Monday, April 30, 2007

Simple Minds, Simple Pleasures

If you get really excited about paper products (stationery) and finding the perfect ribbon to match...does that mean you live a sad, pathetic life?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Masked Blessings

"Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it" (Isaiah 5:5-6).

The things God says He will withhold as punishment in v. 5-6 are things we might resent having initially: We don't want hedges and walls as boundaries; we want freedom. We don't want to be pruned and cut; we want to be pain-free. We praise God for sunshine and groan when it rains. Yet when these blessings in disguise are taken away, we realize why God gives us what's best and not what we want: Without boundaries to protect, we will be trampled and destroyed. Without careful pruning, we will be a wasteland, overgrown with even more painful thorns and briers. Without rain, we will shrivel up and die.

Father, I praise You that You are the Creator of beauty and all good things, the Sustainer of Life. You are the True Vine, and though we rebel against You, still it brings you delight to plant us and provide every good thing we need to grow. You care so tenderly for your own, blessing us abundantly--in Your wisdom not always giving us what we foolishly desire, but always giving us what we truly need.

I confess that I often crave what's not good for me; I resent the ways that You say no, refusing to see how You are protecting me and cultivating me so that I will grow stronger and bear more fruit. I crave the easy, comfortable life, and I grow resentful and bitter when others get what I think I need or prefer. Thank You for continuing to protect and provide for me, for pruning and cultivating me even when I bear bitter fruit, for not giving up on me. Thank You that it's not up to me to produce good fruit, but that by abiding in Christ, good fruit is produced through the Holy Spirit working in me. Thank You that I am saved not on the basis of the good fruit I can muster, but by grace, through Jesus.

Please cause that grace to sweeten my bitter fruit, to heal the roots underneath my sin and enable me to flourish for Your glory. Give me strength and patience when pruning comes; teach me to appreciate, not resent, boundaries. Change my perspective so that I am grateful for the rain as well as for the sun. Increase my trust in You as the Giver of all good things, as the Provider of all my needs.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 30

Thanking God this week for...
  • Sara's safe arrival in New Zealand and all the ways God is at work in her life
  • four children sponsored by my church on Compassion Sunday, with others having expressed interest (I'll have the table up again this Sunday)
  • the luxury of ordering pizza for dinner once in a while
  • meeting a neighbor the other day who's my age and a new mom
  • the kicks and flips I'm feeling frequently now, and even seeing!
  • the jersey knit capris I've been living in lately
  • deep belly laughter
  • a friendship bread starter that finally seems to have taken off
  • adopting me as His daughter and drawing me to Himself

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Not That I Need to Be Told What to Do"

A new gospel-centered blog has just started up: Gospel Driven Blog (not to be confused with GospelDrivenLife). One of the first posts seeks to answer the question, What Do I Mean By a Gospel-Driven Life? It includes this powerful excerpt:
" problem was not that I needed to be told what to do. What I needed was life, strength and motivation to do it (i.e., obey the law)! A Gospel-Driven believer comes to understand that he cannot keep God's commands until he receives Christ's life and strength (cf., Gal. 2:20). So, when you are confronted with God's law (e.g., 1 Peter 1:15-16, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'), you don't pull yourself up by your bootstraps, make some resolutions, and say to yourself, 'Just do it.' No! That is walking according to the flesh, the old man! Rather, God's law (1 Peter 1:15-16) moves us first to flee to Christ by faith (Gal. 3:24).

...Then, after we flee to Christ (i.e., preach the Gospel to ourselves), our faith is renewed and strengthened. Our affections are burning (i.e., gratitude) and then we will be able to live a holy life! It is only as we consider the privileges of our new state in Christ that our hearts are moved to love God and others, renounce sin, and obey His commandments."

Looks like a blog to add to the feeds!

(HT: Between Two Worlds)


--adjective. adequate for the purpose; enough

"Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain" (Isaiah 4:5-6).

God meets our need in every circumstance: When the sun beats down relentlessly, He is shelter and shade; when the sun is gone and the powerful storms come, He is refuge from wind and rain.

Father, I confess that I often believe I need other things or people for abundant life. I say that I believe you are sufficient, but practically I believe that You are not sufficient in my particular circumstances, that I need different circumstances in order to be joyful and serve You. I have been critical and discontent; I have failed to trust You. Strengthen my trust in Your promises; open my eyes to see You as sufficient to supply every need, in every circumstance.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Win an Ergo Baby Carrier

Two friends of mine have given rave reviews to the Ergo Baby Carrier, telling me it's one of the most important things I should buy. Just found out today that this website is giving one away to a lucky mama! Thought I would pass the info along for anyone else who's interested.

Caring for the Least of These

As Christians, the question we must ask ourselves is not “Should I help the poor?” but rather “HOW should I help the poor?”

One effective and meaningful way to help is to sponsor a child through Compassion International. Yesterday, along with hundreds of churches across America, our church participated in Compassion Sunday. For over 50 years, Compassion has been reaching out to needy children around the world. Compassion partners with evangelical churches in 24 countries to provide for the basic needs of over 770,000 children. When you sponsor a child, Compassion links you to an individual child who needs your help. You receive his or her photo and personal story, and you can build a relationship with that child through letters and prayers.

As Compassion president Wess Stafford has said:

“[So often we] speak of children as ‘tomorrow’s world’ or ‘the church’s future.’ As noble as those phrases sound, they are all about pushing off the value of children to the Realm of Someday. Someday they will add value. Someday they will make a difference. Not today. …When it comes to children, we must stop thinking someday and start thinking of their worth and needs today.”
I believe in the ministry of Compassion. They realize that children are precious in God’s sight, and they respond to Jesus' call to welcome them in His name. I’ve been inspired and humbled by my involvement in this vital ministry. Sponsorship has been a blessing to me, and I pray that through my letters and support, an 11-year-old girl in Indonesia named Leni is experiencing God’s love in a tangible way.

Sponsorship costs $32 a month—an investment of about a dollar a day. That’s less than what most of us pay for a Coke or a cup of coffee--or for other luxuries like movies and internet. But it can provide opportunities for your sponsored child that most of the world’s poorest children never see, including:

  • school fees and uniforms
  • tutoring, literacy programs and career training
  • clean water, medical checkups and hygiene education
  • supplemental food and nutrition information
  • love, personal attention and guided recreation

And most importantly, they’ll learn about Jesus and receive regular Bible training. Each child will have a chance to hear and respond to the gospel of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ.

The apostle John wrote in his first letter, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Will you prayerfully consider loving one of “the least of these” today in deed and in truth?

Friday, April 20, 2007

What Do You Know Good?

Contrary to my in-laws' persistent belief, we aren't hillbillies just because we moved across the Mason-Dixon line, and we actually aren't surrounded by hicks here in middle Tennessee. In fact, there are just as many people without Southern accents in our church as those with drawls*--which can probably be attributed to the fact that as Nashville becomes more of a metropolis, there are more and more transplants from up where we talk right ;) KIDDING, Southerners! You know I love you!

Anyway, a little more drawling goes on at the factory where Steve works, and he keeps me entertained with unusual expressions he hears there. Our favorite so far is, "What do you know good?" As a greeting. Like instead of saying, "Hey, Steve, what's up?", or "Hey, how are ya?", he has actually been asked, "Hey Steve, whaddaya know good?" I didn't believe he was telling the truth about this until I actually heard someone say it myself. I swear to you, people really do talk like that down here.

He emailed me a new one today:

I've learned that the South is full of odd expressions, such as the one you already know about:

"What do you know good?"

But just now, I heard one that makes the least sense yet:

"You know, people have more fun than anybody."

What do you suppose the proper response to that is? Yes? No? What!?

*Disclaimer: Upon rereading, I realized it sounds like I'm saying people who talk with a Southern drawl are automatically hicks. That's not what I mean--I actually love listening to Southern accents. I think they're charming.

Thankful for Sunbutter

I first read about Sunbutter over at Shauna's place. Never heard of it? Me either. But her review of it in last week's Thankful Thursday list (you have her to thank for getting me started with those :) was enough to make me check it out. She wrote:

Sunbutter. Sunbutter. Sunbutter. Why didn’t someone tell me about this stuff sooner? And if you did, why didn’t you shove a spoon in my face to show me the light? It’s good stuff, people. Spread it on a sandwich. Or an apple. Or just lick the spoon — yum.
Curious, I clicked over, and as I read about what it was, I thought of a friend of mine whose three-year-old has a peanut allergy. My friend has mentioned how much she and her husband miss peanut butter, so I emailed the link to her, thinking maybe it would be something they could try.

This week I got an enthusiastic email from her, thanking me profusely for the tip. She had never heard of it, but immediately ordered a bunch and is so excited about the prospect of having a product that's completely safe for their family. It seemed like a little thing to me to pass it along, but it was a huge blessing to her--so I'm spreading the word to you all in case any of you are in the same boat. It makes me smile how the little things in life make a difference, and how Thankful Thursday can have such a neat ripple effect.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 29

Thanking God this week for...

  • coffee with Rebekah on Tuesday night
  • the way the internet connects you to people you've lost touch with, and people you've never met
  • a day of shopping and lunch with a friend
  • hearing her 20-month-old yell, "Amy! Amy!" with an excited grin on his face from across the checkout lanes at JoAnn
  • the category of crafty things I needed being on sale this week at JoAnn
  • pizza buffets
  • the giant slab of beef Steve is bringing home tonight (something like this)
  • indoor plumbing
  • clean water
  • encouragement from people I don't even know
  • freedom
  • finding cute wallpaper border for the nursery
  • grace greater than all my sin
  • His faithfulness when I am unfaithful
  • His unchanging nature when I am so inconsistent

A Favorite Chicken Recipe

I mentioned this recipe in my recent food meme--thought I would pass it along for those of you who, like me, enjoy trying new things all the time--or for those who are just tired of the same old same old for dinner. It's incredibly easy (I was able to pull it off years ago, which tells you it's brainless) and wonderfully yummy. Good enough for company but simple enough to make any night of the week. And in fact, we nearly always have all the ingredients on hand. No idea why this blog has suddenly become all food, all the time, but anyway, here it is:

Savory Chicken Breasts*

6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
6 slices Swiss or mozzarella cheese (can also use shredded, which is what we always have on hand)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. milk
dry stuffing mix (Stove-Top is better than the crushed Pepperidge Farm I recently used--cubed PF might be OK)
3 oz. melted butter

Arrange chicken in 13x9 dish and place a slice of cheese on each breast. Mix soup and milk; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with stuffing (I can't remember how much the original recipe called for, but I use a lot more because I like it a lot--just kind of liberally pour it over the chicken) and drizzle the melted butter over the top.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes covered, then 25-30 minutes uncovered.

*As mentioned before, Steve protests at the name of this. He thinks any recipe title should be descriptive, not prescriptive--it should tell you what flavors there are (Raspberry Chicken, Bruschetta Chicken, etc) not how you should react to the taste (mmm, this is Savory!). Any new suggestions that are better than "Souper Freakin' Chicken" will be considered. Thanks. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Probably A Good Thing They Don't Sell These In The Kroger Checkout Line

I just ate what might be my new very favorite candy bar: 100 Grand with Coconut.

A little bit of heaven in my mouth.

Is That True?

Made me laugh out loud today. Let me take this opportunity to make a plug for Snopes: Ninety percent of the forwards you send me are bunk. I would think common sense would make you question it, but it would take you about ten seconds to find out for sure before you send it along to everyone in your address book. Do us all a favor and check it out before you spread the rumors, mmkay?

Exercise Video Review: Crunch Yoga Mama

I'm a fan of exercise videos. When I'm not being lazy.

Before I got married, I did a stellar job at consistent exercise and was doing videos five times a week--had that little motivation of wanting to look great in my wedding dress. Since, yeah, not so consistent. I take Hank for long walks most every afternoon, and that gives me some exercise, at least. But I figured pregnancy was a good excuse to try a new video. I find that if I spend money on a video, I'm more likely to actually exercise (for a while at least).

So I just completed my first (and last) time through Crunch's Yoga Mama. I am guessing yoga is not all that relaxing if you spend the routine mentally composing a negative blog review of the video?

I found the instructor annoying and cheesy (i.e. "Draw your muscles in toward your bones--like you're giving yourself a big hug!"). And I enjoy yoga for the physical benefits, but I don't like what I would refer to as the "woo-woo" side of it--meditation and "connecting with your inner whatever." (That's why I like The Firm Power Yoga. You get the stretching and toning without the mental woo-woo stuff.) Yoga Mama was a little too woo-woo for me: "place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart, letting all the love you have in your heart go to your baby..."

If you've done yoga before, this feels way too slow and simple. I understand that in pregnancy you need to be careful, your body is different, your balance is off, your joints are relaxing, etc., but I was bored out of my mind. I am wondering if it would really be that bad to just do a yoga video I already like and just try to be careful and slow. This prenatal yoga video was a big strikeout for me.

Thankfully, Collage Video, where I typically order videos, has a 30-day money back guarantee even for opened videos. (It's a great website--they have reviews, clips of the videos, etc--this is actually the first one I've ordered from them and hated.) Maybe I will try Leisa Hart's Fit Mama--anyone have experience with that one?

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Love Affair with Food

Faith tagged me a while back, but I got sidetracked by other topics. So now, a meme for a Monday morning...

1. What’s your #1 comfort food?
2. If you were on a deserted island, what one food would you want to have with you?
Pizza--healthy or not, Faith, it's the one thing I could eat day in and day out :) Plus, it's got all the food groups, so although it can be fatty, it's not the worst food you could eat, right? Right?
3. What is/are your signature dishes?
I don't make the same thing often enough to have a "signature dish." Except for staples like spaghetti or tacos, it's often months between recipe much so that Steve forgets we ever tried the dish in the first place. I just like to mix it up. Though perhaps you could call "savory chicken breasts" my signature dish since that was the first semi-impressive dish I could make, and the only thing acceptable for dinner guests. Steve thinks that's a stupid name for a dish because it doesn't tell you anything about what it tastes like...only tells you how you should think it tastes ("savory"). His best alternative is "souper freakin' chicken" which I think is pretty silly. But I digress. It is yummy and easy, though...maybe I'll post the recipe here if I don't forget.
4. It’s Friday night, you don’t know what to cook. You opt for…
homemade pizza
5. What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to food?
6. What food can you absolutely not eat?
Sardines. Steve loves them. Just the smell makes me run for cover.
7. You need a drink. You grab…
Am I being good? Water. Am I being me? Depends on my mood: white grape peach juice, or Pepsi Vanilla before they discontinued it, or maybe a good berry lemonade. Or milk, which I almost always drink with dinner at home.
8. What’s the most decadent dish you’ve had?
hmm...nothing immediately comes to mind.
9. What’s your favorite type of food?
Probably Italian.
10. Favorite dish?
I have to pick one? Oh, you're mean. I'll narrow it down...Homemade: BBQ ribs (unless I'm pregnant...they've been completely unappealing for the last five months), or macaroni and cheese, maybe...or broccoli, cheese and rice? It really, really depends on my mood. I like a lot of things. I also love me some Amish Friendship Bread, though that's not really a "dish." In a restaurant: My current favorite is Bravo's Tortelloni Florentine, and with it you must order the spinach and artichoke formaggio dip with parmesan flatbread.
11. If your spouse could take you to any restaurant you wanted, which one would it be?
The Sunday champagne brunch at our hotel in Maui (it's been voted "best brunch on the island" for several years). Oh wow. The price tag was outrageous, but so was the food. Plus, we'd be back in Maui. Ahhhhhh......
12. Are you a soup or salad person?
I do like both, but probably salad--especially if it's got lots of different things on it like strawberries or candied pecans, and even more especially I don't have to make it. Then again, no matter how good the salads at Panera Bread sound, I always, always opt for the sourdough bread bowl of soup...because bread is my favorite food group. I could never do Atkins.
13. Buffet, take-out or sit-down restaurant?
If I'm paying, take-out. No tipping and we can use our own drinks (I'm cheap). If someone else is paying, I'd definitely love a sit-down.
14. What’s the most impressive dinner you’ve ever made?
Cornish hens, for Steve's and my first Christmas married. I was so proud of myself, even though it wasn't all that hard. Just seemed fancy.
15. Do you consider yourself a good cook?
Let's say, I have come a long way.
16. Do you know what vichyssoise is?
I know it's some sort of French dish involving fish. I almost want to say a cold soup? But that sounds disgusting: cold fish soup? Leave it to the French.
17. Who’s your favorite TV cook?
I rarely watch TV and never watch cooking shows.
18. Can you name at least three TV cooking personalities?
Rachael Ray, Emeril...drawing a blank.
19. Homemade or homemade from a box?
Definitely homemade. Except cake--cake mixes are so good, even professionals use them the majority of the time. Why go to the trouble?
20. Name 3 or more other foodies you are going to tag.
Not sure who reads this who would consider themselves a "foodie" (what the heck is a foodie anyway?) but if it sounds fun to you, knock yourself out, and leave a comment saying you played along.

Thanks a lot, I'm starving.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 28

Thanking God this week for...

  • the weekend we got to spend with Steve's family
  • in-laws who are a delight to be with, rather than time with them being something I dread
  • gummy smiles from babies
  • cuddly kids
  • thigh-high pantyhose
  • cruise control
  • my sore throat only lasting a couple of days
  • a husband willing to let me constantly experiment with new recipes
  • the joy that comes when He uses us to bless others
  • rain that makes me appreciate the sun more
  • cold that makes me appreciate warmth more

Add your own below, if you feel so inclined...

Opinions from Mamas

Experience tells me that women love to share their opinions. Okay, by and large, humans love to share their opinions. And human mamas, I think, have a lot of opinions.

So, mamas*, here is your chance to share your opinions. Steve and I need to register for baby gifts very, very soon, as shower invitations are going out within days (if they haven't already been mailed). Guests will be surprised to look up our Babies R Us registry and see that it doesn't exist :)

We're planning to go this weekend, but the fact is, we have no idea where to begin. So I want to know what you think. What baby item could you not live without? What did you learn the hard way was a total waste of money? What did you really think of your Boppy pillow/stroller/nursing stool/car seat/fill-in-the-blank? As you weigh in, a few things to keep in mind:

  • Steve and I want desperately to keep things SIMPLE. We don't want every square inch of our living room to be filled with plastic containers to stick a baby in/on/under. We don't want three thousand gadgets and gizmos with flashing lights and tinny music (is it any wonder so many kids have ADD these days?). We want to spend money (ours, and other people's) wisely, and we want to encourage simplicity and creativity in our kids.
  • We are both avid readers and are all about building a library for our kids. We would much rather have a bazillion books than a bazillion toys. So I am definitely open to your book recommendations, especially because I started an registry!
  • I am planning to breastfeed.
  • I am strongly considering cloth diapering and would love to hear any recommendations on that front.
  • I am 95% sure we're going to skip the infant car seat/travel system and start right off with a convertible car seat. If you have passionate opinions on why this is a HUGE mistake, I'll certainly listen, but I'm pretty convinced otherwise, for several reasons (see this article for more thoughts on this if you're curious).
  • I'm especially interested in your input on slings and baby carriers. I have heard nothing but great things about the Ergo, but am also interested in a sling type carrier.
  • Changing tables? Most people say they are a waste of money, that you should just get a pad and use the top of the dresser. I would wholeheartedly agree, except that the dresser in the nursery will be built into the wall, so that's not possible.
  • Cribs? Consumer Reports says not to buy used, mostly for safety issues. What do real mamas think about that advice?

Please weigh in with a comment or two or ten below!

*Of course you dads are more than welcome to contribute your thoughts...I just figured there are a whole lot more moms who read my blog :)

The Moral of the Story: Don't Mess With Bloggers

So remember my friend Katherine, whom I mentioned yesterday? Shortly after my post about her, she found herself at the center of some drama that, in only a few hours, exploded nationally online. Ah, the power of the Interweb...

Basically, the story goes like this: Katherine's hubby lost his job a while back, and they were approached by this headhunter firm, JL Kirk Associates, offering help. It was a bad experience, one that screamed "scam" in Katherine's opinion, so she did what any normal blogger would do: She came home and wrote about it. Her post got up on the front page of the Google rankings and the purpose was served: provide a first-person account to others who might be considering using this company.

Fast forward a few months and everyone pretty much forgets about it, until a Kirk employee posts a long comment in protest on Kat's blog, complete with some inflammatory/untrue statements about Kat and her husband. So Kat brings the comment to its own new post and responds point for point. Everyone who reads it concludes that this lady was out of line...and promptly forgets about it.

Fast forward a couple of days and then...a certified cease and desist letter, sent to Katherine from JL Kirk's legal eagles. She has three days to take down her blog posts about them or they'll sue.

Cue blogosphere explosion. Cue widespread astonishment at the irony: After a customer complains that a company used bullying tactics, the company responds by...bullying her. Cue complete destruction of JL Kirk Associates' reputation as a company, in less than 24 hours, as bloggers nationwide pick up the story.

Brilliant move, guys. Kat's initial post was probably read by hundreds--at most. But you chose the wrong blogger to pick on: she's very popular, and she's part of the Nashville blog community, one that can be incredibly cohesive, especially in a situation like this. The subsequent fallout has probably already been read by hundreds of thousands--at least. Instapundit picked it up, so it's no longer just a local issue. And do you not understand how the Internet works? Even if Katherine takes the posts down, thanks to Google Cache, they'll never die. Not only that, but your bullying has caused a minor, mostly insignificant story to mushroom all over the Internet, so that people who never would have heard of your company are now reading all this bad press about it--first, her negative experience, and then, how you respond to customer dissatisfaction. Brilliant PR.

What's my point? Ivy's roundup at Home Ec 101 explains what it's all about: "Freedom of speech. The ability to post a bad review of a company without getting bullied by a company and their attorneys." As Katherine herself elaborates in the comments, bringing it home to the Home Ec 101 audience:
I’m a housewife. I’m not a lawyer or a celebrity or anything special. I’m just a housewife. I found a product I didn’t care for and I wrote to tell other people about MY EXPERIENCE of the product. Let’s say it’s a bottle of Wid-Gett Window Cleaner. Would anyone think it was bad of me to post a blog saying “Wid-Gett Window Cleaner didn’t clean my windows well and smells bad to boot”? No. There are blog entries like that all the time. If my blog entry hurt someone’s feelings and they decide to sue me for it, no blog entry containing a negative review of a product is safe.
Blogging is about being able to say what you think. And bloggers don't like bullies. Today I am amazed at the power of the Internet and the way people rally around each other when they sense that something's "just not right." Kinda cool.

Brittney at NIT provides a play-by-play of yesterday's drama
Bill Hobbs with an articulate breakdown of the legal situation and implications
Bob Krumm artfully demonstrates the power of a Google bomb and leaves me laughing out loud
Another of the "big dogs" in the blogosphere explains further why JL Kirk and lawyers have shot themselves in the foot
The QandO blog explains "how to ruin your own business in one easy step"
Newscoma has a comprehensive roundup of all the posts on this to date

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Inspiring Faith

There's another blogger I've been taking note of lately. I didn't give her a "Thinking Blogger Award," but I want to point you in her direction for a couple of reasons.

Zoanna, who blogs at A Penchant for Pens, is another beautiful Christian woman whom I know only through blogging. (There will be, I think, some kind of fun bloggers' reunion in Heaven, where I get to meet all the amazing brothers and sisters I've gotten acquainted with via computer screen!) It's not simply that she makes me think, but rather that her faith often inspires me.

She and her daughter are in the midst of raising funds for a mission trip to serve orphans in Russia, and I am blown away as I watch her simultaneously working her tail off, yet humbly trusting God to provide. When you think of raising money for a mission trip, what first comes to mind? For me it's "support letters." But for Zoanna, it was, "What can I do to earn money myself?" From selling handmade wreaths at Christmas, to selling home-cooked meals to local friends, to putting items up on eBay and organizing what sounds like it will be a massive yard/bake sale, Zoanna hasn't just sat back lazily and waited for the money to pour in.

And yet it's clear that all her efforts are springing from a heart to magnify the Lord. She'll probably be embarrassed when she sees this post, because her intention is not to be seen as great herself, so I want to be clear: the point is not for you to admire her, but to see the trustworthy, good, sufficient God she hopes in and serves.

Ultimately all her enterprising activities can't get Zoanna and her daughter to Russia--God has to provide. And she fully, unswervingly expects Him to. So I hope you'll head over to her blog today. First to see an example of what it means to earnestly trust and seek Him (today's post is a perfect example). Second, to see if God might lead you to help--the money is due by Monday. I have learned over and over what a blessing it is when He lets us be a part of His provision to others!

Thinking Blogger Award

Katherine Coble was the first Nashville blogger I connected with through the vast community that is Nashville is Talking, and is still the one I read most frequently. I still haven't met her in person, but I hope to--this lady consistently makes me think and makes me laugh. She's one of those prolific bloggers you can count on to have something new up pretty much every day, and the breadth of topics is mind-boggling (in a good way)--from politics to television to Christianity to taking on a scam business. So when I saw on her blog today that she'd been nominated for a "Thinking Blogger Award," I wasn't remotely surprised.

Then I kept reading, and saw that she was passing along the nomination. The cool thing about this award is that it's not an entry into a competition where there's all kinds of voting, and you're head-to-head with huge name blogs or people you don't even know, and one person comes out on top. It's an award given out again and again, with strings attached: If you receive it, you have to award it to five other people.

So Katherine provided her list...and to my amazement, a link to little old Lavender *Sparkles* was #5 on her nominations. I was more than a little surprised--especially considering the company I was in and who was nominating me!

I'm especially speechless because I feel like the thoughtfulness on this blog is spotty at best. My aim for this blog has long been to be profound and make people think, at least occasionally...unfortunately I don't think I accomplish this as often as I'd like. And part of the problem is just plain laziness. It takes time and thought to put together a thoughtful post (obviously)--and lately you've been more inundated with pregnancy updates, quotes from other thoughtful bloggers, and life update fluff than with actual thoughtful posts. Thanks for sticking around despite the randomness of the content here.

Now comes the hard part: choosing only five people whose blogs make me think. The truth is, there are far more than just five of these on my blogroll, and this will definitely be a hard choice. But to accept the award, I have to pass it without further ado, my nominations:
  1. Words on the Side
    I'm starting with a sort of outside-the-box nomination. Christin's blog makes me think, but not in the same way as many others. She makes me slow down and appreciate beauty; she makes me look at life through more contemplative eyes. Creative writing is her passion, and so her blog is designed not to inform or to persuade, not to challenge overtly or stimulate debate, but to evoke a sense of wonder. Her blog is especially on my mind this week because her latest post, "In Love," is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces I've read from her.

  2. GospelDrivenLife
    No surprise here, if you're a regular reader of my blog. Mark Lauterbach's cross-centered, resurrection-centered blog is the one I quote perhaps more than any other. That's because his posts are consistently "wow out loud" reflections on what it means to keep the gospel at the heart of life. I only wish the church he pastors wasn't located all the way out in San Diego.

  3. Cerulean Sanctum
    Just this morning, Dan hit another homerun of a post. His is a blog of deliberate, provocative content--no randomness here. And he's not afraid to make the unpopular statements about the church today, challenging Christians to rethink our assumptions and stop comfortably settling into the status quo.

  4. Ordinary Mother
    Laurie doesn't blog as often as I wish she would--understandably so, as she's certainly got her hands full homeschooling four kiddos. But when she does blog, her posts are full of helpful insights on God's Word, reflections on being a wife and mom, and love for the Savior. She often makes me think more deeply about what it means to follow Him passionately and faithfully as a woman.

  5. Solo Femininity
    Carolyn definitely doesn't write only for single women--and if you've avoided clicking over because you thought otherwise, you've missed out. Her posts, whether they're reflections on what she's reading, challenges to obey God in certain areas, or encouragements to find grace at the cross, seldom fail to provoke me to love Him with my mind and heart. Her trust and security in the Lord are evident in everything she writes.
So I offer congratulations and thanks to Katherine, for being a thoughtful blogger and for awarding me, and to my own nominees, for making me think and contributing valuable content to the world of blogging. Here are your instructions, from the creator of the Thinking Blogger Awards:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (there are even gold and silver versions so you can pick which you like best).

Know that even if I did not nominate you, yours is likely one of many other blogs I appreciate and keep coming back to--because you make me think, because you make me laugh, or because I love seeing cute pictures of your kids and hearing updates about your life. Thanks for blogging!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Else Are We Missing?

This article from the Washington Post is absolutely fascinating. It's long, but quite provocative--read it over lunch or something. I found it through String Theory Media (via Nashville is Talking), who wrote:
Today's Washington Post Magazine cover story, "Pearls Before Breakfast," is one of the best pieces of music journalism I've ever read, not because it insightfully parses an artist's work but because it provides a surprising and somewhat depressing look inside our music culture. It poses vital questions about music itself; does it matter to people? Are we equipped to recognize it and let it enliven and enrich our lives? In brief, the Post arranged for an exceptional violinist (it's a surprise) to play for 45 minutes in a Metro station in downtown D.C. for an audience of passers by. What would happen? What would you expect to happen? Would you stop?

The following paragraph made me "wow out loud" (I obscured key words because it's so much better to read the whole article as Gene Weingarten unfolds the story, but maybe this will whet your appetite):
There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch [the violinist] or the ones who gave money, from [those] who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time [this type of person] walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch.

Go read "Pearls Before Breakfast"!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Friday and Sunday

Though I was away from computers all weekend (blessed thought!), I couldn't let Easter pass without putting up a post about the glory we celebrated yesterday, the hope we have every day. And in light of the emphasis I have often placed on being "cross-centered," I thought this post from (who else?) Mark Lauterbach, entitled "Cross-Centered? or Resurrection-Centered?", was a helpful, poignant clarification:
...neither the death on the cross nor the resurrection are good news in themselves . . . but they are inseparable, as explain each other. Without the resurrection, the entire Christian movement would not have started. Jesus would have been another failed Messianic pretender killed by the powers that be for daring to defy Rome and Orthodoxy. Without the cross, the resurrection would have simply been a wonder, as someone emerges from the grave. But together they are the Gospel -- the One who was cruelly and unjustly murdered in the most humiliating way imaginable has been raised.

All our rejoicing on Sunday morning is empty, meaningless, without the darkness of Friday afternooon:
    • He who was given bitter wine of wrath to drink has offered us the cup of salvation
    • He was a lamb silent before his accusers, that he might be a lamb sacrificed for sinners
    • He was weakened and wounded so we might be healed
    • He was made naked who clothes us in his righteousness
    • He was stripped of all possessions that he might make us rich
    • He was mocked so that he might bless us
    • He would not come down from the cross to save himself – he would remain on the cross to save us all.
    • He would not roll up the sleeve on his mighty arm to destroy the temple – he would die in weakness to make a new way of access to God.
    • They mocked him as King and lifted him up on the cross – and he was enthroned upon it as Savior of all.
    • Jesus Christ took the shame we deserve so we can have the glory of God forever.
      --Mark Lauterbach, GospelDrivenLife
And yet to wallow in the ugly horrors of Friday without celebrating the gift of Sunday morning is foolishness. The cross was not the end of the story--it was a gloriously unexpected beginning!

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3-5).

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 27

Thanking God this week for...
  • elastic waistbands
  • Steve taking me out to lunch on Sunday
  • candied pecans
  • amusing surprises
  • the simple pleasure that comes from waking up to a clean kitchen rather than a sink overflowing with dirty dishes
  • the abundance of godly bloggers who make me think and point me to Christ on a regular basis
  • coupons and sales
  • movements the baby makes
  • the library actually having books I was looking for yesterday, miracle of miracles
  • the nightlight in our bathroom
  • friends from church willing to watch Hank again this weekend
  • my KitchenAid mixer
  • reliable utilities
  • His patience
  • the shame Jesus suffered on my behalf
  • the empty tomb
  • the promise of life everlasting, of one day seeing face to face

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"Father Weejus"

Who is "Father Weejus," and why do so many of us pray to him so frequently?

Tony Jones has some thoughts about it here.

(HT: Boundless Line)


I'm blogging because I'm procrastinating perfecting avoidance techniques. This morning when my husband woke me, he said, "We've got a bit of a problem." Who wants to hear that first thing after opening her eyes? Especially when she's not a morning person?

"The ants are back. And this time they brought the army."

We had a minor problem with ants last fall when we moved in. It was actually kind of strange because we never did find a horde of them like you would normally expect. Always just one here and one there, on one area of the countertop and in the cupboard above. We took everything out of the cupboard more than once...finally Steve caulked all around the inside of the cupboard, as there appeared to be tiny holes where a couple of the shelves met the back, and that wall has no insulation--so they were probably just wandering in from outside. Problem solved, no more ants (except in the bathtub...but that's another story).

Well, yesterday Steve sprayed the seasonal bug-repellent all around the house, and apparently that ticked them off. Maybe it gave them the final push of motivation to finish chewing through the caulk? Can ants chew through caulk?

So my project for the morning is to empty out the cupboard and clear off the countertop so that Steve can work on the problem tonight when he gets home. I shiver at the thought of opening that cupboard door and seeing a swarming sea of tiny brown ants...or having to pick up bottles and jars they're crawling all over...oh ew. Now my skin is crawling. I know, I know, it could be a lot worse things. I know. Anyway, I decided to pour myself a bowl of cereal and catch up on blogs first, but now I've got no excuse; I need to put on my big-girl panties and commit mass anticide.

UPDATE, 9:00 AM: Well, that wasn't nearly so bad as I expected. Maybe it's good to be prepared for the worst...I'd rather expect a nasty situation and have it turn out to be not so bad, than vice versa. The biggest pain was just inspecting all the jars--because of course that's the cupboard with honey, molasses, peanut butter, syrup...yep, pretty much everything sweet and sticky that ants love. Thankfully the only thing they actually managed to get into was the vanilla syrup, which was nearly empty. Here's hoping my brilliant, handy husband can come up with a more permanent fix later today. Good riddance, ants!