Thursday, August 9, 2012

They Are Engaged!....

From the beginning of their relationship, they both laid the ground rules that neither were looking for a hang out buddy. Neither wanted to invest their hearts into a relationship that would spiral into a 'burn out waste of time' just for the sake of not being single. For the last year they have supported and encouraged one another as they live their daily lives and talk frankly about their future. Even still; she had no idea when she suggested they spend a beautiful Saturday at the beach that he had a surprise up his sleeve.

For us, one evening in the end of May while she was still at work, The Poet came over and had 'the talk' with my husband. We have been bursting with excitement ever since as we give each other knowing glances and adjust to the idea that our precious baby girl is no longer a lil' girl.  

God reminded me of something a couple of weeks ago that made me catch my breath. He put a scene in my mind of the first conversation I ever had with The Poet. I introduced myself to him at church and was enjoying getting to know him. Our conversation revolved around his passions of God, job and school. As I stood there talking and listening, in my head I said, "Papa God, this guy is amazing. There is a wealth of gold in him that You are fashioning." 
God replied, "Yes I know there is. I made him that way and brought him here for her (He named my daughter)".
My instant thought was that I must have heard wrong. At that time, The Poet had an idea he might be moving to Florida for school and I had never pictured my daughter moving to I must have heard wrong. Besides, she was planning to be single for a long time since her dreamy check list she wrote and prayed over for a future husband had very specific criteria.
So I dismissed that mental conversation as something I heard wrong and never gave it another thought......until now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


 My breathing and saving thought right now.......

Today is a new day. And in that is hope, joy, peace, grace and a fresh spiritual atmosphere because God is always doing something even when we can't put our finger on it.

Thank You God. Oh how we need You.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Don't Partner With a Negative Suggestion......

Last week I had a doctor appointment that caused me to derail my thinking for a time. It was a routine appointment that didn't take long at all. The doctor and I shared pleasantries and regular medical conversation about why I was there. There were statements like, "Women in your age bracket....." and "Only needing certain tests......"
Then as my formal examination commenced she said, "Actually ummm.... I am going to change my mind. Let's do this other test."

She made a point of telling me that the test results would say negative and it was no big deal. I smiled, agreed and laughed it off until she left the room. Then against better judgement I crumbled. My brain kept thinking, "Why would she change her mind? What did she see?" The word WHY was playing on a ticker tape in my brain and spinning in circles. I could have had the presence of mind to ask her......but I never did. I mentally chided myself for being so quick to jump to a partially suggested conclusion and told that 'me' to grow up.

But as the next couple of days elapsed, I found myself distracted and lost in imagined scenarios. WHY became replaced by WHAT IF as my mind created scenes of how life would be different. My husband, my girls, my mom, different milestones that are on the horizon for us......they were all tied together. Mingled in with those picture clips were scenes of 2 years ago when I cared for Daddy through his cancer battle.
Seemingly against my own will and rational thought, my days became a fog and then arrested by the WHAT IFs. I even had a couple of times where I thought I might hyperventilate as I tried to get a hold of myself. A small voice in my head kept saying, "Reach out for help. Don't battle these thoughts alone. You are not alone." 

Finally, I took opportunity to tell my husband and that is when things changed for me. I told him how my fears and assumptions had developed monsters of their own. I even confessed to the crazy truth that I had googled images and information on my laptop of key words I heard during my appointment. As we talked and prayed, those monsters became less intimidating and my shoulders felt lighter.

Yesterday the test results came in the mail. The results were "normal" just like I was told they would be. You want to know what is funny? My thoughts had changed so much after confessing, praying and partnering in accountability with my husband that I almost forgot to open the envelope. I wasn't worried at all.

Thoughts can be a tricky thing. They are constantly in motion. We hear statements all the time that speak to the power of our thoughts:
I couldn't help myself.
It makes me so angry (sad, frustrated, hurt).
It is all I think about.
I don't know. It just came out of my mouth.

Our thoughts carry strength and power but they do not have to control our lives in a negative way. We have the awesome ability to CHOOSE what we dwell on. Sure, things will always pop into our thoughts. But God gives us the privilege of being able to weigh them out and choose what we give our time and energy to.

"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

This scripture clearly says that we can change our thoughts. If we can make our thoughts "obedient to Christ" as it says, then that means that the anger, fear, shame and out-of-control thoughts don't have to have power. 

Now that doesn't mean we run around with our fingers in our ears and quote Bob by saying over and over, "I feel fine....I feel great.....I feel wonderful." There is a time for deep thoughts and weighing heavy things. But even deep thoughts don't have to have the privilege of consuming us.

We have opportunity to evaluate, measure and change our thoughts. We can look at each thought and say:

Is this a truth thought?
Is this worth spending my time and energy on?
What should I be thinking on?

It was an important lesson for me to learn right now.

Currently my Nana is in a rehabilitation center working on gaining strength in her back after a fall. The combination of seeing my Nana becoming more frail, watching her wrestle with a bit of confusion and memory loss, witnessing my mom handle so much as her daughter and care-giver (a feeling I remember so well).....I have to confess to flashing back to all of the feelings and situations I found myself in with caring for Daddy.  

This small situation with learning not to let my emotions partner with panic from a single comment at my doctor appointment is so perfect for helping me to bring into alignment this bigger time frame as well. I get to choose to make my morning visits with Nana be just about her and me. I get to choose to enjoy instead of feeling sad. I have the joy of choosing what to dwell on.

Thank You God for Your gift of choice. Thank You that You give us the ability to not be subjected to whatever whim that passes through our brains. Thank you that you give us the strength to look and grasp what is right and true. Thank You for making each day new and fresh, full of hope, joy and purpose.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sudden Opportunity.....

I have much in my head that I still have yet to put words to on my keyboard. But for the moment, I really want to share the opportunity we had yesterday.

My husband was blessed with a day off of work. It is not often that he is able to take time off so he and I planned to enjoy fully. We decided to spend the day together doing  our favorite hobby: hiking and enjoying the amazing Columbia Gorge. A treasured place we like to hike is Eagle Creek Trail just outside of Cascade Locks.  It is a slightly more advanced hiking trail as the elevation really climbs in a couple of areas. Also there are 2 spots where the path is cut into a cliff face and there are cables anchored into the wall to hold to for safety. (If you scroll through this old post, you can see a picture of such an area) It turned out to be beautiful mild weather. With food and water in out pack, we spent a handful of hours breathing in the beauty of the area.

Late in the afternoon as we were headed back down, we met a woman hiking up with her 2 large dogs. I can't be positive but as I look back on the events I want to say we met up at that very same spot I had taken a picture of so many years ago. As always, I had fun petting the 'fuzzy children' and making quick friends. Then we said our farewells and continued on. Not more than 25 paces into our decent, we heard the woman scream and yell for her husky dog. Bohdee was gone! I heard the horrid crashing of her malamute falling 150 feet to the bottom of the cliff and then there was no sound at all. The woman was panicked. We locked eyes and she begged for help. She passed me the lead of her other dog and then threw off her pack and looked around to see if there was a way she could scale down the rock face. My husband convinced her to head down towards the river to look for a path while he headed back up top to see if there was an alternate way down. I followed her to make sure she kept safe.

After rounding a few corners we came upon our first person and he was a God-send. His name was Josiah and at a quick glance I could tell he was a level headed MacGyver sort of person that God had put in that spot for a special purpose. Josiah instantly gave up his camping hike and broke off the path into the forest with Amanda while I ran a good mile and a half to find a phone number for the forestry department. Everyone I spoke with was so wonderfully understanding and within 90 minutes a volunteer search and rescue team called Crag Rats was activated and on site.

It did not take long for Bohdee to be found and he was alive! Isn't that amazing? He appeared to have several broken bones in his hips and ribs but his eyes were alert. The forest was too dense to carry him out from the river floor so the rescue team set together a belay system and brought him back up to the path while strapped to an immobilizing cage board. 6 hours after Bohdee's fall everyone was safely in the parking lot.

My husband and I were worn out but spent the drive home talking about all the things God did through the whole event. After washing with tecnu to break off any hints of poison oak, we crashed into our bed and slept solid.

God is so amazing how He plans and provides!
*We were the only ones in that particular area on the path when Bohdee fell. Had Amanda been completely alone what would have happened?
*Bohdee was not on a lead at that moment. If he had been, would his 105 pound frame have pulled Amanda over as well?
*My husband was incredible in his calm thinking and action.
*As I was headed down the path for help, I came upon friends. 30 miles from home and I run into people I know? They activated a phone prayer chain for everyone's safety.
*The Crag Rat volunteers were so amazing to come even though it was getting dark. Their compassion was so vital. I knew no matter how Amanda found Bohdee, she was not going to leave the forest without he dog.

Tired and sore but so grateful for the way everything ended up.

Post note: Here is the news feed about the event. (The guy in the yellow shirt is my hubby.)  We have recently heard that Bohdee had 5 hours of surgery last night to repair a broken pelvis and punctured lung and might be able to be home this weekend.

Thank You God for Your presence always being around us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Artistic Creativity.....

Today, the thoughts filling my mind and heart are ones of God's amazing creativity. His ways of doing things are so complex and unable to be completely replicated by even the greatest. God loves creativity and originality. He makes each sunrise and sunset different with a unique paintbrush and a wave of His hand. Each snowflake has its own shape that mirrors no other. And from the dawn of time, no two human beings have had the exact same DNA string because of His creative expertise. Even identical twins have different fingerprints.

Art blesses God and celebrates Him. There is no doubt in my mind that God loves art. I have always had the thought that He blessed people with the ability to dream up things and be creative. So He must have a vested interest in art. But only recently have I really started putting together in my mind just what that means to us as His children. I am realizing that art is more than a creative outflow that some people display more than others. It is a form of celebrated worship that we all partake of every single day. It also is a form of medicine that impacts our own lives.

We are all touched by something that moves us. No matter where you are at this very moment, your senses are being affected by someone's creativity. It is in the radio music you hear, the art on the wall, the writings that line your bookshelf or fill data space on your e-reader. Art decorates the cut of your clothing style with color and texture. Art is in the billboards, magazines and even the competitive designs of the architectural buildings that line city streets and suburbs. The sleek contour of automobiles take into account the personal artistic preferences of the buyer. Art is the hub and purpose of everything Hollywood. Who hasn't been touched by the adrenaline action of a movie or moved to laughing tears at a comedy scene? When we feel like sitting down to a heart drama film it is because that form of art is touching us and changing us.

Now there is a thought: Art changes us. It is true. Art does change us. We celebrate it, protect it and desire more of it. I am learning that we do that because artistic creativity is part of God. Anything that is part of God, we actively and subconsciously pursue in our daily lives because we feel and know the difference it makes.

A thought has begun to grow in me that says artistic creativity not only touches our hearts but can also bring real physical healing to our bodies.

I have seen it happen and it makes me in awe. A few months ago, a friend of mine was healed of a broken foot simply because he obeyed when he heard God tell him to....stand on a paper drawing of a foot. Does that statement seem far fetched like something more out of a fiction story? I understand. It has taken time for me to wrap my brain around it as well. But real x-rays prove that his foot was broken and then it simply wasn't. Truth be told; it wasn't even an amazing Michelangelo type of drawing. It was a quick sharpie pen stick figure drawing.

The how and the why must be filling your head right now. The answer to both of those questions is because God celebrates creativity and He likes to do things that bring us surprise. When Jesus caused the two small loaves of bread and 5 fish to feed 5,000 men and their families; He did it that way to give us something to remember and cause our faith to grow. He could have made food appear out of thin air. He could have made their stomachs instantly full without eating a bite. But He didn't. He chose instead to give us a visual that would be equated with the word "impossible" and then change our limited perspective.  

For myself, impossible is a word fading from my personal frame of mind. Back in February I hurt my shoulder and it has been a most constant reminder to me ever since. My precious massage friend worked on it several times and that would gain me a few days of relief but nothing that made real and lasting progress. One of the biggest frustrations for me has been not being able to dance with banners to show God my love. (It is a form of artistic creativity that I have discussed before here.) With my shoulder damaged, any movement would make tendons and muscle fibers swell and ache as strength and stamina ebbed away. Spinning yards of material in high arcs through the air was most definitely out of the question.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the worship part of our church service. I had a banner in my good hand but was growing in frustration with not being able to do what I truly wanted. I grumbled to God, "Papa God I am tired of this. I am grateful to be able to have a flag in my hand but it just isn't the same. I want so much to dance with You. Please encourage me." He answered me by saying I could use two flags as long as I held the orange flag in my left hand.....the damaged side.

Colors have universal meaning. We all know that green means life. Blue signifies coolness and refreshing. Red is always attributed to heat as well as love. And no matter where you are in the world, white is known for bringing peace and surrender. For me, orange is a sign of courage, fiery strength and pushing through in victory.

I grabbed my orange flag with delight and partnered it with a rainbow flag which symbolized God's promises fulfilled. All of a sudden moving around was so easy! The huge arcing circles didn't hurt. My muscles didn't cry out from lack of use. I giggled and danced with God and got totally lost in the time. Eventually the song changed and I thought I should use a different significant color appropriate with the song. But when I went to raise the different flag, my arm fell limp at my side. I was shocked. I heard God tenderly say, "My love, it is not the action I seek in your creative expression but the obedient heart behind it. Let Me teach you. Use the orange flag."
I picked up the orange flag again. It was light as a feather and cut through the air with ease as I danced once more.

Since that day, my shoulder is becoming whole. I have not had the pleasure pampering of a massage nor the aid of any medication. Not even ibuprofen has passed my lips. As each day passes and I give mental and audible thanks for my working shoulder; I am able to move it in ways that I have not been able to do in months.  My strength is returning and I can hold well more than a coffee cup now. I don't go pale from the pain of bumping my arm into something as I pass by. My range of motion is becoming equal as I do my morning exercises.

Did God make my shoulder defective in the first place? Absolutely not. Things happen because we live in a broken world. Could God have instantly healed my shoulder the first day it became hurt? Yes, He could have. Instead, He is creatively teaching me through my artistic passions. He is chiseling away at the word 'impossible' for me and creating a new pattern of thankful joy.

I am so grateful for His creativity. I love how God loves on us and touches us in our own unique and individual ways.

I pray in all you do today that you feel His amazing joy bubbling over from the core of your being. I pray that you know you are loved with a fiery passion and you are a wonderful treasure.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Heavenly Feet.......

Here is the second part of my installment.......

#2 God loves to love on us in different ways.
It is such a joy and treasure to be able to recognize God in the many facets of our lives. To say that I see Him in the creation around me is humbling. To voice that I see His love in the lives of my loved ones is inspiring. To hear Him in my deepest thoughts and desires big and small.....well that is a treasure without compare.
My eyes and my heart have witnessed all of these things and I must write them down so time does not misplace them.

The story that comes to mind today has to do with my feet. Odd I know but hear me out.
I have always been sort of uncomfortable about feet. Why?.....I am clueless. For most of my life, having my feet touched for any reason has been simply nerve wracking.  I can count on one hand being brave enough to muster the courage to try out a pedicure. I wrote about one of those liberating experiences here. Less than a month after that post, I can remember sitting in a spa chair with my sister-in-law and daughters at my side. We were having a de-stress day and getting ourselves ready for Daddy's funeral. It was one of those times when I was strong for so long and then.....then I just broke.

That soft gentle touch at my feet was somehow connected to my heart. I sat in that chair and let go. I cried softly as the foot massage seemed to work in tandem with the emotions running up and down my body and out my toes. It was tender medicine. That last week before Daddy passed, I had completely neglected myself as I stayed by his side. I had eaten scarcely a thing and pushed away liquids because I wanted and needed to be by him at all times. Consequently, when Daddy was gone and it was time to care for myself, my body was in sore need of repair. My ankles and feet were so swollen that there was hardly a difference between them and my calves. I had to hold the people around me to walk and could only wear over-sized house shoes until the swelling went down. So that foot massage was very much the perfect picture of God tenderly rubbing new life and love into my heart after pouring out for so long.

I had not had my feet touched since. It had seemed so sacred a time; a time so woven with the complexity of emotions that I dared not re-visit. But recently I have felt God talking to me about change, about going places in my heart less traveled. I began asking Him in private thoughts if I could once again have that experience. Once I casually asked and noted that it would be fun to have spring colors adorned on my feet. A second time I asked; that time with a bit more pondering of what it would mean. A third time I asked and confessed that I was truly ready to trust and be guided by Him.

All of my asking was done in secret, but oh how He loves those secrets of confession.
On that 3rd morning of asking, a dear treasured friend came over to give me a massage. (How spoiled I am to have a friend that comes complete with licensed smarts and a real massage table in her van!) She erected  her table in my dining room and set the soft music playing. But before I could climb up on the table she said, "God says we have to do something else first. I don't know what He has planned but when I was unpacking a few minutes ago He told me that you get to have a foot massage today." Then she set about doing what she does best which is selflessly demonstrating God's love with complete humility.

What was designed to be a 30 minute pampering session turned out to be 90 minutes of time so special that it far exceeded my previous encounter from 2 years ago. The combination of soft aromatic scented lotions and essential oils along with the gentle touch of warm water, massage and steamed towels made me melt and ignore the world around me. Not even the bark of my over protective dogs alerting me that a leaf blew by the window could distract me from the attention of God's loving peace. I felt so safe, so protected, so very cherished. I couldn't hear the music or feel the couch beneath me. I tried to open my mouth and share how I felt but not a single muscle would respond......I could do nothing but BE.......

It was a time where time stopped. In that span, God hugged me, celebrated His design and gave me a peek at tomorrow. For the first time I can ever consciously remember, I have no fear of who I am or how I measure up. I had always held myself to a rule of standard and a hat to wear.....a hat for every occasion and responsibility.  I have been WIFE, DAUGHTER, MOTHER, SISTER, GRAND DAUGHTER, NIECE, COUSIN, AUNTIE, FRIEND, NEIGHBOR, ROLE MODEL, etc.

But how do I do ME? The time is changing and that dusty ME hat in the corner isn't to be ignored anymore. My fears had been: What if I don't do it right? What if I fail? What if I get it wrong? Those questions had always over powered my ME hat. It was way easier to hide under all the other hats that had uniformity and guidelines to them than to wear a hat so uniquely individual that it looks like no other.  

Logically, mentally, intellectually.......I have known the answers to those questions. But my heart never owned them.....until that day; until that time; until that encounter.

Now I feel an indescribable ease and newness. There is excitement in the air that is pulsing all around me. I wake up in the morning with a feeling that no longer says, "You are so good God. I am sorry I hold You back." 

Instead, I hear my heart resound,  
"What is Your desire today God and I will celebrate it all with You and through You because I trust You!"

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Love Is In The Air....

I am in a quandary......
I keep making notes and starting posts on things I want to share and then I get side tracked and don't finish.  What is a girl to do?
I think instead of entertaining that feeling of being chased by the cue ball to finish.......I should write down my most recent thoughts and then back track later on.

So what are the most recent thoughts rolling around in my head? Get ready because they are about to come from all directions. This post will be the first installment of sharing it all.

#1 I think I love my husband.
Isn't that random? Let me explain. I have always loved him actually. But as can often happen with raising a family, connecting on mutual grounds in between the demands of daily life, family, work, school and other responsibilities; well it can be hard to find that common ground. Communication skills become a vital necessity that is all too easily over looked. Then one day you look at one another and realize you are living with a stranger.

Those things that were once cute or easy to ignore are now huge annoyances that feel as large as the Berlin Wall. The way he says he will clean up the carport and then time goes by on the forgotten job or the way she insists on that hated broccoli as a dinner vegetable. They aren't deal breakers on their own to say the least. But they get under your skin over time and seem to develop camp fires of their own.

We had both felt it time and again and ventured to discuss the 'elephant in the middle of the room' a few times but let's face it....conflict is never easy. It seems so much more comfortable to ignore it and pretend everything is fine. As if problems would get bored like a fly and simply buzz off.

And seeking help.....well that is a huge can of worms! To get help you have to first both admit that there are things that need fixing. Then that help has a strong possibility of looking like pride, shame, ridicule and condemnation. That is certainly no fun at all.

However, recently we started a marriage seminar with a group of friends and we are having a blast. The seminar is called Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage. It actually celebrates our differences and poses the idea that everyone and every marriage has problems to work through. Shocking I know!  Instead of going through a private black list of all the ways we have become defective together; we get to laugh and have fun recognizing both our differences and strengths. It ends up feeling much like the belly aching fun of a Bill Cosby comedy show.

Already we are both feeling relaxed and united in ways we have sorely missed for way too long. We are finding fun in the mutual territory of communication and our homework discussions are a platform of open honesty. I have to be completely transparent here and say this is the first time we have been able to talk about things without getting defensive. Our conversations have been eye opening but as we look at one another we are both embracing the honor and maturity of being able to say, "I never realized that. Thank you so much for explaining that to me."

Last night as we talked out a section of homework on marital stereotypes, my husband said the most amazing thing to me that made me break and cry. He said that typically guys at his work will stand around and say things about their wives and it is almost something of a complaining competition titled Which Guy Is Most Deserving Of Being At Work And Away From His Nagging Wife. My husband said that many times he has recognized that he has felt bad because as the guys go in a circle complaining HE can't think of anything to contribute!

That was it! That was the statement that broke me. Me: the girl that is so quick to hold myself under a microscope of analyzing. I have often held back and worried about my words for fear of being that nagging annoying drip of water that Proverbs 19 speaks of. It was better medicine that a hundred hugs or 5 dozen surprise roses. Tears spilled all over our workbook and bless his heart......he thought he said something that hurt me.

My goodness. After 23 years of marriage and our children becoming adults, we just might be able to look forward to this next stage of life together. We are not the young naive people we once were that thought, "All we need is love". Now we can become those mature and experienced people that say, "We are what we are and will carry each other through it because of love".

Thank You God for creating the unity of marriage. Thank You for wielding Your character traits into us to make us compliment and lean on each other.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Original Recipe.....

Rheinlander Famous Lentil Soup
To Make the Stock:
2 large fresh or smoked pork hocks
2 small pork bones
1 medium onion
1 medium carrot
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
1 1/2 quarts cold water

Rinse bones and pork hocks under cold water. Place in stock pot and add rest of ingredients. Simmer on low heat for 2 hours. Strain stock and save ham hocks.

For Soup:
4 oz. diced bacon
1/2 cup diced leaks (white part only)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 cups raw diced potatoes
1 1/2 cups washed green lentils

For Seasoning:
1 tsp. thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 TBSP white vinegar*
salt to taste

Melt bacon in stock pot. Add onion, leaks, carrots, and celery and saute' until golden. Add one quart of stock, lentils and seasoning. Cook for 1/2 hour then add potatoes and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender. Remove meat from pork hocks and dice very small and add to soup. Salt to taste. Before serving add the vinegar. Serve with sausage and warm bread.

Usually I use 2 cups of lentils and almost never have a leak or the exact meat called for. Split peas also work well as a variation or combination.

*Balsamic vinegar rather than white vinegar seems to be a more mutually enhancing taste I think. 

 The above is a recipe a dear treasured friend passed on to me a couple of months ago when I shared my desire to learn a good lentil soup. (She didn't say it was a secret recipe so I hope it is okay to share here.)
I hadn't tried this recipe yet because my kitchen shopping never seemed to include some of the basic ingredients this list calls for. But now that spring has truly hit our area and the rains have made every corner cold and damp; today seemed the perfect day for a pot of soup.

I laughed to myself as I argued with the recipe and offered it what my kitchen had supplies for. I had no pork hocks, bones or bacon. Instead I cut up a package of skinless smoked sausage links. I had no onion, bay leaves, potatoes or peppercorns. However I did put in 3 carrots, 3 celery, pepper, a dash of salt and some green onion at the end. With my fuzzy dog boys being vegan eaters, lentils are always a plenty and I did a combination of brown and yellow lentils for the protein benefit as well as the added flavor boost. As for the rest of the seasonings; I couldn't find any thyme, I completely forgot to add the vinegar and I most cautiously added the nutmeg since I had only heard of using it in pastry fun.

The things is this: even with all the variations to my offerings, my family went nuts over it. Even the extra people that often end up at my house loved it. My pot is now empty, tummies are full and at the end of the night everyone is still commenting on how much they enjoyed the soup.

As I did the dishes tonight, I thanked God for helping me pull it all together. He said, "You are welcome. Think about this though. There is a lesson to be learned here."
"Really Papa? Is it that we can eat healthy and creative in the kitchen?"
"Well yes daughter (with a smile) that is true. But the bigger lesson is that it is not for you to judge what is going to work in different situations. Nor is it by your strength and wisdom that things come together. Your only task is to offer me what you have. I will take that offering and make a beautiful and complete recipe with it." 

Then my mind flashed through a list of some of the famous people in the Bible that we know of today.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Abraham and Sarah doubted.
Samson was arrogant and prideful.
David had an affair and was a selfish murder.
Gideon needed proof over and over again.
Moses orphaned, had a speech impediment and lacked self confidence.

Then I saw images of famous scenes of the Bible.
Rahab was honest and courageous despite the formidable threat of death.
Abraham and Sarah became parents in their 90s.
Samson killed a bear, a lion and brought down the walls of a coliseum with his bare hands.
At about 12 years old, David fought and killed a giant of a man and later went on 
to be a man after God's own heart. 
Gideon chose the strength of his army by how they drank water from the river. 
Then they conquered in battle with only clay jars and torches as distant weapons.
A hundred thousand people listened and followed the guidance of Moses for 40 years.

These lists could go on and on. That is just what instantly flashed in my mind.
It makes me think about the limitations I put on myself; how I hold myself back without even asking God what He wants to do with "my ingredients".

 So, here at the end of the day, I want to encourage you in a quirky but very real way with a bowl of soup. You have a destiny and a purpose that is made only for you. Each day holds treasure, adventure and hope. All you have to do is step forward and hand God what you may perceive as meager offering. He, is His great wisdom and creativity, will fashion your offering with His guided skill into a beautiful recipe that brings delight and satisfaction to Him and to everyone around you and will speak into your own humble self worth.

God bless you this week with His joy overflowing.

March Memories.....

 I can't believe March is almost over with. I have thought about sitting down to express my thoughts and happenings of the past few weeks but........okay really here is my silly excuse.......I usually leave my web window open on my regular sites as a reminder to slow down my scattered self. However, I shut everything down one day for a re-boot and never remembered to open things back up. A sad excuse I know but it is all I can offer.

What can I share today? How about the fun weekend that just passed? Surprises and off the wall encounters were plenty.

Thursday evening as my husband was pulling into the driveway, he met up with these little friends. I personally know nothing about chickens. My only real thought was focused on trying to keep the dogs away from them as we did our evening things. I figured these biddies would take their cute chatter back to wherever they came from when they were good and ready.

The fuzzy boys eventually settled for the evening and we all got some sleep so I didn't give the chickens another thought except for gratefulness that they had moved on.

I was wrong. Friday morning found the boys once again beside themselves with hunter/stalker instincts in full force. They slobbered all over my front windows as the chickens casually took turns walking around my front yard. Our landlord sent someone down to catch them but had success with only bagging the black one. The brown one mysteriously disappeared.

Finally I gathered my whits and set out to find her, partially out of curiosity and partially because the dogs were getting on my last nerve. I followed the dogs' clues for a rousing game of  peek-n-seek with that chicken. Where was she hiding? She had decided to nest under my front porch and laid an egg!

Now, remember I said I have no experience with chickens? Keep that in mind as you picture me running around the yard with a slice of bread and a bath towel while trying to corner and capture this fast chicken. It was a hilarious sight indeed. Eventually I gave up and went to our landlord for help.  Once he had both chickens safely in a cage, he even found whom they belonged to.

The fuzzy boys were wrung out for the rest of the day. Protecting the house is such hard work! Aren't the just a sight to see?

Saturday was Hubby's birthday and he asked to spend the day hiking around Forest Park. We did up our day packs with sandwiches and dog supplies and set out for adventure. I cannot believe how long we have lived here and never stepped a single foot into the biggest city park in North America. Wow! I thought we had to be in the Gorge area to be spectators of such green beauty. This park sports well over 70 miles of hiking trails in the middle of the city.

The fuzzy boys were so very happy to wander, explore, claim territory and make friends with everyone on the well traveled pathway. The water stream intrigued Kekoa and he wanted to dive for stick treasures to take home. Congito on the other hand wanted nothing to do with the noisy cold water and stuck to me like glue.

 Were it not for our mighty little explorers wanting to keep on the go, 
I would have loved to simply sit for a while and watch the water 
flow over the rocks to destinations ahead.

In true typical fashion for us, the birthday DAY became the birthday WEEKEND by continuing the celebration with my folks after church on Sunday. Mom made a dinner feast and everyone had a grand time cutting up, goofing off and enjoying one another.

I gave Hubby the choice of having a decadent type of cake or a low fat healthy type of cake. Was that really a choice?  He picked the decadent surprise and I created the cake you see below. It is a Coca Cola Cake.  It looks sort of lumpy because it was so sweet and sticky that I had a hard time getting it out of the pan. But it tasted good and bumps helped to accent the decorations of "spilled coke bottles".   Hubby was positively thrilled with the cake because he is an avid Coca Cola collector. All of his treasures have pretty much taken over our bedroom walls (but that is another story for another day).

For now I need to scoot. The change in the air has given me cause to uncharacteristically clean my house like a woman on a mission.I pray that you have a wonderfully blessed week that is filled with God's joy and love that makes you smile from your inner most being.

Below is the recipe if you are interested. One look at the ingredients and you will see that it is not designed in any way for the calorie conscious person. I read that you can do a more calorie modest style by using a box cake mix and diet soda. Simply google "low fat coca cola cake recipe" if you want to try it instead of this.

Coca Cola Cake


  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • .
  • Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
  • 1 box confectioner's sugar, (1pound)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside. In a large bowl combine flour and sugar. In a saucepan combine the cocoa, Coca-Cola, butter, and marshmallows; bring to a boil. Combine the boiled mixture with the flour and sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl mix eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla; add to the first mixture. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes, until cake tests done.
Frosting: In a saucepan, bring butter, cocoa, and Coca-Cola to a boil. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Stir in nuts. Spread over the cake while both cake and frosting are still warm.
Serves about 16.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It Is All About Today.....

I grabbed my camera yesterday to snap a picture of the brilliant colored crocus in my front yard. It looks like spring is here in the great valley of the Portland area. I have noticed the beginnings of buds on my "non-fruit bearing" apple blossom tree as well. I can hear the birds and the feel of the air is changing.

Mmmmmm.......Sigh......... I love God's versatile creativity.

With the changes all around us, I have felt motivated to get out and walk a mile or two every day with the dogs. My fuzzy boys are loving every second of it. I don't know what body signals I send out differently between putting my shoes on for errands and putting my shoes on for a walk. But they sure know the difference. Before I even say the words, "Would you like to go for a walk?", they are prancing and dancing around me. My question is met with a lavish amount of slobbery kisses and mumbling dog talk that gives way to their obvious praise that I am the best-est pet owner in the world.  haa haa

On our walks, Congito has a good case of little dog syndrome and he volleys for lead position at all times. Kekoa is content to observe and question every blade of grass. Once we get to the look out point that is our half way marker, Kekoa will look about as if he is surveying his kingdom. It is all quite funny to watch. At the same time, they remind me to savor each moment.

I have been thinking about moments lately. Moments of the past have struck me at the forefront of my mind. This time last year, every moment in every situation with every person in my life was surreal and impacting. I seemed to be in a continuous state of wanting to hold on to each moment and second of the day and nothing else mattered. I didn't look forward, but instead I held on to that single space of time for what it was completely worth.

I know that was because of my heightened awareness and emotions of giving almost a whole year to my dad until he passed.  But now that the rawness of that year is gone and I seem to be caught up in the every day things, I wonder if I need to remember some of that urgency.  I feel a little caught up in the every day things, the mundane, and making comments to myself of what tomorrow or next week holds.

Yet, as I sit here, I hear that still small voice say, "Today is a gift with a plan and a purpose. Examine today for all it is worth.."

And so I ponder and look to shift my thought parameters.

Before I sign off though, I want to share these pictures.
The ever dramatic and high energy Congito flops on the couch with a sigh after our walk. 

Congito makes me laugh. 
Doesn't he look like it is so hard to be a D-O-G?

 You can't really see Kekoa because his fur absorbs the bright reflective light of the sun. He is up on top of the couch "roosting" where he can view the passersby out the window. No matter how sleepy or comfortable, he is always on perimeter watch guarding his kingdom.

I pray you have a wonderfully blessed week, full of His joyful presence and love that bubbles from your middle and overflows with that goodness feeling that is undeniable.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

He is Here....

 Tonight as I get ready for bed, I find myself needing to stop here and make note of the fact that life has been moving at mock speed. 

Even still; God is here.

In the midst of out of town company and crisis ministry; God is still here.
Despite lost keys, fainting daughters, doctor appointments, routine test and then my own pulled ligament that seems to not want to give up; God is still here.
Unexpected schedule changes, balancing routine with stepping into learning I can do more than I think I can; and God is here.

He is in all of it. 

He is with the family that I cannot protect every day. He is in the insurance adjustments and job challenges.
All the every day things that are big and small; they can be taxing and draining, invigorating and challenging....they all come with their own choices and outcomes.

I choose....

I choose...........

I choose to remember that with all of my choices, they lead wit the factor that God is here and I am never ever alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


 Yesterday was Valentine's Day. After being lazy the day before to re-coup from the wedding, I felt energized and made a to-do list that kept me hopping all day. Chores around the house during the day and a wonderful evening dinner out with my hubby at night brought a smile to my face and heart.

In between those things, I decided to pull out a recipe I had been intimidated with for years. It is Nana's recipe for Malasadas. What are Malasadas? They are a Portuguese fried doughnut dipped in a sugar boiled glaze. These are not like anything you have ever tasted or found in a traditional bakery.

Nana used to make them all the time. I remember smelling that sweet yeast scent as I walked down the driveway from school. I also remember the game of trying to imagine what the different shapes were since spoon dropped dough makes no two ever alike.

Nana would triple the batch and freeze  most of it so that we would have doughnuts to eat for weeks on end.  And if that wasn't a temptation all by itself; she would cut them up into thin slices and fry them in butter until toasted and serve them with eggs at breakfast time. Oh so bad and oh so good!

I don't know why the recipe intimidated me all these years. Maybe it was my childhood perception of seeing how hard she worked over a triple batch of dough when a single batch makes about 4 dozen. I found yesterday that it is a pretty easy recipe. I was hoping to take some over to her today to have her stamp of approval. But after sharing some with a friend and then hubby and girls taking for their friends today.....there are only 3 left in the bowl. I guess that is a stamp of approval all by itself.

If you are interested, here is the recipe.

Portuguese Malasadas

2 1/4 tsp dry yeast (1 package of yeast) dissolved in a 1/3 cup warm water
8 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup cream
1 1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup melted butter
8 slightly beaten eggs

Mix eggs, butter, warm water and cream together in a large bowl. Add yeast after it has dissolved and activated (It will foam and rise.) Add flour, sugar and salt. Mix together well to become a sticky dough. Cover dough bowl with a towel and set it in a warm dry place to rise and double in size. This takes about 2 hours.

Drop spoons of dough into hot oil to fry until deep dark golden brown. Then remove and let drain on rack or absorbent paper towels.

Malasada Glaze

Malasadas may be served plain, sugared or glazed. For glazing do the following:
Rapid boil 2 cups of water along with 2 cups of sugar until it becomes slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).
Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla.

Dip each doughnut in and out of the glaze quickly, rolling as necessary to completely cover. Let set on a rack to drain and set.


(After posting this I thought about two things that you may find good to know about this recipe to ensure your doughnuts are cooked all the way through.

#1 Use a SMALL spoon when dropping the dough into the oil for frying. The dough expands as it cooks and if you are not careful you will end up with monster sized doughnuts.
2# Be sure to follow the rule of DARK golden brown.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Celebrations Galore.....

 The last month has gone by with such speed. As the days ticked away, there were several times when I would think, "goodness if I had a piece of paper next to me I would write this down for remembering on my blog." Can I remember those things now? Of course not. Oh well. I can however share the things that are sticking out in my mind at this moment.

Aren't these colors amazing together? Normally I go for the snuggly cozy type of colors. But this bright yellow and bold purple fit perfectly for what I was doing.

This is a baby towel that I made for a dear friend that is about to be blessed. She is due the first week of March and we are all so excited. I really like blessing new babies with this style of towel because it grows with them. As a small infant, it will keep baby Aria much warmer than those thin hooded things they sell in the stores. Then as she gets older and is cruising around in toddler style, it is big enough to double as the best cape in any sort of pretend game after washing all those germs down the drain.

The baby shower was a blast. Parents and baby were both very blessed and loved on with all the necessities needed to begin their new adventure of a lifetime.
I saw something at the baby shower I had never seen before.....a diaper cake. It was the cutest thing ever! This picture is not from the party. I just googled it. I have no idea why it is now sideways. I downloaded it straight and checked it 3 times. But, if you have never seen a diaper cake, it will give you an idea of the cool blessing.


Nana's 86th Birthday

What a joy! We just got to celebrate Nana's 86th birthday!  I love my Nana so much. Even though time occasionally plays tricks with her memory, she is still as spry as ever. I made a real effort to make sure this was a fun birthday for her. I put streamers and balloons everywhere and tried my hand at all kinds of fun foods. It was all worth it to hear her giggle at the celebration of honoring her.
Mom made her that beautiful lei in her favorite color of red. It was so deep in color that it looked like velvet.

Normally Nana will shy away from the camera. After all, it is a girl's prerogative to fuss over wanting her hair and make-up to be 'just so'. But on this day she was full of smiles and I am so grateful.

The picture above is some of our group in a nice shot. From left to right is my brother, Mom, me and Dad. Then Nana, Auntie and Angel-girl.

This shot to the right is Nana with my brother and his little Angel-girl. This makes for a 3 generation picture. What a treasure!
 Here is Nana just after blowing out the candles on her cake. I love her rosy cheeks! Doesn't she look wonderful?!

I made her cake and had so much fun doing it. It is a 3 layer angel-food cake with a strawberry filling in between each layer. The outside is a blend of whip cream and instant cheesecake pudding. while the top is slices of kiwi and strawberries.


The Wedding

If you could only feel the happy sigh of finality and relief over here. The wedding was yesterday and now they are off on their honeymoon. Parties are done, no more alterations at the dress shop to fix fiascoes. It was a beautiful wedding and I think it all came out just the way Icca wanted it which is as it should be. It was a wonderful and memorable day. The professional pictures will take a couple of weeks to get back. Among other shots I want to share, I am hoping in that lot there will be a close up of her dress so I can share the sparkle of it all finished. But for now, here is a great wedding party picture from someone's cell phone. (Hubby and I are just to the groom's left.)

I am so grateful to have been blessed with being a part of it all. It was an odd feeling for me. I don't know if I can adequately explain it but...... When Heather got married, we sent some money to help and that was really all that we did besides being there for her big day. Not that anything is wrong with that. We live hours apart. It just is what it is. And at the time, I was in Texas taking care of Daddy. I had flown to Spokane the day before the wedding and was overwhelmed with the season of emotion I was in. 

I don't regret any of it. Like I said, it just is what it is. I felt so blessed to be in so much of the details of this wedding. Icca's family was there. But because of the dynamics of their past and Icca needing to live with us all this time, I could see that it was a hard and awkward day for them. Maybe because of my own lack of feeling involved with our daughter's wedding, I could appreciate more of how Icca's family must have been feeling.  They had tears and were obviously happy for her. But they hung back in the shadows and looked quietly sad most of the day. I tried to make small talk with them and offer the ease of knowing there is no judgement around here. But it didn't seem to bring any real ease into the day. I do understand. I can only pray and God will handle it.

Mr and Mrs Reis 2~12~2012
My Puddin girl took this shot during the reception. 
Don't they look like a blissfully happy couple?

 Goodness it is late in the night. I better get to bed.
God bless your week in all you do with His joyous abundance of favor and assurance of love.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Peek-n-Seek With Snow....

The winter weather has everyone tense here. There is a weather front teasing us with the idea of snow in the air. If it were to come, it is not like it would be a bad storm. The threat is only an inch or two. Most people, not from the great northwest, tend to think that because we are 'up north' we must gets tons of snow all the time. On the contrary, because we have the Cascade mountain range and the coastline boxing us in, winter fronts usually bounce away from us. When Portlanders hear talk of snow (even an inch worth) everyone tends to run to the store for supplies and 'batten down the hatches' as if we will be stranded in our homes and blocked from modern civilization for months on end. 

The true danger is in the driving conditions. Because snow and ice is not a normal occurrence around here, people tend to hit the road without much street savvy as they drive their cars. The un-cautious either want to joy ride and play with their seldom used 4WD vehicles or barrel through the streets at normal speeds to prove that a little cold weather will not deter them from their mission.    

All of that makes me want to stay indoors where it is safe and stare at the beauty from my window.
I have had a cold this week and my usual laryngitis is visiting me so I haven't felt up to gallivanting much anyway. The weekend was slow....well slower would be a better word phrase to use. Friday night there were girls here doing trial run throughs with Icca Chou's makeup and hair styles for the wedding. Pizza, facial products and giggles were all over my house. Saturday was the bridal shower (at someone else's home). Once I got everything ready for Hubby's party at our home for his Hood-2-Coast meeting; I spent the evening with giggling women blessing our sweet bride to be.  It was a great turn out and she was blessed abundantly.

I finished her dress this week. It didn't take an enormous amount of time. It was only my procrastinating that held me back. I am excited at how it looks but will have to wait until after the wedding to share pictures with you.

Today I did the cake server set. It was fun as well. I love how bead work enhances and makes everything so unique. I plan on doing the same beading concept to the stemware of their toasting goblets.

It is now less than one month to the wedding. I figure our lives are going to be swamped from here on out with all things wedding. The tuxes have all been fitted, florist arranged, photographer contracted and food planned. Our dresses are on order and should be here by the end of next week. That has been an interesting hiccup in the otherwise smoothness of all the planning. Everything that happens in life has opportunity to learn from. So from the learning curve is that I doubt I will ever order clothing using an online sizing chart again.

For the moment, Nyquil, my pillow and fuzzy blanket are calling my name.

Thank You Papa God for the  conveniences of today. Thank You for Nyquil, my pillow and fuzzy blanket. Thank You for the joys of crafts and individual creations. Thank You for your own artistry in the seasons that change. Amongst the many reasons that I cannot even begin to fathom, You create change in the seasons to care for the earth and to make us smile. The joys of snowflakes falling and the unique individuality of each one.....and You know them all just like You know us.

God bless you abundantly in all you do this week. Be filled with His joy and know that you are most definitely loved and never alone.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Picture Sharing Time

Between Christmas and New Year, the girls and I packed up and headed to the beach to visit with our wonderful friends. Hubby had to work this year but graciously said we could go "play" while he manned the home front.

The beach was stormy and snuggly; just the way I like it. Most of the time the rain and wind was a constant flow so we never took our regular walk on the beach. Instead I snapped the morning seascape out the Commons window.

Oh how I love the beach.

Below is a typical thing that happens when I don't keep my camera right next to me. The girls, all full of giggles, take over my camera and leave me surprises on the memory card. Here are a couple of the more cute ones.


 This is Pippin and Rixxi. They manned the camera every chance they had. 
They make me laugh all the time. 
I love the sparkles in their know, the mischievous sparkle.

This is Puddin' and Novia.  Girls and snacks in the middle of the night. 
They had just finished a rousing game of Apples to Apples.  
The below picture is of the girls making music together. 
They sing side by side in choir so their sound was instantly a beautiful harmony.

All too soon it was time to head back to the city with our hearts full of great memories.

While at Nana's for New Year's day dinner, I took a few close up pictures of her bells.
As I said before, her tall Christmas tree is covered in them.
More bells can be found throughout the house decorating the banister railing and hanging from lights. 
They shine, sparkle and glow as the lights reflect off of her creations.

No two are alike. The sizes of beads, colors and imaginative adaptation to 
the original pattern make each one stand out on it's own beauty.
See the green one in the upper photo? It is made from a tea ball.
I remember having a pink one in my room when I was a little girl and it was filled with pot pourri powder.

Nana's favorite beads to work with are called berry beads.
I like how she combined this one with berry beads and golden hearts.

I like how Nana adapted this one. The shape and color always makes me think of an angel.

Now that it is January 6th and all of the normal schedules are back in full swing, I know it is a bit late to share these photos. But here is a secret that I must tell......I am still mailing out our Christmas cards! No really. I figure late is better than never. Last year, after just coming home from taking care of Daddy, I didn't do anything. I think our "around the world friends and family" that don't hear from us often deserve to know why it appears we have fallen off the face of the earth.

 In all you do this week, do it with the knowledge that you are so very loved by God.