Friday, February 25, 2011

Fun on Friday

My kids have had a lot of fun this week watching short videos at Jelly Telly. Here's one with a song about Second Samuel. Several of the character voices are familiar--one of the Veggie Tales guys created Jelly Telly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mango Lassi Recipe

We ordered mangoes through last week. Today we made Mango Lassi, an east Indian yogurt drink. It made a very yummy breakfast accompaniment, but it would be a refreshing afternoon snack too.

Here's the recipe, slightly adapted from Emeril's There's a Chef in My World cookbook.

1 1/2 cups vanilla or plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons rose water (available at international markets)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup ice cubes
3/4 cup orange juice (I used the juice of three oranges)
a sprinkle of cardamom or cinnamon
2 mangoes, peeled and diced

Blend all the ingredients in a blender for 2 or 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

This made about five cups. One cup has approximately 144 calories.
You could skip the rosewater if you can't find it, but it is worth seeking out.

Emeril suggests you try this with other soft fruits like strawberries, peaches or blueberries. I think my kids would enjoy this with a banana added. My husband took his yogurt drink to go, adding a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lip Balm and Soul Balm

Just a simple thought today, and it's a recycled post from a couple years ago. I went looking for it because I was trying to remember the name of this hymn, so I thought I'd share it again.

Out of earth's sorrows, into Thy balm,
Out of life's storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
--from a hymn: "Jesus, I Come" by William Sleeper, 1887

I don't use the word "balm" often, unless I'm talking about lip balm. Now that I think of it, that's a great illustration of God's word. My lips get dry and cracked in the desert in both winter and summer seasons unless I apply lip balm every day. Similarly, without a daily application of God's word, my soul becomes parched. Praise God for the balm of His love!

To hear more of this hymn, check out Scott Wesley Brown's version on the album Hymns, the Old Made New.

Today at Some Girl's Website, the topic is Restoration. I thought "Soul Balm" was a similar idea.


Ann Voscamp at A Holy Experience is doing a blogging series about The Practice of Time. So far the posts I've read have been about slowing down.

I like slowing down. I live slowly. I like to savor my morning coffee and have another cup after breakfast. I like to take my time reading Facebook and reading my favorite comics online and then I sprinkle lavender essential oil in the shower and enjoy the aroma while I wash my hair.

I'm pretty good at slowing down and savoring time.

What I need to do is to make better use of my time. To stop savoring long enough to notice the four...baskets of laundry in my room. Where did these come from, anyway? Last night...surely it was last night?...there were only two baskets.

Homeschooling my children gives us a wonderful flexibility in our schedule, but I'd like to make the schedule a little firmer--to get it done a little earlier in the day so we have time to walk to the park.

I've learned that a rigid schedule is uncomfortable for me, a constant burden that leaves me feeling a failure every night because things do happen and we never meet the schedule precisely. I've heard that there is great freedom in having a scheduled-to-the-minute day, but I do not find that to be true. I find it very headache-inducing, as if I'm trying to keep up with those Type A people who crave lists and remember to look at their planners. I can't keep up. I don't have that "you must work before you play" voice that others seem to have reminding them to dust before they go for a walk in the sunshine. And honestly, I don't want that voice. It sounds like an uncomfortable way to live. Responsibility is important, but oh, the joy you miss if you always put your chores first!

I need to find a way to have a routine but hold it loosely.

How about you? How are you handling time? Do you need to slow down and savor....or speed up a little and use time more wisely?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yesterday was a holiday... I missed the "Multitudes on Monday" blogging opportunity. I was busy buying a birdfeeder, drinking coffee, and working on a writing project.

And today I seem to have no original thoughts, so I will recommend

this blogpost on the "right" way to homeschool

and this post on refreshing your Praying in Color routine

this site for handy online Bible study tools,

and, on my other blog, this reposting of the songs for my Sacred Signposts study.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Five on Friday

Five blessings from cyberspace

1. This blogpost about wrestling and waiting from a woman at Imago Dei church in Portland, Oregon

2. This delightful food blog: Chocolate and Zucchini

3. These fun scarves from Etsy seller Johnny Vegas

4. These cute hair accessories and earrings from Etsy seller Dandy Apple

5. and this Peanuts strip:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giving Grace

I'm studying Catherine Martin's A Woman's Walk in Grace, and participating in an online study of this book at Ministry for Women. Last week's chapter was titled "The Fine Art of Gracing Another." I am still pondering that chapter and praying about how I can give grace to others. Today I read an interview with Bono, and these words caught my eye:
I don't let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that's my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that's not so easy. --Bono, in an interview quoted at The Poached Egg
I like the idea that my faith should be reflected by loving actions. He went on to talk about grace:
... along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.
Amen. Praise God for His grace!

So, back to the idea of gracing others: does that mean I need to give grace to those who do stupid stuff? To my daughter who lost a school book? Again? I'm not talking about not giving consequences, but acting with a graceful attitude. I am praying for a graceful tone of voice and a gentle response. Even to stupid stuff.

This is my post for Thought-Provoking Thursday, hosted at SomeGirl's Website.
(Note: For an interesting look at the faith of several members of U2, check your library for We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

1,000 Gifts, Chapter 2 and 3

I'm reading One Thousand Gifts with the Book Club at Incourage. I think I'll be re-reading this book in the summer, as I am too distracted right now to give it the attention it really deserves. I'll need this book in the summer; it's focus on gratitude will help refocus my heart when the desert heat soars. Summer in the desert is like a winter without any cozy holidays. The weather is intense, we stay indoors as much as possible, and there's a long break from women's Bible study.

Yet as I read the book now, even in my distracted state of mind--planning my participation in two women's retreats and the book I'm writing and the small group meeting in our home and the laundry that is reaching new heights in the hamper--I am being encouraged and challenged.

Let me share with you a quote from chapter 2:

As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning--now; wherever, meaning--here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here in the messy, piercing ache of sorrow, joy might be--unbelievably--possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now. (page 33)

Joy is possible. Right here, today. I am not in the place of sorrow the author wrote from, but joy is certainly possible in the bustle of my day-to-day life. Today I will choose to be joyful. I will praise God for the Greek coffee perfuming my morning, the clouds rolling in with the possibility of rain in our desert, and my daughter singing "Spoonful of Sugar" in the bathtub.

And from chapter 3:

I may have always known that change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her garden beds every day with a spade and the determined will to grow up something good to strengthen the heart. (p. 44)

That is the main theme of this book so far: a determined will to plant gratitude and grow a grateful attitude. The author describes gratitude as "the language I've got to learn to speak." I agree. With God's help, I will learn this language and teach it to my children. It will strengthen all our hearts.

Ann Voscamp is blogging about the practice of time. I've had such a hard time keeping track of time lately...moments are just slipping away from me. I lose the whole month of January every year, I think. It vanishes. Now here we are halfway into February, I'm enjoying several creative projects that do take a bit of time, but I'm not sure I'm capturing this time and savoring it. This week my goal is to savor time with my oldest child. My little ones tend to crawl in my lap and spend time with me, but I need to be a little more intentional in spending time with my oldest. She likes to do a bit of her schoolwork independently now, and dash off to play when it's done. We do need to do a bit more discussion of said schoolwork, so my plan is to make a pot of tea and make our schoolwork discussion a bit of a date with Mama. She's due for a spelling test too, and the reward for a spelling test is always nail polish. Twenty words on the spelling test...twenty fingers and toes to paint.

How are you savoring the moments of this week?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Countdown is On

St. Patrick's Day is a month and two days away!

Who was St. Patrick anyway? Read a short summary of his life here on my other blog, I'll be posting excerpts from my Sacred Signposts book on that blog between now and St. Pat's.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Today my husband gave me roses.

Not the long-stemmed variety. No matter where I put fresh flowers, the cats find them. And eat them. And leave little surprises of vomit all over the house.

No, my husband gave me tree roses. Long bare branches in black plastic bags.

And I put them in the backyard, in the sunshine, against the brick wall, where I can admire them from the kitchen window.

Yes, I am admiring the bare branches...because I know their potential! I know the Queen Elizabeth rose will be covered with pink blossoms, and the Mr. Lincoln rose will have wonderfully fragranced red blooms. I read the labels, and I know what the future holds.

Do you feel like a bare branch today? Rejoice, my friend, for God sees your potential. He knows the blooms you will someday wear. He knows just where to plant you, just how to feed you and trim you. He is faithful. The blooms He has in mind for you may be quite different than what you are picturing, but you will bloom. Trust Him.

As I count my blessings with the Multitudes on Mondays bloggers, I am grateful for

my nine year old and her artsiness,
my six year old and her take-life-as-it-comes attitude,
my five year old and her ability to make us all laugh,
my husband--everyone calls him "Amazing" and I just call him "Mine"-- (thanks, Martina McBride for that very quotable song),
my best friend and her phone calls while we clean house (note to self: find Bluetooth attachment so you don't get a sore neck next time you're cleaning and talking on the phone...),
my friends who visited last night and the fun we had discussing life as creative Christians,
my friends who wanted to come last night but were ill (note to self: more vitamins today....),
and the Light of the World who speaks to me through His Word, His sunrises, and all the people mentioned above.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Baked French Toast

This is so easy!

Preheat the oven to 400

Spray a cookie sheet (the kind with a bit of a lip around the edges) with pam.

Melt half a stick of butter, and whisk with 2 Tablespoons maple syrup and the juice of one orange.

Pour into baking pan--a cookie sheet with a lip around it.

Place 10 slices of bread on top--thicker crustier bread is best. If you can't fit all 10 slices on your cookie sheet, cut 2 slices into strips and fit them in around the other slices.

Whisk 5 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a bit of orange zest.

Pour over bread.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Turn the toast over when serving. Sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.

We like it with crunchy peanut butter.

Adapted from Debra's Natural Gourmet Cookbook

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Psalms for Wednesday

Sometimes when I read Psalms, I am awed by the whole-hearted desire for God expressed by the authors. If I am praying these statements to God, am I being honest? Or are my desires half-hearted at best? I try to turn my thoughts and questions into prayer, asking God to give me a firmer commitment to prayer, a greater love for His word, and a consuming desire for Himself.

God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You.
I thirst for You; my body faints for You
in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water...
My lips will glorify You because Your faithful love is better than life.
So I will praise You as long as I live;
at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise You with joyful lips. (Psalm 63:1,3-5)
Your righteousness reaches heaven, God,
You who have done great things;
God, who is like You?
You caused me to experience many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.
You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.
Therefore, with a lute I will praise You
for Your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing to You with a harp,
Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You
because You have redeemed me. (Psalm 71:19-22)

Lord, You know my longing for a deeper prayer life. You know I want to speak with You, not just demand Your help or read my prayer list. Give me the desire, the tools, and the time.

(This blogpost is an excerpt from my Sacred Signposts book. I will be posting more excerpts at as St. Patrick's Day approaches.)

Perhaps I should post this sort of thing on Thursdays, to join this blogging group: Thoughtful Thursday at Some Girl's Blog.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Study: One Thousand Gifts, chapter one

My online friend Linda at Being Woven mentioned the book One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voscamp. The subtitle of this book is "A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are." I liked the sound of that, so I ordered the book. I found a discussion of this book at Incourage and I decided to join.

Today the book arrived and I rushed through the first chapter. I had to hurry because the first chapter was so emotional, and I didn't have time to be emotional today. The chapter describes the griefs the author has experienced. Those griefs were a little too close to home. She writes of losing her sister when they were both children, and later losing two infant nephews. At least I think those were the losses mentioned. I can't go back and re-read that part right now. I cannot absorb the heartbreaking words. This month it is eleven years since my first miscarriage--a different loss than those mentioned in the book--but the loss of a child at any stage of life is heartbreaking. At the time, I felt as if I wasn't really supposed to be grieving--after all, I hadn't met my children--and somehow that just added to the grief. I wasn't sure the rest of the world considered my grief valid. And that hurt.

So...I rushed through those first few pages of One Thousand Gifts, struggling with memories. And then I came to this beautiful thought:
I wonder... if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that
puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to
To see through to God.
That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight,
may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place
to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly

I can testify to the truth of that statement. Certainly the losses in my life have become places to see through to God.

I look back at my miscarriages and I cannot say, even eleven years later, that I am thankful for them. No, they are wounds that, though no longer requiring a bandage, have certainly left a scar.

But I can say that those losses made me who I am today.
They made me call out to God as I never had before.
They made me read the book of Psalms with a desperation I had never felt before.
They made me trust in God's sovereignty. It was easy to see that God had some beautiful purpose for my babies to fulfill in heaven. But to trust that there was a purpose for me...that there was a point to all the tears and grief...that was harder.

Most of all, losing Robin and Hope made me realize the presence of God with me. It didn't matter what the rest of the world thought of my grief when the Creator promised to carry my sorrows.

That is a gift. That is why I can live fully right where I am.

Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20)

You can read Ann Voscamp's blog here.

I looked at a few "Multitudes on Mondays" posts (see the button above) and I see that other participants are listing blessings. I don't know that I really want to number them. That seems far too organized for me. But here are a few of today's blessings:
*That orange scarf hanging in my closet--a duplicate of the one my youngest daughter gave me for Christmas and I promptly lost. I found this on clearance a few days ago.
*My children joyfully singing together in the backyard after a few Monday squabbles.
*Guacamole. Homemade. By my Husband.
*Catherine Martin's A Heart that Hopes in God study and all the women studying this with me on Tuesdays.