30 November 2011

Being Thankful

No, this is not a late Thanksgiving day post.

Recently in my quiet time with the Lord (I’m still not getting up early to do it, but I am doing it), the Lord has been telling me that a Thank offering is much more fragrant to Him than burnt sacrifices. Not that I regularly slaughter a cow for the Lord . . . in today’s terms, perhaps that could be equated to works.  What I do in the name of the Lord is not always what is most appreciated (not sure if that is the right word or not) by the Lord.

So what does He want? He wants my attitude to one of thankfulness.

There are so many places in the Bible where the Lord tells us to be thankful – even when asking for something in prayer, we should ask with thanksgiving.

Today I feel that I had a test. You know, to see if I have been paying attention.

I don’t know if the Lord considers that I passed or not, but I feel a lot better about my present situation (I’ll explain in a minute).

It started yesterday. Well, really it started Monday. Monday wasn’t bad, it was just busy. Really, really busy. Read: no nap for Mommy. Then yesterday the kids were being pretty typical toddlers. Playing and busy. Naughty every once in a while.  A friend invited me over for lunch (what a Godsend she is!) and so I agreed to come over. My sanity was rapidly being whittled down to its’ last strings . .. Because I had slept in, I hadn’t taken a shower or gotten dressed yet, so I took Daphne upstairs to get stressed shortly before we were going to leave. I can hear the kids downstairs playing (and getting into a dispute, which they resolved when they saw my face appear at the top of the landing). I continue getting dressed and getting Daphne dressed (because at this point, she had spit up all over her outfit).  I realize later that it has gotten quiet downstairs.

Too quiet.

Daphne and I re-emerge from upstairs, all dressed and ready to go. I even had a new hair thing in my hair.  Kids are not in the living room. Actually there’s no sign of them.

Not a good sign.

I get to the dining room seconds later and this kids are having a paper party. With the files from the filing cabinet. Well, a good bit of them anyway. ::sigh::

Shortly afterwards, while putting Daphne in her car seat in the kitchen, the kids remove all the wipes from the wipes container one by one and place them all over the living room.

You ever have a morning like that??

Sierra was a huge help to me just hanging out for a good part of the rest of the day. J Thank you Sierra!

Today I had PWOC. And I overslept. I had planned on snoozing just five more minutes. You know how it is in the mornings . . . well, over an hour later, I woke up. Oh – I have to leave in 45 minutes! And shower. And get all the kids up. And breakfast should happen somewhere in there.

Well, we only arrived 20 minutes late for PWOC. Yay! I didn’t even miss any of Bible study, just the opening stuff.

PWOC was great. It was our last Bible study small group for this particular study, so it was bittersweet. My small group this semester has been so wonderful.

After PWOC the kids were just running off in different directions and I just could not keep ahold of them. A friend helped me take the kids out to the van (thank you so much Soni!) and we got everyone all buckled in and set to go. I was planning on going to McDonald’s to get lunch because I just felt too tired to even try to find something to fix for lunch.

Put the key in the ignition.

Weird sounds. No sound of the van starting.

I try again. Nope.

Sophie’s in the back saying “Mommy, turn the van on.”

“It won’t turn on Sophie.”

Call Mike. No answer. Call him again. No answer. Call his work number. That’s not his work number anymore.  When did that change??

Okay. Call his new work number that they gave me. Voicemail.

I’m sensing a trend here. I text him and get the kids out of the van.

We walked home from the chapel. I didn’t have the double stroller with me, so Edward rode in the stroller, I wore Daphne in a wrap and Sophie walked.

Sophie was such a little trooper. It took us forty minutes to get him and Sophie walked 35 of those minutes. She never complained once, just chattered the whole back about rocks and turtles and water and dogs.

Honestly, I was too tired to get mad about any of this. I just wanted to get home and go to sleep. I kept thinking to myself, this is just one of those weeks. Like one of those days.

Of course as soon as we got in the door, the kids started acting up. By now it was twenty to one, so they were pretty hungry and tired.  I just ignored Sophie’s tirade and fixed lunch and we sat down for lunch. Once they got food, their attitudes changed immediately. And I mean immediately.

As I was thinking about what a week it was while I was fixing lunch, a thought came to my mind: Be Thankful. In all things.

Okay.  So I thought about it. In this situation, this is what I’m thankful for:

That we were on base and able to walk home in a reasonably short amount of time.
The kids didn’t cry or complain or try to run off on the walk home.
That I had my wrap in the van so I could wear Daphne home.
That we have a van at all, even if it isn’t currently starting.
That our financial situation isn’t so bad that we can’t fix whatever is wrong with the van.
That I had the strength to walk home with the kids.
That it wasn’t frigidly cold or raining or anything like that while we were walking home.
That I have three beautiful children.
That I have a phone where I could call someone for help.
That I have a husband that I could call.

So by the time we sat down for lunch and I said the prayer, I just felt so thankful. Really. The van can be fixed. I can rearrange my schedule of appointments until it does get fixed.

The Lord is always with us and we should always be thankful. There truly is always something to be thankful for. We may have to look really hard for it, but it’s there. J

21 November 2011

Diametrically Opposed Views

I have written a few times about the reactions I get from the general public when I am out and about with my children. This week is no different in that I got opinions, although it was different in what those opinions were.

It was also different in that these two particular opinions were completely opposite. Even diametrically opposed if you will.

The first one was when I was at the commissary and it was a bagger named Dominic who was taking my bagged groceries out to my van. I was wearing Daphne in a wrap and he commented on how cute she was and what a blessing little babies are. He asked me if she was my first (I didn't have Sophie and Edward with me) and I said no, she was my third. I gave their ages, to which he exclaimed "That's wonderful! That's how it should be! My brother and I are exactly twelve months apart and my daughters had their kids really close too." And he was smiling. He genuinely meant it. He shared how when his daughter got pregnant with twins, she was really petite like me, and he prayed every day for those babies and at one point he and his wife went out to help her during the pregnancy.

I found it incredibly encouraging to meet a man who obviously loved children and was open about his faith as well. It was encouraging in how he saw children as a wonderful blessing of God. He really just made my whole week. :)

The other view was when we were all at IHOP after picking my Dad up at the airport on Saturday. So it was Mike and I, the three kiddos and my Dad. The kids were very well behaved during the whole meal - no crying, no throwing food, no coloring on the table (although Edward did color on the inside of the little table tipi that had the deserts on it). The waitress we had was very nice. Until. Yes, until. She was cleaning off the table opposite us where another very quiet child, probably three years old, had eaten with her Dad, or GrandDad. Children are messy eaters, given that they are learning to use utensils and don't have the years of practice that adults do (and hey, some of us are still messy!), so naturally she had made a small mess. As the waitress was cleaning up, she very loudly exclaims "I hate other people's children!".

Um, excuse me - there is a family with three very young children all of three and a half feet away from you. Mike and I were quite offended. Luckily for the waitress, my Dad was paying. (I'm not saying I wouldn't have tipped her, she just would have gotten the bare minimum 10% from me, and not the usual 20%).

The lesson in this: children are a blessing and if you believe that, speak your mind. You never know who you'll encourage. :)

If you're a waitress, keep your opinion about children to yourself or wait until after closing time to vent your frustration. You're getting paid to clean that table. I would know, I used to be a waitress. You never know who is listening and what it might cost you (literally).

If Dominic should ever read this (which I highly doubt), Thank you so much for your encouraging dialogue! It meant more to me that you will ever know! :)

16 November 2011

Friends and Advice

I have always considered myself okay (read: not good, definitely not great) at making friends; retaining them however, is something entirely different. I want to be brutally honest in this post - I just don't think I am very good at keeping friends. I have had too many friends that have dropped out of my life and I never found out why. Too many really to be a coincidence.

After this happened [again] recently, I finally learned why this happens. I like to give advice, which I admit, is usually unsolicited. I have a tendency to give helpful hints, suggestions, summaries of various clinical trial data, synopsis of helpful books I've read and just plain opinions on any variety of subjects. If you know me in person, you know exactly what I'm talking about. The thing is, I didn't realize how often I do this until some close self examination that I did recently (like in the last two weeks).

I also didn't learn until recently, last week, that giving unsolicited advice is often seen as offensive (yes, I'm nearly 30 and I'm just now learning this). Honestly, I really had no idea until a lady at Bible study shared about a conference workshop she took on unoffendable love. She shared how some women who give unsolicited advice don't mean to be offensive. I was shocked (yes, shocked!) that unsolicited advice is really offensive to most people.

The reason I was so shocked is because I myself love unsolicited advice from people. I have always been thankful to have someone care enough, even if it was a total stranger, to tell me what they thought or what they did if they had been through a similar situation or event. When I receive unsolicited advice, I listen and I think about how it might apply to my given circumstance or event and I decide either to take the advice or leave it. And I am thankful either way. Some of the best advice I have ever gotten was unsolicited and I am so thankful for those people who spoke out and gave their opinion or relayed what happened to them or told me about what they read in a book. Naturally, I never considered that unsolicited advice might be offensive.

When I thought back about why this particular friend was usually avoiding me, always had a ready excuse to not hang out (even if I hadn't specified a time or date), and refused just about every dinner invitation, play date, etc, (and this went on for months - you'd think I would get the hint sooner), I thought about why this might be. She had never said anything to me about having offended her. And then after learning that advice is usually not welcome unless asked for, I realized that I had given her quite a bit of advice. She was going through her first pregnancy, so naturally I volunteered all kinds of information about everything from morning sickness to labor and delivery options. I had well researched all kinds of things related to pregnancy and child birth during and after my three pregnancies. No wonder she doesn't want to have anything to do with me!

All I want to do when is help people. I am a helper. I have always been a helper. Even when I was a little kid I was always trying to help people do whatever I could. I want to share with people what I have learned, especially if I learned a lesson from a painful mistake. My motivation in giving helpful hints, suggestions, etc has always been to help. I truly never considered it to be taken as offensive. I may be naive, but so be it.

With all of this being said, I want to put this out there: if I have ever offended you by offering unsolicited advice of any kind or in any form, I am very sorry. I do hope that you will forgive me. Truly my intention was only to help. Never at any time did I think you weren't capable of doing your own research or coming to your own conclusions. Never did I consider you to be inferior to myself or think I was better than you or more knowledgable than you. If I have ever put my foot in my mouth (I know I have done that a lot!), I am so sorry. I have had to learn a lot of lessons the really hard way, and so when I see someone who is going through the same thing I went through, I want to help - and by helping, sometimes all I know to do is share what I learned. Why? Because I want to spare the pain that I suffered.

Patsy Clairmont's message at Women of Faith underscored all of this for me in what she shared: sometimes we just need to shut up, in the name of Jesus. So I am working on that. And believe me, it is hard!

"Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues." Proverbs 17:28

Women of Faith Oklahoma City!

Update: I have found the camera cable to the computer! Yay! So I will add some pics! :D
What an amazing weekend at Women of Faith this past weekend! Mike and I and all the kids made the trek out to Oklahoma City from Albuquerque so that I could attend Women of Faith, courtesy of BookSneeze (a HUGE Thank You to BookSneeze!!). More on the drive later . . .

Women of Faith is a unique event of inspiring speakers and amazing praise and worship. There is nothing like thousands of women singing a hymn of praise to our amazing Savior and Lord! I invited my friend Colleen with me (and it was totally a God thing that Colleen was able to go!) and I also brought my three month old infant, Daphne, with me. Daphne got a lot of compliments and comments on getting started attending Women of Faith early. I did take pictures, but alas the camera cord has gone missing . . . it might have gotten left behind in Oklahoma . . . so pictures will have to come later!

Patsy Clairmont was the first speaker on Friday morning and boy did she have words of wisdom for us women: shut up, in the name of Jesus! :) Of course, the way she said it sounds much better than how I am writing it; Patsy just oozes with humor in her words and actions. She based her message on Proverbs [17:28] that even fools are thought wise if they don’t say anything and the wise hold their tongues. That spoke to me personally as I am quite good at giving unsolicited advice, in the name of helping.  I like to talk, and I know that there are many times when I should have kept silent instead of saying anything at all; it was good to hear Patsy talk about what we should do instead. Patsy also said that there are three things we should all learn to say: Yes! As in, yes Lord, I want to do Your will. Thank you! As in, Thank you Lord for all that you have given me and blessed me with and No, as in a holy No when our plate is full or when we need to be focusing on spending more time on the priorities that the Lord has given to us (husband, children, etc).  Those are words I need to practice saying more often! Thank you Patsy for your message!

Andy Anderson was the next speaker; he came from a small town of about 4,000 which had two famous people, one of which was an author – and he was it! (I thought the way he put that was pretty funny.)  I hadn’t heard of Andy before today (although I had seen his book on BookSneeze, I just didn’t recognize the name) and Andy was hilarious. He was so full of energy and was literally bouncing all over the stage (and off the stage). Andy had some good words of wisdom for us on how we ask questions. For example, instead of asking “Is this wrong?” perhaps we should be asking another question of ourselves.

Brenda Warner shared her amazing testimony with us on Saturday morning (she was impressive with her splits too!). Brenda joined the Marines at age 18, and by 21 was married and a mother. An accident left her infant son permanently blind and with traumatic brain injury. When she was eight months pregnant with her second child, her husband announced he was attracted to another woman and was leaving. From being a married mom to a single mom on welfare, Brenda shared how her faith in the Lord grew and how she relied on Him daily. Through the loss of her parents in a tornado, her future-husband, Kurt, saw her grieve and wrestle with the Lord in her grief and through that struggle came to know Christ as His Savior. They now have seven children, including her first two, which Kurt adopted. Hearing Brenda tell her story and how the Lord brought her through her struggles in such a powerful way was really awesome.  I feel that I actually was the most inspired by what Brenda had to say, hearing how the Lord delivered her from really tough circumstances and seeing what grew from the ashes of loss and abandonment. The Lord was always faithful to her, never wavering, bringing her through the toughest and blackest times. That same Lord and God is the Lord and God that I serve and Brenda’s message was a powerful reminder of that.

Lisa Whelchel, Sandi Patti, Amy Grant and Marilyn Meberg were also there to share their amazing stories of faith with us. Sandi Patti also graced us with a duet with her husband, a truly special treat! It really was an amazing time of corporate worship with many other ladies and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to attend. Thank you so much BookSneeze! :)

07 November 2011

Bread bowls and lentil soup

Fall has definitely arrived and it has started to get quite chilly around here. And what does chilly weather mean to me? Well, a few things, but right now I'm thinking soup! There is nothing like a good, hearty soup on a cold day. And there is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread on a cold day either. So I have combined the two.

I got a recipe from Concetta's Cafe over the summer for Italian Lentil Soup and I decided that I would use one of my many bags of lentils and make it. And then my friend Michelle had posted this delicious recipe for homemade wheat bread bowls on FB, so I decided to try my hand at that as well.

Two new recipes in one day with three children (under the age of three)! I knew I had my work cut out for me, so I started pretty early. I figured it would take at least three hours to make the bread and several hours to make the soup (including bread rising and soup simmering). So I started soaking the lentils and chopping the veggies about mid-morning.

Of course I had was interrupted numerous times to nurse the baby, stop petty squabbles between Sophie and Edward, change diapers, get sippys and I think I even put in a load of laundry or two . . .

Two and a half hours later, I had all the veggies chopped, all the ingredients for the bread out on the counter and kids were all fed and in bed to nap (well, Daphne was napping in the swing). (I love how babies just kind of schedule themselves with the older kids in the house!) So I got to work on making the bread bowls.

First problem: directions said "add sugar", there was no sugar listed in the ingredients section. Triple check to make sure I'm not missing something because I'm tired or something. Nope. Nope. Nope. I refer to the back of the yeast jar and find out how much sugar to add. That problem was easy to solve.

Next step: directions say "knead dough in your mixer", as in kitchen mixer. That is non-existent in my house. I have no idea how to knead dough. I keep my computer on the kitchen counter, for occasion such as this, among other things, and youtube kneading dough. I have to watch the video about 5 times to make sure I had exactly right. Meanwhile I'm kneading the dough, putting my flour-y fingers on my laptop to push pause and play and kneading the dough some more.

Kneading dough by hand is a work out, let me tell you! It is really fun though, so I am not regretting the lack of a kitchen mixer at this point.

I get the dough kneaded just as Daphne wakes up ready to eat again. I turn the dough into the bowl and let it rise. I nurse Daphne, put her back in the swing and go back to work on the lentil soup.

After the bread had risen, I was supposed to divide it into three balls of dough and score the top. I have no idea how to score bread. Back to youtube to find out how. I sharpened my knife and very carefully scored the bread and set it aside to rise some more.

An hour later, I popped the bread into the oven; it baked and then I cut out the top to make the bowl for it.

Everything turned out well and on top and the bread bowls were delicious. So much so that my husband requested them every time we have soup. Score one for me for the first time making them!

I used the scooped out insides of the bread bowl to make bread pudding, which was really delicious too (another first time in making).

06 November 2011

Book Review: Pershing by John Perry


Most people have heard the expression that “If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.” I have never seen this more true than in reading about General John J. Pershing in  Pershing, part of the Generals series, by John Perry. Pershing is a biography of General Pershing, who was eventually the General of the Armies, the only other General besides George Washington to receive this distinction.

Regarded as one of the most influential military leaders in our history, Gen. Pershing had an amazing military career that included time in New Mexico, where he befriended Native Americans and earned their trust, instead of fighting them, to the Battle of Wounded Knee at Pine Ridge in South Dakota, to a teaching appointment at West Point to San Juan Hill in Cuba in the Spanish-American War to Mexico going after Pauncho Villa, then onto the Philippines where he won the hearts of the Moro people, then finally to France during World War I, where he was the main forcing in stopping the Germans just short of reaching Paris.

Gen. Pershing was a strong leader who took the smallest details to be of great importance. He was not always liked by his men, who never saw the softer side of the General who cried over the millions of soldiers who were killed in action in Europe or the General who earned the respect and friendship of the Native Americans and the Philippine Moro peoples, instead of fighting to conquer them. He led a regiment of Buffalo Soldiers in the Cuban campaign in the Spanish-American war; at a time when prejudices were the norm, Gen. Pershing treated all men with equal respect. Gen. Pershing thought outside the norm of tactics in all his areas of leadership: when some of the Islamic Moro warriors would tie long swords to their arms and go into the markets on murder/suicide missions (the predecessor to the modern suicide bomber), he had the warrior buried with a pig, putting an end to the murderous rampages that killed many women and children. In Europe, he stood his ground refusing to amalgamate the US troops with French and British fighting forces and instead broke the German lines with an offensive attack, perhaps saving millions more men from dying in the trenches. Pershing had a vision for the future of warfare, and today we are still using his theories of modern warfare.

I really enjoyed reading Pershing and I would recommend it for any history buff,( and anyone who is interested in stopping the Islamic suicide bombers in the Middle East).  I picked this book because there is a park on our Air Force base named after Gen. Pershing, and I thought that I should know more about the man whom it is named after. I didn’t realize that Pershing is one of the greatest Generals who ever lead American troops in battle; that he is a General who has somehow faded into the background when he should be learned about in every history classroom in this country. Perry’s book is a page-turner that reads like an adventure story which jumps right off the pages. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”