Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Heb 12:1-2 (NLT)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dad Birthday Card

My husband's birthday was this month. I modified this pinterest find into a birthday card. The original appears on Brilliant Beginning's blog, where you can find other great ideas. 

My two kids and myself each got to choose and color a tool. On the back of the corresponding tool, I wrote out one thing each of us loved about my husband. He was pretty touched by the card. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Look at the mess I woke up to this morning! Apparently Leprechauns visited us last night! My children are running around the house looking for them. My daughter is positive that if she sees one, she can keep her eyes on him until he leads her to gold. She's been practicing.

St. Patrick's day always gives me spring fever. Earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to make some spring-inspired sugar cookies and let the kids decorate them. (We colored them green for St. Patrick's day). 

And St. Paddy's day would not be St. Paddy's day without some green pancakes;

"May the Lord keep you in His hand and never close His fist too tight". Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

For the sugar cookie recipe, go here (note: I didn't want "poofy" ones this time, so no creme of tartar), and for the icing recipe, go here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Cutting For Stone

My bookclub discussed, "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese this week. It received some mixed reviews.

First off, it's a long book so not everyone got through it.

Second, there is a lot of focus on female reproductive issues. I always get my back up when this comes from a male author, but in this case Verghese did not try to write about a woman's experience with these issues. Instead, they were written about from a medical standpoint.

As for the story itself, I was pulled in right away. Lots of intrigue. It's largely about characters who get thrown together and separated by medical dramas. Verghese includes a lot of graphic and detailed medical descriptions, which I enjoyed, but others felt they were slogging their way through those parts. Still, the themes of separation, redemption and reconciliation come through.

I found the focus on smells to be interesting. We later learn a potential cause for this heightened sense of smell in Marion, the main narrator of the story, but the descriptions added another layer of interest to the settings. Another way to describe a scene.

There were some great characters. I found myself partial to Hema and Ghosh and their relationship in particular, but I think my favorite character was Matron. I found her words to be very wise. My favorite quotes from the book were almost always from her.

I thought Genet could be used as an illustration of how we as parents can tear down our children and stunt their potential. Her story left me dissatisfied. As the reader I didn't feel like I got closure, and I didn't feel that Marion did either.

Lack of closure is my one big complaint about the book. I found the scope of the story, in particular the medical side of it, to be so broad and descriptive that the characters and their relationships suffered a bit.

In the end though, we all felt  this book was worth reading and recommending to other people.

Favorite Quotes:

"Why must I do what is hardest?"
"Because Marion, you are an instrument of God. Don't leave the instrument sitting in its case, my son. Play! Leave no part of your instrument unexplored. Why settle for 'Three Blind Mice' when you can play the 'Gloria'?"

"We come unbidden into this life, and if we are lucky we find a purpose beyond starvation, misery, and early death which, lest we forget, is the common lot."

"As she bent over the child she realized that the tragedy of death had to do entirely with what was left unfulfilled."

"Make something beautiful of your life."

"Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted?"

"Doubt is a second cousin to faith. To have faith we must suspend our disbelief."

"She remembered, too, how in her first days in Addis, when things had looked so bleak, so terrifying, so tragic with Melly's death-it was at those moments that God's grace came, and that God's plan was revealed, though it was revealed in His time. "I can't see it, Lord, but I know You can," she said."

"God will judge us, Mr. Harris, by" - her voice broke as she thought of Sister Mary Joseph Praise - "by what we did to relieve the suffering of our fellow human beings. I don't think God cares what doctrine we embrace."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Technology Fast

I attend an Alliance church and it observes three days of prayer and fasting every Spring and Fall. Until I started attending this church, I had never heard of a church participating in such a thing.

The Bible offers plenty of examples of fasting and prayer (see Isaiah 58:6-10, , Daniel 9:3, Matt 6:16).

Our church described it as a way of turning your eyes from things of this world, to better allow yourself to focus on God and what he has to say to you.

In the fall I chose to participate and wanted to beat my previous year's fast of 30 hours. I love food. I started this blog off totally devoted to food! I spend a lot of time thinking about and preparing food.

I made it 32 hours.

Fasting from food when you have to prepare meals for small children is pure torture. But it was a revealing 32 hours. At that time I was praying for direction regarding the whole back-to-work-thing. I started out by writing out the question to God on paper. I wrote five pages in response (the answer boiled down to a resounding: not right now).

This time our pastor gave a sermon called, "Are you going to(o) fast?". He was asking us if we were going to participate, or if perhaps we have gotten too busy in our lives. He had us write out on a paper plate everything we have on our plate. Everything we spend time on.

We are only 1 week back from a week long vacation and I had already been complaining that I didn't have enough time. When I looked at my plate, some of the biggest time-sucks on it were the t.v., the computer and my beloved iphone. I already knew I was spending too much time on these things, and had been trying rather unsuccessfully to cut back. We all know we have become a technology-addicted society, and I'm no exception. I felt a genuine prompting to fast from these things this go around, instead of food.

SO that's what I've been doing for the last week. I went Monday-Friday with no t.v., computer or phone.

It was harder than I thought. It's unbelievable what a habit these things become. My phone had become like an itch. It was the small things like wanting to look up an address, or phone number or weather report that were the hardest. I found myself eating more food without these other distractions! Definitely not your usual fast!

Anyhow, I discovered that I not only had more time to read, meditate and pray, I also felt less busy, more relaxed and even remembered things better (probably because I wasn't cramming Pinterest images into my head)!

I'm grateful to have these pleasures back. But I've decided to stay on a "restricted diet" with these things for awhile because I believe God is telling me to slow down. The more busy I get, the more wrapped up in my thoughts and in material things I get. Spending less time using these technologies, I have more time to take my thoughts captive and just BE.

Give it a try!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

All About Me - Boy Page

This is the complementary piece to the Art By My Hand page I did for my daughter. These are for inclusion in my kid's "all about me" albums.

It's fun to brainstorm all the things you know about your kid's likes and dislikes. I think it will be really neat for them to read over the lists when they are older. Especially my son, who is obsessed with Ariel the Little Mermaid. In an act of mercy, I chose a picture of him on his next favorite thing, a trampoline, rather than one of him carrying around his sister's Ariel doll...

I came across the idea to "sew" the yarn onto the page in a scrapbooking magazine a long time ago. Using  colored brads repeated the dot pattern on the paper and was an easy way to dress-up the page.

(The weird feather thing is a fish he decorated at his 2nd birthday party).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Insecure much?

In day 34 of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren makes the observation that insecure people always worry about how they appear to others.

In a previous post, I noted that comparing myself to others is a struggle of mine. It hurt to read that insecure people "fear exposure of their weaknesses and hide beneath layers of protective pride and pretensions. The more insecure you are, the more you will want people to serve you, and the more you will need their approval". Ouch.

Unfortunately he's right.

I am inherently an insecure person and this regularly leads me to compare myself to others. Why am I telling you this? Because in day 35, Warren goes on to describe how God uses our weaknesses for his glory.

Warren encourages us to admit our weaknesses (this is just one of my many) so that we can learn to be content with them, and then go on to use them in our ministry. My recent conclusion that I cannot find fulfillment on my own is proof that our weaknesses cause us to depend on God.

Warren points out that the things we are most embarrassed about, most ashamed of and most afraid to share with others, are the things that God can most powerfully use to reach others. This message is reiterated in the study "When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa Terkeust. God wants us to turn our "mess" into a message.

I am learning more and more that seeking other people's approval, constantly trying to "measure up" to my friends, and being afraid that I am not good enough just as I am, are things that I need to give to God. It's hard though. I find myself having to do this two, sometimes three times a day. Next up is learning to trust God to transform this weakness in a way that I can use.

Useful verse (NLT):

2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."
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