Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Recipe to Remember

Before I forget, Sabine sent me this recipe from Health. We've been using a yummy carrot soup recipe from Cooking Light for years, and she happened upon this one and thought it was way better. Last night I made it, and although the coconut milk adds a Thai flavor that's a little different for me, it's light and yummy. Nutritious too. I needed something healthy yesterday, and this Carrot-Ginger Soup hit the mark. Off to watch American Idol with my boys...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blessings


Last night Christian came downstairs and said, "Either Ethan is playing with me, or, mom, he's sleeping sitting up!" Sure enough, our 10-year-old had fallen asleep while reading what I consider one of the best books of all time. I guess Where the Red Fern Grows couldn't keep him awake!


Last night I made brussels sprouts, from 101 Cookbooks. They were delicious and easy. William loved them. The boys, of course, thought they looked like little cabbages and said that they hated cabbage; they refused to try them! That's okay. One day they'll love them.
On another note, Lent starts tomorrow! I'm excited about going to the Ash Wednesday service and entering into a special time with the Lord over the next 40 days. Every year I resolve to read Lenten devotions to the boys, and this year is no different. We never get through the whole thing, but I trust that the nuggets they hear will bear fruit. We believe Isaiah 55:10-11!

Monday, February 23, 2009

First Photos...First Research


Celebrating Dina's BD Saturday night (automatic)


Saturday morning at home...Starbucks and the paper ever present


Monday morning...learning the light, NW exposure at 7 a.m.


Shiloh is curious at first...


...then she's bored. But her tail is still wagging.


* So I've read my photography book and already have a greater understanding of how those f-stops work. Now comes practicing. I shot all of the above except for one on manual mode (it's weird that I had no idea how to do this two days ago), with my dear dog as my subject. She was a trooper.
* We had fun celebrating Dina's BD Saturday night. The boys all had basketball games at the same time (Ethan made a shot and got a felt star for best defense!), and then we came back here for a very yummy meal of Shrimp Scampi, from the Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook. After dinner we sat by the fire and talked...it was a nice evening
* On the adoption front, I've spent a lot of time researching, and it is not a good time for international adoption at all. It would take years to get a child, which is so sad considering the many out there wandering the streets. But corruption and red tape has taken its toll, and governments are closing the doors in many countries. Very sad. So the next step is to talk to people and some agencies. I pray for clarity and God's divine intervention if this is what He wants us to do. Perhaps He's just putting His compassion in our hearts and wants us to follow that in a different way altogether. We'll see.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The End of Life on Automatic

I picked up a photography book yesterday, Understanding Exposure. After reading it for five minutes, I have officially abandoned the Automatic setting on my camera and now enthusiastically, yet shakily, move forward into the world of Manual mode. I will practice "real" photography, failing time and time again with blurry and overexposed shots, but then I'll begin to get it and experience the joy of photography well done.

This also happens to parallel my life right now. Kelly spoke this a.m. about suffering. Paul tells us in Acts,"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." In Matthew 11, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.'" Obviously these verses are not talking about salvation, nor are we talking about legalistic works or the keeping of law to gain God's approval.
As always God cares about my heart. What does suffering for Him accomplish? What is hardship and suffering? Kelly explained it well. In these verses, suffering is a place we CHOOSE to go to willingly. We choose the cross when we FORGIVE, when we BEAR THE BURDEN of others who can't bear their own, SHARE THE GOSPEL in a hostile environment, REBUKE THE UNGODLY, standing up for Christ and justice, FAST in order to pray with greater clarify and focus, FORGO a purchase to meet the needs of another financially.
Remember Philippians 3? Paul understood hardship, the purpose of it, always keeping the end goal in mind...the advancement of the gospel for the glory of God. He experienced the amazing grace of God that carried him through it all. II Timothy 1 says, "We continually remember before our God and Father your WORK PRODUCED BY FAITH, your LABOR PROMPTED BY LOVE, and your ENDURANCE INSPIRED BY HOPE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. For we know, brothers LOVED BY GOD, that HE HAS CHOSEN YOU, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." Wow, talk about intentional, Spirit-filled living. It's not "safe," but it sure is purpose-filled.
So as William and I start praying about God's purpose for our family, I desire God's heart, not my own. It may not be comfortable, it may be terribly sacrificial, but we can know that in obedience joy will come. I chose to take my life off of the Automatic setting of relative comfort and mediocrity to intentionally pursuing the Holy Spirit Manual mode of life. And so with my Bible (and my "Understanding Exposure" book) firmly by my side, into life (and photography) I go.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Be Still...Keep Focused...

"Be still and know that I am God." This morning I read about the amazing presence of God. My BSF study brought me to Numbers this morning. I marveled at the explicitly clear instructions given to the Israelites directly from God. His very precise direction was upon them 24/7, his physical presence unmistakable. The Law was instituted, the priesthood and sacrificial system put into place, the army meticulously ordered. Every detail of their lives was outlined by the God of the universe. Yet this was still going to be a journey of faith. They quickly lost sight of God's promise to bring them into the promised land; instead, the daily grind of desert life dampened their spirits and the complaining began. I'm amazed at their lack of focus and faith....until I look at myself and realize I often act this way too.

Although I would love the Lord to send me an e-mail and just tell me which direction to take, I see from the Israelites that even an e-mail wouldn't matter. Although He's a God of details, He is not obligated to tell us how long the journey will be or what's going to happen along the way. He wisely reminds us to keep our focus on Him, our Destination, so that we're not discouraged by the many events along the way. Just like the Israelites, we are easily distracted from the One who has redeemed us and who daily sets us free. So this week when I start to wander, I will remember to be still and remember my God.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Remember those Chocolate Cupcakes...

It's Wednesday. On Friday I vowed to buy 3 birthday cards. It's Wednesday. That errand is still on my list. I hope my niece, my nephew and my father know I love them, especially my dad. Dad, I'll get to it. In fact, I think I have an assortment of unsent Father's Day and birthday cards in a drawer somewhere. My dad is the best writer of cards I know. His cards are tucked away in my memory and in my keepsake box, treasures to be read again and again. Some are funny, some are poignant and beautiful, and some remind me of who I am. One day my boys will read them and remember who they are too. We are loved.
Now onto those chocolate cupcakes...

Dad writes beautiful letters. I cook. For Valentine's Day I made cupcakes for my boys, peanut butter for William, chocolate for everyone else. At first I thought they were just okay, but, let's face it, the One-Bowl Cupcakes are made in ONE BOWL. And they're quite good. We've just polished them off today, and they're still fairly moist 4 days later. For a quick, no-mess cupcake recipe, this is a keeper. Here's the recipe from the February issue of Martha Stewart.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day 2009

We spent the morning at Ethan's swim meet. He raced well today, smashing his times to pieces and relishing every minute. He enjoyed spending time with his friends too, playing their DSs and munching on Doritos between events. We are amazed at the transformation God has brought about in Ethan lately, his passion for school and swimming, and one gets the feeling that he's comfortable in his own skin, discovering who he is and what he loves. We are grateful to the Lord for showing Ethan His love and growing Ethan up better than we ever could.

Later we enjoyed a Valentine's dinner with neighbors. I made Thousand-Layer Lasagna, from one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks. I also made cupcakes for dessert (and this morning for breakfast, truth be told). Note to self: Next time you make homemade noodles, preboil them and DO NOT cook the lasagna very long, 30 minutes max. They turned out mushy. The men love it anyway, but they're not exactly the pickiest crowd. The sauce in this recipe is very good, and I loved the fresh mozz too. Topped with the fresh basil.....yum.

Is Christ sufficient?

Some thoughts about Kelly's message today from Acts 14: The sufficiency of Christ puts the rest of life -- the mountaintops and the valleys -- in perspective. Is the gospel enough good news? Is it sufficient? If no, then we are at the mercy of life's sufferings and victories, tossed low, then high and sometimes stuck in the middle. Is the work that Jesus did on the cross sufficient? Is His grace enough? If yes, we can avoid arrogance and idolatry when life is great and, conversely, weather life's storms with joy and peace.

Kelly reminded us that when we're on the mountaintop, the world adores us, thinks we're someone special. There is a lot of pressure in this world to be someone special. It's tempting to bask in our accomplishments and chalk it up to hard work and talent. But when we find our contentment in Christ, when He alone is sufficient for our fulfillment, our identity, then we are less prone to adore ourselves and our abilities. Instead we look to Him beyond the mountaintop, and the work of the cross looms so large over that mountaintop that we can only fall down in praise of the One from whom all blessings flow. In and of ourselves, we are not special. In Him, we are extraordinary. Apart from God's overflowing grace, we can do nothing. In Him, we can accomplish the extraordinary.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What I Do

A friend and I were catching up today. She asked what I was up to these days. I paused because, well, I'm not up to anything really newsworthy. I don't work. I don't have an amazing talent or hobby I pursue. I don't volunteer at a worthy non-profit. These were my thoughts as I pondered her question.

Then I realized that I do a lot! During this remarkable season of life -- and I know it's a sweet, short season -- I read to third-graders, lead moms in prayer for a very young school and its very precious students, volunteer for lots of field trips, attend BSF, fold my boys' underwear, make nutritious meals for my family, fold my husband's underwear, sit with friends over coffee or lunch (one of my favorites), run, all before 2:30. And then I DO have some hobbies I halfheartedly pursue: photography, scrapbooking, Spanish. These things add the spice to my day.
After 2:30, well, my life is just like all the other moms out there...a bit frantic, a bit overwhelming at times, nudging my kids along in several different directions, always grateful for bedtime!
My Father in heaven has made it clear to me that the care of my family should be my first priority. Every time in the last couple years when I've tried to pursue various things, in the end He calls me back home. There will always be time to work, time to volunteer for those worthy causes. But now, this time has been consecrated to serve my family, encourage my friends, pray for our young ones. I feel blessed to be in this place, but I also hold it loosely. I know that if and when God calls me into another season demanding more outside-the-family time, His plans will be sure and the path clear. I can trust Him with my time. He always sees the bigger picture.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Linguine with Red Cabbage


Tonight I made Linguine with Red Cabbage, from the March issue of Food and Wine. Although instead of linguine I made it with fusilli. I bought pre-shredded red cabbage and sheep's milk goat cheese at Trader Joe's. This is a keeper. We both loved it. Christian, however, refused to try it. One day he is going to be a phenomonal eater, I just know it!

What we're eating

I'm definitely cooking more these days. Lots of yummy grains like quinoa and millet with veggies and some tofu. Last night we ate Sweet-chili-lime-tofu. I made it with asparagus instead of greens. Although I have to cook some greens soon because I have a lot of them in the fridge.
BSF: going well... really enjoying this week's study.
Exercise: ran 4 times last week. Ran this a.m. with Madeline, short and quick. We couldn't go outside because of the foggy rain.

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