1159 the scent of lilacs from my bedside table, freshly cut from the yard this morning.

1160 getting the back yard mowed (grass just looks so much more inviting all newly mowed!)

1161 first load of laundry hanging on the clothesline to dry today, which had the kids literally jumping about with delight, saying, "It's summer, then?"

1162 the warmth of the sunshine and big, fluffy white clouds moving across the sky.

1163 sitting on the back steps with Isaac, listening to him read to me from a BOB book, and smiling over his delight over the pictures and story.

1164 sitting on a blanket on the grass with my Audra-girl... enjoying the sunshine and my little one's enthusiastic "mah-mee!" as she climbs all over me.

1165 finding Adelia's purple dress-up shoes and purple Dora watch on my bed this afternoon and wondering when she was in here, depositing those treasures?

1166 remembering Audra's delight when she stood by Mark's side of the bed this morning, pulled on a crinkly bag, and a whole bunch of jelly belly's tumbled onto the floor! and how fast she crammed her fists and mouth full. when Adelia (from atop the bed) asked for some, Audra wagged her little head no and clenched her fist tighter. to which Adelia promptly reached over, pried her fingers open, and plucked one free- popping it in her mouth, declaring: "Got it. Mmm!"

1167 Ella and Audra, sitting on the couch today reading books together, Audra giggling over Ella's antics.

1168 the satisfaction of coming in from the yard to a still-tidy living room. (One of the great joys of warmer weather: the inside of the house stays cleaner!)

holy experience

Attitude adjustment

I'm currently reading a great book by Sally Clarkson called Dancing with My Father.

Following each chapter, there are a few questions for reflection.

After a chapter about trials, one of the suggestions was to list the trials you were experiencing right now. And then she asked, "How does God want you to pass the test of these particular trials?"

The next question was especially helpful to me in light of a trial I'm facing: "What attitude do you need to change or cultivate?"

(To which I immediately thought, What attitude DOESN'T need changing?!) Once I moved beyond that, I was able to come up with a list of some tangible attitude adjustments that are needed, and then pray through them and ask God to transform me in these areas.

Here's my long list:
-an attitude of surrender
-an attitude of mercy and loving-kindness
-an attitude of joy
-an attitude of self-control
-an attitude of hope
-an attitude of humility
-an attitude of affirmation

I share this because I thought this was a helpful exercise in tackling my response to trials. It's easy for me to step into the woe-is-me mindset and grumble. However, it's much more productive to determine where I need to grow in response to the difficult situations that arise, and then focus on praying for that heart-growth!

Maybe this exercise will be helpful for some of you, too?


Geopuzzles are a favorite in our home. Costco has these right now for $9.79 apiece. That's a whole $3.00 less than the regular price, for those of you who are interested!

There are five Geopuzzles that I'm aware of:

Africa & the Middle East
USA & Canada
Latin America

We've now added two more to our collection (thank you, Costco) and have the entire set!

A someday trip and a link

One of Mark's favorite memories as a child is the summer his parents took him and his five siblings in an RV and made their way around the United States. I think his oldest sister was actually in college, and he and his older brother in high school. And his other three brothers not far behind. And if there's one thing Mark's family is known for (amongst other wonderful qualities), it's their height. These are big boys we are talking about. Mark now stands 6'6" and he's not the tallest son in the family. So the thought of all of them crammed into a fairly small RV truly makes me laugh. The stories those guys will tell- just about their sleeping arrangements!- when you get them together is enough to make your sides ache.

Anyway- the trip. We so plan to copy that, someday, Lord willing. There are all sorts of historical places we want to see, of course. I know we'll go to Pittsburgh, too- to visit a certain stadium during football season. I keep adding churches to my mental list, too, to hear this or that pastor preach.

I mean, how cool would it be to drop in at Times Square Church and hear David Wilkerson preach?

Another church I want to visit sits in Alabama. I really want to hear David Platt speak. In the meantime we just listen to his sermons, which are all available for free on iTunes. (Otherwise, I think they are available here.)

Anyway, if you have fostered or adopted or just want to listen to a good sermon: you will likely be interested in this message I recently listened to.

So, here's a question: if you could hear any one pastor preach, who would it be?

[Thank you, Sarah E... for passing on the link to this particular sermon!]

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

The Italian artist Caravaggio. One of my favorite artists. We haven't studied him yet, though.

This morning for our Bible time we read about Thomas. I always get tearful when I read the account of doubting Thomas. And always this picture comes to mind:

So we skipped our scheduled study of Vermeer and looked at this painting instead.

I just couldn't do it

I couldn't bring myself to make them. You know- those cool rolls that you can make for Easter? You fill them with a marshmallow and then when you bake them, the marshmallow melts and it's hollow inside, symbolizing the empty tomb? Great idea, I thought.

Resurrection rolls, they are called.

I considered making them last year, too- having seen the idea floating around the blogosphere. But my considerations occurred too late: I wasn't organized enough and we never got around to it.

So this year I was determined to do it. I bought the marshmallows and everything.

And then last night I hopped online to find out exactly how, now, do I make those rolls? And that's when I realized that I should have bought some crescent roll dough with the marshmallows. But no, that's okay. Surely there's a recipe somewhere online where I can make homemade dough. So I did a little more searching and found one. In preparation to make them, then, I skimmed through the entire recipe:

Mix sugar and cinnamon together.

Great, have that.

Dip marshmallows in melted margarine, then into sugar mixture. Wrap roll around a marshmallow, covering completely. Dip once more into butter, and again into sugar. Place rolls in a large greased pan and allow to rise till double (about 35 minutes).

No problem.
This will be fun. The kids will love this!

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until done. Rolls should be completely empty when cooled…like the empty tomb.


Give each child one piece of roll dough—that represents the tomb.

Mmm hmm.

Give each child a marshmallow— that represents Jesus’ body.

Wait. What?

I cannot imagine holding up a marshmallow to my children and saying:
"See this marshmallow, here? This is Jesus."

A marshmallow.

I realize that it seems I would have already made that connection: that the marshmallow would represent Jesus' body. But I didn't really think it through so much. But after thinking it through for about half a second?

Nope. I cannot say that. Cannot do that.

I know some of you can. I'm sure many of you have made these. I think that's great, truly.

Personally, I just couldn't do it.

Guess we'll just have to use those marshmallows for some rice krispy treats instead.

Thinking... about meal planning

As this past year came to a close, I spent some time in my journal reflecting on what I learned~ specifically, from having two children so young, so close together. My reflections centered not just with the girls, but also in how well our home operated during that time.

As is my nature, instead of coming up with a list of things I did well, I came up with a pretty hefty list of things I *wish* I would have done differently, or prepared better for.

One of those things is meals.

I truly love to make meals for my family, but I struggled to do so well this past year with a one-year old and a baby. So we have sort of settled into this pattern where we pick up pizza once a week, and often head out for some other form of take-out another time during the week. As for the other five days, it has become a COMMON occurrence for me to look up at the clock at 4:00 or 4:30 and wonder what it is we'll have for dinner, and in that moment of course lack any creative inspiration entirely.

Thankfully, I have a wonderfully supportive husband who tells me regularly that he does NOT expect a meal on the table what with all the other things I'm accomplishing during the day. Still. I expect it from myself, and it is important to me to feed my family and feed them well.

Hence, why "meals" made it to my list.

In hindsight, I wish that heading into this past year I would have taken the time to seriously simplify my meal planning/schedule. What I mean by "seriously simplify" is, say- choose ten meals and rotate them, for the entire year. Or maybe have one floating day per week or two where I make something different but basically stick to the same, basic meal schedule so that creativity in the meal department isn't required from me.

I have considered doing this before, but I've never done it because I tend to like variety. And I like to be creative in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes or simply experimenting with old recipes or ingredients. But I didn't have that luxury this past year.

What I used to do (before the eating out and/or What-am-I-going-to-make-for-dinner-now-that-it's-time-to-eat? phase) was this: Every two weeks I looked through my recipe binder/cookbooks, and came up with 14 meals. I then made a grocery list based on whatever recipes I chose. Shopped. And then, in no particular order- made those meals within the next two weeks. I just kept the list of 14 meals on my fridge and then, usually each morning- picked one and went with it. Crossed it off the list and kept at it until I'd made them all.

The spontaneity in that system is important to me for some reason. I couldn't function when I had a particular meal assigned to a particular day of the week... for two weeks running.

I'm still trying to run with that model, but am not doing it particularly well. This year, so far- with Audra one and Adelia two- is proving to be just as challenging for me in the making-meals department, so I'm thinking through my system and wondering if I should change it up.

Do any of you operate with a simplified meal schedule? Rotating through the same simple meals? I'd love to hear about it! :)