Monday, August 31, 2009

EGR: Extra Grace Required

We're living above an EGR: Extra Grace Required. You know the type -- loud, annoying, won't listen to reasonable explanations about why a booming stereo is unwelcome at 4 am...

We're far from being done with this situation, but it's the first I've had to handle since seriously trying to live as a Christian. I'm glad that I now have the voice of the holy spirit in me, because the voice of Jenny would rather do something really crabby like tape a highlighted copy of the lease to his door, or vacuum the floor first thing when I get up at 6.

Please pray for me! My patience is wearing thin, since this is the 4th night in a week I've not been able to sleep. I need to remember that our Lord made those EGRs just like the rest of us... even if we wish He didn't. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Finally Finished: Denim Jumper

I started this nearly a month ago and life keeps getting in the way of my sewing! It originally started as New Look pattern 6726, but I changed in a few key ways:

  1. I took out the back zipper and made it pull-on

  2. I lengthened the bodice 2 inches so it fit

  3. I lengthened the skirt nine (9!!!!) inches to cover my knees

I've always wanted a denim jumper, but I didn't want it to be too homely. This dark denim, bought at the Memorial Day sale for 50% off was just the ticket. It's comfy, easy-wear, and just right for my current role as a 5th grade teacher.

I have a brown linen dress that is so close to done it makes me want to clear my schedule for the 2 hours it would take to finish it. It's SOOO pretty I've thought (seriously) about just wearing it unfinished... until I realized the thing I have to finish includes the straps! :-D

Monday, August 24, 2009

Breaking the Moses Habit, Pt. 2

This is the second post in a series I am writing about Moses' reaction when faced with God through the burning bush. God tells him to go to Egypt, and Moses refuses, using five excuses that I have found myself using repeatly when faced with God's call in my life. You can read my inspiration text in Exodus chpt. 3-4, and the first part of my writing here.
Breaking the Moses Habit: Who am I?
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

Who am I? I’m just little me, minding my own business. What right do I have to demand anyone’s attention – especially that of someone important! I’m only one in 6.7 billion!
I completely understand how Moses felt here. Who hasn’t at one point or another!? It is hard not to feel small when faced with the staggering problems of this world – poverty, hunger, slavery, genocide. Even the staggering beauties (mountains, oceans, plains) have the same effect. Culture does its best to encourage this line of thinking – “You’re only one person. What can you do to change the world?”

That’s how it looks from our perspective. Thankfully, God has a different view:

And God said, “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12

I wish I could have seen Moses’ face at that moment. I imagine he was flooded with emotions. Joy – he is not alone. Hope – maybe this task isn’t impossible after all. And fear – there goes one really great excuse!

We have the same promise as modern Christians. We may not be special in and of ourselves, but “we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). We have been adopted into the family of the King and given the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and support us. If He calls us, He will provide the means to further His glory.

I have been caught in this “who am I?” trap on countless occasions. I’m a young woman with a short track record as a Christian – only five years. I haven’t finished a degree or taken any special bible classes. A lot of the time I do not feel qualified to speak. I feel the urging in my heart but my mind gets in the way. This “right to speak” idea permeates my life – not just my faith. The last thing I want to do is having someone be offended and remind me that I am not worthy of sharing my opinions.

It is a hard concept to fully comprehend: I have value not because of who I am, but because of who God is. Which leads us to Moses’ next excuse…

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stress and Student Teaching

I've not had a chance to post since Friday because I've entered the busiest time of my education: student teaching. Basically, I'm a full-time teacher in a 5th/6th grade classroom from now until December. I'm observing under a mentor teacher this week and next, then I begin to take over the various subjects. Although I've been writing every night (for HOURS!), none of it has been for my blog. I'm afraid, dear friends, I may be hitting a dry spot for a while.

I think the hardest part of this experience is that my heart isn't in it. I love the kids and I love teaching -- don't mistake me there! However, my heart's at home. My husband and I have already decided that I can stay home and care for our family. Finishing school is simply so we have a back-up if anything happens to him, to teach and care for our children to the best of my ability, and to make both sets of parents happy. (They only agreed to our getting married young if we promised I would graduate)

But I'm so unmotivated!

I know I'll get through it, I'm just dragging my feet today. The first week of school is chaos and I've always hated it -- first as a student, now as a teacher. In addition, we had not one but TWO tornadoes blow through town, so we spent the better part of the afternoon shhhing kids while they leaned up against the interior walls.

I'll have a chance to write more on my Moses project come Friday. I just didn't want everyone to think I'd disappeared! Have a great week!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Breaking the Moses Habit, Pt. 1

This is the first part of an essay I am in the process of writing. It began five years ago as a devotional for my high school youth group. Since then, I have put a lot of thought and prayer into this passage. Although I have not finished it yet, and have no idea how long it may eventually end up, I hope you'll follow along and add your thoughts on this topic.

Breaking the Moses Habit

Stop for a minute and think about Moses. What do you know about him? The plagues, leading the people through the desert to the Promised Land, parting the sea, the Ten Commandments, and of course – all those laws! But before the Sunday School Moses, the popular Moses, there was an entirely different man.

I love the story of the early Moses. I see so much of myself in him. True, I have never killed a man (Exodus 2:12), but I have done more than my share of unthinking, foolish actions. And like Moses, my desire is to turn and flee. Moses fled to Midian, far away from his home in Egypt, where he joined a group of shepherds. He made himself comfortable. He took a wife, and had some kids, and (at least in my imagination) set his mind to forgetting as much about Egypt as humanly possible.

But God had other plans for Moses. He always has. Remember the basket in the water? From the very beginning, God’s hand ensured that Moses even made it to that fateful day out in the desert. The scene takes place in front of a miraculous sign: a burning bush. On one side, we see a normal, comfortable, graying and balding middle aged man. On the other, the Master and Creator of the Universe:

There an angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:2-4

The following conversation stirs my heart. Our God knows the pain His loved ones have suffered at the hands of their Egyptian masters. He wants to heal them. He cares. He has a plan! But… oh Moses! When faced with his life’s mission, he refuses. Not just once, but fully five times does he present excuse and fears as to why he can not fulfill the role that the Lord has shaped for him.

The first time I read this – REALLY read it – my heart broke. For Moses, yes, but even more so for myself. I have heard each of his five refusals fly from my mouth on many occasions. When presented with an opportunity to serve the Lord and his people, I like Moses hesitate. See, although I am not a balding middle age man several centuries before Christ, I, too, am comfortable. I let my comfort and fears lead me to reject God’s will. Moses’ five objections are familiar, and represent the broad categories of excuses that we each fall into. They are:

1. Who am I?
2. Who are you, God?
3. What if they think I am crazy?
4. I do not have the skills.
5. Please! Send someone else!

I find myself returning to this passage repeatedly. Studying the conversation between Moses and God has helped me to understand myself better. More than that, seeing how God responds to each of Moses’ objections shines a light on His holy character. And since we have been promised that, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6), I can safely believe that God’s responses to my objections will be similar to those of Moses. This passage can help us to understand and overcome our excuses. Then, we can be free to pursue the challenges the Lord has planned for us.


The first section, "Who am I?" is almost finished. I hope to post that in a day or two, followed by each of the other four excuses. I pray that this study will help you at least a fraction of as much as it has helped me!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dehydrated Goodness

First off, I want to say thank you to all of you for your sweet comments on my last post. It's so nice to reminisce on weddings every now and again!

I've used my dehydrator 3 times now! The first time I already wrote about. Next, I made zucchini chips. Although they're a little bitter (I've never been a huge zucchini fan), they're so tasty and easy to snack. This only a fraction of what I originally made, since more disappear every time we walk into the kitchen. What a way to add veggies -- another thing I'm bad about!
The small jar with the black lid is celery. With student teaching this semester, I'm planning a bunch of homemade soup mixes to be ready in the cabinet for when I walk in from school. This is five stalks of celery; most of my recipes call for one, so this should make about 5 mixes. I was **shocked** at how much the celery shrank. I guess it really is mostly water after all.
The red-lid is 6 green peppers. Organizing Mommy -- I'm glad you laughed about wasting 1/2 a pepper. I realize it's not a big deal, I laugh at myself all the time, but it makes me feel better this way that I won't be wasting. Does this make me frugal or a fanatic? (LOL)
Finally, carrots. I love carrots in all shapes and forms. These will be chopped a little smaller to go into the same soup mixes as the celery. I love being able to make my own convenience food.
Oh, and as an aside, the cake in the back is our anniversary cake. Funny story. When we got home from the wedding, we found a cake about the same size as the one shown here. Somehow, with the exhaustion of moving and marriage, it didn't even sink in that that was the top layer we were supposed to freeze for a year! We ate the whole thing in a week. I didn't realize what we had done until, oh, 2 days before our anniversary. My mom found humor in our situation and didn't want us to be cakeless, so she took the original photographs and re-made us a top layer. French vanilla cake with nutella (hazelnut) spread in between the layers. And, if I may brag on my mom a tiny bit, her version actually looked much prettier and more like what we wanted than the baker's. I'm so proud of her and her cake baking hobby.
My husband's preoccupied with martial arts belt testing all weekend, so I intend on writing several more posts between now and Sunday. One may even be intelligent!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time Flies... and a present!

Sorry I've not been around all week; it's been hectic. Part of the busyness -- and a huge helping of joy -- is that my dear husband and I celebrated our very first anniversary last Sunday, August 2nd. Some days I can't believe it's been an entire year. And others, it feels like forever!

We had a very plain, very beautiful wedding at the church I grew up in. We wanted to keep it simple so we could invite everyone we knew. And, the church is pretty on it's own. As you can see, we added essentially nothing in terms of decoration.

Then, we just had cake and punch.. and a tiny bit of dancing... in the fellowship hall downstairs.

But enough about last year! Since money is tight this year, my anniversary gift had to be practical. It had to be something that I could use, and wanted, and would help improve our life for more than just a day. So I got something I've been pining over for several months now: a food dehydrator.
It's nothing fancy, a Nesco Snackmaster with four trays. But, it's quiet and very fast. The first night I had it I wanted to use it right away, but I hadn't been to the store to buy anything specific to dry. I wandered through the house and came up with some fresh mint from the garden, a big can of pineapple, and some leftover sausages from dinner (they had spinach and all sorts of loveliness in them). I flipped the machine on right before bedtime and got up in the morning to perfectly preserved food! Shaune took the sausage-jerky for lunch and we've been snacking on the pineapple all week. The mint's been added to teas every morning.
Today I finally got to the grocery store, so I've got tons of in-season produce to work with tonight. I'm making carrot and zuccini chips for snacking (tossed with a tiny bit of olive oil and salt). I'm also drying several green peppers. Many of my recipes call for a half pepper or less. I never get around to using the second half. Hopefully, drying will help cut down on our waste.
I'm so excited! LOL. I'm going to my father-in-law's garden some day this week to collect tomatoes and other produce he wants me to dry for him. This is an excellent new hobby.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Blog

My husband and I have started a new blog together, The Preston Persuasion, as a family blog. The primary purpose is to write about the exciting adventures God is calling us to persue -- such as a missions trip in January that will take us to Africa! If you're interested, hop on over and check it out. I'm still working on the layout and everything, it is definately a work in progress.