Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting, a Means Of Grace

I am reading a couple of books this summer, one of them is Broken Down House Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp. There are some books that take me time to go through, this is one of them. It is full of truths that you have to marinate in before you move on. I have not made much progress in this book since I came to this passage

"Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. God doesn't just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.
In calling us to wait, God is rescuing us from our own bondage to our own plan, our own wisdom, our own power, our own control. In calling us to wait, God is freeing us from the claustrophobic confines of our own little kingdoms of one and drawing us into a greater allegiance to his Kingdom of glory and grace. Waiting is more than being patient as situations and other people change. Waiting is about understanding that you and I desperately need to change, and that waiting is a powerful tool of personal change. God is using the grace of waiting to change us at the casual core of our personhood, the heart. Now that's a good thing"

If you are me, there are things in your life that you are waiting to change, this passage gives us the bigger picture of it all. Would you have thought God would use "the wait" as a means of change in your life. Just something to ponder. Have you seen this to be true in things that you have had to wait for?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Kindness of God

Thanks to all who prayed for us during Hurricane Irene. The storm is gone, we had no damage or flooding, just a yard full of debris. God was indeed merciful to us.

Friends and church family communicated through the day via texts, phone and internet. We never lost power, such a blessing because it was hot and humid today, thankful for air conditioning. This morning people began checking in and needs were matched with people who could help. It was the church being "the church"

I know there were some areas hit harder than others and I know that there was loss of life from this storm, we will continue to pray for those effected by this. But I also wanted to thank God for his protection, his mercy and his kindness, this could have been much worse.
 BTW did anyone catch the FOX newscaster Sunday evening mention that maybe it was the power of prayer that kept this storm from being any worse?

Thanks again to all those who prayed, I know it made a difference

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. I will tell of all your deeds  Psalm 73:28

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Waiting Begins

The beach last week, big difference today

Our preps are done. We spent the entire afternoon yesterday taking down plants, tying things up, running those last minute errands. Husband was even up on the roof checking the gutters. (did it while I was out, probably a good thing) Stopped into to see Sweet Lady, was told if facility took on water they would be evacuated, we had an opportunity to bring her to the house but decided against it. We are not sure what we will be facing.

Our church has put a network together to help keep track of everyone's status during the storm. We are staying and have let them know. The goal is to help if someone needs assist, especially afterward. We are charging all our phones, computers and IPods (amazing how technology has taken over our home) Husband found an inverter, says it will allow us to use car battery to run small appliances (like a coffee pot or fan)

We still have power, but I don't expect that it will stay on as the weather deteriorates. Once power is lost it may take days for them to restore it. 

Friend posted some good reminders

So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand  Isaiah 41:10
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you  Isaiah 43:2
Who has measured the waters in the hollow in his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens  Isaiah 40:12

We are as set as we can be, trusting the Lord, asking for his protection, thanks to all that are praying for us, we appreciate it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Taking a Moment to Reflect

I knew I could not let this day pass. Despite all preparations for the coming storm my thoughts also go back to the events of a year ago today, the day I was diagnosised with breast cancer
We went to the surgeon hopefully optimistic, I had no family history, no risk factors. The appointment started off well, they did another ultrasound, the tech talked about what I could expect next, I didn't pay much attention, this wasn't going to have anything to do with me.

The surgeon did a needle biopsy of the non calcified lesion that showed up on my mammogram, it immediately collapsed, a good sign, meant it was fluid filled, probably not cancer. They went out of the room to look at the films again. When he came back his demeanor had changed. There was another area that had not showed up on the mammogram that showed up on ultrasound the tech had just done. He did a second needle biopsy on that area, results would be in a couple of days. My husband said he knew when we left the office that day what the results were going to be

God was able to use the events of the last year to show me my heart. I saw that I was putting my trust in things other than God in many cases. Idols in my heart that I didn't even know were there. One of my continuing struggles, is to let go of those idols that I want to cling to. In my life I had put a high value on physical health, if honest, I cared more for my physical health than my spiritual health.

I still have to ask myself, is God enough even if my physical limitations remain, or if my cancer returns or..... you fill in your on blank. Will he be enough for you even if your circumstances never change. Can you still have that peace and joy only he can provide. We all have to get to that place and its a daily journey.

Our lives are full of storms, literally like the one that has us in it's bullseye and metaphoracally things  like illness, financial hardship, difficult relationships, wayward children. If you have ever stood on a beach you know as the waves come in they pull the sand from under your feet. Lifes a lot like that too if you are not standing on a firm foundation. Are you standing on that rock? Are you clinging to something besides Jesus? Is he all you need?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reality Setting In

Preparations are continuing in earnest. I think reality has hit everyone today, it does look like we will be hit by this storm. My is son headed up north, along with thousands of others,  there are mandatory evacuations just south of us and it is clogging our roadways. You have to go through a tunnel or over a bridge to go anywhere in this area so.....backups have already begun, it's going to be a long evening for young son.

Husband worked until dark taking umbrellas down, securing anything that could become a flying projectile. We have more to do outside tomorrow, husband will be off work early to finish up. Meals for the next couple of days will be whatever is left in the fridge, omelets for dinner tonight, probably ice cream for breakfast, you get the picture. We are planning for power outages, the last hurricane we lost power for four days, friends were without power for up to two weeks. 

We had an offer to go up north to stay with friends, but they are in the path as well so we declined for now. Looks to be a busy morning tomorrow, pray that we have an opportunity to do all that needs to get done. This storm looks to be worse than anything we have experienced before. Praying for protection for all those that will be effected.

Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup, you have made my lot secure. Psalm 16:5
I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken Psalm 16:8

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Interesting events this week, frst we had a little earthquake, a first for me. I was at work, we all looked at each other a little dumbfounded, trying to figure out what was happening. Now we are all watching for Irene.

My husband was supposed to be traveling this week but at the very last minute his trip was canceled, so now he will be home to help make the necessary preps, a unexpected blessing.

We started yesterday, picked up several bags of ice, that's to go in our chest freezer. Put all the proteins on the bottom of the freezer, put the ice bags on the top of proteins, if the power goes out this will keep our meats frozen for several days. The key is not to go into the freezer, if the power goes off.

The biggest job will be taking care of all the outdoor stuff. Hanging plants will have to come down, furniture either brought inside or secured. Glad my husband is home to help with this task.

Other jobs on the list
Fill the cars
Get a little cash
Get a bottle of gas for the grill
Find the flashlights, batteries never a problem I keep them on hand
Pull out the old push button phone, last time we had a power outage it was the only phone that worked
Wash clothes and do dishes, don't want to have dirty clothes or dishes around if the power goes out, maybe that's not on the essential to do list, but I will be doing that

These kind of events can be great opportunities to encourage and serve others, I have a couple of friends who may want to ride it out with us, going to check on this tonight. Checked on my DIL and son they are also preparing, no kidlets this weekend, she wants everyone to stay put...good plan.
Will be a slow weekend, praying it will be a safe one for all

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ready, Set, Smile

Family portrait time, something we have done for the last five years. Typically we do it in the fall, around Thanksgiving, one time a year when we know everyone will be available.
DIL suggested that now might be a good time to get a group photo, young musician will be leaving for school soon, who knows how long it would be before we were all together again. She had some pictures of the kids at the beach that she loved, suggested the family picture be taken at the beach.

Oldest son and DIL's family has grown since that first photo shoot, family photos are a bit more complicated now. They have added two more children to their family, one is a newborn with frequent feedings, DIL thought the best time to take the picture would be in the early morning children would be rested and fed. Got to love this girl, I would never have even suggested doing this with four kids.

I went out the day before and picked the spot, the time was set, all that was left was to get everyone together at the appointed time

Our photo included nine people (three of which were children under the age of four,) what do you think the chances were that we were able to get everyone to look at the camera at the same time, let alone smile. That is part of the fun, our photos are never perfect but the memories made during the process are priceless and we have the photos to prove it.

Trying to keep everyone together was a bit like herding cats, so much to see and do. (this would include the adults) Tried to be quick and organized, knew we had a short opportunity of time. To complicate matters, I wasn't able to wear my contacts because of some eye irritation I was having, so I had to go back a forth with my "readers" trying to see the camera settings. Despite all of this we were able to get some pictures that will be usuable.

Beautiful day, thankful for the memories were we able to make with our family. Thankful that this group enjoys spending time together and what can I say about this DIL of mine, she is the daughter I never had.

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight  yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart Psalm 37:4-5

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cleaning House

There has been a bit of work going on in our house the last couple of weeks. Young son has been home, we have had some big jobs that needed doing, he had some expenses that needed to be taken care of, (there were those car repairs) seemed like a win win situation for both.

The latest project was my pantry. I thought long and hard about this one, I knew if I asked him to do this, it would turn into a huge project (if I did it I would just straighten it out, I knew if he did it he would tear it apart)

I wasn't home when the project began but was receiving phones calls keeping me updated on progress and problems.

Question: Did you know that the shelves had pulled out of wall?
Answer: Yes, I had strategically placed water jugs to help support falling shelves years ago
Question: Can I take these shelves apart and fix them properly?
Answer: Sure
Question: Can you meet me at the hardware store?
Answer:Let me call your dad.

I met him at the store, discussed budget, plans, purchased needed items, I returned to work, he returned home. His parting comment, "now when you get home don't get upset"

This is only a small portion of stuff from pantry

I had been preparing myself all day, had a good idea of what I would see when I got home (I knew how much stuff was pigeon holed in that pantry) When I got home there were canned goods, bottles, boxes and cooking utensils covering every available table, counter top and most sitting surfaces. We had decided to reuse all that we could reuse so there was cleaning to be done. Any idea how much grime can collect on shelves? The cleaning took much longer than anticipated. Cooking was out of the question, my stove was buried, we grilled outside and ate dinner on the patio instead.

Son worked through the evening but was unable to get the job complete before bed. He made a statement about when cleaning, things can look worse before they look better.

Can't that be applied to our spiritual lives as well. When the Lord shows us a heart problem, sometimes things can look worse (as we begin to face our sin) before they get better. (when we go to the Lord and ask for forgiveness)

He did a great job

Monday, August 15, 2011

When Did This Happen?

My DIL had a party for my son this past weekend, his birthday is in a couple of days and we were celebrating .The big news, he is going to be thirty, my question, when did this happen? Where did all the time go, how did I get old enough to have a son thirty years old?

It was a nice celebration, we had crabs, which was quite a treat, it had been years since I have eaten crabs. DIL had set up the festivities outside, rain kept us in (badly needed rain so there was no complaints) tables were set up with newspaper and the "picking" began.

Oldest granddaughter was a quick learner and we had her "picking" in no time, grandson wouldn't touch them or eat any crab, so it was hot dogs for him. Little Miss found the crabs quite entertaining but daddy did all her "picking." After everyone had eaten their full, we spent the rest of the time picking what was left over, while enjoying each others company.

 DIL sent me some photos of the crab cakes she made with the leftovers, they looked delicious

Great fun was had by all, not often we are all able to be together so this was a treat.  Wishing my son a very happy birthday, a very blessed man.

Just a kid at heart

Friday, August 12, 2011

Disappearing Sunflowers

                                                               Caught in the act!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Sort is Done

Two weeks ago my garage got pretty scary. There was the normal stuff, the tools, all manner of gardening paraphernalia, bikes, a Foosball table for the grand kids, and an entire corner dedicated to outside toys.

Then there is the stuff that doesn't really have an identity or category, but somehow just ends up in the garage. Add to all of this, Sweet Lady's stuff from her move and last but not least all the stuff my young son is currently storing from his move. (some of this stuff will be leaving with him but not all) Have you guessed that the one thing we don't have in the garage is a car?

Progress is being made, a week ago there were two additional bikes, a mattress and box spring in all this mess, but thanks to Craig's list they are gone

Today, it was time to go through Sweet Lady's boxes, she has been here since May. This is a process we started weeks ago but there were several boxes left to go through. Strange feeling going through her things, deciding what should go and what to keep. When we moved her from her home it was hurried, we wanted to be sensitive to her needs, didn't want to cause her any unnecessary stress, so we brought a lot of things we should have left behind.

The sort started wih the easy decisions, if it was damaged or stained it was in the go pile, if it was more than one size too big it was in the donate pile. When did it get hard?... when I made decisions on what I thought was best, putting those things in the donate bag was difficult... maybe she still liked it... who was I to make these decisions? I knew the items weren't going to work for her anymore, but still I battled. There was a lot of that this afternoon. Had a lot of conversation time with the Lord during all of this, I needed guidance, wisdom.

 So it's done, the boxes are empty. I now have some more things to bring to her room, items that she used to enjoy. Glad it's done, this was a task I have been putting off,  the bonus is I now have an empty corner in this messy garage of mine.

For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding  Proverbs 2:6

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living Intentionally

This is a phrase I used in my last post. Sounds good, but how do you live "intentionally"?

You take the time to appreciate life, not just rush though it (former me) Daily count your blessings

You respond to that still small voice that prompts you to make that call, write that note or send that text.  I can't tell you how many times I would have been prompted to do something in the past and would intend on following through, but would just forget. Mind you I'm not there yet but Lord continues to give me opportunities.

You realize life can change in a moment, so you don't put things off that need to be done or said, this is particularly important when it comes to relationships.

Look for opportunities to listen to someone who may want to talk, you would be amazed how easily it is to engage someone with a kind word or comment.

Finally live each day as if it could be your last day.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom  Psalm 90:12

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Cooking In The Kitchen

Yet another recipe for peaches. After my son made preserves we had some peaches left over. They were dead ripe, most had some soft spots, not great for eating but didn't want to let them go to waste. Searched online and found a great Paula Deen recipe for Peach Cobbler.

This one couldn't be easier.

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.Skin and slice 4 cups of peaches
3.Put peaches in a pot with 1 cup sugar, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
4.Slice one stick of butter (it is a Paula Deen recipe) place in bottom of 3 quart baking dish place in oven until melted, then take out of oven
5.Mix  1 1/2 cup self rising flour with 1 cup sugar and 1 1/2 cup milk
6.Pour mixture gently over the melted butter
7. Gently spoon the fruit mixture into the batter and butter (it's going to look thin)
8.Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired
9.Bake for 30-45 minutes until brown(I know this seems like a wide range, I actually cooked mine 50 minutes)
10. Serve with ice cream

We spent the afternoon cooking. Son made ratatouille, his version very labor intensive but pretty, I made the cobbler, then we finished the evening with grilled vegtable sandwhiches with herbed mayo. The ratatouille is for later this week. Husband remarked how he really enjoyed the grilled sandwiches, used to make them all the time, why had we stopped? He remembered quickly enough, lots of things stopped last summer. Meals were pretty basic, we didn't do any "creative" cooking. Meals consisted of opening a package or can or heating something up.

I guess I am in a reflective mood, taking the opportunity to be grateful, so thankful for family and friends. Had an opportunity to spend a couple of days with my grandkids this week always fun. Little Miss spotted me in church as they walked past our seat, squealed and ran over to me to snuggle, melted my heart, what a blessing those children are. I have enjoyed spending time with our younger son, been fun cooking together. Aware of the things I used to take for granted, my prayer is that I will continue to be aware of the blessings in my life, live each day intentionally. I have much to be thankful for.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.  Psalm 73:28

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Very Good Day

Lord Grey's Peach Preserves

5lb peaches
4 cups sugar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
5 Earl Grey tea bags, divided

Peel, halve, and pit peaches. Cut into 1/3" slices. Combine with sugar and juice in a large bowl. Let stand for 30 minutes. Transfer fruit mixture and 4 tea bags into a large heavy pot. Open the remaining tea bag, crumble leaves slightly; add to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring gently, and cook 15-20 minutes. Test doneness by scooping a small spoonful onto a chilled plate and tilting plate. Preserves are ready if they don't run. Remove tea bags. Skim foam from the surface of the jam. Ladle jam into 2 clean, hot pint jars. (we used jelly jars, made 6) Wipe rims, seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Recipe from August 2011 bon appetit

Today was a very good day. Coffee with sweet husband this morning, we did a few yard sales, came home, he did some car repairs, I did some gardening, my young son made the preach preserves. When our son made the recipe it  came out a little redder than what the magazine picture showed, maybe the type of peach? regardless, it is delicious.( I scrapped all the extra off the pot after the jars were filled and had it on a piece of bread, too good to waste even a drop.) Son was thinking these preserves might be a good addition to his pantry in his new home, but he is leaving us a jar (I did help a little... actually very little) This is so good I think I will have to make up a batch myself.

Next on the agenda is pickles, unfortunately my cucumbers did not do well at all this year (hoping I can get some by the fall, we shall see) but we have farms in the area where you can pick your own.
Young musician has been  a great motivator, time to get those canning jars out.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Memories Being Made

We have had our youngest at home for a little while now and have been blessed with the assist he has been able to give us. Projects and tasks my husband has wanted to do but just hadn't had the time or the help he needed to get things done.

One project I am particularly excited about is this pathway. I had envisioned this about a year ago. The ground in this area is all clay, doesn't drain well, grass never grew. I started working on this myself last summer, I dug out about a foot before I realized that I was in over my head. We put down a little gravel in that one foot space, life events happened, all progress stopped and that was the end of it.

Two things happened a week ago, there was available help and we still had the truck we rented to help my son move. Perfect opportunity to complete the longed for pathway. Father and son dug it all out, hauled the clay to the dump (theres not much you can do with this stuff, it digs up in clods and then just hardens like concrete) then they hauled several loads of gravel to fill what they dug out.

My husband said my son was a great motivator( husband said "I was ready to take a break, he just kept pushing") My son just smiled, he told me "we were so close to getting finished, I just wanted to get it done" I love the way it turned out, just as I had pictured it in my mind.

We have enjoyed having him home, we get a different perspective on things, get a window into his world, catch up on what's happening in his life, watch in amazement at the energy, were we once like that?

This afternoon he is upstairs with the little ones, they are fascinated with his french horn, he has been showing them how to get sound out of it. Teaching them how to "buzz" their lips. I hear all kind of giggling and strange sounds coming from that upstairs room (and believe it or not the two year old is sleeping through this)

Tomorrow he is planning on making some Peach Tea Preserves, sound like fun?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yard Sales

One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning is to check out yard sales and I happened to be blessed with a husband who enjoys it as well. We start out our morning by stopping at the local convience store to pick up a newspaper and then  head out to the coffee shop to make our plan.

We decide on a city, try to find sales that are close together, plug them into the Magellan and off we go. (Magellan makes things so much easier)

The things we look for varies depending on what we need but we are always on the lookout for kids' clothes, gardening items and lately things for Sweet Lady's home. We've run across some deals. Our Lazy Boy rocker was on it's last legs last summer when we ran across one that was gently used and a tenth of the price we would have paid new.

We will often go to one of those sales where an elderly parent has passed away and the adult children are selling the contents of the home. When I walk through those homes I am often struck by all the stuff left behind. I wander through these homes wondering about the person who had passed. Feels strange, looking through all their things.

I'm always struck with the fact that the things we strife for in this life ends up like this. It ends up being just stuff.(ever been to the dump, I get that same feeling) My husband often reminds me that we are temporary residents of our home, someone else will be living in it someday. (he actually tells people it's Gods house, we are just renters) Someone will go through my things...kind of gives you a different kind of perspective on stuff, doesn't it?

I will still enjoy going to yard sales, it's a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. Great way to find bargains and I enjoy using the things I find to decorate my home or add to my eclectic garden. But it's also good to go through one of those homes where someone has passed and be reminded once again that this life is temporary, we will leave all of this behind.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also  Luke 12:34

Garden "art" that we found at yard sale