Monday, April 27, 2009

A Greater Grace

Well it was a dark, stormy Monday morning here today. While we really need the rain, and I love hearing it these mornings while I'm curled up with my Bible and my coffee, I always worry about my sweet husband and everyone else who is out driving in it. The worst of it seems to have blown through, so for that I am thankful!

This morning I was having my not-so-quiet quiet time while the thunder was crashing outside, and soon enough I had a shaky, scared mini dachshund in my lap. Oh, how he hates storms! So, I held that little whining, shaky dog, reassuring him that everything would be okay, while I prayed to my Heavenly Father, bringing Him everything that totally scares me. I saw the similarities immediately. The storms rage, and God, Who sees the big picture (the radar) knows it will soon pass and that it is bringing something much-needed into my life, but I sit, whining, shaking and restless in His lap. During my prayer time I had my Bible open to a passage I had read in the book of James. As I was praying through my ever-familiar "junk" that it seems I always have to ask forgiveness for, I was actually starting to become discouraged with my struggle with the same old things. While in some areas I see growth and fruit so readily, there seem to be certain issues, my besetting sins I suppose, that I continue to bring to Him day after day. What is UP with that???

When I opened my eyes to comfort my trembling, scared little dog, my eyes fell upon a verse that jumped right out at me because I had color-coded it during a previous study: "But He gives a greater grace." (James 4:6a) Well, that says it all, doesn't it? I should write that on the inside of my glasses today and see everything through those words. He gives a greater grace than that storm that's blowing outside my window. He gives a greater grace than my Grandmother's undiagnosed illness. He gives a greater grace than a car accident on a rainy commute to work. He gives a greater grace than parenting challenges. He gives a greater grace than any sin I could bring to the table. And I love the "but". "But" puts whatever comes before it in a different light. Focusing on my fleshly shortcoming is a form of pride, and on earthly challenges breeds fear. Say what I may, I can tag that "but He gives a greater grace" onto the end of it and that changes everything! In that moment I recognize His sovereignty. I love it. Thank you, Lord.

Yesterday while the rest of the family was setting up for our final Awana awards ceremony (under our leadership), Minte and I had the privilege of welcoming home his most recent friend from the orphanage. Welcome Ellie!!!

There's a picture of "greater grace" right there! There are children in orphanages with no families. But, He gives a greater grace. Sometimes parents experience fertility issues. But, He gives a greater grace. The adoption process and the costs involved sometimes seem insurmountable. But, He gives a greater grace. Sometimes Mommies have surgeries just weeks before they are to travel to bring home their new child, and think they cannot travel. But He gives a greater grace. To follow Ellie's story, visit her family's blog here.

Maybe you are considering adoption, either for the first time or a subsequent time, and feel like there are barriers. Or maybe you are in the midst of an adoption and have hit a wall. I encourage you to speak those very real obstacles aloud to yourself (and to God) today, and then tag it with "but He gives a greater grace, " humble yourself before the Lord, and see what happens!

Menu Monday

Once upon a time, there was a mom of young children who hated cooking dinner. Well, not hated it, really, just didn't feel very "together" in that area. There were so many other demands on her time! When she went to the grocery store with her kids, she would put them in the kiddy cart (after getting a free cookie for each child from the bakery!) and quickly zip through the store, grabbing whatever struck her fancy or was on sale. She would drag it all home, shove it in fridge, freezer and pantry, already full of food but such a hodge-podge that none of it really made a recipe. Each day at about Oprah:30, she would go in the kitchen, systematically open the pantry, then the freezer, then the refrigerator, and wonder what was for dinner. Some evenings it came together. Other evenings, not so much. So, she would call a local restaurant (usually Chili's or On the Border), place an order and put it under her husband's name, then call her husband at work and tell him where to pick up dinner on the way home.

As a mom of young children, this mother was a member of a MOPS group in her area. In order to meet some of the other moms and to minister to them after they had new babies, she would occasionally sign up to bring a meal to them. Eventually her own family learned that if there was roast with all the trimmings, or a yummy casserole, or anything that took thought or planning, she must be taking dinner to someone else. Her husband would come in, smell something good, and ask half-jokingly, "Who are you taking dinner to tonight?" Of course, if she was going to go to the trouble to make it, she would always make extra for her family, so they began to enjoy their mom's newfound "food ministry", and it truly blessed all involved.

This mom began to realize the pattern... if she planned it out, bought the ingredients and tried hard enough, she could put a decent meal on the table. She just found her motivation in doing it for other people more than doing it for her own family. Something felt wrong about this. So she did the only thing she knew to do in situations like this: she prayed. She prayed that God would help her put order in this very important area of her life. She prayed that He would simply help her to want to cook for her family. She prayed for the energy she would need each day in the late afternoon to actually go into the kitchen and do it. She prayed that she would find recipes that were doable for her and that her young children would enjoy. She prayed that her family would no longer see her best efforts as always being for "other people."

As you have probably figured out, that mom was me. That was the beginning, years ago, of my venture into menu planning. I figured out that it was really no big deal, no harder than planning vacations, planning lessons for my Bible Study group, planning playdates with friends... or any of the other myriad of types of planning that was involved in mothering. It just took a few moments to look ahead, focus on this very important part of the day, make a list, stick to it at the store, and discipline myself in the late afternoon to get it done. It has blessed me as a mom tremendously to take the dinner hour seriously enough to put some forethought into it and prioritize it. God has taken my meager efforts and cooking skills and multiplied them into what my family has needed them to be. And all of this is to His glory, because I was not always like this! This has been His doing, completely! I shared this because I think it's easy to read someone's blog and assume they've always been this way, or think "Well, that's just how she is. That's not my gift." Though all gifts are from the Lord, and no one has a talent that God did not give them, I think for certain things like scrapbooking, wreath-making, or book writing we can say, "Good for her, but that's not for me." But as women we are all called to "look well to the ways of our households" according to Proverbs 31, and providing meals for our families is one of those ways. So, we would all do well to take this particular role seriously, and then God gets the glory for doing something that we couldn't or didn't do ourselves. The fewer skills or enthusiasm we bring to the table (pun intended) the more we know that God Himself has done it!

SO, by God's grace, here is my plan for the week:

Monday: A Happy Birthday dinner for my husband- his favorite chicken enchiladas, black beans, corn, and a German Chocolate cake
Tuesday: Ye-Assa We't (Spicy Fish Stew) from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, injera, salad
Wednesday: Chicken Pesto Panini's (my simplified version with shaved chicken and done on the George Foreman grill), healthy/organic sweet potato fries and onion rings from Super Target, pasta salad
Thursday: YOYO (You're on your own... Everyone eats leftovers or makes something for themselves. I LOVE this night!)
Friday: Slow Cooked Corn Chowder, crusty wheat rolls

For more menu ideas or to share your own, visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Truck &Tooth Pull and Sink Serenade

So at the end of my last post I shared that Minte had tried to pull his tooth a few days ago using his RC monster truck. I was uploading pictures and video this morning and came across the footage... so here it is!

Just before the big moment... the string was tied, he was psyched up and ready. (Oh, and I misquoted him in my post. As you can see in the following video, instead of "1,2,3" he yells "Fie-yah!!!" ("Fire," LOL)...

It ended up just making it bleed worse, and didn't quite accomplish what he thought it would. Not sure he'll ever try that again! But it's something a guy's gotta at least attempt once, I suppose.

Here is another video of lunchtime a couple of weeks ago. The boys were in the kitchen making their lunch and I was in another part of the house. I began to hear music (complete with drums), coming from them and not the iPod dock, so I popped in to listen. Minte was singing a song in another language (besides Amharic) that he spoke as a small child, and Kyle was accompanying him using the nearest "drum" he could find. So, for your listening (and viewing) pleasure, here is their brief lunchtime "sink serenade." (I say "brief" because it ends rather abrubtly. They are starving artists, after all...)

Never a dull moment at our house!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Midweek Mishmash

Hmm. Newsy post or something Deep and Meaningful? After three years of blogging, I'm still never quite sure what to post... But, it's been a few days since I've been on the blawg, and I have a few minutes. So, this will be a "stream of consciousness" sort of post. Deep and Meaningful will have to wait for another day. Or another blog! (As in... not mine, LOL)

I just realized today that I didn't post my "Monday Menu" this week. {gasp} That's okay... I've been altering it each day anyway. I have my Beloved Plan, but I didn't get a chance to get to the Ethiopian market for the injera (bread) to go with our Ethiopian meal I had planned for tonight. So, I switched it with tomorrow night's yummy-looking Asian Chicken Salad. Then, today's warm, sunny, summer-y weather got me in the mood to grill out turkey burgers, so that's what we're doing after everyone returns home from soccer. While they're at practice I've got eggs boiling for deviled eggs, bbq beans cooking, and Snicker Doodles in the oven. That reminds me... one day last week (after I had posted the list of "Minte-isms") he came up with a new one: He called the oven the "heaven." I thought that was so cute! When we sort of chuckled he corrected himself. (I'd never realized how similar those two words are!) A couple of days later I made some of his favorite cookies, and he was so excited he motioned toward the oven when I was taking them out and said, "Can I just call it the 'heaven?' " Awww! Sweet boy!

Some of you may remember how special my grandmother is to me. I've posted a bit about her over the years, mainly here and here. She is an amazing woman, who has spoken so much into my life and has truly helped shape who I am. Would you please be in prayer for her? She is at my parents' house and not feeling well at all. She has made several trips here so she can go the doctor, and they finally did a bone marrow test last week, which we will find out the results of this week. I hate how badly she feels... she is such an active, vibrant woman. Please pray that she gets results this week that her condition is treatable and that they are able to begin a course of treatment so she can feel better and get back to some of her activities. She is such a blessing to so many people! Oh, and please pray for my parents who are doing an amazing job caring for her.

I finally went to the allergist today, after almost two years of increasingly bad allergies and trying to manage them with various OTC allergy meds and combinations of things... Why it took me this long I don't know. If it were one of my kids I would've had them at the doctor the first week! He gave me several prescriptions to "layer" and I go back next week for allergy testing. I hope for some relief soon! I carry a tissue in my hand literally all the time now, and there is constantly one (or more) in the laundry because they are in all of my pockets. I can't imagine what I'd do if I had a job where I couldn't constantly have a tissue in one hand or be seen with a red nose!

Well, here are Luke and I last Sunday, our final night of our church's Awana Club as the coordinators. We've coordinated our club for the past 6 years. I came into that office knowing nothing about Awana, still fresh from directing my last Kids Choir musical (what I did know how to do!). My sweet husband had been asked to be the "Awana Commander," a term that those of you in Awana are familiar with. I had no idea what that entailed or what he would be doing, but I knew it was not a one-man job... meaning, he needed his "help meet" to come on board with him. Over the years we've had up to around 500 kids and 140 or so adults/ volunteers enrolled yearly, so it has been no small job, but we have loved every minute of serving together and have been so, so privileged to work alongside such energetic and innovative leaders. It was not an easy decision to step down at this point, and I guess "stepping down" really isn't the right term... God is moving our cloud, and we feel that it is onward and upward in our journey with Him. It's an exciting time for us as we prayerfully seek His direction for our ministry!

You know, since Minte came home, it seems I really don't blog as much about the older kids as I used to. And you know what? They couldn't be happier about that! Every time I take a great photo of them, or one of them quips something funny or does something noteworthy, they'll shoot me a look and say, "You're not putting this on your blog are you???" I must admit, I would've been completely horrified if my mom had had a blog when I was in middle and high school. So, please understand if I don't give them equal "air time" in my posts... it's because they don't want it! I mean, just because Bethany's finishing an incredible year of school, had an amazing time at prom, is rehabbing messed-up gymnastics knees, recently returned from Mexico and is already plotting a way to get back to China this summer... and Kyle is building his incredibly awesome model rocket this week, has drawn some of the most amazing pictures I've ever seen lately, grown about a foot and a half, and daily mentors his new brother in a way I could never have imagined, I will not mention those things here. No way. I don't want to embarrass them.

So, what has Minte been up to, anyway? Well, last week he informed me he want to grow his hair long. I asked him how long. He replied, "Like zee boy in the digging holes movie." The movie to which he was referring is "Holes" and the hair he was referencing was this:

As you can see by comparison, his hair has a ways to go before it's that long, and the Texas heat is just now cranking up, so we'll see how long it really gets!

Two nights ago he decided he wanted to pull a loose tooth. That was nothing new, as he has lost 4 teeth since he's been home. But this time he decided he wanted to pull it with his radio-controlled monster truck. So, his faithful sidekick/brother tied the string to his tooth, tied it to the back of the truck, he took a deep breath while holding the remote, then counted "1,2...3!!!!" He revved the truck, it lurched forward, and promptly snapped the string without pulling the tooth. It was an exciting moment though! He held his jaw and said "No more truck." I think it hurt worse than he had anticipated! So he pulled it in front of the bathroom mirror the next night. It is still on the bar in the kitchen where it awaits the ceremony that has accompanied the last 4 teeth: being thrown up onto the roof after he chants a song in Amharic. If a bird picks it up, a nice, white tooth will grow back in its place. The other teeth have come in nicely, so it appears to be working!

Well, that's us lately. I'm still having my toes stepped on in the Bible study I'm doing, Conversation Peace. I've got lots more thoughts to share on that another day... but I'll end this long post with a short quote from it that's long on meaning:

"Every thought is a seed.
If you plant crabapples don't count on harvesting Golden Delicious."

~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zooming Out

I can always tell it's a good Bible study when it starts stepping on my toes.

Given that fact, I should wear steel-toed boots to the dining room table every morning, because the study I'm doing right now is about speech. I'm on my third week of working through Mary Kassian's study entitled "Conversation Peace." I've always known this is a biggie area for me! Whenever I work my way through my time of confession, the first stop is always "sins of speech." Ugh, ugh, ugh. And of course, the mouth is the overflow of the heart, so it is really revealing what is in my heart. WHY is this such a struggle? And I'm not simply talking about swear words... that would be easy enough to target and eliminate. No, I'm talking about things like...
  • Do you say things about others behind their backs that you would not say to their faces?
  • Do you make the interaction between other people your concern?
  • Do you feel a need to be proved right or to have the last word?
  • Do you respond in anger?
  • Do you talk too much?
  • Do you spend a lot of time on the phone (or texting, Facebooking, blogging, Twittering/Tweeting) ?
  • Do you refuse to admit your error when you feel the other person's error is greater?
  • If someone has failed or injured you, do you feel compelled to tell someone else about it?
  • Do you make assumptions and assume the worst about other people's motives and intentions?
  • Are you sarcastic?
  • Do you fail to listen?
Those were just a few of the many questions in the "diagnostic inventory" in which I had to choose "Never, seldom, occasionally, often, or habitually." WAY too many "often" and "habitually" boxes were checked in my book, I'm afraid.

So, now we're getting to the heart of it. It's not just about a change of speech, it's about a change of heart. And it's not just about eliminating the bad, it's about replacing it (or allowing God to replace it) with the good, as only He can. I remember reading in Martha Peace's book, "Attitudes of a Transformed Heart," about the concept of "putting off" and "putting on" (from Eph. 4:22-24):

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

I have loved incorporating that concept, and that's what Kassian brought out today in the lesson. She calls it "the power of exchange." I couldn't even finish watching the lesson video today (which I download here from because I'm still thinking through this first part.

I have had a situation in my life for awhile now that simply confounds me. I totally don't know what to do. I have brought it (and the people involved) before the Lord daily, repeatedly, for a long time. I don't know any other way to describe it besides that I remain at a total loss as to what I am to do, how I am to respond, and what I am to say. Now I feel even more hard hearted, frustrated and empty. God ordained that today I would be in this study and that she would teach on Psalm 39, where David was in exactly the same position. I really have always loved this Psalm, and used to even keep an M&M wrapper somewhere near to remind me to "muzzle my mouth!" But it goes deeper than that! David muzzled his mouth and grew increasingly frustrated and empty as well. That's me! She pointed out today that that is because he had weeded the critical words from his heart but hadn't planted anything in their place. Finally he cried out "Show me, Lord", which has been the cry of my heart as well. "God, I don't know how to love these people. I don't have it in me."

According to Kassian, as seen in the life of David, I need to exchange the microscope for a telescope. I must zoom out. A microscope makes things seem bigger than they really are. I have focused on "How does this effect me?" "Look what this has done to my life" for TOO long. It's time for the telescope.

The telescope zooms out and sees things from an eternal perspective. I must look beyond myself and my immediate situation. Life is so fleeting! I should be asking... "Based on God's eternal focus, how should I act and what should I say?

So, here's how I'm trying to trade the microscope for a telescope today (as suggested by Kassian):

Realize that:
  • The situation is not all about me.
  • What I say and how I act have eternal implications.
  • I can either invest in eternity or try to score personal points.
  • My "opponent" is accountable to God, not to me.
  • God's perspective is bigger than mine. He has plans and purposes beyond what I can see.
Maintaining this eternal perspective in every interpersonal communication will help me be motivated to plant the seeds of grace, forgiveness or understanding.

The cry of my heart these past few years has been "Lord, change me!" And this is just another step in that journey...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Monday Minte-isms and Menu

I hope you had a joyous Easter weekend! We sure did. By God's grace, it was just the weekend we needed it to be. We started it off Friday night with a wonderful Passover Seder meal with our Bible fellowship class, had a worshipful time at our church's service and then a relaxing time at home on Sunday. We very much needed some time at home, and God granted it to us yesterday. I feel renewed and refreshed and ready to take on the week! Here is a photo of my precious children in front of the sea of flowers on the stage at our church this weekend. (You can click the photo to make it bigger.) I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that Minte is with us this year. Last year at this point we were still on our journey to adopt a little baby girl, so this photo is a reminder of God's direction and His perfect will! (In case you are unfamiliar with our adoption story, or would like to learn more, click on the "our adoption" button in the sidebar. To read about how our journey to a baby girl led us to a 10 year old boy click on "a little background" below the picture.)

Minte (MIN-tay), our 10 year old Ethiopian son, has now been with us about 7 months. It has been such a fun journey so far! One of the most interesting and daily-evolving things has been his English language acquisition. I never knew it would be so fascinating (and funny!) to live with an English language learner! Fascinating because he is learning English at such a surprisingly fast pace. What a testimony to the intricate human mind, and to our great God who fashioned it so. Funny because, well, it just is. Transitioning an older, hurting, grieving child into the family can be hard some days. So, God sprinkles it with humor in various forms to cover more of it with joy and laughter. So, I thought I'd start off this Monday sharing a few "Minte-isms."

Here is how you should read them with the "proper" accent:

~All "r's" are rolled (I simply love this. It makes even the most ordinary word fun!)

~"a" sounds are pronounced "ah", so words like "asphalt" (what he calls the street) sound really cool. I think that word is the same in Amharic.

~short "i" is pronounced "ee" as in "beeg". "Mommy beeg lahves buna" was one of his first sentences to me. (Mommy big loves coffee. He figured me out right away. Of course, I was jet-lagged.)


"Again heart my peenie!" = an exclamation after about the 5th time he stubbed his pinkie toe one day

"Men-eh-nems" = M & M's

"Big crap" = pick it up. Seriously, that's how he pronounces it. It cracks me up too much to correct him.

"Off it" = turn off the TV or light, or delete a picture from the camera

"I'm a-stinking" = I'm thinking. Another variation is "Are you a-stinking what I'm a-stinking?"

"Little bit no loud please." = turn down the volume on the TV or radio

"hiney" = honey

"lift" = leaf

"lift" = elevator

"lift" = escalator

"upstairs" = anything on top of anything else

"downstairs" = anything underneath anything else

"tim-ah-tim" = tomato

"Come on!" = Could you please come here a moment, I require assistance.

"peejah mah" = pajamas

"off-side" = outside

"What eez zas my name?" = what is this called? For example: "Spider house what eez my name?" - his reading sheet had a picture of a web on it and he didn't know what it was called.

"Longa or short day?" = Is it cold or hot today, do I wear shorts or pants?

"Whatzat mean-say?" = What does that mean?

"Zees one" = this one

"Zas way" = that way

"heart" = hot or hurt, depending on the context. For example, "Ees really heart!" requires investigation...

"bucket" = pocket

"han" = hair or hand, depending on the context

"I have a cushion" = I have a question

"Cushion me zis" = answer this for me

"power" (often pronounced "powah") = gas, of the intestinal variety

"Powah ees cahming!!" means, well... get ready.


There are many, many more. I hope I can remember more, because it's been non-stop for 7 months, and he comes up with new pronunciations and words daily. I love it!!!

Now, here's what's cooking at our house this week:

Monday: BBQ brisket, mashed potatoes, grean beans, wheat rolls
Tuesday: Roast Chicken Chimichangas, black beans, corn casserole
Wednesday: Honey Pecan Pork Chops, baked potatoes, peas, corn on the cob
Thursday: YOYO (You're on you're own... leftovers)
Friday: Avocado Soup with Chicken and Lime

I'm not making anything Ethiopian for dinner this week, but I made some Ethiopian Lentils over the weekend, and I'm pretty sure we'll be whipping up some spicy pasta for lunch one day. He beeg loved the African Chicken I made last week, even though that's a primarily west African dish.

For more menus, to post your own, or to get a helpful menu-planning template, visit Laura. I hope you have a great week!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Busy But Blessed

Happy Monday!

It was a busy, busy weekend for us. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single category of our family's life had an event this weekend. It was all fun, but I am exhausted (mainly mentally!) from all of it. We are so blessed to have some wonderful activities in our lives, but it seemed like it all happened on one weekend! And as busy as we were, we still had to miss two events because they coincided. It was a lot!

Friday night was our daughter's prom. We are so blessed to have a Christian Homeschool Prom each year in our area. I had no idea it would be such a lovely event! Luke and I went downtown on Thursday evening to help set up, and the moment we walked into the hotel, it took my breath away. I cannot even describe the magnitude of the decorations, and how "top notch" it all was. I was astounded. She looked beautiful and went with a precious group of girls... They had an amazing time. She texted me at about 2:something AM that prom was "awesome" and that they were headed to IHOP. She'd text me again to come get her. So, at 3:something I headed out to bring her home so we could start our busy Saturday in just a few hours. It was worth it, and I'm SO glad she, her friends (and the approximately 900 kids who attended the event) had a wonderful time.

Saturday morning began with soccer. Luke is now coaching Minte's team, and this season my nephew is playing as well. Minte LOVES his cousin, and is very excited that they are on the same team, not to mention that his Dad is coaching. They won their game on Saturday, and it's should be a great season. Go Eagles!!

After that, we just had the MOST fun!! All of the families who have adopted from Ethiopia so far from our agency got together. Minte and his best friend from the orphanage, Yeneneh, were united once again, and we finally got to meet the Seay family in person after corresponding in email and by phone for months. We felt like we already know them, and a little bit like we are now related! It really was a special reunion for the two older boys. All of us had an amazing time together loving on all the kids and swapping stories. D and A, our hosts-with-the-most, have written about the get-together on their blog and will post some great pictures this week I'm sure. I was too busy gabbing to bet many photos, so I can't wait to see them myself! Thanks D and A!!! Y'all are the best!! We love our Buckner friends/family! Brian summed it up on his comment on the photo on Facebook: "it's amazing how strangers can become friends and friends become family...this was an amazing day and worth every extra mile we drove..." I couldn't agree more, and we can't wait to see them again next time they come through.

Yesterday Luke and I hosted our final Awana Leader Appreciation Dinner. I say "final" because, after much prayer, we have decided to step down from our role as coordinators of our church's Awana club. We attend a rather large church, and our club attendance (including volunteers) is around 600 people, so it's no small job! It has been a difficult decision, but after 6 years in this role, we feel the Lord is "moving our cloud" and it's time to move to whatever else He has for us. (Or at least time to take a breath and pray about what that might be!) So, it was a bittersweet time with our precious friends and Awana leadership last night. We are very much looking forward to a bit of a break once Awana is over in about 3 weeks, and can't wait to see what God will do next in our marriage and ministry. He is so good!!

While that was going on, Kyle and Minte were at my nephew's birthday party, and our family's Easter get-together. They decided to do it this weekend as many of them will be out of town next weekend. I don't have any pictures yet, but apparently Minte had a great time at his first-ever Easter Egg hunt. I told my sister-in-law, "I haven't had it in me to tackle the whole 'a big bunny comes and hides eggs and how that does/does not tie in with the true Easter story', so explain that to Minte however you want. Thanks!" LOL He apparently enjoyed it and especially got a kick out of the annual grown-up knock down dragout Easter Egg hunt.

Now, on to focusing on the true meaning of Easter. I posted this photo last year of our Holy Week candles. They look similar this year:

We are be using Noel Piper's readings found here again this year as well. If you were to look closely under the ivy you would see our Advent wreath, and these are some of the candles we used at Christmas. I think that's quite symbolic. It was also thrifty, because I already had it all on hand! It's not too late to put together some candles and incorporate some scripture readings each evening to make this week leading up to Easter a more set-apart time in your home. I've posted some other links here. I'd love to know some of your ideas!

I haven't posted our menu the past couple of weeks, as fascinating as that always is I'm sure. :) One thing that I thought was so fun last week, the day after I had cooked Ethiopian food (which I've been trying to do each week), I asked Minte what he wanted for lunch that day. He looked at me with a smile and said, "My mah-zehr cooks Ethiopian food!!" Translation: "I want leftovers from last night!" I may not make it perfectly, but I know he loves it that I try. This week I'm making an African dish that's been one of our family's favorites for awhile, but more of a west African dish involving peanut butter ("ground nuts") and chicken. Very yah-mmy!

Here's what's cookin' this week:

Monday: Country Pasta with Mozzarella, roasted carrots, salad, garlic bread
Tuesday: African Chicken Treat, brown rice, peas
Wednesday: French Dip Sandwiches, sweet potato fries, salad
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Passover Seder meal with our Bible fellowship... for the potluck I'll be taking Ham & Cheese Bowties, spinach salad, and a yellow cake with chocolate sauce

For more menus, or to share what you've got cooking this week, visit Laura at OrgJunkie.

I hope you have a blessed, set apart week as we take time to celebrate our resurrected Lord and Savior!

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it"
John 1:5

Sunday, April 05, 2009

"Loosed" for the Lord's Purposes

Originally posted March 31, 2007

"...and He said to them, "Go into the village opposite you; and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it.' and immediately he will send it here." Mark 11:2-3

I love this passage, especially as I came across it this week approaching Palm Sunday. The "colt" Christ is speaking of in the above passage is the donkey colt that He would be riding as He entered Jerusalem in His "triumphal entry." There are so many lessons to be learned from this pivotal moment. But, I keep coming back to the colt.

I have been carrying a bundle of notecards in my purse for the past few months. Some have scriptures on them, which I'm trying to memorize. Some have Greek words on them, from my (very) Elementary Greek curriculum that I'm slowly working through. One of the notecards that I regularly review has the word, "luo" written on it, in my best attempt at Greek script. The word "luo," as I have memorized, is Greek for "I loose." In the Greek scriptures I have memorized, this hasn't been a word. I haven't used it in any translations or sentences yet, but faithfully I have memorized this word. Luo. Got it.

Today as I read the above passage I "got it" on a little deeper level! The colt had to be "loosed," for "the Lord has need of it." Whoever owned the colt was not told exactly what the Lord would do with it, only that He the Lord needed it. What needed to be "loosed" was so that the Lord might use it for His glory. That particular colt carried our Lord to a chorus of "Hosannas," acknowledging Who He was. It's the same word used in the New Testament to describe when Lazarus needed to be "loosed" from his grave clothes after his resurrection. It's also the word used to describe the woman who was "loosed" from the evil spirits who had plagued her for over eighteen years. In these instances, involved being "loosed from" as well as being "loosed to."

What do I need to "loose" so that the person of Christ might be better displayed in my life? What do I need to be "loosed" - set free- from? The One who calls me, Who will use it for His glory, is the One who will do the enable the "loosing." Praise His name!

'Blessed is He who comes in the name
of the Lord!'
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
That comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!"
Mark 11:9-10

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

"The Best Year Ever"

Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, 'What are these stones?' then you shall let your children know, saying, 'Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land'; "for the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever."
Joshua 4:21-24

After my last post, I just had to post this picture. Isn't this awesome?? We returned Sunday from a few days in our "little house in the big woods." We've been going there for about 6 years, sometimes twice a year. It was a wonderful time! There were about 10 families there this year, and everyone had a great time of fellowship. One afternoon, most of the younger kids (and one energetic dad!) spent the better part of an afternoon constructing this in the creek, just up from where the photo in my last post was taken. I just love it! They even used some vines to tie together the beams of the cross. And the pile of stones... I posted about the Ebenezer stone in my last post, this one makes me think of Joshua stones. In Joshua 4 I love how they took stones from the middle of the Jordan (while it was parted) and set up stones on the other side to remind them that God had parted those waters and made a way for them. What a wonderful reminder!

Which makes this photo all the more meaningful for me:God truly did part the way and make a way for Minte to be with us. Thus far the Lord has brought us, and He will continue to lead. This picture brings such amazing thoughts to my mind. God is so good.

Here are a few other pictures from our time away last week...

My sweet little Zacchaeus, the "wee little dog." He totally doesn't get the "outside dog" concept at all. But, he is a trooper.

I love this picture! Minte was truly a "blur" most of the week, speeding by on his bike and running around with his friends. It was fun to watch (and try to capture with a camera!)

A man and his dog.

Wendem. ("brothers")

Lots of fun with friends, here playing Uno, Minte's "numero uno" favorite American game so far.

Bethany with her adorable friends. These girls warm my heart and give me hope for the next generation!

Snuggling by the campfire with my cute husband on a chilly spring morning. It just doesn't get any better than this!

On the last day, Kyle said, "This was the best year ever, because we were ALL here."

Amen to that.