Monday, February 27, 2012

I Will

I’m doing a weekly Psalm Study with Wendy Pope, a writer and speaker for the Proverbs 31 Ministry.  It’s a nice study, because it is easy – 1 psalm/week, 10-15 minutes, 4 days a week.  My original plan was to write once a week about each psalm, but I have to admit that the first few studies hit me a little too close to home, struck a couple of nerves.  I do hope to go back to some of those psalms, revisit, and maybe write about why they hit me so hard.

So, this week’s Psalm is #9.  In today’s vlog, Wendy talked about how our inward attitude becomes our outward expression.  I have to change myself, internally, before I can expect changes to be visible to others.

I WILL praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I WILL tell of all your wonders.  I WILL be glad and rejoice in you; I WILL sing praise to your name, O Most High. v. 1-2

For the rest of this week, I will follow the first 2 verses.  I will praise.  I will tell.  I will be glad.  I will sing.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My First Shiraz

Way back in my single days, I worked for United Airlines. The best part was, of course, the travel benefits. At the time you paid a small fee to travel anywhere United went. The majority of my travels were to visit family (I was pretty deep in debt), but I did take a few fun trips and one overseas trip to visit my friend Stan who was studying law in Sydney, Australia in the year 2000.  I spent 8 fun filled days, soaking up the southern hemisphere sun. I spent a lot of time sight seeing, but one day Stan and I took a wine tasting trip to Hunter Valley. I don't remember much of where we went but one of the wineries was Rosemount Estates where I tasted my first Shiraz. I loved the buttery texture, the slightly peppery taste. I decided this was the one bottle for me to take home with me -- I only had 1 carry on and barely room for my clothes much less a bottle of wine. I also worried about the bottle breaking but figured one bottle would be fine.  Upon my return to the States I guarded to bottle selfishly, waiting for the right time to open it. I finally opened it later that summer at my uncle's home at a Labor Day bbq. We all really enjoyed it.  It couldn't have been long after that I discovered it sold in grocery stores! I don't remember when that was, but I do still like to pick up a bottle from time to time. I found it at Target for $6.99 this last time. It's been awhile since I've had the Shiraz. I also enjoy their red blends. Enjoying that Shiraz reminded me of my trip and made me long for a trip back. Someday ...

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Desperately Seeking Grace

Last weekend, Rocky suggested I watch the movie “The Mission”.  It is set in the 18th century South America and is the story of Spanish Jesuits trying to protect a remote South American Indian tribe from Portugal and slavery.  Robert DeNiro stars as a hot-headed slave-trader, Mendoza, who ends up feeling a desperate need for penance after killing his brother in a rage of jealousy.  Jeremy Irons plays the Jesuit missionary, Father Gabriel, given the task of Mendoza’s penance, which involves dragging Spanish armor to Irons’ mission, at the top of a waterfall, and the only way to get to the top is to climb up the side of the waterfall.  Mendoza doesn’t want to believe in this penance and isn’t sure if even wants the forgiveness, but, in it, he tries to earn or feel the forgiveness that eludes him.  He accepts no help from the Jesuits.  At the top of the waterfall, the Jesuits are welcomed with open arms of the Indians, but Mendoza is recognized as the slave-trader who used to hunt them.  One Indian rushes to slit his throat.  A short exchange with Fr. Gabriel and the Indian frees Mendoza of his burden, pushing it off the cliff and into the water below.  Mendoza bursts into tears which evolve into laughter as he realizes what has happened.  Grace.  True,  unearned Grace.  Regardless of his past sins, these Indians offered him Grace.  [That’s just the first half of the movie and I kind of wish I had stopped watching. Humans can be such animals to one another.]

It was interesting to watch and think about this right before Lent.  Is there any greater act of grace than Jesus willingly giving his life for us?  I think I’ve always known what grace is, but it’s only been since the Walk that I “get” it.  That I truly understand what that grace means.  Penance means nothing.  There is nothing I can do to earn grace or forgiveness.  Grace is freely given to those who ask and to those who seek it.

And now, the annual Lenten journey is  underway.  I plan to use this time to deliberately study the Bible and allow it to be a time of reflection for me.  I have felt God telling me to just be still, just be quiet and so the next 47 days will be of quiet reflection.  And to kick that off, this is from the invitation to worship at the Ash Wednesday Services this week:

We are gathered at the beginning of a journey.  One that will take us through the teachings of a rabbi, of the palms laid down in honor, past the betrayal of a trusted friend, into the fear and hatred of the faceless crowd, up to the foot of the cross, and inside death itself.  And yet, the journey will continue.  Not concluded until we stand at the doorway of an empty tomb and witness the fulfillment of God’s promise.  Let us take this journey together. Hand in hand.  Without fear. Trusting in Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Big Girl


My Maggie.  6 1/2 years old, 1/2 way through Kindergarten – coasting her way through!  We had parent/teacher conferences on Monday, and while Maggie is not off the charts, she is darn close!  She is excelling at reading and catching onto the math concepts so well.  She loves to practice her math with workbooks her grandparents have given her.  Her school is doing a read-a-thon and the first night she read for 90 minutes, instead of the requested 30.  Of course, she did have new books to help that along.  She is starting to like Chapter books and as she told Ms Rodacker: “the fun thing about chapter books is there aren’t a lot of pictures, so you have to make pictures in  your head!”

Emotionally, she has really matured as well.  She is not as prone to bursting into tears at the drop of a hat, and when she feels the tears coming on, she is able to pull herself together quickly.  She can still get upset and we have seen the tears come if she is tired or hungry, but just not as often as before.

Maggie is a Daisy Scout and finally gets to sell Girl Scout cookies!  She actually got a little upset that I sold some for her the other night!  Less than a week into sales, she is 9 boxes from her goal of 175 boxes – so she can get a giraffe print journal & pen pal.  The girls are going to use their money to help sponsor a Poison Arrow Dart Frog at ZooMontana and do a fun activity as well – Maggie has voted for an afternoon at the Reef, an indoor water park here in Billings!  She has earned a few badges and was so proud of her Daisy pin.  She even took her vest to school for show and tell.

She is still a good big sister, sharing well with Jessie.  She also does pretty good at just going upstairs if she needs some time away from Jessie.  Maggie loves to wrestle; hardly a night goes by without her coming up to either me or her Dad, with an impish grin on her face, “Wanna wrestle?”

Maggie really is a good kid.  I am so proud of her!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Another Chardonnay Day

Solaire by Robert Modavi. 2007. Santa Lucia Highlands. Another Chardonnay that I'm enjoying. Both were a couple of years old and perhaps that's what I need to look for in Chardonnays. Smooth, a little oaky and a little fruity. At $4.99 at Simply Wine, I should have gotten a few more bottles!

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Desperately Seeking Joy

I’ve started doing a couple of “light” Bible Studies.  One is on a Bible app on my Droid and it’s called “21 Day Fast.” ( Today’s really spoke to me and I wanted to share it here so I don’t lose it.  I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days feeling burdened, put upon, defeated and I needed this reminder to be joyful.  Joy is not dependent upon my circumstances, but a choice I make.  So today, I will sing praise songs with the radio.  Today, I will play with my daughters and shower them with love.  Today, I will remember to tell my husband how much I love him and how much he brings to my life.

Psalm 100.  This psalm talks about entering God’s presence with thankfulness, gladness, joy and praise in your heart.  If you’ve become focused on the physical hardships you’re facing or the burdens you’re bringing to God in prayer [hello!], then spend today just being joyful in the Lord.  Write down some things that bring you joy today. Sing a song of praise to Him.  Pray that God will stir an urgency to press in and see what God has for you beyond His gates.

Psalm 100
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

20 Months Old

Wow. 20 months of Jessica. So hard to believe. She is such a wonder to me. Watching her continually make discoveries and how amazed she is by the world makes the world amazing to me. She will color now and not just eat the crayons. She sings songs to herself. She is starting to play alone with her babies and animals.  The other day she pushed a teddy bear up to the table and gave it a plate then got a plate for herself and sat and pretended to eat and feed her bear.  Her hair is starting to grow in though she still really just has a little duck tail.  She is talking, a lot. I can understand, a little. She lives "Sesame Street" and can identify most of the Muppets and especially loves "El-MO"!  She is still signing quite a bit and I need to pull the book out again to see if there other words she can pick up.  She is still extremely active, never sitting still unless she's asleep and even then not very still. She likes to climb, but is a little cautious. She's getting good at getting up & down the stairs. And if we didn't think Wiconi would steal all the toys, we'd probably take the gates down.  We are still nursing. I was pleasantly surprised that we picked up where we left off after the Walk. I've started thinking about when to wean. I'm kind of ready to have my body back but it's hard to say no to her when she asks, so sweetly "Pease Momma." We've started offering her a bottle of milk when she asks and it works sometimes. I know that nursing is not giving her everything she needs now so we are trying to distract her more. Maybe when she's home full time with Rocky the transition will happen. 
She still loves to give hugs and is just a sweetie pie, charming everyone she meets. She loves her Sissy and Maggie is such a great big sister. I love to watch then together.  We are so blessed.

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Different Kind of Dip

It’s that time of year again: Super Bowl!! As usual, we will be getting together with our church group to watch the game and the commercials. I’m rather excited about the Ferris Bueller ad this year (hopefully there will be one different from the one on YouTube as it’s been out for a week or so) and we are hoping this ad will lead to a full Ferris Bueller sequel!

So, as I was trying to decide what to bring, someone on Twitter posted a link to Pinterest for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (from I’ve heard of it before, but have never tried it. Could it REALLY be just like cookie dough? 2012-02-04_15-10-24_733 Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s not. It is, however, DELICIOUS, sinfully so and very much close enough to actually be called cookie dough dip.

This afternoon, Maggie & I rolled up our sleeves and mixed it together. It is incredibly easy, only 6 ingredients (well, 7 as I added the toffee bits as suggested in the link above). I did add a 2nd tablespoon of brown sugar and the last drops of vanilla in the bottom of my nearly empty bottle. It is now resting comfortably in the fridge, allowing the flavors to meld. We got graham crackers to serve along side and I am looking forward to enjoying it (along with the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling we purchased to take along).

Update: after sitting overnight, the dip tasted A LOT more like cookie dough and it was a SMASHING success. Rocky came up with the great idea to put it between 2 chocolate chip cookies for a sandwich, which was also a SMASHING success. Will definitely make this one again!

Full recipe if you don’t want to go to the link (but go there for good photos)

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup mixed in and 1/4 cup on top)
  • 1 cup toffee bits (I used Health bits. Also used 1/2 cup mixed in and 1/4 cup on top)
Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined. Serve with graham crackers or apple wedges.