I hope you are having a great week so far. I have, though I still feel like I'm not getting much accomplished. But, that's okay! Minte loves the little countdown we have in the kitchen that says how many days until Christmas... but I have to admit my blood pressure goes up a little when he moves it each day. And now that it's in the single digits, I'm getting that twitch I usually get. But. I'm okay. It'll. [twitch] All get. [twitch] Done. [twitch] And if it. [twitch] Doesn't. [twitch] It won't. [twitch] Matter in the. [twitch] Grand scheme. [twitch] Of things. [twitch]
So, I mentioned Monday that I didn't have my Christmas cards done yet. Well, in the interest of KISS (Keeping It Simple Sister) I decided to abandon my vision of the Perfect Family Christmas Photo, pull some pictures we had already taken, create a quick photo card on Snapfish and have them sent to be picked up at our nearby Walgreens. Wall-ah. Love it. So, those are going out tomorrow, along with the family "Christmas Letter" that my daughter (who loves to write when it's not assigned) volunteered to write. Yey! Mistletoe week is working for me!
As I was going through the pile of cards we've received, making sure I had correct addresses, I came across so many that were SO cute! And, of course, my initial reaction was one of comparison... "Well, ours won't be nearly this cute." Blah-blah-blah. The usual ridiculous self-talk. And then I came to this one (right) and thought, "PLEASE. Do you have to show us how young, hip and whimsical you are and that you had a lovely beach vacation? Apparently accompanied by a professional photographer? Who ARE YOU?? And, most importantly, do I have your correct address?" If you will look a little closer at the photo you will see what I finally realized upon closer inspection... that it is the sample photograph that came in a picture frame I bought last week. In fact, if you've recently bought a picture frame at Hobby Lobby, you probably have a lovely picture of this couple as well. So, I had to chuckle at my ever-increasing ability to compare myself to others and feel overwhelmed... even to the point of being stressed out by the sample photo from a frame. :::sigh::: Oh, and if this is you in the picture, have a Merry Christmas! I'd send you a card, but I don't have your address.
And I just had to share this. Someone gave us these last week at Awana and I think they are so cute! The popcorn is a pepperminty gourmet popcorn. I might try these someday with this recipe of popcorn. Fun! Plus, it would give me the perfect excuse to drink some Starbucks Frappuccinos. Because, you know. Slamming coffee drinks always HELPS!!!! The HOLIDAY!!! STRESS!!!! LEVEL!!!!!
Remember the peanut butter and mustard sandwiches? Well, guess what else we've been missing? Mushed up avocado with sugar. That's the latest taste sensation around here, thanks to our Ethiopian chef. He was so excited recently when I brought home some avocados, and couldn't wait to scoop one into a cup, mash it up, and sprinkle some "sukar" in it. He was so cute as he eagerly held out the spoon exclaiming, "Mommy! Taste! It's yahmmy!" So, I did. And it kind of is.
Well, there it is. Some midweek randomness. And you'll never get these minutes back...
I thought of this WFMW yesterday morning when I was cutting up ham for an omelette. And by "cutting" I literally mean, cutting with scissors. As in, whip the sliced ham out of the package and start cutting it into strips like it's paper.
What works for me is having a drawer full o' scissors next to my stove in my kitchen. I would say "kitchen shears" but, as you can see from the photo, not all of them are classified as such. But, they are in this house! I simply keep them in the kitchen and use them as I would any other cooking utensil, and then toss them in the dishwasher as I do everything else. They have proven invaluable in cutting just about everything as I cook: cutting the fat off of chicken, cutting raw meat into strips for stir-fry, slicing strips of bacon into cubes for recipes, cutting the cheese (sorry kids, I just had to put that in there), dicing and destemming vegetables, trimming dough... you name it. Many times it's so much easier than using a knife, at least for me. I have a couple of dedicated "kitchen shears" but since those are more expensive, I've found that some good ole less-than-$2 cheapy scissors do the trick, and keeping several pair on hand ensures that there are always some clean and sharp enough. When they become dull I simply buy another pair (or two) at the dollar store or wherever I'm shopping. If these happen to be used for giftwrap or other projects, I just wash them in the sink or dishwasher so they're ready for cooking.
Works for me!
For other ideas, or to share something that works for you, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.
Minte's awesome best friend from the orphanage and his adorable little sister passed court yesterday and will be coming home SOON! They are SO precious. We were so blessed by our time with them a few months ago. In fact, I think the pictures are some that Bethany took. These kids are so fun!! You can meet them here.
I hopped online this morning to get caught up on some of my favorite blogs, and to post my always-fascinating menu, and came across some great stuff. It all started with this post at Laura's which was a follow-up to this post about not being "enough." Not getting "it all" done. Wow, that's a biggie for me. I am currently in a season of not getting it all done... of feeling like I'm not enough. I've even wondered if I'm somehow suffering a mild form of Post Adoption Depression. (But, that's another post! :) It was interesting that I happened upon those posts this morning after kissing my husband goodbye for work, then walking with my coffee past all piles which are waiting to be tackled... Gifts waiting to be wrapped reminded me of the beautiful gifts and wrapping techniques I've seen on blogs. The Christmas card pile reminds me we have yet to even take our picture, muchless mail them. The tub of decorations on the stairs reminded me that I haven't finished decorating the house. (So much for the Christmas Tour of Homes!) Yes, as I padded my way through the house on my way to the computer, I was mentally imagining how "together" everyone else must be compared to me and really doing a bang-up job of #17 on my list of Ways to Make Yourself Miserable.
Which made those posts I read all the more timely.
Laura's first post addresses being "intimidated" by reading certain blogs. I call this "blog intimidation." As I read through some of the comments and the excellent links she posted, I was reminded of something I wrote back in July of 2007 for Christian Women Online. As we begin the Monday of the last week before Christmas (gasp!) I thought it was worth a re-post. I know I needed it! So, here it is...
Sometimes Good Enough is Good Enough
Reading blogs can be so inspiring, can't it? It can also be thought-provoking, relaxing, entertaining, and even... intimidating. Yes, intimidating! It's easy to read blogs from so many different women, each expressing one or more of her gifts, and come away from it feeling like you're not doing enough. Your closets are not as clean as hers. Your weekly menu (if you even know what it is yet!) is not as creative as hers. Your scrapbook pages (okay, you don't scrapbook, but even if you did) don't look like hers. Just look at how many pounds she's lost! Oh, my goodness, she's read that many books this year? I've never read that many in my life! Oh, and she sings. Of course she does. And on and on it goes. Different blogs, different women, but it's so easy to make it into one Composite Super Woman to whom we just don't measure up! We do it in real life ("irl") too, don't we? (Sometimes I think we put the "irl" in "girlfriends!") I've fallen victim countless times to one of my biggest enemies- comparison. I think all women are prone to it at one time or another.
"You see, I made the decision some years ago that I would spend my housekeeping time more profitably if I concentrated on things I did well- cleaning, organizing, sewing, washing, mowing, shoveling, ironing, mending, and repairing. Cooking wasn't my strong suit, so I kept that at a minimum. My family has been great about it. It's not like we live on fast food. We eat well even though I don't make big efforts in that direction. Realizing that it's not one of my gifts, I released myself from the expectation of being a great cook. We just don't have time to do everything with excellence. The sooner we learn that, the sooner we can break free from the lie." "We all must make our individual decisions based on God's leading for each of us. Not only should we not attempt to do it all, but we should not feel a sense of guilt when we can't do what others expect of us. Sometimes we put those expectations on ourselves. The truth is, many of our friends would trade a skill they have for one of ours."(emphasis added)
We don't have to be good at it all. Sometimes good enough is good enough in certain areas. We can choose to focus on what we do best and release ourselves from unrealistic expectations. Let's lighten up on ourselves and be who God created and gifted us to be!
God, thank you for the ways in which you have gifted me. Forgive me for envying the gifts of others. If there are any areas in which you want to grow or increase my gifts, I invite you to do so, for Your glory. But, help me not to neglect the gifts I have and waste the moments available for me to use them by spending unnecessary time feeling guilty or inadequate. I can do all things through Christ... all the good works You prepared in advance for me to do, with the set of gifts You have so graciously given me. Thank You, Father. Amen.
We have some mistletoe hanging in the arch in our entryway (sometimes I like to call it the "foyer." It makes it seem so faincy.) I've decided to let it remind me of KISS. Yes, I know we've all heard it: "Keep It Simple Stupid." Only, I'm not stupid, and neither are you! Keeping it simple is one of the smartest things we can do! So, I've decided it stands for "Keep It Simple Sister." What is "simple?" To me, it means releasing myself from the expectation of doing some of those things that I'm not good at or simply don't have the inclination to do right now. To focus on what my gifts are, what energizes me, and do those things with excellence like the quote above says.
That's my new reminder for this week. For this Christmas season. For 2009. This could be Freak Out week. Or it could be KISS week. I can decide that right now, on this Monday morning.
Like my new look for the holidays? Bethany took some pictures of Minte decorating the tree in the boys' room, and I "beeg-loved" it so much I wanted to use it for a blog header this month. Now it feels more "Christmas-y!"
This week I have a quick, simple, WFMW (which may even fit into the "duh" category.) Everyone but me has probably always been doing this, but I just started a few years ago.
The advent of online shopping was very timely for me, because it was just around the time I became a stay-at-home mom of young children. I couldn't spend my days shopping because I was, well, with them. I didn't want to spend my evenings shopping because that was family time, there were other activities. And it is cold and dark. The weekends are outrageously crowded. SO... I began ordering gifts online. It was a great solution, except (1) the UPS man would always ring the doorbell during naptime and (2) there would be a chorus of "Mom, what'd we get? "What's in the box? What's that? Is it for Christmas? Who's it for? Look, this one says "LEGO on it! Well, let's see, it wasn't big enough to be the bike I asked for, so maybe it's a....."
You get my point. It was a ruckus everytime a delivery was made to our house.
SO, over the years as I online shop (still my major way of accomplishing Christmas shopping) I simply have everything delivered to my husband's office. (Of course, over the years he's gotten on every mailing list there is, and I'm sure American Girl Doll catalogs still arrive at his former workplace!) They are older now, but we are in the thick of homeschooling and it's not best for me to leave them for days on end while I shop. Another benefit, besides the sneakiness factor, is that there is always someone at the office to sign for it, so nothing has to sit outside on the porch or be redelivered/delayed. For now, ordering online and having them delivered to the office works for me!
And little do they know, when Dad pulls up into the driveway some days after work, he might as well be driving a sleigh...
For more great "works-for-me" ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer. Have a wonderful Wednesday!
Well, it's the start of another week. It's hard to believe it's Monday again!
Last week my daughter and I began the week with a lovely stomach virus. I spent the whole week feeling "meh" so I didn't get time to blog and I spent most of the week feeling like I wasn't getting much done. I think I felt that way primarily because, well, I didn't get much done. But, we're both much better now and hoping for a great week ahead.
Over the course of last week, while I physically had to have more "down time," I spent some time praying for some dear friends and family. One night, in the space of an hour, we received two pieces of news. The first was from our friends in China who had lost their beloved dog. We love that dog, too! And I knew how important that sweet dog was to them, while living a world away from friends and family. So, I prayed. A few moments later, a family member called to let me know that they were experiencing a miscarriage. We have been so excited about this precious baby and so prayerful for this pregnancy, and this was devastating news. So, I prayed. Also in recent days, our refrigerator stopped working. So, I prayed. Praying about all of those things felt odd at first. Is it okay to pray for a lost dog, the loss of a child, and a misplaced refrigerator warranty all at the same time? I was reminded of something I read recently in Grace-Based Parenting:
"The Bible says, "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). It's amazing how inclusive the word all is. It doesn't say that we are to cast only our legitimate cares on Him."
His point in the chapter was that we need to treat our kids the way God treats us in this way. If it matters to them, it needs to matter to us. All of these things I was bringing to Him matter to me, His child, and to my friends and family who are his beloved children as well. Therefore, it mattered to Him. ALL of it. As I prayed over the course of the week, I was struck again by how He is concerned with what concerns me. The dog was returned. My family member is healing physically and is at peace spiritually. We are using our "old faithful" fridge in the garage while we locate our warranty for this one. No matter what happens, I can take it all to Him. I even found myself last week thanking Him for anxiety over certain issues, because it prompts me to pray for them. If I were completely calm or unmoved by circumstances, I wouldn't necessarily think to take it before the throne of grace and get a front row seat to watch Him work. It's all such a gift! Anyway, these are a few of my "musings" from recent days.
Yesterday we went with our fun in-laws and cousins to the Happiest Place On Earth (Bass Pro Shop, of course) and talked to Santa. Minte is used to calling him "Father Christmas," and according to him, in Ethiopia Father Christmas brings candy and tells everyone about Jesus. Isn't that cool? He's getting used to the fact that in America Father Christmas is Santa Claus (or "Santa Clock" as Minte says it) and brings you toys. He's liking that idea, in fact. So, yesterday he decided to ask Santa Clock for an RC monster truck. We had a great time with family, doing the activities at Bass Pro, then going out for pizza and then to see a wonderful light display at a house nearby where the homeowners have coordinated their lights to music, dress as Santa and Mrs. Claus and give out candy. So far Minte is really enjoying the Christmas season!
I have some other fun pictures of what we've been up to lately, but I want to save them for a separate post. So, today I decided to post some of what was on Minte's memory card in his camera. One fun thing we did when he came home was give him one of our unused digital cameras and let him take photos of his life. He snaps photos every day! You never know when the flash of a camera will greet you around here. As a result, it's been fun to see what he decides to capture on film! This morning I dumped his memory card into my computer and decided to share a bit of Minte's life through his eyes...
Uno. A favorite game of his. LOVES this game. We play it just about every day, multiple times per day. This is the one where it shoots out lots of cards at you. When he doesn't want it to shoot cards at him, he acts like he is zipping it shut ("zeepehr") and locking it with a key ("kulfoche")... then shuts his eyes and gingerly pushes the button. When the cards spew out he screams, "Ahhhh nahhh!" Very fun!
Mom and Kyle working on some schoolwork in the kitchen.
One of his favorite shows, "Zack and Cody." There were a bazillion photographs of the TV screen on his memory card! We DVR the shows, and when he wants to watch the older shows he calls it "Zack and Cody House ("how-oose") and the new ones ("Suite Life on Deck") he calls "Zack and Cody Boat." Through such educational programming he has learned such phrases as, "Awesome!" "Ahh, man!" "Dude, check this out!" and "Absolutely not." He also will now laugh his head off hysterically and then get really straight-faced and say, "No funny."
This would be a hawk in our back yard, eating something. That was fascinating for both boys for most of a morning. It was a pretty big hawk, and we figured out it was eating a bird. I was hoping it wasn't a rabbit or a squirrel, and that it would take the remains of the carcass with it when it was finished. Which it did, thankfully. That was icky-virus week and I wasn't in a place to make it into a science lesson.
There is a whole series of these pictures of all different expressions. The funniest thing to me about them is that it looks like a "mini-Kyle" is sitting on his head. Kyle was on a bar stool behind him videoing him taking all of these pictures of himself and hamming it up.
He beeg-loves anything to do with the dogs, and he takes many pictures of them. The dogs feel famous now. When I got to this one, I think I literally spewed coffee out of my nose. Yes, those would be Minte's sunglasses on Haley's backside. He thinks her tail looks like a long elephant nose.
Well, there you have it... a little bit of our life through Minte's eyes! There will be more to come, I'm sure!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And now our menu for the week...
Several years ago I attended a leadership conference. Among the topics discussed was the topic of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. I was unprepared for how that information would impact me. I was a "child of the 80's," as well as a product of a conservative, evangelical church, so the mere mention of "that disease" made me not only think negatively about that particular virus, but also what I believed caused it.
I had no idea.
As I listened, my heart was softened. Horrified. Transformed.
So, I did the only thing I knew to do: I bought a book. It was a small, easy-to-read book entitled The Skeptic's Guide to the Global AIDS Crisis, by Dale Hanson Bourke. That book changed how I thought about this once "taboo" topic. Wow. Part of what drew me to that particular book was how I could relate to the author's words in her introduction:
"I am not an AIDS expert. Quite the opposite, in fact. I am an ordinary woman who had heard enough about AIDS to know it was a big problem, but not enough to worry about it. I had the good old American belief that if I really needed to know something about AIDS, I'd get an official notice in the mail or the newspapers would carry big headlines."
"...Like many people, I had become a skeptic about AIDS. The panic in the US in the early 1990's had given way to moderation and the understanding that people with AIDS were not a serious threat to me or my children. And besides, Magic Johnson was alive and well, wasn't he? Maybe it had just been a passing phase."
"But unlike most people, I had the opportunity to travel to Africa and Asia. There I was confronted with the irrefutable evidence that I- and many people like me- was missing something."
Yes, obviously I, too, had been missing something. And God, in His grace, was making sure that was no longer the case. So, I spent some days that summer- by the pool in my comfortable upper-middle-class suburb- reading that book and a couple of others that discussed this most uncomfortable topic. Finally, I felt more than just "sad" for those who are being effected by it. I felt like God was saying to me, "So? What are you going to do about it?"
To which, I replied, "What can I do? I have no medical experience, the mission trips I go on aren't primarily involved in this area. I don't have a lot of money to give. I'm just a stay-at-home, homeschooling, middle class suburban mom. What would You have me do, Lord?"
Little did I know that at that very moment, events were taking place across the world that would one day very much involve me. Me. A stay-at-home, homeschooling, middle class suburban mom. The faces of some of those children I'd seen in videos would one day become the precious face I saw just this morning at my breakfast table. It simply astounds me what God will do when we honestly say to Him, "What would You have me do?"
In the years between that summer and now, there have been (and continue to be) very real opportunities to pray and to give through organizations like Compassion International, World Vision, and the non-profit that my husband helped to start (email me if you'd like a link.) There is much to be done, and a way for all of us to be involved.
"AIDS is the leprosy of our time. Just as society shunned lepers 2,000 years ago, today we shun those with HIV/AIDS. We fear the disease and look down on those afflicted. The Church has remained silent for far too long on this issue. If we are going to call ourselves Christians, taking on the name of Christ, we must strive to be more like Him. Jesus didn't avoid lepers-- he embraced and healed them. In the same way, we must embrace and heal those with HIV/AIDS with compassionate hearts. We must educate everyone within reach, and seize the opportunity to be part of the solution." -- Dr. Wess Stafford, President, Compassion International
I truly believe that one day we as a church - the Body of Christ- will stand before the Lord and have to answer for our stewardship of the biggest public health problem the world has ever faced. I didn't want to stand before Him and simply reply that I cried once during a video and read a book by the pool.
Today is World AIDS Day. A day I once cared very little about, a topic to which I once gave only a passing nod. I am so glad I allowed God to break my heart that summer. As a result, I (and my family) will never be the same.