Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Daily Bread

Several days ago a reader asked for my whole wheat bread recipe.  I decided to make a batch today, partly in order to verify my recipe before posting it.

While I was grinding my wheat with my trusty Magic Mill grain mill (purchased back in 1993), it suddenly started making a Very Loud Noise!  I noticed that it smelled hot too, so I let it cool off and tried again, but to no avail.  My wheat grinder ground its very last wheat berry today.   :(

Here is a picture of my deceased Magic Mill, which lived a very productive life. 

So, we dug out the Back to Basics hand mill, which we purchased during the Y2K scare!  (I'm surprised I even knew where I had stored it!)  It took forever and wore out many a strong arm to grind a few cups of wheat!  I predict that I won't be making too much bread in the days ahead!

The work is worth it when you see and smell this:

Here is my recipe:

Grind 10 cups of white winter wheat into finely milled flour.

In large mixing bowl with a dough hook (such as a Bosch or DLX), put 3 TBSP instant yeast, 2/3 cup olive oil, 2/3 cup honey, 6 cups warm water, and 6 cups freshly ground flour.  Mix together and then let the dough rest for about ten minutes (forming a sponge).  Add 2 TBSP salt, and 8-10 cups of flour.  (You can also add 2 TBSP freshly ground flax seed.)  Take care to add the flour slowly, so as not to add too much, which makes the bread dry and crumbly.  When dough cleans sides of bowl and clumps onto the dough hook, stop adding flour and knead for about 8-10 minutes on medium speed.

Turn dough out onto oiled surface, oil hands, and form 5 medium-sized loaves (or shape into rolls).  Place loaves into baking pans sprayed with cooking spray and place in oven set to lowest temperature to rise.  Let rise until dough fills the pans, about 30 minutes.  Turn oven up to 350 degrees and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.

When bread is done, turn out onto wire racks to cool.  (If a loaf sags when you turn it out onto wire rack, it is not all the way done inside.  Put loaf back into pan and put back into oven for 5 more minutes.)

When cool, place bread in large Ziploc bags and freeze what won't be eaten within 48 hours.

Our favorite way to eat fresh bread is warm from the oven and smothered with honey butter!!  (Put 1 stick of softened butter into a bowl and add 1/2 cup of honey.  Mix together briskly wtih a fork until smooth and creamy.)

Finding the Solution to a Problem

Matthew, 7, is typical of many young boys in that he is very active and easily distracted.  Despite being enthusiastic, bright and eager, he has found learning to read a difficult mountain to climb. 

I've discovered that he is frequently distracted and derailed by anything that enters his mind or his environment.  As anyone who has a large family knows, a full house is hardly quiet and distraction-free!  I can't control the thoughts that swirl through Matt's little mind, but I can attempt to control his environment to help him better focus on the task at hand.

After much contemplation, I recently purchased Matt his own portable DVD player and a set of headphones to use when watching his classes.  (We use the wonderful BJ HomeSat curriculum, which is now only available by leasing the content from BJU, but during the past six years, when it was available through live satellite, I kept busy recording many grade levels onto hundreds of DVDs, which I store in my school room and continue to use with my younger children.) 

Matthew previously sat on the couch in the family room and watched his classes on the main TV.  However, that room is like Grand Central Station in our house, with people walking through, using the computer, asking me questions, etc.  I am hoping that by having his class just inches from his face and by being tethered to the DVD player by the headphone cord, that he will have fewer distractions and be able to better focus on the instruction.

So far, so good!  I think he has been more attentive this week to his classes, and when I can keep his focus on his reader, he seems to be making progress on his reading!

Bethany is also using a portable DVD player to watch her kindergarten classes.  Previously, I tried having them take turns with the one portable player, but this made our school day drag out unbearably.  This new arrangement is working out really well.  I put them both at the kitchen table with their portable DVD players, and I can sit between them with my laptop, doing my "computer work" while being available to help them as needed!

Don't you love it when you finally find a solution to a problem??

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soup for Supper

I tried a new soup recipe for supper, which ended up being Super delicious!  It was a recipe for Zuppa Tuscana, which is one of The Olive Garden's menu items. I knew it was a success when my 11-year old son Luke and his friend, Jase liked it!!   Jase, who usually turns up his nose at anything but processed food, asked for a second helping!  Then, my 16-year-old son, Joseph, said it was one of the best soups he has ever eaten!  I lost count after his third bowl full!  :)  If you'd like to give this soup a try, click here for the recipe.

Update on the Duggar's New Baby

If you're like me, you've been eagerly awaiting an update on the Duggar's new baby. I was so pleased to hear that Michelle and Rosie are doing well!! I pray that God will continue to sustain little Rosie's life!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Healthy Habit #3 for 2010: Take Daily Supplements

While it may seem too simple to include this in my list of healthy habits to nurture this year, taking daily supplements has proven to be a challenge for me.  The first obstacle is finding the funds to purchase all the wonderful supplements that are recommended by various experts.  The second challenge is determining which brands to buy and which supplements are indeed worth the investment for me personally. And the final challenge is remembering to actually take these supplements once I have them on hand! 

I have determined that the best way to make this a habit, is to attach taking my supplements to something else that is a regular part of my daily schedule.  So, I am looking for the best place in my morning routine to insert this budding habit -- probably after breakfast or after my morning shower.

What supplements am I going to swallow?  First of all, I want to be faithful to take my Super Mom vitamins.  These have been in my arsenal for awhile, but I am hit-and-miss when it comes to taking them.

Secondly, I want to establish the habit of taking Cod Liver Oil.  This is new to me, but apparently adding Cod Liver Oil to our diets is one of the most important things we can do!  I've also read that it can improve the focus and concentration of children who are easily distracted, unable to sit still and focus, and struggling in school. (I have one child who might benefit significantly from such supplementation!)

Thirdly, I want to add a good probiotic which enhances digestion and boosts immune function.  I love Tummy Tune Up from, and would like to try one of their other products, such as Acidophilus Blast.

How about you?  Do you take supplements?  Have you seen a difference in your health as a result?  Which ones do you consider indispensable for your health and well-being?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Healthy Habit #2 for 2010: Be Thankful in All Things

One habit I am trying to cultivate this year is a spirit of gratefulness for everything that God allows into my life, whether good or bad.  After all, we are clearly commanded to do so in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

You may wonder how this applies to my list of healthy habits, but did you know that there is a body of current scientific research that provides evidence to support the idea that gratitude produces health benefits??  The research is summarized in Robert Emmon's book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).  Summarizing the findings, he states that an attitude of gratitude produes emotional, physical and interpersonal benefits and that people who practice gratefulness report fewer symptoms of illness, have fewer repeat heart attacks, feel better about their lives as a whole, and are more optimistic about their futures.  He also concluded that gratitude is a choice -- one possible response to our life experiences.  

Wow!  I thought that was an astonishing conclusion from a secular "expert."  If unbelieving scientists and psychologists encourage us to embrace thankfulness as a choice, then surely, we who know God and believe he is sovereign should be able to live a life of gratitude and trust!

While it may be easy to thank God for the blessings of good health, a new baby, a job promotion or pay raise, obedient children, days of smooth-sailing, a good church, and a large circle of friends, it is quite another matter to thank God for health challenges, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or a cut in pay, rebellious children, chaotic days, struggling learners, problems at church, and a lack of like-minded friends with which to fellowship.

God wants us to thank Him even when it hurts!  Have you ever noticed how many times the Scriptures, especially the Psalms, speak of "a sacrifice of thanksgiving" or "a sacrifice of praise?"  Instead of grumbling, complaining, crying, and moaning, God wants us to offer Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving, as we trust Him in faith to bring good out of every bad situation.  (See Romans 8:28-29.)

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." -- Hebrews 13:15

In my daily Bible reading, I have come to one of my all-time favorite Bible stories -- the story of Joseph.  I just love the part when he reveals himself to his brothers and says, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good . . ."   (Genesis 50:20)  We would experience so much more peace and contentment in this life, if we would just remember to have that attitude any time we are hurt or taken advantage of or betrayed.

I know it is not easy.  It goes against every cell in our bodies to thank God for those things which hurt us or make our lives hard!   Yet, the Bible is clear that it is the will of God for us to give thanks in all things.

I love the way my favorite author, Sally Clarkson, explains it in Seasons of a Mother's Heart:
When I pout instead of being joyful, grumble instead of praying, and complain instead of giving thanks, I am in effect telling God that he is mishandling my life and I don't like it.  At that point, I have ceased to put my faith in our sovereign Lord and have chosen to put my faith in my circumstances.  In other words, I am telling God and myself, that if my circumstances change, then and only then can I be happy.  Until then, I have nothing to be thankful for.  And that, according to Paul, is when I step out of God's will.
My sinful heart might try to counter that it is the lousy circumstances that have caused me to be out of God's will, but that's just rationalization -- it is my response to them that put me out of God's will.  That is why God admonishes me to be joyful and to give thanks "in all circumstances."  When I do that, no matter how bad the circumstances, I am acknowledging that he is in control.  It is an act of faith, I can choose, by faith, to see God's hand within any and all of the circumstances of my life.

I also love what my oldest daughter said about having a grateful spirit on her blog:

"As I think about giving thanks in all things, with belly full, face glowing, and hands and heart warm, it seems pretty easy. But then I wonder....what about January.....bleak and unadorned by holiday magic.....will I be thankful then? Because having a thankful spirit is not just for Thanksgiving when it is relatively easy to give thanks. It is for rainy Mondays, bleak Januarys, heart wrenching, trial-filled days and days of motonous sacrifice, for valleys and plains, as well as the peaks. It is those days that really test whether I have a 'gratitude attitude.' A thankful heart can transform the bleakest day, the most painful experience into a beautiful act of worship. It is not circumstances that determine our destiny but rather our response, our attitude, our outlook. 'Your attitude determines your altitude.' "

Will you join me this year in choosing gratefulness?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Healthy Habit #1 for 2010: Daily Bible Reading

Number one on my list of health-giving habits to focus on this year is my Daily Bible Reading. Actually, my ultimate goal is to read through the entire Bible this year, which is something I have not accomplished in about a decade, but I am focusing on the habit, not the goalRemember?  That means, that even if I fall behind schedule, I will continue to read the Bible daily until I eventually make it all the way through.  It also means that if I wake up late one morning, and don't have time to complete the entire passage for that day, that I will not say, "Nevermind, I don't have time to read my Bible this morning."  Rather, I will open my Bible and read a portion of the passage, because I am focusing on being faithful!

Part of what I want to cultivate this year is the habit of reading the Bible first thing each morning, before I blog, before I check my email, before I exercise, before I eat, before I tackle the many duties of the day.  It is common for me to wake up in the morning with a million thoughts swirling through my mind, and to start mulling over everything I have to do that day, before the coffee is even done brewing.  Like Martha, I can become weighed down with much serving, so I am purposing to become more like Mary, who consciously chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. She must have felt the pull to help her sister in the kitchen, but according to Jesus, she chose "the better part."  Obviously, sitting at the feet of Jesus will not put a meal on the table for many hungry mouths, provide clean clothes for nearly a dozen people, or teach my children the three R's, but by sitting at Jesus' feet each morning, it is my hope that I will be able to serve my family with the right heart attitude throughout the day.

Luke 10:42:   But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

God knows that we have the tendency to be distracted and weighed down with the cares of this life, and instructs us to seek Him first, by faith, and trust that He will take care of everything that we need for the journey. 

Matthew 6:33:  "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

So, this year I am committing myself to re-establish the habit of reading God's Word first thing each morning, and not letting it get pushed aside by the busyness of the day.  I am also following this Bible Reading plan that I learned about on The Stay at Home Missionary's blog.  It is quite different in that you read from four places in the Bible each day, which solves the problem of being "stuck" in the Old Testament for nine months out of the year.  It may seem cumbersome, but it is easy to keep your place by printing out the bookmarks from the website and placing them in your Bible in Genesis, Psalms, Matthew, and Acts, and moving them along each day as you read the appropriate passages. 

I have decided to dedicate one Bible for my daily reading, and carry a different Bible to church.  For the last several years I have been using a Parallel Bible, with the KJV on the left side of the page, and the Amplified version on the right side. This year, for my daily reading through the Bible, I am using the John McArthur Study Bible in the NKJV and thoroughly enjoying both the translation and the many study notes on each page!!       

I'd love to hear from you, if you have made a commitment to daily Bible reading, or have a goal of reading through the Scriptures this year.  May we encourage each other to be faithful!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Weekend Away

I had an Awesome weekend!

Got to spend it with my hubby at Callaway Gardens. He was there for a business meeting, and when it ended I was able to join him for a couple days. We stayed in the lodge, which is decorated in "luxury-rustic" style! Unfortunately, it was dreary and rainy all weekend, but each time we entered the lodge, this fire drew me like a magnet, with its comforting warmth and coziness.

On Sunday afternoon, we drove up to LaGrange and rescued Taylor from the perils of cafeteria food, and filled him up with a big, juicy steak! :) That brought a smile to his poor, famished face! :D

This is Alan and me -- "newlyweds" of nearly 27 years -- enjoying our time together!

We both ordered the same entree -- grilled salmon, steamed veggies, and a sweet potato! It was so yummy! Definitely one of my favorite restaurant meals!

Then, we took Tay back to college. He wanted us to see how nice his dorm room looked after he cleaned it following the departure of his roommate. I'm guessing he must have hired a bulldozer to clear it, because it was nothing short of an extreme makeover! (Good Job Tay!)

We were so impressed that we even stayed and watched the Minnesota/Dallas game right there in Taylor's dorm room! :) it was an exciting game, and Brett Farve was nothing short of amazing!

We left this morning after breakfast, stopped in Columbus to take advantage of a few retail establishments that we don't have here, and then returned to our home base, where we immediately scheduled the customary debriefing, and were relieved to discover that there were no casualties while we were gone. Now it is back to business as usual!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Healthy Habit for 2010: No Mindless Nibbling

If you are like me, your home was filled with (delicious) junk food over the holidays. We were guilty of making some of that food ourselves, but much of it came through our doors as holiday gifts intended for one or all of our family members. (I learned that elementary school teachers are blessed with lots of food gifts at Christmas time!)

At one point, I suddenly became conscious of how many times I walked through the house and mindlessly picked up a cookie from a cooling rack and started munching on it, or grabbed a Hershey's kiss from the candy dish and popped it into my mouth. (My husband received a HUGE tin of Hershey's kisses from a work associate!!) I know I consciously ate a lot of calories over the holidays, but I wonder how many calories I unconsciously ate?? It's a scary thought!

This experience prompted me to make it a habit for 2010 to stop all mindless nibbling. This sounds so simple, but may prove to be my most challenging goal! I mean, it's just so . . . mindless! ;) To help me develop this new habit, I plan to implement some or all of the following strategies:

1. Eat three small meals and two or three smaller snacks at planned times throughout the day, and don't let food pass over my lips at any other time. My meal times will be at approximately 7 AM, 12:30 PM, and 6:30 PM, with my planned snack times occurring at 10 AM and 3:30 PM.

2. Never eat while standing up or walking! (Ooops! I break that one all the time!) I will take the time to sit down and focus on every meal or snack.

3. Never eat in front of the TV or computer! (Ooops! Guilty here too!) I love to multi-task, and will often read email or blog posts while eating my snacks, and sometimes while eating my meals, depending on what the rest of the family is doing!! This has to stop! I read somewhere that Americans spend so much time researching what they should eat, but so little time eating it that they barely taste what they have eaten!

4. Slow down and savor my food! Many times we pop several pieces of chocolate into our mouths, one right after the other, because the taste never even registered in our brains! It is better to stop what we are doing for a moment, and eat one piece and really savor the sweet taste and the smooth feel and the satisfying way it melts in our mouths. Then, we are satisfied by one (or two) delicious piece(s) of Dark Chocolate -- and not the whole bag! :)

5. Always put food on a plate. This would obviously slow us down enough to make sure we know what we are doing, and prevents the walk-through-a-room-and-grab-a-cookie scenario!

6. Always pray before eating. If I pray God's blessing over my food before I eat it, it will definitely slow me down and make me think about what I am eating, and hopefully convict me if I am about to consume something I shouldn't. I will definitely be reminded of Tim Hawkins, who hilariously points out the ridiculousness of our eating Cheetos, while praying God will bless the food to the nourishment of our bodies -- like we think they are going to turn into carrot sticks on the way down! :)

7. Write down everything eaten in a day. This is a great strategy for increasing awareness of how much we are eating and how many calories we are consuming in a day. I have experimented with entering all of my food and activity into an on-line calorie counter, but I find it time consuming, and I'm never able to keep it up for long. I do enjoy using The Daily Plate and other calorie trackers, but based on past experience, it is doubtful that I will really stick with that.

These seven strategies should prove helpful in breaking the habit of mindless eating. Do you have a problem with this too? Have you discovered any other ideas for breaking this habit? If so, please share them in the Comments section.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ten Life-Giving Habits for 2010

Every December, for as long as I can remember, I have created goals for the upcoming year. I tend to be an optimistic/idealistic type of person, and I always look forward to a fresh start and new opportunities to accomplish my ideals. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that I have tended to burden each new year with too many unrealistically high hopes for personal improvement and achievement, which have caused me great discouragement many times while the year was still in its infancy. Therefore, this year, I have decided to take a new approach.

I like to ponder things, and I can't help but re-evaluate where I am and where I want to be as a new year comes up over the horizon. This isn't really a bad thing. But, I often don't know quite how to accomplish my lofty goals, or I lack realistic plans for achieving them, so I end up with a bunch of noble aspirations that crumble around my feet.

As I thought about this, one day I realized that instead of concentrating on the amazing things I wanted to accomplish and instead of setting my sights on the Outcomes that I hoped to achieve, that what I needed to do this year was focus on the Habits that I desire to develop in my life.

I love this quote by John Wesley -- "Don't seek after a ministry, anticipate the fruit of a disciplined life." I think it has application here. Instead of focusing on the results I hope to achieve, I am just going to anticipate the fruit that I will reap from sowing certain habits and disciplines in my life.

If I set certain outcomes as my goal, and I work hard, but still don't achieve them, I feel like a failure. Often what happens, is once I realize that I'm hopelessly off schedule and have no hopes of reaching my goal, I just drop out all together. This has happened to me in the past in the areas of losing a certain amount of weight or reading the Bible through in a year.

On the other hand, by choosing the development of certain habits as my goal, then all I have to do is to be faithful to perform the chosen activity over and over until it becomes routine. At that point, it is much easier to continue that action consistently. As I continue to be faithful with my new habits, and leave the results to God, I should see life-changing rewards.

It reminds me of this quote:

"Sow a thought, reap an action;
Sow an action, reap a habit.
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny."

Ten Healthy Habits

So, here are the ten eleven healthy habits that I hope to cultivate this year.

0. No mindless nibbling.

1. Read the Bible first thing every morning with the goal of reading it through in one year.

2. Be thankful in all things.

3. Take supplements daily.

4. Eat 4-6 servings of veggies a day, and 2-4 servings of fruit.

5. Rise at 5:00 or 5:30 each morning and follow a consistent morning routine that includes Bible reading and prayer, planning my day and exercising.

6. Exercise a minimum of 15-30 minutes every day.

7. Prepare and eat a nutritious breakfast between 7:00 and 7:30 every morning.

8. Drink at least eight cups of water a day.

9. Replace refined, processed foods with nutritious, whole foods whenever possible.

10. Go to bed by 10:00 or 10:30 pm, so that I can get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

I hope to elaborate on each of these habits in the days ahead.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Simple Joy of Warm Soup on a Cold Day

In spite of "global warming," it has been rather Frosty here in southwest Georgia lately. We have endured some unusually frigid nights (lows in the teens and twenties) and some uncharacteristically chilly days (with highs in the thirties and forties). It actually reached fifty today, which was pretty pleasant, but still quite a bit below the high for this same day last year, which was 73 F.

We have actually enjoyed having a real taste of winter for a change, with a chance to pull out our cozy sweaters and soft flannel shirts, but we've also been reminded how glad we are that we don't live much farther north! I've also taken advantage of the nippy weather to make big pots of steaming soups. I just love to make a crock of soup and have its savory smell wind its way through the house, warming each room, as much as it does each body that consumes it. For some reason, soup just isn't as appealing when it is hot and humid outside! :)

This afternoon, I made this recipe for Italian Sausage Soup and then I ground some wheat and made five loaves of whole wheat bread. That is something I used to do two or three times a week, but then life got busier . . . It is a habit I hope to resurrect in the new year.

My bread is baking now, and the delicious aroma is wafting through the house, mingling with the smell of the soup, warming our hearts and ready to warm our tummies with its yummy goodness.

Edit: Wow! This soup was indeed "Yumptious!" (Thanks Deanne!) The broth had such a delicious flavor! I wanted to mention that I added one chopped sweet onion to the garlic and Italian sausage and that I sprinkled on a little Italian seasoning. I did not use the spinach, even though I planned to, because I decided to dump the ingredients into my crock pot, and there was simply not enough room. It was filled to the brim! But, I'm sure the spinach would be a delicious addition to the soup.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Great Blogs

I want to thank L.H. from Virtuous Living for giving me this blog award! It is always an encouragement to know that others read and enjoy your blogging efforts! :)

Here are the rules for this award:

1. To accept this award you must post it on your blog with the name and a link to the person who gave it to you.

2. Pass on the award to 5 other bloggers that you recently discovered and think are great!

3. Contact the other bloggers and let them know they have been chosen for this award

I'd like to honor the following 5 blogs with this award:

Rebecca's Refining -- This is my sister's blog. She recently posted a fun series of posts on the adventures they had when my son, Josh, visited for a week after Christmas.

Singularly Blessed -- This is my oldest daughter's blog. I just love her unique sense of humor and style of writing!

Happy Busy Mama -- This is my good friend, Lori's blog, which she started while we were at the beach in September. I'm afraid it often suffers from neglect, due to her very busy life, but hopefully blogging more regularly is one of her new year's resolutions! :)

One September Day -- This is a blog I've recently discovered and love! We share September birthdays and many other things in common.

Mommy x 12 -- This is also a blog I've recently discovered and enjoy a lot! It is fun to read about a family with more children than Ours! :)

Please stop by and visit these note-worthy blogs!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What a Way to Start the New Year!

Imagine starting the New Year as a new bride??

The day after New Year's, we had the privilege of attending the wedding of the oldest daughter of our pastor from our beloved church back in SC. He and his wife have a wonderul family of ten children, all of them good-looking, enthusiastic and fun-loving! Kristi is an outstanding young woman, who has been guarding her heart and patiently waiting for many years for the right young man to come along. She has decided that Nikolai was well worth the wait!!!

Kristi and Nik are both so blessed to have grown up in godly homes where they were encouraged to maintain high standards of personal purity, both physically and emotionally. Now, they are reaping what they have sown, as they enter into the covenant of marriage without the battle scars that most young people bring into a marriage. Their faces radiated with Joy, as you can see in the snapshot below!

Tiffany and Kristi were friends growing up, and it must be so encouraging to Tiffany to see that Kristi's faith and patience were rewarded with a godly, handsome hunk like Nik! :) Likewise, I know Nik has been blessed with a rare and valuable "model P31" for a wife!

(If you don't know what a "P31" is, read Proverbs 31:10-31!)

It appears that Kristi's brothers have been busy! Don't you love the "honeymoon chaperone" on top of the get-away car???? ;)

Here are a couple pictures of my crew taken at the reception. This is everyone but Alan (who was at home with his Mom), Josh (who was in Ohio with my sister for the week) and Matt. (I don't know where he was - he seldom misses the chance to be the focus of a camera flash!) And we picked up an extra one -- Bethany, Kristi's younger sister and Ashlyn's best friend for the past fourteen years!

We left early the next morning to head back to Georgia. We had carefully crafted our plans, so that I would pick up Josh at the Atlanta airport around 11:30 am, then drop off Taylor at college in LaGrange, and continue on home. However, not long after we got on the road, Josh texted us to say that his flight had been "indefinitely delayed" due to mechanical problems with the plane!!! Oh no! When we reached the Atlanta airport, Joshua's plane still hadn't taken off!! :( So, we stopped for lunch and hoped Josh would get on a flight. But, Joshua waited with no flight in sight. So, we decided to drive another hour south and take Taylor back to college.

This is his dorm. (Believe me, it looks better on the outside than it does on the inside!)

And here are the chilly good-byes.

Before leaving LaGrange we checked with Josh -- still no flight plan! So, we continued our journey home. Everyone was getting tired of traveling, so we stopped at a convenience store and I told the children they could pick out a little snack. Notice what Joe wanted to get for his "little snack!" Ha ha!!! :)

We made it home about 4:30 pm. By the time we got home, Alan was headed north to pick up Josh at the airport. He brought clothes for the night, just in case . . . But, Josh eventually got on a flight, and he enjoyed a free dinner at Chili's in the ATL airport while he waited for Alan to arrive! The weary traveler arrived home about 10:30 pm. Joshua's last words for the day were, "It's good to be home. I'll tell you about it tomorrow." And he went to sleep!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Possibilities of 2010

I get excited about the possibilities of a brand new year and a new decade on top of that! Do you?

A new year means a new start, a chance to do better than last year in a multitude of arenas. It is a time to re-prioritize, regroup, and re-energize.

Yet, when I started thinking about my goals for the new year, I was tempted to get discouraged, because of failing to accomplish so many of my goals from 2009. However, last Sunday, I heard a very inspiring message based on John 5:1-9, encouraging us to look at the possibilities, not the problems, that are before us.

Many times we think we Can't do something because:
  • We judge the future by the past.

  • We focus on the problem rather than the possibilities.

  • We look at what we don't have instead of what we do have.

However, in this message, I was reminded that:

  • God isn't bound by the past! He can turn any of our failures into successes!

  • God wants us to see the Possibilities that are in our problems! He specializes in doing the impossible!

  • God takes what we have and multiplies it and uses it when we yield it to Him! Think of Moses and his rod, David and his sling, Peter and his boat, and the little boy's meager lunch that fed the multititude. With God, whatever we have is more than enough!

There are opportunities in our obstacles! And with God, all things are possible!

This is what I want to focus on this year. It doesn't matter if I failed to reach my weight loss goal or my Bible reading goal, or any of my other goals last year, what matters is what I do this year, with God's help! God can help me turn my failures into successes, discover the possibilities in my problems, and He can multiply my efforts if I yield them all to Him!

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve

We usually celebrate New Year's Eve by spending a quiet evening together at home. We keep awake by watching football and/or a movie, playing family games, and enjoying party fare. Then, we watch the ball drop at midnight, clean up a bit, and head to bed, content with the knowledge that a new year has safely arrived and that we can sleep in as long as we want the next morning!

This year, we spent the bulk of the day driving to my parent's house in SC. Then, we spent the evening in traditional manner, only it felt different being at my parent's house. My Mom and Dad went on to bed about 10:30, trusting us to bring in the new year without them!

Here are a few pictures of us playing a game the guys received for Christmas called, "What's Yours Like?" It was a fun group game that kept most of us actively engaged as we waited for the clock to strike twelve. (Bethany was asleep in my lap!)

The following pictures were taken earlier in the day, when the children gave my parents some Christmas gifts they had brought for them. Doesn't my Mom look beautiful in that blue??

Taylor gave PaPa some LaGrange College golf balls -- disguised in a wrapping paper tube!

Tiffany and Ashlyn have long enjoyed working word puzzles with PaPa when they are together, making this crossword puzzle coffee mug the Perfect Gift!

The "little ones" gave Nanny this mug filled with biscotti.

And Tiffany and Ashlyn gave her this teapot for making Chai.

It is fun to give gifts to people you love, and I enjoyed watching the children's faces as my Mom and Dad opened their gifts.

My parents have given me the most valuable gift any parent can -- the gift of parents that love each other and are committed to each other (for nearly 50 years now!) and who love God and are committed to Him and His Ways. Such a gift is becoming more rare and priceless each day.
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