, so we’re taking a moratorium on eating out for a month–unless it was already scheduled or a ministry thing, of course. And we’ve been experimenting with food. Here are a few of our culinary adventures:

A breakfast of grilled pita and sliced turkey topped with over medium eggs, Parmesan, and fresh pico!

Dinner of sautéed asparagus tips with shallots, garlic, red pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, topped with a few grilled, thin slices of turkey breast, crumbled goat cheese, and two over medium eggs with salt, pepper, and thyme; spicy tasting carrots with garlic, thyme, dill, crushed red pepper flakes, and some olive oil; golden mushroom caps; and mashed potatoes with crumbled sausage & parsley. Served with OJ…and a French Press of coffee (not shown). This was basically two full meals–so we packed some up for lunch the next day.

Spicy Asian Fish and Ginger-Scallion Scallops with Stir-fried Vegetables over Steamed Rice for Dinner

Sesame fried pork cutlets, red skinned mashed potatoes, and salad with honey sriracha dressing!

First attempt at clams and mussels…not bad. This was a roasted pepper and paprika cream sauce. I had no idea these lil’ guys were so cheap! Definitely going to keep experimenting.

So, that pretty much catches you up except for the nitty gritty of work and life, but I won’t make you read those details. ;) It’s been pretty busy all-in-all, but things are starting to line up and fall in place and slowly get checked off the to-do lists on all fronts. We’re encouraged, and we’re thankful for how God is working in our lives and holding up our hands and providing strength and rest in this busy season of life.

 

“Lessons in Limitations” – Pastor Tim Chaddick, Reality LA

Pastor Tim Chaddick,    Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Reality LA

My brother and sister in law went to this church in L.A. when they lived out there. The few sermons by Tim Chaddick that I’ve had the privilege to listen to have been outstanding! This one entitled “Lessons in Limitations” was particularly convicting and refreshing.

Pastor Chaddick was on sabbatical this summer, and this was his first sermon back after his time of rest and renewal. It’s packed full of practical theological truths. There’s some intro comments, then the sermon starts right around 5 minutes in. Sermon from II Corinthians 10:11-18. Definitely worth listening to! I can’t get the video to embed, but you can listen to it here: http://realityla.com/teachings/lessons-in-limitations/.

Here’s the basic gist and some of the comments that really stuck out to me:

II Corinthians 10 was written to a church who was influenced by “self-proclaimed leaders who did not live in reality but in fantasy, and whose influence was damaging the church. His portrait of them is not painted with the exaggerated illusions they used for themselves, but with sober words rooted in reality…living a life that went beyond the truth, a life that went beyond boundaries, a life that went beyond God-given limits, and they were talking as though they were. What they needed was a lesson in limitation.” “These arrogant and errant teachers started creeping their way into the community, and they were corrupting sound doctrine. And one of the reasons many people fell for it was because they looked so impressive. In an attempt to establish their credentials, they talked a big game…but their mouths were writing checks that their lives couldn’t cash.”

Imagine this passage was written not only to these teachers but also to us. We are “constantly tempted to go beyond God-given limits. Holy Scripture tells the truth about us…about humanity, exposes our temptation towards illusion, image management, and half-truths, and pushes us towards Christ-centered, Spirit-filled, others-oriented, healthy and humble living.”

  • Recognize Your Limits.
    • Social media–”illusion” and “distraction” and “disconnection” and “overloaded”; “We feel this constant need to be up-to-date, but the reality is in our world today, to be up-to-date all the time would mean you would have to be unemployed.”
    • Overwork–trying to go beyond our God-given limits; often because “we need to feel needed” or our “need to be successful” or “need to be known” or “need to avoid what’s in front of you right now”…
    • Exaggeration–hide our weaknesses and then constantly live in “image management” mode; symptoms: “falsely lifting yourself up,” “playing up your abilities and strengths,” “putting other people down,” “taking credit for other people’s work,” “only looking at ‘what if’ not ‘what is,’” “constant comparison to other people…cycle of arrogance and insecurity…starving for the praise of men, you boast”

“When we go beyond God’s limits, we are not advancing His cause–we are advancing our own cause;” “Limits can have a profound way of teaching us to reflect on our motives.”

Recognizing limits “cultivates humility…For in recognizing noble limits, we are essentially recognizing God is Creator and we are creature. We are His creation. …it’s a prerequisite to worship, recognizing that God is God.”

  • Learn to Receive Limits.
    • “Though we do not choose the times in which we  live, we do choose how we live within those times.”
    • “Receiving limits means choosing to live within God’s boundaries.
      • “…a matter of living according to Scripture…God has given all of us moral, ethical, and spiritual boundaries. The doctrine that we learn from Scripture shapes our lives….Scripture is our authority.”
      • “…living within your sphere of influence and responsibility.”
    • Physical Body–”God is not bummed out in heaven right now that you are not in five places….God gave you a physical body…your finiteness does not equal sinfulness.”
    • 24-Hour Days–”We must make a decision: How am I going to live today?”
    • Your Work–”What does it mean to be faithful in the job that God has given you right now?”
    • Marital and Family Status–”That is a season of life that God has allowed you to enter into.” How are you glorifying God in your current status?
  • Learn to Set Up Proper Boundaries
    • Spirit-Led Discipline vs. Laziness–”Most things that are good for you in your life actually take some work to put into place. Like nobody just accidentally started exercising.”
    • Benefits: Focus on what God has given to us right now, Freedom from living without comparison to the callings of others, a way to be Faithful and Fruitful
  • Rejoicing in Limits
    • The commendation from God becomes the only commendation that matters.
    • “It is Christ’s glory not ours that matters….This is a radical change in our definition of success. What if we went into every situation being not thinking like, ‘What can I get out of this?’ but ‘Will God get glory? How can Christ get glory in this situation?’”
    • “The truth is this morning you woke up to a world you did not create in need of a salvation you could not accomplish. That is the truth. God does not need you, but in His grace He loves you, He saves you, and He gives you meaning, and He gives you purpose, and He gives you work in life.”
    • “Jesus came in humility, and He limited Himself to the path of the cross….to rescue us…”

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord’ (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

“You can’t do everything, you can’t know everything and be everywhere with everyone, and confessing this honors God, who alone is wise, who alone is all powerful, who alone is omniscient, who alone is compassionate….by recognizing that Jesus is the one who accomplishes your salvation alone, receiving Him as your Savior, and rejoicing in the salvation that He gives you freely as a gift of  His grace. See, you can rejoice in limitations when you know you have God’s commendation. God’s calling us to pause, to stop, and to pay attention to Him. Where are we going beyond noble limits?…”

[from "Lessons in Limitations" sermon by Tim Chaddick at Reality LA, preached on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013]