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Monday, June 30, 2008

NOG - Week 1

My sweet friend K and I are doing the bible study No Other Gods by Kelly Minter this summer along with about 3000 of our closest friends from all 50 states and several other countries in conjunction with Beth Moore’s LPM Blog. It took forever for my book to come in at the store where I ordered it. But I got it on Wednesday and dove right in.

Holy Moly… let me tell you. It’s good so far.

And God… He is a-talkin’ to us.

We had our first meeting today (Saturday). And it is so interesting to me how certain words or phrases from a passage of scripture or from the text of the book will jump off the page at me… but completely different words or phrases stick out to her.

The whole study is about the idea of false gods in our lives. And it truly is amazing what has been revealed to each of us in just this first week.

It talks a lot about the idea of the God we believe in and profess versus the gods that in day to day living we functionally worship.

For me, personally, this idea of pride has been coming back up again and again. And when I really stop and think about it, I realize that self is the god that I am functionally worshiping.

Ouch.

More to come on this I think.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Foodie Friday - An Apple a Day and Central Market

Do you like apples? I do. But as with many other things food related, I'm picky about my apples.

They must be crisp. They must be sweet. They must be very fruity. They must have tender skin.

So Red Delicious are right out.

I wasn't crazy about apples for a long time because I thought Red Delicious were my only choice. Then, I got out on my own and began to discover that I really do like other varieties. And I get really excited when I find one that I like a lot.

I look forward to the fall each year when Honeycrisp apples are in season. They are only around for a month or two and then they are gone until the next year. But, oh I stock up during that time.

So, imagine my absolute delight when I made a visit to Central Market recently and discovered a new variety that is available right now that is very much like the Honeycrisp in texture and flavor.

Ladies and gents, I present you with the New Zealand Jazz apple.



Ahh, Central Market. I love Central Market. And it's a rare treat to get to go.

If you're not from around here, it's the specialty food arm of H-E-B and the only way H-E-B has been able to come close to breaking into the DFW market.

And when I say specialty food, I mean it. There's very little in there that you would find at your run of the mill Kroger or Tom Thumb. I always enjoy my trips there as I can find some things that I can't find anywhere else. Like...


Greek Yogurt. If you haven't ever had Greek yogurt, it's wonderful. Especially when served honey. It's really thick, like the consistency of sour cream (actually closer to creme fraiche). I was first introduced when I was an au pair in Carcassonne, France in 1994. Then really fell in love when we went to Greece in 2000.



H-E-B Tortillas. Oh. My. STARS. I love H-E-B tortillas. They are so buttery and fattening.



Bing Cherries. My family loves fresh cherries in the summer time.

The one funny thing about Central Market though is there is an unwritten dress code. The day I went recently, I was lookin' nice as we had been in the pool and working around the house all morning. Stacy and Clinton would NOT have approved. And neither did most of the people there that I felt staring at me.

But they are all dressed alike. LITERALLY. I saw two girls, BFFs I suppose, both with matching knee length shorts, same color tops and even the same style and color of handbag. Oh, and their hair... the same highlighted short little wedgey bob. Seriously, can we be any more Stepford-esque? And I suppose I'm the one that was supposed to be embarrassed about how I was dressed. They looked ridiculous.

But the trip to Central Market and my apple discovery was worth any feelings of fashion inferiority that I suffered.

Because an apple a day keeps... Stacy and Clinton away?

Probably not.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Recipe - Caribbean Tomato Pasta

Big Mama asked for summer recipes. Here is my contribution... it's a REALLY involved and difficult recipe...

Caribbean Tomato Pasta

3 large vine ripened tomatoes
3/4 cup black beans (rinsed & drained)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pasta of choice
Monterrey Jack Cheese (grated)

Combine everything (except the pasta and cheese) and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Serve over cooked pasta & sprinkle with cheese.

See... REALLY involved and difficult.

Now, the thing to understand is that I modify almost every recipe I come in contact with to customize it to our family (IOW my tastes). What you see above is the recipe as it was given to me by my mother in law. What you see below is the recipe as I use it...

Caribbean Tomato Pasta (Donna's Version)

1-2 cans diced tomatoes (depending on how tomato-ey I want it that day)
1 can black beans (rinsed & drained) (because really, what are you going to do with the rest of those black beans anyways)
2 tablespoons EVOO (thanks Rachel Ray!)
3-4 cloves garlic (put through my handy-dandy Pampered Chef garlic press)
some fresh basil and parsley (finely chopped) (my man doesn't like cilantro)
some fresh chives
1 tablespoon lime juice
some ground cumin
some ground coriander
some ground red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
Pasta of choice (i.e. whatever I happen to have on hand but usually a spagetti of some kind)

Combine everything (except the pasta) and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Serve over cooked pasta. Usually I serve it with grilled chicken because my man likes meat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Confessions of a VBS Director

As I have moved into Post-VBS life over the weekend and this week, I have been doing my typical assessing, reassessing and mulling over of how things went. Of course things generally went well. There were no major catastrophes and the wheels did not completely come off at any given point.

But, you know, I have a few "type-A" tendencies. So when people weren't entering the worship center in the correct form or order on Monday morning, it felt like the wheels were coming off to me. I felt a little like Martin Short's character in the newer version of Father of the Bride when he was walking through the house during the reception trying to get people to move. In general it was a little like herding cats.

However, in my assessing and mulling, I came across several things that kept sticking in my mind. So, naturally, I had to tell someone. Because you know I just can't keep my mouth shut when I have an opinion. Everybody's got to know.

So I emailed our Children's Pastor, but with the following disclaimer:

Have I mentioned before that I have serious pride issues? If not, let me tell you, “I have serious pride issues.”
See, I have come to realize that some of the things that got to me in the VBS process this year probably stem from my pride. They stem from my own desire to feel like I've accomplished something. To be seen as someone who's done a job and done it well. You know, pride.

It caused me to to feel my toes getting stepped on. It caused me to resent it that not everybody loves VBS as much as I do. It causes me to be concerned about things that, in the larger picture, are not important at all.

But I went ahead and, very tactfully I might add, listed several things that may need to be addressed for coming years. From the internal VBS leadership structure to pastoral staff involvement (or lack thereof). And you know what? She agreed and said that all of the things I mentioned were already on her list of things to think about and address.

So, is it possible that God spoke to me in spite of my pride? I think so. And I think all the things I mentioned to her were valid points and issues that do need to be addressed. But I also think that, at times, my heart wasn't in the right place about why I saw them as a problem.

I have pride issues. And God is working on me about them.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's all a little too real

I have never been able to fully watch an episode of “The Office.” For some reason, the style of the show just isn’t my thing.

I’m finding lots of things that aren’t “my thing” lately. I wonder why that is.

But I digress.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve lived the office life for too long and seeing it portrayed on television is just too awkward and painful for me.

Here’s a classic example.

We got a new copier in my office this week. It is a thing of beauty. If I wouldn’t feel completely WEIRD, I’d take a picture to show you.

New office equipment is very exciting in the life of an admin assistant. I actually got a spring in my step on Friday afternoon when I got here and realized we were getting a new copier. It’s like the 3 year old that gets remote controlled motorcycles for his birthday and must play with them immediately… it’s a new toy. And it’s all very exciting.

However, I’m a little nervous as well.

I have a history with copiers. And not a pleasant one.

Just ask any administrative staff at my church (where I also used to be admin staff). Copiers and I tend to not get along very well.

But I have high hopes for this relationship. Because not only is it functional, but it’s attractive. It’s black and grey and very sleek looking. And we all know how important looks are. Something about skin deep is ringing a bell, but I’m not sure.

It looks so fancy that we are expecting it to be voice activated. Or that it will bring our copies to us. Or even a Blizzard (because you all know how I love my DQ). As one of the guys described it, “It’s like R2D2 on steroids.” Well, R2D2 served drinks in Return of the Jedi. Couldn’t he bring me a Blizzard?

So, one of the guys was in there trying to make a copy this morning. He's using the fancy-shmancy touch pad and the rest of us were standing around, watching in great anticipation. We cheered when the copy finally came out.

The moment was a little Dilbert-esque. And it was a little too real.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sometimes I think I make a bad female

I was out running some errands on Saturday which included a trip to Costco to get some essentials. You know, like a beach mat and beach chair for our upcoming trip to Destin.


Oh, and milk for the kids.


While I was in that area of town, and since gas is $500/gallon, I decided to stop at a couple of other places while I was out. One of those stops was to exchange a pair of sunglasses that were missing a screw. It wasn't just loose... it was gone. Sounds familiar. But I digress.


While I was stopped, I noticed that there was an Ulta right next door. Noticing recently, as I was rubbing my face a lot last week during VBS, that the texture of my skin seemed a bit off, I decided to stop in and see if there was something I just couldn't live without.


Oh, y'all... I nearly had a panic attack in there. There were all these brands and choices of masks, microdermabrasion, peels, etc..... and on and on.... I just couldn't handle it.


I told my man that I felt inept as a woman because of the whole ordeal and he said it's just because it's not my thing.


Hmmm... now there's a funny thought. Beauty products are not my thing.


It's funny because I'm so incredibly vain, it's not funny at all.


With enough financial resources and time to heal and recover, there's no telling what I'd have nipped, tucked, lifted, and implanted. Well, maybe not implanted... but I'll not rule anything out.


The whole thing was actually really sweet. Y'all, he told me I have a great complexion and am naturally beautiful without makeup.


What a mighty good man I've got!


Because he realizes that although I may not get giddy over the latest and greatest deep pore cleansning loofa scrub thing, I might be tempted towards a pair of Jimmy Choos in the right size. Drop me in DSW Shoe Warehouse and it's pretty close to heaven for me.


Because really, a nice pair of shoes can be a work of art.

So, I guess I'm not a bad female after all.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Foodie Friday - VBS

VBS wouldn't be the same with out certain things. One of those things is food.

It is something that we as Southern Baptists deeply believe in.

Right up there with the whole God and Jesus thing.

What I'm saying is that food is important.

And kids' snacks at VBS, well, they're in a class all their own.


You know there's a test that any food must pass in order to be considered as a VBS snack. Just a couple of questions that one must ask herself before seriously considering serving something as a snack at VBS. A) Is it loaded with sugar? AND 2) Does it have any redeeming nutritional value?


If you answered "Yes" and "No" (in that order) then you've got yourself a VBS snack.

Because you are assured that any child coming your way will love what you're serving.

Except possibly for mine.

It rained on Thursday morning. The first time in the 8 or so years I've been involved in VBS at our church that we haven't been able to line up outside and march in. The kids had to just come directly into the Worship Center. And of course, recreation and snacks were inside as well.

During snack time that day, my princess was standing out away from the class. I passed by and asked her why. Apparently she didn't like the snack that was being served. Actually, to be more accurate, she didn't even like the smell of it and didn't want to be anywhere near it.

It's not like it was liver and onions, folks.

We're talking about what looked to me to be Goldfish crackers and Gardetto's in little baggies.

Seriously. We know for a fact that the child loves Goldfish crackers. And who doesn't like Gardetto's?!?

I can tell you one person and apparently her name is Sarah.

But now, here's the good stuff. The teacher/worker break room; it is a fixture in our VBS, without which we would have no teachers. We have an incredible kitchen leader and staff that cook up some great stuff along with what members of the church bring in. It keeps our sweet teachers so happy.

The main event came on Wednesday...



Crab Puffs!!! Regardless of the theme, every year they make crab puffs. They are the reason why some of our teachers come and teach at all. If there were no crab puffs, there would be a revolt. I would be sitting in the worship center with 3 other directors, a Children's Pastor and a Preschool Pastor with a whole mess of kids because there would be no teachers.


Oh, I kid. My sweet husband would be there to help. Mainly because he's not a crab fan.

Do you understand how important they are?

Okay... just so you REALLY get it...

One year, our kitchen staff decided to wait until Friday to make them. Kind of as an end of the week treat. By Wednesday, we literally had teachers that were getting a little upset.

The crab puffs... they are an institution.

As is Vacation Bible School. A wonderful event in the life of our church every summer when children from all over the area come and hear about our precious Jesus...

... and of course eat some great food!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

An Update

Oh it's going to be a great week at VBS.

First off, I want to thank all of those out there (all 4 of you) who read my blog and have been praying for us (and me) this week.


Monday was interesting. First day and all. But I think we've got all the first day logistical bugs worked out.

Today (Tuesday) was much better and smoother.


Here's what I love:

  • I am seeing so many families from outside of our church. Families that I know from other places. I love it!
  • Hearing teachers and adults laughing with and having fun with the kids.
  • The sound of children singing.
  • Seeing Kindergarteners walking down the hall yelling, "Kindergarten ROCKS!" under the leadership of a man.
  • Gettig a peek of each of my own kids in their classes having a great time learning about Jesus.

Here's what I hate:
  • Having to figure out contingencies if weather turns bad and we lose power. I really hate that.
  • My own fleshly attitude about stupid stuff that doesn't matter in the long run.

I'm planning a special VBS edition of Foodie Friday this week. It should prove to be absolutely wonderful.

That about sums it up for now. We're having a great week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

"Right" on the Issues

I've said it before, I'll say it again... I'm a conservative Republican. CON-SER-VA-TIVE!

Check back if you like and I'll have a link to this post on the "RIGHT" sidebar. I plan to update this post with links to articles I find interesting about current issues and politics.


*******

August 19, 2008

I did not watch the entire forum from Saddleback, but what I was able to watch was interesting. And here's an interesting article about it.

The New Evangelical Politics (E.J. Dionne, Real Clear Politics, August 19, 2008)


August 7, 2008

An article doesn't get much better than starting with a quote from the best movie known to man...

McCain Cuts Through the Farm Fertilizer (IBD Editorials, August 6, 2008)



August 4, 2008

In my opinion, all politicians are, or eventually become, quite narcissistic and egocentric. This is just an article that actually addresses this issue with one candidate.

Obama Cannot Keep Running on Narcissism (George F. Will, IBD Editorials, August 1, 2008)




July 28, 2008

In my husband's words... "I'll live in a cardboard box before I send my kids to public school if this stuff gets any traction."

NEA Teachers have become RE-Educators (Phyllis Schaffley, IBD Editorials, July 25, 2008)

** Just as a side note... we understand and recognize that the NEA does not represent the views of all public school teachers, nor do they determine the policies that are set. However, they are a special interest group that are lobbying our state and national governments with a left-wing agenda. It is good, as parents, to at the very least be aware of what's out there.






July 26, 2008

This article takes the cake!!!

He ventured forth to bring light to the world (Gerard Baker, The Times of London, July 25, 2008)


July 24, 2008

It's been a while since I've posted any articles. Been a little busy getting ready for, going on, and cleaning up after vacation.

This article struck me on several levels. These were not new ideas to me. In fact, the pervasiveness of similar attitudes within our own borders is astounding to me. Mr. Obamas views and appeal to those with these views is why his patriotism is questioned in my opinion.

Europe's Mosh Pit Of Anti-Americanism Awaits Barack Obama With Open Arms (IBD Editorials, July 23, 2008)



July 7, 2008

A Life and Death Issue (IBD Editorials, July 3, 2008)


July 3, 2008

Two interesting articles on life, the right to life, and the right to choose. Thought provoking on all fronts...

Considering "Death with Dignity" (Booth Gardner, Seattle Times, July 3, 2008)

Choosing the Children we want to Live (Ken BLackwell, Real Clear Politics, July 3, 2008)









July 2, 2008

There is much I could say on the topic of patriotism, the questioning of it, and the comments of the last 4-5 days between General Wesley Clark, Barak Obama, and John McCain. But for now, this is a good read for you:

How Relavent is Patriotism? Go Ask France (Thomas Sowell, IBD Editorials, July 1, 2008)


June 26, 2008

Let this not be true of us:

Faithful in pews might not be voters in November (by Phillip Elliot, Real Clear Politics, June 26, 2008)



June 23, 2008

I take this as a challenge of a more practical way to look at "climate change." It also caught my eye that a former client of mine from my LBK in corporate banking is mentioned.

Forget the planet, retrofit the Earth (by Daniel Henninger, Opinion Journal, June 19, 2008)



June 20, 2008

This article has a lot of numbers that kind of make my eyes cross, but if you can get past that, it's an interesting read:

Obama Turns FDR Upside Down (by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Opinion Journal, June 20, 2008)


June 18, 2008

This was just an interesting, thought-provoking read:

Democracy in Decline (Real Clear Politics, June 18, 2008)


June 17, 2008

This is a topic that I have posted about previously:

Will gay rights trample religious freedom? (Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2008)



June 16, 2008

This one may make you a little mad (my man suggested that disclaimer - he had a hard time sleeping after reading it because it made him so mad):

The Audacity of Death (Opinion Journal - June 5, 2008)

Summer doesn't have to mean time-off

Since the time he was born I've sung to my little man before putting him in his crib. Now-a-days, he asks me to come sing a song with him. But my standard of "Jesus Loves Me" doesn't always do the trick.


Son: Sing a different song.


Mom: Which song do you want to sing?


Son: The different song.


Oh, okay. I know just the one you're talking about.

So the other night we were going through this same routine and he asked me about my necklace.


Son: What's that?


Mom: It's my necklace.


Son: But what's that on your necklace?


Mom: It's a cross. You know, like Jesus died on the cross for our sins.


This is where I almost spew milk out of my nose laughing so hard... I guess if I were drinking milk...


As a point of explanation: I try to lead my kids to the right answer sometimes by prompting them with the first sound of the w____ (word).


Mom: And then, on the third day he was a____...


Son: A big boy.



Mom: A-live.


This went on for a few more sentences and I can't for the life of me remember all the cute sentence endings he came up with. But after a moment he seemed to get serious and he said to me...


Son: The soldiers cut Jesus body.


Mom: Yes, they did. They hurt him a lot.


Son: Yeah... they hurt him. The soldiers cut Jesus body.


I know he had to learn this at BSF in the preschool program because we did just finish studying Matthew. You know, we go to BSF once a week, and we've been done with it for 3 weeks now (at the time I originally wrote this on 6/4/08). I am constantly amazed at what he takes in and what he remembers. They don't baby these kids and I love volunteering in the preschool program at BSF. It's not just childcare... it is Bible teaching time. Yes, they play, but the principles of that day's story are interwoven through the entire morning and God plants those seeds of faith into them.


If you've got preschoolers, I'd highly recommend finding a day women's class of BSF to attend along with your preschooler (age 2-5). Not only will God grow you through it, but He will surely grow your kids.

And I really can't wait until Nathan is out of the preschool program and he, Sarah and I can all attend an evening class together. I hear the evening children's program is great also.


But for now, my little man continues to ask when we're going back to Bible Study. He doesn't want to take the summer off. And neither do I.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Foodie Friday - It's my party...

So, this week's Foodie Friday post is coming to you on Saturday (but hey, I started writing it on Friday). And I haven't had a whole lot of time to think about something fun and creative to post. I've been a little busy.

But I did a great job of documenting the creation of the birthday cake that my little man refused to blow the candles out on.


Its
my party - Lesley Gore





It wasn't until after a sit-down in his room on his bed (the 3rd or so time-out for the birthday boy during his party) that his dad let him blow out 1 candle on his piece of cake. I think he has issues with being put on the spot in front of a lot of people. His mom and dad (aka the spot-light junkies) just don't get it.



So like I was saying (before the rabbit trail), I documented pretty much every step of the birthday cake building process and thought I'd share it with you, whether you wanted me to or not, because, well...

It's my blog and I'll do what I want to...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And it was profound

I had this idea recently that I was just going to slide so far back in my spiritual walk this summer. I was hoping I wouldn't, but honestly thought I would. I took steps to prevent it, but was not confident.

I was concerned about not being in a structured Bible study atmosphere on a regular basis. BSF does such a great job of holding me accountable. That's what all their guidelines are about.

If you don't know a lot about BSF, there are guidelines that we follow during our discussions. For instance, we are not supposed to directly mention or talk about a particular denomination so that we don't single anyone out since we are a non/inter-denominational group. Sounds reasonable enough, right?

But the guideline that sometimes seems to bother people is that in small group, you're not supposed to talk or share unless you have written down an answer. Some people (including me at first) think this is ridiculous and such a hindrance. But after only a short while, I began to understand it a little as we are on a pretty tight schedule and it keeps us from getting hung up one one question as someone just thinks out-loud off the top of their head without having read and studied and considered the question. (Sound like anyone you know?)

However, only recently have I come to appreciate how it holds me accountable to actually completing my lessons at home rather than just showing up to see what I can get without any prior preparation. I have really experienced how God speaks to me through my lessons as I complete them during the week and then am able to share and hear other's perspectives on different passages.

As I headed into summer, I honestly did not expect God to speak to me profoundly without me being in a "Bible Study" with a real-life teacher and all. I didn't really expect Him to show up.

I was wrong.

I posted a while back about the changes I was making in my personal quiet time after having attended a BSF seminar on the subject. I have been re-reading the Psalms and taking note of God's attributes and characteristics. I've been taking care to not focus on how much I'm reading but on what I'm learning from what I'm reading and how I'm living in light of what I've learned. (To prove my point... I've been reading Psalms since May 1st... it's June 10th and I'm only on Psalm 16... I'd say I'm taking my time.)

Last week, I noticed one day that the word HOLY kept coming to mind. I'd read it a lot and already had quite a list of verses that mentioned God being holy. Then I sensed God asking me, "What does it mean that I am holy? What does it mean to you? How will you live in light of that knowledge?" I literally couldn't go any further and I had to stop, back away from my key board and just mull on this word that was plaguing me for a while.

Holy...

Holy...

Holy...

I began looking up definitions:

  • Merriam-Webster: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness
  • Brainy Quote: Set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed; sacred; reserved from the profane or common use; holy vessels; a holy priesthood. Spiritually whole or sound; of unimpaired innocence and virtue; free from sinful affections; pure in heart; godly; pious; irreproachable; guiltless; acceptable to God.
  • MSN Encarta: awe-inspiring; having a character that evokes reverence
  • BSF Notes (Romans Lesson 24): "Any sacrifice must be holy - without spot or blemish and consecrated entirely to God."
    "My people's [the people in my sphere of influence specifically whom I lead - my children] greatest need is my personal holiness." -Robert Murray McCeyne

And then wrote this:


The words “set apart” are really sticking out to me here. And I think that’s where I’ve been failing. Have I personally been leading a life of holiness? A life set apart and consecrated entirely to God? It’s not likely.

Lord, help me here. Help me to see how I need to set my life apart and consecrate it to you. Lord, as I read again the words of Psalm 12:3 & 8 you make it clear what personal holiness is not. It is not making my lips (my words and even thoughts) my own. It is allowing you to put your words in my mouth. It is taking captive each thought so that I am driven to think your thoughts. And it is not honoring among men what is truly vile.

It’s like you’re saying once again, “Take another step. Set your life apart from that of this world and consecrate yourself entirely to me.” Oh God – I want to. But I’m scared of what that means. Lord, I’d love to know what you’re preparing me for… because it’s fairly clear at this point that there’s something. But the fact that I have no idea what it could be makes me just trust and believe that I couldn't handle it or even knowing about it at this point.




I'd say God showed up...

And it was profound.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

VBS

Did you attend Vacation Bible School ever as a child? Boy, I don't know if you've noticed, but it has changed a lot since we were kids.

My sisters and I laugh that when we were kids, it was just a whole week long Sunday School with snow-cones. Now, there are all these elaborate themes, coordinating merchandise, videos, musicals...

My how things have changed.

Well, theme or not, I made my personal commitment to Jesus Christ through VBS the summer before my 4th grade year. And then, as a 6th grader, again it was in VBS that I remember having a new and profound (at least as profound as a 6th grader can be) brokenness for sin in my life that drew me closer to him.

Vacation Bible School was integral in my decision to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe and my Savior and King.

Now, as an adult (kind of) with two children of my own, I am a VBS director along with 3 other precious ladies at my church and both our Preschool and Children's Pastors. I love VBS so much because I have personally experienced what an impact it can have on a child. And I love seeing how much fun they have with these awesome themes and everything that goes with it.

This is my 3rd year in this position and I wonder if I will be able to pull it off again next year or not. We'll have to see how exhausted I am after preparation this week and VBS next week with also working my regular 25-ish hours on top of it all.

I may be fairly grumpy by next Friday.

So, all that to say, if you don't see me around here very much, then that means I am still trying to round up 3 more teachers for the spots we STILL have open.

Or I'm off to try to work for a few hours and not stink the place up too bad.

Or I'm hoping my son takes a nap for the babysitter in the afternoons.

Or I'm shuttling my princess to soccer camp in the evenings.

Or I'm just asleep standing up.

But man, I just LOVE VBS!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Blocked

Okay - I don't really think I'm a potty mouth. And I don't post any content that I think would be questionable.

So WHY on earth would my Internet parental control program thing block me from seeing my own blog for heaven's sake?

SERIOUSLY!

You have got to be kidding me.

Obviously I was finally able to get on, but come on.

I've been blocked from some of the most bizarre sites with this parental control thing.

I've been blocked from pages on a city's website as I was trying to find out where to mail my "no contest" plea for a ticket. I've also been blocked from the Adult Ministries page of our church's website.

And you know, realistically, I don't let my kids use my laptop, so why do I have parental controls on this computer?

Oh yeah, there was that one incident when parental controls would have been helpful...

There is a particular sporting goods store that is really neat. We first encountered this chain of stores when we lived in Virginia. Now they are here in Texas. Dick's Sporting Goods.

Well, back at Christmas of 2004, we got some money and decided to buy some exercise equipment with it... specifically an elliptical trainer. A wonderful investment by the way. I still use it almost every day... we definitely got our money's worth out of it.

Mike and I were each doing some research to figure out exactly what we wanted. So, at some point in this process I needed to go out to their (the sporting goods store I mentioned earlier) website to look at something concerning a particular elliptical trainer that we were interested in.

The smartie that I am, I thought I knew their web address and just typed it in - the first word in the name dot com. (Do you need me to spell it out, 'cuz I'd rather not right now... it's too embarrassing)

Oh my, the awfulness of what popped up on my screen... talk about vile... I had nightmares for a week.

And what did my darling husband do?

He laughed until he almost peed in his pants.

Just like he did this evening when I was blocked from my own blog.

Men.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Foodie Friday - The Fireman Birthday Cake

This week's edition of Foodie Friday is consumed (pun intended) by my little man's 3rd birthday cake. We're going to the local fire station tomorrow morning with a very few little friends of his. So, a fireman cake was in order.


I had several options from a fireman's helmet to building a 3-D fire engine or purchasing a flat fire engine cake pan. But I decided to go a completely different route.

I made a building that is on fire with Matchbox emergency vehicles all around it. This way, the fire engines and associated vehicles serve as party favors for the children (since I'm not big on just sending them home with a bag 'o junk as I call them).
.
I'm tired and just made it under the wire for this to actually be a Foodie Friday post. So, I'll let the pictures say the rest. I may post a step by step anatomy of the cake at some point later if anyone is interested.



Front



Back

Sound the Alarm!



The Terrible Twos are over!!!!

Let the Tyrannical Threes begin!!!


This is the invitation for my Little Man's birthday party coming up. I was really pleased with how they turned out. Nathan liked them also... because you know, what almost 3 year old boy doesn't like a fire truck?

I got the idea off Splitcoast Stampers (wow - it had been ages since I'd been out there) and I used the truck from the Stampin' Up "Loads of Love" set and just altered it with markers. It was nice because I already had everything I needed and didn't have to buy a thing.


So much of this week has been taken up with getting ready for the party.


I know that a lot of people say to not do big friend parties when they are so young... but I just love doing it. And I want to take advantage of this cute age. And I don't want to take the chance of him being past the fire truck phase before I get the chance to do a fireman cake.

Which segues neatly into this statement...


I'll do my Foodie Friday post later this evening once I'm done with the cake. Hopefully it will still be Friday when I'm finished with it. I'm really excited about it.


So... all out there... be warned.


The boy is THREE!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hate Crime or Love Crime?

**Warning - The Soapbox is back**


Feel free to just ignore this post if you don't want to read the rantings and ravings of a Christian woman who is concerned about the state of our world and country.



I read this article this week on IBD Editorials.

I’ll very briefly summarize though, in case you don’t feel like clicking and reading the whole thing. You should, because it’s an interesting read and not very long for the more ADD of us.

The main catalyst of the story is that apparently there are two American preachers living in Birmingham, England who have been told that to spread Christianity in a predominantly Muslim area is a hate crime.

Seriously.

A hate crime?

I have so many problems with this on so many levels that it’s hard to even get my mind around it. And some of the things I’m thinking about will just have to wait for another soapbox day.

First of all I have an issue with the idea of a “hate crime” in the first place. Let’s see, what we’re saying with the idea of charging someone with a “hate crime” is that we are going to punish what they are thinking.

For one thing; how do you know? For another; are you serious?

Certainly as a Christian, I believe that I sin in my thought life. We are challenged in the Bible to take each thought captive (2 Cor 10:5). It’s something I (and I think a good number of you) struggle with on a daily and even hourly basis. And do I believe that sin results in death? Yes.

However, not every sin is punishable by our civil laws. If they were, there would be a lot of politicians that would be incarcerated right now.

Let me take a tangent if I may…

I believe with all my heart that Jeremiah Wright is free think or say whatever he wants. But as a citizen of this nation who is over 18 years of age and a registered voter, I am free to decide that I will not support someone who has been taking in that kind of teaching over the last 20 or so years.

I personally think that much of what I have seen from Reverend Wright has been quite hateful, but no crime was committed.

However, I do believe that he will be held accountable (along with any person in a position of teaching or authority in the church) for any teaching that has led his congregation astray. But it won’t be by me or by you. It will be by God Himself, alone.

My point here is this… we don’t know people’s thoughts – only God does. So how on earth can we punish anyone for a crime of thought? My opinion… we can’t. The best we can do as humans in an imperfect and fallen world is to punish the action.

My next issue is that this is just absurd.

And scary.

We’re talking about the idea of spreading Christianity being a hate crime. Nothing could be further from the truth. People, like my parents, who are out there trying to show people Jesus are trying to show them His great immeasurable love. And they are doing out of His love for them. There is no “hate” about it.

And there is a dangerous precedent being set here. And one that we need to all be aware of.

We’re not talking about a nation that has historically been Muslim and under the laws of Islam. We’re talking about a great nation that has deep roots in Christianity. We’re talking about a nation that has historically made efforts to, as the author of this article put it, “spread the grand principles of the Western culture throughout the world.” This great nation is allowing its culture to be abandoned in favor of political correctness and moral relativism and this example, I believe, is just the tip of the ice berg.

But, with the epidemic of political correctness and talk of hate crimes here in the United States, when will our evangelical efforts among communities of different faiths be called into question? When will we, too, be guilty of hate crimes like this?

My fear is that we’re not that far behind the direction that England seems to be headed.

In fact, it’s already happening on this side of the pond. Several years ago, Canada added sexual orientation as a protected category in its genocide and hate-crimes legislation. Their “hate” laws are already preventing Christian based ministries from speaking the truth of the Bible with regard to comparisons to other religions. And not just preventing them from speaking the truth, but making them pack up shop if they don't comply and make certain statements about Christianity being equal to all other religions.

I just don’t think we’re far behind.

Consider for a moment the California Supreme Court ruling of recent weeks. If marrying any person of their choice regardless of gender is a fundamental right, how long will it be before pastors are imprisoned and churches are closed for refusing to marry homosexual couples? Yes, there may be a little bit of a slippery slope when it comes to what kinds of marriages might be performed. But the more imminent danger is when a pastor refuses to marry a homosexual couple and lands it jail over it.

I mean, Catholic Charities in Boston has already stopped providing adoption services because they would not comply with legislation and continue to allow homosexual couples to adopt through them. And it sounds to me like the bishops involved were considered the bad guys for sticking to their guns about the issue.



Both of these situations also bring to mind questions about the separation of church and state as well.

So, here's my question to you: What will we, as Christians in the United States of America, do when we are told that speaking the truth of the Bible and following God’s precepts for living is a hate crime?

I pray that we can honestly say that it’s not a hate crime. But a love crime.



"... but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ." Ephesians 4:15 (NAS)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Before and After

Well, it's time for our summer do's. Hair-do's that is.

Mike took Sarah to get her hair cut last Friday.

Before



After


I just want to say that I do not like Sarah's haircut. I so much prefer it longer. I mean, she's had it short before, but it was a little longer than this. It looked so cute last year when it was just a little closer to her shoulders.

And it doesn't help that it's a hack-job of a hair cut.

Her favorite place to go is Fun-n-cuts which has games and movies and everything kid friendly. Except for people that know how to adequately give a little girl a haircut with some style.

Or even ends.

So now one to me... because we all know, it's really all about me.


Before


After


This is pretty typical for me for the summer. It's not drastically different from what I had before... it's just quite a bit shorter. I like being able to get in the pool and not necessarily have to get my hair wet. I also like the quickness of the drying time.

Quickness is all relative I suppose. And when you have more hair on your head than most lions, drying time is important. I've been known to go through 2 hair dryers in a year. They just can't handle it.

I got home and my man says, "Oh, you got your hair cut!" All sounding like the "pays attention to that kind of thing" husband.

Don't try to pretend, dear... I know better.

He knew I was getting my hair cut because he got home early from being out of town and picked up the kids for me whilst the cutting was happening.

My man is notorious for not noticing when I get my hair cut. Not long after we began kind of seeing each other toward the end of our freshman year at A&M, I got a bunch of inches cut off my hair. Did he say one thing about it?

No.

He swears that he noticed when I got my hair cut one time in our LBK. He was picking me up from work (we carpooled together) and says he didn't recognize it was me at first. But I still don't think he said anything.

I'll give him credit for this, though... he knows what Jimmy Choos are. And really, that's all that matters.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Wild Kingdom

**Updated to add another photo**



(Warning - Please forgive my formatting on this post. Blogger sometimes makes me crazy with formatting issues. I really wish I could afford to pay for a blog elsewhere.)

I don't know about you, but we see a myriad of wildlife around our house. I sometimes wonder if we live in suburban Texas or on a wildlife preserve. Now, I actually am talking about real animals here... not my children.

Below, I give you some photographic proof of what we've seen since living in this house for 2 1/2 years:









A mama duck and 8 ducklings.









One of many lizards. This one was missing its tail.









A peacock.









A different peacock seen the same day.







Another of many lizards we see. These flare out their throat and it turns bright red. They can also jump quite amazingly as well.



A road-runner... yes, "beep-beep" a roadrunner. He started out on top of my house. This picture was taken down the street.





A rather large snake that was drivng my dogs insane. Mike caught it and took it to animal control. It is a non-venomous water snake of some kind.










A large wolf spider.








Yet another lizard.



(Have I mentioned that formatting on blogger makes me crazy???)

My man has also seen a fox around several times, but I don't have photographic proof of that.

So, with all these creatures, along with various worms, lady bugs and other beetles, I ask you, could I not host my own Wild Kingdom show?


It's great for the kids. There's always something to see. And my little princess is usually the first in line, especially when it comes to bugs and reptiles. You'd think it would be Nathan, but he hasn't truly hit his boy stride in this area.


No, it's Sarah who is enamored by them. In fact, the first place she usually wants to go at the zoo is the herpetarium (reptile house). She can't wait for them to open up the new one. It's going to be so cool and it has a neat name, too.

The Museum of Living Art.

Sounds sophisticated, doesn't it?

I'm sure they'll have some kind of black-tie opening for it with lots of muckity-mucks walking around sipping white wine. I'll be invited, to be sure. But I won't be able to afford a ticket. Because of course, it'll be a fundraising event that will be so expensive that I'd have to raise funds just to attend.

What a rabbit trail...

So, my point is...

My kids love the local wild life almost as much as they are the local wild life.

Yeah, that was my point... I'm the queen of my very own Wild Kingdom.