Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mega Memory Month Returns

Just in time to challenge us to battle the lazy days of summer: Ann Kroeker has announced the return of Mega Memory Month! She suggests:
As we head into the dog days of summer, why not give our minds something to chew on?
Whether you're a veteran memorizer or have never worked on a memory project, why not join us during the month of July? I've experienced countless benefits to hiding God's Word in my heart, and I found January's MMM to be extremely helpful and encouraging. There's just something about public accountability and fellowship with other people who are working on memorization that gives me extra motivation to kick it in gear!
I just found out about MMM earlier this afternoon, so I haven't yet decided what I'm going to work on--I'll announce tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to pass the word along and invite you to join in. Ann's instructions:

Pick something to memorize. Try memorizing something long. Something formidable. Something mega. (challenge yourself relative to what you’ve tackled in the past.) It could be poetry, a famous speech, or a passage of Scripture.

Announce it on your blog or in the comments of this post whenever you like. If you find out about MMM late or forget about it until halfway through the month, no problem. Jump in and do what you can in the time that remains.

You're also invited to leave a link at her blog and use the button (above) to display your participation in this blog carnival.
If you're new to memorizing, don't be intimidated--just start small. I know you'll be glad you participated, even if you just pick a couple of verses to work on. As Ann reminds us:
Nobody is judging how well we complete this month-long memory project—it simply provides public accountability. Don’t let the word “mega” discourage you from participating. Participate even if your selection is modest. In fact, my own might be pretty puny compared to those of some mega-memorizers. The bottom line is that we will be better for it. So jump in and join the carnival, whether you chip away at something short or long. ...Let’s take a risk. Stretch ourselves. ...Our minds can hold more than we think they can.
Won't you join me for Mega Memory Month?

Friday, June 26, 2009

CSA Adventure: Weeks 6 and 7

Last week was a little crazy and I got behind on CSA posting...just as well, now I can start posting *in* the actual week (I was a few days off before--we get shares on Thursdays, so yesterday we received week 7's share).

I really need to work on actually taking care of things Thursday night. I've been terrible about just leaving our stuff--especially the herbs--on the kitchen table for a day or two, and that is bad news. I had to throw out all the garlic chives we got last week, except for a few that we put on our baked potatoes that night, because I left them sit out and there was moisture in the bag, so they got slimy and gross.

On the other hand, I feel so gourmet when I cook with fresh herbs! At the beginning, I didn't know what to do with them, really, but I'm getting into it more now--to the point that this week, I actually requested more fresh thyme because I have a use for it. I also love using fresh basil, and we got a mess of it this week. Yay for bruschetta pizza on the menu tomorrow night.

This week's share included soapwort, an herb/flower not to be taken internally, but which contains saponins--natural cleaners. Our newsletter included a recipe for homemade cleaner or shampoo, so I'll have to do some experimenting.

Last week's bounty:

  • three small yellow squash
  • an "Eight Ball Zucchini"--an heirloom variety of zucchini shaped like a small pumpkin--very strange looking!
  • peppermint (which I meant to use for mojitos, and never got around to before it got all brown and dry :(
  • garlic chives
  • four small hot peppers
  • six farm-fresh eggs
  • two pounds grass-fed ground beef

This week's bounty:

  • one small yellow squash
  • a regular zucchini and another Eight Ball zucchini
  • four white radishes (oh joy...supposed to be milder than the red variety, though)
  • sweet basil, purple basil and Genovese basil
  • a bunch of fresh thyme (by request--waaaay more than I needed)
  • soapwort
  • six farm-fresh eggs
  • beef short ribs

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 121

Thanking God this week for...
  • intellectually stimulating conversations with my hubby
  • free (well, other than S&H) CDs headed my way in the mail
  • our stroller
  • the way Elijah has started saying "wuh, wuh" and pulling the stroller out when I ask if he wants to go for a walk
  • podcasts
  • audiobooks
  • the free trial at Audible.com for This American Life listeners
  • fresh herbs
  • new (to me) fonts for free on our computer
  • sending His Son to absorb all the wrath I deserve
  • promising to complete the good work He began in me
  • guaranteeing for me an eternal inheritance of immeasurable riches

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 120

After a wonderful, encouraging, powerful, gospel-centered prayer meeting at church last night, my heart is full of gratitude--praising God for so many things, including...
  • the power of the gospel
  • the gift of conviction
  • abundant mercy for sinners
  • the beauty of lightning against a night sky
  • the power of God who creates and calms storms
  • lightning bugs
  • Steve's unexpected day off last Friday, resulting in a family trip to the zoo
  • giraffes and elephants
  • a fabulous chocolate-and-vanilla-twist ice cream cone at the zoo--just the right kind of ice cream
  • the gospel-centered messages we heard in Sunday school and church last Sunday
  • the fact that Elijah did well in the nursery and I actually got to hear them live
  • grace to get up early in the morning this week and be alert
  • grace to work out every day
  • a playdate with new friends on Tuesday
  • hobby time with a friend on Wednesday
  • this CD, which I blasted in the car after last night's awesome prayer time
  • Laura, who shared her heart so eloquently with me
  • Kristin, who isn't afraid to ask hard questions
  • the fact that I could continue listing blessings endlessly...

Monday, June 15, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 5

I like the *idea* of no pesticides on my food. However, I do not like pests on my food.

Lesson of the week from our CSA: organic broccoli fresh from your farmer's garden has to be washed differently (much more carefully) than broccoli from the grocery store. Otherwise you may inadvertently eat a worm.


Did I mention, EW?!?!?

Last night we decided to have "rabbit food" (cut up vegetables--I should refer to it as "crudités"--that sounds so much more refined) with our chicken, corn and tomato salad pitas (new recipe--definitely a hit). Steve cut up the vegetables: red bell pepper, carrots, and some broccoli we got in this week's CSA share. The first "ew!" was the strange looking bug mysteriously crawling on our counter after Steve was finished. When I yelled and pointed it out, he said it was probably from the broccoli since that had come fresh from the garden.

We sat down to eat and as I went to pick up a piece of broccoli, I was horrified to notice a green worm nicely camouflaged against the green stalk. EW. Steve kindly picked it off for me, and I inspected it warily before putting it in my mouth--only to find another tiny green bug. EW.

A few moments later I picked up another piece of broccoli and was greeted by ANOTHER worm. WORMS. ON MY DINING ROOM TABLE. In food I am just milliseconds from putting IN MY MOUTH.


I dropped the broccoli on the table, horrified, and Steve took the bowl of vegetables back into the kitchen for a more careful de-worming. I think it's probably very, very good that I didn't see how many more worms he picked off the broccoli. *shudder* He actually had to pick them off--they don't just rinse off. And because he had eaten a couple of pieces of broccoli before my worm drama, it's entirely possible he ate a worm or two. I mean, do you realize how many nooks and crannies broccoli has in which worms can hide? EW.

Broccoli used to be one of my favorite vegetables. But either broccoli washing is going to be Steve's job the rest of the summer, or we are going to have to find a way to wash it or soak it in something that does not require physical removal of worms. I don't do worms.

I don't want pesticides on my food. That's one of the many reasons we joined an organic CSA. But at least the pesticides are invisible, and not squirming. EW.

This week's bounty:
  • lettuce
  • one head of garlic
  • three small zucchini
  • one head of worms broccoli
  • oregano
  • six farm fresh eggs
  • two pounds grass-fed ground beef

Friday, June 12, 2009

How Guilt is Satisfied

Have you felt guilty this week?

How many things haven't gotten crossed off your to-do list? How many times have you snapped at your spouse or your children or your co-workers? How much have you prayed? Read the Word? How have you served people in need?

Are you feeling guilty yet?

The sermon I heard on Sunday could have induced guilt. In it, our pastor talked about the fact that although we cannot offer any sacrifice to make ourselves acceptable to God, once we are God's children, we can offer sacrifices that are pleasing to Him. Such sacrifices don't merit His approval or make us righteous, but they do demonstrate that we already *are* righteous in Christ, and they bring God pleasure.

Hebrews 13:15 calls us to offer sacrifices of praise, and the pastor challenged us to have praises and nourishing words flowing from our lips, rather than complaints and grumbling and corrupt talk. Ouch--that's convicting.

Hebrews 13:16 instructs us to do good deeds, to share with others. Am I exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, preferring others above myself, caring for the poor, using my abundance to bless others who are less fortunate? Ouch again.

But then the pastor said something stunningly beautiful. "Feeling guilty?" he asked. "Your guilt isn't satisfied in doing better. It's cleansed at the cross."

I was so thankful for that powerful reminder. How quick I am to forsake the gospel and revert back to legalism! Convicted of my sins of omission and commission, my first thought is that I need to change, to stop doing these things and start doing those things. I need to try harder, need to get my act together.

The truth is, I can't. I can't perform well enough to assuage my guilt. I can only run to the cross. I can only depend on the Spirit to work His transforming power in me.

At the end of the sermon, the pastor again said, "Don't focus on 'How do I do the works?' but on 'How can I find more joy in the gospel?' Then these things will flow out of your joy in the gospel." Yes! There's no power in creating a longer, more intensive to-do list for myself. The power is found in Jesus. Rather than looking for ways to do better, strive harder, I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. I need to seek to be filled and satisfied in Him--and as my joy in Him increases, it will overflow in the form of the praises and good deeds that please Him.

Feeling guilty? The solution isn't to try harder and earn a clear conscience. The solution is the glorious gospel of grace: Christ's death in our place, His righteousness on our behalf, His resurrection guaranteeing ours. Take your guilt to the cross.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 119

Thanking God this week (and last week, since I didn't post) for...
  • safe travels home and back, with an incredibly easygoing and content toddler (that fact *still* amazes me)
  • all the amazing women, friends and family, He has placed in my life
  • getting to spend time with several of them in person
  • doting grandparents to care for my son and give me a little break
  • the incredible husband I came home to
  • a late night with a friend this week
  • good books
  • exercise
  • rhubarb
  • toddler giggles
  • gospel-centered sermons
  • the gift of prayer
  • A Gospel Primer for Christians
  • crushing His Son for my sins and bringing me peace through His punishment

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who Needs a DVD Player?

...when you've got a handyman husband?

As I thought about taking a road trip with Elijah, my biggest fear was his boredom. The last couple of times all three of us have made the trip home, Elijah has done really well--but that's with either Steve or me sitting in the backseat with him for about a third of the trip. Obviously by myself I wouldn't be able to keep him company back there--and he mostly just gets cranky in the car when he's bored, I think.

I knew I could pack lots of snacks and would have to plan to stop more often and for longer periods of time. But I also planned to keep a big crate in the front seat full of toys and books to hand to him. We figured that new toys might hold his attention longer, and Steve volunteered to make some. Yes, make.

Elijah really enjoys objects with moving parts--things that open and close, like a flip cell phone, a glasses case, or the clasp of a watch (can you tell his daddy is an engineer?). So Steve spent a morning downstairs in his workshop and came up with these:

The one on the left (he also made an identical one with five segments instead of three) pivots at each joint. The one on the right is sort of hard to explain from still pictures, but it folds open into something that looks like a ladder, or folds completely flat to look like this:

Scrap wood leftover from projects: free
Table saw, drill press, and other tools used: [let's not even try to add up how much those cost]
Keeping Elijah entertained in the car, and thus keeping Mama sane: priceless.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Husband of the Year

I am unspeakably blessed to have a husband whom I enjoy being with and hate to be separated from. As we said goodbye last Tuesday before my road trip, I remarked how glad I am that spending several days apart is something we dread, not look forward to with relief. The reunions are sweet, and no matter how much fun I have when I'm away, I'm always anxious to get home to my man.

When we arrived home Saturday night, I was greeted by this amazing sight. Not the flowers--although they are a sweet and thoughtful gesture. The table. Isn't it beautiful? When I left home, it looked like the chairs: unfinished. We got the set at a great price from Unfinished Furniture, knowing Steve could stain and varnish it himself. That was three years ago :)

I had NO idea Steve was planning to work on this while we were gone. He had another project he had said he'd be working on (running HVAC ductwork upstairs to the guest room, via holes in the kitchen--which he also finished). I thought it was strange when we talked on the phone and he refused to tell me what he was working on. But I certainly never expected this!

Add to that the maple nut streusel coffee cake he baked from scratch for breakfast on Sunday morning (he cooks every Sunday morning--but not always that fancy) and the fact that he let me sleep in while he put together the roast for lunch...and I am feeling like one spoiled rotten wife. Have I ever mentioned that I adore this man?

Monday, June 08, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 4

Elijah and I were out of town all last week--hence the lack of blog posting--and I haven't had much time to think about the fresh produce we received from our CSA on Thursday. Lots of useful, yummy stuff, though. I need to get back into the meal-planning groove!

On another note, yesterday for lunch we enjoyed the chuck roast we received a week or two ago, and tried the recipe with ingredients provided in our share. It was just a little spicy and really good for something different (we usually use the same beloved roast recipe every time). I'm looking forward to using the leftovers for cheesesteak subs--hoping to make some good buns with my artisan bread recipe.

This week's bounty:
  • fresh herbs: basil (yay!) and what I *think* is dill
  • three heads of garlic
  • an onion
  • snow peas
  • lettuce
  • a bouquet of lavender
  • 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
  • 6 farm-fresh eggs

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Road Trip with Elijah

Last week, I did something a little crazy: Voluntarily spent 18 hours traveling with a not-quite-two-year-old. By myself.

Was it worth it? You bet.

I had been thinking of taking Elijah on a road trip to Ohio sometime this spring. The break between Easter and the Fourth of July seemed too long, and while I'd *much* rather make the trip with Steve, he just doesn't get enough vacation time. The last time I made the trip by myself, when Elijah was about 9 months old, I said I'd never do it again. But the memories of that trip had worn off, and after a lot of hemming and hawing, I decided I was stupid brave enough to try it again.

We stocked up on toys, books and snacks and mapped out every rest stop, park/playground and McDonald's Playplace (in case of rain) along the route, and set off last Tuesday. We got to break the trip up on the way there by spending Tuesday night in Indianapolis with some dear college friends of mine, Sandra & Kevin Andrews. Sandra and I have known each other since fourth grade, and Kevin became a friend, too, when we all sang together in the IWU Chorale. It was so nice to catch up with them--and I was absolutely stunned by how well Elijah did on the five-hour trip up. He was an angel. Seriously, almost too good to be true.

Wednesday found us back on the road and arriving at my parents' house just in time for a playdate. My two best friends from high school came over with their kiddos: a total of five, ages 2 and under. We decided that next time, we're leaving the little ones with their daddies and having girls' night out! But it was a lot of fun. Here we are: Jill with Simon and Sophie; Julie with Joel and Luke, and me with my little man. Who was just on the verge of melting down after running all day on no nap, bless his heart. He did so great through the trip and the playdate, though--in the photo, he's actually not yelling or crying, he's doing his fake cough at the prompting of my dad (the photographer).

On Thursday, I got to leave Elijah with Grandma Sue (my mother-in-law) and spend the day in Fort Wayne--ahh. A little shopping, then catching up with three people I hadn't seen in way too long: an afternoon with Stephanie, my college roommate; dinner with my cousin Bekah and her sweet new baby, Olivia; and the rest of the evening with Jaala, another dear college friend. I got home really late, so Elijah spent the night at Grandma & Grandpa's and I got to enjoy sleeping in a little :)

Friday morning began with some quality time with my mother-in-law, then lunch with the in-laws at my favorite hometown pizza sub spot. Friday evening, I went to a surprise party: my best friend Julie turned 30, and her sweet hubby pulled off a big surprise with her family and friends!

In between all that, Elijah and I got to enjoy the company of Grammy and Pops. I am so thankful for my parents and I love watching them as grandparents!

Saturday morning, we finally headed home to Steve, whom we sorely missed. It was a very long day, but Elijah was a trooper--and I had a great audiobook on the iPod to keep me entertained and awake. We popped in to see another college friend, Aeron, just long enough to grab some lunch, and finally rolled into the driveway Saturday evening. Steve gave us a warm welcome home and Elijah completely crashed--he slept for 14 hours last night :) I think he was as glad to be in his own bed as I was!

I'm so thankful for all the amazing people God has put into my life over the years, and glad for every opportunity to see them now that we live far away!
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