Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thankful Thursday: Matthew 6

"How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You..."
Psalm 31:10

Happy Thursday! I hope you are having a good week!

I have loved my time in God's Word this week. Following the method I shared this past summer, I am now in the book of Matthew and spent this week marking chapter 6. As I read this chapter, the first thing I marked were the verses that describe God. (I always look first for what a passage tells me about God before moving on to what it says concerning me.) So, this week I've been reflecting on and being so very thankful for these truths about our unchanging God.

I'm thankful that...
  • God is my Father. In this chapter Jesus repeatedly refers to Him as "your Father." I'm so glad He emphasizes that. I need to remember that.
  • He is in heaven. (v. 1) He is in His rightful place. He is on His throne.
  • He sees what is done in secret (v. 4) There is such freedom in knowing that He knows. He knows.
  • He will reward me (v. 4) He will. I need not concern myself with the form that reward will take, but I can know that it is coming.
  • He knows what I need before I ask Him. (v. 8) Not just what I want but what I truly need.
  • He will forgive me (v. 14). He enables me to forgive others and offers that blessed forgiveness to me. What a thought!
  • He is in secret (v. 18). His word says not only that He sees what is done in secret, but that He is in secret. He is there.
  • He clothes the grass of the field (v. 30) and how that reminds me that He will clothe me as well.
  • He knows that I need all "these things" (v. 32) He knows my true needs and is poised to meet them each day.

I have found such peace, stability and quietness of mind throughout each day when I stop and periodically focus on what is true about God. He never changes, and for that I am most thankful.

To read more Thankful Thursday posts or to link your own, visit Laurel Wreath, our sweet hostess for today. Have a terrific Thursday!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Week In The Woods

We had a wonderful week! The weather was crisp and cool (and downright cold at times) but as you can see, we constantly had a fire going thanks to my two resident pyromaniacs campfire attendants. We had a few rainshowers, but that didn't stop the fun. There is another family that camps there every year with whom we have become friends, and our kids all had fun spending time together playing tennis, playing Cranium and Catch Phrase, riding bikes, throwing the football and making s'mores. We enjoyed lots of time together as a family talking around the campfire, walking the dogs, listening to Christmas music and... being thankful. We didn't have a fancy Thanksgiving table, but each of us made a placemat using clear Contact paper, some of the fall leaves and some "thankfulness" scriptures that I printed.

Here's our table (we ate inside- it was a bit nippy!) set with our placemats and our five kernels of corn.
We used those placemats all weekend, it was great to sit down to a constant reminder of God's faithfulness, and to keep us focused on being thankful each time we came out of the cold and gathered in the warmth around the little table in the camper. And now we have some fun souvenirs from our "week in the woods!"

The past two years I have decorated for Christmas before we left for Thanksgiving so we came home to "decked halls", but this year Thanksgiving was so early I just didn't get to it. Right about now, I'm wishing I would have! Once I get all of our camping laundry sorted and put away I'll be dragging down Christmas boxes. Joy, joy, joy!

Which makes me think of Advent... which begins this weekend! This year we will be using the book, The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader. I found it and ordered it this summer, and it looks really good. We have also enjoyed the Jotham's Journey trilogy for the past several years. They are currently out of print, but they are *so* good- if you come across any of the three titles (Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels) you should snatch them up. We began reading these when our kids reached upper-elementary age, and they really hold their attention. We all have loved them. My son has already asked if we will be reading through those this year. (Amazon has some great reviews on them if you're interested.) I just love well-written stories and books that keep us focused on the true meaning of the season and cause us to s-l-o-w down, light candles and read together.

I hope your family had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday. Once I get my laundry finished (and before I fall headlong into the Christmas tubs) I'll take some time to visit blogs and get caught up on everyone. :) I'm so glad you stopped by!

And now, back to the laundry room......

Monday Menu

As usual, better late than never!

The laundry has been swishing and whirring all morning, and I have been working to restore some sort of order around here... Isn't that the way it always is after a vacation? (or most weekends in general!) We had a wonderful "week-in-the-woods" last week. It was truly a time of thankfulness for our family. I'll save all my musings and pictures for another post, but since this is a food-related post, I'll share a couple of pictures of how we ate last week:

This is a yummy beef stew cooking over the fire, my cute husband's concoction (oh, it was so good!)

And here is the cook himself (with his sous-chef by his side) making steaks, baked potatoes and garlic bread. I can smell it just looking at it!

As you can probably tell, it was a good week of eating for us last week, not counting our big thanksgiving meal! Here's what we've got in store this week:

Lunch: YOYO ("You're on your own"... Mom's got her head in the washing machine...)
Dinner: crock pot bbq chicken, green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, rolls

Lunch: stir fry
Dinner: Southwestern Fish Tacos, black beans, corn

Lunch: chunky chicken salad sandwiches on ciabatta rolls, chips
Dinner: whole wheat spaghetti, salad, bread sticks

Lunch: make-your-own pizza
Dinner: Leftovers

Lunch: leftover lunch
Dinner: baked potato soup, salad, hot whole wheat rolls

I hope you've got a great week started at your house. Please stop by Laura's for more menus, (and it's not too late to link your own!) I'm so glad you stopped by!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Monday and Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, I'm JUST so happy. This week is finally here! And it's the week I've been praying for... a week OFF. Off of school, off of housework, off of the phone and computer, off of errands, off of ministry responsibilities, and off of kitchen duty! I know, Thanksgiving seems an odd time to be out of the kitchen, but that's where I'll be-- out! We're spending the week RV'ing in a beautiful state park in Oklahoma. This will be our third year to enjoy time away- just the four of us- enjoying time outdoors and being thankful, especially thankful to our sweet friends who are so graciously loaning us their RV.

Today I'm baking some of the things we love to take- sausage balls, banana bread, pumpkin pie and cookies. Dinner tonight will be a leftover buffet, and then tomorrow we're off! I've got my"camping style" Thanksgiving dinner all ready to go. I've got a smoked turkey which we'll do in the dutch oven over the fire. The stuffing is simply two boxes of Stove Top stuffing, some chicken broth, a can of cream of mushroom soup and a can of cream of chicken soup in the Crock Pot (my kids LOVE this!). I've got another can of cr. of chicken soup for our "gravy" and some potato flakes to mix up mashed potatoes, some green beans and some rolls to heat up over the fire as well. (The "old me" would not have considered this a proper Thanksgiving dinner at all... I like the "new me" much better!) Take my word for it, eaten outside by a campfire, this is the best Thanksgiving dinner ever!

The rest of the week's cooking is being done by my fun husband who came home with this over the weekend. Yes, our menu consists of whatever can be cooked over a fire (steaks, hot dogs, stew, biscuits, and of course, s'mores!)

(Those of you with a more "refined" palate should stop by Laura's to read other people's menus or to link your own!)

We're also taking some ideas/activities from Family Life's Thanksgiving resources. I'm adapting the Rainey's "five kernels of corn" activity to also correspond with this reading. I'm also taking some scriptures on thankfulness so that we can apply those scriptures as they pertain to God's faithfulness to the Pilgrims as well as to our family. I want to also pray those scriptures- thanking Him in advance for the way He will be faithful to us in the year to come.

I'll leave you with some pictures of what we'll be looking at this week...

I am so thankful for you, that you stopped by. Have a blessed, blessed week wherever you are and around whatever table your family gathers.

God is good, all the time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

With Thanksgiving

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

I missed "Thankful Thursday," but any day is a time to be thankful, right?

Next week those of us in America will be pausing to give thanks. Oh, how I pray that it will truly be from our hearts! Lately I have been noticing that when I interweave gratitude into my thoughts and prayers that it literally transforms negative, sinful emotions and thoughts. I'm seeing now why Paul says in Philippians 4:6 that we are to pray "with thanksgiving." My prayers become what they ought to be when they are prayed with thanksgiving. John Piper speaks here of praying with thanksgiving and describes it as "the humble, non-demanding mindset that flavors all of prayer. Making requests thankfully means that we will be content and thankful with whatever God wisely and lovingly gives us. And we know that he will hear our prayer and wisely and lovingly give us what's best for us."

This week I am thankful for:
  • a successful and safe business trip for my husband. He hasn't had to travel for business purposes in years (it used to be a way of life for us when the kids were younger) so it took me back in time this week to see him leave for work with a suitcase. :::sigh:::
  • a productive week of school with my kids. I have prayed for a long time that they would each develop God-honoring diligence in their schoolwork and I'm seeing that quality really shine in them this year. I'm SO thankful for that.
  • Bright, sunny days. The sun streaming through the windows so cheerful.
  • a neat time with my brother last night. He popped over on his way to do a church service at a church in our area, so he stopped for dinner at our house. He's so fun! (And he didn't mind that it was "leftover night." :) I am so thankful for our relationship. He is so good for me!
  • a long, late-into-the-night chat with my daughter a couple of nights ago. She is so precious. I love, love, LOVE being her mother. Typing that sentence just made me cry.
  • dear, generous friends who have offered for us to borrow their RV next week for a Thanksgiving camping trip. They have no idea how much our family looks forward to that and how much it blesses us. The past two Thanksgivings have become some of our favorite family memories!
  • my sweet son who I see taking on so many of the qualities of his dad. He sees what needs to be done and does it, whether it's load the dishwasher, kill something with 8 legs, or give me a hug. He's going to be an awesome husband someday!
  • a full week (almost) behind me and a full day ahead. God is so faithful to give us things to do to be productive and opportunities to honor Him with the stewardship of our time. Each day is a chance to do that.

These are just a few of the things that have blessed me this week. I hope you have had a wonderful week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Who Is Your King Uzziah?

This past weekend, we were privileged once again to worship at our "second church home," our African partner church. I always love going there, I wish it were closer... I'd go most Sundays, I think! I am always so blessed to be there with our precious brothers and sisters. This past Sunday was a little different, though, in that it was a memorial service for the father of one of our dear friends. It was a bittersweet day, as those services usually are, but the sweet part was so, so sweet. Not only were there tears shed and memories shared, but there was the added blessing of true celebration, African style! Never have I gone from crying to dancing so quickly. It's so good for the soul!

The message from Pastor Kwaku this weekend was so good, I wanted to share part of it with you. He spoke out of Isaiah 6:1,

"In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the LORD, sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple."

King Uzziah had reigned for over 50 years and it had been a prosperous time for Judah. The economy was good, there was a time of relative peace with Israel, there was the security that accompanies those times when things are going very well... and then the king died. Those who had looked to the king were hit hard, for he was gone. Pastor Kwaku asked a very powerful question, "Who is your King Uzziah?" I suppose that "who" could be a "what," too. To whom or what am I looking for security? I think it blew them away when King Uzziah died, maybe in much the same way as it hit everyone so hard when JFK died. "Now what are we going to do?"

What did Isaiah do? He went to the temple. He went into the presence of the Lord. He took it straight to God. He cried out to Him. And guess what, he saw Him. He not only saw Him, he saw where He is-- high and lifted up, exalted, on His throne, in His rightful place, sovereign over all that was taking place. Isaiah had been in the temple before, obviously. He had been serving the Lord. He "knew" the Lord. But after the king's death, God revealed Himself to Isaiah in a new way.

Are you in a time of loss? Maybe it's the loss of a person, a dream, or a change in circumstances. Anytime we lose someone or something significant to us, it can shake us. But, may those be times we can say:

"In the year of _____'s death, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted..."

In those times of loss, may we do what Isaiah did, go to the temple, going not only into the presence of the Lord but into the presence of His people. In those times of loss and change, God is ready to reveal His glory to us in powerful, new ways. And He will show us that He is right where He's always been: on His throne. We can receive His comfort, His cleansing, and go forth (as Isaiah did) in His power, forever changed.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Monday

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend! We're jumping back into our weekly routine full force after a very full and fun weekend, so I'm a bit late getting my menu posted, so if you've stopped by from Laura's thanks for visiting me this far down the list! (::::waving from down here in 150's-ville::::::)

Here's what we're having this week at our house:

Breakfast choices:

breakfast burritos
oatmeal applesauce muffins

Lunch: pita pocket sandwiches, chips
Dinner: pizza

Lunch: chicken pesto paninis (my simplified version with shaved chicken and no peppers/onions)
Dinner: slow-cooked corn chowder (my family LOVES this!), crusty bread, salad

Lunch: La Madeleine Tomato Basil soup & grilled cheese sandwiches
Dinner: Geography dinner night... We're in the southern states now, I feel so "at home!" Country Style steak and squash casserole (NC) and "Pea Picking Cake" (VA) from the EYWTUSA cookbook

Lunch: macaroni and cheese, fruit
Dinner: leftovers

Lunch: leftover lunch buffet
Dinner: Chicken Enchilada Casserole (FIFI p. 190) , black beans, corn

Whatever you've got cooking this week at your house, I hope you and your family enjoy time together around your table. Have a wonderful week!

Stop by Laura's to read more menus (and do us "latecomers" a favor... start at the bottom of the list! ;)

Friday, November 09, 2007

I Saw What I Saw

I have often asked myself, asked God really, why He has allowed me to see what I've seen in this world. I have stood in places and have thought to myself, "I'm just a suburban American housewife... how is it that I have the privilege to be here, to experience this, to look into these eyes, to love these people?? And when I get home, what am I to do with this?" Well, the answer to that is still working itself out in my heart, as it does everyday. I came across this Sara Groves video that captures what I've been thinking. "I saw what I saw and I can't forget it...I heard what I heard and I can't go back...I know what I know and I can't deny it..."

There's a reason we all get to see what we see... whether personally or through someone else's camera lense. It's not for nothing. It's not merely for "personal enrichment." It's not just data. And it's certainly not just so we can realize how "blessed" we are as Americans. I've seen what I've seen so I can act. It's not real love if I just "feel" it, nor is it true compassion if I merely momentarily shed tears. What wonderful opportunities are out there everyday for us to demostrate the love of Jesus!

"Your courage asks me... what am I afraid of?
Your courage asks me... what I am made of
And what I know of love...

And what I know of God..."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

You're Changing the World!

I have been loving Steven Curtis Chapman's new cd, "This Moment." Today as I was driving my son to drum lessons, this song came on and it really ministered to me. (I love "mom" songs!) I wanted to share the lyrics with you today and remind my fellow mom-sisters that you are changing the world!

(If you're not an iTunes junkie like I am,you can listen to a sample of the song or purchase it here.)

"One Heartbeat at a Time"

You're up all night with a screaming baby
You run all day at the speed of life
And every day you feel a little bit less
Like the beautiful woman you are

So you fall in bed when you run out of hours
And you wonder if anything worth doing got done
Well, maybe you just don't know
Or maybe you've forgotten

That you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

With every "I know you can do it"
And every tear that you kiss away
So many little things that seem to go unnoticed
They're just like the drops of rain over time
They become a river

And you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time

You're beautiful
So beautiful
How you're changing the world
Yeah, you're changing the world

You, you are changing the world
One little heartbeat at a time
Making history with every touch and every smile
Oh, you, you may not see it now
But I believe that time will tell
How you, you are changing the world
Oh, I believe that you
You are changing the world
One little heartbeat
At a time

And you're changing the world


I know sometimes it seems like we're only changing dirty diapers...changing the TV channel (to something appropriate!)...changing the roll on the tp... changing plans... or changing our minds- and all the while changing shape! But this song put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye today as it reminded me that by God's grace (and with His guidance) I am changing something else, something far more significant. And that privilege is worth whatever changes come with it!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The New Person

I just love our God... the God of "new." A new covenant, a new and living way, a new heaven and new earth, new mercies each and every morning... He is making all things new!

The kids and I read this quote by Charles H. Spurgeon in our devotional this morning, and I just wanted to share it with you today:

"Christ has been pleased to make us new people. His saints are the "new creatures in Christ Jesus." They have a new nature...... This new nature is conscious of new emotions. It loves what once it hated; it hates what once it loved. It finds blight where once it sought for bliss, and finds bliss where once it found nothing but bitterness. It leaps at the sound that was once dull to its ears- the name of Jesus. It rejoices in hopes that once seemed idle as dreams. It is filled with a divine enthusiasm that it once rejected as fanatical. It is conscious now of living in a new element, breathing a fresh air, partaking of new food, drinking out of new wells not dug by men or filled from the earth. The new person is absolutely new- new in principles and new in emotions."

We are absolutely new! I just loved this thought today, on this new morning of a new week (in a new time-change!) full of new possibilities. We have a new chance to make ourselves available for God to do great new things in all our lives this week for His glory... to continue the new work He started in us.

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday Thanks

It's time for a Thankful Thursday! I haven't done one in awhile, but this morning as I was praying my heart was swelling with such gratitude that I thought it was time for it to spill over onto my blog...

*I'm thankful for my family. And when I say that I mean my f-a-m-i-l-y. The far-reaching, extended family that goes beyond those who live within our four walls or my immediate family. I was with them last weekend-parents, brother, sister in law, nieces, nephew, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins-by-the-dozens... I feel so blessed!

*I'm thankful for my forgiving children. Honestly, I blow it with them just about daily, and they are so quick to forgive. I am definitely not a model of "perfect" mothering, but hopefully a model of repentant mothering! I just love them so.

*I'm thankful for Iris, who not only created Thankful Thursday, but who also gave me this sweet award a few weeks ago and I just remembered about it!!
When I first read the name of this award I thought it said, "Math-letes," as in the math team I remember from high school. I thought, "Wow! Apparently I've really snowed them on my blog into thinking I'm good at math!" (I assure you, I'm not... though in true "I-can-do-all-things-through-Christ" fashion I am teaching Algebra to my daughter!) Actually the award states "Mathetes" is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) is to make more disciples. I am beyond honored that someone would associate a word meaning "disciple" with me. Since this award has gone the rounds, I would love to point you to the blogroll in the sidebar of my homepage for examples of those whom I consider to be disciples. They inspire me every time I visit them. If your blog is in my blogroll, consider yourself a recipient of this award!

*I'm thankful for my husband, who is praying about some bold new steps for our family. I feel so confident in his godly leadership of our home, he has my complete trust and support. I count it such a HUGE blessing to have a husband who so closely walks with the Lord and listens for His direction. I'd follow him anywhere! (And as an added bonus, he's totally cute!)

*I'm thankful for a change in the weather. The cool, fall weather has finally made it's way to our little corner of Texas and it is so refreshing. "Summer and winter and springtime and harvest.... join with all nature in manifold witness, to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love..." Even the changing of the seasons is a testimony of God's goodness.

*I'm thankful for the godly, godly women in my life. I cannot tell you how inspired and emboldened I am by their faith. If you're reading this, most likely I'm talking about you. :)

*I'm thankful for the music I'm listening to right now. It's from the Classical Praise series. Y'all. Click on a sample and listen. If you love hymns and praise music and have an ear for classical music too, this will bless you! I found it on iTunes and it's become the soundtrack for my day.

*I'm thankful that God is in control... not me! I was reminded of that this morning as I read the name of the blog that is hosting this week's Thankful Thursday. Thank you, Crystal, for reminding us of this, and for hosting us at your beautiful site! Visit her blog to read more participants or to link your own.

Thank you so much for stopping by!