Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pumpkin Patch

After the kids finished some of their schoolwork this morning, we headed to the pumpkin patch near our house. Zac-the-Hallo-weenie dog was hiding in the garage as we left, and ran as fast as he could to the van, so we took him along!

I always think of the Pumpkin Patch Parable when we make jack-o-lanterns. I'm so glad Jesus scooped out all of my yuckiness and replaced it with His light!

Two great smiles!

Now the jack-o-lanterns are lit, the pumpkin seeds are roasted, the evening air is cooling off as the sun goes down and the kids are getting ready for a night of fun.

Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

We've got some fun friends who come over each year for Halloween. They will arrive this evening, the grown-ups will hang out and eat, taking turns answering the door, and the kids will enjoy running around together. At some point, the dads will go out, too, especially if the kids want to venture further beyond our immediate neighborhood. It's supposed to turn much cooler later, and I just made the perfect soup for us to enjoy tonight. (I found the recipe here.)

Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

3 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (packed) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro

Bring chicken stock and whipping cream to boil in heavy medium pot. Whisk in canned pumpkin, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, coriander and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until soup thickens slightly and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Soup can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cool. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally.) Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with cheddar cheese and cilantro and serve.

Makes 4 (first-course) servings.
I'm serving it with fresh bread and salad. Doesn't it sound like a treat?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tooting My Own Horn

As I posted on my homeschool blog last week, I have started playing my french horn in the band again! A sweet friend invited me to join our community band, so I went last week. Tonight was my second rehearsal. We meet at the high school, and our director is the high school band director. Naturally, as I sit in the high school band hall, I've been thinking back on my own high school band days. I've notice that some things have changed in the 21 (yikes!) years since I was in my high school band, but that some things have stayed the same.

Things that are different:
  • I drive a minivan to band practice instead of a cute sports car.
  • I have to worry about scratching my horn with my wedding band.
  • I don't have Senior English class afterwards.
  • If I ever do, "Senior" won 't mean "grade 12"
  • Though I know all of the notes, I have no degree of certainty that the correct note is going to come out.
  • I'm not first chair.
  • I won't be "challenging" first chair.
  • After the first 10 minutes of rehearsal muh-by luh-bips fuh-beel luh-bike thuh-bis.
  • I actually watch the director.
  • I probably won't be voted "Band Sweetheart" this year.

Things that have stayed the same:

  • I'm a nut about arriving at practice on time, so I don't have to walk in in front of everyone.
  • I keep chapstick and a pencil on my music stand.
  • I use a cute (seasonal) towel, because valve oil on your pants is just... icky.
  • I still have the same Coach tag (from a Coach purse) with my name label on my horn case, because it's all about cute.
  • I remember all of the fingerings.
  • I count measures on my fingers.
  • I sit there the whole time thinking "Don't-call-on-me-Don't-call-on-me"
  • I LOVE playing Christmas music.
  • I listened to a great U2 song on the way to rehearsal last week.
  • I get to go hang out with that cute guy, Luke, after practice. (I think he likes me!)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ministry Fair

We went to the fair again this weekend. No, not our state fair, an even better one! Our church has an annual "ministry fair" where there are dozens of tables all around the hallways, highlighting the many different ministries and mission teams you can be a part of. Luke and I were responsible for the Ghana table and the Awana table. After we set up our tables I took some time to look over the various other displays around the church. As I strolled from table to table, I thought about how it was called a "fair," and mentally compared this particular "fair" to the fair we went to a couple of weeks ago.

Like the state fair, at the ministry fair you can choose something that could take you on quite a ride! The ministries and teams we've been a part of have caused an adrenaline rush greater than any roller coaster I've ever been on. In my experience, involvement in ministry and missions has been more filling than any corny dog or funnel cake could ever be. I can understand more and more the words of Jesus when He said, "My food is to do the will of Him Who sent me." As I reflected on our recent trip to the fair, my mind automatically thought about the cost involved. It's not cheap! Well, there is a price, a personal cost, associated with serving in ministry. But, unlike the junk food, short-lived exhibits, and rattle-trap rides at the state fair... it's worth it. Whatever the price. The benefit of serving Christ is worth exceedingly more than I could ever calculate my cost to be. As I looked at all of the many, many opportunities I thought about how, just like at our huge Texas State Fair, you can't do it all. And that's as it should be!

I love our church. It is a wonderful place to serve! This weekend I grabbed a couple of brochures to tuck into my prayer journal to pray about future ministry opportunties and the kids both got some ministry ideas as well, which I love. It was a great weekend.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Have you been "boo'ed?" We were boo'ed this week. One evening our doorbell rang, and we found a sack on the front porch with a note and some goodies. (This started several years ago here, so maybe your neighborhood does it too.) It had a cute little ghost picture to put in the window to indicate that we'd been "boo'ed" (last year it was "spooked") then we were to copy the note and ghost, make three goody sacks and "boo" three other houses.
Here are the goody sacks ("boo buckets") we made. The kids picked three houses who hadn't been boo'ed yet and "ding-dong-ditched" them, leaving the buckets on the porch. One of them was our neighbor directly across the street, and Kyle was spotted by them as just as he made it back to our porch. I don't think his heart stopped pounding for 20 minutes!

AND the best thing about putting together our boo buckets is that the bags of Halloween candy are now open.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lightly, in pencil...

Are you a "note-taker?" Boy, I am! In college I began taking voracious, copious notes anytime I was in any class or lecture. To this day it's how I learn. I may not look over the notes again (especially if there's no test!) but the very process of writing while the lecturer is speaking transmits the information to my brain in a way that simply listening or receiving a handout does not. I've got binders, folders and composition notebooks full of notes from the various classes, seminars and Bible studies I've attended over the years. I'm not sure what I'll do with all of them, but I've got them tucked away in a cabinet in my room... just in case...

One place I always make lots of notes is in my Bible. All of the Bibles that I've used over the years are marked-up and highlighted. Some of the margins are so crowded with tiny notes in my attempt to make them all fit, I practically need a magnifying glass to read what I've written! Those are the notes to which I refer the most often, because I see them and reflect on them time after time as I read that particular Bible. I get to repeatedly benefit from the God-ordained pastors, teachers and Bible study leaders I've had.

Well, this morning I did something I haven't done before. I erased some notes from my Bible. I was reading a particular passage and glanced over the notes off to the side, and what was written just didn't ring true. I even found some Scriptural examples to the contrary. I can remember taking notes in a particular Bible study I was in a few years ago, and while the leader was gifted and Spirit-led teacher, and I've got pages and pages of insightful notes in from that study, the particular principle I re-read this morning just didn't seem to line up with what I have subsequently learned in the whole counsel of Scripture. So... I erased it. At that moment, I was glad I had written in pencil. Maybe in my haste I had written it wrong. Perhaps it had originally been stated differently. (I'm certainly not arrogant enough to think I know more than this particular teacher!) Who knows? All I know is that as I erased that sentence from the margin of my Bible this morning I became more keenly aware that God's words remained.

And that's as it should be.

"...But the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Works-for-me Wednesday

I wanted to share something that has really worked for me this year: My "Mom's Plan-it Calendar." I gave one as a gift one year for Christmas (while secretly coveting it, of course) so last year I got one for myself. I have loved it! It is big, with lines for everyone and their respective activities. It's magnetically- mounted and actually stays on the refrigerator, and has a pocket to put all notices, invitations, reminders etc. in. Along with my folder, this has helped me keep up with our life!

I loved it so much, I bought a Teacher's Plan-It for our schoolroom. I've seen them at Barnes and Noble, Sam's Club, Mardel, Office Max, etc. With the year's-end creeping closer, and Christmas shopping season upon us, you might want to pick one up for yourself or a busy mom or teacher on your Christmas shopping list.

For more tips from some smart and savvy moms, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I've been linked!

I know. I'm a geek. But this is a momentous occasion in my otherwise-not-very-eventful-bloglife. This post on Bloggingbaby.com links to this post on my lil' ole homeschool blog. :)

Wisdom from Whit

Yesterday, while the kids were eating breakfast we listened to this weekend's edition of Adventures in Odyssey. For those of you unfamiliar with this show, it is a radio broadcast produced by Focus on the Family and heard on Christian radio stations nationwide (though we usually listen to it on the computer or buy the cd's). Usually when the kids are listening to their programs, I'm buzzing around the kitchen, or if I'm sitting I'm flipping through school papers or otherwise occupied. But yesterday, part of the episode caught my attention. One of the kids was trying to make a difficult decision and asked Whit (the wise, older-gentleman, friend-to-all character) for advice. He asked, "How do I know if it's me talkin', or God talkin'?" Whit replied, "Well, you look for three things. First, you see if what you're thinking lines up with Scripture. Is it in the Bible? Second, you seek Godly counsel. Talk about it with someone whom you know reads their Bible and prays. Thirdly, see if you have a peace about it." As I looked at my kids, thoughtfully listening while waking up over their breakfast, I thought, "Oh, how I wish I had heard this when I was 10 and 13!"

God is so faithful. He knew that I needed to hear this as well. This wasn't new-to-me, groundbreaking information, but it was SO timely. It just so happens that Luke and I are wrestling with a decision now (one that I'm sure I'll blog about in the near future). How do we know if this particular idea we're thinking about acting on is "us talkin' "or "God talkin' ?" We're about to take a leap of faith, and I'm hoping that we haven't made this whole thing up! Well... (1) it's in the Bible. (2) Luke's in the midst of seeking Godly counsel (first and foremost with me, and then those in his accountability group and others), and (3) there is a measure of peace. Not peace because I think what we're deciding is no big deal, or that what we're considering won't be hard work. Not calmness. But a deep-down sense of... peace. (If you've experienced it, you know what I'm talking about!)

Hopefully, if you're facing any decisions right now, "Whit's wisdom" has helped you as well!

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Wedding Pics!

I got these today! Here's Luke's gorgeous baby sister Amy, and her cute husband, Randy.

Our family is so blessed... Every family should have an Amy and Randy! They not only have a deep, abiding love for one another, they model Christ's love in the way that they pour themselves into the lives of others every single day. We love you guys.

Welcome back from your fabulous honeymoon trip, and enjoy beginning your new life together!

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."
Prov.3: 5-6

God is good...

...ALL the time!

A quote I heard this morning:

"God's will is what we would choose if we knew what God knows."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Chris Tomlin, "See the Morning"

Mon bonne amie, Mary, asked if this cd is good, and a simple "Yes! It is!" just doesn't do it justice. I just thought I'd share this song off of it that I found on YouTube. It's about a minute and a half into this video. This particular song has been running through my head literally for about 2 straight weeks. I LOVE it. I sing all the time, and this song (actually from an old hymn) captures why. Man, is Chris Tomlin gifted. He is such an anointed worship leader. I can't believe I used to go hear him sing in the gymnasium at our church!

This video is him playing an acoustic version of the song, but the studio version on the cd is excellent. The whole cd is worth getting.


How can I keep from singing

There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring

And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives

And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give

I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

THIS is what Saturdays should be like...

I love today!

The weather is sunny and in the low 70's, all the windows are open and a wonderful breeze is wafting through the house...

Luke mowed this morning and is currently on the patio making lunch- the fish he caught this week and hushpuppies (or "shut-up dawgs" like the Cajun Chef used to say!)

Bethany's absorbed in a good book...

Kyle just told me he took a short nap in his room (possibly his first self-initiated nap ever...)

I'm working on school and ministry stuff, updating blogs, running laundry, and baking cookies while listening to my current "soundtrack," Chris Tomlin "See the Morning" on my iTunes...

God is so good to give us days like today!


Here's some of the fun we've had in the past week:
Cute cousins enjoying Aunt Amy's wedding

Gorgeous girls

Our family all "dolled up."

The annual "Big Tex" picture at the fair

Mom and Kyle cooling off!

Cuteness on the Midway (they knew I'd snap this picture!)

Drivin' a Hummer at the car show

My cute "fair date"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm still here!

In case you're checking in (as I have been told some of you are-yey!) I'm still here. I would say we've been "busy," but that makes our lives sound obligatory, perhaps mundane, or maybe even harried. Yes, our schedule is full, but so are our hearts. (That's what I used to say when I had little ones and someone- usually older- would say to me, "Boy, you sure have your hands full!" On a good day I'd say, "You should see how full my heart is!" Yes, I know that's syrup-y :)

We are having a wonderful October! When I get a chance I'm going to post some pictures of what we've been up to, but it's a chilly morning and I'm cozy on our couch with the camera and ISB cable w-a-a-ay out of arms' reach...

Last weekend we were privileged to be a part of Luke's sister Amy's wedding to our precious new brother-in-law, Randy. What a blessed and exciting time that was! And how fun it was to get dressed up in something beautiful and dance with my cute husband! I was going through pictures in our camera and realized that I didn't get any pictures of the bride and groom, but I saw my photographer-niece-with-her-cool-new-camera getting some great shots, so I'm going to see if she'll send me some. (Pssst- Maggie, if you're reading this, that's you!)

Tuesday we went to the State Fair. We saw some great shows, rode rides, and ate our way through the day- corny dogs, funnel cakes, a turkey leg, fried oreos and a fried snickers, tornado taters and onion strings... :::sigh:::: Wow, that looks gross now that I see it in print, but it sure was fun!

Yesterday Luke had a wonderful day of fishing with a guide at Lake Texoma. He hasn't done anything like that in years, and it was so good for him. It was a well-deserved break for all who went, I'm sure.

We've been plowing through our school work. Both of the kids are working SO hard this year, doing whatever is asked of them with great attitudes. Some days I ask more of them than others, but the work is more consistent and the teacher-freak-outs (TFO's) are way less frequent. (TFO's usually involve me looking at my plans, realizing how far "behind" we are and racing around proclaiming it to them while cranking more stuff their way.) Oh, how they bear with me... and oh, how they always manage to stay on track, which is why I put the word behind in quotations.

God has been teaching me so much. Just this morning in Romans 6, I was reminded afresh of just what was accomplished through the work of Christ when he "died to sin once, for all," and the implications for my daily life in the fact that "the life He lives, He lived to God." (verse 10) What a glorious thought in verse 9- "knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him." (Or me!) "Even so, consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (v. 11) In John Piper's message , he said, "The death of Christ has the power in the present to liberate us from sin by securing for us a hope that we will be raised from the dead, and thus freeing us from fear, to be the most radical kinds of sin-denying, life-laying-down people imaginable."

I wrote in my prayer journal this morning, "Thank You for dying once for all. Thank You for the the strength that brings into my today and the bright hope it gives my tomorrow. The hope of resurrection! Great is Your faithfulness indeed! Why do I live as though I have forgotten this profound truth? Oh, keep me aware. Remind me when I glance at a cross, partake of the Lord's Supper, or have fleeting (or lingering) thoughts about death. This is huge. By that amazing power- the power that conquered death and at this very moment indwells me- help me to no longer let sin reign in even the smallest part of me. Cleanse this temple, Lord Jesus. Overturn tables, driving out any greed or wrong motives. Oh, how I want to be holy as You are holy. Thank You that I am under grace. Thank You for the forgiveness and cleansing You offer each and every day. How I need it to wash over and through me. To free me. From glory unto glory. So that I may walk in newness of life, to the glory of the Father. Amen."

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Facing the Giants

Go. See. This. Movie.

In the theater, DON'T wait for the video! You need to see it big.

Take the whole family.

I'm too verklempt to say anymore...

"We will send them flowers."

The above was not spoken about one of the Amish families affected by this week's murders, but rather spoken by one of them. He was speaking of how they will reach out to the family of the man who shot ten Amish schoolgirls this week. While the rest of us are stunned, wondering how in the world we might possibly reach out to such a separate, private community, they are planning on reaching out themselves during a time of such unspeakable grief.

What an example of forgiveness! Another quote from someone in their community (given in the MSNBC article here) said that they "don't want to be trapped by bitterness."

To me, the Amish (or even the Mennonites I've seen at homeschool conventions) dressed in their layered, long clothing with long, never-been-cut hair in braids or buns, living such a separate, deliberate lifestyles devoid of electricity or cars, look and seem... trapped. Trapped in another time. Trapped in a world where they can't quickly get information, travel, or switch on the lights. No Starbucks, fast food, or cute shoes. How stifling. How... trapped. But that's not so! In many ways, they are free. They have put themselves in a position to be free in so many areas. Free from bitterness. Free from worry about power outages due to storms, black-outs, or even war. Their lives of self-denial and simplicity leave them free from being in bondage to comfort, convenience and leisure. And, lest we think that they are forced into this lifestyle/ culture for life, their teenagers have a time where they leave to live among the "English," tasting life on the outside, and anyone is free to leave.

To be sure, our theology is quite different, and certainly our lifestyles are very different. But as I've read a bit about the Amish culture these last few days, I think I can learn a few things from them:
  • Humility
  • Forgiveness
  • Simplicity
  • Home as a place of worship. (Churches meet in homes. Each family takes turns hosting the congregation.)
  • Involving my children as much as possible in the work of their parents. (Amish children work alongside their parents and thus are well-acquainted with the work involved in daily life, how to manage a farm or a household, how to do a particular vocation.)
  • Non-dependence on "the world." (Even connecting to electricity, to them, is connecting to the world. What am I “connected to” in this world that wouldn’t survive a shake up? Romans 12:2)
  • Sing more. (They sing for hours each day- while they work, garden, tend to their children- as a form of worship but also as a way to teach their children. What joy there must be in that!)
  • Contentment in a life of work and family, in living spiritually, committed to worship and praise of God.

May God's blessings be upon all of them during this time of mourning, and of getting on with life. May God comfort the victims' families as well as the family of the man who committed this unthinkable act. May our sovereign God be glorified in the sending and receiving of that bouquet of flowers. And may the floral fragrance of forgiveness be a pleasing aroma to Him.