Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kids Say, vol. 7

Abel:  "Amariah, guess what?  Our mommy works at home, and that's her office."


At some point, Abel decided that he doesn't like tomatoes.  Instead of forcing them on him, I have instead asked him to eat just one bite of whatever we're having with tomatoes, and then I let him eat the rest without tomatoes.  Suddenly, as I was beginning to prepare our tuna sandwich supper, Abel announces, "Mommy, I want lettuce and tomato on my sandwich!  Tomatoes are so good, right?!"

5 minutes later, holding his partially eaten sandwich:  "Mommy, the tomato is sticking out.  I don't want to see the tomato."

another 5 minutes later, chewing the final bite of his sandwich:  "Mommy!  This tomato is making me sad!..."

2 seconds later:  *gag*

Okay, so maybe he doesn't think tomatoes look and taste all that great just yet; but he made up his mind to eat tomato on his sandwich, and eat tomato on his sandwich he did!  That's my boy! :-)

Sunday, June 27, 2010


"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges." (1 Corinthians 5:9-13a)

Last night, Travis and I did something that we haven't done in a long time: we hung out with some people who are outside the church. Now, these aren't in-your-face-immoral type people. In fact, they are probably "good" people by the world's standards. But, they don't know Jesus.

Now, Travis and I aren't opposed to hanging out with non-Christian people in the right setting and with the right motive; but it seems that we've probably gotten pretty comfortable within the confines of our Christian bubble. For one thing, that is where our truest friendships lie--and rightly so. But for another (and I think this is true for Christians and non-Christians alike), it is easier to be yourself when you are with people who are like you.

I can't lie: there were a few moments last night when I felt uncomfortably different. And, in those moments when my differences were--at least by my perception--blatantly obvious, I found myself wishing I were back inside my bubble. It would undeniably be easier for me to always remain amongst those with whom I "fit in." But if I never go to where I'm different, then I will miss the opportunity to show unbelievers Who it is that makes me different.

Dear God, thank You for changing me. Thank you for making me different. Inasmuch as my differences will point to You, please help me to unashamedly be the changed me that I am no matter in whose company I sit. May my transformed life be a testimony unto You!

Monday, June 21, 2010

He's Still Working On Me!

He's still working on me... and I'm glad!

Recently, I was reading in my Bible from the book of James--reading it and reading it and reading it again.  For about a week I was kind of "stuck" in the book of James.  Why?  Because God was showing me things (a LOT of things!)--things that He wants to change--about myself.  And I was enjoying it and embracing it!

Sometimes when I read my Bible--and I'm sure others can relate--I feel a bit disconnected, like nothing is really striking a cord.  This hasn't been one of those times.  (Praise God!!!)  I have been totally captivated, not just by one or two verses, but by the whole letter!  It's not even something I can spell out in its entirety right now.  But, I can say this:  that in the midst of working through these five chapters of Scripture again and again, and in recognizing that there were an awful lot of things that God was pointing out to me, He brought a line from a long forgotten song to my mind.
He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be....

That single line--and the truth of it--has been replaying through my mind off and on for a week or more; and finally today I looked up the rest of the words.

He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars,
The sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.

Verse 1:
There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.

Verse 2:
In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.

Truly, God has been showing me through "the mirror of His Word" that there are a lot of "unfinished parts" in me.  But the truth that makes that endurable is that He is still "fashioning" me "to make me what I ought to be."    Indeed, I have been gripped by God's Word and by the loving chastisement of my Father; and for that I am so thankful, because I know that "He's still working on me!"

He's Still Working On Me (by Joel Hemphill)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

9-Month and 12-Month Stats

Last Friday I took Isabel and Elliana in to the pediatrician for their 12-month well-child appointments.  Here are their stats!

Isabel (12 months)
Weight:  15 lbs 7.4 oz (< 3rd percentile)
Height:  27 1/4 in (5th percentile)
Head Circumference:  44 cm (10th-25th percentile)

Elliana (12 months)
Weight:  17 lbs 5 oz (5th percentile)
Height:  29 in (25th-50th percentile)
Head Circumference:  45 cm (50th percentile)

And, since I never posted stats from their 9-month appointments, here they are, too....

Isabel (9 months)
Weight:  14 lbs 5.4 oz (< 3rd percentile)
Height:  25 1/2 in (5th percentile)
Head Circumference:  42 cm (5th percentile)

Elliana (9 months)
Weight:  15 lbs 9.4 oz (5th-10th percentile)
Height:  27 in (40th percentile)
Head Circumference:  43 1/2 cm (40th percentile)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My Menu Planning Method

I received an email from a friend a while back asking how I do my weekly menu planning, and as I was drafting my response to her, I decided that perhaps I should share my method here on my blog, too.

One thing I have learned from experience is that cooking for my family is a lot more fun--and happens a lot more regularly--when I have a plan.  I have admittedly been in a planning--and therefore, cooking--slump the past few months, which has resulted in too many procrastination/lack of motivation-induced late suppers and/or too many trips through the McDonald's drive-thru (which is definitely NOT in accordance with a whole foods diet!). :-)  Thinking of Proverbs 29:18 ("Where there is no vision, the people perish.") the other night, I jokingly said to my husband, "Where there is no plan, the people starve to death... or eat fast food."

While I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I haven't been feeding my family all that well as of late, I do have a couple excuses.... ;-)
  1. When we transitioned to more of a whole foods diet, I put several of my usual recipes out of commission until I could figure out how to adjust them to make them healthier.  As a result, my menu planning document (which I'll tell you about shortly) was also put out of commission until I could get it revised to reflect those adjustments.
  2. Soon after our transition to a healthier diet, I also began a transition to buying more grocery items in bulk.  Because of the start-up costs associated with that, I didn't have as much room in my grocery budget for much meal variety; and that started me on a cycle of just coming up with a meal based on whatever ingredients I had on hand.
Needless to say, I have recognized that my lack of a plan has been robbing not only our "dining out" budget but also the joy I find in cooking for my family.  I have therefore been working on revising my menu planning document; and now that I'm ready to get back to the benefits of having a plan (and to get myself excited about it!), I thought I'd share my menu planning system here for others who may be looking for ideas.

Let me first say that I cannot take full credit for this.  Just as I am sharing my method with you, my super organized friend Melissa shared her method with me; and her ideas served as the framework for what I have developed....

I do have a recipe/menu planning software, but I don't like it; so I just started from scratch using Word.  My document contains several pages, titled as follows:  Monday-Friday Lunch, Monday Supper, Tuesday Supper, Wednesday Supper, Thursday Supper, Friday Supper, Saturday Lunch, Saturday Supper, Sunday Lunch, Sunday Supper.  Within each page I have at least an "Option A" and an "Option B" (with the exception of Monday-Friday Lunch and Sunday Lunch because for those meals we do either leftovers or sandwiches); and on many of the pages I also have an "Option C" and an "Option D."  To further break things down, I have designated Monday as fish night, Tuesday as beef night, Wednesday as chicken night, and Thursday as pork night.  Friday nights are meals that don't provide leftovers (since I cook lunch on Saturdays); Saturday Lunch and Saturday Supper meals are crock pot meals or other meals that require little preparation but provide hearty leftovers (so that I don't have to cook lunch on Sundays); and Sunday Supper meals are ones that are light and quick to fix.

Under each "Option" I have everything listed that goes with that meal, including the recipe(s) if necessary.  For example, on the Monday Supper page under "Option A" I have listed Salmon Patties w/ Lemon Sauce (followed by the recipe for both the salmon patties and the lemon sauce), Mashed Potatoes, and Sweetened Tomatoes.

Each page is printed out and stored in a plastic sleeve in a 3-ring binder that I keep in my kitchen.  Since all the recipes that I use on a daily basis are contained within the few pages of this binder, I store all my cookbooks in the basement instead of keeping them in the kitchen where they take up cupboard space.

I do a lot of my grocery shopping through a food coop (once every four weeks), and I make a monthly trip to Costco where I buy some things in bulk; but other grocery shopping is usually done at the local grocery store on a weekly basis.  I am beginning to figure out exactly what items I need to purchase each month from the coop and from Costco to accommodate my menus, but I do still consult my binder before putting my order/grocery list together.  It isn't until sometime before my weekly trip to the grocery store that I actually plan which meals I am going to cook that week.  (Some people plan a whole month of menus out at once, but I like the flexibility of doing it weekly.)  Then, I make my grocery store list based on that week's plan.

In order to keep track of which meals I have purchased groceries for, I utilize my planner.  (Yes, I did buy a planner!)  So, if this week I chose Option A for Monday, Option D for Tuesday, Option B for Wednesday, and so on, I simply write an "A" on Monday, a "D" on Tuesday, a "B" on Wednesday, etc.  Keeping that information in my planner also serves the purpose of helping me to not repeat meals back-to-back weeks.  So, if I see that last Monday I served Option A, then this Monday I will probably serve Option B.

While this system may not be exactly right for you, it has really worked well for me.  I like it for several reasons.
  1. It provides flexibility while limiting the options of what to fix.
  2. Each day's meal options are organized either by type of meat, by preparation time required, or by amount of leftovers provided, meaning that whichever option I choose for a particular meal is going to work well and make sense for our lives/schedules.
  3. I don't have to make a new written plan from scratch every week or every month, which saves me a lot of time and thought.
My friend Kathleen has a food blog called Feeding a family with love and great food (and she does, too!).  I don't know about you, but the best way for me to do that is with a plan!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Five (Fruitful) Years!

Today Travis and I celebrate five years of marriage (and four of the blessings that have come with it!).  I love you Travis, and I always will!

(L to R) Amariah, Angela, Isabel, Travis, Elliana, and Abel

Abel Ray (4 years)

Amariah Grace (3 years)

Isabel Hope (12 months)

Elliana Faith (12 months)

(L to R) Isabel and Elliana

Abel, Amariah, Isabel (L) and Elliana (R)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Do Not Know

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14)

Life can change in a split second, circumstances in the blink of an eye.

On April 25th, a woman and her husband were traveling on a county road on their way to a friend's place when the driver of another vehicle ran a stop sign and hit them in the passenger side, killing the woman who was riding there and seriously injuring himself and the other driver.

On May 6th, a woman and her three young children were traveling along in their minivan when the driver of another vehicle blew through a stop sign, killing two of the children, hospitalizing the third, and seriously injuring the woman.

We all hear stories like this all too frequently; and sometimes they hit all too close to home. The first accident happened just miles from where I grew up and involved three people whom I've known all my life. The second accident happened just miles from where I live now and involved people from our city. I am certain that when these people woke up on the morning of their accidents, they had no idea that their lives were going to be drastically altered--or even ended--that day. I am certain that on the day before, they had no idea what their lives would be like "tomorrow."

On May 16th, my husband and some friends from our small group were at the park playing catch with a football. The ladies and I were under the picnic shelter visiting when I looked up to see my husband walking towards us with a grimace on his face. A pass intended for my husband had fallen short, and the football had bounced up into his pinkie finger, bending it backwards and breaking it. My husband had been looking forward to playing pick-up basketball at our church later that night. Instead, he ended up at home on the couch with a splint and an ice pack. We had no idea when we were heading to the park for some food and fellowship that afternoon that Travis would be coming home with a broken finger that evening. We did not know what life would be like "tomorrow."

This morning, June 3rd, my mom was heading to town for a doctor's appointment. She had just come through a small town on a two-lane highway, passed by a bridge banister, and increased her speed from 45 mph to 65 mph. Up ahead she noticed a lineup of 10 or 12 vehicles coming from the opposite direction; and she also saw that a semi truck was pulled over on the right-hand shoulder. As she was approaching this semi, the careful driver that she is, she was watching to make sure it wasn't going to pull back out onto the highway in front of her. When she turned her eyes back to the road in front of her 3 or 4 seconds later, she discovered that the pickup she had been following had come to a complete stop on the highway as he waited for all the oncoming traffic to pass so that he could make a left-hand turn. Traveling at 65 mph and with not more than 20-30 feet of highway between her and the pickup, she made the split-second decision to veer around the pickup on the right side. As she whizzed by the stopped pickup, her car went into a fishtail... and then into a second, bigger fishtail. The rumble bars on the side of the highway were roaring against her tires; and as her car started into a third, even bigger fishtail, she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that she was going to die. Her life flashed before her eyes, as they say, and she thought to herself, "Is Dad going to be okay?" and "I'm never going to see my kids and grandkids again." And she was filled with a great peace. Just then, everything went completely silent. The deafening noise of the tires stopped, and as if God Himself had placed His hands on her car, the car was picked up off the shoulder where it was ready at any moment to begin flipping, and it was placed directly back on the highway, straight on its course and under complete control. And at that moment, Mom knew that God had spared her life.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. If He doesn't spare your life, will you be ready to meet Jesus?...

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