Friday, July 31, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 12

This week's share felt abundant, for the first time...and yet the contents were a bit disappointing. We are still up to our ears in cucumbers, and still no good tomatoes. As far as last week, the corn was hardly worth eating--definitely not sweet--and guess who didn't get the mint used AGAIN?? I did take a cucumber salad to our church potluck last weekend, and although I wasn't a big fan, Steve did like it, so that's something. I threw some more in salads for dinner tonight, and in a pasta salad for a get-together I'm attending tomorrow. Wish I could wave a wand and turn them into zucchini...I'd LOVE to have more zucchini! So much more usable.

I am realizing that I desperately need some new ground beef recipes. I tend to cook with chicken more than beef. I use ground beef for tacos, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, and a few soups...but summer doesn't feel like soup time, and the ground beef is piling up in my freezer. So, please post your best ground beef recipes in the comments!

This week's bounty:
  • tomatoes--12 cherry/grape, one Roma, none remotely close to ripe :(
  • Chinese cabbage
  • four regular cucumbers
  • two lemon cucumbers
  • four small yellow squash
  • about a pound of green beans
  • about 1/4 pound purple beans
  • banana, jalapeno and cayenne peppers
  • basil
  • parsley
  • "herb sugar"--for coffee/tea, apparently...but Steve drinks his coffee black and I don't drink either
  • an unidentified sachet of something fragrant, purpose unknown
  • six farm-fresh eggs
  • two pounds grass-fed ground beef

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 125

Thanking God this week for...
  • my new visual journal
  • water with lime
  • the privilege of serving my husband in little ways
  • quiet time to read this afternoon during Elijah's nap
  • showers
  • contact lenses
  • the beauty of my sweet sleeping boy zonked out in his carseat
  • the joy of watching Elijah run eagerly to greet Steve when he gets home from work
  • lunch and meaningful conversation with Sarah and her sweet baby girl yesterday
  • God's promise to circumcise my heart
  • anticipation of exciting things to come--this week, next month and for all eternity

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

MMM: Struggling

We're just a couple of days away from the finale of Mega Memory Month...and I confess, I am struggling! Earlier in the month, I was just not diligent to do the daily work; we had guests and were out of town and I got out of my normal routines. The last week, I've been better about doing the daily work, but it's just HARD--I think Romans 5 is the most difficult thing I've memorized so far.

The first eight verses were really easy because they were mostly familiar. But verses 12 and following...whew! They aren't written particularly clearly or smoothly, so memorizing them has been much more challenging than anything I've worked on in the past. I've gotten as far as verse 16--yesterday's work, which I need to review and solidify.

After that, I'll still have five more days of work to do to finish the chapter using my method, and then I'll have to make sure the end of chapter 7 is solid. I had just a couple of errant words the last time I checked it. Thankfully, we have the NIV Audio Bible, so I've just now added Romans 5-8 to my iPod. I think it will be really helpful to be able to listen to it and recite along to reinforce the memorization. Lord willing, in another couple of weeks, I'll be able to go straight through Romans 5-8! Then comes the hard part of continuing to meditate on and live out the words.

How's everyone else doing? It seems MMM isn't nearly so popular in July as it was in January--is anyone participating, and if so, how's it going?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I've seen this on a few blogs before and saved it for a rainy seemed like a good day to join in. I thought it was just a simple meme, but apparently there's a whole blog devoted to it--so if you'd like to play along, visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...
a little dreary, supposed to storm later. Unfortunately I'll have to postpone washing sheets/towels another day if I want to hang them on the line. I like thunderstorms but not the accompanying tornado warnings...

I am thinking...
about mentoring--spent some time this morning praying for the beautiful women who have mentored me and the beautiful women I've had the privilege of mentoring, and asking God to provide opportunities to invest and be invested in again soon.

I am thankful for...
all the growth and changes we've seen in Elijah over the last week or so. He continues to surprise and amaze me!

From the kitchen...
Key Lime White Chocolate Coolers (meltaway cookies) for today's playdate. I've only made them once before, almost four years ago. I'm wishing I'd remembered to add salt, even though it wasn't called for in the recipe. Why don't ALL recipes for sweets call for salt? You always need at least a pinch! Dinner is caprese sandwiches: tomatoes from a roadside stand, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil from our plant, on homemade artisan bread.

I am wearing...
my bathing suit, just in case we decide to swim at playdate today, underneath a white t-shirt and a yellow skirt. Matching yellow flip-flops of course :)

I am creating...
two things--or rather, I *did* create two things. Spent the weekend making a "My Family" photo book for Elijah and putting together a "visual journal" for myself. I'm excited about how both turned out.

I am going...
to our pastor's home for our weekly playdate--his wife is so generous and kind to open her home to several moms and young kids every Tuesday!

I am reading...
The Shack by William Paul Young; When Helping Hurts by Fikkert and Corbett; Portraits of Christ in Genesis by M.R. DeHaan

I am hoping...
for grace to be the mother Elijah needs, to die to self.

I am hearing...
toddler babbling, the oven buzzer, and David Crowder Band playing in the background (an album I downloaded last week for $2.99 after a heads-up from Angie!)

Around the house...
Elijah has rediscovered the little rocking chair he got for Christmas, but seems to have forgotten that he can get into and out of it by himself, resulting in a fair amount of whining for help. Books *everywhere*--but who was it that said "A room without books is like a body without a soul"? No soulless rooms at the Kannel house... *smile* The kitchen is amazingly NOT piled high with dishes, but the kitchen table (we eat in the dining room, so this is an extra table) is, as usual, piled high with produce and miscellaneous junk. I've got to find a way to keep that cleared off!

One of my favorite things...
grabbing big-as-your-head burritos from Qdoba and heading to Centennial Park with my guys, as we did last Friday night.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
lots of fun things to look forward to. Two shared meals this week--a friend is coming over with her baby girl for lunch tomorrow, and we've been invited to dinner with a couple from our new church on Thursday! Plus prayer meeting on Wednesday night, an appointment for Elijah on Thursday, scrapbooking/stamping with some ladies from church on Saturday, and enjoying a three-day weekend with Steve (he has Monday off). We were hoping to go up to Mammoth Cave, but they don't allow backpack child carriers, apparently...not sure what we'll do.

A picture thought I am sharing...
just a fun bathtime shot of my little cutie--I posted a couple of photos of him in my vacation recap, but none were great close-ups :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Only Two, Only One Viable

"...there are only two religions in the world--a true and a false. We distinguish between many, many religions: Christianity, Buddhism, [Islam], etc.; and we divide Christianity into Presbyterian, Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc. But these are merely human classifications. With God there are only two: (1) a religion of works; and (2) a salvation by grace. Every church or denomination or religious group which teaches that man has anything at all to do with obtaining or earning or meriting his salvation is a false religion, regardless of its denominational or sectarian name. It is the religion of fig leaves and the offering of Cain.

"On the other hand, those who teach that men are totally lost, completely impotent to save themselves, and therefore must look to the work of God exclusively, are the recipients of true salvation under whatever name they may be known. Satan deceived Adam and Cain, making them feel they could do something to be saved, or at least help God a little bit in the work. But God refused to recognize it and provided salvation by grace.

"Satan has not changed his method since then, but is still deceiving and causing people to believe they can please God by human works and efforts. Salvation by grace is a humiliating message to bring. Man will admit he is sick and needs some help, but tell him he is 'dead' in trespasses and in sins and totally depraved and he will be insulted. Yet, until a person is willing to admit that he cannot do anything, but must rely completely on the grace of God, he cannot be saved."

--M.R. DeHaan, Portraits of Christ in Genesis (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel, 1995), 75.

Friday, July 24, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 11

To be honest, I am still not overly thrilled with our CSA. We are almost to the halfway point (it runs for 26 weeks) and the weekly portions will need to increase *substantially* if it is all going to average out to the half-bushel a week we were told to expect.

We are up to our ears in cucumbers (the "funny-looking squash" from last week are actually an heirloom variety of cucumbers, my bad), and neither of us particularly likes cucumbers. I may attempt pickles, but it sounds complicated, and I don't like pickles, either. I thought we'd be getting lots of tomatoes, but I was dismayed to open our bag and find only four puny Roma tomatoes and two cherry tomatoes. None of which look particularly amazing. So much for the BLTs I planned for this weekend...

We are getting lots of fresh herbs in our share each week, and while sometimes that's kind of nice, it seems like herbs should just be an added bonus. Instead, it feels like they are using the herbs to fill out our shares--but herbs aren't food, they just add flavor to food.

I don't want to be Negative Nellie about it...but it just doesn't feel like we're getting much usable, meaningful *food* for the amount of money we paid. I am not sure if our expectations were unrealistic, if it's a bad year, if this is just a poorly planned/poorly run CSA (it's the first year for it), or what. Still hanging in there...

This week's bounty:
  • tomatoes (four Roma, two cherry)
  • four ears of sweet corn
  • two regular cucumbers
  • one lemon cucumber
  • banana peppers and hot peppers
  • green beans
  • basil
  • mint (determined to actually make mojitos this week instead of wasting it!)
  • six farm-fresh eggs
  • two pounds grass-fed ground beef

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 124

Thanking God this week for...
  • last weekend's visit from my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece
  • more rhubarb from my in-laws' garden
  • unheard-of low temperatures in Tennessee in July
  • ice cream
  • the sweet, silent relief of Elijah's long nap yesterday after a morning of much screaming
  • long walks
  • early morning quiet times with Him
  • books
  • fresh tomatoes that actually have taste
  • fresh watermelon
  • fresh sweet corn
  • fresh grace for each new day
  • Ann Voskamp's beautiful, inspiring blog (where the string of "fresh" things originated)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vacation in Ohio

Northwest Ohio won't make anyone's top-ten list of vacation hot spots. But when you have a toddler, and northwest Ohio is where his grandparents live, it takes on a whole new appeal. Adventure-filled family vacations in exotic locales may be fun someday, but for now, we prefer to spend a week back home with our families, where we get to relax and spend quality time with loved ones. And, of course, there's free babysitting :)
We left after Steve got off work on July 3 and spent ten wonderful days in Ohio. Our vacation included...

...lounging at Grammy and Pops's house:

...spending time at Grandma and Grandpa's house, including a playdate with some of Elijah's second cousins (six boys under the age of four):

...and a birthday party for Great-Grandpa Kannel, where Elijah enjoyed jumping on Great-Aunt Suzie's trampoline:

Other un-photographed highlights included not one but TWO dates with my hubby (our anniversary getaway, plus a movie matinee later in the week); a cookout with my mom's extended family; dinner with our friends Kaleb and Denise; dinner and wonderful conversations with Granny and a couple of Steve's cousins; girls' night out (pizza subs, of course!) with my two best friends from high school; and a luxurious massage (Christmas gift from my parents--ahhh).

It was so nice to spend relaxed, extended time with our families and catch up with a few friends. Elijah loved all the attention from his doting grandparents--and we enjoyed the break. Northwest Ohio may not be glamorous, but while Elijah is little, it ranks as my number-one family vacation spot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MMM: Progress (Or Lack Thereof) Report

Well, Mega Memory Month has been a little rougher this time than in January. I did finish memorizing the poetic narrative of A Gospel Primer for Christians, but Romans 5 has been slow going. We had guests over the weekend, and I wasn't diligent to do my daily memory work. Now that it's already July 21, I don't think I can finish the chapter by the end of the month.

But...tomorrow is another day! As I was helpfully reminded recently, we are not striving for perfection, but for excellence. Tomorrow morning, Lord willing, I will work on the next little bit of Romans 5 and keep plugging away. Whether I have it committed to memory by July 31 or whether it takes me a few extra days, meditating on it and living it out will be a lifelong process anyway!

How's your memorization going? Who's with me this month? I'd love to hear about your progress in the comments and/or over at Ann's blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 10

Since we were out of town all last week, we asked our CSA farmers if we could just get double this week. We are only paying for a half-share of vegetables, so we just got the regular full share this week. Unfortunately we had hard rain here yesterday, which apparently caused lots of the tomatoes to split, so we only got a couple. Some strange and interesting things in the bag--not much I'm really looking forward to using, to be honest.

This week's bounty:
  • Eight Ball zucchini
  • five strange-looking round yellow squash (at least we're pretty sure they're squash)
  • two small normal-looking yellow squash
  • three cucumbers
  • Purple Queen beans (like green beans, but purple! weird!)
  • banana peppers
  • hot peppers
  • a gigantic, ugly Siamese-twin tomato
  • two Roma tomatoes and six grape tomatoes
  • garlic chives
  • pineapple sage
  • a bouquet of sunflowers
  • two pounds grass-fed ground beef (plus a roast from last week)
  • five farm-fresh eggs

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 123

Thanking God this week for...
  • the wealth of information available online, even if it is completely overwhelming at times
  • inspiration for creativity
  • last week's fabulous vacation with our families (post coming soon)
  • my camera
  • gospel-centered, Kingdom-focused prayer requests
  • my hardworking, resourceful, creative and talented husband
  • the beauty of a novel like Les Miserables
  • the fact that our couch cushions have removable, washable covers--highly necessary after The Great Poop Debacle of 2009 (you don't want to know)
  • the fact that I can laugh about said poop debacle
  • speaking directly to me through sermons and books, meeting me right where I am
  • using trials to produce perseverance, character, hope and joy in me

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Four Years

Four years ago today, Steve and I moved into our first home together. It was two weeks after our wedding; we'd been home from Maui just long enough to pack up all our stuff before driving down to Tennessee and settling into an apartment. A lot can change in four years...a house and a kid later, here we are celebrating our fourth anniversary. We started something last year that I think will become a tradition of sorts: heading back to Ohio at the beginning of July and, instead of buying each other anniversary gifts, going out on an overnight date while the grandparents babysit.

I am endlessly grateful that God in His kindness has arranged for me to spend my life with this man. I never tire of telling the story of how the Lord brought us together. When we think of the countless ways in which we complement each other so exactly, we know it was ordained by Him.

Seldom does a day go by that I am not keenly aware of how very blessed I am. I often can't fathom how Steve puts up with me so patiently, but I'm thankful that he does. I don't deserve this gracious gift from God, but I'll continue praising Him for it, and praying that He will make our marriage a beautiful trophy of His grace--a blessing not just to the two of us, but for others to look at our relationship and see more of Him.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

MMM: Pardoned and Blessed

Week 1 of Mega Memory Month is anyone besides Sara joining me? How is it going? It's not too late to jump in!

Thanks to MMM, I'm lots closer to finishing my gospel memory project than I would otherwise be. The accountability has kept me on track despite being out of my normal routine, so that Thursday, Lord willing, I should be able to finish the poetic narrative from Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer for Christians. I'll be honest, it's been really difficult to be diligent, and I haven't been able to spend the time really meditating and reflecting on the words like I need to. But that's the beauty of memorization--even if it is just rote learning now, it will be in my head and I can then steep in the truths for weeks/months/years to come.

Two lines have been coming to mind over and over ever since I worked on them on July 1--I can't get past them. Here they are in context:

At God's own right hand
Christ now reigns from on high
A Friend in high places
to sinners who cry
To Him for forgiveness,
their evils confessed.
He gives them a pardon
and then makes them blessed.

I can't stop thinking about that sentence: "He gives them a pardon and then makes them blessed." For God to have mercy on me, to cancel the death sentence I deserve and release me, would be an unimaginably precious gift. It could end there--He could grant me NOTHING else--and I would have to praise Him, to call Him incredibly merciful. But He didn't stop there. He doesn't simply give mercy. He opens the floodgates of grace!

Once I am pardoned, He then pours out glorious riches on me. As the song says:

[Pardon for sin AND...]
a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence
to cheer and to guide
Strength for today
and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine,
with ten thousand beside!

God richly provides me with countless temporary, earthly blessings--thousands upon thousands of gifts (both big and small) each day. And then, He generously grants blessings that will last forever--an inheritance in Heaven that will never perish, spoil or fade; most notably, a relationship with Him, the opportunity to enjoy and exult in Him eternally!

"He gives them a pardon"--for this I am eternally grateful. But that's not all!--"...and then makes them blessed." May He give us eyes to see the blessings He pours out each day, especially the blessings of the gospel, purchased by the death of His Son.

Friday, July 03, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 8

So, um...the soapwort is still sitting on my kitchen table. Oops.

We did, however, put a lot of the zucchini to good use with zucchini sticks (dipped in egg and battered with Italian breadcrumbs + Parmesan, drizzled with olive oil and baked, served with marinara sauce) and yummy, healthy muffins--both recipes I'll revisit.

This week is one of two weeks we get a huge box of hamburgers instead of the usual two pounds of ground beef. I had to empty my entire freezer and reorganize everything to fit 10 lbs of hamburgers in there. Oy. It needed to be done, anyway...Maybe one of these days we'll get a separate freezer for the basement. Problem is, in order to get a freezer, we need a generator, and if we're going to get a generator, we need to buy a bunch of gas to have on hand...and then it starts to sound like "If you give a mouse a cookie..."

Anyway...I digress. This week's bounty:
  • two Eight Ball zucchini (these still fascinate me--I need to take a picture)
  • one regular zucchini
  • two small yellow squash
  • green beans
  • candy cane mint
  • hot peppers
  • six farm fresh eggs
  • 30 grass-fed beef hamburger patties

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Thankful Thursday, Take 122

Thanking God this week for...
  • my incredible husband, who committed his life to me four years ago today ♥
  • the challenge, accountability and fellowship of Mega Memory Month
  • my brain's ability to retain vast quantities of information and truth
  • A Gospel Primer for Christians
  • last weekend's wonderful visit with the Drees family
  • homemade jiao zi
  • games of ma jiang
  • the fun of celebrating and learning about another culture
  • Tuesday swimming playdates
  • pizza one of the other mamas generously bought on Tuesday
  • silly, long-standing inside jokes with my mom
  • Steve's kind and encouraging words
  • low humidity and cooler temperatures
  • pardon for sin
  • a peace with God that endures forever
  • God's own presence with me always, to cheer and to guide
  • the strength He provides for today
  • the hope He provides for tomorrow
  • ten thousand blessings besides these
  • His perfect, endless faithfulness

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mega Memory Month Kickoff: More Gospel!

Ann and I were on the same wavelength, it seems, just a couple of weeks apart: thinking that summer was a great time for a mega memory project. Back in January, memorizing the gospel narrative from Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer for Christians was such a wonderful discipline for me. It was so beneficial, in fact, that a couple of weeks ago, I decided to revisit the book. I've been working on the poetic narrative for a little while now and have found it to be just as compelling. How beautiful it is to saturate my mind with truths about the character of God and the finished work of Christ!

To be honest, my first thought upon hearing Ann's announcement was, "Oh no! July isn't a good time for this! I can't start a new project; I'm smack in the middle of one, plus I'm going on vacation!" But the reality is, vacation is a perfect time for me to have accountability for a discipline like this. When I'm away from home and out of my normal routine, it's far too easy to let my time with the Lord slide, so I'm glad for Mega Memory Month to keep me on track while we're gone!

I also realized there was no reason I couldn't combine two different projects in one month. Since I'm just over halfway finished with memorizing the poetic gospel narrative, I plan to run one "mega" project into another, shifting gears--well, sort of--mid-month. Using my memorization method, I'm on track to finish the poetry on July 9. Once that's completed, I'll switch to memorizing actual Scripture, except it will still be gospel: the glorious promises of Romans 5. The gospel is the MAIN THING--I can't think of anything else I need to memorize more!

My goal is to spend the rest of July committing Romans 5 to memory and making sure chapters 6-7 are solid. I did Romans 8 quite a while ago (it was my first "mega" memory project) and worked on Romans 6-7 last winter, so by the end of the month, Lord willing, I'll be able to go straight through chapters 5-8.

I find that for me, memorization comes easily with a great method. No credit to me, just the way God made my brain. But the hard part is the follow-through. If I stick with it for 100 days, like my method demands, it's cemented in my brain--that's how I still have Romans 8 after almost three years, and how the prose gospel narrative is still well in hand six months later.

But unfortunately, I've fizzled on plenty of other memory projects I once knew well. That's why I want to spend this MMM not only adding new Romans material, but intentionally reviewing what I've already done. No sense losing what I worked hard to obtain, when it's so much easier to retain than learn in the first place! And I need ways to practice taking every thought captive--filling my mind with memory work is really helpful for that.

So that's my plan for Mega Memory Month. Who's with me? What are you working on? I hope you'll take a risk and memorize something challenging for you, however big or small--and that you'll find encouragement as we work together and sharpen each other, here and at Ann's blog as the hub for our carnival.