Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brace yourself

We have had a week that has been full of news. Good and bad and some a mixed bag of both. It's been hard to take it all in. My very oldest friend in the world, Kristen, who came to visit us a few weeks ago, is pregnant. And as it turns out, VERY pregnant. She is having not one, not two, but three babies (and no, she didn't take any fertility drugs).



all. at. once.

Shock, amazement and disbelief! And that's just how I feel at the news. Who has triplets?!! No one I have ever known. It is a major understatement to say they are flipping out. In a good way, but also in a scared, freaked out, can't-believe-this-is-happening way.

The beauty of life is bursting at us with this news. But then we have the other side. Cancer. Surgeries. Hospice. Death. And I am not sure how we are supposed to reconcile all of this at once. How do we take in the enormity of three babies and the joy and the excitement and the wonder? But also fully acknowledge the pain and suffering and loss?

It now seems even more appropriate that I have been learning about trust this week. I have been reminded that God is completely trustworthy. Especially when I don't understand how He's working it all out. I know that He is. I have seen Him do it before and He will do it again. He knows what's ahead and what's behind and He's got it figured out. This all makes sense to Him and I will rest in that truth until I can start to see it all a bit more clearly. Whenever that is.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Down, but not out

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

I've been feeling a bit weary this week. Wondering if what I'm doing really is good. But the Lord encouraged me this morning in a random way that reminded me of a few things that I really needed to hear.
-When I feel like not doing something or giving up, it is exactly at that moment that I need to do it. I can not let how I feel determine my actions in doing something that God has called me to do.
-When I am feeling discouraged it is so easy to become inward focused and have a big old pity party for myself. But that is so counter productive! I need to look to the big picture, to realize what God is doing all over the place, not just in my little piece of the wall (see Nehemiah 4).
-God's Word is my encouragement and if I'm not looking to His promises for me then I can blame no one but myself.
-Look around and find someone else's burdens to carry and it will put my own concerns in proper perspective.

Ultimately, I need to be calling out to the Lord. He is my strength. A wise friend said the other day that prayer is the language of dependence. Not praying is a sign of our independence and self-sufficiency. It's a dangerous place to be and somewhere I go to visit far too often. I don't want to be independent. When I am walking in my own strength I wind up discouraged because I get tired, frustrated and afraid. Thankfully, it's my choice to walk out of that mess and be led by His Spirit.

So I'm pressing on with the good the Lord has given me to do; with a better attitude, a refreshed spirit and His strength!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Share and share alike

I have been on a major cooking/baking spree of late. I am not sure where it came from exactly, but I know that Cale sure hasn't minded. I have also been wanting to try every new recipe I come across. In the last week or so we have had so many new, good foods for dinner. Cale is not a huge eggplant fan like I am but he even really liked Pasta Melanzana. We decided to put to good use all of the great vegetables I got at a farmer's market and made this Creamy Vegetable Chowder (or you can call it Rachael Ray's silly name for it Choup! And be warned, it was good but it made a ton. We shared with the neighbors and still ate it for a few days!) We enjoyed Creamy Stuffed French Toast (sans the hearts) for breakfast one morning. These were a big hit with the under 2 crowd.

Cale seems to be going through cookie withdrawal around here (I called him yesterday at work and caught him in the act of buying Oreos from a vending machine!) so I decided to help him out a little bit. I found a great recipe for so-called Healthy Oatmeal Cookies. It only makes 18 cookies which is probably why they are considered "healthy" because you can't eat 6 of them at a time without feeling like a total pig because you just ate a third of the cookies. But really, they are delicious and don't taste healthy at all. Best of all is that the recipe has ingredients that I keep in my pantry so they will be easy to put together anytime. So in the spirit of sharing, here you go:

Whisk the following together in a small bowl:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup while flour
1 tsp baking soda

In separate large bowl, whisk together
1 egg
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tsp vanilla

Add flour to mixture and stir to combine. Mix in 1/2 cup old fashioned oats and 1/2 dried currants or raisins (I used golden raisins).

Using 2 Tbs of dough per cookie, roll and form into ball. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cook on cookie sheet for a few minutes before placing on a wire rack to completely cool. Yields 18 cookies. Yum!

-from Everyday Foods September 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007


Yesterday I had to run to the grocery to get a few things. Kroger is not usually my friend, but it's close by so I decided to go there anyways. I was almost done with my shopping when something in the household cleaning aisle caught my eye. I started to walk towards the item when I was stopped in my tracks as my nose caught a whiff of a smell I haven't smelled in some time. Two and a half years actually.

The smell of a particular detergent (I don't even know what it was) immediately transported me to the aisles of Pick-N-Pay in Okahandja, Namibia where Cale and I lived from October 2004 to January 2005. Pick-n-Pay was a part of our daily existence as it was literally a stones throw from where we lived. We made almost daily trips there for brotchen (rolls) and fruit. We spent our mornings working in the office for Christ's Hope International and would get an hour break for lunch. We loved the fresh brotchen for sandwiches for lunch. And by fresh I mean, like hot out of the oven fresh. You can smell the baking bread before you even got in the store.

The view from our roof across the lot to Pick-N-Pay

We spent lots of time in that little grocery store. Initially because I was trying to figure out what ingredients I could get to cook with. The only problem was that new stuff would come and go and sometimes if I had planned on cooking chicken, there was no chicken to be had! I learned how to be resourceful in a whole new way. Our staples included yogurt drinks for Cale, muesli for breakfast, chutney for cheese sandwiches, Drink-O-Pop (like Kool-aid, but you don't add sugar) and pasta. We ate lots of pasta. Our occasional splurge was on a 2 liter of Coke or Sprite. They were almost $3 a piece, so it was definitely not an everyday purchase. Our favorite meal was french bread pizzas. Sometimes we would have to get creative because the store wouldn't have mozzarella that day.

(And as an aside, I realize how fortunate we were to be in a small town in Namibia and have access to a grocery store at all. I spent 3 months of a previous life living in a village in Benin, West Africa where we had to drive for 30 minutes to pick up basic provisions. Butter was our luxury item in those days and since bread made up 2 out of 3 of our meals, we appreciated every last speck of it. )

I remember travelling around Christmas and getting back to our flat in the late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Pick-N-Pay was closing in half and hour and would be closed for the next several days. We made a mad dash over there stocking up on supplies while also buying food for our Christmas potluck. There were so many people jammed in the store. We had someone just get in line (there were 2 checkouts) while the rest of us picked out our items. We bought the last watermelon to be had, the last of the potatoes, the bananas were already gone and there was no meat to be found. It was a crazy experience!

Maybe Kroger isn't so bad after all!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Root Beer Floats

One of Haven's new joys in life: the root beer float. She relished sharing one with Cale after lunch on the deck yesterday. The height of summer enjoyment!

And her cute little shoes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Being Mama to an 18 month old

1. The sweet kisses! She loves to give them and I love to get them! Haven's very diplomatic though and if one person gets a kiss than anyone else in the room gets one, too.

2. She "reads" books to us now. Her nightly favorite is The Very Busy Spider and she makes all the animal sounds and looks for the fly on every page and says, "Uh-oh" and it makes me smile every time.

3. She loves to laugh! Her sense of humor is really being developed and she likes to make us laugh and smile.

4. She knows how to work the system. Granted, this usually frustrates or annoys me, but I do appreciate her cognitive development and the way she is learning social cues. It won't be long before she really is smarter than I am!

5. She makes me appreciate the simple things. Her delight in the world around her, people she loves, eating a piece of cheese, reading a book, swinging in her swing, splashing in her pool...she takes it all in and helps me to stop and do the same.

6. She gives me lots of opportunities to grow. Patience, trust, grace, unconditional love- you name it and I'm learning more about it everyday. I knew becoming a parent would help me to understand God's love for me, but I never knew how intense the lessons would be and how often I would need to repeat some of them (see: Patience).

7. She helps me love my husband more. Haven has possibly taken over the top spot as Cale's biggest fan. She loves her papa unabashedly and brings out all of his greatness. He is the best and she reminds me to appreciate him everyday.

8. She loves to eat, especially meat and cheese. And since I am not a huge meat eater (I'll claim the cheese-loving gene though), I appreciate this about her. I love to cook for her and to expose her to all different kinds of food. She is a great eater and really doesn't not like much.

9. She is a problem solver. There's never been anything to high to climb or to far away to get around for Haven. She is persistent and will keep trying something over and over. It takes a while for her to get frustrated, something I can learn from.

10. She loves to talk. Non-stop actually. Some recognizeable words, mostly her own little form of gibberish. But she sits and looks at you and is intently telling you all about very important things, thank-you-very-much. Sometimes it's cute and endearing, but occassionally I wish for earplugs.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekend Relax

Weekends at home with out much going on are wonderful. Even better when you get to share them with friends. The highlights, in no particular order:

-Bowling with Chris and Kristen. I broke 100 which was a miracle since I only had a score of 7 going into the fourth frame. Perhaps it was the THREE strikes I got that helped me out! Cale completely and totally wiped out on his last frame. Laying-on-the-ground-wipe-out! It made the whole night that much better!

-Cheesecake Factory where Cale and I shared some luscious creation with chocolate, coconut, cheesecake, chocolate and caramel. Delightfully shared over conversation with good friends out on the patio.

-A quick trip to the Gap Clearance Center yesterday afternoon. Good deals abounded for all and I even stuck to my guns and did not buy Haven anything for next summer despite the temptation. (She has already all set as I have been stocking up at every clearance sign I have seen in the last few weeks!)

-The chance to be back at Apex and worship together. Being challenged and convicted which will hopefully translate into action.

-Appetizers for dinner, a great movie and more time spent together. A perfect Saturday night!

-An unexpected free evening and thinking about how to best spend it while watching Haven splash around in her pool.

-A long nap taken by my sweet girl that provided Cale and I some great quality time together.

-Finally sitting down and starting my embroidery sampler. I think I might be hooked. And I love this book!

-A great report from the pediatrician on Friday. Our girl is long and lean (and sometimes a mean fighting machine) and wowed the doctor with her non-stopness.

And the week ahead is full of things to look forward to!

Friday, August 10, 2007


We have company coming today. Kristen and I have been friends since I was seven years old. We go waaaaay back! She and her husband, Chris, haven't been down here to visit us in several years so we are really looking forward to showing them all the remodeling we've done in our house and just sharing our life with them.

As I have been running around cleaning, shopping, doing food prep, etc., I started to think about hospitality. Both Cale and I believe that our home is meant to be shared and really enjoy having people come for a dinner or an overnight. I always try to do as much as I can ahead of time so that I can just sit and enjoy time with our company. I usually spend the hours before some one's coming running around like a madwoman driving myself and Cale crazy. I have definitely gotten better at this as I have learned how to better run our home, but there is still that mad dash.

Thinking about it today, I think there will always be that crazy time right before someone comes over, but I think that I realized something about myself today. Part of my motivation for doing all that I do is not to make people feel welcome and at home. I really want to impress people with how well I do it. I don't serve with a selfless heart. Part of me wants to be praised and to be admired for how well organized I am and how great the food is.

I don't like seeing this in my heart, but I am not surprised. The selfishness of my heart is nothing new to me. It's not a new battle, but seeing it manifested in this way does take me aback. Up until now I have always enjoyed the planning, the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning that it takes to entertain people for a weekend. And I don't think the enjoyment will change, I just pray that my motivation for doing it does.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Wedding weekend

The last few days have been a whirlwind for us. We hit the road once again so Cale could carry out his best man duties as his friend Phil was married yesterday. We got into town Friday afternoon and hit the ground running. Phil and his new wife, Beth, had lots of loose ends to tie up including moving, cleaning apartments, wedding details, and packing so we did what we could to help them out.

The happy couple, Beth and Phil

The wedding went off without a hitch yesterday afternoon and despite the 97 degree temperatures and ridiculous humidity, we did survive the outdoor reception. Since everyone was covered in a slick layer of sweat it seemed less disturbing that just standing in place produced puddles of sweat. A nice cool shower, laying around in our freezing cold air conditioned hotel room and we were new people ready to hit the town. We were able to have dinner with other old college friends at a fabulous little Italian restaurant. They are newlyweds and we hadn't met his wife before so it was great to get to know her and to hear about their lives.

Now did I mention that we have been doing all of this without the added dimension of a one and half year old with us? We couldn't have done half of what we've been able to if Haven had been with us, so it is great that she is spending extended time with Nana. I surely would have passed out in the heat yesterday if I had been chasing her around as well. And we've been so busy I haven't had much time to miss her!

We had a few things to take care of this morning and then we made our way to the city of brotherly love. Cale is here on business and it worked out perfectly to tie it in with the wedding weekend. It also extended our Haven-less days which is good and bad. I am really looking forward to getting to spend the next two days with my friend, Gloria. She and I met when we both went through a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission. We lived and worked together for six months in Cotonou, Benin in west Africa. We did our DTS aboard the Mercy Ship Anastasis. My DTS experience could be the topic for several other posts, but I will say that God used Gloria in huge ways during that time and she is a friend for life. We haven't been able to see each other in four years, so I am incredibly excited that the timing worked out for this trip. She is a resident at a hospital in NYC and has a ridiculous schedule so it's amazing that our timing was perfect. Thank you, Lord! I can't wait to see her!

I have much to be thankful for. Watching two people who love the Lord commit their lives to one another is always powerful to be part of. Celebrating with the wonderful couple and having a chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Enjoying uninterrupted time with my one and only. Sleeping in. Going with the flow and not worrying if the flow disrupts someone's naptime. Knowing that Haven is having a great time and is being taken care of in every way. It's been a great weekend and I can't wait for the week ahead!