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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hilarious Homeschool Video!

I watched this video over at The Sparrow's Nest and just had to post it here, too! Hilarious!

video

MIA

I haven't written much in this place as of late. Not that there is nothing happening in the Henze house or in my heart. Quite the opposite! My heart has been so overwhelmingly full, it has been difficult to put it into words. There are times in your walk with the Lord (and if you've spent much time at all in relationship with Jesus, you can relate) that you realize how great and deep His love for you is; how completely His grace covers every inch of you; how freely He extends His mercy to all who would partake. It is breath-taking and captivates your thoughts.

That's where I've been living these last few days and any attempt to put it to words would seem shallow--even this feeble explanatory post seems...well, weak.

For now, I am enjoying the fellowship of the Lord and enjoying the opportunity to see Him actively at work in my heart and life. I promise to share more when the picture is more clear, when I understand better what He is doing. Thank you to each one who e-mailed to inquire...you are all so encouraging! Posts will probably be a bit light for awhile, but I'll continue to check your sites. I always look forward to reading all the wonderful things the Lord is doing in your lives, too!

Be blessed and a blessing today!
Jen

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Voiceless Wednesdays--Domestic Violence

This week's focal point for Voice for the Voiceless is domestic violence. This is one issue that crosses all cultural, religious, socio-economic, racial, and ethnic boundaries so we can all relate to the issue. The statistics are alarming and it is likely a woman you know, it struggling with violence in her own home, where she eats and sleeps and cares for her children.

Definition:
Domestic violence occurs between spouses or intimate partners, when one partner in the relationship tries to control the other person. The perpetrator uses fear and intimidation and often physical or sexual violence.
The Statistics:
*One out of three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
*4 million women a year are assaulted by their partners. In 1 of 4 cases, women will also experience sexual abuse.
*60% of battered women are abused while they are pregnant.
*70-90% of women in Pakistan experience domestic violence.
*Every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted and beaten.
*1.1 million women in Australia have experienced violence by a previous partner.
How this impacts me personally:
At Bible study last night, we were chewing on the fact that 1 in 3 women worldwide has suffered abuse, either physically or sexually. That would mean that of the eight women attending our study last evening, 2 of them would have fallen into the category of abused. I found myself looking around the table at each of my dear sisters in the Lord, aching over the idea of any one of them being over-powered and forced into submission through violence. One woman bravely shared the story of her father's violence against her mother and how her mother had allowed him to abuse her to protect her children. It was hard to think of her having to grow up in a home where violence was a regular part of life. I am so removed from this issue....or am I?
After study, I had a few errands to run, including stopping by a friend's house to pick up something. As I was walking out to my car, I could hear shouting voices coming from across the street. It was angry and humiliating and cut through the icy night like a knife. Cruel and ugly and biting. I shivered as I stood on the sidewalk, wondering what to do. Should I go back into my friends' house and ask them to go with me to confront the source of those angry words? Should I call the police? Should I just pray? The angry words stopped and I sighed in relief as I got into my car and pulled away. I offered up a prayer of protection for that home as I drove past.
But, I couldn't sleep last night. I was annoyed with my feelings of relief. I knew I wasn't so much relieved by the fact that the angry words had ended, but by the fact that I no longer felt any confliction over what to do. It was selfish to want to walk away and forget about whatever problems might be erupting in that home. I got up to pray again, this time for forgiveness for my cowardice and indifference, and to pray more earnestly for that home and all that dwell within.
In the light of day and the light of truth, I see that God was opening my eyes to things I have chosen not to see. Things I have willingly remained blinded to...Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You and those You love. Thank You for the peace of my own home and that I have not inherited a legacy of violence in any form. I pray for my sisters in Christ who may have inherited just that. Heal them, renew them, revive their hearts. Help them to trust in You and Your redemptive power. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE POWERFUL INFORMATION, PHOTOGRAPHS, PERSONAL IMPACT STORIES, AND MINISTRY OF "VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS," PLEASE VISIT: http://www.uofnkap.org/F07/F07featuredmin.php

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--Things I Love To Do On A Cold Winter Day!

Thanks, once again, to Ann for hosting Top Ten Tuesdays! This is pure personal fluff, but I needed to see it written out to remind me that even a blustery, snowy day like today is a gift...

10. Drink Earl Grey tea out of my old favorite mug.
9. Read a good book.
8. Fall asleep while reading aforementioned book.
7. Bake bread and make soup (both smells are emanating from our kitchen as I type!).
6. Play cards with my kids.
5. Snuggle on the couch with my hubby and watch a good movie.
4. Let our dog curl up on my lap (our 10 lb dog, not our gigantic 50 pounder!).
3. Catch up with an old friend over the phone.
2. Make hot chocolate for my family after they come in from the snow.
1. Dream about summer!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shoe Shopping


We went shoe shopping today. Charlie called to say he was meeting a co-worker for lunch, so I seized the extra hour to take the girls out for a quick lunch and to buy shoes.




If you have wee ones and they are old enough to have an opinion about anything at all, you know what I mean when I say I had to brace myself. This is the third time I've ventured to shop for shoes, alone. The first time was so disastrous, I ended up tossing all the shoes onto a shelf lined with Lysol products as I dragged all three of my screaming, crying girls out of the store. It was embarrassing, to say the least! The second time, I thought I was more prepared, but we ended up with three pair of shoes that fit well, but none of the girls were able to put said shoes on themselves. It was a long six months of torture each time we wanted to leave the house or play outside.




Today, I explained to the girls that we were going to buy new shoes, (which met with a chorus of whooping and hollering---yep, they're girls!) but that we needed to establish some rules for the expedition. First, everyone was going to stay in the same aisle--no wandering around the entire shoe section. Two, everyone had to find a pair of shoes that fit well--not too tight, not too loose. Third, everyone had to be able to put their own shoes on without assistance. Fourth, no one was allowed to try on a pair of shoes without showing the price tag to Mommy first and getting permission to consider them. Fifth, if anyone started crying (including Mom!), we were leaving the store without shoes.




Surprisingly, the trip went well! Olivia found a pair right away--pink and brown Dora shoes. Emma first chose a pair of brown and red loafer-type shoes, but they were too hard to get on. She happily settled for a very cute pair of black, embroidered casual shoes with sturdy rubber soles. Ruthie took the longest. She just likes to try on every shoe in her size to see what it looks like. After sorrowfully returning a very cute--but out of season--pair of sandals to the shelf, she spied a pair of Strawberry Shortcake light-up shoes. They fit and were easy to put on. We finished our shoe shopping in less than 30 minutes--a Henze Family record!!!




Normally, I wouldn't advocate buying much of anything at Wal-Mart. I personally detest shopping there. But, this is a small town, we had very limited time and funds and really, no other viable options. They are, after all, growing girls who will very soon need yet another pair of shoes. I can't manage to part with upwards of $50 per pair of shoes from other more reputable stores. I prefer to shop for other things at those stores, but dislike spending so much on an item that will be quickly outgrown and cast aside. For about $45, I was able to shoe all three girls today--$5 under budget!




Thanks, Lord, for the means to buy something small like new shoes. And thanks for the privilege of seeing my girls so happy with such a small things, to see them grateful for what they have and to hear them thanking You on their own for what You have given. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All Quiet on the Western Front

The pint-sized sleep over is complete, with every pint-sized person now back into their respective home and bed. The dishes are washed, laundry folded (though not yet put away, but neatly piled on the bench near our bed), beds made, toys put away, and the house is still standing. More importantly, I am still standing alongside my wonderful husband, who even offered to let me escape pee-weeville to attend my weekly Bible study last night. (That only took a mili-second of thought as I dashed out the door, Bible in hand!)

Although I am glad our friends are reunited as a family, the house seems strangely empty. It was almost too quiet this evening. There weren't enough kids to tuck in, or hands to hold, or hearts to listen to, or prayers to say. Not enough dishes to wash, or books to read, or teeth to inspect, or footsteps to hear pattering overhead.

Don't misunderstand, I am content with the abundance of children God has gifted to me. But, I know I would welcome more, simply because each child is just that...a precious gift waiting to be discovered. Children change you in ways that only God could plan. They cause you to see things freshly, listen closely, walk quietly, laugh loudly, embrace, rejoice. With each one is a new opportunity to be touched by the Creator and be changed...to be moulded into His image.

There are days I long to be with other adults, in the work place, "accomplishing" something tangible. Days when I long for conversation to be something other than diapers and recipes and home-keeping trivia. But today, I am reminded that this is the work I am called to, this ministry of running noses and bruised knees, of chocolate chip cookies and french toast, of knowing which pair of socks fits best and which blanket "smells like home," of knowing who needs a hug and who needs a look and who needs to be needed. This is a job no one else could fill. It was tailor made for me by a loving Father.

All is quiet in our home. More importantly, all is quiet in my heart. This heart is full and grateful and rejoicing in being chosen...

Thank You, Father, for choosing this life for me. I know I would not have been courageous to choose it myself. Thank You for making it so clear that this is Your will. Thank You for my children and their friends...In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Voiceless Wednesdays--The AIDS Epidemic

UPDATE: I forgot to include the link for Voice for the Voiceless when I first posted this. To learn more about this project or for information on ordering your own copy of this powerful devotional, please visit http://www.uofnkap.org/F07/F07featuredmin.php

AIDS
Definition: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a serious, fatal disease of the immune system contracted through blood transfusions, sexual contact or contaminated needles. There is no known cure for it.

This week, I want you to read these statistics carefully. Don't allow your eyes to skip over them. Read them and think about each fact carefully. It is important to grasp the vastness of this epidemic and understand the impact it is having on our world, on God's creation.

Statistics:
*AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since 1981--more than four Jewish holocausts or 22 Rwandan genocides.
*In 2005, every minute there were 10 newly infected people worldwide.
*Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans.
*43% of those infected with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) are women.
*There are 40.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 1/3 are between the ages of 15-24.

How This Touches My Life:
My father died of AIDS in 1993. I was just barely twenty. He had not been a part of my life for almost 10 years. His family called us to tell us he had cancer...just cancer, no mention of anything else. My seventeen year old brother and I flew to Florida to see him once more. I'll never forget walking into his house and seeing him lying on that bed. I knew immediately that he had AIDS. His shrunken frame and lesioned skin told the story. His family avoided talking about it...just kept saying he had cancer. I kept screaming in my head, "Cancer caused my AIDS!"
They couldn't face the consequences of his life of sin. They couldn't see the truth. But, I saw. I knew.
He spoke of having us return in the spring to visit again. He held our hands and stroked our faces. His gaunt face and sunken eyes told a story of regret. He knew, too. He and we had paid a terrible price for his selfishness. His choices had ripped our family apart and he was now standing on the brink of eternity grasping with his weak, pale hands for anything of comfort.
I sobbed, "I love you, Daddy" as we left the house the next day, knowing I would never see him again, never know him at all, knowing he would never know me.
He died two days later.
His death certificate read, "Cause of Death: Complications due to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."

His death was a death of choice. He chose to leave us. He chose to live a life of self.
Not everyone who dies of AIDS has a choice...so many are infected out of violence, ignorance, heredity. We can choose to pray. To pray for God's mercy and to pray for His intervention in this epidemic.

Lord, Thank You for reminding us all of the suffering happening throughout Your world. Have mercy on the victims of AIDS, whatever the reason they have contracted it. Send missionaries to share the Gospel in communities where there is no understanding of Christ or Your plan for families. Show mercy to countries without the resources to purchase HIV drugs. Purify our hearts, Lord.
And, thank You for my Dad. I know You chose Him to be my earthly Dad, though I do not yet see clearly why things have worked out as they have. I trust You and in Your plan to prosper me and care for me. You are an awesome God and I thank You for carrying me through difficult times. Comfort the families of those suffering and living with HIV/AIDS.
In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Top Ten Tuesdays--Signs Your Pint-Sized Slumber Party Is Going Well

We're having a pint-sized slumber party this week. Our good friends both had work commitments this week, so we agreed to host their 2 kiddos who just so happen to be our kiddos bestest buds. They are spending two nights with us to the utter and complete delight of my trio. They were so excited last night, I wasn't sure they would actually sleep! I worried a bit over the weekend if our small guests would miss mom and dad or have any moments of fear being here. So far, so good and here are my top ten signs that things are going well:





10. Everyone slept in his or her respective bed, through the night without any crying, bed-wetting, night wandering, or bad dreams.

9. They all hollered "Hurray!" in unison when they were greeted at the breakfast table with french toast.

8. They spent a good 25 minutes in the bathroom this morning inspecting each other's teeth to make sure everyone had brushed good enough.

7. My girls came to me individually and offered to pray for our guests to make sure they were not missing their mom and dad or feeling bad.

6. When we dropped our friends off for pre-school, they said they would rather come home with us--we compromised and picked them up a little early.

5. No one has started bleeding, throwing up, had diarrhea, bit, kicked, hit, or punched anyone else.

4. No whining!!!

3. The older ones have been looking out for the younger ones, helping with hand-washing, the aforementioned teeth-brushing, changing clothes, and clearing the table. I even caught them giving the younger ones extra good-night hugs and kisses last night!

2. The house is still standing!

1. After breakfast this morning, Emma threw her arms around my waist and said, "You're the best mommy ever!"

Monday, January 14, 2008

Here Come the Brides!


My folks got the girls aprons for Christmas. They actually have quite a collection of them already! They use them as props for several play time activities. Today, they were mommies who bake cookies, super heroes and brides--but, sans grooms because boys can sometimes be icky!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Dog Jogger--Learning to Follow A Lead


We've been enjoying unseasonably warm weather here; so warm in fact, that I chose to run outside the other day. I "suited up" in my favorite sweats, comfy socks, shoes, and my trusty mP3 player. I knew I couldn't escape the house without the dog, as he seemed to recognize my running gear. He pranced around as usual as I wrestled his leash around his neck and we headed out into the spring-like, January air.

As usual, Elvis was all over the place. First he tried running at full speed. At 50+ pounds, I had to use my body as a counter-weight as he practically pulled me down the sidewalk. Then, as I began to slowly jog, he began running from one side of the walk to the other, criss-crossing in front of me. Every few feet I had to dodge him or the leash or some giant mud puddle he was traipsing through. After my last few experiences with dog jogging (read about one of them here), I figured Elvis would settle down after 10-15 minutes. Not so on this day. After 20 minutes, 2 tripping episodes, a close encounter with another unleashed dog, and several bruises to my body, I decided it was time to take the dog home.

As we walked home, this time with the leash wrapped around my waist and the dog forced to walk beside me instead of in front, I thought about how undisciplined he seemed. It's like each time we go out, it's his very first leashed walk; the very first time he's ever been around other human beings; the very first time he's seen the world. It seems that each time I run with my dog, the Lord uses that experience to show me something about Himself and about me. Okay, show me, Lord. I know there's something You want me to see.

As we reached home, I turned Elvis loose in the yard and then hung his leash on the gate. I sensed that the Lord wanted more time with me. Trying to ignore my dog's sad eyes, I turned and headed back out for another attempt at a good run. I kept thinking about how crazy my dog acts whenever we leave the yard. He's so out of control. I definitely need to spend more time with him and teach him how to behave! It's either that, or I'm just not going to run with him anymore.

Yes, daughter, you need to spend more time with Me. You are out of control. If I'm ever going to be able to use you, you will have to learn how to follow My lead. You aren't going to learn how to follow by watching someone else do it, reading a book, watching a video, thinking about it, or any other way you can come up with. You have to spend time with Me.

Ouch. That stings. Don't I already spend time with You, Lord? What do You mean by saying I'm out of control?

Do you really want Me to bring up all the ways in which you are not fully allowing me to take care of you? You can't run long enough for Me to list them.

Good point. Sorry.
It's just that I thought we were good.

We are. I love You. I love the time we've been spending together. But, I have more for you. There are places I want to show you and things I have planned for you that require much greater discipline. You enjoy running with Me, but you still like to pull at the leash and wander around the path. I need you to learn to run right beside Me. I need you to become sensitive to the slightest tug of the leash. You aren't there yet.

That sounds like a lot of work. I'm not so good at following directions and being patient.

I know.

So, what do I do?

Nothing. Let Me do the work. Just come hang out with Me. Meet Me in the Word. Talk to Me before you open your eyes in the morning. Look for Me to show up through the day. Let Me have all of you and I'll take care of the rest.

I don't like change.

I know that, too.

What if I'm too afraid to let You change me?

I will still love you if you never learn to follow My lead better. My love for you will never change. But, I won't be able to take you with Me to some amazing places because it would be too dangerous and difficult for you.

I don't like missing out on things.

I know.

Okay.

Okay, what?

You know what I'm going to say.

I do.

I'm ready to be made ready.

I know. And, now you do, too.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank You, God, for speaking to my heart. Thank You for working into me increased sensitivity to what You want to do with me. I do want to be ready for You. Discipline me...I know that is a sign of Your great love for me and evidence that You have not forsaken me. Make me an instrument of Your peace and love and grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cornbread Recipe

Does anyone else just adore cornbread? As soon as the air starts to feel frosty, I want to make cornbread. I tried several different recipes before finding this gem. It's tried and true and DELICIOUS! Mrs. Pear posted her favorite chili recipe and it made me want to post my cornbread. Why not pair the two this weekend?!

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cornbread
Yields: 1 (9X13) pan or 24 muffins
2 C flour (you can substitute 1 C of whole-wheat)
2 C cornmeal (I use yellow)
2 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 C brown sugar
2/3 C vegetable oil
2 C milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pan or muffin tin or use paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and vegetable oil until mixture is smooth. Whisk in the milk a little at a time. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients all at once and whisk just until combined (don't over mix). Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake: muffins 12-15 minutes, 9X13 pan 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!

Voiceless Wednesdays--Child Prostitution

For the next 30 or so weeks, I'll be giving some brief facts and highlighting an issue of suffering or social injustice against women in the world on Wednesdays. I will warn you that the information may be challenging and disturbing. Please feel free to skip these posts. If you do read them, plan to be changed. Plan to be pulled from your own sense of security and planted right in the midst of another person's nightmare.

I am following the outline of A Voice for the Voiceless: 30 Days of Prayer for the Voiceless. To order your own copy of this fantastic book, complete with beautiful photographs from around the world, visit: http://www.uofnkap.org/F07/F07featuredmin.php Scroll down for ordering information.

Child Prostitution
Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, God will now arise. Psalm 12:5
Definition: the sexual exploitation of a child for remuneration in cash or kind, usually but not always organized by an intermediary (parent, family member, procurer, or teacher).
Facts:
*10 million children worldwide are engaged in some facet of the sex industry. Each year, at least one million children, mostly girls, become prostitutes
*In Thailand, 10-12 year old girls service men in the sex industry. They typically have sex with men 10-15 times per day and sometimes as many as 20-30.
*In South Africa, there are 40,000 child prostitutes.
*Children are more susceptible to HIV and other STDs.

How this impacts me personally...
If I had been born in any of many other parts of the world, with the birthmark I have, one of three fates would have most decidedly been mine:
*I would have been literally tossed into the street with garbage or for animals to feed on.
*Immediately after birth, I would have been taken to another room and killed.
*I would have been sold to individuals who breed young girls for the sex trade, removing their ovaries at a particular age, keeping their appearance more youthful and preventing pregnancy.

Father, I'm overwhelmed. I don't even know where to begin to pray, except to first thank You for Your grace which has placed me on soil of safety. For allowing me to be born into the family I was. For sparing me a life of injustice. I pray for the souls of all the young girls caught in child prostitution. Rise to their defense, Lord. Make Yourself known to them. Send laborers, missionaries with hearts for the abused, to share the gospel of hope, the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Shine Your light into their hearts and revive the Holy Spirit in their communities.
Forgive me for being blind and ignorant of my world-wide sisters. Thank You for showing me suffering and showing me the need to cultivate a heart of compassion. Stir my heart, Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--My Favorite Mission Websites

(Thanks, once again, to Ann for hosting Top Ten Tuesdays!)
We are not missionaries, nor do we plan to go into the mission field any time soon. But, our eldest daughter already has a heart for missions, so I spend a lot of time looking around at different sites for information for her. Like Emma says, "The more we know, Mom, the better we can talk to Jesus about it." Anyone else feel like their kids are continually speaking God's truth to them?! Here are my top ten personal favorite mission-minded websites. Check them out!



10. Voice of the Martyrs
9. Compassion International
8. God's Kids--ChristianMission
7. Week Of Compassion
6. Living Water International
5. Advent Conspiracy
4. Samaritan's Purse
3. Christian Relief Fund
2. World Vision
1. Youth With A Mission

So, what are your favorite mission sites?

Is it ministry or a job?

I found this as I was surfing the other day and it went along with some things I've been praying through. It's the beginning of another new year and along with that come opportunities to re-evaluate your commitments and priorities. It's important to continually seek the Lord's direction when agreeing to fulfill another obligation or meet another need. I see so many busy women doling out their days to the highest emotional bidder without stopping to consult the Lord as to how He would have them walk out that same day. If you are a believer and your heart is to serve others, read through the list. Take a few quiet moments today to stop and ask the Lord about your commitments and how you are spending the time He has gifted to you. He may release you from something you have completed or were never intended to burden yourself with. Or, He may reveal to you another person or situation that needs your gifting and touch. Seek the Lord...

If you are doing it because no one else will, it’s a job.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it’s a ministry.

If you are doing it just well enough to get by, it’s a job.

If you are doing it to the best of your ability, it’s a ministry.

If you will do it only so long as it does not interfere

with other activities, it’s a job.

If you are committed to staying with it,
even when it means letting go
of other things, it’s a ministry.

If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you, it’s a job.

If you stay with it even when no one seems to notice, it’s a ministry.

If you do it because someone else said it needed to be done, it’s a job.

If you do it because you are convinced it needs to be done, it’s a ministry.

It’s hard to get excited about a job.

It is almost impossible NOT to get excited about a ministry.

People may say, “Well done,” when you do your job.

The Lord will say, “Well done!” when you complete your ministry.

An average church is filled with people doing jobs.


A great church is filled with people involved in ministry.

(Author Unknown)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Leading Us Home

Ruthie was helping me set the table for breakfast this morning.
I love our new Sunday morning routine. We used to get up really early, race around the house to get ready for 8:30 worship, bark orders at the kids and occasionally each other, and toss a granola bar at each child in the back of the van. It was stressful and I usually spent half of worship giving over all the ugly words and thoughts I'd had that morning. Then, we'd have to apologize to each other and the kids after church. It was nice to have more of the day free, but we spent most of that extra time seeking forgiveness! We finally decided it was healthier to sleep in a bit and have a more relaxed morning and attend 11:00 AM worship. It was a hard sell for me, because I felt like we were wasting time, but after two weeks, I could see the fruit of a slower-paced Sunday morning.
Anyway, Ruthie was helping me set the table for the once-a-week breakfast we all eat together. She carried in the silverware and the cups of milk and juice; the vitamins and the napkins. As I filled each plate with banana bread, fruit and steaming hot scrambled eggs, she would carefully carry it to the place I directed...Olivia...Ruthie...Emma...and so on. When it came to Charlie's plate I said, "And for our leader." Ruthie gave me a funny look and said her new favorite word, "Huh?!" I explained, "Daddy is the leader of our home." She gave me a funny look and then carried the plate to his spot at the head of the table.

A little later in the day, I saw her carrying two antique suitcases into her room.
"Ruthie, babe, what are you doing?"
"Packing."
"Hmmm. Where are you going?"
"With Daddy."
"Where is Daddy going?"
"Home."
Thinking...
"Honey, we're already home."
"No we aren't."
"We're not?"
"Nope."
"Where is home?"
"Heaven, silly. With Jesus."
"Ohhhh. So, why are you packing to go to heaven?"
"Well, Daddy is leading us home, so I think we might need to take some things for the trip. I want to help!"
"What?"
"You know, like you said this morning, 'Daddy is leading us home.' I told my Sunday School teacher Daddy was taking us on a trip to heaven and I needed to go home and pack my suitcases."
(Mental note to self: Call the Sunday School teacher as soon as this conversation is over!)
"That's very thoughtful, sweetheart. I think, though, we need to talk about this trip..."

Thank You, Lord, that you have a place ready for us, prepared for us to worship You and exalt You. Thank You for sweet Ruthie, who was ready and willing to follow her earthly dad to the place where our Eternal Dad is and will always be. Thanks for using her to remind me that this world is not my home, but rather, a place to learn and grow and wait for You to come for me or call me Home. Thank You for giving me a husband who is following You as You lead us onward and homeward. Thank You...In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Olivia's Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I've been sharing some recipes lately. It occurred to me recently that God has blessed me with a talent for cooking and that He has afforded me several opportunities to bless others with the comfort of good food. We've probably had hundreds of people in our home, around our table, sharing in fellowship over a meal or dessert. Many of you also have this gifting and calling to minister, so I want to pass along the blessings of great recipes, when possible.

This is my chocolate chip cookie recipe. My little Olivia helped me come up with the secret ingredient, by accident. I asked her to find the corn flakes for another cookie recipe I own and we were all out. She handed me the Rice Krispies box and I thought, "Why not?" They were delicious and I've tweaked that same so-so recipe into a fantastic recipe. Take it, bake some and enjoy!

Olivia's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 5-6 dozen, 2" cookies
1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1/4 vegetable or canola oil
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 C flour
2 C oats
1 C Rice Krispies
12 oz. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, combine baking soda, salt and flour. Set aside. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese and white sugar about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as needed. Add brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and milk. When mixed thoroughly, add vegetable oil and flour mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add oats and stir to combine. Add Rice Krispies and stir to combine. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on sheets of aluminum foil. Store in airtight container. Be prepared to devour several in one sitting! Enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Help With Your New Year Bible Reading...


This morning, I found a great site that will help you in your new (or renewed) commitment to Bible study. Rahab's Thread is a beautiful site, written by and for women with the intent to encourage us all to study and apply God's Word. Happy Reading!


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Five Little Loaves...

Not One...










Not Two...








Not Three...








Not Four...






But FIVE little loaves sit on my counter today!


Okay, so I didn't get the photo done before my family devoured almost all of loaf #5, but what remains of it is there. Who can resist fresh-from-the-oven banana pecan bread?!?!
Yesterday, my friend Rachel at Simplicity Soup was talking and asking about bread baking. Today was bread baking day at our house, so I thought I would post photos of all our efforts. I also e-mailed her a simple bread recipe and then decided I should share it with anyone else wanting a great, simple honey whole-wheat bread recipe. Enjoy!
Simple (Honest!) Honey Whole-Wheat Bread
yields: 3 delicious loaves
3 C warm water
2 pkgs active dry yeast (or about 5 tsp)
1/3 C honey
5 C bread flour
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/3 C honey (yes, another 1/3 C)
1 Tbsp. salt
3 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp butter, melted (yes, another 2 T.)
In a large bowl, mix warm water and yeast with honey. Let sit to proof for 5 minutes. Stir in 5 C bread four. Cover with dish towel and let rise approx. 30 minutes or until large and bubbly (mine doesn't always look particularly bubbly). Mix in 3 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/3 C honey and salt. Stir in 2 C of whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead dough with an additional 1-2 C whole wheat flour until slightly sticky and beginning to pull away from surface. Place in a greased bowl and turn once to coat. Cover with dish towel and let rise until doubled.
Punch down and divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Shape into loaves (I like a rustic looking loaf) and place in greased 9X5 inch loaf pans. Let rise until dough rises 1 inch above pan. Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan and brush tops with melted butter to prevent crust from over hardening. Cool before cutting (if you can possibly resist!) Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Things I Cannot Blog About...

Writing, for me, is an act of obedience, an act of worship. An offering to the One who is always at work in my heart, in my mind, in my life. A stumbling, bumbling effort by me, imperfect, to reveal the perfection He is and the perfecting He is doing. It is my awkward way of trying to capture His movement, like still photos--blurry and out of focus, to be sure--but, glimpses into the awesome; the glorious.

But, there are things I cannot write about that He is working in me. Words that I can only exchange with the One who first formed the words on my tongue. Emotions that erupt uncontrollably in my heart, spewing their hot ash into the atmosphere of my home. Thoughts that flash without warning, like lightning lighting the night sky and exposing bare what should be left to the secret covering of darkness. Experiences that are uniquely my own, but put into words, would devastate another, betray a confidence, serve to stumble one who is not yet led by Light, sentence another to judgment by all. There are things I cannot--must not--put into written word, even in secret. This, too, is an act of obedience, an act of worship. It is God working in me Love's control over my heart, disciplining me in His ways for me. Not a universal for all, but non-negotiable for me. It is born out of desire to please the One who gave Himself in love for me to make me free from the tyranny of sin and self. Out of the desire to be moved from philos to Agape...

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. I Corinthians 13:4-8a (emphasis mine)

Lord, make me like You. In whatever manner You choose, transform me into Your image. Allow me to please You in all I do. Make my heart pure and clean. Keep a guard about my words and my mouth. Thank You for loving all of me...In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--Favorite Posts of 2007

Ann of More Questions Than Answers had a great idea...listing your top ten favorite posts of 2007 for Top Ten Tuesdays. Here goes!

10. The Best Gift of All
9. I Am The Dog
8. Resurrection!
7. My Man The Bat Warrior
6. Clothed In Righteousness
5. Praying For Poop
4. What Happened To Her?
3. A Girl and Her Dog
2. Unbroken
1. Eating An Apple With A Spoon

Gosh, was that hard! But, such a great exercise! I can see so clearly the ways God has grown me over the last year, and the many ways I continue to need His intervention...Blessings to you in 2008!