January 29, 2009

MSNBC on Stethescope

On Monday a reporter flew into Abilene to speak with Phil Ware and Stephen Corbett, two of our ministers at Southern Hills, regarding the Stethescope video.
The interview shows the video throughout, so you get to see my husbands cute mug and head bob too!! The story was excellent. You click the link to head on over to see the story. The story might air on Saturday but hasn't been confirmed yet.

MSNBC Stethescope Interview

Tammy's Cornbread Recipe

Thursday morning and the kids are in school. WOOOHOOOO!! Work, errands, and life to do today after 2 days of no school and ice everywhere.

The sunshine feels so good.

Rob and I volunteered to teach the two year olds are our church on Sunday mornings for a semester. I haven't taught two year olds since my kids were little. Rob has never taught a children's class before. I have loved it, and Rob has too. The Sundays have consisted of between 12 and 22 kids. It has been a very rewarding experience to get back with the little kids, they are so cute and fun, such pure little hearts.

Tomorrow is the first day of Esther in the Friday morning class. We are meeting in the Campus Room #119, f.y.i. for all y'all out there. Great study, can't wait to get this next group of women together and get into the Word together.

One type of food that I never really ate before moving to Texas was cornbread. And let me just tell you there are many different ways to make it. I have taken some of my Nana's tricks, along with a delicious recipe from my MIL and tweaked it into my own.

Tammy's Cornbread Recipe

To make it taste as good as it possibly can, a cast iron skillet is a must have. I use my 11 or 12" skillet.

2 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix - I use Jiffy because my Nana used Jiffy which makes it the best. But she used it because it is a sweet cornbread mix.

Add 2/3 Cups Milk
2 eggs
1 small can creamed corn
1 small can corn niblets
1-2 cups of grated cheese (cheddar or colby jack)
1/2 cup chopped jalepeno's, or chopped green chille, or chopped green onion

Mix all up together. Let this mixture set for a couple of minutes to rest.

In the meantime put about 2 tablespoons real butter in your cast iron skillet and put it in your 425 degree preaheated oven. You will want to double check that temp. with what the Jiffy Box says and go with the box.

Once butter is melted take cast iron skillet out of oven and pour rested batter in skillet. Put back in oven and cook until brown on top. Takes about 20-25 minutes. Once brown then pull out of the oven and serve with warm butter, or as Paula Dean calls is Buttuh.

In Texas we serve cornbread with bar-b-que, soup, stews, black eyed peas, a bowl of beans.....

Some older folks might even pour milk over it in the morning and make cornmush, but I haven't fallen in love with it that much yet!

January 28, 2009

Elf Taste Buds

Good Wednesday morning. One more day, atleast half a day of ice covered streets here in Abilene. Schools closed again along with Rob's job. It is nice.

This morning I made chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. Jack brought me one as I was working on the computer and said, "I am going to just stand here and watch you eat it. It is so good, I have decided that when I grow up I will be a movie critic and a food critic, these muffins are so good I give them a 10." Now the taco soup that I put down in front of him last night probably would have scored a negative 3 on "his" scale. He tends to gravitate to the eating habits of the North Pole Elf Culture...sugar, candy, candy corn and syrup.

He would definately be an asset to the Taylor County Fair when judging all the candies and sweets. The boy has a refined pallet.

I have work to do today, in fact must get to it right now. Will probably stop by again later today to say hello.

January 27, 2009

Closed For Bad Weather

From the book Walking With God by John Eldredge. He is writing about the first day of his vacation in a cabin in the mountains.

Slowing Down to Listen.
"I'm sitting on the porch of our cabin listening to the rain on the tin roof and watching it fall on all my plans for the day. I cannot hike. I cannot do chores. I cannot fish. the mud is so deep, I cannot drive anywhere. I'm trapped. Pinned down. With myself and God. There is nothing I can do but pay attention to what surfaces inside of me when I cannot charge into the day. I am paying attention...
This rain is a mercy."

Todays icey weather reminded me of this chapter, when there are things to do, and places to go, a day of life that comes to an abrupt halt because of bad weather. This ice is a mercy.

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We are all home today. The kids schools were closed and Rob's work was closed. So we are enjoying our warm house and I am glad I went to the grocery store yesterday so we have food to eat ; )

All the kids are coughing, so this is a day for their bodies to recoup and stay warm.

On this cold day, may God's love shine bright and warm you up from the inside out.
Blessed.

January 26, 2009

Gift of Time = Priceless

I have a stack of computer work to do this week. Taking a quick break right now to say hello. Jack is home sick today, he has a sore throat, sneezing and sounds a bit stuffy.

Last night was our first night of study of Queen Esther. A great turn out of women and many new faces who I will enjoy as new friends. This is my last Sunday night series I will facilitate due to the beginning of Groups. I am so glad that God led us to start a weekday study, so I will still have a place for in depth study.

"Groups" is just what it sounds like. Being in a large church people walk through the door and unless they get involved they might feel like they have connected. I have always said that when you go to a small church you walk through the door and there are places to serve and everyone immediately knows there is a new face. When you go to a large church you have to be intentional about connecting with others. Groups will be a way that people can be cared for in community, develop relationships and share a faith walk with their kids if applicable and with several other persons or families. This will be a great way for Rob and I to be intentional about passing our faith down to our kids. The Spiritual Formation class that I audited last semester will give us a wonderful pool of info to share. Spiritual Disciplines, intentionality, serving, different methods of prayer, each week looking to God to enter into a relationship that is "deeper still."
The big concern that is voiced is that kids over 2 years old are included in the groups, unless childcare is arranged. At first I was thinking about how my kids would rather be in youth group or kids activities, but my kids are at school with friends every day, with their friends at church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, and this will be an opportunity for us to give our kids the tools for their walk with the Lord. A time where they are more individually nurtured and taught as compared to one of the bunches.

I loved one of the points that someone made last night is that the kids that grow up in small churches have a larger rate of staying in church once they are out of their home, as compared to those of a larger church. The larger churches offer more activities, more same age fellowship, more entertainment for the kids, but the smaller churches are more "family focused" and that has made a difference in helping kids find their own journey with God. Groups could be a way to develop the family and extended family relationships to give our kids what is needed to find their own faith.

I am excited about this gift of quality and intentional time with my kids that my church is making possible.

January 24, 2009

Dinner, Zoe, Girls Nite Out

I think this
is what we are having for dinner tonight. Perfect for a very cold and windy day.


*Update* did make this for dinner and it was delicious but definately TMO (Too much onion) I should have known to cut back on the onion, calls for a whole onion. I bought a small one thinking that it would work. Not so. Should have put in 1/4 of an onion and that would have been plenty for my family with picky kids.
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Who has gone to a Zoe Conference?
March 6-8 Monterrey Church in Lubbock is hosting. Now that my husband doesn't have to work every Saturday, this is a possibility for us. The tag line is "Can we really be expected to live with out fear? " Romans 8:15
I say with God on our side, who can be against us....this is a topic I want to go deeper into. The empowerment from God and his indwelling spirit to be free from fear is something I have experienced to a great degree over the last couple of years regarding Jack's illness. I want more of this.

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My fingers are not working well as they are uber-cold right now. Girls Nite Out last night, sleepover at Journey's Inn, came home to an empty house as Rob was on call this weekend and needed to be at work. Kids over at Mommer's house. And the thermostat read 59 degrees. I had turned it off yesterday as it was like 80 degrees in the house, no heat necessary, yesterday that is. Today, give me heat, hot tea and a warm blanky.

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Girls Sleepover - Major Hit. Several of my peeps and I hung out over at Journey's Inn for the night. I brought Sezchuan for dinner for us all, Denise hit it out of the ball park with Sushi for all and add to that popcorn, home made salsa, chips, chocolate...a to go box of Starbucks Coffee and some incredibly rich chocolate cupcakes also from Starbucks...good call Robyn, many, many, laughs and fun movies to watch, 2 Games of Apples to Apples where Robin S. was victorious each time...so fun. The breakfast was amazing that is supplied by the Inn, home made individual quiche, the best mini muffins I have EVER tasted, scones, juice, fresh strawberries and blueberries...and more coffee. It was totally fun. I always keep Journey's Inn link on my sidebar, so if you ever want a special night out with your husband, a fun place to have girls nite out, or out of town company that want a great experience at a B & B, be sure and click on over. Susan and Cheryl who own the inn are totally fun and make the experience one you wont forget.

I am going to take my hubby there soon, and I can't wait!!

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Couple of days have passed now since our new President took office. They sure are a beautiful family. I will look forward to all the pics and interest stories of family life in the White House.

Peace Out!

January 23, 2009

The Angry Mob and a great link.

Just saw a very cool pic of the Presidential Inauguration. This is no ordinary picture, it is a panoramic of multiple images stitched together on a computer. The detail on this image is amazing. Be sure and zoom in, at first glance it looks like a bunch of people crammed together. Zoomed in, you can see each person individually, behind the President I spotted his wife in her now famous Lemongrass Color Dress, the Bush's, Clintons, even Yo-Yo-Ma shooting a pic from his iphone. This is an incredible image.
Click here to see the Inaugural Panoramic.

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Changes are happening at my church with Sunday nights. Some changes in life can be good, some changes in life can be bad. Most change however is extremely difficult. Mess with peoples routine and sometimes even good Christians might be tempted to show their teeth. It is in those moments that time alone with God, in prayer and meditation, can bring a response that is in line with a humble servant of God. Without the grounding from the Father we can be stirred up as an angry mob who only see's OUR needs and OUR desires, never looking to others or listening with our guard down. Father God I only want what is in line with your heart.

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Lighter side.
3 Things About Me's.

1. I don't like my food to touch, and often finish one thing before I ever move on to the next on my plate.

2. I have a horrible memory, thanks to sleep deprivation when my twins were babies. Lost a lot of my past memories.

3. I do not deserve the life I live, my amazing husband, and kind and generous children. God's grace fills my life abundantly.

January 22, 2009

Lovely Thoughts Vs. Real Presence

Thursday morning. Busy day ahead. I stayed in last night and went to bed early as I felt the beginning of a cold coming on. I have tried to do this the last couple of times I start feeling poorly. Rather than pushing on when I feel this way if I can I just take cold medicine, vitamins, and go to bed early I can kick the cold before it gets bad. I am feeling better already.

I got quite a bit of reading done last night as I was under my warm blanky's. I am still reading The Road to Daybreak, this has not been a quick read. It is a simple read, but has given much to think on and about, and I am not rushing through it for that reason. As Henri Nouwen is working through his journey to his upcoming calling to live at Daybreak, a home for the mentally disabled, he is thinking about what he would be giving up. This comes from the day entitled Happy Are The Poor, "Three thoughts have stayed with me. First, Jean said that working and living with handicapped people does not become easier the longer you do it. In fact, it often becomes harder, Jean shared his own struggle with us. He said, 'Often I go off in dreams about living and being with the poor, but what the poor need are not my dreams, my beautiful thoughts, my inner reflections, but my concrete presence. There is always the temptation to replace real presence with lovely thoughts about being present.'"

There is always the temptation to replace real presence with lovely thoughts about being present....ouch. This is an area that God has been working with me on for a while now. Years, I guess. Before I had my kids I did invest in lives on a regular basis that were in need. Once I had my kids, especially when they were little, that was my all encompassing job. There was no time to look outside my little box of the world, I felt guilty for it, but eventually I just saw that time as the season I was currently living in. The seasons have changed over the years, my kids are not all encompassing any more, in fact they are great helpers. Over the last couple of years God has been convicting me that "lovely thoughts" are not only a waste of time, but knowing what I should be doing and not doing it is sinful. I don't feel the call to add a bunch of volunteer work into my days, but adding a couple of places where I can invest my life into and share the love of Christ in an intentional way is where I feel led. In the places that I have been intentional about investing my time, I am always blessed, I am always humbled, I am always grateful for the experience. Partially because of the people, but mainly because God shows up in those moments of putting yourself out there for His glory. I can feel His presence clearly when I am out of my comfort zone and in the places of His call.

I was convicted of this call to serve even more while in Dr. Wray's spiritual formation class. He encouraged us to tithe our time not just our money. Ten percent. For every 40 hour work week he tithes 4 hours to help the needy.

The busy-ness of my life seems to take over at times, but the time invested in other people is never wasted. Those moments are the most valuable.

January 21, 2009

Consequences of Sin...never easy.

It is almost that time...taxes. I have a stack of invoices and receipts from the last year about 10 inches high in a box starring at me and giving me the evil eye. In the next couple of weeks I will start putting all those numbers into my computer. Every year when I go to my accountant she asks me if I use Quicken, and when I say no, she asks me why not? I respond in my head, because I like to do everything the hard way, and make things difficult for myself. Then I think...this will be the year that I figure out Quicken and make my accountant proud of me. I did buy it once, before I was computer literate, it was overwhelming. Now that I have become friends with technology I might be able to figure it out without too many tears and frustration.

Still reading the Henri Nouwen book and still loving it. On page 49 in Daybreak, Henri says, "Handicapped people, who have such a limited ability to learn, can let their hearts speak easily and thus reveal a mystical life that for many intelligent people seems unreachable." This quote of course reminds me of when Jesus tells his disciples one must become like a child to inherit the Kingdom of God.

I have almost finished listening to the 6 cd's that make up the study for Anointed, Transformed and Redeemed, Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore and Kay Arthur. I have never done a study by Kay Arthur, nor heard her speak before. She is covering the Redeemed topic, and speaks to David's sin with Bathsheba, and his life following. She is bringing it home, it is definately stepping on toe material. She speaks about how God's grace and love were given freely to David after his ad*ltry with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, her husband, but that God never took away the consequences of his sin. The consequences were four fold. This has been a great study, I am still doing the book work and probably wont finish it until our church offers this study in the summertime.

We are about to start Beth's new study on Queen Esther. I am leading two classes this time, Sunday nights at 5pm and Friday mornings at 10am, both at Southern Hills Church of Christ. If you are in Abilene and would like to join our Women's Bible Study you are more than welcome. This is going to be a great study, life changing in many ways.

January 20, 2009

Your Favorite Movie Quote....Please.

Last night was Bunko Night for my group. It was so much fun, a couple of new faces who were subbing for our out of town ladies. Our gracious hostess, Susan C., developed the theme of "Pie Night" based on her families recent travels to the Gulf Shores where they ate at a restaurant called "Sweetie Pie's" a couple of times. The menu was certainly labor intensive, but very tasty.

One of my favorite goofy things to do, is quote movies. So on occasion when together with my friends who like to also quote movies we can go to town on Coal Miner's Daughter....Doo done thrown me out daddy, Doo, Doo...that lady grabbed a piece of my hair, bologna sandwiches, come on over here twins, and then there is Steel Magnolia's...classic movie quotes like...you know I love you more than my luggage, Anne Bolin has 6 fingers, I haven't left the house without lycra on these thighs for years...your mama raised you right, take a whack at Ouiser, I wear a size 6, but a 7 feels so good I buy a size 8, laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.

Last night was certainly a movie quoting night at bunko. Thanks to all the non movie quoters for putting up with Denise and I.

Are you a movie quoter? If so what are some of your faves?

January 19, 2009

Trophies and Burgers and a Mall Cop

Saturday Jack and Sophie competed in the Southern Hills Tae Kwon Do Showdown where they competed in Forms and Sparring. Here is a pic of them with their trophies after they were finished.


Here is a pic of my good friend Robin at her surprise 50th Birthday party with her hubby and daughter. Robin was totally surprised. The night was fun and full of friends and laughter. Props to Guy and Katie for choosing the best burgers in town for the menu, Perini's burgers are the best.



For all of my friends where it is snowy and cold, I will be thinking of you today when it hits 73 degree's today. Love that sunshine in winter.

Movies...Jack has been watching the trailer to Mall Cop every day for atleast 3 weeks. So the day came and we all headed out to the theatre (minus Sophie as she was at a friends house) in great anticipation. I just heard it was the number one movie this weekend. This has been a movie watching season for us, we always like to go to the movies but lately it has been a bit more than normal. I think I was bent on finding a feel good movie for the season, something that makes you laugh, cry, and walk out of the theatre feeling inspired. My search for the perfect holiday movie was never satisfied. Most movies were good, but all fell short in one way or another. So in search of a laugh, something funny and lighthearted as compared to most other movies out right now I was slightly optomistic about Mall Cop. We did laugh, it was pretty silly, I was enthralled by the use of the motorized thing he rode through the mall. I know there is a proper name for it, but it's not coming to mind right now. It was just what I expected, nothing spectacular, but funny none the less.

January 18, 2009

My Desire or God's Call?

Sunday afternoon. The kids are out of school tomorrow for MLK Day. So excited about that!!

I have been reading the Road To Daybreak by Henri Nouwen. I wrote before that this is Henri's journal of the year where he left the Theology Dept. of Harvard and was seeking his next call which ended up being Daybreak, a home for mentally disabled people. I love this quote from Henri, "Jesus speaks through the broken hearts of the handicapped, who are considered marginal and useless. But God has chosen them to be the poor through whom he makes his presence known. This is hard to accept in a success and production oriented society." Anyone who has known someone who has Down Syndrome can surely identify with this statement.

I also love this quote from Henri on the following page.

"I have been very concerned with this question since I feel that my life at Harvard led me in the wrong direction; that is why I finally left. Now that I am free to go the way of prayer, fasting, and solitude, I sense that without a concentrated effort I will transform my life here into another Harvard. I feel a burning desire to preach the Gospel, but I know in my heart that now is the time to pray, to read, to meditate, to be quiet and to wait until God clearly calls me. ...It makes no sense to preach the Gospel when I have allowed no time for my own conversion....one word spoken with a pure heart is worth thousands spoken in a state of spiritual turmoil. Time given to inner renewal is never wasted. God is not in a hurry."

I wonder how many times "my burning desire" has been mistakenly identified by myself as God's will for me. The words, to be quiet and to wait until God clearly calls me are VERY convicting.

January 15, 2009

Emotions Today

I am listening to the bible study called Anointed, Transformed and Redeemed. I asked for this study on disc for Christmas and my sweet MIL bought it for me. I bought the workbook that goes along with it. It has been a great study. Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore and Kay Arthur offer the Deeper Still conferences and this study is an adaptation from their conference last year. Beth is hitting on trusting God when we are offended by the choices He makes. I went through so much turmoil when Jack was diagnosed, I really had to seek the Lord for my faith to grow to find that trust again. God was ALWAYS trustworthy, my faith just needed to grow. It did, thanks be to God, and I worked through a hard time with victory on the other side. Listening to this study has brought up some of those feelings again. It is not a bad thing, I am just reminded that God has brought me through some really tough times and I am certainly a work in progress.

I had an emotional day today. Seems like I started crying at the drop of a hat more than once. Part of the reason I think is that the Anointed study I am listening to is hitting me where it hurts, touching very fragile places in my heart, and it has left me emotional. The other reason is that I heard such a heart breaking testimony this week I don't think that my heart has recovered from that. The testimony ends well, God is certainly the Victor, but the darkness that my friend had to deal with from a very young age has stuck with me and I haven't quite been able to shake it.

These are the days that I just need to curl up with the bible and some praise music and talk to my sweet heavenly Father.

This is my favorite song right now. Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith

January 14, 2009

Messy Hamster

Wednesday night. I have decided that we have a very ignorant hamster. I bought a new cage that was made with higher walls, less mess outside the cage was my intent. While at the pet store I bought some sort of something that is supposed to attract the hamster to "use the little boy hamster room" in one specific area. Our bright hamster goes everywhere except where he is supposed to. Where he sleeps, in his food dish, everywhere. Makes no sense to me. I am just wondering if our hamster is dumber than the average hamster, or if all hamsters are as messy as this one.

I just looked it up on-line and the average life expectancy of hamsters is 2 years. We have about 18 months of living with this little critter left.

January 13, 2009

Just a quick hello.

I have been diligently working on my computer today and haven't had time to post something new today, yet. Just finished posting a wedding on my photog blog, great pics, and my favorite bouquet toss pic...flowers ripped in half, cocktails flying, all sorts of crazy looks on the faces of those watching. Click over if you want to see it, the link is on my sidebar under Marcelain Photography Blog.

Once a month there is a wonderful program at City Lights in downtown Abilene called Rockin' Moms. I love to go and help out where ever I can. I normally fill ice cups and I like to sit at the sign in desk so I can try and talk to all the ladies as they come in. Tonight there was one of the most powerful testimonies about the power of God's healing a broken body, mind and spirit that I have ever heard. I am grateful to this program that brings women together to hear about the power of God.

Rob is loving his new job at D.R.I. (Disability Resources Inc.). It is so nice to see him in the mornings before he goes to work. Unlike his previous job where he would have been at work hours before my alarm clock went off. I am thankful for the family time in the morning.

Well it is now 8 minutes past my bed time. Just wanted to check in and say a big hello.

January 12, 2009

A Time To Mourn

Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, sing, dance, mourn.... Many heard that scripture quoted for the first time in the movie Footloose. What does a time to mourn look like? 3 of my friends have buried their children over the last several months. One friend is someone who is part of my life in a regular and authentic way. I have no training on how I can be helpful during this time, or even just not be insensitive or a drain. Last year I read Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner, an excellent young and authentic writer. The book was a comparative and contrast of her Jewish years to her years after she accepted Jesus as her Savior. There are so many traditions that Christianity has chosen not to hold on to that have real wisdom and life changing affects. One of which is the tradition and sequence of mourning. I wish I could have just typed the entire chapter on Mourning because it is full of rich thoughts, I have just pulled out a couple of paragraphs. These mourning rituals apply to the loss of a parent, child or sibling and the community that surrounds them. Below this I found a great website with more details and information if you want to investigate this further. I find it helpful and comforting to know how God's people dealt with the death of a loved one. I feel like in our society we are just flying blindly, and poorly.

From the book Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner.

Church funerals, when they tell the truth, not only remember lovingly the lives of the departed, they also preach the gospel-they proclaim that Jesus is risen, and insist that those who died in Him shall be risen too.
What churches often do less well is grieve. We lack a ritual for the long and tiring process that is sorrow and loss. A friend of mine whose husband recently died put it like this: "For about two weeks the church was really the church- really awesomely, wonderfully the church. Everyone came to the house, baked casseroles, carried Kleenex's. But then the two weeks ended, and so did the consolation calls." While you the mourner are still bawling your eyes out and slamming fists into the wall, everyone else, understandably forgets, and goes back to their normal lives and you are left alone. You are without the church, and without a church vocabulary for what happens to the living after the dead are dead.
Mourning, maybe, is never easy, but it is better done inside a communal grammar of bereavement. Christianity has a hopeful and true vocabulary for death-and-resurrection. It is Judaism that offers the grammar for in between, for the mourning after death and before Easter.

Judaism understands mourning as a discipline, one in which the mourner is not only allowed, but expected, to be engaged. Rather than asking the mourner to paper over his grief, the Jewish community supports him in mourning. (My priest, who is always urging me to pray the despairing Book of Psalms, says that Judaism mourns well in part because Jews understand lament. "Christians," he says, "do not know how to lament.")


One of the staples of Jewish mourning is the reciting of the Kaddish twice a day every day for a year, and it must be in community. The first week during Shiva (takes place the week following the burial) the community comes to the family, they pray this prayer twice a day in the home. After Shiva the family is allowed to leave their home and they attend prayers at the Synagogue to say Kaddish twice a day. There must be a minimum of 10 people who say Kaddish together. This is what Mudhouse Sabbath says about Kaddish:

"Not only is the community present for one's mourning, God is present too. God is ubiquitous in Jewish bereavement because of the Kaddish. Countless commentators have observed that the Kaddish is a curious mourner's prayer, because it says nothing about mourning. It is rather a prayer about God, describing Him as magnified and sanctified and worthy to be praised. It is not a prayer of rent garments and commemoration, but rather simply four verses of praise to God. "Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He, beyond any blessing or song." as one mourner noted, the Kaddish is really " a Gloria." Even in the pit, even in depression and loss and nonsense, still we respond to God with praise. This is not to say that the mourner should not feel what he feels-anger, disbelief, hatred. He can feel those things (and shout them out to God; God can take it). You do not have to feel praise in the intense moments of mourning, but the praise is still true, and insisting upon it over and over, twice a day every day, ensures that eventually you will come to remember the truth of those praises.

Here is an informative website that gives information on the stages of mourning in the Jewish tradition. I also found the words of the Kaddish on Wikipedia.

The Stages of Jewish Mourning

This is a note found on the website above. Very insightful.
"In a Jewish House of Mourning" -- Each culture approaches death and the mourning period in its own unique fashion. As a family, we only request that an effort be made to create an atmosphere that is congruous with our Jewish values. Conversations should focus on the life and legacy of Judy Dan. No effort should be made to portray her in an artificial light, since this would offend her memory. Painful as it may seem, attempts at distracting family members from thinking or speaking about their loss are not considered appropriate at this time.
Thank you, The Dan Family

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Can't un-italic here, these are my words.
I am reminded that it is good to keep talking about the loved one who passed away, it is always necessary to praise God even if the words are not heartfelt at the moment, grieving and mourning take a lot of time and everyone is different. May the grace, love and patience, that God has shown me exude grace, love and patience to others as they are winding this long and confusing road.

January 09, 2009

New Books This Week

Started a new book yesterday. The Road To Daybreak, by Henri Nouwen. It is a year of his life after he left Harvard Divinity School in search of where his call was leading him. Henri worked for Yale for many years before Harvard. This is his journey to Daybreak a home for the mentally handicapped, severe in many cases, where he ministered to these special souls and people who didn't know about all of his accomplishments. A place that he called home.

I also ordered his book called the Prodigal Son from Amazon which is on my list to read, along with Tramp for the Lord, a follow up to the Hiding Place written by Corrie Ten Boom, the book I just read earlier this week.

I have filled my book quota for ordering for atleast 4 weeks. Book reviews to come ; ).

January 08, 2009

Panoramic Pic Examples - So FUN

Tonight was Artwalk in Downtown Abilene. The weather was spectacular so there was a decent crowd of people walking through. Alot of friends and familiar faces were in the gallery tonight so I stayed pretty busy shooting the breeze. I did have some time today to play with my new apps on my phone. I tried to upload a couple of the pics I took with Pano but due to the weird size I guess blogger wont upload them. So I uploaded them to my mobileme account for you to see.

There is one picture of my front room in my gallery. I am sitting at one end of the table and shooting around the room. This is six images stitched together.

Then I went to my friend T.M. Gand's studio. She is one of my most favorite artists and the painter of my beautifully commissioned image called "The Light" which I blogged about earlier. Anyway her studio is vibrant and full of color. There are two shots from her studio, the front area where she shows her work and then the back half where she paints. I LOVE the color in her images. Both of those images are 6 pics stitched together.

Click here to see the Pano pics. They will originally show up a bit small, but just double click on them and they will enlarge so you can see more detail.

January 07, 2009

Warm Weather Fun



A couple of days ago we had some great warm weather in town. I think it was 80 degrees. It was time to clean out the hamster cage which always includes the outdoors and water hose. My twins asked me if they could play in the water as it was so warm out. "Sure," I said, have fun. They had a blast. Truthfully the mom in me kind of wanted to say no, I knew the water would be freezing and 80 degree's really isn't that hot. I was given a poem when my kids were born about trying to say "yes" as much as possible. This was one of those times I thought that I needed to say "yes" even though "no" came to mind first. I appreciate that poem as it really has made me think before saying no.

Gadgets and Apps

Here is a fun gadget for photographers out there. There are all sorts of little tripods you can buy, but they all take up space. This bottle cap tripod deserves a high five. Innovative, small and I love people who think outside the box, or on the water bottle as the case may be.

Click here for the link to the Bottle Cap Tri-Pod

Now for Apps. What is an App? Well it is short for Application that you can put on your iphone. They are purchased through itunes or many times are free, just waiting to be downloaded. Alot of new iphones out there for Christmas, and I have had several people ask for what apps I have on my phone. There are hundreds, maybe thousands to choose from, so maybe this will shed some light on some apps I love.

First of all before I ever buy an app I look at the user reviews. There are not alot of stringent rules about how well the apps work before they are allowed to be downloaded to itunes. So I want to know what others think about it before I put something on my phone that might make it shut down or run slow.

I also talk to other people about their apps. I have found some great apps through my friends.

I will just list what I have on my phone in alpha order. $ means I paid for it, any where from .99c to 4.99, most are in the .99 cent range.

Ambiance - this app is full of white noise, rivers, oceans, birds, fans, some strange choices that seem to be a bit too obnoxious to listen to, but I have used this while waiting in busy places and trying to read a book. It lets me not hear everything going on around me. $

Bible-ASV Love my bible app. Easy to use. There are hundreds of apps to choose. $ but there are free versions also.

CameraBag - Haven't used this one yet, but it comes with great raves. Takes the pictures you take with your iphone and gives them different looks. $

Crazy Penguin Catapult - Haven't used this yet. This was a free app and I thought I would give it a try. I like to have games on my phone for my kids to play.

Facebook - Use this everyday. It is a mini-feed of the basics, makes it easy to check on your friends. Free

IDoodle2 - Art App. Sophie LOVES this app. She has used it for hours when we are in the car or waiting in a restaurant.

If Found - Hope I don't ever need this app, but it has all my info at the press of a button. I keep it on the front home page so if I lose my phone someone could push the button and know how to locate me. Free

Ocarina - Music App. Love this one. My kids love it. It is a crowd pleaser. Turns your phone into a musical instrument. Think recorder, it is fun to play around with. My favorite part of the app is that by touching the world button I can see lit up dots all over the world of people using the Ocarina app, and even listen to something playing live, could be from China or Australia or anywhere, very fun. I can't play any songs on it, but I love to hear others from somewhere else play, Amazing Grace and Somewhere Over the Rainbow are two songs I hear often. $

Old Camera - This turns the pics I take with my iphone into a black and white image with a vignette around it. I love this app, don't know if it will be similar to one of the options on camera bag or not. $

Pandora Radio - Love this app. This radio app allows me to type in the name of an artist, or a song and then it builds my own personal radio station based on that original artist or song. Plays music in the same genre, if a song comes up I don't like I just push the "don't like this song button" and Pandora tells me it will never play that song again and immediately moves to the next selection.

Pano - Another Camera App. This app allows you to piece together several images taken by your phone to make a panoramic picture. Very cool. $

Say Who Dialer and Maps - Allows for me to speak into my phone and it will dial whoever I say. i.e. Elaine at work and then the phone will dial it. I can also speak the map location I am wanting and it will pull it up for me. Haven't used the 2nd feature yet. This app requires no phone set up, just download and it works. $

Scrabble - Hours of fun while waiting for the movie to start. We all love this app. $

Shazam - Have you ever heard a song and you wanted to know who sings it. Just hold your phone up to the music after asking Shazam to tag it for you and it listens, transmits, and sends you back the title, artist, album, year made....this works almost all the time. Some songs I have tried were not in their data base I guess. They were Christmas songs though. Free

Sonic Lighter - Fun again for the kids and sometimes us adults. This turns your phone into a lighter. You can blow and make the flame waver, touch the pretend flame with your finger and move it around. I do have to say that this app came in very handy when we were without candles last week for a birthday party. The birthday girl got to blow out the flame on my phone and it was a success. This app too will show you all over the world who is using sonic lighter. $

Twittelator - Use this all the time. It is the app for Twitter, the mini-blogging website. It is a "prettier" screen than using twitter, and more streamlined on your phone.

Ultimate Voice Recorder - This app is very cool. It allows your phone to become a recording device. Will go as long as you have memory on your phone. You can then transfer the files as mp3's to your home computer. It has all the buttons like a tape recorder, stop, pause, ff, rewind...$

So there you have it. My apps.

January 06, 2009

A Great Book

Tuesday morning.

Finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom yesterday. It was a wonderful book. There were so many stories in the book that have so much wisdom. Corrie's father was a very wise and gentle man. He was beloved by all who knew him. One day Corrie was riding the train into Amsterdam so her father who was a watchmaker and repairman could set his watch by the Astronomical Clock so his watch shop where he lived in Haarlem would be accurate to the second. Corrie had heard a word of which she didn't know what it meant and asked her father about it on the train ride, this was his response.

"He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. "Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning. "it's too heavy," I said. "Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."

My favorite parts in the book are when God fills His people with what they need, when they need it. Bravery, acceptance, forgiveness...all come at the right time when they know it is God who gives it. Not a moment too soon. There is a part at the end of the book when Corrie was speaking of forgiveness to a group of people at a church. In the back she saw one of the soldiers who was in the concentration camp where she was a prisoner. She was speaking on God's forgiveness that he offers to all His people. After the talk was done this man came up to Corrie, who I don't think he had realized was in the camp with him or that she remembered him.

"He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein." he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Blemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand, a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."


Then later in the book after Corrie has aged, she has seen to the broken and weary, she has spoken of the story of her life, she was visiting some friends. Their daughter Liz was helping Corrie empty her suitcase.

From the bottom of the suitcase, Liz lifted a folded cloth with some very amateur-looking needlework on it-uneven stitches, mismatched colors, loose threads, snarls. "What are you making?" Liz asked bewildered. Oh, that's not mine Corrie said, that is the work of the greatest weaver of all." Liz looked dubiously at the tangled mess. "But Liz," Corrie told her, "you're looking at the wrong side!" She took the sorry thing from Liz's hand. "This is what our lives look like, from our limited viewpoint."
Then, with a flourish, Corrie shook open the cloth and turned it around to display a magnificent crown embroidered in red, purple and gold. "but when we turn over the threads of our lives to God, this is what He sees!"


----------------

These great people of faith who I love to read about all have one thing in common. They know God's word, they follow His will, they humble themselves for the cause of Christ. They seek God and know His word. I look back to a time when I was searching for God, in an extreme way. I had turned my life around and given it to Him, but the only real contact I had with His word was on Sundays and Wednesdays during church and class. I didn't realize then that by not seeking Him for myself in study of His word and humbling myself to Him in prayer, I was starving myself. If living a full life in God is a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, I was eating the lettuce. Going to church and "being" good was I thought what Christianity was about. I was very wrong, as wrong as I could have been. I might have made a good pharisee, but I made a terrible follower of Christ. Although I don't believe God was shaking his fist at me from heaven, He was wanting me to enjoy the whole sandwich not just the lettuce, He was wanting me to seek fullness that can only come from Him. I am grateful that He wants me to eat more than lettuce, because that gets pretty boring very quickly. If you are bored of eating lettuce and warming a pew God has much more than that for you, in fact, being a follower of Christ is always a challenge. It is much easier to do what the world thinks is right. There are stories to be written about how God used this generation to bring His word to His people, stories of crazy love like Corrie's, stories of crazy service like Mother Teresa, these stories are written by God but involve His people who want His life in abundance. In the spirit of Shane Claiborne, come join the irresistible revolution.

January 05, 2009

Hiding Place Book Review of the first 50 pages.

Monday morning. Schedules return, alarm clocks, the school bus is the familiar morning sound. The kids are all at school today, even though the weather is quite treacherous. I woke up TOO early this morning so I have already spent time working on the computer, but before that I spent some time in a new book.
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Started reading this morning at about 3 when I came to the conclusion sleep was illusive. I had gone to bed a bit early, so I had a good 6 hours under my belt.
I have already cried twice while reading the book. Although the tragedies are starting to show up in the book, the tears were not for tragedy but for thankfulness that God made such kind and tenderhearted people. Corrie Ten Boom lived with her family, which included brother, sisters, mom, dad, aunts, and 11 foster children. Because of Corrie's family's kindness many Jews showed up on their doorstep for help when the Germans had invaded Holland where they lived. Corrie's family were lovers of Christ, and loved all of His children.
The faith, generosity of spirit and of tangibles, along with spreading the love of Jesus, and loving all those around them are inspirational.

Books like this affect me so much. I love reading about the great men and women of faith, and learning about the great things they did because God directed their lives and they followed His path. It somehow makes me think it is possible for me to be kinder, more generous, more aware of all of God's children. I am about 1/4 through the book and I already can't wait to go back and start highlighting quotes that I can share with you.

This book is not preachy at all, even though the book shines the faith of the people it is written about, it is not a "religious" book. Just like Same Kind Of Different, a great story about authentic people living an authentic life who are Christians. Does that make sense?

There was a beautiful story when Corrie had fallen in love with a man who would end up marrying someone with more money. Corrie was devestated and after learning about this she went up to her room and cried on her bed. Her father came in and rather than tell her that God would find someone else for her, or speak ill of the man, he told her to pray to God and ask Him for His love for this man and his future wife. She asked God to take her broken heart and take away all the ill feelings and replace it with His love. God was faithful to sweet Corrie and she was able to think upon that man and his wife with good feelings with time.

I can't recommend this book enough.
It will be in my top 3 favorite books, Same Kind Of Different As Me, The Shack, and now Hiding Place.

January 04, 2009

Doubt Movie Review


Rob and I went to see Doubt on Friday night. I had heard very little about the movie, only saw a brief trailer for it during one of the previous movies we had seen earlier in the week. As soon as I hear Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Meryl Streep my ears always perk up. I knew that it had something to do with a Catholic school and it was based in 1964. Meryl Streep played a nun and Hoffman played the priest.




I had no expectations going into the movie except that the actors were wonderful. I loved the portrayal of Sister James by Amy Adams. Ms. Adams also played the princess in Enchanted. Although I hadn't put that together until Rob told me after the movie ended.


Meryl's character was a stiff necked hard nosed old fashioned nun. The priest played by Hoffman was a friend to the people, he was charasmatic and very personable. He started the movie with a sermon on Doubt, we all have it, in fact it is a bond that holds us together. Doubt in itself is difficult, doubt in a group is easier managed than having doubts and feeling all alone with those doubts.

I don't want to give the plot of the movie away, so I wont go into any specifics. But through the course of the movie the principal of the school, Meryl Streep, takes issue with the priest and desides to go on a witch hunt to prove her own hunch true. Amy Adams character, Sister James is the pure soul that loves the students and believes the best of people. Her conscience is unsettled as she gets involved with all the goings on.

This movie is difficult to watch, the conflict in the movie is excrutiating. I found myself not knowing which way to land on the "facts" and "suppositions" myself. I left the movie with doubt about the guilt and innocence, but the best scene by far is the last scene when the hardened nun falls apart because she has doubt herself.

This movie had every intention of leaving us all doubting, but it was well written and acting great. I tend to like my movies tidy at the end. Hospital corners folded under precisely. That is not this movie. But I am glad to have seen it, and even though Meryl and Hoffman were great, my favorite performance was by Adams.

January 03, 2009

The Potato Peeler on Park Avenue

INSPIRING. TOUCHING. LOVE THIS.

Rob and I Star in HSM3

Thanks to Jana for this fun website.

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Christmas Pics

Christmas Pics. I just downloaded pics from my camera today. Here are some fun pics from Christmas.
Derek had a Chicago Bears theme going this year.


Jack loves t-shirts. He is a huge Chuck fan, so when I found this t-shirt I knew he would love it. He SO loves it.

Jack and Sophie on their new scooters.




My sweet boy with a sweet smile.

January 01, 2009

A Broken Family



I was looking for a pic to put up today for the 365 day challenge. I saw this that I had made up in photoshop for a photo shoot a while back. These are powerful words from the book of Song of Solomon.

I was at a Christmas gathering a couple of nights ago. One of the traditions in this group is to go around in the circle and share what our prayer needs are for the coming year. With tears in her eyes one of the ladies in the circles spoke to each of us as married couples encouraging, charging and warning us that we need to keep our families together. Previous divorces on both sides of this blended family has led to struggles with the kids who are now all adults or almost there. The affects of divorce are more than measurable in so many ways. She told us to do whatever you had to do to make our marriages work. Nothing was worth watching your children suffer from the effects of a parent walking away. We were all crying, all of our hearts breaking, because we can see what is happening with our own eyes.
As a child of a divorced mom and dad I can attest to the immediate earth shattering insecurity that took me over completely once my parents decided to divorce. It was the major factor that took me down a path of self destruction that took years to come out of. My heart hurt for my friend and her family. But God is a God of redemption and grace, and the stories are far from over, they are just in the walking away phase, I believe that there will be a walking back part of the story too, that is what I am praying for.

So with this powerful testimony fresh on my heart I heard some devastating news that a friend, not a close friend, but a friend walked away from her family recently. 4 precious young children. This friend taught my children in pre-school, I taught one of hers. I have not been able to shake this news. As I have thought about it all last night, had 3 dreams about it when I was actually sleeping, then awoke to the heaviness today, I can't help but hate the king of all liars. The Prince of Darkness. I know this young mom well enough to know that she didn't wake up one day and decide to walk away from her marriage and her children, she was enticed by darkness. There was a foothold there that Satan knew about and his plan apparently worked.

I remember when I was given to sin in my life. I totally believed that I was in control, I was living a life that was full of pleasure and power. I was living a life that had no contentment, just give me more. More of everything. Isn't that what we see preached at us from our televisions every day, in the magazines. You deserve to be happy, everything will be great if you just look out for number one. More, more, more. If I was bored I went shopping, partied, fill in the blanks. I always had to be satiated. I believed every lie, and after years of living that kind of life, the lies dropped out and I was left empty, ready to do whatever it took to make the pain go away.

That was when I was finally able to look to God. All my worldly vices left me empty and broken. The only thing that could save me was Jesus. I didn't even know it at the time, He was just my last straw. The True Lifeline.

I wondered if this friend was in contact with her Christian friends or if she just walked away from everything. It is difficult to be a friend who speaks truth in love in this situation. I can remember 20 years ago when a friend of mine was going to leave her husband and she asked me what I thought about it. I was in no place to give her good advice as I was living a sinful life at the time. I told her that if she wasn't happy that she should just leave. I can't tell you how embarrassed and sickened I am to write that now. God has never let me forget my words that day. He has etched them into my memory so I will remember the words of darkness I spoke. That day I was a pawn of darkness.

As I have been walking with Christ there have been many times when Christian friends of mine have had marriage troubles. There is a group of us girls that will get together to pray it through with a hurting woman. I have seen miracles over and over, and even when I thought that there was no hope God has softened hearts and healed wounds so deep that one would think could never be mended. I have seen people who have turned to Christ to heal there marriage come out the other side with a stronger marriage than they have ever had. All things are possible with Christ.

I pray for my friend. I pray that she is haunted by her choice, I pray that she finds no peace in her decision, I pray that she knows that her peace will be found only in Christ and that He is in the business of putting back together lives than not only limp along, but that live victoriously. I pray for a softened heart for her because each time I close my eyes I see her little girls smile and big blue eyes that I taught for a year, and how much she loves her mommy and deserves to have her family back together.

I write all this knowing that if I didn't walk with Christ, if I didn't turn to Him to fill all the empty places that no one on this earth can fill, I know that there go I but for the grace of God. Scripture plainly tells us that we need to be careful lest we fall. My friends and I have a relationship that we can call each other up and ask for intercessional prayers, pray over us in person, when there is something that hits us wrong, when there is a temptation that rears its ugly head, we call in the troops and take it seriously. We don't play with fire. I know what my flesh is made of, it led me to hell and back, I don't give it a moment to take hold. There is not one earthly pleasure that is more important than following Christ. Eternity is a very long time. Scripture speaks clearly that Jesus was tempted, but He didn't act on it. We should never expect to be so far along in our journey that temptation leaves us, the maturity that is gained through a walk with Christ is how we act on that temptation. Do we immediately turn away or do we play with the fire.

This is a long post. But this is where my heart is today.