Friday, September 29, 2006

Cascade 2-in-1 ActionPacs Review

Revised to add:

Here is a link for a coupon for $1.50 off on your next purchase of Cascade 2-in-1 ActionPacs!


Sorry this is so long, but I have sooooo much to say about this product!


I have hated my dishwasher for the last three years. And ... it's only three years old. How do you like that?!? To be fair, I liked it for the first month we owned it. Not so much there after. Now, I'm sure you're wondering why someone would hate a mechanical gadget that is meant to relieve us of the worst type of work (in my book) possible! Because it didn't. I found that the powder detergents didn't dissolve, and the liquid detergents I used just dribbled all over my flatware, and any dish in the front of the dishwasher, and it would stay there... not rinse off, leaving me to re-wash whatever had detergent on it. Ick! And ... I had also become a slave to pre-washing... with dish soap, too! But worst of all, I recently had decided to save a bit of money, and purchased Costco's store brand dishwashing detergent. Let me tell you ... that was a disaster. Not only did it dribble all over my stuff, but it hardened into a shiny ribbon of melted-plastic-like "stuff" that would not come off, no matter how hard I scraped. It ticked me off to no end, because it ruined many pieces of my flatware, which wasn't cheap, and made everything look dull, filmy, and ugly!

Well -- a couple months ago, my mother-in-law suggested I try the new Cascade 2-in-1 ActionPacs, but to be totally honest, I poo-pooed her suggestion, because I had such little confidence in my dishwasher, and it simply boggled my brain to even imagine that my stinky dishwasher would actually be able to melt the ActionPacs sufficiently to get any cleaning done. I should have trusted her, because after all, she did turn me on to Dawn, the best liquid dish soap ever, and these little ActionPacs actually had Dawn in them! But as I've said before, I'm a little slow on the uptake!

Then... on September 12, Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer posted her review on the Cascade 2-in-1 packs here, and I left a comment explaining my woes, and promising to try these little ActionPacs. Lo and behold, a rep from Cascade's marketing firm (who is as nice as nice can be) contacted me and offered me a free sample. Of course, I jumped all over that! And within a couple days, I had an entire bag of Cascade 2-in-1 ActionPacs to try. (I must add that I completely trust Shannon's opinions, and if she said it was a great product, that was good enough for me.)

And that's when the quality of my life changed. Yes, friends ... it changed. I know, you're thinking that I'm being dramatic. Well, if you've ever struggled with a terrible dishwasher, you know what I mean. I hated sacrificing so much time to scrape, rinse (actually, pre-wash) and load the dishwasher, and these ActionPacs, miracles that they are, reduced my time in the kitchen dramatically.


Now, when I got these packs, I opened the bag immediately to get a close look at what I was about to use. And, I was still puzzled as to how my dishwasher was going to melt the casing and actually get my dishes clean, but I had promised to try them, and give and fair and honest review on them. But out of habit, I pre-washed first. And, even though I had done so, I was so surprised and pleased by how my dishes looked! Shiny! Clean! Beautiful. Even my husband was impressed!

So, I started to get a bit more brave, and put dishes in without pre-washing. Yes, I did! And guess what? They still came out shiny, clean and beautiful. And then, I just got plain ol' abusive with my dishes. After all ... they did say "no need to pre-wash" and I decided I was going to give these little ActionPacs a run for their money. Or my money. Or ... someone's money!


You read right. I got "abusive" with my test. I was going to try out every single sticky food I could possibly think of. Even my husband got into the flurry of excitement, reminding me NOT to pre-wash, and coming up with "sticky food" ideas. So here's an abbreviated list of what I threw into the dishwasher ... WITHOUT PRE-RINSING ... and everything came out clean and beautiful:

1) Dried on syrup
2) Baby Oatmeal
3) Dried on Yogurt
4) Baby Bottles with a film of congealed milk (okay, it was really sour cream by then) adhered to the inside of the bottle (that was a really tough one for me to put in without pre-washing, too!)
5) Scrambled egg and sausage grease
6) Dried up moist dog food
7) Plates with butter and melted Parmesan cheese dried on it (the WORST to get off)
8) Dried spaghetti sauce
9) Dried Chinese food
10) Salad dressing
11) Tea and coffee stained mugs
12) Dried on ice cream

I did not rinse anything, including flatware, glasses, cooking utensils, pan lids, etc. I only scraped my dishes -- a little. And you know what? They came out beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. Not one single dish ever had anything stuck on it. I never had to re-wash anything. Man, oh man ... I am sooooo in love with this product.


I even got generous, and gave my sister-in-law and a friend three pacs each (well, I certainly wasn't going to keep the good news to myself!) so they could try them out. My SIL is still trying them out, so the verdict is out with her. My friend, however, could not stop talking about them. They were ready to throw out their dishwasher also, and they didn't believe this would really work. In fact, her fiance had already started looking for a new one. She sat down and tried to explain to him how these babies work. He, like many men, pretended to listen. But when he opened up the dishwasher and unloaded it, he was shocked at how good their dishes looked... and she, being the good woman that she is ... re-explained it all to him, emphasizing that she did not pre-wash. He was sold, and they have gone out to get their own bag.

There you have it! Another happy customer!

How They Work:

I'm not sure "how" they work, but they are little square pacs that contain both Cascade powder and Dawn liquid. They are wrapped in a plastic that actually dissolves in the dishwasher, and Cascade claims that the two types of cleaner combine together to get your dishes extra clean and there's "no need to pre-wash." Guess what? They are right! And, as if that's not awesome enough, the ActionPacs come in Original, Cinnamon Apple Scent (next on my list), and Citrus Breeze Scent. A scent for everyone!

Final Word:

These little Cascade 2-in-1 ActionPacs are excellent, and I will never, EVER, use anything else in my dishwasher. They even managed to make my ruined flatware look great! And, I know you may think that this is very irresponsible of me to say, but I don't even care about the price. Why? Because the product eliminates so much time, effort and frustration out of my hectic life, that the price is well worth it to me.

Of course, now my mother-in-law is saying, "well, since I'm the one that originally told you to try them ... I should get a free bag, too!" And you know what I have to say to that? Yup ... she should ... so I'm going to the market this weekend to buy her one.

To read another great review on this product, visit Shalee from Shalee's Diner. She posted her review here.

And for heaven's sake ... what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a bag of these Cascade 2-in-1 ActionPacs, NOW! It's a decision you won't regret!

P.S.: How smart is the Marketing Firm for Cascade?!? They are having women try and review their products on their blogs. Brilliant, if you ask me ... after all ... who reads our blogs? Women. Moms. Wives. Singles. Yeah, and a few men here and there, too... just the people they are targeting, and on mass levels, too!

Did I mention they're brilliant?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fall Into Reading Challenge

As I've mentioned before, on numerous occassions, and at numerous blogs, I have been reading the same book since January of 2006. I'm still on chapter 3. Or maybe it's 4. I love reading. It's one of my passions ... but ... maybe it's time to set it aside, and try something new?

Katrina, from Callapider Days, has put out a Fall Into Reading Challenge. Now, while I look at this challenge as very, VERY daunting at this time in my life (working full time with a 1 year old and husband, and cavernous home to care for after work), I'm willing to give it a try. Why? Well, because Shannon, from Rocks in My Dryer, had this very inticing and convicting comment in her post about the challenge, and posting our reading lists on-line: "...maybe having it recorded for all posterity will convict us to WALK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER and pick up a real live book." Ouch. And to top it off ... I watch too much news. Okay -- call it what it is ... T.V. There. I said it. Out loud. Kinda. Anyway, I've decided to give the Reading Challenge a try. (I think I may have lost my mind!)

Here is a list of books I would like to try to read (can you sense a theme from the first four books?):

Home With a Heart by Dr. James Dobson: Find wisdom and encouragement on 120 family-related topics from achieving a high-voltage marriage, to beating burnout, to grabbing teachable moments, to managing temper tantrums. Oh, how I need this book!

Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James C. Dobson: The Joys And Challenges Of Raising Boys Explained

The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James C. Dobson: advice on shaping the will of the strong-willed child. Learn the strategies that succeed, those that fail, and the encouragement of knowing how that headstrong child can become a man or woman of great character.

Creative Correction - Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline by Lisa Whelchel: When your children aren't behaving, getting frustrated seems the next most logical thing to do. Don't let yourself! Instead, become inspired with Creative Correction! Sometimes the tried methods aren't so true. This book gives great tips for practical alternatives that will be more rewarding -- for both you and your children!

Change-up on theme (I may just have to "mix" up the books so I don't get crazed with discipline!):

Fingerprints of God -- Recognizing God's Touch in Your Life by Jennifer Rothschild: You know how meaningful a touch can be--soothing, encouraging, warm. But can the invisible God warm you with His unseen hand? Can His touch affirm you and guide you? Can His embrace comfort you and restore your sense of value? In her poignant, winsome say, Jennifer Rothschild reveals that God's touch is not skin on skin, but it's just as real. No human touch can be so intimate, so true. And your very life is covered with His fingerprints

Lessons I Learned in the Dark by Jennifer Rothschild: At the age of fifteen, Jennifer Rothchild confronted two unshakable realities: Blindness is inevitable...and God is enough. Now this popular author, speaker, and recording artist offers poignant autobiographical sketches that illuminate a path to freedom and fulfillment despite adversity. You'll catch a glimpse of the author's unique--yet univeral--struggles as a college student, newlywed, parent, and friend who's had to learn to live out her faith in the dark.

This is more reading than I have done in the last year, but, I've really got to get back into it, because I love it so much.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


First, I have a quick question. It seems that my perfect and angelic little boy has taken a liking to throwing temper tantrums. Oh, yes. Temper tantrums. Joy. In fact, the other day, he threw a tantrum and a set of plastic (play) car-keys at his daycare provider. We are soooo not happy about this. But, we don't know what to do about it! So, I'm asking for suggestions on Christian books that we can read that will teach us how to (a) nip this in the bud now, and (b) discipline a one-year-old. You can either email me or leave me a message in the comment section. Now ... on to other randomness...

Last night, I had to run to the grocery store to get some milk and PediaCare for Hunter. When I got to the checkout, I looked in my wallet and saw that I only had five one-dollar bills. So, I paid by debit. Imagine my wonderful surprise this morning when I removed those same five one-dollar bills to pay for my breakfast, and low and behold, found that one of those ones was actually a ten, and one of those ones was actually a twenty! Now, I see this for what it is ... a total God thing. Why? Well, because have my money out of order. Ever. All my bills face the same direction, and they are all in sequential order. Always. And suddenly, they aren't. Suddenly, a ten and a twenty (and not in the right order, I might add), are tossed into the middle of a bunch of ones! So, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it's a God thing. Just when I needed gas in the tank, and I don't get paid until tomorrow. In fact, this morning, I was just wondering if I would make it until tomorrow morning, when the gas light flicked on. Now, I need not worry, hallelujah! Well, I guess I could have charged it ... but ... ummm ... Naaah. I'll save charging stuff for something more important ... like this! (oh, I just can't wait!)

My husband, on the other hand, throws his money into his wallet every-which-way [shudder]. I think it's a "man" thing. Fives, ones, twenties [a rarity], more ones, tens, crumpled ones, folded bills, wadded bills. It's just a regular Lollapalooza of mixed-up bills in his wallet. Therefore, he would probably NEVER notice a God think like I did. Thank goodness I keep my money organized! And, thank you Lord for your special gift this week! Now ... are you ready for more randomness?

You might as well know, that while my money is in order in my wallet ... my home is NOT in order. Strange, huh? Well, if I had a few more "God things" like I did today, and say, a few $100 bills were found in my wallet, I might be able to hire someone to organize my home ... but I know that's not what God wants me to use my money on. He wants me to buy some jewelry gasoline. Anyway ... Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie has encouraged me to organize my home (this is a ministry, people!). She even challenged me to take pictures and send them to her. GASP!!!!! So, this weekend, my organizing begins as I prepare my home for Hunter's First Birthday Party on the 7th (can you believe it?). My first items to tackle (hopefully this weekend) will be to baby-proof our home, sort all of Hunter's old clothing by size (in preparation of packing them away), pack away all knick-knacks that are within child reach, and pack away the CD holder and CDs, which amazingly, Hunter has NOT pulled down on himself yet (he is simply fascinated by CDs, and he is always pulling on the holder which stands about 4 feet high and is loaded with CDs -- "danger, Will Robinson!").

Have you ever noticed what an awful speller I am?

Finally, for some extra special randomness ... I had to share with you some cosmetic goodness. A few weeks ago, I took serious inventory of my old, OLD make-up, and how I had started to look without makeup ... a scary thought indeed, so I won't share pictures with you. Added to that, Hecht Company was purchased by Macy's last year, and a few weekends ago, they had their "grand opening," which really meant, "come on in and buy a lot of the same stuff, but get it on sale because we've changed our name!" Now, I know I've mentioned before that I don't go for name-brand cosmetics. In fact, I try to go as cosmetic free as possible, with the exception of some eyeliner and mascara. But, seeing that I was starting to look like a run-down, haggard excuse for a mom, I purchased some new cosmetics from Clinique, which I totally love. Their eyeshadows are so pretty, and yes, occasionally, I like to slap some color on my lids (read: for church). And Maybeline had decided to discontinue the colors I loved -- PERISH THE THOUGHT. So, I turned to Clinique. But... I look at it as a long-term investment. AND, I used my own spending money. So proud!

Anyway ... I found this scrumptious, beautiful, amazingly new lip gloss at the Clinique counter. It's called Full Potential Lips. It promises to plump your lips (I think it does). It promises to shine (it really does!). It's a small tube, and it's such a puuurty color. I got Voluptuous Violet. It's not really "violet" like the color our grandmas used to wear. It's more neutral, than anything. But it lasts a really long time, and I just love it. If you have my coloring, you should pop into the store and try it on ... I am a "winter" toned person -- pale-ish skin with a bit of red in my face, but with a violet undertone, and with brown hair (ignore the grey). And right now, Clinique is having a "Lucky Deal of the Month Sweepstakes" to win a free tube of this yummy stuff. So now, I wear eyeliner, mascara, AND lipgloss.

I know, I know ... so shey-shey-pooh-pooh.

So, now that you've read all my rambling randomness ... have a glorious day in the Lord!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday Toss-up (& a rabbit trail)

I received an email from Dayspring Cards today (I guess they send you their sale emails once you sign up to send a free e-card) ... anyway, it had this scripture which I thought was just perfect for Fall... "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8 (NIV) Isn't that a beautiful promise to us?

One thing I find simply amazing is ... that no matter what the season is, God always has beauty waiting for us... so when the summer grass withers and the spring and summer flowers fall, the leaves begin to turn beautiful colors and dazzle us with an array of breathtaking color! And ... when the leaves fall, and the weather gets very cold, we get to enjoy beautiful icicles dripping from the tree limbs, snow glistening in the fields and capping the mountains like thick fur coats. And, once all that begins to melt away, the bright and fresh green grass pops up, along with the spring flowers. Beauty is everywhere we look, we just have to take the time to discover it! And no matter how gray, wet, cold or overcast this fall or winter might get, God's Word is always there waiting to warm our hearts, open our eyes, and cast a golden glow on everything!

I know I'm going way off track here, but hey ... I am the queen of rabbit trails ... remember ... I'm practicing being a rabazelle. Anyway, imagine that you are Mrs. Noah. First of all ... did you realize she was only referred to as "Noah's wife"? That's just wrong! But, from what I understand, according to Jewish tradition her name is Naamah... but STILL! After putting up with a boat full of stinky animals (ehem ... and humans) for over a year, living on stale, old, food and water, and having to do manual labor to muck stalls and feed all those animals, you'd think that someone, somewhere in the Bible, would at LEAST drop her name here or there! ANYWAY ... Can you imagine the change she faced when they opened the ark's doors? The land that she knew before the flood was gone, and now, she was surrounded by water! What a change! And probably, there were changes in the temperatures, as well many other changes I can't even fathom.

So, I guess we are fortunate in that we know what to expect each season, and we're not tossed around each season in a huge, dark ark with clamoring animals and people everywhere, and no idea what we'll see when the storms are over.

So -- how was that for a rabbit trail? Pretty good, huh? But, I can swing off of that rabbit trail with this (watch me work):

Mrs. Noah must have been a very courageous woman. Her world was turned upside down. Her friends, and probably some family members, perished in the most horrific storm ever to occur. She was mocked and ridiculed, but yet, she had tremendous faith in a time when everything she knew was getting ready to be destroyed. Imagine hearing people's (and animal's) screams as they were drowning? I can only equate it to the horrors of the tsunami of 2004 in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and thousands more were missing and lost. The people that survived the tsunami all have their own horror stories and experiences. Mrs. Noah must have possessed a great strength that can only be found in one who is deeply and spiritually rooted to face such a great storm! She was a Godly wife. A Godly mother. A Godly woman. She was instrumental in saving the human race from extinction, for crying out loud! That's a tall order to fill! She was a woman of courage. A woman of grace. A woman of faith. A woman of strength. And, she had to stand on God's Word for all she was worth in order to survive. After all, he was there for them while they prepared for numerous years, he was there during the storm, and after the storm, he promised he would never bring another storm like that one, and he hasn't! His word stands forever!

Now ... after all that ... I have a Tuesday Toss-up for you ...

How do YOU define "Courage?"

(you thought I was going to ask you a question about the seasons, didn't you?!)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Menu Plan

Ack! I left my menu at home, and now ... I'm flying by the seat of my pants ... HATE THAT! Anyway ... you can scoot on over to Laura's at I'm An Organizing Junkie to see some more menu plans!

Okay -- last week, I planned several meals that got put on hold because we ended up going out to dinner with my in-laws at the last minute... so guess what we're eating THIS week?! YUP! Last week meals, and a few others.

Monday: Crock-pot Pork Tenderloin and Sweet 'n Sauerkraut* with scalloped potatoes
Tuesday: Salad with Balsamic Chicken and Pistachios
Wednesday: Pasta with peas and ham (white sauce), salad
Thursday: Grilled chicken caesar salads
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Eat out
Sunday: Soup/Chilie/Stew (I have home made harvest chili and beef stew both frozen ready to thaw, heat and eat depending on the weather)

On another note ... my boy is zooming around the house! He is walking... fast... while holding on to stuff, and taking about 10 steps (half way across the room) without holding on to anything! He gets so excited when he realizes that he can walk, and he starts jumping up and down and then ... falls. And laughs. So cute!

Sigh ... He is getting big and growing up so fast! Sob!

*Recipe for Pork Tenderloin and Sweet 'n Sauerkraut
Servings: 4

1 Pork Tenderloin (enough to feed 4)
1 2-lb bag of fresh sauerkraut (usually in the meat aisle)
1 cup dried cranberries or 1 can of the chunky cranberry sauce (or you can substitute the cranberries with a couple of apples, peeled, and diced)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Season-All Salt for sauerkraut, plus enough to season pork tenderloin
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

Place sauerkraut into crock pot. Add cranberries (or diced apples), brown sugar, 1 Tbsp of Season-All Salt, and soy sauce. Mix well. Sprinkle pork tenderloin liberally with Season-All Salt, and place on top of sauerkraut. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Why I love to use Season-All Salt: I use the "blue-lid" Season-All by McCormick in many of my dishes as a substitute for regular salt, because it has extra goodness mixed into it... not only does it have salt, but it has chili pepper, black pepper, celery seed, onion, paprika and garlic.

Several uses: sprinkle on steaks or burgers before you grill (cook) them; use in home-made vinaigrette; sprinkle on fish or chicken; use in fried potatoes; use on roasts of all kind, including roasted chicken; sprinkle on potato salad before adding mayonnaise.

Basically, sprinkle it on whatever you have that tastes plain-Jane or needs a bit of color. It will give it a great boost of flavor. If you have problems with sodium, you may not want to use this, as it does contain a lot of sodium. Also, even though this spice contains chili pepper, I don't find it to be spicy.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Warm and Encouraging Word from a Friend

Yesterday, Momrn2 from My Quiet Corner sent me a great excerpt taken from the book "Come Away My Beloved" by Frances J. Roberts. She really hit the nail on the head and sent me exactly what I needed, and it encouraged me so much...

I told her I was going to put it on my blog, and I hope you find it to be encouraging, no matter where you are in life's mucky mire! We all face impossible mountains that seem no matter how hard we try, we just can't get to the top and back down the other side ... whether you're behind on the endless pile of laundry; or you're overwhelmed with car pools; or facing a serious illness; or you are at your wit's end with your job; or your child, spouse or family member has walked away from the Lord; or your heart's desire is to stay home with your kids; or you don't know how the electric bill is going to get paid this month ... what ever the "impossible" mountain may be ... the following expert will encourage you.

Thanks Momrn2, for sharing this with me ... for taking the time to type it up ... for taking the time to think of me, pray for me, and hit that send button on your email. THANK YOU!

I Will Bring the Victory

"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Cor. 15:57

O My child, have I ever failed you? Have I ever turned My back on you, or forsaken you? Have I not been your refuge and your strong defense? I have protected you and kept you in sickness and in health. Yes, I am with you to help you now. Fear not. My purposes will be fulfilled in spite of your weaknesses, if in your need you rely on My strength.

My will shall be done regardless of the flaws in your life, if you count on the power of My righteousness. I do not work only in cases where there are no obstacles; but I glory in overruling the prevailing circumstances, and I take pleasure in bringing victories in those places where no victory is anywhere in sight.

Count on My coming. Know that whenever faith brings Me on the scene, everything is changed. Darkness is turned to light. Grief is turned to joy. Sickness to health. Poverty to My sufficient supply. Doubt to faith. Anxiety to trust.

No negative force can occupy the same place as My Spirit. When My Spirit comes in, all these things must go. Yes, they shall go!

As for the victory. I will come and bring it. Don't look for the victory--look for Me, and you will see the victory that I will bring with Me. After I have come, you shall behold the miracles I will do.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I've Lost That Loving Feeling

Dear Friends ... I'm sorry to say that today, I'm just not feeling very bloggety. I don't feel like sharing, I don't feel like thinking, and I don't feel like posting the "deep, thought provoking" post I had planned to do today. In fact, I feel like I've just been dumped by my very first date. I really haven't, it's just how low my heart is right now.

So, until I feel like posting serious stuff again, I'll post something that is lighthearted (for me), something that brings a smile to my face, and something that brings me encouragement (and, hopefully you too, if needed!).

For the "lighthearted" part: I was notified today that I won an award in a photography contest that was held at my workplace... not for the content (although, on his own, he's so stinking cute), but rather for the photography.

For the "brings a smile to my face" part: The actual picture I won an award for...

For the "brings me encouragement" part: (as if that picture didn't...)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday Toss-up

Finally, my lunch hour ... and now ... I can post. Whew. It's exhausting being busy at work! And apparently, everybody in my company has decided to surf the internet at this very moment, because it is slow, and I can not upload a photo I wanted to use because I keep timing out. Pooh!

Anyway, my friend Jeana from Days to Come has started another excellent series on Friendship... Y'all gotta check her out... Friendships--Bloggish and Otherwise Part 1. I'm tellin' you ... she's a "serious series kinda gal!"

And ... along the lines of her post, I wanted to pose these two questions for Tuesday Toss Up:

[Neat graphic will go here once computer cooperates -- and this time, it's not blogger -- maybe -- I'll be back later to update with graphic]

How do you define the word "Gospel?"
What does "sharing the Gospel" mean to you?

Well ... what say you?

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Cry of Outrage

Notice: Friends ... Shannon, at Rocks In My Dryer has taken the time to bring something (which I found quite shocking and plain wrong) to our attention -- a terrible comparison made by Rosie O'Donnell, co-host of The View, on Thursday morning's show: "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state..." I hope you take a moment to visit her blog to watch the video sequence and to read her very eloquent letter to Barbara Walters: You Have To See It To Believe It

I have joined with Shannon, as well as many others, and have written an email to Barbara Walters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (the only conservative co-host of The View), and have mailed a letter to ABC's Audience Relations Department. I urge you to do the same.

House Cleaning: Please let me know if the video from last week is slowing loading my blog onto your computer ... I'll take it down if it is creating any complications.

Menu Plan Monday: Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie has a weekly post that I encourage you to visit ... Menu Plan Monday. She, along with many other ladies, post their menu for the week each Monday. Here's mine ...

Monday: Easy-Peasy Chicken Pot Pie, Salad
Tuesday: Chicken with Cilantro Sauce, Rice, Plantains
Wednesday: Sloppy Joes, Coleslaw with Apples
Thursday: Chicken Marsala over pasta, Salad
Friday: Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin with Sauerkraut, Scalloped Potatoes
Saturday: Tilapia with Mango Relish, Mexican Rice, Fresh Vegetables

I know that some of these nights don't sound "healthy," but we make just about everything from scratch (including the sloppy joes), using fresh ingredients (and some canned).

Have a wonderful day in the Lord!

He Was Injured ... Injured Bad!

Prepare yourself for ...

A Friday Commercial Video Fest - -

It's advertising at it's finest, folks!

OH MY WORD! My SIL - Sunshine - emailed this video clip to me today ... and I just had to share it with y'all! It is so adorable! And ... he even uses the "real "P" word" (you'll see what I mean) without cracking a smile! So serious!

I have spent the last 2 minutes [read hours] trying to figure out how to put a video out on my blog ... and Lauren at Created and Shalee from her Diner are the two very smart ones that helped this poor computer-illiterate blogging-junkie figure it out... Little do they know ... they've created a MONSTER! So ... if you've already seen this gem, do an old lady a favor and play along, 'kay?

And, you'll probably agree with me ... this kid is simply edible! He's an academy award winner in my book!

If it were up to me, I'd get Blue Cross Blue Shield right now...

Disclaimer: This is a family-friendly blog. Please note that the "P" word referred to in this video is an actual body part and is being referred to it's scientific name, and is not being used in a slang or bad way. If you have small children around that you wish NOT to know the correct names to body parts, please usher them away from the computer at this time. Thank you.


A Broken Link!

This is not the "regularly-scheduled Friday Post," but I need to communicate with a couple bloggers, and don't know how else to do it. So... this is a somewhat "private" message -- strange, I know, but the blogging gremlins are at it again, and I just can't find any email addresses for these two chicks on their blogs! So, the rest of you can tune me out ... but Faith and Sandra -- I can't leave a comment on either of your blogs! Something seems a little wonky here! Maybe a broken link?

First of all ... Faith with Faithful Mommy -- Are you trying to send me a message? Each time you post something, and I click to leave a comment, I am immediately taken out of your site and into the "Some Gave All" site (I'm not even going to link it, because I'm getting a little tired of going there!). Now, THAT'S more than just a little wonky ... it's a whole LOT of wonky! What's going on, girlfriend? I wanna leave some comments, darn it! Okay ... How about a bribe? I have something pink and shiny and puuur-ttty for you, and I'll give it to you in October when we meet in Fort Worth, but honey, you've got to fix your blog! I'm starting to get a complex!

Sandra with Diarys Of A Stay At Home Mom -- Honey -- I.can.not.leave.any.comments on your blog. I know it's not personal ... you are totally NOT like that! Help a sister out here! Here's what happens: Each time I go to publish a comment, a little comment box pops up saying that this page contains both secure and nonsecure items. And ... it asks me if I want to display the nonsecure items. I, of course, select Yes. Then, I hit publish comment, and it tells me that the page can not be found. And to add insult to injury, my comment is L-O-S-T. Boooohoooo! (y'all just have to check out her Slow Cooking Thursday series she's starting with Crockpot Recipes! AWESOME!)

And, if that's not bad enough, I can not find either email addresses on either blog so I can email you privately to let you know! GAAAH!

Someone ... email me Faith and Sandra's emails ... PLEASE!?!?!

(Friday's Post will be up later)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How I Met MY MAN!

Barb at A Chelsea Morning has put out a question for us to answer ... How Did You meet Your Honey?

Well, it was fall of 1979. I was in the 7th grade Homeroom class, and there he was. A greasy-haired, freckle-faced red-headed boy that quickly became friends with me. I'll call him "Bing." We hung out, laughed, and occasionally teased other people in our class. He always seemed to protect the "underdog" and that was one of the things that I really liked about him ... because I was always the "underdog."

But in the fall of 1980, my parents enrolled me in a private school, and he continued on in public school. I would occasionally see him at church functions, because his grandmother attended our church, but we were only friends. After all, he was so not GQ-ish! (yeah -- like I was ALL THAT!). Eventually, we changed churches and I lost track of him.

Fast forward two years later. It's 1981/82, and I am attending high school in a Christian academy. I am head-over-heels in love with a guy I think is "Mr. Right." My friends tell me that someone else was starting to move in on him, and I'd better let him know how I felt about him. So, being the stupid young girl I was, I wrote him a note that told him I really liked him and wanted to be more than friends. He wrote me back and said he really liked me too, but only wanted to be friends. But he also said that he really liked my hair cut. OWW! That stung. But at least he noticed my new hair cut! I was so depressed and weapy. I remember praying and begging the Lord to show me the man he had selected for me.

Fast forward a couple weeks. My youth group went to Christian Skate Night at the local roller skating rink. We were half way done, when I glanced over at one of the tables and ... saw ... BING.

Boy, he sure had changed! He was clean, handsome, tall, and he was BUILT! But really, best of all, he was there with another YOUTH GROUP. Could it be that he was a CHRISTIAN? No way.

Well, I mentioned all this to my girlfriend, and being the shy person I was, I dropped it. And being the obnoxious un-shy person that she was, she did NOT drop it. She went right up to Bing and asked him if he remembered me from Jr. High (we were in 10th grade now). He said he thought that he did remember me, because I used to kick him under the tables in Jr. High. He wanted to look at me, but every time he'd skate by, I'd duck behind a half wall and hide. Did I mention I was shy?

Thankfully, my friend gave him my phone number, and he called me a few days later. We began dating in March of 1981. Actually, our first date was to see the movie "The Man from Snowy River" at the theaters with my youth group. I was so nervous that I accidentally threw my ticket away with some trash (we were waiting in line to get in), and he had to buy me a new one. He never even got mad. I totally knew he was the answer to my prayers. He was such a good person, and I felt so lucky.

By Christmas of 1988 we were engaged, but we didn't get married until June of 1990 because my parents wouldn't let me get married until I was at least 22. We've been together ever since. The first five years were very rocky as we tried to make a go of the relationship on our own, the next 5 were less rocky as we began putting Christ at the center of our relationship, but the last 6 have been amazing. I have fallen so deeply in love with this man, and I have never had a doubt in my mind that he was the one God intended for my life.

Even after 16 years of marriage, he is still my soul mate, best friend, and love of my life, and we still hold hands and hug and kiss and act like teenagers. He is so handsome, and he can still take my breath away. And ... he can make me laugh so hard I have tears running down my face. I can't imagine having married anyone else, and I'm so happy that my son looks just like his handsome daddy!

So, there's my story in a nut shell... Not the most romantic, but totally a God thing!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

His Grace is Sufficient

There are mornings when I wake up, like today, and my heart feels like it's stuck in my throat. I want nothing more than to be a "Stay At Home Mom" (SAHM). Days like today can easily bring me to tears as I desire so much to be at home raising my son, and a momentary state of emotional weakness overcomes me as I look at our current needs and see that there is no way I can possibly stay home... right now. And then, I'm also battling with work. I have applied for various positions that would possibly allow me to work from home on a part-time basis, but nothing seems to be firming up for me.

As I was walking through my work place (on my way to get a desperately needed cup of coffee), I began to pray... "Lord, you know my heart's desire, and you know our needs. I know full well that your timing is not always mine, but is always perfect, and I know that you can provide me with the peace I need to get through the day without an all-consuming cloud of depression settling in over me. Lord, place me where you want me to be right now."

Then, a chorus was placed in my heart. It's a chorus we've sung at Women of Faith conferences, and I know I have the CD somewhere... it's also a scripture... and I think it's awesome how sometimes God will place a song in my heart that is the exact scripture I need to hear!

Your Grace is Sufficient
by Martin Nystrom

Your grace is sufficient for me.
Your strength is made perfect,
When I am weak.
All that I cling to I lay at Your feet.
Your grace is sufficient for me.

I've been humming this chorus and singing the words (but not out loud of course ... just in my head) all morning, and all ready, I can feel Christ's strength moving in on my moment of weakness. I am clinging to my desire of being a SAHM right now, but I am laying it at Christ's feet, and HIS strength, and HIS grace is more than sufficient for me.

And really, I know this, but I just need to be reminded. Again, and again, and again. In fact, Momrn2's story of how she struggled with the very same issue, and how God came through for her and WOW'd her with a "New Way of Living" keeps me going, because I know that he will WOW me too. It may not be today. It might not be tomorrow, or in a month, or even a year... but with the perfect solution to my desires, and in his perfect timing.

Now, Lord ... can we talk about this dark, dreary, cold, rainy day? How about poking some rays of sun through those clouds?

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fall Decorating Ideas

Momrn2 recently did a post Requesting Fall Ideas So ... I thought I'd throw out some of my ideas for her and for you ... and if you have any you'd like to blog about, go on over to her post and add your name to her Mr. Linky ... otherwise, feel free to leave your ideas in the comment section!

About fall decorating: I LOVE to use natural things and then accent them with candles. Here are a few ideas:

Idea Numero Uno: I always love fall foliage, and if you have beautiful leaves falling all around you, you can collect them and place them in small bowls or baskets.

Idea Numero Dos: Some leaves even have long enough stems that you can make a nice fall flower arrangement with them. Place them, along with freshly cut mums or any other seasonal flower from your yard (or your neighbors ... I won't tell) in a small juice glass filled with water. That will make a nice "nosegay" arrangement (small, compact, viewed from all sides).

Idea Numero Tres: If you have older children that have outgrown their little orange pumpkin-shaped trick-or-treat buckets, you can do a few things with them -- a) fill the bucket with wrapped candies and place it on an end table or coffee table; b) fill the bucket with seasonal flowers and/or leaves (place a cup of water in the middle of the bucket for the flowers); c) fill the bucket with homemade cookies if you're having company

Idea Numero Quatro: I like to use a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables. If you place them in a nice bowl or basket, you can use them as a centerpiece at your dinner table or dining room table. Pumpkins, gourds, squash, zucchini, egg plant, grapes, apples, nuts, etc. (Just remember to check them and rotate them so they don't get all moldy on you!)

Idea Numero Cinco: I love to place fresh pumpkins at the front door. If you do anything like this, remember to place things in "odd-numbered" arrangements. For instance ... Three pumpkins in graduating sizes.

Idea Numero oh-heck... it's idea #6: If you have a lamp post, you can tie corn stalks around it. Most local farms are cutting their corn stalks down around this time, so you can probably get them for free... Don't forget to place some pumpkins at the bottom!

Idea #7: Make a scarecrow with some old children's jeans, shirt, boots, a rope for a belt, and raked leaves or grass clippings for stuffing. Use old panty hose for the head/body, and put a hat over the head. Place your scarecrow at the front door sitting on a lawn chair next to the pumpkins!

Idea #8: I love to use fresh apples to decorate with. I will get yellow, red and green apples (different sizes), place them in a large bowl or basket and put them on my counter.

Idea #9: You can hollow out numerous pumpkins in various sizes, and with a drill, you can drill holes in them and when you place a candle in the middle, it will shine through the holes! Cute!

Idea #10: You can hang Indian Corn from your door as a make-shift fall "wreath."

Now ... having said all this, I probably won't decorate this year, because I have a little one under foot ... we'll have to wait and see!

Don't forget to share YOUR ideas!!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering September 11, 2001

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

I recall having stayed home that morning from work because I had suffered from a migraine headache the previous night, and I wanted to try and rest and recover. I remember going down to the family room and turning on Good Morning America. It was about 8:45 in the morning, and Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer were just signing off for the day, when there was an emergency break and it was announced that an airplane had just flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings. Within 10 minutes or so, they were broadcasting live from the sight… it was at that point … live … that I witnessed the second plane being flown into one of the other WTC buildings. I remember feeling sickened and horrified as I watched. I recall the horror and shock that the news reporters were expressing – it was almost as if they were reading my mind.

Then, it was announced that a plane flew into the Pentagon. And truly, that’s when panic began to sit in. You see, I live in the Suburbs of Washington, D.C., and terrorism was just too close for my comfort. Also, my cell group leader was working at the Pentagon, and my worry for him and his family was immediately elevated. I began praying, and started calling my cell group leader’s wife to see if there was anything I could do. She wasn't home. That meant she probably hadn't heard. So I called her on her cell phone and asked her if she had spoken to her husband recently. She said no, and asked why. That’s when I began to fill her in and urged her to hang up and contact her husband. At the same time, her family, which live in Long Island, NY, were trying to call her as well to let her know that they were okay. God was truly looking over this family. My friend happened to be in Baltimore (about an hour away from the Pentagon) at the time, and was not physically in harms way.

The rest of the day was so surreal. One minute, it was one plane, one tower. The next minute, it was four planes, three buildings, one field, thousands of lives. The images on the television were just hideous. The commentary from the news reporters was frightening. I remember several things from that particular day that just sickened me, but have been permanently engraved in a corner of my brain, and if I close my eyes, I can still clearly picture them in my mind:

~The people streaming out from the buildings covered in soot, dirt, ash, and dust. Coughing, choking, gagging, crying, begging for help, falling all over each other, helping each other. Their faces were all gray with particles that were floating in the air, stained with tears falling from their eyes.

~People jumping out of windows, falling through the sky -- people who were desperate to save themselves and escape what would be their sure death. It was horrifying, and seemed so fake to see their bodies floating through the air while reporters were taping, and announcing, "another one has jumped!"

~The images of the second airplane flying into the second building -- almost like a toy. And then, buildings falling down. First one, and then, several hours later, the other. It was almost as if it were in slow motion. The clouds of dust that rose with each building’s collapse was so thick and ugly, and totally consuming of anything in its path – human, or other. The image of the Pentagon with a plane sticking out of it and the fire engulfing it.

~The thousands of fire fighters, paramedics, police officers, rescue workers, volunteers, ambulances, fire trucks, rescue equipment, lights flashing and blinking.
Later on in the week, new images would fill my mind:

~The emergency triage tents they set up with rows of cots and paramedics, and doctors and nurses -- all quiet, empty and void of survivors. Blood drives were forming left and right -- blood being donated for hopeful survivors.

~The phone poles, bus stop shelters, fences and make-shift bulletin boards covered with pictures and flyers of loved ones that had gone unaccounted for.

~The volunteers coming en masse, wanting to help -- to be a part of something so devastating and horrifying. The rescue dogs with little covers on their feet to protect the pads from sharp stones, glass, metal.

~The silent, somber procession that would form when someone was "rescued" or when a body was found.

And in the hours, and then days to come, the one thing that I thought spoke volumes about our Nation was the unity that we all experienced. The candles that were placed in the front windows of homes across the country; the flags flown from homes, cars, bridges, over passes, buildings, and just about any where a flag could be affixed; the people in the streets cheering fire fighters, paramedics, police officers; people renewing their walk with Christ and beginning to attend church; circles of prayer could be seen peppered across the city; vigils were held.

I also remember feeling a sense of insecurity in the days that followed -- I would often reach for my cell phone just to call my husband or family and tell them I loved them.

I was even affected at work, because we sent some of our teams to Ground Zero that very day. They helped in a number of areas: environmental, safety, and health services, field engineering support, rigging assistance, general consulting to various departments as requested, and restoration of telecommunications. We also brought in a team from our Nevada Test Site's Remote Sensing Laboratory that brought special equipment to look for signs of possible life.

Our Telecoms Team helped restore cell sites in Lower Manhattan, and with landline telephone service knocked out, cellular service provided an immediate communications lifeline for hundreds of people engaged in the recovery effort at Ground Zero. We were also instrumental in reinstating mass transit service from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan and provided construction management services for the expansion and construction of a temporary PATH station at the World Trade Center site and the rebuilding of two Hudson River tunnels that flooded on September 11. I am very proud of the tremendous contributions my company made during this time (and continues to make).

We also found out that a former member of our church, Stanley R. Hall, perished in the plane that flew into the Pentagon. I did not personally know him, but my in-laws and husband did, as did many current members of our church, and from what I have been told, Mr. Hall typified the finest of our nation’s engineering professionals (he worked for one of my company’s competitors, so I know this to be true). He was quiet, unassuming, absolutely competent, and a man of great personal integrity and honor. He was a man of deep faith, and on September 11, 2001, he went on to meet his Savior. We have not forgotten him, in fact just yesterday, our congregation spent time in prayer for all the September 11 victim’s families, and while we rejoice that he is celebrating with our Lord, we continue to remember his family and lift them up in prayer.

So, that’s how September 11, 2001 has affected my life. How has it affected yours? Take a few moments to remember, and if you decide to blog about it, make sure you go back to Shannon’s and add your name to Mr. Linky.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Like Most Things Sanitary

Definition of Sanitary: free from filth and pathogens ("sanitary" conditions for preparing food; a "sanitary" washroom); A state of cleanliness; Concerned with and promoting hygiene, good health and the prevention of disease.

Yes ... I like most things sanitary. Sanitary toilet. Sanitary counters. Sanitary floors. Sanitary food preparation. In fact, you might be surprised at how many times the word "clean" actually appears in the Bible!

There are some un-sanitary things that drive me NUTS! I don't enjoy my son diving hands first into the dogs water or food bowls. EEYUCK! Not Sanitary. Nor do I enjoy watching the dog lick the skin off of my son. After he's had a bath. Blech! Totally not sanitary! And I despise watching ants march all over food, flies land on on food, or any bugs near food in general.

But there are some things that are sanitary that I do NOT like ... YES! It's true ... for instance ... I do NOT like it when a spare sanitary napkin (a pad) in a nice lime-green plastic wrapper, hidden neatly in my car for emergencies, falls out onto the parking lot at church. In front of the Pastor. Without me knowing. And ... he picks it up and tosses it back into the car. All the while laughing his batookus off. Oh, my ever loving heart be still ... I can't even believe that actually happened. It's totally NOT a sanitary thing I like. Yes, I know he has a wife and understands stuff like that... but that still doesn't make me feel any better ... I am mortified. Simply mortified. After all ... this man preaches God's Word to me from the pulpit for crying out loud. GAAH!

Yes, some things are better left un-known, if not un-sanitary.

Updated to add: I have had to go into this stinking post and re-edit it three times because evidently Blogger has decided to be all "smart" and change words without my knowledge... What's up with that?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Strength to Endure

Just recently, Shalee over at Shalee's Diner did a great post called I Can Do All Things Through Christ and then challenged us to share how God has given me the strength to endure.

Well, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you, that my largest, most trying time was when we were battling with infertility. Many times throughout those years, I often questioned where God was, why wasn't he answering my prayers, why wasn't he close beside me, comforting me, guiding me? Why would he allow abusive people to get pregnant and have babies, or teenagers to get pregnant and abort their babies when I would make a great mom! I cried out to him so many times ... didn't he hear me?

Well, as I look back now on the many, MANY years we spent wanting a child, I see a few things that really stand out loud and clear:

1) I was such a terrible wife the first 8 years we were married. Hateful. Mean. Bossy. Independent (that doesn't really work too well when the two are trying to be one!). Cantankerous. Argumentative. Stubborn. Selfish. Fighting depression. A Christian by name, not by action. I had not allowed God to change me inside out. I was ugly on the inside, and it would have made for a rocky relationship with a child.

2) Our marriage would not have lasted the added pressure of having a child.

3) I would have been a "good" mom. But now, I am much more patient, mature (both spiritually and emotionally) and I have learned many parenting techniques by observing my friends raising their children. I posses the tools to be a "much better" mom than I would have been earlier on. (even though due to my age and weight, I am literally exhausted by 9:00 p.m. - lol!)

4) I came from a semi-dysfunctional home, with a father who is a recovering alcoholic, a grandmother and aunts and uncles (and cousins) who are/were active alcoholics, and none of them could communicate effectively. This affected me greatly, and I would have surely passed on some form of dysfunction to my children in some way had we had children in the early stages of our marriage. God has broken and molded both myself and my husband. He has taken us through the fire, refined us, and changed us. We are different people now (praise God!). We are much "prettier" now, and we are starting with a clean slate with this child! The curse has been broken!

5) I am not perfect. Nor do I control my life. I acknowledge that. I accept that. I no longer strive for perfection or control as I did in the past. And, that knowledge will help make me a better mom.

6) God continues to change us, but through all these years, I have developed a much higher level of appreciation for the gifts he has given us: marriage, friendship, child. I don't take as much for granted now!

God's timing is much, much, in fact always, better than ours. He knew our need. He knew our desire. He knew our wants. But he also knew what our futures held. He knew that we would eventually work hard to keep our marriage healthy. He knew we would eventually seek counseling to learn how to communicate. He knew we would eventually open our hearts to him and allow him in ... to do a deep, deeeeeeep cleaning. He knew we would allow him to change us into who we are now. And looking back, I can see that He really was there ... right beside me ... holding my hand, and giving me the strength I needed to endure.

I am not what you might call an "overly-externally-emotional" person. I can count on my two hands the times when I publicly displayed overly excited emotions ... One was when my dear sister-in-law (Sunshine) announced she was pregnant. I was so happy for her. One of them was when I had a miscarriage on Mother's day ... the day that the Pastor prophesied that I would be pregnant next mother's day (and I was ... with Hunter). One of them was NOT when I found out for my self that I was pregnant. Odd, huh? But ... I do get emotional when I look back and think of the many times God has saved my hide from sure disaster ... I do get emotional when I look back and see how much he has changed me. I do get emotional when I look back and see what a wonderful man he has molded my husband into.

Yes, God has given me strength to endure. He has been with me. He has held my hand. Even when I did not feel, see or hear him, He was there.

Shalee has another wonderful post (no surprise there) called Do You Ever Wonder where she uses a story of a mom and daughter conversation about things going wrong in the daughter's life to illustrate how several bad things by themselves look, well ... bad. But when they are all put together in God's order, they always work for the good. The post is excellent, but here is a small excerpt directly from Shalee's post for your reading pleasure... It is the mother responding to the daughter (she's referring to individual ingredients for a cake mix):

"Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful."

And then a comment from Shalee: "Too often we are looking at the ingredients instead of the end results."

How true is that?! The end result of all my "ingredients" is wonderful, but I sure didn't look at it that way when I looked at them individually... but I endured. It wasn't through my own strength. No. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit, the anointed Word of God, a strong and believing husband who prayed for me daily, friends that prayed me through my many storms, powerful worship music that I literally CLUNG to, and God holding my hand. That's how I endured.

So now, I extend the same challenge to you. How has God given you the strength to endure? Can you write a post about it? Have you already written a post about it? I encourage you, if not urge you to do so, then go to Shalee's post and add your name to Mr. Linky so others can benefit from your story and your encouragement. Old posts are welcome!

So far, you can read the following posts: Power of Prayer, by Shalee; Master of the Wind by Heather Smith; The Doctor is In, by Morning Glory; Faithfulness by BooMama; and Ken has a post, but I'm not sure which one it is, but you can go to his blog here: The Voice from Forever

I just want to close this post with my "anchor" scripture ... it's what got me through to the very end... here it is, both in the NIV version and the Message version:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " Phil. 4:4-7, NIV

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. " Phil. 4:4-7, Message

Blessings and love to you.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Speaking the Truth in Love

So ... what does that mean to me?

Well, there are so many scriptures that instruct us on how to speak to each other, how to treat each other, how to love each other, how to keep/maintain peace with each other. And you can take one scripture and glean many tidbits of truth from it.

But I saw the scripture I referred to yesterday (Col. 3:12-17) and saw a LOT of tidbits ...

First of all, we are God's chosen people. Holy. Dearly loved. And it lays out a road map on what we need to be as God's chosen people: Compassionate. Kind. Humble. Gentle. Patient. Forgiving. Loving.

So, in my mind, if I were to define speaking truth in love, it would most certainly have to be with a humble spirit, tendered with compassion, kindness, and a whole lot of gentleness. I think if I were to approach someone with truth, I would need to be certain that the Holy Spirit was really prompting me, rather than my own feelings or dislike for someone's behavior or mannerisms. Also, I need to be sure that I am bathed in the Word of God.

I think many times, people can come and say something to us in "love," but a lot of times, it's not the "what" it's the "how" that the message is delivered in ... you know ... that saying your mom or dad probably said to you? It's not what you say, it's how you say it.

But whatever I say or do, I need to remember that I do it all in the name of Jesus. Both unsaved and saved people watch us. They want to see that we are truly "different" in action, not just because we say we are. And there is a big difference to how a Christian should approach things vs. a worldly approach.

I guess I always need to remember how I would feel, were the shoes reversed. How would I want to be treated? With respect. With gentleness. With kindness. Tenderness. Softness. Without judgment. And, those are all things I see in the way Jesus treated people throughout the New Testament... so therefore, it would make sense to pattern my behavior after him.

A Pastor's wife once told me that she always asks a person before she speaks truth into their life. For instance, if she feels led by the Holy Spirit to speak into "jo-anna-blo's" life, she will say, "Jo-anna-blo, I feel like the Holy Spirit has laid a word on my heart for you. Would you allow me to speak it to you?" That automatically open's Jo-anna-blo's ears up, her mind and hopefully, her heart. And if she says no, then she would not have been receptive, and quite possibly, the timing may have been wrong. I always thought that was an interesting approach.

It is hard not to tromp all over a person with holy righteousness, all in the name of the Lord, and of course, truth. Sometimes, I find myself sounding very self righteous. I really need to constantly be on guard about that.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say, in a long, round-about way, is... just because what I am saying is truth, doesn't mean that my method of delivery is always loving, kind, gentle, etc. Boy, that sure does leave me with a whole lot of room for growth! I thank the good Lord that he is forgiving and loving whenever I tromp through like a bull in a china shop.

I really need to begin practicing being a combination of a gentle rabbit and a graceful gazelle. Hey -- A rabazelle!

I'm a rabazelle. I'm a rabazelle. I'm a rabazelle.

Yeah. Gotta work on that one.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesday Toss-up

Were you able to read Jeana's post about Speaking the Truth in Love? How about Lauren's two follow-up posts, A Crucial Element, and I Woke Up This Morning?

These two women have written very powerful posts, and I highly encourage you to go read them ... and then ... COME BACK, because their posts spurred thoughts in my little head, and I'd like to get your feed back for this Tuesday Toss Up!

As I read Jeana's post, and then Lauren's follow-ups, here are some of the random thoughts I was collecting:

1) We must strive for unity in the body of Christ
2) There must be spiritual maturity
3) It must be the Spirit's truth, not man's truth
4) It must be done with deep, lay-your-life-down love
5) We must live out the truth

Yes. I agree with all this. But something just kept twittering in the back of my mind. How does a person define speaking truth in love? What would it look like, sound like?

That's when this scripture caught in my heart...

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Colossians 3:12-17

Ahhhh -- that's where my question was answered ... and I'll share it with you ... tomorrow...

But for now, keeping in mind that we are all from different faiths, and that we will all have different "theological understandings and beliefs", when it all comes down to it, we are the BODY OF CHRIST. One Body. One Christ. So with that in mind, I am asking you to answer this question from your heart...

How do YOU define speaking truth in love?

And, what would it look like, sound like?

(notice I didn't say: what would it feel like, because honestly, receiving truth in your life is not always sweet and nice like a bowl full of jelly beans)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Menu Plan Monday

This is a quickie post, because we've been gone all day long shopping. We got in the afternoon so Hunter could get a quick nap, but he kept screaming and screaming and when I went into his room, I found that he had tossed both of his chupies (pacifiers -- they are called chupons [choo-pons] in spanish, and we just shortened it to chupies) and had an explosive diaper that was smeared all over his sheets, blankets, pillow, him, bear ... joy. It was up to his neck -- I kid you NOT! So much for a nap. No. Instead, he got a bath, which woke him up nicely, then we took him to the park to play on the swings, and then we had dinner with friends.

I'm pretty much wiped out. Of course, I wouldn't be so tired if I got to sleep in past 6:45 a.m., but that's when Hunter woke up, so we did too. Which meant Lauren got an early start to the morning, because I called her at 9:00 a.m., forgetting that there was an hour difference. Oops! Sorry, Lauren. Love ya! No! Really! I do!

Any way, my short posts always become long, so I'm stopping here and leaving you with my Menu plan for the week. Make sure to visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie and see more Menu Plan Monday participants!

Monday: Dinner at friends home
Tuesday: Stuffed Mexican Red Peppers with Salad
Wednesday: Chicken Marsala with Salad
Thursday: Stir fried rice and veggies
Friday: White Pizza and Salad
Saturday: Vegetable Lasagna Rolls with Garlic Bread
Sunday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Salad
Back-up Meal: Frozen Fish Sticks with vegetables of some kind

That's it! Plain and simple.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and don't forget to come back for Tuesday Toss-up... But make sure you do a bit of homework by reading Jeana's post on Truth and Love and Lauren's two follow-up posts: A Crucial Element and I Woke Up This Morning

Blessings to you all, and sleep tight!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fall is almost here!

I have this giddy feeling in the pit of my stomach. No, silly ... I'm pretty sure it's not the chicken sandwich I had at lunch. The giddiness is due to the rapid approach of my all-time favorite season -- Fall!

This morning, it was cool, dark, and dripply (drizzle, rain, drip, etc.) thanks to Ernesto, but it just served to remind me that the crisp fall weather and the scent of burning wood is just weeks away. I love everything about fall. Fall weather. Fall foods. Fall scents. Fall festivals. Fall candles. Fall clothing. Fall colors. There isn't much I don't like about fall!

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to go on Saturday drives through the mountains, and into the little historic villages surrounding the city where I live. The fall foliage is usually on proud display as the trees gracefully drape their limbs covered with reds, yellows, oranges ... We have one particular little village only 25 to 30 minutes away from me where three states intersect, and two rivers converge. It's just breathtakingly beautiful in the fall. The mountains that flock the rivers on either side are riddled with color.

It serves to remind me of God's majestic beauty and power, and brings to mind Psalm 8 -- here it is in the Message version -- I just love how it reads:

"God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs That drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble.

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, Moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, Why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way?

Yet we've so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden's dawn light. You put us in charge of your handcrafted world, repeated to us your Genesis-charge, Made us lords of sheep and cattle, even animals out in the wild, Birds flying and fish swimming, whales singing in the ocean deeps.

God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world."

Isn't it true? Our God is brilliant!

I mentioned that I love fall foods. I do. Oh, how I do. Pumpkin bread. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin rolls. Pumpkin soup (yup - love that too). Apple pie. Fresh-pressed apple cider and apple-cherry cider (did you know you can freeze fresh cider for later on in the year?) orange-cranberry bread, cran-apple pie, oh ... the list could go on, and on, and ON! And, really, who can argue with Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and all the trimmings? I also love walking into the house when I have a pot of soup simmering, or a chicken roasting. Mmmm -- comfort foods.

I was on my way home from work yesterday, and I was following behind a truck towing a wood chipper. They must have just cut a pine tree down and shredded it, because my car was filled with the scent of pine, which reminded me of my second favorite season (winter), but ... that might be rushing things a bit, and we won't go there!

So -- what is your favorite Fall scent, sight, and food???