Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bitter and Sweet

Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for sharing in our joy, and I pray that God poured out His Spirit over your homes this Christmas. Later I'll share a few pictures from our celebration.

The word of the season is bittersweet. As I get older, I recognize that life really is a series of antonyms. More and more, I see the tension of living, the coexistence of pain and beauty.

The day before our family's good news, many in our church gathered around a sweet grandmother whose biopsy revealed aggressive Stage 4 breast cancer that is unresponsive to chemo.

Christmas Eve, an extended family member was in a car accident that broke a lower vertebra. Her husband is out of work, they have three young boys, and she faces a lengthy recovery and possibly a lifetime of pain.

A close friend my age, probably one of the most fit 40 year old women I know, reacted to anesthesia from surgery and now has emphysema. (Did you even know that could happen? I didn't.)

Bitter.

This year, our choir struggled with our Christmas music. Sickness plagued several of us, and I for one never got "attached" to any of the songs. Yet, the morning we sang, three people accepted Christ as Savior. Before the service, the precious ladies I teach, the elders of our church, and our pastor anointed me with oil and prayed for me in advance of my tests. The Holy Spirit filled the room that December morning. People are still talking about the "something different" that marked that service.

The state patrolman who arrived at that young mom's accident told her husband that she should have died. Folks from our hometown have commented on the similarity of circumstances with an accident that claimed the life of a high school friend of mine a few years back.

My friend's surgery with the disturbing side effects revealed that a suspicious nodule on her thyroid was benign.

Sweet.

Living and dying.

Joy and sorrow.

Pain and peace.

Bitter and sweet.

Christmas, this precious season of joy that we mark with carols and lights and the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls, is meaningless without the agony of the Cross. In so many ways, the way we celebrate brushes over the harshness of His coming and the violence of His death. We read of gold, frankincense, and myrrh but ignore their meaning. Our King, our Priest, would suffer greatly in His death that brought us hope and salvation. Beauty for ashes was a costly exchange.

Dying for living.

Sorrow for joy.

Pain for peace.

Bitter for sweet.

Be blessed in 2010,
Ginger

Monday, December 28, 2009

Unspeakable Joy

"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy
Then it was said among the nations ,
'The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the streams of the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him."
Psalm 126:2-6

Biopsy results negative.




Monday, December 21, 2009

Celebrating...


a very special birthday!

Numbers 6:24-26

24 " ' "The LORD bless you
and keep you;

25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you.

26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace." '

Merry Christmas!

Ginger, Big Red, DD#1, & DD#2

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Soul Magnifies the Lord

Back in my cantata-singing days, it was a joke among us altos that Mary always seemed to be a first soprano. Any song based on the Magnificat was always a slow, soft, and dramatically high solo. Beautiful to hear, but impossible for my range to sing along.

That's one of the reasons I love this particular song on Chris Tomlin's new Christmas album, Glory in the Highest. It's an unexpected twist on what is usually the bastion of operatic female soloists. I love the effusive joy, the unabashed praise, the sheer happiness of it.

The last few weeks have been full of emotional ups and downs. It is no accident that God has called me to the Stepping Up study at this time, because I have needed the Psalms to speak words I didn't even know I needed to say (or hear), and I have needed the push to get on my face (literally) before Him daily. We were talking in at church last week about how we didn't just need God to be our shield, we needed Him to be our fortress--because we needed to be surrounded. I have felt His walls around me, and He has given me this song, I think, for the pure fun of it, that in the presence of my enemy, I would have rejoicing.

I hope you will rejoice today, for your Strong Tower has come.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lightening the Mood, not the Menu

After several days of serious--or at least semi-serious-- posts, I told DD#1 that it was time to lighten the mood.

"Maybe I should share some reindeer jokes," I suggested.

"Mom, your jokes are so...so...so...." Insert wrinkled nose, eye-rolling photo here. "How about just a recipe instead?"

Okay.

Orange-Rosemary-Sweet Potato Pie. Oh my my my. (Say this in your best Southern accent.)

Do not turn away skeptically when you see the ingredients. Your tongue will experience a intriguing taste sensation that will have it wondering, "What's different about this? Could it be...? No, that's not it. Maybe it's...no, that's not it." The rosemary adds just the right amount of mystery to an oh-so-down-home dessert.

Orange Rosemary Sweet Potato Pie

(I am giving you the simplified version. If you really want to make your own pie crust from scratch, the recipe is in November's Southern Living.)

1/2 pkg. refrigerated pie crust
1 Tbsp. plain white cornmeal
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary

1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp orange zest
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 vanilla extract

Unroll pie crust on a floured surface. Sprinkle with cornmeal and rosemary. Lightly roll them into the crust. Fit into a 9 inch pie pan according to package ingredients. Crimp edges. Set aside.
Bake sweet potatoes at 400* on a baking sheet 50-55 minutes or until tender. Cut potatoes in half and scoop out pulp. Mash pulp and discard skins.
Whisk together eggs and sugar until well blended. Add milk, next six ingredients, and sweet potato pulp, stirring until blended. Pour mixture into rosemary-cornmeal crust.
Bake at 400*for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325*, and bake 20-25 minutes until center is set. Let cool completely.

Big Red is a pie man at heart, and he ate three pieces. One after the other. Oh my my my. ;-)
Blessings,
Ginger

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Winner!

We have a winner for the Casting Crowns Peace on Earth CD!!
Congratulations to Mellissa at Mellissa's Musings! Thanks so much for reading! May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

I've just polished off a yummy mocha with whipped cream and some of the best homemade chocolate syrup ever. There is a belated birthday pie in the oven for Big Red, Orange Rosemary Sweet Potato--the name alone should make you drool--and believe me, it smells amazing.

All this after Big Red had complimented me for losing a few pounds with my semi-faithful walking routine ( two miles in the morning, and two in the evening if all goes as planned--that's been rare). I meant to walk yesterday, but I spent most of the day clearance-sale coat shopping with DD#1; does that count as exercise?

Maybe I'll get up and walk now. Or I could join Big Red, who is snoring ever so gently on our couch, backlit by the Christmas tree. A comfortable scene, and since I like my hubby and want him to keep liking me, I won't show you the photo. ;-0

May your days be merry and bright!
Ginger

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sweetest Traditions

Thanks for sharing your awesome Christmas traditions with me! We may borrow a few for our family. Loved, loved, loved them!

Here is a picture of one of our favorites: baking gingerbread cookies.

I love this tradition.

It represents freedom to me.

The gingerbread cookie baking session was one of the first places that the Lord began to break the chains of perfectionism I'd forged for years. At the time, I didn't recognize what was happening, but I am so very grateful that it did.

You see, I had dreamed of being the mom who created the Martha Stewart Christmas for my family. Visions of neatly decorated cookies wrapped in cellophane and tied with silver ribbon danced in my head. The treats produced in our kitchen would be culinary masterpieces, awaiting their photo op in Better Homes and Gardens.

Then I made the cookies with a three year old.

Things were not going as planned.

The gingerbread men were misshapen aliens. More icing and sprinkles were on the floor than on the cookie.

After a few minutes of stress, I did something I'd never done before.

I backed off and let her do it.

We had fun, and we've had fun ever since. Every year, a friend or two join the fun and the flour flies. Only now they are old enough to clean most of it up themselves. :-)

Every year I can taste the freedom. I like it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Midweek Mary Moment

***The Casting Crowns giveaway will end Friday evening. If you haven't left a comment yet about your favorite Christmas tradition, go here.
This song isn't from Casting Crowns, but it has been on my mind and CD player a lot lately. Please, please take some time out of your busy day to stop and savor the words. The Lord has really given me a sweet expression of praise for Him through this song this week.
***Didn't realize the song posted twice, but I've no clue how to fix it, so just listen twice! ;-)

A Gift for You

**After my last post, I decided to share this picture of Big Red and me, just so you know that none of the marriage words in my hate list apply to us. He is a rock for us and a true prayer warrior. One day I'm going to post a picture of myself on a good hair day, but today is not that day.

In honor of all of you, I am hosting my first ever giveaway! After all, what's not to love about presents at Christmas? Leave a comment today about one of your favorite Christmas traditions, and you could win a copy of the new Casting Crowns Christmas CD, Peace on Earth.
Since, like, three people read this blog, think how great your odds are of winning! ;-)

Christ is born! Be blessed today,
Ginger

Monday, December 7, 2009

Words of Life

Words I hate:

Biopsy.

Cancer.

Betrayal.

Affair.

Divorce.

Racism.

Anger.

Incurable.

All these words have been part of my last few weeks in some form or another--not all in my own home, or I couldn't manage this post. They have, however, all come up in conversations with people dear to me. A few came from those not-yet-dear, near strangers who chose for whatever reason to share their suffering with me. Either way, the words left me breathless, at a loss about how to pray.

I am a woman of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.

By myself, I am undone. I see gaping holes in hearts, hollow eyes, broken spirits, and yet I am powerless to change anything in myself, much less in someone else.


Words I love:

Protected.

Healed.

Loved.

Forgiven.

Because of Emmanuel, my God with me, I can know the power of words that speak life, not death. I can know hope.

Those words I love are not just words; they are the very truth of God, spoken for me, for you.

I can't explain it, but I know I can see it in the faces of precious sisters in Christ, whose sufferings have made them beautiful. They have a richness of spirit, a quietness of soul, inexplicable apart from their Savior.

A while back, I shared Jude 24-25--but I can't get over it, so I'll share it again. These verses are the why of Christmas, the why of the Cross.

Let these words become words you love:
To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen!
Blessings,
Ginger

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

(Almost) Stealing My Affections

Be still my heart!

When it comes to desserts, I have a gigantic homing device that sends me to the chocolate choices. Our family's favorite Christmas cookie (which I'll share later) features delectable semi-sweet goodness. Actually, our favorite desserts anytime always have chocolate in them. One recipe didn't start out with chocolate chips in it, but I figured cookies that were yummy before Nestle's would have to be even better after it--and they were. I'm nothing if not loyal.

Then Paula introduced me to her banana pudding.

It was love at first spoonful.

Not a chocolate chip in sight: just pudding, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies.

And bananas. Let's not forget them, extraneous though they are. They raise the nutrition factor.

This just gets better as time go by, so be sure to eat lots of oat bran and broccoli and tangerines on the day you prepare it. Then you'll feel less guilty about wallowing in the fluffy, creamy richness the next day.

Break out your wallet and your aerobics DVD and gather these ingredients:

Paula Deen's Banana Pudding (from the Lady and Sons Just Desserts Cookbook)
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessman Cookies
6 to 8 bananas
2 cups milk
1 5 oz box instant French vanilla pudding
1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz container frozen whipped topping, or an equal amount of sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13x9 inch dish with one bag of the cookies and put the bananas on top. Blend milk with pudding mix well with a handheld electric mixer. Beat cream cheese and condensed milk together in a bowl until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Add to pudding mixture, stirring until well blended. Pour mixture over cookies and bananas; cover with remaining cookies. Refrigerate.

I mustn't neglect to say that my sister also prepared an amazing chocolate raspberry bar at Thanksgiving as well, which would have won hands down had it been competing against any other challenger. I wouldn't want you to think I turned away chocolate completely.

Alas, there is not a single Christmas treat, chocolate or otherwise, at my house right now. (There are also no Christmas decorations yet, though I plan to remedy that this weekend.) I have, however, sent two kids to the principal's office so far, and I've only been at work three days. Maybe I need a little sweetening up. ;-)

Blessings,
Ginger

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tis the Season for...Listening

I like to talk.

I like it so much that I make my living doing it.

I like it so much that God decided to give me a ministry that includes it.

You know all that research about how many words girls have compared to boys, how even from very young ages, girls will use about ten times the number of words in a day that boys do?
I'm here to tell you that research is right on, yes it is. Except at my house, with three females living here, my husband's words are buried exponentially. Bless his heart.

I like to talk when I'm praying. Sometimes I am talking for a practical reason: to keep my ADD brain from flying off to the grocery list, or an assignment for 1st period, or a chore that must get done. Mostly, however, I talk because I, well, like it.

For Christmas, I want to give God something I often neglect to do.
I want to listen.

Years ago, I found a Christmas devotional that I've used each year since. It's called Jesus, Be in My Christmas by Sarah Hornsby. Allow me to share a brief word from it:
If I listen, God speaks daily to me, making the most ordinary of circumstances profoundly holy. God speaks through words of wisdom, words of Scripture or song, through intuitive insight. God speaks through nature, events, friends, children, husbands/wives, through the sacraments. God even speaks through mistakes and through deliberate wrongs others do to me.
Father God, thank You for Your tireless efforts to communicate with me. I want to be open, available, listening, ready to participate in bringing in Your kingdom, whether in small, quiet, ordinary ways or great. Jesus, be in my listening.

Shhh...can you hear Him?

Blessings,
Ginger

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We Gathered Together to Count the Lord's Blessings

For the first time I can even remember, I sat down to a Thanksgiving table to which I had contributed NOTHING.

Not one thing. Not a pot of turnip greens, not a cranberry salad. Not even the World Famous, Absolutely-Must-Be-There Butternut Squash Rolls, guaranteed to insure familial love for many hours.

The reason for this slacker Thanksgiving? A brutal round of bronchitis that wiped me out for four days. I wasn't contagious on Thursday, but no one wanted me breathing on their food just in case. I was exiled to the couch, my home away from home for most of the week.

Sitting around a feast I did not prepare, eating a life-changing bowl of Paula Deen's banana pudding, I savored the blessings of simple things that I love:

My favorite people in the world. Hands down.

A warm, charming home decorated with the stylish simplicity that so characterizes my sister.

Enjoying my mother's laughter and conversation, sounds that only a few years ago seemed gone forever.

My Thanksgiving Day seemed odd without the bustle of baking, but perhaps it was a clearer picture of the reality of my life. Thinking back, it strikes me that every day I sit down to a feast I did not prepare to which I contributed nothing.

Every day I am invited to a table in the Presence prepared for me by my loving Heavenly Father, my attendance made possible by the sacrificial grace of Christ.

I contribute nothing. I can only savor the life-changing Bread and Wine that have provided all I need.

This week, I have been praying a lot and fretting a little (okay, a lot) about some unknowns coming quickly upon me--my subbing position, some doctor's appointments. (Even my phrasing is ironic there, because, truly, isn't every week full of unknowns, whether I'm anticipating them or not?) As the holiday seasons begins, I am thankful my God is both Emmanuel, God with me, and El Roi, the God who sees me no matter where I am.

He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning of all and the End of all, my Morning Star and Evening Star, the One Who never changes.

The One Who sets the Table for me and bids me come and dine.
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy, eat!
Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what
does not satisfy?
Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."

Isaiah 55:1-2

Blessings,
Ginger





Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankful

...for my husband, who has gotten himself and the kids off to school BY HIMSELF for two days now, once to help me recover from a speaking engagement last week, and this morning because I have the creeping crud;

...for a doctor to go to this morning for the crud;

...for a weekend full of powerful worship

...for God's mercy in allowing my voice to hold out for all the worship services in which I've participated the last few days...right up through choir practice last night;

...for an awesome group of MOPS ladies who opened their hearts to hear about the outrageous grace of God through Jesus Christ;

...for my Savior, my Prince, Who redeemed this messy life and lets me talk about it...to Him be the glory and honor and power forever and ever!

...for you, particularly if you're still reading this.

Blessings today,
Ginger

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sing a New Hallelujah


Can you hear, there's a new song
Breaking out from the children of freedom
Every race and every nation
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

When DD#1 suggested that we act as a host home for a choir visiting our church, I admit I was nervous. Our home was a serious fixer-upper, and while we've fixed-up a lot, we have much still to do. I wondered where everyone would sleep, whether they'd be embarrassed to ride in my old car, if we'd know what to say.

After this weekend, I'm ashamed of myself. I almost robbed my family of one of the greatest blessings we've had in a long time.

The Daraja Children's Choir is a ministry of 410 Bridge, an organization doing great work in Kenya. In a world when Christian relief efforts seem to often be miles wide but only inches deep, 410 has chosen to sow deeply in a few communities, partnering with local Christians to provide clean water and educational opportunities. Our pastor's parents have served over fifty years on African mission fields; now in their eighties, they help provide pastoral support for one of the 410 partner villages. Our church has had a deep love for the Kenyan people for many years, and this more recent connection with 410 Bridge and Daraja Choir has only strengthened the bond.

Twenty-two smiling Kenyan children descended on our church for the weekend. Betty, Esther, and Cynthia came to stay at our house, and my family will never be the same.

We played Twister (not quite the same at 41 as it was at 11) and Sardines. They poured over our bookshelves and instantly became kindred spirits with the bibliophiles who live here. We looked at pictures of their homes and families outside Narobi. Betty's album featured three different pictures of the family's water spigot, where, she emphasized, the water that came out was clean.

Ya'll, I had been worried about how my house was measuring up to some of the other host homes they'd visited.

The director of the choir spoke last night during their concert. There is much that we have that these children do not, she said. We have lots more stuff. But there is one other thing we have that they don't:

Self-pity.

As entitled Americans, we are frustrated that God is messing with our stuff. These kids are excited about water spigots.

And they are excited about their Savior.

One thing they had that I really, really want is contagious joy . They exuded it; it radiated from their faces. I want that.

Our idea of the simple life in America is buying organic and, if you're really out there, having a composting toilet. In other words, the "simple life" here is expensive.

I want to get to the point where I don't want stuff, even politically correct "green" stuff.
I want to truly get to the point where my stuff is God's stuff, because He owns it all anyway.

I want Christ to be my Treasure.

And my contagious Joy.

Blessings,
Ginger

PS If you are interested in having the amazing Daraja Children's Choir come to your church, you can visit www.410bridge.org

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: 2nd Best Biscuits in the World


You cannot live in the south and not love biscuits.
Blanketed with butter.
Gently enfolding a slice of ham or a piece of sausage.
Or the ultimate, soaked in cane syrup and served as dessert.

Nobody makes better biscuits than my mama. Hers are the French pastry of biscuits: short, thin, and crispy on the edges.

At 83, my mama rarely makes biscuits anymore. She passed down the secret proportions to me, her younger daughter.

I have no idea what they are. You dump some self-rising flour in a bowl, add several spoonfuls of shortening, add enough buttermilk to make it look right, and mix this concoction with your fingers, gradually smoothing the lumpy shortening and working in the tiniest amount of flour possible to create a solid mass. Bake 'em for about 10 minutes in a super-hot oven, like 475*or 500*.

Got that?

In Married Life BC (Before Children), I made a pan of these delicacies for Big Red every. Saturday. morning. Ah, the days of newlywed bliss.

Then came colic.

Have some cereal, honey.

Until I discovered the 2nd Best Biscuits in the World. Not quite, but almost, as good as Mama's. Almost.

Here's the top secret recipe. Destroy this blog post after memorizing.

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
That's right. Two ingredients. Two. You can do this.
Stir together. Pat out gently on a floured surface. Cut into biscuits; bake at 475* for 10-12 minutes.

For you unfortunate folks who do not have self-rising flour, a moment of silence on your behalf. I'm sure the internet has about two million listings for how much baking powder and salt you add to plain flour to duplicate self-rising.

I confess. I haven't made Mama's biscuits in a while. I might destroy this blog post after writing, because if Big Red reads it, he will want those biscuits again.

Tonight, 2nd best will have to do. ;-)

This post is linked up with Jen at Beauty and Bedlam.
Blessings,
Ginger

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You've Got Mail


All my literary friends in the blogsphere have been raving about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You've already noted my devotion to the written word, so I dutifully put my name on the library list and patiently waited my turn.

Oh, my.

Was it ever worth the wait.

Over the past few days, I have stayed up way past my bedtime, neglected the dust bunnies, and sipped hot tea, all to reach the satisfying end of this book.

I loved it partly because I sorely miss the art of letter-writing. When I was in high school, my best friend and I wrote newsy letters to one another all summer long. She didn't have a phone, so this tradition began out of necessity but continued out of pure pleasure. During the school year, I wrote notes to her after finishing my assignment in typing class. These turned into a lengthy continuing mystery story starring all of our friends as suspects. We thought ourselves terribly witty. To this day I wish I'd copied and saved them all.

Alas, one simply cannot picture today's emails tied in a blue hair ribbon and stored in a treasure box. It makes me wonder what else we've lost in these days of instantaneous, impermanent communication.

For instance, who doesn't love mail, the good kind, the personal kind, that lets me know someone other than a credit card company was thinking of me from far away?

Besides that, what about the fun of searching for the perfect card? Or searching for stationary that was just so you that the receiver could instantly identify the sender? I spent many a delicious hour in my college bookstore selecting cards for my mother, who had to have been the World's Best Correspondent. She sent me oodles of mail that made me the envy of all my friends.

Even after I moved closer to home and saw her often, my mom continued to write me letters. I think perhaps it was a more comfortable medium to say things that were hard to say face-to-face. She could safely comment on my dating woes or encourage me through a long and discouraging season with my health with those lovely mama words that seemed awkward in our new adult-to-adult relationship.

I think I'll whip out the yellow pages and find the nearest Hallmark store. Then I'll actually buy some stamps, something I haven't done in a long time. It's time for a newsy letter or two for a friend far away.

Blessings,
Ginger

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Even Tastier on Thursday

The delectable sight before you was supposed to be Tuesday's post, but life around here went nuts in a matter of hours. Long story. I'm sure you know how that works.

DD#2 has just completed a neat heritage project for her class. I like any project that involves food, and for this one, she could choose to prepare a recipe that had been handed down in our family. This required about...oh...10 seconds of thinking, because my mama's chocolate pound cake is about the best cake I've ever put in my mouth. Hands down, it was the favorite choice for birthday cakes around our home when I was growing up. My mother liked it because pound cakes are easy and require ingredients readily available in the pantry. I liked it because it was chocolate and could be iced with chocolate frosting...and served with chocolate ice cream.

So without further ado, here is Granny's Chocolate Pound Cake:
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Beat each egg in separately. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla. Bake at 325* for 80-90 minutes.

Easy-peasy.

I've been planning to have someone take my picture for this blog when I had on makeup and a favorite outfit that makes me look thin. In the interest of full disclosure, I might as well share this more realistic shot, featuring my usual stained, bulky sweatshirt and humidity hair. :)


As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for a heritage of sweet memories as well as sweet treats. Be blessed!

Ginger

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Picking Your Brains


Over the years, the Lord has so graciously given me the sweetest mentors and friends. Older women (well, not really old, because they were probably my age now ;)) came alongside me those years when I was a single teacher living away from home. When He stirred my heart to want more of Him than I knew, He sent this young mama to an awesome fellowship of Bible study ladies who introduced me to Beth Moore. In the last few months, He's sent me the dearest prayer partners and wisdom-givers who are holding me up as He grows a speaking ministry in me.

He's sent me some awesome mall buddies and chocolate chip cookie bakers (and eaters) and coffee-drinking gals.

I love worshipping alongside my sisters in Christ, and I love women's ministry.

This weekend, our church hosted our second Ladies' Gathering. We had an amazing day of God's Word in testimony and in song, and sweet times of laughter and prayer.

Besides the planning team, there were 14 people there.

Our church is not huge, but it is not small enough to consider 14 people a crowd. Don't get me wrong. I know numbers are not the point; hearts are. The Most Important Guest showed up and showed off. The women who came left blessed and full of the Spirit. They want to come back.

My question for you is this: what does your church do, or what do you wish your church would do, to draw women in ? I'm asking for the spiritual and the practical. How do you make women hungry for more, and how do you schedule and plan so that the ball game or shopping or a nap doesn't seem like the better deal? I realize our hectic lifestyles ( which I would argue are not of God, but that's another post) often make prioritizing extremely difficult. I know everyone can't do everything; several women let me know that they wanted to be there, but life happened in the way it does.

How do you, my far-flung group of imaginary friends, stay connected with the ladies of your church? What binds your heart to those sisters in Christ?

Thanks for sharing your collective wisdom with me. The Lord is binding my heart to yours, even though we can't see each other. Let's sit over our coffee cups and share how God moves among the women in your church body. I'll eat your chocolate chip cookie for you.

Blessings,
Ginger

Thursday, November 5, 2009

To Everything There is a Season

So glad I took this a week or so ago:


because now it looks like this:


The leaves, glorious in their fall finery, could not withstand the wind and rain. Their beauty meant something was dying.

Please pray this morning for the teacher for whom I am subbing in a few weeks. In addition to her own health problems , she lost her father Tuesday. I cannot imagine the physical and emotional stress of going through that while in the ninth month of a high-risk pregnancy.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time thinking about losing my own father almost three years ago in December.

I remember those last days, both beautiful and terrible.
To sit at the bedside of that elderly man in his final hours was one of the great privileges of my life.
To know that he had finally seen his need for a Savior days before was one of the great blessings of my life.

I don't really understand this mystery of living and dying. I only know that God so cherishes this cycle He created that, through it, He imparted grace to the fragile things He made.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought our pardon and set us free from our earthbound chains of sin and death.

His beautiful and terrible dying meant something could now be living.

Be blessed,
Ginger

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Midweek Mary Moment

In our Stepping Up study, I looked at these verses in Jude:
To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power,and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!
Jude 24-25

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tasty Tuesday:Chicken Chili Soup

**Edited to add: Note to Self: Check to see if memory card is in camera before photographing your supper.


At least that's what I'm calling it.

Over the weekend, I had my annual autumn allergy attack, complete with headache and sore throat. In this rotten estate, I visited my sweet friend whose daughter is DD#2's BFF. She took pity on me and served me a cup of Harry and David's ginger spice tea with sourwood honey. Ahh...just what the doctor ordered. If the hot spicy goodness of the tea wasn't enough, she handed me a bowl of the best chicken soup I've ever put in my mouth.

Alas, there was no formal recipe for me to copy. How sad.

So last night, as the headache lingered on, I craved that soup again and went to work on a copycat. I wanted a) to get as close as possible to the original and b) to avoid the grocery store at all cost.

That last part meant I had to wing it on the seasonings, because my friend used a packet of white chicken chili seasoning mix, which will become a pantry staple at my house in the future.

Here's what I concocted:

White Chicken Chili Soup

2 cans chicken broth
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (If you happen to have taco-flavored chicken in your freezer as I have, use it. If not, prepare the chicken however you like. You may want to boil it and prepare homemade broth, or cook it with salsa and seasonings like mine. )
2 cans great northern beans, drained
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can whole kernel corn
1 packet white chili seasoning OR
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp seasoned salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp pepper
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup chopped broccoli, very lightly steamed, or 1 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

Dump everything except the rice and broccoli in your crockpot and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours. Before serving, add the rice and broccoli and heat through.

Serve this to your pitiful sick friends with some cornbread (with NO added sugar, or your southern bloggy friends will label you a heretic). It tastes lots better than zinc lozenges.
I'm linking this up with Jen's Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam.

Be blessed and allergy-free,
Ginger


Monday, November 2, 2009

This is Only a Test


Awhile back, I shared that our family was praying about a decision.

It's made.

In a few weeks, I'll be taking a long term subbing position at a local middle school. Yes, that's right. I'm having such a blast with the hormonal middle schooler in my own home that I've decided to be with 120 of them every weekday for at least six weeks.

For the record, I did this professionally before I had any children of my own. When I left to become a stay-at-home mommy, I thought I had shaken the dust of all 7th and 8th grade classrooms from my feet. Apparently, I now need a do-over.

God has a way of doing that, doesn't He?

Here's the thing: In Round 1 of my teaching career, I wasn't very good at it. I had been a believer since I was nine, but I was only beginning to grasp that there was more to this walking with Jesus than just being a good church girl. I was deeply in bondage to perfectionism, and perfectionism and teaching do not mix. The Lord was setting me up for when He was really going to rattle my cage as a new mama, but that's another post (or two, or three).

A few years ago, I went back to full-time teaching in a private school. I loved my 3rd graders.
They still wanted me to like them. I loved being silly with them, and I loved teaching them from
God's word. Soon, however, it became clear that there was much my husband and I did not love about other things at that school, and it was obvious that God was moving me in a different direction.

I was bitter about that for a long time.

Then one day, I heard Him speak so distinctly to me that His voice may as well have been audible. My sweet Father tapped me on the shoulder and said, " I did that, Ginger. No one had the power to move you from that place but Me. I did it. Now let's move on, shall we?"

Yep, He sure did. That's what He said. Maybe He doesn't talk that way to you, but with this girl, He has to be blunt. Otherwise I miss it.

And now, this season. It's been a long journey back to a middle school classroom. A bittersweet journey. There's been much to love in being back at home . I wasn't sure I wanted to give that up, as nice and necessary as added income is right now. After much praying and much heavenly silence, my husband and I got to a point where the thought of me being full-time temporarily didn't make us sick to our stomachs. (Does that sound odd? Please don't get the impression that we are independently wealthy. This economy has hit educators hard; it's just that we've now had many years of seeing God provide, and we have lived relatively simply for a long time.) We felt we could go forward.

We're moving on, my Father and I. For those of you who have done Beth Moore's Stepping Up, this will no doubt be a large part of my face-down listening.

Speak, Lord, for your servant really wants to pass the test this time around .

Blessings,
Ginger

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Postman Cometh

Day before yesterday, this arrived in my mailbox:

So today, this is my kitchen table:


"My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for You. When Your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. " Isaiah 26:9

Be blessed this weekend,
Ginger

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Midweek Mary Moment

A word of hope for you this week...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bibliophiles Unite!


After posting a few of my favorite books the other day, I started thinking how it appears that my reading material is about as fluffy as cool whip. On that particular day, I had no thoughts deeper than a teacup. At any other time, however, it is impossible for me to name all the books I've enjoyed. The list just keeps growing. Being in the library is like Templeton the Rat going to the fair; it's a veritable smorgasbord of delights. Contrary to what the content of my first book list would suggest, I do read meaningful books on occasion. ;-) (Though I love a good laugh, meaningful or not.) So without further ado, I bring you my incomplete list of "deep water" books:

1) The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan: This book is an insightful, elegantly written study of the character of God and,specifically, His trustworthiness in each of those traits. I've read so many portions to my Sunday School class that half of them can quote it with me. His treatment of the Good Samaritan will change how you read that parable forever; once Buchanan points out the grammatical problem with the common interpretation, his perspective seems so obvious that it seems amazing that I'd never caught it before. Are you intrigued? You should be.

2)The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges: Ouch. Convicting and challenging.

3) Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper: Piper's a South Carolina native, albeit from the city, so I hope he wouldn't be offended by my country-girl compliment: this book needs to be chewed like a cow nursing a cud. (Anyone else know what I'm talking about? Anyone?) Read this book and think about it. Not to be taken lightly.

4) Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose: The best Christian biography I bet you haven't read.

5) A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place, The Patriarchs, and Jesus the One and Only ...and anything else by Beth Moore. 'Nuff said.

6) Captivating by Stasi and John Elderidge : Every woman should read this book.

I'm not done, but I'll stop.

Just a Few Non-fluffy Fictional Faves
1) Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger: I have no idea if Enger is a Christian, but these beautiful books certainly suggest a Biblical worldview. Loved them.

2) The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo: Yes, I know these were written for 10 year olds. Who cares? Borrow someone's kids and read them these exquisite stories. Again, I don't know if DiCamillo is a believer, but these are almost allegorical to the Christian reader.

What's on your reading list? Share a favorite or two!

Here's to a cup of tea and good read,
Ginger

Friday, October 23, 2009

Frugal Fashionista Fun/Blogging Nightmare

*Unskilled Blogger Alert...Jen's marvelously helpful mini tutorial on linking has encouraged me to try linking with her Frugal Fashionista party at Beauty and Bedlam. (I think I did that part right!) However, every picture I've tried to post has inserted itself at the top of this post, not in the place I wanted it. If I don't figure out what I am doing soon, this will either be a) a picture-less post, where you simply imagine the cuteness of these outfits, or b) the weirdest blog post ever, with all the pictures at the top, so you can keep scrolling up and down to match the descriptions to the outfit, or c) the non-existent blog-post, in which I give up, go make myself another cup of coffee, and try to come up with some sort of profound post that was really what I intended to write about today after all, really.

Here goes nothing...As I have been trying to tell you for the last 30 minutes before this ridiculous computer so rudely interrupted me (Hmm...why does that line sound familiar? Oh, wait, I have pubescent people in my house.), I have discovered a treasure trove of thrift stores in my neck of the woods over the past year. Spray paint, soap, and water solve a myriad of issues. With three females in my house and a teeney-tiny clothing budget, we need all the creative options we can get. Hence, my thrifty excursions.
I'm sold.
I've worn better brand names in the past year than I've worn my entire life. My husband was complimenting one of my thrifted outfits last week and joked, "One day someone is going to come up to you and say,' I used to have a skirt just like that,'" to which I replied, " And I will tell them, ' I paid a lot less for it than you did!'"

Outfit #1

(Ah ha! I did it!! Yes, it is in a goofy location and is not centered! It is also NOT at the top of the page! YES!) Denim jacket: $2.00, black turtleneck sweater: $2.00, black crocheted skirt in my favorite bohemian style (goes with my bohemian hair) w/ Steinmart $40 tag still attached: $5.00. Favorite cross necklace: gift. Total: $9.00.

Outfit #2Brown Ralph Lauren sweater: $2.00, wonderfully thick cozy vest: $8.00, which I know does not qualify as a huge thrifting score, but the fabric and color are luscious. Necklace: gift. Total: $10.00.
I am still on the look-out for jeans that fit. You will hear me shouting if I ever find them.
BTW, thrifting is the way to go for teens who wear nothing but jeans. Trust me on this.

Since posting this was utterly exhausting, I think I'll go have that other cup of coffee. Jen, I so hope I get the 2nd part of linking down pat. It won't be your fault if I fail. I am recovering from the Infamous Photo Fight.
Happy Thrifting,
Ginger

PS Could someone share how you are really supposed to post internal pics? I am quite sure that I did it the hard way. Or, since we are talking technology here, maybe the hard way is the right way.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Midweek Mary Moment

One of my two hundred favorite songs...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Flavors to Savor

*In my quest to learn bloggy skills, I am going to attempt to link this to Jen's Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Very cool blog!*

At our house, we love food. All those I-just-eat-to-live people leave us scratching our heads in wonder. Who doesn't savor the nuances of seasonings, the luscious textures, the endless variety? (Kinda reminds me of the rat in Ratatouille as he rhapsodizes over chimney/lightening smoked cheese.) Each season brings new favorites. Spring's first tender asparagus, summer's tomatoes, squash, and tiny field peas, winter's hardy beef stews. This week, we were discussing our fall flavor favorites, and choosing just a few was impossible. Last night's easy-peasy but yummy combination won out for today's post.

Smoked Sausage Stir-fry
(serves approximately four, but I really just eyeball this)

1 package turkey smoked sausage, sliced
3 tart apples, sliced (we like Winesap or Arkansas Black, but more common Granny Smith or Gala would work as well)
1/2 small cabbage, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
1 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 tbl. fresh
1/2 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, or melt a little butter. Saute turkey slices lightly until beginning to brown. Add apple slices and onion. When the apples and onions start to carmelize and soften slightly, add the cabbage and seasonings, stir-frying until cabbage is tender-crisp.
This one-dish meal is good with cornbread. Sometimes I throw in a bell pepper or substitute chicken breasts for the smoked sausage.

So how about you? What dishes mean fall is here at your house? Since I eat everything except brussel sprouts (and my hubby and DD#1 eat those), we'll probably try it and add it to our long list of favorites.

Hope your day is blessed with much to enjoy!
Ginger

Friday, October 16, 2009

Migraine Ramblings

Today I am home with no car. That means that, even if I wanted to, I can't go anywhere because my only choice is the truck with a faulty fuel injector. This is actually good news, because today is a migraine day. Not the full-fledged tomahawk headache (that was yesterday), but the I'm-okay-as-long-as-I-don't-move-too-fast headache. Bleck.

Which means I'm boring. Sorry.

I wanted to do some sort of funny, clever post after a few days of deep thoughts. Deep thoughts are impossible today; they hurt. Unfortunately, clever hurts today, too. Since brain mush is the best I can do, today I serve you the infamous 10 Random Things post:

1. I reread books. The Mitford series by Jan Karon is my all-time favorite reread. I go through them about once a year. If you haven't read them, you must. It's important.

2. I have also reread Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy and Rosemunde Pilcher's fluffy but sweet books numerous times. Very British.

3. Favorite wickedly funny book: Dorthy Cannell's The Thin Woman, and the rest of the Ellie Haskell series. Very British. Very corny. You are my friend if you like these. (And what is not to like about books with titles like Bridesmaids Revisited and The Importance of Being Ernestine ?)

4. On that note, I love corny jokes. Recently I spotted this bumper sticker: "Support bacteria. It's the only culture we've got left." I laughed. DD#1 rolled her eyes.

5. Just thinking about laughing made my head hurt.

6. My bucket list: 1) Learn to take pictures like King Au (Have you seen his work in Life Beautiful? It will make you salivate.) 2) Visit the British Isles 3) Go to Australia 4) Learn to play the cello...and the banjo.)

7. Chocolate chip cookies are the BEST dessert ever. Umm. Raspberries and good French roast coffee complete me.

8. My husband is my favorite person in the whole wide world. I really love him, and I really, really like him. A lot.

9. Turning 40 brought great confidence and freedom. It's a good life season.

10. If you are still reading this, I like you a lot, too.

Have a great weekend!
Ginger

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Perspective

Our Sunday School class has been working our way through A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place, Beth Moore's study on the tabernacle. It's one of my top two, y'all. My all-time favorite is Patriarchs, but this one is the closest of close seconds.

This morning I read this:
"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,but a body You prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased. Then I said, Here I am--it is written about me in the scroll--I have come to do Your will, O God. " Hebrews 10:5-7

...Can you imagine the excruciating transformation of going from having absolutely no limitations to being imprisoned inside about 170 pounds of human flesh? How many times do you suppose He would have liked to burst out of that tent and to unleash His awesome power? We have nothing to compare to the confinement of omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God in the flesh."

Oh, my. No, I cannot imagine.

How much time do I spend puffing myself up, trying to make my life seem bigger, more significant....while the Creator of the Universe, Who can speak things into existence, zippered the fullness of the Godhead into the oh-so-inconceivably-much-smaller body of an ordinary man?

A body prepared by God the Father.

On purpose.

Before the foundation of the world.

Just to tabernacle here, so that one day you and I will be with Him there.

In the video Indescribable, Louie Giglio quotes an astronomer who was astonished at a photo of Earth taken from millions of light-years away. This scientist notes, "Every life that has ever been lived happened on a dust mote caught in a sunbeam."

We are smaller than Horton's Who.

He is bigger than anything my mind can conceive, because we have nothing to compare to the confinement of omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God in the flesh.

Some days I take myself too seriously. I need to know that I don't just feel small, I am small.

That's why Paul was able to call his suffering a "momentary light affliction." He remembered the size of his God. Then he got a view of life's troubles that was like looking through binoculars backward; things that were looming large were shrunk down.

He got perspective. I need some, too.

Be blessed!
Ginger



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A People Person

I want to thank you all for your encouragement! We are still praying about this decision; if you think of me on Thursday, please pray! I will be in a meeting that day about the temporary position.

DD#2 just walked by the computer and said, " That's a pretty picture!" I was happy to tell her that it is one she took of our fall arrangements. She's tickled to be a published photographer. Her creative soul was blessed to " fallify" our house for our guests Friday night. The last of the cosmos, the first of the leaves. Together they made beautiful harmony.

So did our friends. One of the wonderful, humbling privileges of being part of our praise team is the opportunity to work and worship with some folks that have been blessed with great talent. That ability was put to dubious use playing Encore. Have you played that game? It is tons of fun if your guests aren't shy! Teams battle to see who can remember the most songs that belong in particular categories (i.e. songs about cars) or have a certain word in them (like yes or school). Since we had everything from pre-teens to aging hippies among us, the selections ranged from "My Darling Clementine" to the national anthem of Columbia (one guest grew up in Bogata)!

We have several bags of leftover chicken taco meat in the freezer.

All that fun, food, and fellowship got me thinking about the hurdles our modern lives place in the path to hospitality. Relationships take work, but the rewards far outweigh the effort. The people who came to our home are vital to our spiritual well-being. They lead us in worship, encourage us, challenge us. It shouldn't take me months to get around to thanking them.

How about you? Does hospitality come easily to you these days, or are you struggling to fit that in among your other obligations?

I want to get better at making pockets of time for relationship-building. I want connections--both in cyberspace and face-to-face--that reflect the heart of Christ toward others, because the bottom line is this: people matter.

They matter so much to Christ that He gave His life for them.
They matter so much that He lives to intercede for them.

The least I can do is make them a chicken taco.

Or write them a note.

Or remember their name, for goodness sake-- something that is increasingly difficult with the onset of peri-menapause.

Because you matter.

Blessings,
Ginger

Monday, October 12, 2009

Seasons Changing

Last week, I finished Phase I of my least favorite household job: switching out one season's clothing for the next. I despise this job. It's messy, with piles for keeping and piles for giving away littering the bedroom floors. Invariably it leads to moments of indecision: do I want to keep that blouse? Have I gained too much weight to keep those jeans? Is that sweater hopelessly out of style?
My reward for completing this task is that first morning when I put on my favorite sweats and drink my coffee sitting in my rocking chair snuggled under a fluffy throw. Summer is officially over; autumn has arrived.

I thought about this transition between seasons when we studied the Israelites' disobedience at the doorway to the Promised Land. Instead of trusting God's oft-repeated word, they chose doubt, unbelief, and rebellion. They were stuck in perpetual transition and never received the blessing of inheritance that God had offered them. Warren Wiersbe's commentary of these events begins with a powerful statement: " It is a dangerous thing to trifle with the will of God." Not an uncomfortable thing. Not a worrisome thing. A dangerous thing. It made me wonder... no, it made me cry out to Him in prayer. How often am I cavelier with decisions? How often do I believe I can postpone God indefinitely, until I'm a little more comfortable with what He's saying? I want so desperately to be in the exact center of His will.

This week, my husband and I have to make a decision. On the surface, it is small and of temporary consequence. It would generate some much needed income and open doors for future opportunity. It also could mean much upheaval and misery in the short term. I wonder, is this God's provision, or is it a distraction, something to throw us off the course of what God seems to be on the brink of bringing about at our house? Though a small decision, it seems a dangerous one.

This is the place where faith and obedience meet. We are praying for a clear answer and decisive circumstances thoughout this week. We want to step into our Canaan with our feet firmly planted on His path, following our God Who is good but not safe.

( The will of God. How's that for a profound topic? Next week, I'll choose something simple, like election or speaking in tongues. )

Blessing,
Ginger

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday

Add Image"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you."
Joshua 3:5

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Martha Days

Oh, my. I might be officially addicted. I keep sneaking back to this blog every few hours to check for comments. They might be my new love language.

Yesterday I did not post because I spent from 12:00 noon to 7:00 last night running errands. That's right. Seven. Hours. I just about came unglued, people. Unglued. At 9:00 last night, I was fast asleep. Ten hours later, I got up and made these:
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
2 T. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110*to 115*)
4 eggs
1 cup shortening
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup warm milk (110* to 115*)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup instant vanilla pudding mix
1/3 cup instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 tsp salt
7-8 cups all purpose flour

Filling:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
Icing:
3 T water
2T butter, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Add the next nine ingredients and 6 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough. It will be sticky.
Turn onto a floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down and divide in half. Roil out each portion into a 12x8 rectangle.
Brush with butter. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top of dough. Roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting on a long edge. Cut into 12 slices. Place cut side down in two greased 13x9 inch pans. cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350* for 22-28 minutes or until golden brown. In a small mixing bowl, combine the water, butter, and cinnamon. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Spread over buns. Serve warm.

You will need 10 hours of sleep to attempt these. They are my husband's love language. After being the unglued mom yesterday, I owed them to my family. They might make even the non-Southerners among us beside themselves. Try them if you really want to impress your family over the holidays...or if you need to earn brownie points after going over the edge.

I was overrun with errands because we are hosting our church's praise team for supper Friday night. Fourteen people will be eating at my house. Fourteen. People. Tomorrow I'll attempt my first picture post of all the marvelous fall decor my girls and I created today. Eventually, I will have something profound to write about, but yesterday and today were Martha days. My goal tomorrow is to be a Mary, and enjoy sweet fellowship with our guests.

Praying for Mary moments for you this weekend as well.

Ginger



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cast of Characters

Last night a discussion ensued at my house about bloggy pen names. In the interest of internet security (and to save my kids any unnecessary humiliation), my husband and I decided that rest of the family would remain somewhat anonymous. My first thought was to call my girls by their nicknames. I LOVE nicknames; we just add to the growing list of them periodically. Consequently, my kids were to be known as Mel and Squeak. I failed to take into consideration that one of my kids is 13, and that means everything I do is embarassing.

"Do you," she asked her sister, " really want to be known all over cyberspace as Squeak?" The younger one pondered this.

"At least it's not 'Doodles' or 'Munchkin'."

This went on for a while. Though it is tempting at this point to refer to them as "Thing One" and Thing Two", we have settled, for the time being, on DD#1 (short for "Darling Daughter") and DD#2.

So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the folks who rock my world! (Actually, they are my world.) Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Big Red is my husband. He picked his handle all by himself. This should tell you quite a lot about him already. He is God's gift to me. As a teacher and coach, the Lord is using him to shape the lives of boys who don't have a loving father, and I am immensely proud of him. We laugh, we talk, we argue, we adore one another. He's my best friend.
DD#1
is officially a teenager. She is funny and smart and insightful, and when she remembers that teens are allowed to use words other than "stupid" or "unfair" or "amazing", she is one of the most interesting people I know. God has taken this child on a fast track; in many ways she has had more than her share of trials, but He has begun a good work in her, and He will be faithful to complete it. She loves children and books and her small group at church. She wants to be a nurse, and she will be fantastic at that.
DD#2 in those golden years between lower elementary and teendom. She is independent and thoughtful and shy. She is a born encourager; we say sometimes that DD#1 might cure cancer, but DD#2 will hold your hand when you've got it. She wants to be something new every day: an author, an artist, a missionary, a preschool teacher. None of those things precludes the others, so I say, go for it, girlfriend. When she doesn't have her nose in a book by herself, she still lets me read to her. This child is directly responsible for this blog's existence, so let's add persistant to her list of characteristics!
Frisky is the dog. He weighs about 45 lbs and sheds dramatically, so if I pet him, he gets in my lap. I pet him cautiously if I don't have time to change clothes.
Greyley is the cat. She and Big Red have a grudging respect for each other, because he is bigger, but she is the superior hunter. She and I get along fine; she sniffs approvingly at her Walmart brand Urinary Health cat food, and I leave the room with all the dignity of an English butler.
That's our wild household. Nice to meet you!
Ginger

PS Clueless Blogger Question #2: How do you add links to other blogs on your sidebar? The other blogs I read have about a zillion followers already, but I'd like to do this just for fun.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dwelling Place

I am, as we say in the South, beside myself. Thank you, blog friends, for your sweet words of encouragement. My husband said, " You are officially a techie, Ginger. You have cyber-friends."
Techie and my name should never be used in the same sentence, but I am delighted that the second part is true!

Naming a blog is a bit like naming a child. We contend that God named our children; both of them have names that suit their personalities to a T. I am praying that God named this blog, and that it will somehow develop a personality fitting with its title. "Dwelling in the House" is taken from Psalm 27, one of my favorites. Back in the late 80's, I discovered Christian radio (when I was 10--NOT), and loved a song based closely on the words of the Psalm.
" One thing I ask of the Lord
One thing will I seek,
Simply to dwell in the house of the Lord
All my days.
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
And to seek Him in His temple
Where no foe can cause me harm..."
I can't remember who sang this, but I still break into song whenever I get to those verses.

As I have spent some time in Psalm 27, I have grown to love verse 8, especially in the New Living Translation: " My heart hears You say, "Come and talk with Me," and my heart responds, " Lord, I am coming!"
I want those words to be true for me every day.
So in one sense, this blog is my accountability partner, a daily reminder to be seeking His face, truly dwelling in His house. I can't write under that heading without being convicted of where I am actually living out my life.
In another way, however, this blog is about dwelling in my house, the place God has placed me to be the light of His glory in a earthen vessel. It will probably reflect the messy, mixed-up, bumbling way that we live as spouses, parents, and believers. I might share a recipe or decorating idea I stole from some other wildly creative blogger. I'll tell you when God knocks me over with the hugeness of His character.
It will be a place for this former English teacher to hone her writing skills, since she started every sentence in that last paragraph with the letter "I".
No matter what this blog turns out to be when it grows up, I pray it is a place where you can come when you want seek His face and dwell in His house with someone else on the same journey, and we can help each other hear His beautiful voice.

Walking with you,
Ginger

PS Clueless Blogger Question #1 (of many): How do you add that cutie-patootie thing at the end of your blog for a signature? I love the wallpaper I found at Shabby Blogs ( and was beside myself when I actually got it on my blog), but I didn't see anything about how to do the sign-off thing. Suggestions?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Belated Bloggy Birthday or Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

I confess.
I'm nervous.
I feel like a middle-schooler at dance.
In my heart I'm dancing, but my feet won't move.
What if someone laughs at me? What if I make a complete fool of myself?
What if no one ever reads this and I'm just making a fool out of myself into cyber-air?

A year ago, I barely knew what a blog was, and when I did figure that much out, I never expected to become a blogger. I mean really, does anyone care what I had for breakfast (raisin toast), what my kids did this week (made me laugh, encouraged me to write this post, occasionally got on my nerves), or even what God is speaking to me (trust me on this one, Ginger)? I'm still not sure about that.
But I am sure of this.
Many of you bloggers out there have made me care what your kids did this week, what God is speaking to you about, and even, every now and again, what you had for breakfast.
After stalking the LPM blog for several months, I randomly clicked on a link and discovered a whole sisterhood of Christ followers, hungry for the Word, sorting out big and small life issues, and fellowshipping with a whole host of wonderful, encouraging "imaginary" friends who'd never laid eyes on each other.
What an amazing invention, the blog.

There is much I don't know yet.
How to give a huge linky shout-out to His Princess and Leah over at the Point for being willing to follow me before I even wrote a post!
How to link you to some of my other favorite imaginary friends on the Web.
How to post a picture of myself...or maybe a picture of the incredible cosmos in my yard, which is way more photogenic than I.

I'll figure it out. I'll follow my sweet, encouraging daughter's advice:"Mama, leave comments and ASK FOR HELP!"

In the meantime, I'm still praying and asking the Lord to take this blog on the same wide ride He's been taking our family on for a while now. May He use it for His glory.
For Your Name and Your renown is the desire of my heart.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Ginger

Tuesday, September 22, 2009