Monthly Archives: September 2009

Your Labor is Not in Vain!

Didja ever have one of those days where you had so much to do, you feared getting out of bed in the morning?

I awoke with that feeling of gut-wrenching dread this morning. I knew the list was humanly impossible, but I also know all things are possible with the Lord. I cried out to the Lord and He answered my prayers.

While reading my Bible He spoke to me through this verse:

I wrote it on a piece of paper with black Marks-A-Lot marker, the ones I hide from the kids, and put it on the fireplace as I began my day. I had my heart set right and I was ready to labor as a Mom, a wife, a teacher, a neighbor, a friend, whatever the Lord called me to do that day.

Five loads of laundry were washed and folded. When I began teaching school I set up the ironing board in front of the crackling fire and my markered words of encouragement and began putting creases in sleeves, ironing down collars and getting my husband’s clothes looking like he has a wife who cares.

I taught school and ironed, I corrected school and ironed, I made a few business phone calls and ironed, answered a few emails and ironed some more.

There was even time in the afternoon to call my Mommy and catch up. I shared with her my Super-Mommy kinda’ day, fueled by the verse the Lord gave me in the morning.

Then, I made Jen W.’s delicious lasagna for the first time in about five years.

When 7-year old Beka noticed me setting the table, she asked, “Who’s coming to dinner?”
My answer of “no one” confused her.
“Then why are you setting the table so nice?”
“This is what Mommy always used to do before she got sick. A few times a week I set the table really nice for our family dinner.”
She got into the spirit of things and added a lot of candles to my table setting and to the coffee table.

The rains had come in the afternoon and the weather lengthened the commutes for Scott and Beth as they drove home from opposite ends of the metro area. When they arrived home they smelled another home cooked dinner (two days in a row – I have set a record!) and Beka’s lovely arrangement.

We enjoyed a traditional family dinner of much laughter, talking, sharing and joking. Afterwards, we retired to the living room where the crackling fire and the flickering candles reflected the warmth of our love and soothed our weary souls. I mended, some read, some used the computer, some snoozed. We basked in the atmosphere inside while the rains poured outside.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, my legs ached and I could hardly wait to go to bed. But, the fatigue was worth it, because I know that today, I labored not in vain, because I labored in the Lord.

fUmBliNg iN ThE kItChEn WiTh mOmMa MiNdY

I kinda’ don’t like to cook. I’ve been cooking as long as I can remember and I am a little battle weary. I used to do the homemade meals, homemade breads, quick breads, cookies, candies, jams, jellies, pickles, salsa, on and on and on. I had the huge garden. I cooked and canned with all the best of them in them in the Midwest.

Then, we moved to the West coast. Out here, we grow moss in our yards, have huge slugs and we have more critters in town to eat gardens than I had living in the farm country of North Dakota. We rented our first year so gardening was out.

Then, I got cancer. The recovery was very slow, over a year, as I learned to live with artificial hormones and finished treatment. We bought a house. I continued to recover. Dinner became a family workshop with everyone pitching in to try to keep our meals timely and healthy. I remember the kids victoriously celebrating when I made dinner for the first time all by myself. The younger kids NEVER remember that I USED to made things like lasagna, pizza, brownies and breakfast.

Then, I got lazy. Hey, once you’ve bought Stouffers, who wants to go to all the work to make lasagna? Once you know the number to three different pizza delivery places, who wants to make their own pizza?

Now, I am sick of my cooking. I’ve been reading cooking blogs long enough to inspire myself to get back into the Mommy mode of preparing new and interesting meals.

I had a nap today, so I was ready to tackle something simple. With a leftover cooked roast to warm up, all I needed to make was a new side dish.

A recipe from Ellie from Homecooking In Montana had been taunting my tasetbuds all weekend. Plus, it looked easy. I printed out the pages from her blog with her amazing photography and step by step directions.

I had to boil new potatoes until fork tender.

Sounded easy. I just wasn’t sure how tender fork tender was. I overcooked them. Notice how close I left the plastic spoon to the burner. I’m amazed I didn’t start it on fire. That happens a little too often around here.

I was supposed to line my cookie sheet with parchment paper. I’ve never owned that in my life. I hoped aluminum foil would work.

I was supposed to crush the potatoes carefully. I couldn’t find my potato masher. I couldn’t even remember how many years it has been since I used it. Did I get rid of it when I started buying Potato Buds? Did the kids take it? If they did, do I want to know what they did with it?

I tried this other utinsel thing, I don’t know what it is called, but I have had it for years and never use it. It just looks cool and old.

It didn’t work. I had to mash the pieces back with my wrinkled fingers.

I tried again with not so much brute force. It still didn’t work. I used Ellie’s recommendation to use a napkin and press it down with your hand.

Notice the one in the front middle? I guess most people wouldn’t have used a pink napkin, I did. I won’t next time. I also smashed some of them harder than I should have. At this point, I had tears in my eyes. I felt like such a failure because I couldn’t even boil potatoes correctly for this first step of the recipe. But, I rallied and pushed on.
I needed to mix olive oil and garlic clove for the next step. I had to sniff all the olive oils to find the one that was the freshest. I couldn’t find garlic, so used some crushed garlic from a jar that I think is about a year old. While I was debating on how old garlic can be and still be edible, Beth came in and showed me where she hid the garlic she just bought. I threw out the first batch and made the oil and garlic again, fresh.
I topped the potoes with oil and garlic, parmeson cheese and broiled them for a few minutes. I added grated colby-jack and chives from my OWN garden to the top, returned them to the oven.
At this point I was a little amazed, but wondering if I could get the rest of the dinner on the table before the potatoes got cold. I have lost that art of multi-tasking in the kitchen.
Despite all my fumblings, Ellie’s potatoes were a hit with my family. I didn’t show them the picture of her potatoes, so they didn’t know how inferior mine were.
Jon, the one who doesn’t remember the Days When Mom Used to Cook, totally appreciated the dinner. With lip-smacking approval he gushed, “Mom, the potatoes are amazing! You should cook every night!”
Oh. If I had know that would be the expectation, I would have opened the Potato Buds.
Now that you seen my fumblings, drop by Ellie’s site and see some real cooking. She was inspiration enough to get me back in the kitchen.

MM Meditation – A Lad, Five Loaves and a Life

John 6
5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,
9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” The men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”
13 They gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

We see a picture deeper picture than hungry people being fed and the disciples gathering a lot of leftovers; we experience a spiritual implication. Some of these hillside loungers realized that their hunger was more than physical. Their souls were hungry and their hearts were filled in abundance with what delighted them more than the bread, the Bread of Life.

I can imagine that little boy speeding home, holding up the edge of his tunic, his leather sandals slapping along the dusty road, to tell his mommy that the Lord Jesus used his little lunch to feed the whole crowd. Do you think she believed him or had it verified by others? Had she packed that lunch only for him, or had she hoped that he could make a little money by selling the extra food? We don’t know her motive or her reaction, but we know the impact of that motherly act of lunch-packing. She never imagined that lunch feeding over 5,000 people, while portraying a message of the Savior.

Today, if that little boy was around, someone would have coerced him into writing a book, or have it ghost written, there would be guest appearances, and celebrity sightings. Of course, he would have to start a ministry, complete with Capital Letters and Tax-Exempt Status. Maybe he would feel called or anointed to name it “Loaves for Jesus” or “Feeding the Multitudes.” Not catchy enough. How about “Lads and Loaves”? It leaves out the women, that wouldn’t be politically correct. “Spiritual Multiplication of Your Gifts”….no……”Torn Bread” if he started a Christian rock band…… “Hunger 4 God”……am I getting close?

He would be hailed as a hero, until he fell. The boy who started with simple obedience and service got sidetracked by believing all the things said and expected of him as a performer, a leader, a mouthpiece for pop Christianity.

Then, the public would find another hero to stand upon a marble pedestal, until the demands of Christian perfection and perfect good deeds tumbled him into the dirt. Because people aren’t always willing to be holy, to do good, and walk with the Lord, they prefer to aspire to this through the success of others. If there are Christian heroes, we can live vicariously through them without actually having to be holy and busy….just identifying with them is enough.

This is where the danger is in our times. We want heroes and icons and Ministries instead of simple lives of faith, obedience and service.

This little boy was allowed to minister by giving, then he was allowed to slip back into the crowd and continue his life. He wasn’t a hero. He wasn’t a prophet. He wasn’t worthy of honor. He just was privileged to meet and serve the One who IS. He was just a boy who gave all he had to the Lord.

How are we offering the Bread of Life to the starving masses around us? We must lay our gifts, talents and services on the altar, for Him to multiply and distribute as He sees fit. We must not long for pre-eminence and for platitudes, only for souls to be saved and lives to be changed.

After affecting the lives of 5,000 people with his little lunch, the lad remained nameless, for the Name Above all Names.

What are you willing to give to the Lord so that He can multiply it – for HIS glory and not your own?

Could I Have an Answer to Prayer?

In a previous post, after expressing my frustration with my current medical providers, I enumerated my lowered-standard requirements for a new endocrinologist.

1. Nice
2. Nice nurse
3. Not so busy
4. Female
5. Remember me

After procrastinating too long, I finally called my insurance for a list of local female endocrinologists on the preferred providers list. There was only one.

It made the decision easier. I called the receptionist and began asking questions, then made an appointment. I only had to book out three WEEKS, not three MONTHS. Once I am an established patient, a follow-up visit can be arranged within about three DAYS. When I had a few more questions the receptionist couldn’t answer, she took my name and phone number.

The doctor returned the call within an hour. She was NICE. The most amazing thing to me was that she asked me questions about my health and history. Then, she began asking me other questions.

“Have you ever had your bone density checked?”


“Have you ever had your estrogen checked?”


She asked about other testing and I always had to answer no. The thyroid part had always been well taken care of. I appreciated my past doctors medical expertise, but not their bedside manner, nor their unwillingness to treat me as a WHOLE PERSON, not just a THYROID. They never had any advice for the side-effects of my thyroid hormone, aging and facing menopause without my master-gland.

In a 20 minute conversation, I very clearly understood that Dr. G was concerned about the effects of high thyroid/low TSH on my body over the years, and concerned about my over-all health, not just the thyroid levels.

She admitted she might not be the most expertise in my particular cancer, but that she would be an advocate for me.

Before she hung up, she said she was looking forward to meeting me, wished me well, and called me by MY NAME.

After our call ended, I cried. I have so been craving nurturing along with my doctoring, and I may have found it. It looks good so far, in the first encounter, she met all five of my lowered expectations. But, I get the feeling that I will be able to raise the bar and she will still meet expectations.

I will continue to ask the Lord to guide and direct me to the right health care providers. More importantly than that, I pray that I will be used for His glory and honor in my sufferings.

What a privilege to have Heavenly Father who hears and answers prayer. He is only a whisper, an aching heart, an agonizing tear away.

Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer, and show you great and mighty things, which you know not.

Prayer is the answer to every problem there is…. Prayer imparts the power to walk and not faint.–Oswald Chambers

Call unto Him, He’ll answer.

Eyeore and I Love Weeds

I love fall weeds. I always have. I love the blending tans, greens, golds, creams, rusts and browns – each color boasts their own rainbow of shades.

When the riot of summer blooms have fallen to the ground, the subtle colors of nature rise up to calm our souls as we prepare for winter.

This was taken on top of Tiger Mountain. I almost slid down the rocky side because I was so intent on trying to get the perfect picture, I wasn’t paying attention to where my body was compared to the edge of the cliff.

These are the colors I am using to decorate for Thanksgiving this year….hmmmm….I should have cut down some of these flowers for a dried arrangement. What was I thinking? These would look amazing on my antique buffet.

I love weeds. And, I’m in good company.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them- A. A. Milne, Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh

$aving Dollar$ on Teen$ Clothe$

Having daughter$ is an expen$ive habit. We know. We have four. They need clothe$, $hoe$, make-up, clothe$, per$onal care item$, jean$, hair care product$ and gadget$, $hirts, finger-nail poli$he$ and gadget$, clothe$ and $hoe$. Once you buy one item on the li$t, it require$ $everal other item$ on the li$t to make a properly acce$orized outfit.

At the end of August I hosted a Clothing Exchange to facilitate saving money on back to school shopping. I felt this was a good way to encourage families during a stressful economic time and teach our daughters to be resourceful. Moms and daughters were invited to bring all the clothing, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, belts and personal care items that they no longer needed, but were still in useable condition.

Prior to arrival I had to clean my garage. I hung brightly colored sheets to partition the garage and hide all the stuff I just shoved into the back. Using shelving, folding tables, and the air hockey table I marked spots to put things. Pants and shorts were sorted into sizes on shelves. Using blue tape marking S, M,L and XL, I marked places for sweaters and sweatshirts, short-sleeved shirts and long-sleeved shirts. Shoes went outside. Dresses hung between two ladders on a heavy dowel. Jewelry on a table. Hats and purses in laundry baskets.

I had three rooms ready with mirrors for them to use as dressing rooms.
I asked everyone to arrive at 1:30 to help set-up. We planned to begin shopping at 2:00, but we were done with set-up in about 15 minutes, because it was so organized. Participants said they easily found bags of items in closets they weren’t using, including many items that still had the tags on them. (C’mon, most of us have at least one item hanging in our closet with the tags on them…..)

Anyone that couldn’t arrive at the set time was invited to arrive whenever they could. Most of the girls hung around until 4pm, still trying on, accessorizing and enjoying their time together.

I had no requirement on how many items to bring or how many they could take. It was absolutely open. We had more items left over than we had imaged possible. Our only regret is that we hadn’t planned to bring them to a women’s shelter. We ended up dropping them off at a thrift store.

The moms sat and talked and the girls shopped and giggled and shopped and giggled and shopped.
Rebecca volunteered to model her new shirt. Aah, to have that 18 inch waist again.

Rachel looked adorable in her new cotton knit baby doll shirt.

Grace kept us laughing with her “layered” looks. She just kept on putting on whatever she took a fancy to. That is a poodle skirt scrunched beneath a cotton summery dress. I’m pretty sure she won’t be wearing this outfit to school…pretty sure….

Grace, Melissa and Grace trudging gracefully down a dirt path for a photo shoot. A few days after this, I discovered that my lens was dead. So, the above blurry pics are the last hurrahs of a worn-out 18-55mm Canon lens.

It was such a success that we have tentatively planned to do this for moms only in January, when the holiday pigging out will make us all desperate for new, bigger clothes. We’re toying with the idea of having a make-up representative come for a few make-overs and have a few trims offered from my daughter, Bethany.

We’ll try another teen exchange in the spring. We’ve even dreamed about an exchange for Christmas decorations, home decor…..the possibilities are endless….

I was blessed watching teenage girls walk out of my garage with 1 to 3 bags of new-to-them clothing for the school year – at no charge. It was far more items than any of us would or could buy for our kids for back-to-school. The moms were blessed by having a few hours together to talk about parenting, leaning on the Lord, homeschooling, and sharing prayer requests. There are just some needs that don’t have a price tag.

Compare the Calendars

The beginning of a school year is always an adventure, as we face another year of homeschooling and prepare for winter/rainy season and the holidays. It is a slow stretch of anticipation, knowing that as the year ramps up into hysteria, it will come crashing down into glorious summer. I love summer. I love teaching my kids, but I do love me some summer.

I use MSN Calendar to keep my life together. If I don’t write everything down, I won’t remember. I have typed in all birthdays and anniversaries and get a reminder a week ahead of time so I have time to send a card, either real or email.

I color-coordinate my events. Orange is doctor/dentist, red is spiritual events, yellow is school, dark green is work (babysitting usually), purple is mommy events, blue is company, teal is traveling, green is baseball. If the kids have an event, they are responsible for helping it get on the calendar. Each day when I sign in to check my email, I get a reminder box with all of the events for that day. It is like having my own administrative assistant.

Doesn’t September look peaceful? I am putting up Fall decorations, weeding the flower beds, planting a few more flowers, cleaning out garage and storage shed in preparation for a cozy winter inside listening to the rain splatter on the windows and the roof. Rain is such a peaceful sound, especially when accompanied by a crackling fire and the scent of freshly brewed coffee.

This was last May. If there is a little arrow at the bottom of the left hand corner, it means there were too many events for that day to view, so you have to drop down the box the view them all.

Do you see why the calendar program keeps me in the game?
Do you see why I love summer?
It takes three months to recover from a school year and have that energy to begin again. I always am SO ready to be done with school; I get spring fever worse than the kids. But, I am always excited for a new year and excited for the new classes we’re taking either at home or through our homeschool coop.
As always, I wonder what the year will bring; what joys and sorrows will our family go through together. Last year, I had a huge burden to begin school hard and finish early, I was pretty sure I would be facing surgery that spring. The doctor kept telling me my cancer was NOT back, but that small, still voice of the Lord told me to prepare. I remember doubting that voice, wondering if I was imagining things, or running away with my feelings, but I obeyed. When my new doctor diagnosed me with cancer in about March, it was confirmation that it was His voice I had heard.
I remember being in awe that He would prepare my heart and my path.
This year, I’m feeling peace. I have a peaceful feeling about my family, about school and about life. We are feeling so blessed and are feeling His guiding presence.
I am thinking about this hymn –
I don’t know
About tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry about my future
For I know what Jesus said
And today He walks beside me
For He knows what lies ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

The peace in September comes not from a less-demanding schedule, because I always fill each day to the rim regardless of how many things were on the calendar to begin with. The peace comes from knowing Who is holding my hand, whether I am running like crazy, multi-tasking my multi-tasks or sprawling on the couch wishing the world would stop so I could get off.

He holds my hand, and my future.