Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More fun times with Grammie and Pepaw

Some generous friends allowed us to stay at their beautiful lake home for a couple of days, which was a fun surprise for my parents. This picture shows how we spent much of our time there: reading and snoozing!

Feeding llamas and goats at the local pumpkin patch Measuring Nathan by the pumpkin yardstick as we've done each year.
We finally got a good family photo, and without much effort!
Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad--we love you, and loved having you here!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy birthday (and many more!)

It was especially meaningful to have my dad here last weekend, because we celebrated his 58th birthday!

As good birthdays should, the day totally revolved around yummy food. =) We started with our tradition of serving breakfast in bed--this time, it was delicious blueberry coffee cake. For our noon meal, the birthday boy chose a meal of brats, beans and apple pie. And for the evening, I thought it would be fun to have two of the favorite treats my mom used to make on Sunday evenings: popcorn and sopapillas.
In addition to attending church (and eating!), we also picked apples for my parents to take home, played games, talked to long-distance family, and of course watched my dad open some fun gifts. We love you, Dad, and are so thankful we could celebrate your birthday with you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A trip to the fair

I've already mentioned the clever way my dad said that instead of going to see the Grand Canyon, he wanted to see some grand kids. But what I didn't share is that a few weeks ago right after my dad's most recent medical update, I was fervently trying to figure out a way to get to Colorado to see my parents. One Sunday morning, I woke up feeling anxious about it, and I prayed, "God, would you make a way where there seems to be no way?" That very afternoon, my mom called and asked if they could visit us sometime in September. You can bet I cried. What a wonderful answer to my prayer!

We had a great time together, as you can see from the following photos. We took so many during their visit, that I'll have to do them in sections. This first part is from a nearby county fair:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hospitality outside the home

Most of you know that hospitality is a subject that's near and dear to me, and I've mentioned this wonderful blog before. Today I'm guest posting about ways to be hospitable outside the home. I hope you'll hop over and read it--I welcome your comments here or there!

Also, thanks for all your nice messages about my parents coming. (Jan, my dad really appreciated your comment!) I'll post an update on Friday with lots of photos!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not the plan

My post title is one of Nathan's phrases, as in, "That's not the plan, Mom!" when he doesn't want to do something. Today, I'm using the sentiment in reference to what I've been saying and thinking lately.

*A few weeks ago, I was backing out of the garage to pick up some (FREE!) containers for storing my homemade applesauce. There was a big crunch sound because I, um, "grazed" the side of the garage, completely breaking the driver's side mirror which lay shattered in pieces on the driveway. Ugh! I quickly called Eric, who was very gracious, but I was very upset with myself. Nathan was quite worked up over the whole ordeal, even though no one was hurt and the car was of course still driveable. It was not the plan I had in mind that day, for sure. I have a hard time letting go of stuff like this, even though it's clearly not a big deal. I just keep thinking about how much my "free" applesauce costs now! But thankfully, it was just a mirror, and we were able to purchase a used one fairly painlessly. (I called auto parts stores all over the country using this site) and ended up saving over $100 from our initial quote!)

*Last week, when I opened the freezer, I was greeted by a puddle. Not a good sign for a freezer! It turns out that our whole unit was shot, and actually blowing warm air. Once again, my plans for the day changed quickly. Instead of running to get more groceries, as I'd intended, I instead scurried to find cold homes for the ones we already had! Eric left work for a bit so we could run downtown and (for the first time) pick out a new (used) appliance. Miraculously, the new fridge/freezer was installed that same day, so even though it was not the plan, it was easier to deal with!

*On a different note, I'm sure most of you have read that my dad is unable to run for a couple of months due to the healing needed after his radiation treatment. He had been planning to run a marathon in Arizona this fall, but shortly after learning he couldn't run, he called and said that instead of seeing the Grand Canyon, he wanted to see some grand kids. Hooray! My parents are scheduled to arrive here later today, and I'm thrilled. I'll be back next week with pictures from our time together!

Until then, I leave you with this comforting verse to keep in mind when you're going through a situation that wasn't what you had in mind:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." --Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, September 10, 2010

My big kids!

Nathan, 3 3/4!: This was taken on his first day of preschool, and he's loving it so far.

Natalie, 18 months: loves books, talking and her new shoes

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things that make me go hmm . . .

I recently read on a blog (Mer, was that you?) that they don't enjoy reading non-fiction, and it made me smile. I was an English major in college, so I've read my share of novels. But I've found since becoming a wife/mom/homemaker, that I most often reach for books that are more practical and applicable in some way--that inspire me in my spiritual walk or in my roles at home. (Note for you fellow English majors who are objecting to my previous statement: I do think novels can also be inspirational--stories are definitely powerful!)

Here are some quotes from two recent non-fiction titles I wanted to share with you. I hope at least one or two of these compelling statements will speak to you today!

Making All Things New by Henri Nouwen

The subtitle of this book is "an introduction to a spiritual life," and includes sections on solitude, discipline and community.

"While our hearts and lives are filled with many things, and we wonder how we can live up to the expectations imposed on us by ourselves and others, we have a deep sense of unfulfillment. While busy with and worried about many things, we seldom feel truly satisfied, at peace, or at home. A gnawing sense of being unfulfilled underlies our full {busy} lives."

"The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it."

"Jesus tells us to set our hearts on the kingdom. Setting our hearts on something involves not only serious aspiration, but also strong determination."

"A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen."

"If we really believe not only that God exists but also that He is actively present in our lives--healing, teaching, and guiding--we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention."

It's no wonder that Henri Nouwen is a favorite author of many people, including myself. He writes with clarity, honesty and conviction. And in the case of the book above, he also writes concisely. This gem is less than 100 pages!

A Praying Life by Paul Miller

This book was selected by my Bible study this past spring, and came with high recommendations that did not disappoint. This is just a small sampling of stand-out thoughts and ideas from this book:

"Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God."

"Learning to pray doesn't offer us a less busy life, it offers us a less busy heart."

"When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching [Him work]."

"What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get His."

"The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God's will. It is trying to discern and then disown my own." Wow, love that.

"The praying life is inseparable from obeying, loving, waiting, and suffering."

The final section of the book offers several ideas on using prayer tools. I've found the suggestion of prayer note cards to be particularly helpful. I have several index cards, including one for each member of my family. At the top, under the name, I've written a verse to pray for that person. Then underneath, I list short phrases as prompts of what I want to be praying for that individual. I like having these visual reminders and guides, though I don't use them on a daily basis.

I would definitely recommend both of these books. I realize my book posts aren't super-exciting in nature, but as I've mentioned before, sharing quotes and loose notes is a tool I use to help me retain some of what I've read and learned.

Have you read either of these books?