Sunday, May 20, 2012

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things - It's the Little Things....

Lilacs and Daffodils from My Backyard

A Lovely Candle - in the Middle of my Kitchen Table

A Tea Pot - Painted by My Daugher and Me - And Used for Many a Tea Party

Lovely New Shoes!

My Little Guy and My Mom Washing Dishes Together One Night
How very, very blessed am I?

Truly, these are a few of my favorite things!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

In the Refiner's Fire - Hurt and Renewal



I've written before how difficult this past year has been. 

I'm just now realizing what it really was that made this past year so difficult.

Betrayal.
Lies.
Anger.
Hurt.

And it's the hurt most of all.

Last fall we found out that a now former senior staff member at our church lied about us.
Repeatedly.
Blatantly.

To people who have known us for 10+ years. 

Those people believed that staff person.

And didn't even ask us about the lies.

We found out when that staff person left (one of several to leave over the last few years).   And a very dear friends started having 2+2 not equal 4.

And that friend came to us with some very serious questions.

We chose not to confront the now former staff member - though we could very easily do that.  We know that this behavior is part of a pattern that chased him from congregation to congregation to congregation and will continue to do so.  If anyone asks us about it, we will tell the truth as we know it.  

The part that hurt was that friends who have known us for so long believed someone who they barely know (the staff member was at our church for less than 4 years) rather than believe us - who they have worked with, eaten with, shared with and served with for 10+ years.

I quit going to worship - and everything else for that matter.

And the only person in the entire 500+ member congregation who asked where I was was my best friend - who would ask if I lived on the other side of the world. 

My husband preached one service one Sunday (we have 3 Sunday services and a mid-week service), and the only person who talked to me was a new staff member who didn't recognize me and wanted to "welcome me to worship".

I was so angry. 
So very angry.
So very angry at God.

The new staff member talked to my husband one day over coffee at a neutral coffee shop.  This staff member has a different position than the one who lied about us.  He has many more years of experience and has served many more congregations.

He wanted to know what was happening, why my husband wasn't working at our home congregation and why I wasn't attending worship and participating anymore.  The answers weren't easy.  And the new staff member was horrified by what he heard.  It was not only the lies but the verbal and mental abuse we've received during the last 2 years that was shared.

My husband was asked to do a few things one weekend at our home congregation.   When he couldn't due to us being out of town during that chunk of time, the Pastor at our home congregation took that as a blanket refusal to have any part in our congregation.

Never mind that my husband and children attend worship on every single Sunday we are in town.
Never mind that my husband asks routinely (at least once every 6 weeks) what he can do to help the congregation.
Never mind that the Pastor has had no less than 15 people from the congregation plus this new staff member ask what's going on.

In response to this, the new staff member called in the Bishop.

Since then my husband has been scheduled to preach no less than 3 Sundays between June and August (one more may be pending) and teach 2 Bible study classes.  We were offered 1 free tuition to VBS.   My Bible Study leader called and offered to pick me up for Bible Study this month.

Because, you see, apparently this had happened before with this staff member at another congregation.
And the Bishop new the truth.
About that person's refusal to have my husband help with ministry at our congregation - to the Bishop's office and the seminary.
About the story being told to one person was not the same as the other and was again different than a third.

And I still can't go.  I'm too hurt.

You see, all these people bought hook, line and sinker the lies that the now former staff member told them. 
The did not look at what they knew about us.
Only what he said. 

I am not angry at God anymore. 
I have been able to attend worship at the church my husband is working at - and participate in the ministries there.

And on Mother's Day something else happened.

We went out to eat at a very fancy restaurant - one we only eat at on special occasions.  At the table next to us were an older couple who are friends of ours from our home congregation - part of the group of people who generously paid my husband's tuition a couple of semesters ago. 

They stopped and chatted, wished us a lovely Mother's day and left for the evening after finishing their meal.

When it was time for our bill we found out they have taken care of it for us.

A bill for 6 of us.
Of over $100.
That was supposed to be my Dad's Mother's Day gift to my Mother and me.

I cried.
Bawled like a baby.

And I decided that it was time to make an appointment with my Pastor to talk about things.

We're meeting next week.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Work Home and Family - Shifting Gears



Spring is heading into summer here and that means we're shifting gears.  From school and all the craziness that it entails - both on the learning and the teaching ends - to something a little more restful and laid back.

Summer will not, however, be as laid back as we'd like.

I am going to try to completely knock off this dissertation thing before classes start in the fall.

I am transitioning from part time professorship to full time.

John is doing a lot more preaching this summer than he has in the past - which means a lot more travel then we have had before.

The kids are attending a couple of summer camps that they are really, really, really looking forward to.

I am putting together a whole new course - never been taught at our school before - for fall.

John is taking 3 intensive courses this summer plus another weekend retreat that is required.

We're still doing our annual week-long camping trip and our weekend anniversary get-away this summer.


It doesn't seem like it is possible to slow down, spend more time together and saver the days when we have all that going on.

But it is. 

It definitely is.

Travel means more time together in the car - time to tell stories, read to each other and listen to books on CD. (I almost typed "tape" but our van doesn't even have a cassette deck anymore!).  I also work on handwork (mostly embroidery) but also hand-mending in the car - something that I rarely get to do otherwise.  And I enjoy it tremendously!

Visiting new congregations means more opportunities to worship together as family - sometimes during the week - which we don't always get to do.  I also just get to devote that time to my family and meeting new people.  Usually I'm running around trying to get to Sunday School, talk to someone about the upcoming food drive, getting hit up by someone else to chaperone the youth trip, making sure there are clean spoons out for the coffee hour, and who only knows what else - including making sure communion is out, the microphones work and the slide show is complete and appropriate!  It's very refreshing to just worship and visit! (And usually be the one who is getting blessed by the little things the congregations do to make us feel "at home" - like a bag of goodies for the car-ride home or coloring books and crayons specifically for our kiddos!)

No school day - for the majority of the summer - means time in the evening to potter around the yard, splash in the wading pool, visit a local park, take in a local outdoor (free!) concert or visit with a friend. We started this this past week with a picnic dinner at a local park - where I took the photo at the top of the post. The kiddos made sand castles at the nearby beach and we leasurely ate our sandwiches and fruit and chatted away.

Camping is a retreat that I definitely look forward to each year - no distractions of phone calls, internet, computers, or the hastles of daily life other than dishes and cooking.  We love hanging out together all day for a whole entire week!

John and I love taking our annual anniversary trip - which gives us time to be just the two of us, nurture our relationship with each other, do somethings we can't do with the kiddos (like read all the information at a museum display or shop in an antiques shop!), and just be the married couple that we are in addition to being parents.

I'm dedicating two weeks of my day-time to just writing - at a quiet place with minimal distractions - so I don't take up that precious evening time with my writing.  Hopefully the minimal distractions will make it easier to complete the dissertation without extra stress!

Yes, even though the summer may not be as relaxed as I'd like, it can still be a wonderful, slower time to enjoy our time as a family.

What do you do to unwind and slow down during the summer? I'd love to know!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Goals - Update on last week and this week's goals - Week of May 13th, 2012

My goodness, where does the time go? Last week simply flew by.  When I wrote this list I totally forgot that the kids had their spring concert for school last week too (duh - it was on my calendar!), so I didn't get quite as many things crossed off as I had hoped.  Here's the run down from last week:

Work:

* Continue keeping up my grading (I've actually been able to do this and I'm completely excited about it!)  Done!
* Final exam  Done! 
* Final grades  Done!
* Tidy up my paperwork and notes from the semester
* Finish equipment list for fall  Mostly done - need to meet with our lab tech on this one.
* Turn in the equipment list for fall (You know, so that I actually have my equipment in the fall!)

School:
* Meet with my advisor  Done! 
* End-of-year paperwork filled out and submitted  Done!
* Finish proposal
* Submit proposal

Jazzercise:
* Set for 1st class  Done!
* Set for 2nd class  Done! 
* Learn 1 new routine  Done!

Home:
* Tidy sewing area  I looked at my sewing area. Does that count?
* Bake gingerbread cookies Done!
* Go through giant stack of mail in my living room  Done!
* Go through giant stack of old magazines in my living room  Partly done!

Family:
* Birthday Dinner on Sunday Night  Done!
* Missy and Buddy's Birthday on Monday - decorate gingerbread cookies (their choice)  Done!
* Dance Photos for Buddy and Missy on Wednesday Night  Done!
* Be ready for the Birthday Party on Saturday  With my Mom helping, this took a whole whopping 30 minutes!
* Birthday Party on Saturday  Success!
* Finish my MIL's Mother's Day gift
* Daily conversation with my parents while they are here  This has been so much fun!
* Totally spaced the Concert on Tuesday night - but we got that done too!

Ministry/Faith:
* Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount Ongoing.
* Write letter to our Compassion Child
* Pray for my cousin's church - they're in the middle of the call process  Added this to my prayer journal
* See if we can finalize John's summer preaching schedule  (Partly done - we got June finalized, but are still working on July and August)
* Pray for my children and my husband daily (I've fallen off the bandwagon with this and I really need to get back to it!)  Done!  And I added this to my prayer journal - I hadn't before because I thought it was "obvious."

Personal:
* Wash my face every night  Done!
* Get up with John each morning so I have my alone time before my folks get up  Done!

Whew!  No wonder I hit Mother's Day on Sunday completely wiped out!  I got a 2 hour nap in, some Jazzercise practice time, and a very nice dinner out with my family.  Nice and relaxing - the way Mother's Day should be.

This week's goals are the following:

Work:
* Tidy up my paperwork and notes from the semester
* Submit grades to the registrar's office

* Finish equipment list for fall.
* Turn in the equipment list for fall (You know, so that I actually have my equipment in the fall!)

School:
* Proposal
* Turn in Proposal
* Email my dissertation committee

Jazzercise:
* Set for 1st class
* Set for 2nd class
* Download new routines
* Download new routine notes

Home:
* Tidy my sewing area
* The giant pile of magazines in my living room (finish this)
* The two extra boxes out of our bedroom

Family:
* Cub Scout Picnic
* Daily conversation with my parents while they are here
* Finish my MIL's Mother's Day gift (we'll see her later this month)
* Mail sympathy card for my Aunt, who lost her brother last week

Ministry/Faith:
*Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Continue using my prayer journal
* Write to our Compassion Child
* Drop off food at the local food shelf (more on this later!)
* Finalize July and August for John's summer preaching schedule.

Personal:
* Get up with John every morning
* Get my hair cut
* Evaluate what I need for "teaching clothes" for this coming fall

What are your goals for this week?  Visit Money Saving Mom to share!





Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 13, 2012

After a really, really busy week last week (we had something every single night or day except Friday!), I'm ready for a little quieter week this week. We have one thing this week - a Scout Picnic on Thursday night where Buddy gets to fire off his homemade rocket!  It's pot-luck, but that's only one thing this week as opposed to 6 things (in 7 days) last week. 

My parents are still here - and we are so excited to have them here!  The kids love it. John and I love it.  And (hopefully) my parents love it!  So, we're still cooking and eating for 4 adults and 2 seven-year-olds - who can out-eat all four adults when they're in a growth spurt! :)

Here's what we're eating:

Sunday, May 13th, Mother's Day:
     Breakfast: Cereal and Milk
     Lunch: Leftover Chinese from Saturday Night
     Snack:  Ginger Cookies
     Dinner: Out at a Favorite Restaurant

Monday, May 14th,
    Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter and Jelly
    Lunch: Apples with Peanut Butter, Carrots or Tomatoes (or both!), Yogurt, Cookie
    Snack:  Apple and Popcorn
    Dinner: Burgers and Hot Dogs on the grill, Salad, Strawberry-Blackberry-Blueberry Salad

Tuesday, May 15th:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Blueberries and Almonds
    Lunch: Hot for kids, Leftovers for Everyone Else
    Snack:  Yogurt
    Dinner:  Baked Salmon, Rice, Green Beans, Banana-Blackberry-Strawberry Salad

Wednesday, May 16th:
   Breakfast:  Oatmeal Muffins, Bananas
   Lunch: Hot for kids, leftovers for Everyone Else
   Snack: Yogurt
   Dinner:  Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Salad, Orange Wedges

Thursday, May 17th:
   Breakfast: Toast with Peanut Butter and Honey
   Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Everyone Else
   Snack:  Cheese and Crackers
   Dinner: Cub Scout Picnic: Bring a fruit salad

Friday, May 18th:
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisins and Pecans
    Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Everyone Else
    Snack:  Cheese and Crackers
    Dinner:  Southwest Veggie Couscous, Homemade Tortilla Chips, Orange Wedges

Saturday, May 19th:
    Breakfast:  Cinnamon Coffee Cake, Bananas
    Lunch: At the Zoo
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Baked Ham, Roasted Potatoes, Salad, Strawberry-Blackberry-Blueberry Salad

What are you eating this week?  Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Goals - Week of May 6th, 2012

Nothing like leaving you all hanging 2 weeks go! Sorry about that - I really didn't mean to and I totally dislike this time of year because it just seems like no matter what we do, we're just crazy busy.

I actually did very well with my list from 2 weeks ago and the list from last week as well.

Here's my list for this week:

Work:
* Continue keeping up my grading  (I've actually been able to do this and I'm completely excited about it!)
* Final exam
* Final grades
* Tidy up my paperwork and notes from the semester
* Finish equipment list for fall
* Turn in the equipment list for fall (You know, so that I actually have my equipment in the fall!)

School:
* Meet with my advisor
* End-of-year paperwork filled out and submitted
* Finish proposal
* Submit proposal

Jazzercise:
* Set for 1st class
* Set for 2nd class
* Learn 1 new routine

Home:
* Tidy sewing area
* Bake gingerbread cookies
* Go through giant stack of mail in my living room
* Go through giant stack of old magazines in my living room

Family:
* Birthday Dinner on Sunday Night
* Missy and Buddy's Birthday on Monday - decorate gingerbread cookies (their choice)
* Dance Photos for Buddy and Missy on Wednesday Night
* Be ready for the Birthday Party on Saturday
* Birthday Party on Saturday
* Finish my MIL's Mother's Day gift
* Daily conversation with my parents while they are here

Ministry/Faith:
* Continue memorizing the Sermon on the Mount
* Write letter to our Compassion Child
* Pray for my cousin's church - they're in the middle of the call process
* See if we can finalize John's summer preaching schedule
* Pray for my children and my husband daily (I've fallen off the bandwagon with this and I really need to get back to it!)


Personal:
* Wash my face every night
* Get up with John each morning so I have my alone time before my folks get up

What are you up to this week?  Go to Money Saving Mom to share.

Menu Plan Monday - Week of May 6, 2012

Sorry, no picture today!  My computer has been acting "weird" and I'm posting from a different one - away from my photos. Hopefully my computer will be acting normal again - we're quite sure it's battery issues so we just have to have that replacement arrive!

In the meantime, we have company! My parents are here for just over a month staying with us, so right now we're feeding 4 adults and two newly minted 7-year-olds - as of today (May 7th!).  Yes, my munchkins turned 7 today.   Where, oh where, does that time go?  Throw in some crazy-busy 'stuff' this week and we're eating easy!

Here's the menu:

Sunday, May 6th:
    Brunch: Out at a favorite restaurant
    Snack: Popcorn
    Dinner: Homemade Veggie Pizza with Berry Salad

Monday, May 7th:  Buddy and Missy's 7th Birthday!
    Breakfast: Pancakes with Strawberries
    Lunch: PB&J, Bananas, Yogurt, and Chips (Birthday treat)
    Snack: Yogurt for Mom, Cupcakes for the Kiddos
    Dinner:  Salad with Chicken and Strawberries

Tuesday, May 8th: 
    Breakfast: Oatmeal with Cinnamon and Craisons
    Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
    Snack: Ginger Cookies
    Dinner: Shrimp Stir Fry, Rice, Orange Wedges

Wednesday, May 9th:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Bananas
     Lunch: Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner:  Baked Salmon, Couscous, Tossed Salad, Shrimp

Thursday, May 10th:
     Breakfast: Yogurt with Homemade Granola
     Lunch:  Apples with Peanut Butter, Yogurt, Carrot Sticks, Ginger Cookie
     Snack: Popcorn
     Dinner: Crock Pot 3-Bean Chili, Cornbread, Apple-Pear-Strawberry Salad

Friday, May 11th:
     Breakfast: Oatmeal with Craisons
     Lunch:  Hot for Kids, Leftovers for Adults
     Snack: Yogurt
     Dinner: Beef Tacos, Tossed Salad, Apple-Pear-Grape Salad

Saturday, May 12th - Birthday Party Day:
     Breakfast: Cinnamon Strussel Coffee Cake, Bananas
     Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Carrots and Celery, Sliced Apples and Pears
     Snack: Birthday Cake and Ice Cream
     Dinner: BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, Pasta Salad, Apple-Blueberry-Blackberry Salad

What are you eating this week? Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! to share and be inspired!