21.12.11

music (again!)

I've been spending quite a few hours playing with my garage band this week.

do you think i mean this?:

don't they look like a fun couple?


 i actually mean this:
 

it's a program on my iMac that is helping put together a very homemade,very rough disc for a special gift for a special someone
(who doesn't read this blog...in case you think it's YOU!).

i barely know how to use the program, but it's been pretty fun experimenting.  the kids and i laughed our heads off at recording our voices and then altering them to sound like we just sucked in helium.

but the real blessing of doing this has been playing and singing worship songs over and over and over again, in an attempt to get a reasonable recording.

this time of year that's so marked with frantic rushing...
the unfortunate tendency to replay and overthink conversations...
the burden of feelings recovering from being hurt...

all of these things are pushed away,
at least for a while,
as worship overtakes my heart.

i write quite a bit about music and it's power.
i think a lot about why and how,
but mostly i'm just thankful.

i know music doesn't have the same affect on everyone,
but for me,
it's transforming.
it expresses the things my heart doesn't even fully understand
and heals in ways i can't explain.

thank you, Jesus.

Rise up, O Lord, in all your power.
      With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts.
ps 21:13

(and now back to work, or this gift will be for next Christmas!) 




17.12.11

looking back

I've already been thinking about New Year's Resolutions.... am I crazy or just so 'on the ball' that I'm way ahead of schedule?  haha.  Actually, I've just been thinking about why one resolution makes the cut and another doesn't (and why that darn 'exercise more' one never sticks?...).  It's occurred to me that my resolutions are almost always born out of how I experience Christmas, or at least the Christmas season.

Last year at this time, I was very overwhelmed.  I hated every moment of gift buying for my beloved family, I left the wrapping to the last minute, I only ended up getting out about half of my Christmas cards, I baked almost nothing and I cried at the drop of a hat. I had frequent heart palpitations and slept a lot.  I avoided parties and spent a lot of time thinking about moving to the mission field...  I felt so, SO much pressure - mostly pressure I put on myself, I'm sure.  I was overwhelmed with the feeling that enough is never enough, and for a (recovering) perfectionist, that is a very tough pill to swallow.

In the light of all this, then, I can easily recognize where my single resolution came from last year.

"Be Becky."

(read the post if this just sounds too crazy for words.. it might help you understand.)

Looking back over the past year, I think I've done a pretty good job at my resolution.  I've felt more secure and worried less about being a pleaser.  I've said no to many things, but initiated other things.  I'm learning to rest when I'm tired and scale back on the things that drain me.  I've read (almost) all of God's word and haven't given up even when I was 2 whole months behind!  I've prioritized my family, found more joy in my ministry and am trying to stop obsessing about the things the world tells me I should obsess over.

Overall, I feel lighter, more at peace and have experienced more moments of JOY.  I don't feel so desperate.... like I'm always missing something.

So, you may ask, what will my resolution be this year if indeed it relates to how I experience the Christmas season?

Well, I'm not sure I'll make one.  If anything maybe it will be *see last year's resolution.*  I have a long way to go in myself and this journey with the Lord, and I pray that as I continue to look to Him, He will add (and subtract) the things I need in my life to bring me closer to Him - a little bit more each day.


Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.
psalm 9:10 (nlt)

8.12.11

Jesus

No one does Christmas music quite like the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir!

They put out their second Christmas album last year and it's just as great
-uplifting, inspiring and energizing-

I blast it every morning that I'm able to get ready for the day by myself.
(go figure, my kids are always telling me to turn the music down!)

This one has really spoken to me.  
"Emmanuel"



Messiah, Saviour, Holy One, Redeemer-

Emmanuel
Such a beautiful name for Jesus...God with us.

The other morning, I got dressed and made my bed with tears on my cheeks 
as I played this song over and over.

Oh how I need Jesus!  
I need Him and I'm assured that I am His, He is mine.
Oh how we all need Jesus!
But some don't even (yet) know of their need....
some have never been told,
some haven't (yet) really heard...

What joy is there without Him?
What hope?
What freedom?

Why do I ever try to survive for even a moment on my own...?

family favorites

I mentioned in my last post that we have a small selection of Christmas themed books that stay tucked away in storage for all but one month of the year.  Some of them are silly, some of them have meaning, some are just colourful retellings of the Christmas story.  

As I pulled them out one by one, my heart was full of happy memories reading together.
Here are our top 3 faves:

find it!

This sparkly board book was a treasure when I came across it because it provides a beautiful way to share the real meaning of Christmas while enjoying popular Christmas traditions.

best line from the book:

"The tree that's green when others die
Tells us Jesus came and why...
To give us life, and so we say,
'This Christmastime and every day
Live in us, dear Lord we pray.'"

find it!

A dear friend gave us this book long before our elephant-crazed daughter was born.  The illustrations in this book are the most adorable, and it was the book that caused us to fall in love with little Humphrey!

best line from the book:

"Lottie draws a lovely letter for Father Christmas,
remembers to leave a treat for Rudolph,
then puts her babies to bed.
Mummy reads a special story all about baby Jesus
and has an extra long cuddle."

find it!

We discovered this book at the public library and immediately went out to purchase a copy.  This book was "our story" in 2006 and it made us cry. (and i mean us).

best line from the book:

"Mortimer sniffed.
Moritmer snuffled.
A tear rolled down his furry cheek.
'There was no room for you in the inn. 
But I know where there is room,' he said.....

...He laid the baby in the manger.
'This belongs to you,' he said.
Mortimer smiled.
'You look warm and cozy now.'....

....There was no place for Mortimer to go except back to the cold, cramped, creepy hole.
As Mortimer scuttled down the tree, he said a prayer:
'Jesus, you were born to save the world.
Perhaps you could also bring me a home?' .....

...'Thank you Jesus,' said Mortimer.
'You've made room for me, too.'"

(ok, so that's WAY more than a line....)

What truth from a child's story.
He makes room for us, too.

6.12.11

tradition

I might be a little slow, but sometimes I don't even know we have a family tradition until the kids remark on how we always do _________ at Christmas time!  What a delight it is to see their eyes light up at the sight of sameness.  How fun to see them treasure the little things.

Like yesterday when they came home from school and first spotted the garland going up our wooden bannister - monogrammed stocking hung with care....


Then they spun around the corner to see the tree set up and ready for our annual tree-trimming party....

our "family tree" - full of child-made and treasured ornaments.
i love it every year.
As they race around the house spotting all the Christmas-y effort I had put forth that day, they ran down to the rec-room and found the stack of Christmas books we've been collecting since our eldest was a baby.

I pack these away each year with the ornaments, and so I never really know if the kidlets will think they're far too mature for the books from one year to the next.  I had "big blaze" roaring on the tv (another holiday tradition around here!  hey, don't make fun....), and the kids snuggled up on the couch reading all their old favorites.   (more on that in another post.)

oh, big blaze...

I'm also a little relieved that after years of being told "don't touch!" they only have fond feelings toward my tiny (and precious) nativity set.  They are now allowed to touch it....carefully! :)


Now that the most hectic part of my Christmas busy-ness is over, we are looking forward to lots of snuggling near the "fire" and marshmallow-y hot chocolate (Christmas mugs came out too!).

May you have plenty of time with your loved ones this year - you never know when you're (unintentionally) creating a new tradition!

30.11.11

harmony

I don't spend too much time thinking about classical music these days.  The contemporary worship that is part of my daily life and ministry doesn't directly have much to do with Beethoven, Shumann or Liszt, and so the things I studied and practiced for the first twelve years of my music 'career' don't often come to mind.

But today as I was reading in Romans 14, it occurred to me that the Kingdom of God is like a Three-Part Invention by J.S. Bach.

Paul goes on at great length about the danger of criticism; the danger of thinking you have all the answers, spiritually, and other people need to just "get with the program."  He warns against flaunting your freedom or looking down on others because they do things differently.  He suggests withholding your rights for the benefit of the believer next to you who might be confused by your actions.  "If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God." (v18)

Two- and Three-Part Inventions are tricky to play. (Truth-be-told, I could never play a Three-Part Invention well!)  These types of pieces were composed more as an exercise than for their melodic sound, because it requires the pianist to give opportunity to 3 separate voices, working together, flowing in and through and around each other.  A Two Part Invention works a little easier, because the two parts come from your two hands, though it takes practice to have them work so independently of each other.  For 3 parts, each hand has their own part and then on top of that, they share the work of the third part.  The musician who can play this well (that would not be me), can give a strong voice to each part when it is their turn to play the lead while the other parts take a back seat, but are still supporting.

"So then let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up." (v19)

The disciplined disciple is sensitive to the needs and feelings of others and desires to see them flourish in their walk with the Lord.  It means not pushing our own ideas, insisting that our way is the only way.  It means extending grace to others and being willing to learn from others (for perhaps, they are also extending grace to you!).  The individual's relationship with the Lord is very personal - which is why we hold such deep convictions about the things the Lord has revealed to us; which is why it is hard to understand where someone else is coming from.  

When I was a teen figuring out my faith, I honestly believed that if every Christian (true Christ follower) just really prayed and sought God's will, we would all come to the same conclusion and the Church would be universally unified.  Scripture is clear that this will not be the case in the Kingdom of now-and-not-yet.  "Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should."  (v4)

Part of being in the Church on this earth requires the skill and practice that it takes to play Three-Part Invention: knowing when to step forward and when to make room for others to step forward, and in doing so, we can "join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God." (15:6)



"So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you;
then God will be glorified."
(15:7)

23.11.11

the gift

source

{Jesus said}
 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." 

John 14:27
nlt

18.11.11

instafriday

life rearranged

it's my first time linking up at liferearranged.com
for insta-friday.

one of the reasons i was excited to get an iphone was to use the cool instagram app.  i haven't taken oodles of pics, so here's some from the last couple of weeks.


the first picture i posted was of my co-worker (friend) Kent.
we see him alot standing right there. :)


this is our kids' elementary school - isn't it cute, like something out a old movie?


here's my hubby - i called this picture "evening Gav" because this is what he likes to do while i watch hgtv.  


my son and his buddy have an epic light saber battle - so cool in the dark.


my firstborn's 11th birthday....where does the time go?


usually when you step on lego, one gets very unhappy.  
this time i just smiled - how cute is this lego chicken?


when my feelings were (inadvertently) hurt this week, my husband brought me these beautiful flowers. it reminded me that he's always on my side.

this week has actually been a little rough for me, but looking back makes me realize how very much i have to be thankful for!


14.11.11

ezekiel

i have a tattered piece of paper that has been travelling around in my purse, bible and work bag for the last couple of months.  it has on it 3 verses that i scribbled down as i was reading in ezekiel  in my nlt worship bible. 
everytime i come across this scrap page, i am encouraged.

thought you might like some encouragement today, too.

"See I care about you, and I will pay attention to you."
ezek 36:9 



" And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, repsonsive heart."
ezek 36:26

 

"I will make my home among them.  I will be their God and they will be my people."
ezek 37:7
 

8.11.11

unusual

the strangest thing is happening to me....

i literally don't remember when it last occurred...

i'm not exactly sure what has brought it on....

i'm actually getting excited about Christmas.

in november.

early november.

if you know me well, you'll know that i have a tendency to be a bit of a 'scrooge.'  i'm not the person that puts their tree up just after halloween.  i turn off jingle bells the second i hear the first jingle.  i'm not the person that delights in Christmas shopping and baking and parties and concerts.  i try to 'be of good cheer;' - jolly, and whatnot - because i am able to delight in my children's enjoyment of the season (i'm not that bad).

but this year, something is different.

is it because i'm almost half way through the gift purchasing or because we already have snow?

is it because i was forced to listen to Christmas music in july (in order to find choir pieces) and now i'm just conditioned to it?

is it because i'm excited about some craft projects i have planned for family & friends and have come up with many ideas to simplify the holiday hoopla?

whatever it is, i'm thankful.

it feels really bad to be the "only" one who isn't just itching to get out the crates of decorations while blasting boney m.

last year, i decided to have a family theme for the Christmas season.  this year, an idea came to mind as i was preparing for the Advent celebration we do each sunday at church that i've decided to use as our family theme as well.

Let every heart prepare Him room.

my prayer is that as i go about the routines and checklists of the season with an (unusual) smile on my face, my heart will be full of the promise and hope that only He can bring - through His birth and as each new day arrives.

What will you do to prepare room in your heart for Him this Christmas?

1.11.11

Sunday Setlist - Oct 30

I'm linking up with the Worship Community for Sunday Setlist again! 


This week at ACC, we continued our in-depth study of Colossians.  I was away for the kick-off of the series, so I listened to the sermon online as I was preparing for October 30th service.  Our lead pastor gave this descriptive phrase to sum-up the book Colossians:

Jesus Christ is everything
and only He can give you everything you need
so everything you do should be done for Him.
I contemplated these words as I browsed around the world wide web for music.  When I came across this song: Jesus at the Centre of it All.



We sang it as an offeratory, though people joined in especially by the third verse.
has anyone else done this song?  i think it's pretty new...

In addition to that, we sang:

Holy is the Lord (Tomlin/Giglio)
Everlasting God (Brenton Brown/Ken Riley)
Who is there Like You (Paul Oakley)
Jesus Paid it All (hymn)
Faithful One (an oldie, but an almost theme song for our people)

I'm always so grateful to feel the hand of the Holy Spirit in my planning, and continue to pray that He will use the gift of music for His glory!

itchy

We are renters.

(there, i said it.)

We've been renting for all 14 years of our marriage.

our first place was a one bedroom apartment in a 3 story walk up.  it didn't smell great, but it was so fun to 'set up house' together for the very first time.

a year later we moved to a two bedroom apartment in a different 3 story walk up.  the place was recommended to us by our friends (who later became our neighbours!) and we loved this little place.  it had a little brick corner fireplace that we used all the time.  it had a small chef's kitchen with a large pantry and a dining room i painted lilac.  it had a large storage room/closet that we transformed into G's "office" - complete with desk, bookshelves and a large office chair (that he often napped in).  we brought our first baby home to this place.

two years after moving in, we were expecting our second child, so we moved again!  this time it was a two-storey side-by-side with three bedrooms and one AND A HALF bathrooms.  major upgrade! :)  this home had a great fenced backyard and an eat-in kitchen large enough to have a kiddie table in one corner.  we threw down some carpet in half the basement and it became a great playroom for the two little ones.  we lived there for 3 years.

in 2005, we had our third baby and moved again...not because she came along, but because my husband had applied and was accepted to study at Duke University in North Carolina.  this move was a little different.  far - very far - away, into a new country.  we moved into a 3 bedroom, 2 bath townhouse in a lovely neighbourhood a block of the east campus.  the townhouse had large bedrooms and good space.  i tried to overlook the weird "miami vice" glass bricks that were a large (curved) part of our living room wall.  this home was special to us because it was where our family grew very close together, where we learned what it meant to rely on the Lord in a more significant way and where we had many visitors from back home.  a year later, we moved again.

this time we ended up in Mississauga, Ontario.  our rental was the main floor of a semi for the first year until we took over the rent of the basement as well.  this place had nice space, was walking distance to the kids' school and a 3 minute drive to our church.  we were very comfortable there and enjoyed hosting bible studies and small groups and family and friends who came for visits.  we had a separate guest room (and bathroom) and lots and lots of storage.

when we moved back to our home town 2 years later, we moved into a rental house that was a direct gift from God.  it answered little dreams of mine that i'd had for years and had all but stopped hoping for.  it has lots of character and yet has been upgraded in a modern way.  it has a nice sized deck for entertaining, a great old bannister for hanging garland and stockings, and is in a neighbourhood that we love.  our kids never want to leave this home.

i used to feel badly about the fact that we're not homeOWNERS.  like somehow we're not REAL adults.  it has been a lesson in contentment, in trusting in God's timing and provision.  i've been blessed by the nester who writes a blog called content to rent.  i guess we're not the only ones - who knew?

and even though i'm getting a little itchy to move again (we've now lived in this home longer than any other), i know that God's plans are best and i can enjoy what He has for me today even while i dream about the future.

here's a verse the Lord has used in my life over the last 14 years:

 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.
proverbs 16:3


26.10.11

coasting

have you ever had that thing where you say something (or quote someone) that sounds 'wise' in a conversation with a friend, only to later realize that quote was for yourself?

is it just me?

the truth of the matter is i read quite a bit and listen to a lot of sermons and podcasts, so i've often got something on the tip of my brain that can fit into conversation, and i often worry that i sound like the 'answer lady' - because i certainly am not...

the other day i was chatting with a friend and i heard myself quote something my husband said in a sermon years ago. (in fact, i told my friend that it was the first time when listening to him speak that i didn't hear him, i heard the Lord.)

"when you see an eagle, high in the sky, coasting-
they're actually gradually floating closer to the ground.
if you're in a place in your relationship with the Lord where you know you're coasting,
you're not maintaining the place you were-
you're moving farther away from Him."

this has been ringing through my brain ever since i quoted it.

this is the reminder the Lord had for me - i have been coasting.

this morning a verse came to mind as i was sorting the laundry:

"in repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength..."
isaiah 30:15

i confess, Lord, i've been trying to do it on my own...
i'm busy - and keeping busy - not slowing down to hear from  You....
i talk to too much, even when i talk to You - teach me listen...
i believe Your ways for me are best, help me to overcome any unbelief...


16.10.11

Sunday Setlist

This is my first time linking up with the Worship Community Sunday Setlist.  I'm not sure exactly how my "regular readers" will react, but given that worship is not only a large part of my life, this blog, and is my work and ministry, I thought it was appropriate.


As I drove to the church Wednesday for our weekly rehearsal, the sky was so beautiful I almost hit the ditch!  The dark clouds that I had been looming all day were still present, but the sun was bursting through in a way that always makes me think of the second coming of Christ.

"When Christ shall come with shouts of acclimation....my God, how great Thou art!"

Song lyrics from our sunday setlist came immediately to mind.

I continued on my way, trying to focus on the road and not the sky, when suddenly the traffic slowed.  A three car pile-up, ambulance, police cars and a fire truck blocked the road.  I was moved to pray for all those involved in whatever it was that just happened.

"You give and take away...my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your Name."

Another song from our setlist.

It occurred to me the necessity of recognizing the greatness of our God in order to have any capacity to TRUST that He has everything under control.

By Sunday morning, the songs were melted into my heart, and the congregation seemed ready to participate.

October 16, 2011
God is Great (Hillsong)
Because of Your Love (Baloche)
How Great Thou Art (hymn)
How Great is our God (Tomlin - our people LOVE this song)
reading: Psalm 46 "God is our refuge and strength....be still and know that I AM God."
Blessed be Your Name (Redman)
I Surrender All (hymn)

We don't always do more than one hymn but as I looked out over the congregation and heard the rise of voices, I was glad I heard what the Lord had for us this Sunday.

14.10.11

posers

i took my kids to assiniboine park last week in an effort to take their "school" pictures.  (one of the reasons i got the camera was exactly for this purpose- to avoid having to get the classic school photo for our family and friends.)  the day was beautiful and it was before the big windstorm we had in these parts, so the leaves were lovely!  i had visions of subtle smiles and casual action shots....

but my kids LOVE to pose! :)  and they LOVE to come up with ideas of when, where and how they will do this alone and together.

here's a "small" sample:










funny kids.
a trip to our favorite local ice cream shop was in order, and we all went home happy.

4.10.11

voting day

she stepped out the door and down the steps.
the air was warm.
the sun was bright.

across the street
and down the sidewalk
toward the church she'd driven past so many times.

the leaves crunching beneath her red shoes
she walked briskly,
with purpose.

she was doing what was required
and yet it was something more.

she considered how many 
friends and strangers
were walking down how many streets,
leaves crunching,
sun shining.

today is voting day.

she stepped into the coolness of an old building,
down the red carpeted stairs
past arrows and smiling faces.

her name was crossed off the list,
her X was marked and stuffed into the ballot box.
she thinks she knows who might win.

back outside and toward home
the sun still shone
while cool drops of rain landed on her arms
and cheeks and glasses.

along with the neighbours
she looked up in confusion-

sun showers in october?
who would have thought,
she smiled to herself.

as stepped closer to home she prayed.
thank you Lord for freedom to vote.
have Your way in this neighbourhood,
in this city,
in my life.

sparkle for sparkle's sake

Barely a month into the fall routine, and I'm already in a rut.

Style-wise, that is!

Maybe it's the almost-shift to fall clothes (the weather's been cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon) - or maybe it's because my husband's been away for days at a time.... I'm just feeling so BLAH in clothes.

The trouble for me is, if I feel blah on the outside, I generally feel blah on the inside too.  Or maybe it goes the other way around?

Either way, today I decided to change that!

I put on a t-shirt and jeans (come on moms, it's just what we wear!).  I thought I'd "spice" it up with a t-shirt material cardigan of sorts.

I look sad, and not just because my mirror is so dirty!

It just wasn't doin' it for me.

Inspired by a friend who wore a similar necklace in a casual way, I popped on some *sparkle* that I've had for a year and have barely worn.
look at the radiance, notice the happiness!
Much better!

It's all in good fun, friends.  Of course JOY comes from the Spirit of God within! :)


What's YOUR favourite way to add sparkle to your day?

28.9.11

on again/off again

today's the day i write about the trouble with blogging.  you may notice that i have troubles with this by the fact that i go through spurts and breaks, taking this blog off for public view and putting it back on.  the inconsistency of that really bothers me.  alot.


the trouble with blogging is that it is so one sided.  


i really like the process of writing - it helps me think things through.  i like taking or finding pictures and "pretty-ing" things up.  i like the editing and arranging of posts and my page.


i just wish everyone who read my blog had a blog also.  or maybe that we could sit down and chat about things, so that i could spout off my views (as i do here) and then you could tell me what you think.


the trouble with blogging is that it can give a sense of intimacy that might not be real.


if you've read this blog, you know alot about who i am.  honesty is one of the character traits i value the most, and so while i'm by no means perfect (so, so far from that), everything i write here is true and reveals some of the deepest parts of my heart.  this can leave me feeling really naked and exposed.  i don't know the deepest parts of most of you.  if you keep a journal, it's kind of like leaving your journal on the coffee table, for anyone to flip through....or maybe more like leaving it at the bus stop...


by now i can imagine what you're thinking. (given that i have the gift of telepathy - just kidding!)


becky - blogging is your choice.  what you share is your choice.  whether or not you link to FB is your choice.


oh friend, you are so right!


i have thought about it so much - probably almost too much.  i have prayed about it as i wish and long for meaningful relationships.  i have asked for guidance, for wisdom, for peace.


today the Lord answered in short melody based on a verse i long ago memorized:
"no weapon formed against you will prosper"
(isa 54:17)




my eyes have been opened to the truth of 1 peter 5:7-8 as i considered all the ways i have let the devil whisper lies to me (you have no friends, no one cares what you have to say, you are worthless...).

dear reader (if you're out there) this blog is not for you.  it for my Lord.  sometimes it will be heavy (like today!) and sometimes it will be light and fluffy.  sometimes i'll ask questions, sometimes i'll have found an answer to talk about.  

i pray that i'll have the strength to stand each day against everything that fights against who God has intended me to be and today i pray that for you too.

21.9.11

average


av·er·age

[av-er-ij, av-rij] 
noun,adjective, verb, -aged, -ag·ing.
        
 noun ~a quantity, rating, or the like that represents or approximates...
adjective ~typical; common; ordinary.


Driving with my husband the other day, he spotted a sign outside a building that said:
"The average man thinks he isn't."

I did not see the sign, but I heard him muttering about it, and asked what the problem was.  He said, "that isn't true. Most people think they're average, even if they're not."

At this, I cocked an eyebrow.

I distinctly remember many years ago, when I came to the realization that I was completely average.  
~average brown hair,
~blue-grey eyes (very common)
~average height and weight
~average shoe size (which is why my size is always gone during a good sale!)
~average intelligence - smart enough, but no Einstein!
~average skills in many areas...actually, I always thought that certain skills of mine balanced out my lack of athletic skills.

I didn't think this was a bad assessment.  I like the fact that I don't stick out too much either way.

Today I read:
"average is in the eye of the beholder."

Well, that's probably true...

God's Word says that I'm "fearfully and wonderfully made" and don't think I'm denying that by clinging to my claim of average-ness.  I think He made me this way, because He knew this is how I'd be most comfortable....and while we all have times where we struggle to be content with what we've got (and have not got), I praise God for each day that I become a little more like Him.

For this is the only thing that could set me apart from the rest of the average world.  I am a believer, "cleaned up by Jesus and set apart for a God-filled life." (1 Corinthians 1:1 MSG)  

Perhaps I'm rising above average after all.

20.9.11

when life gives you lemons....

make cinnamon buns!

Today I'm going to share my favorite cinnamon bun recipe.
It's easy.
It makes feel like a "real" woman, kneading dough and all...
It makes me feel like super-mom.

All that from one recipe, you ask?
for me, YES!

I got the recipe from bakingbites.com and this morning's batch was the best I'd ever made
(and I made some really bad ones once...)
so I figured they were worthy to share.


2 1/2 tsp dry yeast (1 pkg)
1/4 c. warm water
3-3 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, stir together yeast and water, 
let stand 5 minutes, until bubbly.
Add in 2 cups flour, sugar, buttermilk, butter, vanilla and salt.
Stir well, until dough is smooth.
Gradually add in remaining flour until dough 
comes together into a slightly sticky ball
and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface 
and knead until dough is smooth.
Add flour as needed - dough should be "tacky" but not wet.
(keep it nice and tacky for the softest buns)


Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise 
until doubled in size: 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

You will soon need:

1/4 c. butter, room temp
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp coarse (or regular sugar)

**side note: I never use those quantities.  
Cinnamon buns are a treat!  Why not make them the treatiest?
I just slather a bunch of butter and pile on the brown sugar and cinnamon.**

Lightly grease a 9x13 pan (I use pyrex).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
(I hope you didn't clean up the mess 2 hours ago 
- it's getting messy again!)
Press dough into a rectangle, roll dough out into a sheet about 12x6 inches.

Spread dough with softened butter, leaving a 1/4 in. border.  
Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon, brown sugar and coarse sugar.
Working with one of the long sides, roll dough up tightly into a log.
Pinch seam and divide log into 12 even pieces with a sharp knife.
Place in prepared pan, leaving space between rolls.

Cover with plastic wrap and REFRIGERATE overnight.

Here's the part where you get to feel like mom/spouse of the year....
set your alarm!

Place refrigerated rolls on counter for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F.
go back to bed and set your alarm again...

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.


I dare you to try and get a photo before the people you live with dig in!

enjoy your day!

19.9.11

challenge

We're in a new stage of life here in the Hall home: all my kids are in school full time.  (woo-hoo!)

It's been a week and I've accomplished a fair bit, though it's been very quiet - too quiet...However, we're all adjusting and I'm finding I have a bit more time to do some things that I've always enjoyed but don't always get uninterrupted time for.

Namely: listening to podcasts.

I love to listen and I subscribe to a few, but my favorite by far is Focus on the Family.  I'm pretty sure the program plays on the radio at specific times, but I like to download them so I can listen at my leisure!

Do you download them?  You should!

The other day, I was catching up on one that was played back in May or June where the speaker Cynthia Tobias was talking about her book, You Can't Make Me.  It's for parents of strong-willed children.

~This is where I step onto my soap-box....


I've always disliked the label of "strong-willed."

I've always disliked the implication that it means you have disobedient children.

I generally don't approve of any label that has a negative connotation.



What I came to learn through listening to this speaker is that I probably AM strong-willed, and that's what makes me resist the title so vehemently.

well, isn't that nice.

Regardless, there was more for me to learn in this 2-part series.

The Lord had a word for me, and I had to decide if it would reach all the way to my heart.

Let me testify: it did.

Tobias described a conversation she had with the mother of a 16 year old son whose messy bedroom was driving her crazy.  (That caught my attention.  I've been really hassling my kids about their rooms.)  His clothes were all over the floor (MY kids clothes are all over the floor) and every time she picked them up, her frustration and bitterness would resurface and grow. (oh how I wish I didn't understand that part!) God spoke to this woman and challenged her to pray for her son every time she picked up after him or cleaned up his messes.  (Oh Lord, I hear You.  I'll do that too.)  The woman followed through for the next 6 months and was blessed by an improved relationship with her son.

When, 6 months after she started praying her son was killed in a car accident, she was so thankful she had heard from the Lord and obeyed.

I stopped in my tracks, just then, and prayed that the Lord would cause me to remember this example; to remember this call on my own heart; to remember to pray.

15.9.11

worth a try

I think our part of the world can be divided into two categories:

~those who take vitamins

~those who don't

Of course, within each category there are different groups: people who take loads of vitamins, one-a-day-multi types, people who think vitamins are a waste of money and people who don't think about vitamins at all.

I typically fall into the "don't" category, but it's not because I don't "believe" in them.  I simply tend to forget (more than once I've thrown away bottles of expired vitamins) and they make me nauseous.

I really think vitamins are good, though, so I'm trying again.

I read in a book (do you notice how often I say that?) about a phase in a woman's life that the author described as "the slump."  Post-pregnancy, pre-pre-menopause, it's a time where a woman's balance get can way out of whack.

I think I might be in that phase.

My moods (particularly related to pms) have been - ca-ra-zy!  Honestly, that's how I've felt.  Roller coaster city.  I really, REALLY dislike this, so I've tried adapting my diet (as much as a girl like I can), but I'm not seeing the dramatic results I was hoping for!

I've done some reading on omega 3s & 6s and decided to add that to my nausea-inducing pile of vitamin goodness.

Anybody out there have some experience with this?

I figure it's worth a try, and while I wait for some miraculous change I'll continue to pray one of my favorite (out of necessity) verses from the psalms:

"may You good Spirit lead me on level ground."
(ps 143:10b)

9.9.11

Today

My long-time friend Sherri posted "Today" - an idea she got from another blog.  I thought I'd join in the fun since it's been so long since I posted and feel like I'm not sure where to start.

I'll start TODAY.




Today I went to take my 3 kids to their first day of school, out for breakfast and shopping hand-in-hand with my husband.
Today I hoped my daughter's first day of middle school would be a success in her eyes, and that our children would each feel loved and secure.
Today I dreamed the my eldest would thrive and grow, but not leave me in the dust.
Today I forgot how quickly time flies and how kids are individual people with their own feelings and thoughts.
Today I heard my husband tell me he loves me and is proud of who I am.
Today I read over the talk I'm giving at a women's retreat tomorrow.
Today I watched Nate Berkus while I painted my toenails - just because I could! :)
Today I said "trust in the Lord in all your ways and don't lean on your own understanding."
Today I believed that they would all be ok, no matter what.  Today I trusted in God, condition-free.
Today I felt anxious and tender-hearted.
Today I wondered if I would always feel this content.
Today I bought a new top to wear at the retreat.  My husband said it looked great on me.
Today I cleaned as little as possible.  When mom's away the house falls apart so why fight it?
Today I created a plan for an after-first-day-of-school celebration.
Today I laughed a little and cried a little - and it's only lunch time!

Who are you today?


Have a blessed weekend!
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