Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best


couch

Best Book I Read:  Peace Like A River

Best Practical Decision I Made:  I Can See Clearly Now

Best Guests:  Reelin’ In The Years

Best New Recipe:  Easy No-Knead Bread

Best Daily Habit:  Meditate

Best Family Outing: Getaway

Best Getaway with my husband: here

Best New & Stretching Adventure: Group

Best Fall Ever: A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Best TV Series on Netflix:  Foyle’s War

Best New Favorite Podcast:  Timothy Keller

Best Topical Study:  Immanuel

Best New Toy:  It Took Me A While


Let's head into this new year together determined to live intentionally, full of His Spirit and completely dependent on His life in us.  There is a reason we are in the places we are - God's purpose for us in these days is our goal!

So teach us to number our days
that we may acquire a wise heart.  
Psalm 90:12


I'm linking up with Kristen at WeAreThatFamily.

It sure is quiet around here



I haven’t been posting too often this month – no excuses.  But it has been busy!  This last week was no exception and I’m looking back with lots of good memories.

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We had our staff Christmas party for Adoption Ministry in Puyallup, WA on Friday the 21st so Jeff and I drove up and back for the day.  I have such a wonderful job and an incredible team of people to work with.  Because I don’t see these folks every day at the office (I work at home), it’s always fun to be with them.

Lindsey, our youngest, arrived from Seattle that same night – bringing with her the dog she has been taking care of for the last several years, Ellie.  Ray, Lisa and Amy came the next day with Amy’s dog Sadie.  And just like that, our empty nest was buzzing with activity.  It makes me so happy!

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Ellie
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Sadie
I love dogs.  I really do.  I am not used to big dogs in the house so I need to adjust my attitude with food and water bowls on the (small) kitchen floor,  hair here, there and everywhere, dogs eagerly parked right next to me as I'm cooking in my (small) kitchen and bags of dog food and treats on many surfaces in my (small) kitchen.  A-hem!

We all went to Christmas Eve candlelight service together, which was wonderful.  Every year I look down the row and thank God that we’re all sitting there together.

My niece was born on Christmas Eve so we always celebrate her birthday with a breakfast that morning.  This year she celebrated double-digits!

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We managed to eat our way through the rest of the day.  Christmas Eve is always finger food at our house – from hot super nachos to cheese & crackers to vegies & dip to chicken wings & sauce.  And there were also plenty of our traditional Christmas cookies – Special K bars – and dessert plates from the neighbors. 

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Opening one gift on Christmas Eve sets us up for the family photo, with the girls in their matching pj’s.  (This was the first year no one returned them.  You can usually count on me to get the wrong size or style.)

My dad joined us on Christmas morning to open gifts and eat brunch.   I tried a few new recipes (thank you Pinterest) and everything tasted yummy (other than using too many Rhodes bread rolls for my monkey bread, leaving a doughy blob in the center).  For dinner we took a detour from our 'normal' and bar-b-qued flank steak, made baked potatoes, oven roasted asparagus and green salad.  We really missed Jeff’s mom, who had the nerve to go to Hawaii with two of her friends.

We also play games (a LOT) when everyone is home so you could often see either all or some of us at the dining room table playing Five Crowns, Bezzerwizzer, Up and Down the River, Anomia, Word on the Street or Dutch Blitz. No one in our family is competitive in the least. Christmas music played on the iPod all week long.

There was some sharing of phone apps, watching of old family videos, Wii frisbee golf playing, late nights and early mornings (remember the dogs?). There was food prep and clean up and good conversation and prayer over many meals. Three fights broke out and the guilty parties had to be separated – one in her crate and the other shut up downstairs. 

Ray and Lisa had to leave Christmas night to be back in Seattle for work but we loved having them for four days!  Amy and Lindsey stayed until Thursday evening so we had a bit longer with them. 

Anyway, there you have it!  I am exhausted but wouldn’t trade any of it!

Let's see what the new year holds!!
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Year-end lists


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There is almost no end to the number and kinds of year-end lists…  fashion trends, top news stories, best and worst of _______.

So here are a few I found interesting!

Most annoying words of 2012
@thejanedough.com
Now here’s a fact you can’t simply blow off with a “whatever” or “whatevs”: the results of a new Marist poll find that Americans hate the defeatist, dismissive word “whatever” more than any other phrase, with empty “like,” unclear “you know,” and preachy “just sayin’” following close behind.

2012 Search Trends
@google.com
Includes search phrases, images, athletes, events, hashtags and more.  A revealing look at our world and its focus!

List of countries by population
@wikipedia.org
Both official estimates and census results

Best Inventions of the Year 2012
@techland.time.com
Truly weird and some truly frightening.

Yule Laugh, Yule Cry: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Beloved Holiday Songs
@entertainment.time.com
Not really a year-end list but still…

Top 10 News Stories of 2012
@christianitytoday.com
This won’t be the same list you’ll find in the mainstream media
but these events significantly shape evangelical life, thought and mission.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The perfect Christmas



bethlehem


"Who can add to Christmas?
The perfect motive is that God so loved the world.
The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son.
The only requirement is to believe in Him.
The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life."
Corrie Ten Boom



May you celebrate the gift He has given you.
May you choose joy.
May your heart be full of thanksgiving.
May you know Immanuel – God With You.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Links I Liked


@joelrosenberg
Excellent post on what’s happening in our culture.



@huffingtonpost
I can’t even imagine. 


And on some lighter notes…

sharable
I’ve loved doing most all of my Christmas shopping on the internet.  Loved it.  Because so many stores are so desperate for our business, there are some good deals to be had and free shipping to boot.  Because…

@Psychology Today
I like to think I’m not gullible... but.


You know about the secret VIP club in Disneyl*nd that resides behind the dull green door in New Orleans Square? 
Well apparently St*rbucks also has a few secrets!

@Yummly


@shaungroves
I liked Shaun’s take on this season in a man’s life –
especially his final paragraph to wives.


And finally, if you need a laugh, meet Jim Gaffigan
talking about having a large family.  You will laugh out loud.





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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Immanuel


I told my husband today that I’m pretty sure this is the most ‘un-stressed’ I have ever felt in the days leading up to Christmas.  Well, unless you count when I was six.  Then my greatest worry was if my brother would fall asleep on Christmas Eve night and I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to while I spent that whole night wide awake.  My parents actually resorted to giving me a few sips of wine in hopes it would konk me out.  Don't tell anyone.

I have a long history of sweating the small stuff and often missing the meaning.  I wanted to have peace and a heart focused on Him but always, always came up short.

I’ve been trying to figure out what my problem actually is.  I can think of a few contributors… I didn’t want my kids to feel disappointed.  I always make everything from scratch.  I didn’t let people help me very well.  And what’s at the root of all of that?  Pride.

Ugh.

immanuel

For the month of December I have been spending my morning time in the Word focused on Immanuel – God With Us.  When I started on Dec. 1st, I wondered how God would keep me on that topic for 25 days.  But it has but a little bit like an onion – each day I find a new aspect of God’s presence to meditate on.

Immanuel means
His nearness to us.

Over and over in the Word God promises “I am with you.”  He is close.  We are never without His presence, His strength, His help.  Never.

Immanuel means
God Himself is with us.
The Wonderful Counselor.  Mighty God.  Everlasting Father.  Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

The all-powerful, all-knowing One who loves me with His life.  He is the One who is with me.  Don't ever forget who He is.

Immanuel means
With us and with those we love
He is not far from each one of us… for in Him we live and move and have our being.  Acts 17:27-28 

In the scary circumstances, in illness, in rebellion, in dark times – He is there.

Immanuel means
The fullness of His presence is what I need the very most – even when I don’t realize that’s the answer.

Though the economy doesn't improve
and the world seems to be overcome with evil,
though the relatives don't change
and the tension remains,
though there are no answers I can see
and no hope in the world,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
Habakkuk 3:17-19 (paraphrased)


If all the circumstances of my life disappoint me, I can still be joyful in God my Savior.  

Immanuel means
He is at my side when it might seem like no one else is.
No one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.  2 Tim 4:16-17

Disappointed?  Hurt?  Let down by someone important?  Sometimes being ‘without’ in people ways brings me closer to God and a realizing that He is really what I need and all I need.

Immanuel means
I can remind myself, Lord You are with me.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me
Psalm 23:7


Do you tell yourself the truth?  Rehearsing who He is and that He is there. It's way better than rehearsing 'what if's' or 'what about that's.

Immanuel means
God occupies me!

My life, my body is where He lives.  I am a living vessel of His presence and He can express Himself through my life.
We are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.  2 Cor 6:16

Wow!

Immanuel means
As His dwelling, I belong to Him.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.  1 Cor 6:16

It's not my body.  Not my time.  Not my life.  I'm His.
So that means my problems are His.  My children are His.  My marriage is His.  My future is His.  Not my own.

Immanuel means
He intends to have rulership in me.
But you are not ruled by your sinful selves. You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you.  Rom 8:9

The whole reason Immanuel came was to live in us and reign over us.  He doesn't want for me to be defeated over and over by my weakness and pride.  He wants me to live in authority over those parts of my old nature, ruling over my mind, my emotions and my will by His Spirit.  (Lord, show me what that means day to day!)

Immanuel means
God wants His presence to mark my entire life.
And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you.  Joshua 3:7

What is the most recognizable characteristic about me?  I want it to be God’s presence!

So… that is helping me every single day to put things in perspective.  How I need His priorities, His love for people, His forgiveness.  I have all of those in His presence alive in me.

We are made full and complete by Christ,
who fills all things everywhere with
Himself.
Ephesians 1:23
Amen
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(Thank you for listening in on this sermon to myself.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It took me a while


When we lived in California I used to walk a few times a week with a good friend and she would often ask me (very kindly) – When do you think you and Jeff will get cell phones? 

We don’t tend to jump on the latest ‘trends’.  I am married to someone who thoroughly researches every consumer item for price and quality.  Thoroughly.  THOROUGHLY.  So it was quite a few years after most people we know had cell phones when we finally got ours.

We could have made a grave mistake and jumped into the cell phone era too early!  We managed to avoid looking pretty ridiculous.  This could have been us:

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1973 first cell phone

No way did we want that to happen!

motorola v195By doing so much research, we even managed to avoid the time in cell phone history when there was an antenna you had to extend in order to get good reception.  I felt pretty cool with my clamshell flip phone.  And I didn’t have to borrow a phone from one of the girls on the team when I got lost driving to an ‘away’ volleyball game (major embarrassment for my daughters, I know). 


sony walkmanThen I moved up to this very cool Walkman model.  I took this one to Ethiopia with me and listening to worship music saved me from turning into a blob of overwhelming fear.  I am not kidding. 






lgWhen we moved to Oregon we switched phone providers so I got this full keyboard LG – when texting was becoming one of the primary ways we communicated long-distance with our kids.  I wanted a QRTY keyboard for that!  I still have to chuckle because one of my nieces asks me all the time if she can have this phone – she says it looks just like a tiny laptop!




51JOaE64EFL._SL500_AA300_So on cyber Monday (did I hear you say DEAL?) we somewhat belatedly moved into the smart phone era.  Remember, I dropped my phone into a cup of coffee and it has never worked quite right since.  When Jeff’s started to die, we were forced to make a decision (hooray!).  Now I can talk-to-text, find the cheapest gas station nearby and if I needed to get to a volleyball game in Wildomar, CA I could do it!


Remember, I had some real concerns about becoming a smart phone addict.  So I’m trying to use it sparingly and wisely.  I don’t want to have to worry about constantly checking my phone for updates or emails or texts.  And, did you know that smartphone theft accounts for 1 in 3 robberies in most major cities (over half in cities like New York and San Francisco)?  I don’t really want to have to think about that when I’m out in public with my phone.  Plus I might be texting when walking down a sidewalk without padding installed around the lampposts, as in London:



So, watch out world.  And get ready dear blog readers for a few tech-y app recommendations now and then on the blog. 

It may be a long time until I get another phone.  I’m holding out for one of these:

subcutaneous mobile phone implant
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday browsing





615av-Starbucks_Steel_Card
Starbucks turns gift cards into a whole new level of rip-off
@Clark Howard
A limited edition stainless-steel $400 gift card – for $450!


LollyJane.Unto Us (red)
@Boo Mama
A whole bunch of printables – and they’re free!



Stop-Doing-Stuff-For-Your-Kids-That-They-Can-Do-For-Themselves-redsm
The Key to Avoiding Entitlement
@Connected Families
I liked this.  But I did it myself.




enhanced-buzz-14478-1349206828-121At Last
@The Gospel Coalition
Photos of grooms seeing their brides for the first time. 
These will getcha!





Have a wonderful weekend!


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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On my nightstand


Here’s what I’ve been reading lately…

Las_Orchestra
           La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
This is a wonderful story by the author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books – very unlike those but just as well-written.  Set in WWII England, a young woman’s husband leaves her for a woman in France so she moves to a cottage in a small town and starts an amateur orchestra to boost morale during the war.  If you want a book that’s engrossing with a touch of romance, one you don’t want to put down, this might be it!


A Walk Across the Sun2
A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
Here is a fictional story of a very grim reality all across our world – sexual slavery.  A young lawyer takes a sabbatical from a prestigious law firm to work with a non-profit group in the red-light areas of Mumbai.  He becomes personally involved in rescuing two sisters entrapped in this horrible trade after they are orphaned because of a devastating tsunami.  This is another one you won’t put down, though it's painfully raw and eye-opening.


Kinnman_You_Lost_Me__17056.1338304894.1280.1280
You Lost Me by David Kinnaman
The subtitle reads:  Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church… and Rethinking Faith.  The author looks at the latest Barna research which shows that 18-29 year olds are leaving the established church in unprecedented numbers.  We all know that.  The thing I like about the book is that he not only shares ways he thinks the Christian community has failed to equip young adults to live ‘in but not of’ the world.  He also offers specific ways for us to pass on a vibrant, lasting faith – whole-hearted pursuit of Christ.  If you’re like me, you can easily get discouraged at what’s happening in our American culture.  This book challenges me to be a source of hope.  I read it with my small group of young women in mind for sure.


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Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon
I had to include this one – I read it every year at Christmas.  If you’d like a sweet story with very endearing characters and a wonderful message of the true meaning of Christmas, you'll want your own copy of this one.  Jeff and I have read it aloud to each other for a few Decembers now – we always laugh out loud and there might be a tear or two as well.

Do share your own book recommendations in a comment!
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big questions


questions

There are a lot of big questions about God.  You know the ones I mean…

How could God allow so much suffering if He’s good?
Isn’t it pretty narrow-minded to say that there is only one way to God?
What about hell?  Can a loving God send people there?
How is the Bible relevant in today’s culture when it was written so long ago?

I thinks it’s good – critical actually – to ask these questions.  If our faith rests on Truth, we can find answers.  God isn’t threatened by our questions and I think He welcomes our honest search for faith. 

There are many good people who have dedicated their lives to helping others get answers to these questions and most of them began their own search in a place of extreme doubt and skepticism.  Many began in an attempt to ‘prove’ that faith in Christ was not rational but their careful study of God’s word led them to the opposite conclusion. 

We have been listening to several podcasts by Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City.  I can highly recommend them – they’re easy to listen to, very well-researched and well-spoken.  All of them are available for free download or streaming on iTunes or at the church website here.

Here are a few that I think are excellent.  Click on any title below for a link to that message.

Absolutism: Don’t we all have to find truth for ourselves?
Doubt: What should I do with my doubts?
Exclusivity:  How can there be just one true religion?
Suffering:  If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world?
Hell:  Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge?
Literalism:  Isn’t the Bible historically unreliable and regressive?

There are many many more messages with topics like Who Is God?, How Do I Experience God? and How Does the Gospel Change Me?

If you’ve ever had questions about any of these things (I know I have), this is a great place to start getting some answers.
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Wonderful Week



We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week, beginning on Tuesday night when our youngest arrived and ending late this afternoon when she drove off in our Jeep because her trunk wouldn’t close.

In between, there was lots of coming and going, eating and talking, football and board games, shopping and Wii-playing, barking and laughing, coffee and cocoa.

I love when my kids are home! 

Yesterday we all piled in cars to cut down our Christmas tree.  Because I am exhausted, these pics (most taken by Lindsey) will tell the story!

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I need to get Thanksgiving down and Christmas up ASAP because I have a dinner here on Wednesday night and right now the table is covered with pumpkin candles, fall wreaths and acorns. 


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wealthy



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"In ordinary life we hardly realize
that we receive a great deal more
than we give, and that it is
only with gratitude
that life becomes rich."  
 
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 
I hope your heart is filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving weekend and that you share your riches with family and friends.    

                           Becky
 
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Monday, November 19, 2012

An upside-down Christmas




I have loved everything about the Advent Conspiracy since I first heard about it.  The basic concept is really simple...

Worship fully

Spend less

Give more

Love all

I know we can't make everyone in our extended families do these things. And to be really honest, a few years ago if someone had tried to tell me to change the way I celebrate Christmas (especially the spending less part) I probably would have smiled and went right ahead buying whatever I wanted to buy so my kids would have lots of fun stuff under the tree. It's not that we ever went way overboard (oh - unless you compare it to what someone gets for Christmas in Ethiopia).  Deep down I didn't want my kids to be disappointed.

Disappointed?  I can think of a few other things I don't want my kids to be more than being disappointed.   

The thing I love about the AC model is the focus on Christ and on giving in worship, in presence and in loving others.  That's what I want this season to be about in my life.

Lord, show me how to make these things my priority!  Show me who. Show me where.




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Saturday, November 17, 2012

He likes thin crust; I like thick


28 turq

I wonder why I get to be married to my best friend and love.  I think it’s because God knew we would be better together.   

I am more selfish than Jeff is. 
I spend more than he does. 
He is nicer than I am. 

Honeymoon 1
Us on our honeymoon - love that 80's big hair!

I can still hear the song that was sung at our wedding (anyone remember Leon Patillo?) 

You are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone
There's no one closer
You are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone
We are one

I do pledge my life to you forever and always
I will take good care of you and shower you with praise


The storms of life can blow and blow
But they won't knock me down
We'll stand the test
The test of time
Cause we stand on Holy ground.


I do give my life to you, today and everyday
I will stand right by your side whatever comes our way


It really is an incomprehensible thing that God makes two people one.  I still don't really get it but I have experienced it.  Only God could do it.

We are celebrating 28 years of God’s faithfulness in our marriage, family and ministry.  Years of making daily mistakes and discovering how to humble ourselves to admit them.  Years of choosing to love and serve and forgive each other even and especially when we didn't feel like it.  Years of finding out how wise and good God has been in making us one.
  
We were talking the other day and saying how much we love our marriage.  We laugh a lot together.  We pray together because we need it so much.  We’re very different from each other in a million ways (pizza being just one) but so alike in the ones that matter most.
 
The verse He gave us for our wedding is Isaiah 25:1

O Lord, You are my God;
I will exalt You and praise Your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
You have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.



Honeymoon 012

Happy Anniversary my love!  I am so thankful for you.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flowers in the house


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I love to have fresh flowers inside, don’t you?  In most seasons, there are plenty to cut in our yard and for that I am so grateful.  But in the winter months the yard doesn’t yield much of anything in the way of blooms so I have to get creative if I don’t want to buy them at the store (although Tr*der Joes is always a wonderful source of affordable cut flowers).

I buy Paperwhite bulbs every November and plant them in a tall glass vase, using the ‘soil’ that often comes with the bulbs.  You can also set them on a clump of rocks or pebbles – no dirt required!  The reason I use a tall vase it because they become pretty tall and top-heavy.  The sides of the vase help to hold up the stems.  These can also be planted in a lower container but you’ll probably have to make a way to support the stems.

You can crowd the bulbs for a better display!  Place the bulbs tips up and moisten the soil.  Place the container in a sunny window and remember not to let the soil dry out completely. 

Blurry pic of when I planted mine


You can almost see these stems grow!



Then you’ll see buds forming (so exciting!)…

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And in ~4 weeks you’ll have beautiful Narcissus papyraceus (papyrus is Latin for paper and aceus is ‘like’ - get it?).  Bulbs planted closer to Christmas will bloom in only 2-3 weeks so I’ll be planting another batch in early December.  The smell is heavenly and fills the room they’re in.

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You can buy these in most variety and grocery stores at this time of year.  They often come with a pot (which I don’t use) and a ‘pod’ of soil that you add water to.

You’ll love having these beauties in your house!

Here is a much more comprehensive and beautiful post about forcing Paperwhites at Christmas.
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