cheesecake

I love cheesecake.
Or at least I used to.
In the last six or so years just thinking about eating cheesecake makes my stomach hurt.
I am pretty lactose intolerant, and cheesecake, tasty as it may be......isn't quite worth the hours of stomach cramping that will ensue.

I used to eat it anyways. Popping a lactaid ( knowing that it would only postpone the inevitable), I'd scarf down a thick slice of rasberry truffle cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory wincing only at the price....and then spend the rest of the evening curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor. I'm not sure if the part of my brain that connects actions to consequences just finally started working or what, but eventually the after effects hurt bad enough that cheesecake isn't really appealing to me anymore.

Lots of things in my life are like cheesecake.
like alcohol.
or toxic relationships.
or saying that really clever, but hurtful thing.
or red meat.
or buying that new outfit I don't really need.
It seems to take me much longer than it should to realize that the hurt isn't worth the moments of sweetness.

babies

If you happen to sit beside me ( or even in the same room as me) at church. I'm sorry. I know that their is a nursery available, and I do use it during Sunday school, but I like the idea of my whole family beside me at church. Even if that means I am more focused on shoving cheerios in Tess's mouth or keeping Owen from coloring in the hymnal than I am on the sermon.
This morning Tess "sang" loudly during the worship, chattered and tooted during the prayers, shoved little tiny fistfuls of Gerber puffs into the seat cushions, droppered her toy repeatedly into the women's purse in front of us and managed to crawl two pews ahead before an usher finally picked her up.
During the service and afterwards, I was approached by no less than a dozen people who just want to hold her, ask about her, squeeze her chubby little palm, rub her bald head and accept her sloppery kisses. No one complained about her behavior ( at least not out loud). They all smiled and cooed. Some were friends. Some were complete strangers. Some were old and have great grandbabies of their own, some were not even old enough to babysit. Some were ministers. One was the janitor emptying the trash. Tess didn't seem to care what kind of person they were, just that they were smiling and reaching out.
There is something about babies that is engaging. People who would usually be suffice with a hello, linger and ask to hold her. Strangers in line strike up converstaions. Even old men flirt mercilessly when she flashes a gummy grin. Babies are pretty approachable like that. They don't do small talk. They don't judge. They don't care what brand you have on or how much money you have stored away in your 401K. They don't know if you preached the sermon, fell asleep during it or took out the trash. Babies just seem to notice grins, tone of voice and open arms (and donut holes and things that are shiny).
I think Jesus knew there was something to this baby thing. Maybe this is why made his grand appearance in a manger. And maybe he wanted to be approached and held and loved by anyone who was willing. And He still does.

Midnight in Madrid Review


It seems like most Christian fiction is designed for a very specific demographic. Picture the most perfect stay at home mom at your church who never misses a quiet time, can decorate a cake, always remembers to change the sheets weekly, keeps a perfect house and still finds time to read. They are designed for her. They are usually light, warm, romantic, non-controversial, and pretty much offer an alter call at the end. (No offense father Tim).

Don't expect that here. Instead you will find murder, theft, mobsters, drinking, and cussing (even if it is bleeped out). Hynd tucked some Christian themes into appropriate places, but focused on writing a good story rather than generic Christian fiction. This is a book my husband might actually read!


Quick Synapsis ( from the back cover):

"When a mysterious relic is stolen from a Madrid museum, people are dying to discover its secrets. Literally.U.S. Treasury agent Alexandra LaDuca returns from Conspiracy in Kiev to track down the stolen artwork, a small carving called The Pietà of Malta. It seems to be a simple assignment, but nothing about this job is simple, as the mysteries and legends surrounding the relic become increasingly complex with claims of supernatural power.As aggressive, relentless, and stubborn as ever, Alex crisscrosses Europe through a web of intrigue, danger, and betrayal, joined by a polished, mysterious new partner. With echoes of classic detective and suspense fiction from The Maltese Falcon to The Da Vinci Code, Midnight in Madrid takes the reader on a nonstop spellbinding chase through a modern world of terrorists, art thieves, and cold-blooded killers. "


Some links of interest:


Noel Hynd's website: http://noelhynd.com/


at the park

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spiritual gifts inventory

So I have taken that spiritual gifts inventory test at least a half dozen times in the last 15 years.

I am all for finding and using your gifts......I think this silly little quiz falls very short.

a) I usually cheat. Not like copy off of my neighbor cheat, but answer like I think I should or based on what I think my gifts are.

b) the words are weird and scary and really generic. exhortation, apostleship, sheperding..just to name a few.

c) the paint a pretty small box. I mean I know these words are meant to be broad but sometimes I need specific.

when I think of gifts i think of those crazy televangalists shouting "heal", or my friends who can pray without falling asleep or at least the ones that don't worry about what other people are thinking when they pray outloud. i like the idea of hospitality, as long as we do it at someone else's house ( mine is too messy). i want to be a servant, but 75% of the time I just keep driving.

I am usually not "using my gifts". More like I keep them around for special occasions...but sometimes I do. And they aren't necessarily things you might find on a spiritual inventory list. I'd say they would look more like this:



a few photos.

a cup of coffee.

green beans.

a few written words.

gas money.

a bottle of water.

a bathing suit.

muffins.

a really good mix cd.
not exactly things that are going to show up on any inventory, but things that are all well recieved. Apparently it isn't so much about the gift itself, more about how it is given.

sunrise

I don't think I have every really seen one. On purpose at least. Maybe some glipses on the way to work, but I have never just gotten out of bed early for the pure intent on watching the sun rise. It is worth it I hear, and I felt like there would be no better place to witness one than my last morning in Cozumel. I had this romanticized picture of me on the beach with a cup of coffee, talking to God and snapping the kind of photos that belonged on the front of a postcard.
So I got up at 5:30. a.m. Without the help of an alarm clock or a hungry baby. I just woke up. Iattempted breifly to go back to sleep, but then felt an urging to get out of bed and make my way down to the beach. This was going to be that moment.
I told shaun where I was going so he wouldn't worry and before he rolled over and went back to sleep he warned me that the sun rose on the side of the hotel......not the beach and that I probably wouldn't be able to see much. I said I wanted to watch it anyways. I figured it would still be beautiful and amazing through the palm trees instead of over the ocean. I just knew that God had nudged me out of bed and had something beautiful and special to show me.
So me and my trusty camera headed to the beach and I waited for God to start the show.

And I waited. Until it really wasn't dark anymore.

There were no pinks or oranges in the sky. Things just eventually got brighter. The sky actually looked kind of gray and dreary. This was not the kind of sunrise I had envisioned. Surely, the sun was going to sneak over the trees any second now and take my breath away.
Someone started to set out the coffee and someone else started to rake the sand. Morning had come without the kind of magical display I had hoped for.
The sky did not turn any brilliant shades. I did not snap any pictures.
As the darkness disapeared I couldn't help but be a little bit disappointed and wonder that maybe I should have just stayed in bed.

So I sat there on my rock on a white sandy beach with crystal clear water crashing at my feet and birds chirping and tropical flowers blooming and wondered why God had so clearly pulled me out of bed to see a nothing special sun rise.
And then the irony hit me.
Like a giant wave and took my breath away.

I was sitting in the middle of paradise, looking, unsuccessfully for God's beauty.
When all along I had been sitting smack dab in the middle of it.

God woke me up, not to show me a beautiful sun rise but to show me what was already there. To see the beauty in that. Not to miss the pink petals, or the turquoise water, or the shells growing heavy in my pockets.
That sometimes I am in the middle of paradise and missing the absoulte beauty that surrounds me. And not just on the beach but...
At home on the floor playing with my kids.
Or in the backyard.
Or at dinner with a friend.
And that I need to open up my eyes and soak all that in, rather than looking out on the horizon for more.

top 5 from the weekend
















We went to a family wedding in Amarillo and here are a few favorite pics from the weekend.

that man i married.


our kids are at gram and grumps for the week, which means we can go to movies, i can stay up late, i can sleep in, i can watch whatever i want on tv, I can go in and get coffee rather than waiting in a misearably long drive through line, i can go play tennis, take naps and have lunch with friends that do not involve happy meals.

don't get me wrong....my house is eerily quiet...too quiet. In the morning and night especially I want to squeeze and snuggle my kids.....but I am enjoying my "freedom" and spending time with that man I married.

See most of other time he is my relief when he gets home, the lawn mower, diaper changer, monster scare awayer, tuck back -ner, discpliner, you take this one - i take that one guy. We do a lot of child handing off. We take turns at things like going to the bathroom by ourselves ( a rarity) or going for a run. We do plenty of things as a family but not so many things as just husband and wife ( we can thank Tess for scaring off so many babysitters).

So the last few days, I have been anxious for Shaun to get home from work......not so I can hand off kids and go to the grocery store with two in tow, but so we can go eat good food, talk about things and never have to spell out a word, have grown up drinks, go to movies and just hang out without waiting for someone to cry in the next room.

I'm anxious to get my kids back.......but for right now I am just enjoying having my husband back.

adopted

Ephesians 3-6
"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. "

How easy for it have been for God to have skipped the adoption step or distinction. Just call us his children or sons or heirs.
Instead it says multiple times in the bible that we were adopted.
That we were picked special.
I especially like this translation ( the message) because it talks about how much pleasure he took in planning this.
That maybe this path was slightly more exciting, more risky, more intentful and ultimately more costly.

Their is something so special about adoption. I have had several friends adopt, and every time I have been slightly more excited for their babies than the rest of my friends more traditional ones. When someone gets pregant it is exciting. When you give birth it is amazing and wonderful and a million other emotions. And you love that baby in ways you didn't even know you could the moment the nurse places it in your arms. But when someone adopts it is chosing to love a child like that. To love them like they are yours. Because, they become exactly that. I am amazed at that kind of love. At that kind of choice. One that comes with much risk and a great price. Maybe I am just amazed that God did that for me. That he chose me, rescued me, paid for me (dearly), and called me His own.

Right now as I type one of my best friends is sitting in a hotel room with her new son.
This is their first night together and I am sure she is nervous about him waking up in a strange place calling out for his mom.
His mom who signed her rights away yesterday.
I get all choked up thinking about it.
Mostly because I know her story. And part of his.

She has been trying to have a child for all of the seven years that I have known her and then some. She has exhausted all methods and monies. My pregnancies both came easily and I was almost afraid to tell her each time because I know how desperately she wanted a baby. Every time I knew that God had something bigger planned.

And he did. His name is Ke and he is 19 months old and desperately needs my friend as his mom. Even though he isn't the "baby" she has been trying for for a decade, even though their skin colors don't match up, even though I'm sure this is not the path she would have drawn for herself.

This is path she has been preparing for even when she didn't know it. This is the perfect path. I can't wait for this path to bring them back home so I can join in the celebration and lavish gift giving (vs6).

initials

mom: "O where do we live"
O: " Kennedale"...while running in circles
mom: " what state?"
O: "Texas"
mom: "what country"......while jumping up and down
O: blank face
mom: "hint, it has 3 letters"
O: "oh, A- D- D"

not exactly the answer the my question, but he might be on to something........

rest


Somehow I have missed the boat on Sabbath. I always pictured it as some ancient pre-historic tradition. Like walking for miles to church and not using electricity on Sunday. Like being forced to only read the bible and speak in a whisper. Or, I know many people in the ministry who take "sabbath" on Friday or Monday. My translation -- their day off since they work on Sunday.
My translation was a poor one, sine my Sundays ( or days off) usually consist of crazy. church, lunch, a soccer game, grocery shopping for the week, paying bills, tackling the giant pile of laundry, a nap (if I am lucky) and then the real fun begins. All the school work, grading and lesson planning that I have put off for the entire week must be addressed. I usually spent my evening in a frenzy of trying to get caught up.Then I spend Monday morning tired, cranky and frazzled from not finishing. Meaning, other than church, coffee, donuts and the occasional Sunday nap there isn't much to look forward to. I almost dread it. At least the parts where I have to face all my work and responsibilities that I have been putting off the rest of the weekend.

But what if, gasp, I graded those papers ( well during the school year at least) on Friday, picked up the house a little on Saturday, maybe gave soccer a haitus for a while and truly enjoyed my Sunday. A whole day with nothing on the to-do list or things hanging over my head. I am breathing slower just thinking about it.

So where did I get this genius idea of actually taking a day for myslef, my family and my God. Of resting, playing, praying and reguvinating. Well, besides the fact that it is oh, a commandmant in the bible, I just read Rest by Kerri Wyatt Kent. She mapped out some practical ways to experience "sabbath simplicity" as Jesus preached and modeled. I loved that it wasn't a list of "do this, don't do that". I loved that just reading it made me feel the good kind of lazy. Like lighting a candle, pouring a big mug of coffee, and quiet and centered. I loved that reading it made me want to change. Made me want to attempt in small ways creating some of that space in my home.

I can't wait for Sunday ( and another one of her books that I ordered off of Amazon to show up in the mail)!

Check out these links:
The book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310285976
Keri Wyatt Kent’s Website: http://www.keriwyattkent.com/
Keri Wyatt Kent’s Blog: http://keriwyattkent.com/soul/