Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I know I am a little behind the times, but in the last week or two I have immersed myself in the world of Pinterest and more recently, Houzz.  Alternatively, these sites can be called Unrealistic Expectations Addiction or Crack for Homemakers.  They should both link to Perfectionists Anonymous, or If I Would Just Stop Looking at All These Pictures I Might Actually Get Some of My Projects Done Anonymous.

I am so glad that I found both of these websites, because I was a little concerned that I was not wasting quite enough time on the Internet.  Pinterest was created by an evil genius who evidently spent a lot of time like me tearing pictures out of magazines and organizing them by topic.  I still have 3-ring binders - big fat ones - with magazine articles in sheet protectors.  In the early years of our marriage, I would spend hours tearing out and organizing inspiring magazine articles. Our house would be beautiful! I would make all of my children's clothing and smile humbly as all of my jealous mom-peers heaped compliments upon my head. It was like playing make-believe.  Then I had kids and actually had to play make-believe, and the tearing out of inspiring articles slowed considerably.

How many of those ideas have I acted upon?  Off the top of my head, I'd say maybe 5%.  But oh, how I love to be inspired.

Houzz is what every home magazine in print should be - just straight up pictures.  I don't want to hear about how you and the architect had to tweak the design, nor do I care that it took two months for your decorator to track down the absolutely perfect paint color to match your $125/yard custom curtains.  Just show me the stinkin' pictures.

So I would write more tonight, but I'm too busy violating Exodus 20:17 (go look it up...and then pin it to my "Habitual Sins" board).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fall Days

Emma loves to take pictures, so she took the camera out back one fall day and captured some great images.

 Here you see our backyard from the perspective of a beetle.

 Will practices kicking the football. 

Action shots! Jack takes a plunge off the retaining wall.

 Here's Will!

 In the last picture, Will was pretty obvious. This time you have to hunt for him.

 Jack has his own fun in the leaf pile.

For Jack's birthday party, I made cupcakes. I thought it would be easier than a big cake, but I still managed to make it pretty labor-intensive.  However, they turned out pretty cute and Jack loved them.

OK, I found a recipe on Pinterest for koolaid-flavored popcorn.  It looked so fun! But it tasted exactly like Cap'n Crunch, which is not bad, but it took a long time to make and left a huge mess to clean up in the kitchen. Can't say I would recommend Kool-Aid popcorn. Next time I'll just set out a bowlful of dry cereal and save my energy for better uses.

 The highlight of Jack's birthday party was the touch football game. Justin quarterbacked both sides.  Here he is calling a play in the huddle.

 OK, does everybody know the play?  Here we go!


 Jack catches it in the corner of the endzone.

Congratulations follow from Adam, his teammate. What a great birthday party!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some Practical Ways to Sit at Jesus' Feet

OK, I've admitted it, I am Martha.  So how do I become Mary? 

Ahh, good question, grasshopper.

There can be a perception that spending time at Jesus' feet is this blissful, quiet, yoga-like experience where we close our eyes and inhale through our nose and picture ourselves in a meadow with Jesus running toward us.

Sometimes it can be like that, I guess.

As I've mentioned earlier, for me it's usually more like a battle to stay focused.  And when our kids were little, it sounded more like this:

"Mama is trying to read her Bible!! Now you get back in there and watch Dora and if I hear your little brother crying again because you hit him, you'll be the one who is crying when I get done with you!!"

Or something highly spiritual along those lines.

So here are some thoughts on sitting at Jesus' feet:

1. We have to realize that physically sitting at someone's feet is an act of submission.  When Mary sat at Jesus' feet, she was saying in essence that nothing was more important than him, and that she was his student, his follower.  She was eager to learn from him.
We all have full lives, and we all make choices every day of how we are going to spend our time. One of my favorite time-management books is 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam. In it, the author shows how our priorities (or lack of them) drive our time-related decisions each day.

What does the way I spend my day say about who Jesus is in my life?

* A side note to parents of young children:  you are going through a tough season in your life right now, and often it feels like you are on a spiritual desert island.  But don't let that be a cop out.  Sitting at Jesus' feet will look different for you right now.  Sometimes all you can do is cry out for Jesus to help you!  I would encourage you to find ways to memorize Scripture; you will be amazed at the Holy Spirit's ability to pop that piece of truth into your brain just when you need it. 

One great way to do that is listen to verses set to music.  God wired us to remember words in songs better than spoken words.  Heck, I can still do the rap to "It Takes Two" and you should hear my husband break it down on "Ice, Ice Baby."  Now, let's use some of that memory storage for something worth while! 

Two resources that I know of are Fighter Verses and the Seeds Family Worship CDs.  Somebody bootlegged the Seeds of Courage CD for us when our kids were younger (Sorry! If it makes you feel better, the cd skipped. Alot.)  Anyway, I will never forget our entire family singing, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding..."  except one of the kids thought they were singing, "And the pizza guy..."

Also, (and this is something that has been wandering around in my brain for weeks now), what if you got another mom or your mom or sister to be a memory verse buddy? You could both say the verses to each other once a week, maybe just on the phone (but no cheating! it kinda defeats the purpose.)  I've been thinking of asking my sister or a friend to do this with me, because I have the self-discipline of jello.  And the belly to prove it!  But that's another post.

OK, I know there's only one point here, but I have to go pick up the kids, so I will save the rest for another day. 

Don't forget!  The pizza guy is always watching over you, transcending all understanding. What a comfort.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fruit Cocktail Casserole

Tonight we are eating Tater Tot Casserole.  We rarely eat casseroles; we are more of a meat, starch, and veggie family.  My children like easily identifiable food on their plate, and anything coming out of a 9x13 dish will be spread apart on their plate and analyzed.  They interrogate me:
What is this little brown thing?  
Is this a mushroom?
Is this white thing an onion?

This goes on until they are satisfied that any suspicious food particles have been named and the nasty bits pushed to the side.  I told them that one night I am going to fix Mystery Casserole and force them to slog through it on their own, eating food that has not been named.  Horrors!

Anyway, to my knowledge, I have never fixed Tater Tot Casserole before, but it was cheap, easy and Christy at Southern Plate recommended it, so we tried it out.

Even though the skepticism about said casserole ran pretty high amongst my family members, I can now confidently pronounce Tater Tot Casserole a success. Delicious! and filling.

However,  all of this talk about casseroles reminded me of a time when our kids were all still babies and we had a young couple over.  They were engaged, and Justin was doing their pre-marital counseling.  They came up to our house once a week, he met with them, and then they stayed for supper. 

Well, one evening as I was fixing supper, I realized that I did not have any pineapple for my pineapple casserole.  If you've never had pineapple casserole, you are missing out.  It is canned pineapple tidbits, sugar, flour, and cheddar cheese covered with crushed ritz crackers that have been drizzled with melted butter.  It should be dessert, but in our house, it's a side dish.

Anyway, I panicked.  No pineapple!  Is there any substitute for pineapple when it is the headliner in a dish called pineapple casserole?  I guess the kiddos had fried my brain that particular day, because I decided to go ahead and make the dish using fruit cocktail.  Fruit cocktail, people!!

When we all sat down to dinner, you couldn't really tell, because the fruit cocktail was hidden under its blanket of cracker crumbs.  But once Justin started to spoon some onto his plate, the gig was up.  He looked at me curiously and asked, "What is this?"  And I said, "It's fruit cocktail casserole.  I didn't have any pineapple." 

It was so gross, y'all! One bite was enough.  The sweet little couple ate all of theirs, but Justin stopped eating after he said, "I think I just ate a hot grape."  Clearly, I had pushed the boundaries in old school Southern cuisine, and not in a good way.

So my advice to you tonight is:

1. Try Tater Tot Casserole.
2. Definitely try Pineapple Casserole.
3. Do not attempt Fruit Cocktail Casserole.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Don't you care?

Yesterday Justin preached about Jesus with Martha and Mary.  You know the story, when Martha is super busy getting lunch ready for Jesus and his crew, and Mary (her sister) isn't helping Martha at all.  She is just sitting at Jesus' feet, listening.  Martha is frustrated because her sister isn't doing her fair share of the work, so she asks Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her.  Martha asks Jesus, "Don't you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?"

Don't you care, Jesus?

In January, our church plant will be two years old.  The church family is expanding, but slowly.  At the three year mark, we want to be a self-supporting church, able to meet our operating expenses without the assistance of other churches.

I'm not sure if we're going to make the mark.

Don't you care, Jesus?

Martha saw all that she had to do: good work serving others, but she couldn't see Jesus.  He wasn't anything but another item on her to-do list.  Feed Jesus and his friends: check.

I so relate to Martha.
  • Read the Bible: check.
  • Make supper: check.
  • Do the Laundry: check.
  • Pray before drifting off to sleep: check.
Jesus loved Martha.  He looked at her and said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus.  Martha chose to run herself ragged, trying to be the perfect hostess.

I struggle mightily with anxiety and being troubled about many things.  It's kind of my modus operandi.  And this whole church plant adventure has been the perfect storm for anxiety.  It has exposed
  • my selfishness (I don't want to talk to new people!)
  • my pride (I don't want to help lead music - I don't sing well enough!)
  • my apathy (I should be praying for people in our church family...but I think I'll check facebook instead.)
But most of all, I can see with greater clarity than ever my lack of trust in God.

God my Father, who gives "good gifts to those who ask him," who knows every hair on my head, who loves me so much that he sent Jesus to save me, who will not leave me or forsake me, this is the God of whom I continually ask, "God, don't you care?"

When I sit down to read my Bible and pray, I either a) start to doze off or b) fight an internal battle with the anxious portion of my mind that is saying, "Are you kidding me? You are going to sit down and just read? Have you seen your bathroom floor lately? There are million of people all around the world right now leading productive lives and you are just going to sit there?  Well, not if I can help it!"  And the internal nagging increases in intensity.

This struggle is not by accident, I believe.  That voice is suspiciously absent when I sit down to watch a TV show or read a book of fiction.  We super-Christians don't like to admit it, but it is hard to read your Bible.  It is even harder to pray.  It is hard, and it seems pointless, and so we move on.  But as Jesus told Martha, listening to him and sitting at his feet is the most important, the most necessary thing I can do each day.  God knows what I need.  He knows what's going to happen with the church plant, and he's got that under control too.