Sunday, January 31, 2010

Step by Step

I'm sitting in the living room at Dad and Mom Smith's house, processing, praying, reading, focusing my heart and mind. Jonathan is with the group of believers who have been our church family for the last seven years, saying goodbye. I couldn't bear to go this morning... I didn't want to dissolve into a puddle of tears and make an already difficult situation even harder.

I don't know how much to say or not say about our situation. Jonathan and I have been disturbed for quite some time about the leadership structure at our chapel. Jonathan has been a deacon and his dad an elder for a couple years, and they have been trying to affect some changes toward a more biblical model of leadership. Their efforts have not been successful and they have each come to the conclusion that it is time to depart.

Our chapel family is so dear to us. They have been "hands and feet" to us in many ways through the years. We have no feelings of anger or bitterness, just love and sadness. We don't want to cause division with our departure; we simply believe that our time of being a benefit to this body has passed, and we are unable to remain under a leadership structure that we believe is unbiblical.

I've been reading Hebrews 11 this morning, and feel some kinship with Abraham, who "went out, not knowing where he was going." I just pray that we will be faithful as Abraham was faithful, that God might be glorified through us, and that many may be blessed as the Lord works through us. We want to follow where HE leads.

Sometimes I think of Abraham
How one star he saw had been lit for me
He was a stranger in this land
And I am that, no less than he
And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days





One of my favorite memories of Rich Mullins involved this second song. He closed out a concert with it, and used it to direct our focus to the Lord. Hearts full of worship for our Lord, we suddenly looked up and Rich was gone. And it was okay, because he had led us to the Person who was most important. It's a memory that to me epitomizes Rich's life. And that's what I want my life to be... may I direct the focus of those around me to my Creator, that they might see Him and not me.

Gratitude

Choosing gratitude...

11. Changes that make my heart ache, but that stem from my loving Father at work

12. Heartfelt prayer with my husband

13. Cleansing tears

14. Seven years of sweet fellowship with a precious group of believers

15. Countless meals delivered the arrival of babies and in times of sickness

16. The opportunity (and challenge) to teach our Blessings by example in a difficult situation

17. Hugs

18. The blessing of a trek through sunshine and snow this morning

19. The son who came back to hold my hand and help me on the last stretch of the snowy trek

20. "He has brought me here when I did not want to come for His own purpose. I too, will look up into His face and say, 'Behold me! I am Thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy.' " Hind's Feet on High Places

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Clean Up Project

In mid-December, amidst the joys and busy-ness of the Advent season, a nice gentleman showed up at our door. Unfortunately, he was the J. County Solid Waste Division Field Inspector. Near the beginning of November, someone had called in a complaint about the state of our property. (Isn't the response time impressive??)

The short of the Inspector's visit was that we had some cleaning up to do.
Two major projects were our direct responsibility:

1) Cleanup of the pile of lumber that we brought over when we moved from our old house. Good lumber that the boys and Jonathan had been working on getting de-nailed and stacked neatly. The progress was slow, and the sprawl resulting from sorting through boards was unsightly.
Here the boys are working on de-nailing-


2) Cleanup and disposal of various appliances and such that Jonathan had taken out of folks' homes when doing installs of new stuff. We had several working appliances that we just hadn't gotten to their new homes yet, as well as plenty of "stuff" from work that needed to be cleaned up.
No, I don't have before pictures of this part. It was always an embarrassment to me, and I purposely avoided taking any pictures of the appliance mess.

Another major project didn't have anything to do with us or our friends/landlords, but needed to be taken care of anyway. The folks who had lived here before the Duchene's bought the house had indulged in the common rural habit of dumping old appliances, furniture, trash, tires, etc., in an "inconspicuous" place.

Inconspicuous? Not so much, if you walk around by the creek...

Jonathan getting started:


We had extremely cold weather here in December and January which followed a lot of rain. So the junk in the dump was solidly frozen into the mud. It was very tough work! At one point, Jonathan's dad pulled his van around and they tried using it with a tow strap to try and pull out one of the washing machines. The tow strap broke. Twice.

Nonetheless, there was a great deal that they managed to get out. Here are a couple shots a few days later of some of the stuff that was hauled out of the "dump":


We passed inspection and they closed the complaint against us, but as you can guess from the following picture, we'll be continuing to work on cleaning up the area. Hundreds of trash bags, the contents of which have long since disintegrated, were pulled to the surface of the dump as the guys pulled out the larger items. There are also some things that were still too frozen to move.


Come warmer weather, we plan to work more on getting this area cleaned up. It actually could be a lovely usable space.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Artisan Bread

One of my recent fascinations is with artisan bread. Well, really, with making wonderful bread with very little effort. I just posted about it on Love You Can Eat. I was especially thinking of Tab in south Florida - I think it'd be worth a shot!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This and That

I haven't been very wordy here lately, but I have been updating my photo blog semi-regularly, so if you want to see what we're up to, that's a blog to add to your reader/follow list/etc.

Had a great prenatal with my lovely midwife today. Unfortunately, she didn't get to stay for supper as we had planned, but it was good to see her and get an update on the baby. FHTs 144 today, Fundal Height 25cm, various and sundry body fluids are fine. BP a bit high today, but hopefully it's just a fluke.

Visited with an OB last week who is willing to be our backup in case of transport. We don't anticipate needing to transport to the hospital, but being able to have an OB who is familiar with the mom is a wonderful thing about having legal midwives. It makes continuity and quality of care much better in the rare cases that the mom needs to transfer to the hospital from a planned home birth. We're excited about having a doc who is willing to work with us.

I have a post to write about our recent yard-cleanup efforts, but I think it will wait for another day.

This Friday, we're doing a progressive dinner with several of the families that live close to us. We'll be having appetizers here, salad at the K's, main dish at the W's, and dessert at the T's. Should be a great time, and I'll try to remember to take plenty of pictures.

So... there you have it... this, that, and the other!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book Covers Tutorial

Making book covers is something that my family did a lot of through Eric's and my Jr. High and High School years. We attended a small Christian school where textbooks were used over and over, and the students were required to have covers on their books to help them last longer. Most of the covers I remember from school were either made from paper bags or from heavy duty paper the school sold for that purpose.

Today I made covers for the Bibles our children got for Christmas. No paper sacks this time! I recently acquired several discarded books of wallpaper samples, and one of the projects I had in mind when I requested them was making book covers. If you'd like to acquire some wallpaper sample books, just visit the home decor department of your favorite home improvement store and ask for them to save some for you when they next get new books.

On to the cover making! If you're nervous about cutting into pretty paper on the first try, you can always use a brown paper bag for your first try. Or you can do them all with brown paper - it has it's own charm and I'm not knockin' it.

Measure the height of the book and add 4-6 inches.
Measure the width of the book (both covers and spine) and add 4-6 inches.

Due to the width of the Bibles I was covering and the width of the wallpaper, I opted for adding 4 inches, 2 inches overlap on each side. If I had larger paper or smaller books, I would have chosen to have 3 inches overlap. But the 2 inches looks like it will be sturdy enough.

Cut the paper according to your measurements.

Center the book on the paper, pull the paper snug and fold over the sides.


Mark the top and bottom of the book, a smidge away from the book itself, and going up the side just a bit (click to see a larger picture if the mark is too hard to see in this one).


Now you'll have your sides folded in and the top and bottom marked.


The step I don't show here that I highly recommend is to go ahead and unfold the sides and use your mark to fold the top and bottom edges all the way across, being sure you fold evenly (it should square up on the sides). This will give you a helpful guide for later.

Unfold the top and bottom again and cut up to your mark at an angle.


Fold over your isoceles trapezoid (yes, I had to look that up) at the top and bottom.


Place your book back on the paper, wrap the sides over, and check to be sure you've measured, cut and folded correctly. The folded edge should come to just below and above the spine of the book.


The next few steps are easiest if you have a helper hold the opposite cover and the pages upright while you work on one cover at a time.

To reduce bulk, trim off a triangle from the side fold-over.


Fold over the corner as if you were wrapping a present. Note that there is space for the existing cover; this may vary according to the thickness of your book's cover.


Now fold the flap over and tape or glue. The fold should line up with the folded-down piece on the spine. This is where folding the top and bottom all the way across helps, because you already have a crease.


Repeat this for the other corner on that side.


Repeat for the other side and you're done!


Here are the covers I made this afternoon. I didn't think to time it, but was a pretty quick project.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stephen-isms

~ ~ The cutest word in our house right now, in my opinion, is "cupchup." Stephen loves cupchup, especially when he can dip his food in it.

~ ~ He is enjoying reading about and playing with all sorts of "amimals."

~ ~ It is becoming increasingly important to the little man to be a part of the conversation, so he will often repeat comments that others have said. This is particularly amusing when he obviously has no idea what he's talking about.

~ ~ A few days ago, Stephen saw me with the camera and very sweetly asked, "Will you please take a smile of me?" As if I could refuse ... even with a runny nose!



~ ~ In the kitchen this morning, Stephen shrieked (in delight and laughter, not in distress) and hollered, "Mine tie went under mine shoe!" I laughed and said, "That crazy tie. Why don't you see if Bubba Bear will re-tie it for you?"

So Stephen headed for the living room where Bubba Bear was, shrieking in delight with almost every step and hollering repeatedly... "Mine tie went under mine shoe! ... Crazy tie!... Mine tie... crazy tie!" etc. I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes and was snort-laughing.

What a joy he is!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sometimes It Causes Me to Tremble

I was thoroughly enjoying listening to my Randy Travis Glory Train CD while I puttered around in the kitchen this afternoon. It's full of wonderful songs, and there's just something about Randy Travis's voice (for those of us who love country music, that is).

I posted lyrics to one of my favorites in my Facebook status this afternoon. So rich and true:
He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered victory without fighting
but He said help would always come in time.
Just remember when you’re standing
in the valley of decision and the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again


Another one that has become a favorite is "Where You There (when they crucified my Lord)?" I've heard this song many times throughout my life, and I have to admit, I never "got" it. Just seemed a bit non sequitur to me... of course I wasn't there!

But this past August (August 11th, while I was out for a walk/run, to be precise), the beauty and message of this song finally touched my heart. It became not about whether or not I was there, but caused me to ponder all of these events, and somehow they became more real to me:
when they crucified my Lord
when they nailed Him to the tree
when they pierced Him in the side
when they laid Him in the tomb
And glory hallelujah - when He rose up from the grave!

It truly caused me to tremble. And to literally hit my knees with my face to the ground, again surrendering, as I was shaken to the core with the magnitude of my Savior's sacrifice and love for me. It still causes me to tremble, and I can rarely hear the song without tears.

I couldn't find the Randy Travis version to share with you, but here is a great rendition from Johnny Cash (with the Tennessee Three, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins and the Carter Family).

I pray it causes you to tremble.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Maggie the Fire Dog

The other night, Dad and Mom Smith were over, and after supper Jonathan was holding Maggie, their dog, at the table. He had a candle in front of him and it was so funny to watch Maggie watching the fire! She looked like she was sitting in front of a fireplace, dozing off while she watched the flames dance.

Baking Fun

Jonathan got me this wonderful mixer for Christmas. Doesn't it remind you of the tail light of a '60-something Chevy? I love it!

I also love that I've started making bread again, thanks to this strong reliable mixer and its dough hooks. I just can't handle kneading bread, and this does the hard part while allow me to do the fun stuff. The above shot was on New Year's Day. I was working on my "first" batch of bread while playing Apples to Apples Bible Edition with the boys.

Here's my second batch of bread. Should've gotten it out a little earlier, but it is still very yummy.


Also yesterday, I brought Katie "alongside" and she helped me make this Cranberry Crunch for dessert. She really did most of the work, and it was such fun to do it together. She even let two of her siblings go ahead of her in line for computer time because she was enjoying her time in the kitchen so much (she and Grace also helped me make quiche for supper).

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Goal-setting

The Simple Mom blog has been having some great posts about goal setting lately, like 20 Questions for a New Year's Eve Reflection, 20 Questions for Planning New Year's Goals, and Ring in 2010 with Tangible, Reachable, Optimistic Goals.

However, for me, the last week or so has just not been conducive to reflection and contemplation of goals. So I loved this post today called A Holistic Approach to Setting Meaningful New Year’s Goals. Yes! This fits so well with where I am (this year, and probably every year).

Some highlights:

If winter is for reflection, spring is for action. The planning and preparation that you do in winter, will naturally lead to the energy and focus of acting on your goals come springtime.

...

Winter is a season of introspection, lower energy, and reflection. I start the reflection process in January. I use January and February to dig inward, learn from the past year’s lessons, gaze ahead and consider where my energy should be directed.

When I honor myself with time and attention, I am startled at the goals I come up with.

Once I’ve set my goals and aspirations, I put in time to make a plan for achieving them so I can give myself the support and preparation I need to be successful. This action plan generally begins to really ramp up and pick up energy just as spring comes on the scene. The freshness and new energy of the world around me fuel my commitment.


There is also a helpful looking exercise to help you consider balance in your life and identify areas that need more focused attention.

Hope this is helpful to some of you!

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Years Thoughts

Two hymns are prominent in my mind as I contemplate the new year:
He Leadeth Me - a comfort to know Who is leading me, and an encouragment to be a "faithful follower."
And May the Mind of Christ my Savior - what a summation of goals for not only the year, but for life (thanks, Lynn, for posting this one last new year's; it's been with me through the year).

He Leadeth Me
by Joseph H. Gilmore, 1862

He leadeth me, O bless├Ęd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!... See More
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.




May the Mind of Christ, My Savior
by Kate B. Wilkinson

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.