Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Rain


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Temporary Mom

Our friend Mady has been staying with us since Thursday morning.  She's seven and has an older brother.  She's learning what it is like to have a toddler sister.  And, Molly is learning what it would be like to have a sibling. 

Sibling rivalry erupted quickly!  However, I am amazed at how many activities they can participate in together, even with the large difference in age.  We've been busy cooking, visiting the Farmer's Market, running errands, going to the McDonald's playland and two different parks, doing the kid's activity at Lowe's and then painting our projects at home, playing with a neighbor girl, reading books, visiting with my mom and her two friends from Michigan, playing Uno, soaking in the kiddy pool, singing, and watching videos while I clean, do laundry, empty the dishwasher and clean up potty-training accidents (Molly has been pretty distracted by Mady and has had some big accidents).

Tomorrow morning is the zoo, and then I'll be recovering.

Hope for Hurting Marriages

There are three reasons I really liked this book (A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury). 
1.  It was a page turner.  I really wanted things to work out for the couple in the story, Abby and John, who had let love and faith fade in recent years in their marriage.
2.  It holds marriage in esteem. 
3.  Many of the characters have an ongoing conversation with God.  It reminds me to practice being in God's presence throughout the day and pursue intimacy with him.

Alternatively, there are a couple things I didn't like about this book.
1.  It was very predictable.  I knew from the start that Abby and John would turn back to the Lord and each other.  It had the usual fairy tale ending.
2.  Even though the main characters had serious relational flaws and had lapsed in their faith, the main family in the story was too outwardly perfect- he was a handsome quarterback at the University of Michigan that as a coach achieved a high school state championship with his son as quarterback, their perfect son-in-law breezed through the bar exam, and they had a beautiful lakehouse and, of course, everyone is very good-looking.  At the same time, their daughter's new in-laws are hideously socially inept and out-of-style in many regards.

Minor irritations aside, I enjoyed the tale.  The story is mainly viewed from the perspective of Abby.  She is frustratingly stubborn as she refuses to listen to her husband's viewpoint.  I'm sure the author intended it this way.  It is probably a message for many of us wives to not be so quick to judge as we look at John with compassion even in the midst of his sins and struggles.  

It was an easy, pleasant read that will remind the reader's of God's patience toward us and hope for broken marriages. 

I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review as a part of my participation in booksneeze.com.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Random Pictures from the Last Year

Ice Cream!

Texas Sky
With Papa the morning after Katie and Jason's wedding

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

See What I've Been Cooking...

Click HERE!

What Happens When Nanna Babysits

Biweekly Garden Photos

I love Texas!  I picked 16 jalapenos from my garden on June 10! 

We're enjoying basil and jalapenos right now.  I have about 6 small green tomatoes so far with lots of yellow blossoms.  The plants are taller than Molly now.  Tomatoes are difficult to grow in Texas.  These babies got shaded with a beach umbrella last weekend when the temps were over 100.  I'm praying that they stay healthy and productive.  There's a leak in the neighbor's sprinkler system that has resulted in standing water along our back fence for the last week.  Hopefully they get it fixed soon before my garden is affected. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cute DVD for Kids

Early in the tale entitled “Who is in Charge Anyway?” part of Max Lucado’s Hermie and Friends series, the viewer is introduced to a very cute flea named Freddie. In fact, I think he’s the cutest character in the movie. Freddie overhears a conversation that gets him wondering if he’s special. A conversation with God ensues. God speaks audibly as Freddie peers to the sky and listens. It is a little cheesy for me, but it is a neat way to get kids thinking about how God wants to interact with them through prayer. God points out the weaknesses and insecurities of the other bugs in the garden and highlights the way that He worked through them. Freddie is precious as he seeks to be significant to God.

My two year-old daughter warmed up to this movie right away even though she'd never seen any of the characters before. I showed it to her right after it arrived yesterday, and she’s asked to watch it several times. She could follow along with what was happening, but I’m sure many of the big lessons were too difficult for her to understand. She narrated what was happening in some of the scenes as she watched. It was heart-warming when she watched one encounter between Freddie and God and told me, “He’s talking to God.”

Check out this movie for your preschooler. It contains a good lesson also about telling others about God.

I received a free copy of this DVD as a part of my participation in booksneeze.com. The opinions are entirely mine!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ode to a Place

Yesterday my mom moved into a gorgeous new home.  It is located in a community on the lake with tall trees, quiet boulevards and welcoming neighbors. It is God's provision, brought about by the most carefully orchestrated circumstances.  She feels at home there; she and my dad had played cards in this home several times.  Even though he won't live in this house with her, she has memories of him there.

New beginnings also mean tearful good-byes.  The home she is leaving has touches of my dad's loving care everywhere.  There's the corner in the kitchen where he poured the coffee hundreds of times to serve it to guests.  There are the walls he painted according to mom's instructions.  There are dozens of small repairs he made to keep it perfect that no one else even knew about. 

Strolling through the lawn, the memories of Dad flood to me.  He loved working outside in the hot Texas sun.  I see the pool, waiting for the new owners to open it, and I recall him bouncing his baby granddaughter in the sun-warmed water.  I marvel at the thousands of pieces of native stone he moved to just the right spot to perfect his landscaping.  I sigh at the artistry of his impressive cactus garden, many plants having originated in the fields around the house.   His touch outside is everywhere, his handiwork alongside the Creator's.

The breezy barn was his respite where he could enjoy the company of his animal friends, pray, think, and occasionally escape to his hammock.  Many pieces were skillfully crafted there with just a few tools.  I saw the hundreds of feet of metal trim and stall walls that he repainted just a few years after painting it for the first time just like he did the garage walls and floors.  He had asked Ryan and me to help him and was so appreciative after we helped for an hour or so.  The portion we painted was such a small part of the entire job.

I'll miss the walk from the barn to the house that he made several times daily.  I love to try to imitate his peaceful gait.  I imagine him enjoying the breeze, chirping birds, and smell of mesquite.

Thank you, God, for the taste of home you give us here on Earth. 

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  John 14:2

...He blesses the home of the righteous. Proverbs 3:33

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  2 Corinthians 5:8,9

Mom's new house is already a home of love.  Numerous friends and family members have toured the home with her as she contemplated a purchase.  The previous owners, friends of hers, tried to prepare it well for her arrival, patching holes on the walls and leaving behind beautiful furnishings and fixtures.  Good friends from church carried in some possessions.  Neighbors have brought food.  She snuggled in bed and read a story to Molly.  I believe Mom will love and serve and encourage and support hundreds in this home in future years.

Dear Lord, fill Mom's home with your Spirit.  May it be a place of peace and hope and love.  Bring people through the doors that give life and healing to Mom's soul as well as those who need Mom to share God's love with them.  May her years here be rich and filled with wonderful memories.  Be her Protector.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Van Camp's Baked Beans Showdown

My friend Tricia at Once A Month Mom posted a fun giveaway recently.  The contest required participants to make both Tricia's baked bean recipe as well as Amy's Baked Beans with a Kick (the recipe of her opponent in the showdown!).  We then were to choose a winner.  I made both for a small get-together yesterday.  Tricia's recipe has fewer ingredients, using canned pork and beans (Van Camps, of course).  The additional flavors come mostly from a lot of bacon, ketchup and brown sugar- all good stuff!  The dish looks very appetizing and would get a lot of takers at a potluck.  It does require 2 1/2 hours of baking time- quite a bit during the hot Texas summer. 

Amy's recipe requires the cook to gather quite a few more ingredients and to precook the bacon.  It seems healthier- the sugar content is a lot less.  It only requires an hour of cooking time, and the recipe suggests that a slow cooker might be used.  The recipe makes quite a large batch, so I halved it.

Here is my analysis of the outcome:  Tricia's beans are sweet and flavorful.  The bacon is tender, and the whole dish is infused with a bacon taste because the bacon cooks with the beans.  Amy's beans had a terrific flavor but seemed drier.  However, side by side, Amy's beans had a more appealing taste. 

In four categories, here are the winners:
1.  Overall taste:  Amy
2.  Appearance:  Tricia
3.  Beans that are calling me back to the fridge a day later:  Tricia
4.  Preparation:  Tie - the ease of preparing Tricia's recipe is negated by the long cooking time

I asked each of my guests to try both recipes and declare a winner.  Because we had a large spread, no one went back for seconds.  So, both dishes had the same amount eaten from them.  All three of my adult guests preferred Amy's recipe.  Keep in mind these are Texans, and they like things spicy.  So, judging by taste alone, I declare Amy's beans to be the winner!  (Sorry Tricia!)

In the future, when I make Amy's beans, I'll definitely use the slow cooker (plugged in outside on the patio) or bake for a shorter time.  Eaten as leftovers they are even more dry.  I'll probably save Tricia's recipe for cooler days and make it as is.  These are both excellent recipes.  Try them both!

The top picture is Amy's beans and the bottom is Tricia's.