Sunday Strength

A quarrelsome wife is like
a constant dripping on a rainy day;

restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.

As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.

He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and he who looks after his master will be honored.

~Proverbs 27:15-18


1st Annual Chili Cook-Off and a Valentine

It's too cute not to share with everyone. Here is the Valentine our younger son made for his Dad & I this year. No help from anyone, he came up with this idea on his own. He made the arrow out of a dowel left over from an old science project, designed and cut out the heart and then wrote the inscription. It is just too cute. I wish I was half as creative as my 10 year old!

Some roses my husband brought home to me last week. Sorry for the dropped petal... they are starting to get a tiny bit tired.

So.. this is one of those posts where I should let the pictures do the talking and not use my words much. Problem is...there are no pictures of what I want to talk about. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Here I am, two days after one of the most fun parties I've had the opportunity to plan and pull off and I am picture-less. Of the party...

Flowers on the other hand, flowers I can picture. The bouquet above was brought my one of our entrants. I had a "Creative Presentation" category and that's what she entered. The flowers doubled as a hostess gift for me. YAY for me!!! :)

We hosted the first of what we hope becomes a very long standing tradition of Chili Cook-Off's to be held the third Sunday of every February. There were 37 people in my house at one point on Sunday - almost all of them eating one chili or another. It was amazing. We had 10 people bring chili and there were supposed to be a few more but... life happens. One family had two children with the flu and another friend had broken her back... With reasons like that I could do nothing more than totally understand, miss them like crazy and tell them to make sure they put it on their calendar for next year!

If there was anyone who didn't have fun, well... he was a bit of a cranky-pants that day anyway so his opinion can't count. At least thirty-six people had an "awesome" time and already it have it on their calendars for next year.

So... there are the flowers I used to decorate for the cook-off. Spread around the house a bit they are a touch of spring joy in the midst of winter. Not that we're having much of a winter. We were up around 60 degrees yesterday and I think we'll be close to the same today. Only the night reminds us it's not spring, dropping down into the 30's to remind us it's still February.

The flowers do help mitigate that a bit, though. It's as if Spring entered through my front door and spread itself around my house. Can't help but smile about that!


Sunday Strength

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

~Psalm 27:13:14


Valentine's Day Brunch

So...Valentine's Day. That day I'm really not super-fond of. The one I referenced here. It happened. It turned out wonderfully. We had such an awesome day filled with great friends, good food and hard work. Yes. Hard. Work. We fed 30 people from two different singles groups in my church. It was a hit, too. Enjoy the pictures:

I'll start with the invitations and a deep thank you to the incredibly talented Tricia-Rennea. She designed this paper and I've been holding onto it, waiting just for this luncheon to use it's most wonderfulness.

Then... there was the food prep. One suggestion? When you're cooking for thirty people and you don't know the food you've decided to serve? Make it first. The dishes I chose turned out yummy but one of them should have been labeled "this is a main course, not a side dish" because when I had the recipe computed for 30 people and then made it, it made enough for about 200 people when it was going to be used as a side... Yesterday I started making this dish at 11:45 AM. It was finished at 8:00 PM. Thank goodness it tasted yummy! It would have been oh so sad for it to have been a total flop. I didn't make it myself first because it was a 5 star dish per the site, with 178 reviews. I figured it had to be pretty good....

That, though, was the only negative in the entire day. Everything else was just plain perfect. A great time was had by all and I can't wait to start thinking about next year! February 14, 2011 falls on a Monday so it'll might be a bit tougher to find folks to volunteer to help but...I hope to figure something out! Maybe our high school kids (in the church) will help. Ah, well. I have a year to think it through!

It takes a lot of dishes to serve 30 people:

But they set a beautiful table...or two...or five...

I don't know if you can read the menu. It was fun coming up with yummy food to serve. I'm starting earlier on that decision for next year, though. Like... tomorrow.... Need a few great dishes that only contain a couple of ingredients! My index finger is still cramped from all of the cutting/chopping dicing I did Saturday!

My wonderful, wonderful volunteer assistants for the day. There is a reason we call our small groups Lifegroups. We do life together and yesterday, they sure did that! Every single one of them dove in and did whatever I asked, no complaining - nothing. They worked their tails off. I couldn't ask for better help. Or better friends. They are amazing people.

We plated a lot of food...

But the most important thing? Everyone who was able to join us seemed to have a great time!

And a gigantic, incredible thank you to the couple from our church who opened their home and entrusted it to me, allowing me to do this in the most incredibly beautiful setting. I'm almost sorry we've grown to so many people that we have to find a new location for next year.

Really looking forward to next year!


Haiti - Starting to Grieve

I read an article in the New York Times entitled "Haiti Emerges From Its Shock and Tears Roll."

In addition to the sadness over the sheer number of people who were lost in the recent earthquake, I was hit by this quote in the article:

“Angie was a nobody, she died a nobody, she will never have a funeral, she will never have a tombstone,” Ms. Dupoux said. “She is just one of the nameless, faceless victims, and I hate that.”

The Angie Ms. Dupoux is referring to is her 17 year old cousin. A young woman who died of fright after surviving the earthquake.
To die of fright at 17... that took my breath away. I was completely stunned.
What hurt, though, is the comment that Angie was a nobody, she died a faceless, nameless nobody. I know what Ms. Dupoux means but my heart just leapt at that statement. Angie didn't die a nobody. She isn't a nameless, faceless victim.

God knows every hair on Angie's head. He knows her face intimately. He knows her name - He chose it for her.

I know - she meant in human terms and her grief is right now, this present, this reality. I understand that but there is just no hope in that quote. None. And it breaks my heart that the God of all Hope is a breath away and she doesn't know Him. Not intimately. Not the way it would take for that quote to have never been said...

How well do we profess the God of all Hope and Comfort? Why do we not know Him amidst such grief? How do I share Him better? Why does this love I feel not make my words sing, why do I stay quiet? The Hope I know - who have I told?


Beauty in the midst of Gray

Our winter returned last week. The rain started again. With it, though, came my orchid blooming. This plant hasn't bloomed since the flowers died off after it was given to me. Two years ago. I love walking into my office in the morning right now. I really am not the best with a camera (and I don't have that great a camera) but trust me - this thing is gorgeous.

What unexpected beauty has shown up in your life lately? How much time are you taking to enjoy it?


Sunday Strength

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

~1 Peter 4:1-11


Countdown to V Day

It's Thursday. That means Sunday is only 3 days away. Considering I work full time, it means there is only one free day until it arrives. One. In that free day I have to grocery shop and prepare a couple of dishes for a brunch I'm hosting Sunday plus pack up everything I'm going to need to do it. Ok - it started out being a brunch but since we had to move the starting time from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM it's feeling more like a lunch.


It's food for 30 people. T.H.I.R.T.Y. Have I ever prepared food for that many people before?


Thank God I have help!! My Lifegroup is stepping in to help me cook, serve and clean up. They are the best people on the planet.

It's not the brunch or preparing the food or making sure I have all the supplies we need. I feel like I'm moving into a friend's parents' house. They have so graciously opened their doors but what I have to bring... I think my van might need new shocks when this is over. That's just a matter of lists, lists and more lists.

No. It's the fear that the food won't be super-yummy and people will think "ho hummmm...I should have gone to Jack in the Box." It's wondering if my devotion will sound like another stupid Valentine's Day cliche - said with the best of intentions but coming across sounding like pity.

Yup. Brunch is for single folks. Single folks ranging in age from 35 to 49. Some of them never-been-married folks. Valentine's Day simply stinks for them. Personally, I think the day stinks for everyone which is what I usually remind the singles. The pressure, the hype. Ugh. I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day which is why I chose to do this rather than sit at home complaining about the massive card companies who have consummerized love and turned romance into a guilt trip.

I think love is something we do 365 days a year. Every year of our life. I think wives should always speak words of love and encouragement to their husbands and I think husbands should bring their wives flowers at least once a month. If I respect my husband and he loves me, our marriage is going to be better. If you are dating someone and behave the same way toward your significant other as you would your spouse, you'll someday make a great spouse.

We don't need red roses and pink heart-shaped doilies to say "I love you." Take out the trash, scratch her back, write a note and slip it in a coat pocket. That can be done on February 15th as well (and by that well I mean "good") as it can be done on February 14th. I will admit - it's a bit fun if you go the kids route with things. Sweet, funny little sentiments...

I digress.

Now...if we used February 14th to remind ourselves that love is the most important thing we do in our lives, that would be different. I probably wouldn't be so anti-Valentine's Day. Instead we've had to candy, rose and heart the living daylights out of it and so people usually forget that love is a tangible, not just a "feeling." It's NOT all about that rush you feel with someone special. It's the day in and day out, the choice to "for good or bad, no matter what I'm sticking with you."

Love is something we do even when she's not wearing a pretty dress or he's not bringing the biggest, most beautiful bouquet of roses. It's life.

So - pardon my rant. Sunday. Brunch for the singles in my church. I'm praying my ham bakes beautifully and the quinoa tabulleh tastes as yummy as it looks. I'll post pictures after it's over.


Sunday Strength

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
He will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

~Psalm 121