Saturday, January 31, 2015

Confession: I love coffee

Oh yes I do. 

I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee waiting for me in the kitchen when I get up. 

I love an iced latte in the afternoon as a pause from time at the computer.

I love a hot macchiato in a tiny cup in Ethiopia.

I love coffee shops, coffee-flavored ice cream, coffee beans and coffee breaks.  I even love a scoop of instant espresso powder in my hot cocoa.  Try it - you'll like it!

We grind our own beans and while it’s a bit of a hassle and sometimes a mess, it means we have fresh-tasting coffee.  Yes, we are coffee snobs.

And I’m always on the look-out for a great coffee mug.  




creative-cups-mugs-12-1 creative-cups-mugs-12-2


creative-cups-mugs-24-2 creative-cups-mugs-24-3 (1)




Brewing coffee in our Cuisinart coffee maker is great but it’s not the only way to enjoy good coffee.  A French press makes wonderfully strong and smooth coffee if you use a good roast.


Of course summer is the perfect time to enjoy iced coffee and The Pioneer Woman has a great recipe for the perfect iced brew…

And who wouldn’t love her take on a mocha frappuccino?

Homemade Frappuccino

I learned a few things watching this video so I'm sharing it with you in case you didn't know the 5 Ways You're Drinking Coffee Wrong:

And this was fun... coffee around the world!

Won't you have a cup with me?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On my nightstand

I have three books to share this month – very different but I enjoyed them all!

Sensible Shoes by Sharon Brown
For me, this is one of those books that I read at just the right time.  If I had picked this one up when I was in a different place in my relationship with Christ I may not have finished it.  Four very different women rather reluctantly go to a spiritual retreat center and begin dealing with some of their brokenness (perfectionism, performance, bitterness, rejection, pride, shame) with the help of several spiritual disciplines.  I was surprised to find myself relating to each of the four fictional characters in some way and was drawn to the ways God used prayer, the Word and the Spirit to speak to their hearts.  I plan to spend some time looking into several of these spiritual formation practices. 

Not coincidentally - because God isn’t coincidental at all! – we got this new book:

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
I so want intimacy with God.  I want to know Him and be close to Him.  I want to understand prayer for what it is, not as a duty or a way to see answers or as a means to an end.  I will be reading this one slowly and asking God to help give me a breakthrough in prayer.

Spiritual Misfit_cvr_all_r1.indd
Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha
Such honesty here!  Michelle writes of her own journey to faith, saying what we’ve probably all thought but wouldn’t ever voice.  She is an openly honest doubter.  And very funny.  I enjoyed her story a lot.

What are you reading?  Won't you leave a comment and tell us?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Half Empty {a repost)

Do you ever find yourself focusing on the wrong things?  Dwelling on problems?  Stressing about 'what if's'?

I really hate to admit it but I have always been one of the 'glass half empty' people in this world.  I typically see what's wrong much more quickly than what's great.  I have known this about myself for quite awhile but it's not a happy thing to fess up to.

If I take those personality profile tests, I come out as a melancholic.  A type "C".  Smalley and Trent label me a Beaver.  The definition of a melancholic is "one disposed to or affected with melancholy; gloomy."  Gloomy?  Now I don't think I'm gloomy but I guess you'd have to ask the ones who know me best. 

No wait - don't ask.

There are always strengths as well as weaknesses of any personality type.  For the melancholy person, strengths are listed as:  Analytical, self-disciplined, industrious, organized, aesthetic, sacrificing.  Not bad!

The weaknesses, however, sound incredibly horrible:  Moody, self-centered, touchy, negative, unsociable, critical, revengeful.

Whatever.  Leave me alone.
The thing is, I have never given a lot of credence to personality labels.  Sure, it's fun to take those tests - especially with friends and relatives who you can laugh with about the results.  

But I'm afraid if I bought into that whole label thing, I'd use it as an excuse.  You know - that's just the way I am.  I can't help it if I'm vengeful and hateful.

Nope, that doesn't fly.  Instead, I really believe that God is making me into someone I could never be apart from His Spirit at work in me.  Kinder.  More compassionate.  Generally BETTER!  I can't tell you how that fills me with hope!

Because the alternative is pretty depressing.  I'm left with my 'natural' tendency to be critical, self-righteous and works-oriented.

I love how Eugene Peterson rewords Galatians 2:19-21 in The Message.    

What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work. So I quit being a "law man" so that I could be God's man. Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Trying hard to be different than I am doesn't work.  Instead, I can rely on Christ to make me new.  His personality type is only about strengths - no weaknesses at all.  I love that.

Recently I was encouraging someone (who knows me pretty well) to believe that God was going to do something wonderful in a difficult situation.  They told me how much it meant to them, especially because... well because such an encouraging word was coming from ME!  So you see, there is some progress being made in this old Beaver.  I am being changed.

Lord, live Your life in and through me.  I don't want to be half-empty.  Fill me up with You.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Southwest White Chicken Soup

Tis the season for soup!  I am always looking for good soup recipes, preferably ones that don't contain lemongrass or oxtail.  Does it seem to you like many recipes you see have ingredients you would never find in your cupboard?  Call me predictable.  Call me boring.  For soup to be comfort food, I want to recognize my ingredients.

Here is one of our favorites… the chilies give it a kick and the sour cream smooths it out. You'll like it and it couldn't be easier!

SW White Chicken Soup  Have A Cup With Me
Southwest White Chicken Soup
printable recipe here

2 lbs chicken, cut into ½” pieces
1 large sweet onion, chopped1½ cups chopped green, red, orange and yellow peppers
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies (use more than one can per your preference)
2 Tbl oil
3 cans (15½ oz) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
3 cans (16 oz) chicken broth
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp pepper
3 cups light sour cream

Brown chicken in oil and set aside.  Saute onions and peppers in oil.  Add all ingredients and simmer ~1 hour.  Serve with crusty bread.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Links I Liked

Image credits: Agoes Antara
30 Magical Photos of Children Playing Around the World
No matter their cultural background, no matter their economic situation, kids will always find imaginative ways to have fun. Their wild imaginations and magical childhood moments, when captured on camera by talented photographers, can make for truly wonderful photos.

The Heavy
Most moms I know balance the checkbook, do the shopping, know where the wrapping paper is and how much is left, which is good because they are the ones buying the presents for little Johnny’s friend’s party this Saturday. They know to the minute how much screen time their kids have logged that day and who has on clean underwear (or underwear at all). Moms make the dentist appointments and make sure the kids’ hair is trimmed. Moms are the frontlines with the teachers, the coaches and the bullies. They filter out the bad influences; they have their radars up and ears to the ground.

20 Secret Tips Everyone Who Shops on Amazon Needs to Know
Are you an Amazon shopper?  I am and I did not know many of these!

How to Remember God
So I have this thing about Ys.

10 Social Apps Every Parent Should Know About
You may think your kids are downloading apps because they are just a simple way for them to keep in contact with their friends. This is certainly true for most kids, but unfortunately even innocent use of most of these apps can land a kid in a situation he/she never intended to be in. Here are ten popular apps and why they are potentially problematic for them.

13 Amazing Food and Life Hacks You Need to Know Right Now
These are a little bit different than the ones you might see often on FB.

And if you haven't seen this yet, enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A snowy weekend

Planned a year ago, we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend than the one we just spent in Leavenworth, WA with our {old} friends Mark and Liane, Brian and Karen.  (Well, to be perfectly honest, I would have asked for a weekend without a wheelchair.  I didn’t even want to go because of that stupid thing and the attention it would draw and the extra work it would mean for everyone but God clearly showed me how self-absorbed I was over the whole decision  - so we went.  And I am so glad we did.)  I didn't realize how much I needed this weekend with folks who know us and love us and who we know and love so much.


We’ve all been to Leavenworth together several times - the last time was two years ago in January 2013 (I wrote about it here).  The above photo looks almost identical to one Jeff took then but our temps that weekend were in the 20’s and this time it was much warmer. 

We had what was for me a white-knuckled drive over the mountains to get there (jack-knifed trucks and several cars sliding off the road kind of white knuckles) but once we got there safely, it was just beautiful.  Fairy-tale beautiful. 


We ventured out for dinner to a wonderful Italian restaurant recommended by some friends and it did not disappoint.  I was chauffeured right up to the sidewalk out front and my faithful husband (who is earning his certification for handicap assistance with a minor in servant leadership) wheeled me through the snow, up the ramp and into the garlic-y atmosphere of old Italy.  We sat amidst white twinkling lights and ate sausage Mostacciolli al Forno, Ravioli and meatballs, and Linguini and clams.

We slept under a fluffy down comforter in our wheelchair-accessible room with the wide doorways, raised toilet and a roll-in shower (don't ask).

Here is the owner of the Inn where we stay, playing his alpenhorn at breakfast the next morning. See what I mean about 'fairytale?'


But wait!  That doesn’t look like a felt alpine hat.  Let’s zoom in just a bit…


Ahhh, a true Seahawks fan wearing his totem pole hat!  Actually, the dining room was FULL of people sporting Seahawks gear – grandmas, grandpas, moms and dads, kids and babies – most everyone wore something Seahawks.  The entire state of Washington is completely obsessed with the Super Bowl champs and their road to a repeat.

(I don’t really know how it happened but now I am a fan too.  I watch NFL games if the Hawks are playing.  I read the sports page to find out how Richard Sherman’s elbow is.  I check ESPN to see if Marshawn is going to be fined and hope that he is.  I print the tv game schedule and put it up on my refrigerator.  I’m Facebook friends with my favorite quarterback Russell Wilson and use the Seahawks logo as my profile pic.  Anyone who knows me would never associate any of those things with me.  I don’t even know who I am any more.)

So after a late breakfast buffet at our hotel, the six of us headed back to Brian and Karen’s room where we (and by ‘we’ I mean everyone except me) moved furniture, brought in extra chairs and set up our own game-day snack table.  We had to win this game against the Packers to have another shot at the Super Bowl in two weeks.  (If you are an NFL fan you don’t need me to explain that but I’m trying to be sensitive to any of you football novices.) 

For three quarters and most of the fourth, it was an awful game.  The team we’ve watched for the last several seasons just could not seem to play their game.  We were all just sick (though somehow we managed to make a pretty good dent in our chips and popcorn).  Then with only three minutes nineteen seconds left, the champions we knew made a miraculous comeback.  We stood up and yelled and waved our scarves and high-fived like every other 12th Man in the country, incredulous as we watched the Seahawks win in overtime. 

I am out of breath just thinking about it.

With the glow of victory still on our faces and our tummies full of hummus and chocolate, we headed back into town for fireworks and dinner at a great spot for fresh stir-fry.



By now it had warmed up and rain was falling but it didn’t dampen the beauty one bit! 

Here are the six of us:


I actually cropped that one.  I love how the kind person who took this for us included my wheelchair in the original. 

It was a part of our group this weekend.

Great people.  Wonderful memories.


Thursday, January 15, 2015


I loved this post by The Nester about taking a break.  It got me thinking about what is relaxing to me.  Aren’t we all so different in that regard?  What recharges me might absolutely zap you of energy or bore you to tears. 

Here is a brief list of my favorite ‘relaxers’…

  • crossword puzzles/sudoku (I know – I can already hear some of you saying ‘Just shoot me’)
  • chatting with my husband over a latte
  • cleaning out a closet/drawer
  • reading – propped up in bed, in the tub or on the couch
  • Facetime with our kids
  • blog surfing
  • thumbing through catalogs (paper or online)
  • puttering in the yard – pruning, moving things, imagining
  • wandering through a nursery
  • looking through old photos/video

margin haveacupwithme
This all reminds me of the book “Margin” by Richard Swenson.  He compares life lived without dedicated time for rest to a book without margins – overload.  From the cover:  Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of our time. Margin is the cure.

Whether you are busy with work, busy with family, busy with school or all of the above, we all desperately need down time.  I think it’s just wise to recognize that in ourselves before someone close to us has to tell us – you are _____{grouchy, unavailable, touchy, really not fun to be around…}  I’m currently having a little ‘forced margin’ in the form of my useless knee.  While frustrating for sure, I’m trying to enjoy the downtime. 

What is really relaxing to you??  I’d love it if you’d leave a comment telling me how you take a break.

And here’s to staying in your jammies all day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Wouldn’t you know it?  Just when I need to be searching for possible new living situations for my dad (now in rehab), my knee gives out and I find myself laid up on the couch with a bag of ice.  I would like to tell you that I was training for my first half marathon or even that I turned quickly to stop a child from running into the street but I was walking into the house when I heard a loud POP and dropped to the floor.  Thankfully Jeff was on his way home because I was starting to picture myself wasting away on the hall floor.  My family would find my crumpled body lying next to my purse and coat.  But knowing my husband was on his way, I literally dragged myself into the closest room and pulled myself into a chair.  It was very dramatic, with lots of wincing and ‘ouch’ing.  I feel justified, though, because I can’t put any weight on it at all. 

So our plans to go to Jeff’s mom’s to watch the Ducks in the national championship football game (since we don’t have cable) were scrapped and we pretended we were Ma and Pa Walton huddled around the radio listening to the Buckeyes beat the Ducks up.  But Livy and John didn’t have the internet to give them this kind of cool graphics, did they?  We could almost visualize the players on the green rectangle! 

natl championship game
(This was snapped at a hopeful but short-lived time in the game.)

Now I  will be wheeling gingerly around the house in my mom’s wheelchair for a few days (I know because this has happened before).  This made me remember that when one of our daughters was about 7 years old, she used to tell us she wished she could wear glasses, have headgear with a jean strap and use a wheelchair – I have no idea why but she was always fascinated with accessories.   Tonight she told me I am living her dream.

I’ll be sleeping in a recliner.  I am being waited on (which I don’t enjoy but SO appreciate).  I’m forced to stay home and let my husband put my sock on, refill my ice bag, bring me ibuprofin and listen to me whimper.  I promise the blog will not turn into a blow-by-blow of my recovery.  But thanks for letting me whine.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hidden treasures in hard places

This has been my view for the last week.  My 93 year old father is in the hospital after contracting the flu (despite a flu shot that we know has now been deemed largely ineffective against the current strain).  Poor guy.  He has been extremely sick and we’re still not sure where he will be or what shape he’ll be in when he gets through this.

Isn't it true that God often does His deepest work in us in hard places?  I get to know Him there if I lean into Him.

As I pray for direction and strength and healing and help, these words bring the peace I need so much because they are TRUE.  In the midst of much uncertainty, in my need to make many decisions, God’s promises to be with me and help me have been so much LIFE to me.  I hope they are life to you today too.  Our God is faithful!

The Lord is my Strength and my Shield.  My heart trusts in Him and I am helped.  
Psalm 28:7

You are my Help and my Deliverer, O my God.  Do not delay! 
Psalm 40:17

It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me! 
Isaiah 50:9

So I say with confidence ‘The Lord is my Helper.  I will not be afraid.’ 
Hebrews 13:6

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying ‘This is the way.  Walk in it.’ 
Isaiah 30:21

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness into light before them and make rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do.  I will not forsake them. 
Isaiah 42:16

I will go before you and will level the mountains.  I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name. 
Isaiah 45:2-3

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