Friday, May 27, 2011

Pastoral Stats

Wow.  I pray the LORD protects our little ministry family from these sobering statistics:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden Update!

When I got home from church on Sunday, I found some garden label tags in my diaper bag.  I think Marian (the experienced gardener) was worried that I'd be in a state of utter confusion since I didn't label any rows.  [But I did draw out (and label) a diagram of it! I wasn't concerned. ;) ]  However, Marian 
stopped by this morning as I was taking these pictures, and she was so surprised to see how well the garden is growing - I even told her (no labels necessary) what each row is!   Although, in regards to its growth, I am just as shocked as Marian!  But it's true: when God gives us sun and rain, He also gives life to all things.  Take a look:

 [See the church in the background?  My hubby has the world's longest commute...]
Lettuce (and some weeds...)
Spinach (or Swiss chard - I need to check my diagram)
Green beans!  These are by far doing the best.  Aidan has been loving this veggie lately so I'm thankful they're growing so well.
Carrots.  Difficult to decipher from the little weeds.
Peas.  Sugar snap.  Yum.
Beets.  My dad and I love beets.  But everyone seems surprised I planted them.  Doesn't anyone like beets?  Or are they hard to grow?
I sprinkled wild flowers (perennial) on the last row.
Happy early Father's Day, Brian! We bought him this Badminton set at Menards.  But it's so cheap...the birdie gets stuck in the rackets each time we are [finally] able to volley.  Hmmm....
 Our new fire pit!  A farmer dropped off the tractor tire ring and Brian & his dad put the brick around it.  We're excited to roast our first s'mores of the season sometime soon!

That's the update!  I'll let you know when we're partaking of the garden yummies.  If you're close by, we definitely want to share with you.  Thanks for taking an interest in my garden!  It's been so fun to hear all of your neat gardening stories and fond memories.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Heavy Heart

My heart is heavy today.  My friend in elementary school (who, unfortunately, I haven't seen in years) lost her baby girl last night.  Sweet Gracie was a week shy of her first birthday.  Now that I am Mom to Aidan, I just can't imagine losing a child. 

"Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old."
Psalm 77: 9, 11
As tears roll down my cheeks, I have to remind myself that the LORD is always compassionate.  He is always kind.  He is always good to those who love Him.  I am reminded of this as I remember His faithfulness to past generations and trust His future promises.  During these faith-shaking, fear-generating experiences God desires that we draw closer to Him, enabling us to know Him more and dispel our misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian.  God calls us to deeper faith during trials; He calls us to a faith that trusts Him even in the midst of unimaginable pain. 

It is my prayer that Gracie's family will cling to God in the midst of this crisis, discovering that Jesus is for them, loving them and drawing them near-er to Himself.

Give your kids an extra tight squeeze today and thank the LORD for His graciousness in giving them to you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hymns vs. Contemporary Worship

My husband explains at his blog.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." 
Romans 12:13 
Hospitality.  It's becoming a lost art.  A friend recently told me that she's lived in a new town for nearly two years and no one has ever invited them over for supper!  Not even people from her church!  I was shocked, but I guess I shouldn't have been.  Why is hospitality becoming such a lost art?

I think people are busier than ever.  We receive our work on our Blackberry or iphone and can never seem to get away from it.  We're running our 2.4 kids to soccer, ballet, swim practice, or Sunday School.  We're fascinated with our TV shows - and can't miss Tuesday night because we might not see who is ousted from Dancing.  We're taking care of elderly parents.  We're working an additional job (or two) to try to make it in this economy.

And, many of us assume that hospitality requires a perfectly set table with a lovely, in-season matching centerpiece, the perfect meal complete with a homemade dessert, a perfectly clean and picked up house, a perfectly manicured yard with weedless flower pots, and perfectly dressed and well-behaved children who would never say anything rude.  I am guilty of this way of thinking.  I don't invite people in if my house isn't almost perfectly picked up with the beds made, dishes in the dishwasher, etc. (How prideful!  but that's a whole other topic!).  But I am learning to let go of that, especially as people from the church randomly stop by to say hi (which I love)!  Showing hospitality isn't about my house.  I have to constantly remind myself of the true purpose of hospitality:

1. to demonstrate kindness, compassion and the goodness of God to friends, strangers and enemies (Luke 8:3)
2. to show love and encouragement to one another (I Thes 4:9-10)
3. to meet the needs of others (Prov 19:17)

So let's say to one another more often, "Hey, want to stop by for supper?"  It's so encouraging (and fun!) to sit down to eat a meal together as our lives spin crazily around us.  I need to let-go of my desire to have everything perfect before inviting people over and realize the blessings that result from showing hospitality to one another - when I realize its true purpose.  Let's not let it become a lost art!

[I picked up this hospitality book at The Pastor's conference last winter.  I'd recommend it for three reasons: it defines purpose of hospitality, discusses the character traits of a person who is hospitable, and gives easy recipes and ideas for various events (meals, teas, etc.).  However, it seemed a bit legalistic to me.  The authors were all about, "I did this...", "I do this..." in ways that came across like I must do it their way.  In one sense, I appreciated their insight into how to manage the house so it's always clean, etc., but it felt like a little too much. But it was helpful, overall, and I do use it as a reference guide for its recipes and Scripture references...especially as I work to develop my hospitality character traits!  ;)   ]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seeds are In!

Aren't those beautiful garden gloves!?  I hated to get them dirty.  I cringed when I first stuck them in the dirt.  And they were FREE!  The original Ace price was $9.49.  The sale price was $2.99 with a $2.99 rebate.  Score - I must be a daddy's girl - I am learning to like Ace too!  I also purchased the cheapest digger-thing I could find.  Brian teased me and repeatedly and humorously corrected me, "It's called a spade."  Well, when Al, our church friend who is married to an experienced gardener, stopped by with a spade, it look very flat and spade-ish...nothing like my digger-thing.  So, alas, Brian...I still call it a digger-thing.  And it works.  For digging and planting.  Which is exactly what I used it for.

Last Friday, after a nice elder from church hauled his tiller to town to till our garden, my men and I got to work.  

Aidan and I gearing up to plant.  Doesn't he look thrilled?  I don't either, but I was.  Looks can be deceiving.
 Aidan had the perfect viewing spot.  Comfortable too!

'Hurry up, Mom!  I want to see some digging!'
 Unfortunately, the pictures of the gardener (me!) in action (taken by Brian) came out in a .NEF format.  I googled that and found out that I'll need Photoshop or something to read them.  Bummer!  [I am such a novice at everything in my life now: mothering, gardening, sewing, quilting, cooking, blogging, photography...I am easily overwhelmed by all I need to learn...such as how NOT to take pictures that turn out in .NEF.  Ah well.]  But I'm glad the pictures of Aidan's gardening excitement (read the sarcasm) turned out.
He's thrilled.
Because I am such a novice, it was Divine Sovereignty that Al & Marian happened to stop by the church while I was planting.  When I asked for advice from these long-time farmers, Al told me to plant the tomotoes on the east side - where I'd already planted nine rows of lettuce.  Well, three rows of Vivian lettue, three rows of Romaine and two rows of spinach.  Oh, and a few rows of Swiss chard.  Hmmm...any other advice, Al?  Not to plant the beans yet.  It's too cold.  Ooops.  Beans are in.  Peas are too.  So are the beets and onions.  What did I do correctly?  Spacing (yes, I did read the instructions on the package.).  I also left the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in the crate-things (in the house!).  Whew.  Marian said not to put those out until Memorial Day.  I can handle that.  I think.
This domesticity might kill me.  Everyone is shocked at how much I planted.  I think they know how much work it involves.  I have no clue.  Maybe I'll end up so overwhelmed, I'll just mow it over.  Or maybe my husband will finally love tomatoes since I planted 9 plants and Al recommended only 2.  Hmmmm....we shall see what summer brings.  Did I mention I've killed every house plant I've ever owned except one?  The garden should be scared...for it's life, literally.
Gorgeous tulip.  In our yard!  I had nothing to do with it.  It just popped up.  Kinda like Aidan's tooth.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Aidan's first...

He's been working...
and working....
for months.
Yesterday, the fruits of his labor were visible.
And he was a happy camper.
I tried to take a good picture of his work.
But Someone wouldn't cooperate too well and insisted on 'helping' Mom with the camera.
Can you see anything in there?
At 10.5 months, this gummy smile is changing...
Congratulations on your first tooth, Aidan!  We are so proud of you!
[Excuse the dirty fingernail - Aidan and I have been gardening.  We'll show you pictures soon!]

Friday, May 6, 2011

Recent Favorites

The following songs have been of huge encouragement to me lately:
I found this song on the blog of a young mom who lost her husband to bone cancer shortly after her youngest was born.
I love the words.  So true.
[Sorry, I don't have a video for this one.]
Enjoy!  I hope you are as blessed as I was through these songs.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Knowing Christ

The goal and the prize of the Christian faith is to know Jesus and become like Him. 
What is a primary way God uses to allow us to know Jesus better?  Through suffering.
"-that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," Philippians 3:10
In that verse, Paul knew Christ more because he suffered like Christ.  And Paul didn't view suffering as pain, but as an opportunity for deeper fellowship with Christ.  
"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake."  Philippians 1:29
Paul shared in Christ's suffering and, as believers, we are called to do the same.  It is an opportunity!  It is a joy.  It is GOOD. 
There have been so many things in the last two weeks that have threatened to steal my joy.  It seems that all the things I once held dear, probably put too much hope & joy in, are slipping away or disappointing me.  Life in the ministry can be so difficult, but I pray that I may find true joy in Christ - as I (alongside Brian) share in his sufferings - and grow in the likeness of Him through these hardships.
Thank you, LORD, that you have chosen little, insignificant me to suffer for Your sake.  What an honor.  May I not waste it!