Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gross Candy

Now that we're in the waning days of July, I've been thinking about summers as a kid.


I think without a doubt my girls' favorite summer memories would include our yearly camping trip to Lake Benbow, where we met their 'cousins' and spent a week swimming, fishing, roasting marshmallows, talking around the campfire and buying ice cream from the camp store.

But one of their best memories of all was sharing in Gross Candy wars. This time-honored tradition began when the parents (me and my two college buddies and our husbands) were reminiscing about the candy we loved as children. The more we talked, the more we seemed to remember that there was a lot of really disgusting candy available back in the day. And we laughed when someone would think of a truly baaad candy (like orange marshmallow peanuts or 7-Up bars) and someone else would say, "I loved those!"

And so it began. For the whole year prior to our week at the lake, each family would stockpile the grossest candy they could find. On one special night (sometimes at someone's home at the end of the week or sometimes around the campfire at the lake) we'd gather - the kids squirrelly with anticipation - and the moms would present their family's offerings. Candy was passed around. Gagging ensued. Several (usually boys) insisted they loved the Japanese ginger candy or the Mexican tamarind pops. No one loved the Harry Potter jelly beans with flavors of dirt or ear wax. Gross. It was always a memory-maker.

Although I didn't have anything nearly as fun as Gross Candy wars during my summer vacations, I do remember:
  1. Sucking on 'colored ice cubes' (Kool-aid frozen into ice cube trays) that my mom put in big plastic cups

  2. Sleeping in the backyard, either in our canvas tent or on the deck and waking up roasting to death when the summer sun shone on us in the morning
  3. Weeks at Camp Namanu (Camp Fire Girls camp) where there was a wishing rock, counselors with names like 'Fern' & 'Tree-fairy' and a million camp songs that we sang until we were hoarse

How about you? Leave a comment with your 3 favorite summer memories! Please?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ch-ch-changes

I have reading glasses strategically placed throughout the house - kitchen, office, nightstand, living room and yes, even the bathroom. Plus a pair in my purse and an extra pair in the pencil drawer. I hafta have 'em.

Several years ago, I stumbled on a rack of sunglass readers at Steinmart in southern California, where we lived. Now this was a fantastic find. It meant I could drive the car and glance down at my cell phone directional map without excavating my reading glasses from my purse! Plus I could theoretically sit outside in the sun to read a book. Awesome!

But alas, my trusty sunglass readers began to come apart from constant use. The right lens fell out repeatedly. The screws kept coming out of the hinges. It was time for a new pair.

Here's the odd thing - people in Oregon don't seem to wear sunglass readers! We don't have Steinmart and I couldn't find any on the racks of sunglasses in Ross or Target or any of the other fine stores I frequent. Not being willing to pay more than $15 or $20 might have factored into my failure but I eventually resorted to a Google search for "sunglass readers."

Buying sunglasses over the internet is sort of like buying shoes that way. It's okay if you know the brand and how their sizes fit you. But it's a bit 'livin on the edge' for me. Then I actually found a pair that were pretty close in shape and style to my Old Faithfuls and they were only $19.99! Sold!


It was only after I printed the order confirmation that I saw the name of the company I had ordered from. It's called As We Change. They sell 'products for women in transition.' Slimming clothing. Comfort walking shoes. Hot flashes, incontinence and urinary products. Compression and support products. You get the idea. I laughed out loud!!

Does that cute girl above look like she's wearing Micromassager Sleeves or a Control Vest? I think not. Notice that they select models who are young and attractive with firm skin and real teeth to sell Slip-On Walkers and something called The Whiz (don't ask). And when I wear those sunglasses, I'm planning on looking just like that blond.

So... if - as a result of ordering from this company - I start getting a mailbox full of catalogs marketed toward elderly, decaying women, I'm going to put on my sunglass readers, sit outside not too far from the bathroom and pick out my favorite Dri-Release Caftan or Spring Facial Hair Remover. For the future of course.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Book Report

In sixth grade, Mrs. Chandler began requiring a weekly oral book report. I had been killing the competition in reading prior to this unfortunate change in reporting method. Before this, we could turn in a written report as often as we finished a chapter book. Then a circle of colored paper with our name and the book we read written on it was taped to the wall, forming a snake across the top of the room. My snake was the longest, closely followed by Nancy Curtis' (which kept me reading like a maniac). We could also get extra credit if we made a 'shadowbox' of a scene from our current book. I remember a painstakingly detailed rendition of 'Charlotte's Web' in a shoebox, with a spiderweb made of string and a plastic pig.

But an oral report? For this shy, freckled little girl? Just shoot me! And although I can't remember the name of the book I was reporting on, I do remember vividly that I mispronounced the name of the main character. I said "Pen lope" instead of "Pen el o pee" and everyone burst out laughing. My face grew beet red and I'm sure I was fighting back tears. Looking back, it was probably a good experience for Miss Smarty-Pants-with-the-longest-book-snake.

Which brings me - somewhat indirectly - to my book report for today! I'm just finishing the most wonderful book that I highly recommend. It's called Same Kind Of Different As Me and the subtitle reads: A modern-day slave, an international art dealer and the unlikely woman who bound them together. It's written by a black man and a white man, alternating chapters.
I think the reason it has resonated with me so much is in the white man's (Ron) honest self-assessment - he makes judgments about people based on appearance first and doesn't know the first thing about unconditional love. But the story of how this homeless black man (Denver) changes his life is absolutely amazing. I won't try to retell the story or even give my take on it. Instead, I'll just quote a few of my favorite parts.

On a sun-splashed Monday in the early spring of 1998, Deborah and I drove to the Rescue Mission, she propelled by her passion to help the broken and I propelled by a love for my wife... To our left, a string of shabby men staggered from the johnsongrass that covered the lot. To the right, a parade of women and children in dirty, mismatched clothes shambled along, dragging green garbage bags... I pulled into the parking lot wondering how quickly I'd be able to pull out again.

Things was goin along jus fine at the mission till that smilin white couple started servin in the dinin hall on Tuesdays. Ever week, that woman drew a bead on me in the servin line. She'd smile at me real big and ask me my name and how I was doin - you know, attackin me for no particular reason. I did my best to stay completely outta her way.

And later in the story...

Denver leaned in with his right shoulder and narrowed his eyes even farther. "Mr. Ron, I was captive in the devil's prison. That was easy for Miss Debbie to see. But I got to tell you: Many folks had seen me behind the bars in that prison for more than thirty years and they jus walked on by. Kept their keys in their pocket and left me locked up. Now I ain't tryin to run them other folks down, cause I was not a nice fella - dangerous - and probly just as happy to stay in prison. But Miss Debbie was different. She seen me behind them bars and reached way down in her pocket and pulled out the keys God gave her and used one to unlock the prison door and set me free." Denver pounded home those last words like eight separate nails, then sat back in his chair. "She's the onlyest person that ever loved me enough not to give up on me and I praise God that today I can sit here in your home a changed man - a FREE man!"

Of course, you have to read the book to appreciate the really miraculous but simple story of how God changes these two men. I hope you do - you won't regret it. And I'd love to hear your thoughts. (No oral report necessary!)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Couple of Lists

A few things I LOVE... (in no particular order)

  • Coffee hot and ready in the morning when I wake up (love my coffeemaker with a timer!)
  • Cool mornings in the summer when you can open windows
  • First-thing-in-the-morning time in the living room with my bible, pen and the One I'm getting to know and trust better - only because He is faithful
  • Starting a good book
  • Jeff's perspective
  • A text from my daughter telling me she's landed in the U.S. and had an incredible, but hard, trip to Africa
  • My memory foam mattress
  • Good friends over a long time or new friends that click right away
  • Purple hydrangea
  • The library
  • Driving down tree-lined streets
  • Raspberry Gateau at Papa Haydn's
  • My job with Adoption Ministry of YWAM - Ethiopia
  • Anticipating

And not so much...

  • My self in traffic
  • Piles of things to be filed
  • Cars that leak oil (ours)
  • Bees
  • Finding new doctors, dentists, hair stylists and vets
  • Thinking of what to make for dinner
  • Days over 90 degrees
  • Clutter
  • Dusty blinds
  • Spending money on brakes or insurance
  • Hurts you can't 'fix'
  • The smell of a retirement home
  • Unreconciled checkbook registers
  • Pens that leave blobs of ink on the page

That's all for now - but I could go on and on. You?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good Links

Here are a few things I hope you enjoy as much as I did:

Oh Yes Jesus Loves Me - a sweet reflection by Melissa

The Tasty Kitchen - a new website by The Pioneer Woman (one of my fav bloggers)

Glib Utterances - World Magazine by Andree Seu - some random thoughts I liked

The Crush of Young Kids - perspective!

Greatest Hits - some very funny mommy posts (are they funny because I don't have any kids at home any more??)

The Nag - Kristin writes at We Are THAT Family. This was right on.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Morning

It's an overcast day in the Northwest this morning - rain last night has left everything moist and fresh. The dahlias in the front corner of the yard needed the drink, as I don't stretch the hose out to where they're planted as often as I should.

We did attempt some bush-trimming on Saturday but no sooner had Jeff fired up the electric trimmer and began shearing the monstrous azaleas, than an angry swarm of bees living in our shrubs descended on my poor husband. And me. Visons of killer bee attacks we'd seen on the news in S. California danced in my head. I'm sure we looked like idiots, flailing our arms and jumping around frantically. When we finally got in the house - thinking the worst was over - we realized there were bees in our clothes!!! Jeff got about 7 stings and I got several repeat stings by one very vengeful bee in my shirt sleeve. Even today, my arm is swollen and itches like crazy. Needless to say, the azaleas are still huge and may stay that way.

I heard from Lisa in Ethiopia today - a quick email to say she is loving it so far. She especially enjoyed the time they spent with the teenaged girls in Addis Ababa. They took them on a special retreat at a hotel, where they shared, ate, laughed, prayed and cried together. Her next big adventure is a 12 hour car ride to a little village near the Sudan border where Adoption Ministry is starting an orphanage. The team may get to bring back 4 babies to one of our orphanages in Adama. Imagine that ride back to the city with 4 little infants (I think they're all boys)!

I also talked to Lindsey yesterday, who is working at a camp in Alberta, Canada. She spent last week as a counselor in Teepee Village. This week she told us she is THE cook for Teepee Village, which means cooking for ~22 people over an open campfire. I've seen her make Top Ramen and even a great Mexican meal, but I sure would love to see what she's going to do at camp! I love that she's up for the challenge. If it were me, I'd see how many different things the kids could roast over the fire on a stick and put between graham crackers.

Amy is looking for a design job in Seattle, preferrably with a large firm and having to do with motion graphics. She's working at a restaurant and doing some design work at Seattle Pacific in the athletic department - designing athletic/event calendars. She is managing to support herself but would sure love to find something with a salary and job security!

I'm so thankful for this current season I'm in. We are here because we know God told us to move. And we've never doubted that decision. We don't know what the future holds - but really, we never do! Even when I've thought I had things all planned out, God had something else in mind. If you had told me two years ago that I'd be working with adoptions in Ethiopia, that we'd be living in Portland without a job, that three out of five of us would travel to Africa... I wouldn't have believed it.

I'm very glad that I can trust God's wisdom, His timing and His sovereignty. I'm learning not to look at my circumstances and then come to some conclusions about God based on what I see or feel. Don't we all tend to do that?
  • My prayer hasn't been answered so God must not care.
  • My circumstances are difficult so God must not be good.
  • My loved one died so there must not be a loving God.

Instead, I look at my God and make a judgment about my circumstances based on who He is and what He's said.

  • God is faithful so there is a reason He hasn't answered my prayer yet
  • God is all-knowing so He's going to use this tough thing to draw me closer to Him
  • God's love never fails so I can trust Him in my pain

That is life-changing to me!

O great and powerful God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds! Jeremiah 32:18-19

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane...

Today we take daughter #2 to Seattle, where early tomorrow morning she'll leave with a group of 6 other women to travel to Ethiopia. Unlike her younger sister, this one doesn't tend to be an adventurer. She's a bit more like her mother - "Comfort" and "Safety" are the places we like to live. But she's bravely stepping out of every comfort zone she's ever known and making herself available to God to reach out to a group of orphaned teenaged girls, as well as working with the children in several orphanages there. I know it will be a life-changer for her, as it was for me. But I'd sure appreciate your prayers for her.

Here is the group of women that are traveling together:




Here are some of the young women they will be with:
These precious girls, with life stories that would make your hair stand on end, are going to be treated to a 'retreat' at a hotel, with lots of laughter, sharing, hair and nail make-overs, food and prayer. It will be an unforgettable weekend for them - and for the women who get to provide it for them!
The team will also be traveling to several small villages, one of which is a 12 hour drive across the African countryside, to bring four babies back to our orphanage in the city, where they will become available for adoption. These children have either been orphaned or abandoned and have no hope or future apart from the love of a waiting family.
The verse they'll be memorizing is out of the Amplified Bible:
Habakkuk 3:19
The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army.
He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk - not to stand still in terror, but to walk - and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility!
I can't wait to hear all the stories and see all the video and pictures from this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. They'll be back on July 20th - stay tuned!
Be sure to check on the Ethiopia blog - That We Might Be Adopted - for updates on this trip!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Summer Recipes

I do love to cook - well, BAKE, to be more precise. And summer produce offers some great ingredients for many yummy desserts and sides. Here is a favorite recipe for a summer dessert that is easy and quick. For more great summer recipes, be sure to check out the other Works For Me Wednesday - Summer Recipe Edition links at We Are THAT Family! Who doesn't need all the help we can get with meal ideas when you don't feel like cooking!

Raspberry Apple Crisp

3 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups coarsely chopped apples (I use Granny Smith)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbl butter

Toss together berries and apples. Spread evenly over bottom of a lightly buttered 2 qt. baking dish. In medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and oats. Using pastry blender, work butter into oat mixture until crumbly. Spread over fruit, pressing down lightly.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.
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