Archive for February, 2009
It’s taken all year, but it finally was Trey’s turn to provide snacks for our Cub Scout den.Â So, being the overachieving den-leader-mother that I am, what snack do I choose to have him make?
Rice Krispy Treats?Â No.Â As stated in an earlier post, I have yet to make those successfully.
Chocolate Chip cookies?Â No.Â Too basic.
Store-bought Little Debbie snacks?Â No.Â Too easy.
No, this mom helps her son make Bear Biscuits.Â You know, because the boys earned their Bear Badge at Blue & Gold last week and the biscuits are just too cute!
The process seemed simple enough.Â Refrigerated biscuit dough, chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar, and eggs.Â Couldn’t be that hard, could it?
Honestly, not really.Â But when the recipe only makes 3 biscuits and your cookie sheet can only hold 4 at a time and you’re having to make 18 of them for scouts and siblings…well, then the process becomes a whole lot LONGER.Â Despite the trouble, the biscuits did come out cute.Â The boys were impressed.Â And there was much ooh’ing and aah’ing from the other moms.Â Once again, I felt affirmed as the supermom I am.
Manic Debbi is back!
Manic Debbi is gone.Â And I miss her.
In her place is the girl I hate.Â She brings with her the baggage of the past – all those insecurities and hurts that I packed away long ago – and brings them out, one by one, and flaunts them in front of me.Â Reminds me that there will always be someone with a nicer house, a cleaner house…someone prettier, more successful at losing weight, more fun, more popular, a better mom, a better Christian, a better teacher, a better scout leader, more patient, a better wife…and on and on until all I can see is my failure.Â And then, insidiously, she pours herself a hot drink and curls up close beside me for some “girl chat”…all the while tickling my ear with lies I have tried not to believe…about how I have failed my husband, my children, my family, my friends…reminding me of how others have let me down and encouraging me to be angry, hurt, and disappointed – focusing on their failures – rather than be forgiving and extending grace and trying to understand their point of view…about how my efforts don’t really matter and no one really cares because after all, I’m not all that important.Â I can’t claim to be an expert at anything I do.Â At best, I’m “very good” but not GREAT.
After awhile, I grow weary of fighting the lies.Â And I start to believe them.Â I start to give in…to the hurt, the anger, the disappointment, the feelings of failure.
In the midst of this darkness, I find a ray of light…a glimmer of hope.Â A message of brightness and joy.
Today, I am grateful for a special friend who sent me this email:
I want you to know how much I appreciate the leadership you are taking in the Pre-K music realm (Sundays and summer).Â It is tremendous to watch you work and give of your giftsâ€”and the way God is bringing this team together shows His goodness and strength in it all.Â As I look across the Studio, I wish there were more leaders like you.
You are such a joyâ€”thank you for being you and for doing all you do.
Like me?Â Wow.
Take that, Depressive Debbi.
Wow…the contestants sure are making this easy.Â I almost don’t even need to try!Â But I do need to fulfill my blogging goal, so I post anyway.
Last night was another night of sub-par performances with a few shining moments thrown in for good measure.Â Certainly there were some who did not live up to the hype, and some that came out of the woodwork to make a name for themselves.Â So who will make it to the grand stage?
For the girls, hands down it has to be Allison Iraheta.Â Despite the fact that Carrie Underwood made this her signature moment a few seasons ago, Allison nailed it.Â She was the only girl who really stood out and made her performance memorable.Â She is a surprise standout for sure.
For the guys, there is no contest.Â I think all the other guys should spend today saying their goodbyes and packing their suitcases.Â Probably they shouldn’t even show up for the results show tomorrow night.Â It’s pointless.Â Adam Lambert outshone them all by a mile and he has the charisma, stage presence, and talent to go a long way in this competition.
The wild card this week I believe will go to Megan Corkrey.Â I like her.Â She’s different.Â She’s got a unique style and a charm about her that makes her likeable.Â Â And despite the fact that she can’t dance, she definitely knows how to connect with a song and the audience, and showed that she is serious about making it as an artist.
Tune in tomorrow night to see how I do!
I love it when a plan comes together!
Last year, I had the privilege of directing the first-ever preschoolÂ Worship & Arts summer camp at McFBC.Â Because we joined the church after Easter, we had a very short window of time to plan and implement the week-long camp.Â But despite the shortcomings, God blessed our efforts, and we had a great turnout of 25 little ones, ages 3-5 years old, who came daily to sing songs, experience creative movement and rhythm, do crafts, and learn about the God who loves us.
So it seemed natural that I would lead again this year.Â Knowing that I had a full year to plan, I began praying about what our theme should be.Â There is nothing commercially available for this age group, so we have to plan from scratch and pull ideas from various sources to make something like this happen.Â By Christmas I was a bit concerned that I didn’t have a theme yet.Â Oh sure, I’d tossed ideas around in my head, but nothing seemed right, nothing truly gelled.
Until one day in January.
Driving around town running errands after working out, I was listening to the radio and really praying that God would just show me what we needed to do this year.Â And all of a sudden, the song I was hearing put it all in perspective.Â The song was “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” as performed by Petra.Â EUREKA!Â That’s it!Â A rock-n-roll theme using familiar songs set to a rock beat!Â How perfect is that?!Â Immediately the ideas began swirling around and I raced home to get them all written down before I lost momentum.
Then began the task of assembling my team.Â And even before I could begin asking, people began approaching ME…asking how could they get involved?Â What could they do?Â You mean, I don’t have to beg, plead, or coerce someone into serving?Â WOW!Â And what’s more, I have MORE volunteers than I need??Â Thank You, LORD!!
Well, it was time to meet with the core of leaders on this project to solidify our ideas and get a timeline going.Â We met last week and I actually delegated – ME, DELEGATED! – a project to someone else to handle.Â And you know what?Â They’ve already prepared their first draft of the project and submitted it for review.Â We’ve discussed ideas and revised some thoughts and they are so pumped about what they’re going to do…it’s going to be awesome!Â God is really moving!
I wish I could share all the nitty-gritty details, and in time, I will.Â But for now, I think it’s best if I keep things under wraps a bit.Â We still have a ways to go to make it all fit together.Â And I have a lot of work ahead of me to make the vision a reality.Â But God is working…God is preparing…God is providing…and it’s already been amazing to see what He is making happen.
The rocks may have to cry out a little louder over my shouts of praise if they expect to be heard.
We’re getting closer!Â It’s down to 1 lb…and then I’m back at rock bottom.Â Hopefully THIS will be the week I can get off this plateau and get back on the losing streak!
Until then, I present another tasty menu.Â This is so super easy…I threw it together on a whim one Saturday evening.Â My family loved it and it looked like something much fancier than it was.Â It felt like an Olive Garden meal…but on a McDonald’s Dollar Menu budget.
BAKED PESTO CHICKEN
from South Beach Quick and Easy Cookbook
4 (6-oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup pesto (from a jar)
2 oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (1/2 c)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper.Â Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto in a 9″x13″ baking dish.Â Lay the chicken breasts over the pesto and spread with the remaining pesto.
- Cover baking dish with foil and bake chicken until cooked thoroughly, 20-25 minutes.Â Uncover and top with cheese.Â Bake until the cheese is melted, 5 more minutes.Â Serve hot.
I served this with a side of whole-wheat pasta, a garden salad, steamed carrots for the kids and a ricotta creme (chocolate) for dessert.Â I was surprised at how much the kids liked the pesto sauce.Â They came back for seconds!
It just doesn’t seem fair.
You know, the story of Cain and Abel.Â Both guys work the land: Cain is a farmer and Abel is a rancher.Â Both guys bring a sacrifice of their labors to God.Â God is pleased with Abel’s but Cain’s is rejected.Â Why?Â Well, because God requires a sacrifice of blood.Â But He hadn’t established the Jewish sacrificial laws yet.Â He hadn’t made his covenant with Israel where God walked through the pieces of the animal to seal the deal.Â There had been no altars, no sacrifice, no hint of what a “pleasing” and detestable offering would be.
Or had there?
I’ve heard the arguments that focus on the heart attitudes: Abel brought the “firstfruits” – the best – of what he had while Cain brought “some”.Â There is truth in that argument.Â But today our pastor brought out something more that I think bears some consideration and might be a more accurate understanding of why Cain’s offering was so displeasing.
When Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit, the author of Genesis tells us “the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”Â (Gen. 3:7)
As Bruce pointed out this morning, the covering of fig leaves represented the origins of “religion”: man’s attempt to make himself pleasing and acceptable to God.Â By covering themselves, Adam and Eve were trying to solve their sin problem on their own.Â Instead of seeking God first, admitting their sin and confessing, they sought to cover themselves in hopes that God wouldn’t notice.Â The problem was, there was no sacrifice involved in their actions.Â There was no consequence, no “payment” rendered.Â Removing leaves from a tree may not be the best thing to do to a tree, but leaves grow back.Â Trees produce new leaves and continue to bear fruit without harm or long-term damage.
What was God’s response?Â Besides the curse – the consequences for the individuals involved in the disobedience – “The LORD God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”Â Where did God get the skin?Â From an animal.Â An innocent animal had to die, shed its blood, sacrifice its life, for Adam and Eve to be acceptably clothed before God.Â Who initiated the sacrifice?Â God.Â This was not an example of man trying to fix himself before God but rather God reaching out to man in an act of restoration.Â This was the first death Adam and Eve had ever witnessed.Â And if you’ve ever watched an animal – or a person – die, you know it can have a profound impact.Â I’m sure that moment was etched permanently in Adam and Eve’s memory.Â And I’m sure they passed the story along to their sons from an early age.
Cain and Abel knew.Â A pleasing sacrifice involves blood.Â Blood that is spilled.Â Blood that is poured out.Â God demonstrated that in the first Divine teachable moment in the Garden.Â Oh, yes, I’m certain Cain and Abel knew.
I guess the story doesn’t seem so unfair after all.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Oh, I know the calendar officially says “February 20″, but that doesn’t matter to us.Â The kids are happily playing at a Parent’s Night Out and we have a full 5 1/2 hours before we have to pick them up.Â So that means we celebrate Valentines’ Day tonight!
We decided to treat ourselves to a “grown-up” meal at a “grown-up” restaurant (meaning: cloth napkins and no playland).Â As we enjoyed a time of “grown-up” conversation in the car (meaning no interruptions of “Mom, how come we drink milk from cows but not from horses?” or “Dad, why do we pronounce Uranus like you’re-in-us and not your-anus?”), I reached out to take hold of Matt’s hand.Â An innocent thing.Â A simple thing. A normal thing for a husband and wife to do.
And apparently, a shocking thing.
For you see, his skin was SMOOTH.Â As in baby-bottom smooth.Â As in no-hair-on-his-knuckles smooth.
And I had a moment where I actually had to catch my breath and be reminded: my husband is fighting cancer. But the next moment, when I started breathing again, I wasted no time in informing him that it is just wrong for his hands to be softer and smoother than his wife’s.
This week has been nuts.Â Completely nuts.Â I feel like a whirling dervish, scurrying from one activity to another, and yet, despite the frenzy I am not totally worn out.Â Yet.
One of the things that has got me so wired is the upcoming Blue & Gold banquet for Cub Scouts.Â This is the annual awards dinner put on by the pack to honor the scouts’ achievements over the past year.Â Den leaders are responsible for decorating the tables, which is where my manic overdrive comes in.Â Our theme for this year’s B&G is “American ABC’s” and while I won’t spend a lot of time detailing my fantastic vision for our tables (that is the stuff of a future post), I will say that in creating these decorations I’ve been reminded of what an awesome country ours is, and how much I treasure the freedoms we enjoy.
With that in mind, I offer this week’s threads of gratitude, American style!
- I’m grateful for a country that allows me to worship God freely and without fear.Â That allows me to teach my children what I believe and encourage them to live out their faith in public.
- I’m grateful for a country founded on principles of personal responsibility, faith, equality, and patriotism.Â For those who fought to expand the concept of “equality” so that I have a voice and can be involved in the democratic process.Â For those who have sacrificed their lives and livelihood to ensure the freedoms of others both here and around the world.
- I’m grateful for the beauty of this land.Â For the diversity of our country’s landscape: from the glory of a New England fall to the wide open spaces of the midwestern prairies.Â From the peaceful sandy beaches of southern Florida to the pounding, rocky surf of northern California.Â From the larger-than-life pride of the great state of Texas to the could-almost-fit-inside-the-metroplex state of Rhode Island.Â America, the beautiful, indeed!
- I’m grateful for our leaders.Â Though I haven’t always agreed with their ideologies, and I haven’t always believed they have acted in the best interest of our country, I understand and appreciate their courage, their determination, and their sacrifice.Â They have taken on incredible challenges, and done so to the best of their abilities.Â They have, collectively, served to make our country one of the world’s strongest, and a land of progress and opportunity for all who live within its borders.
- I’m grateful for my heritage…a heritage of faith, of livingÂ well, and of leaving a legacy to generations that follow.
In the midst of all the political debate, it’s easy to lose sight of what is really important, and how much we have as a nation to be grateful for.Â God has blessed America.Â May He continue to do so.
Our waiting has paid off…America finally gets to vote!
So we have a “new” format – which is eerily similar to Season 3, so maybe not all that “new” after all – and that year turned out some great talent, so maybe that’s a prediction of what this year will bring.Â All I know is after watching the performances last night I have never seen such a clear discrepancy between “the best” and “the rest.”Â Vote for the Worst fans will had a difficult decision, to be sure.
Now it’s time to get to predicting!
For the girls:Â OMG, are you kidding?Â There is no contest.Â Hands down, the winner of the night was Alexis Grace.Â Period.Â Exclamation point.Â ‘nuf said.
For the guys:Â Danny Gokey may not have been as stellar as Alexis but he was solid, and he is charasmatic, likeable, and a true underdog.Â I think he connected in a big way with the audience last night and will go a long way in the competition.
Now for the wild card:Â This is a tricky one.Â The rest of the performances were definitely sub-par and not as memorable.Â But for the sheer likeability factor I pick Anoop dog.
Now, let’s see how I do!
A friend of mine recently asked me for some advice.Â I know!Â ME!Â Advice!Â Whodathunkit?
Anyhoo, her boss was recently diagnosed with lymphoma and I guess with my husband having cancer and all she figured I might be qualified to answer the question of how to best help show support and care during this time.Â And then I started thinking, which can be a dangerous thing…but I digress.Â I started thinking that it might be helpful to share this list here – not so much for us, but to be a springboard for others who might need help.
With all that being said, I give to you my list of “Top 10 Ways People Have Helped Us During Matt’s Treatments”:
- One neighbor gave us a chemo blanket to take to treatments (the rooms can be cold and the drugs can make you feel cold as they are infused) These are also handy to have at home while recuperating in between treatments.Â A pair of warm fuzzy socks with grippers on the soles (like the ones I threw away from his hospital stay in October) would also be nice.
- Chemo hats (or for a woman, a pretty head scarf).Â You can find these online or at a scrub shop.Â I bought two custom hats off ebay for about $10 each (including shipping) and one at a local scrub shop for $13.Â It was an A&M one, so it was worth the extra price!
- One of Matt’s coworkers had wristbands made in his honor.Â This can be expensive, so an alternative would be just to get some plain ones in the awareness color for that specific type of cancer.Â We were especially touched that they made enough for him to distribute to family and friends in various sizes.Â I don’t know what the cost is/was, but I can’t tell you what it has meant to me when I go to Bible study and see purple wristbands being worn by friends around the table…or when we go to school and the teachers and friends are wearing the wristbands.Â To know that we have family and friends around the country wearing them is priceless to us.
- Gift cards to restaurants/fast food places.Â Though the person undergoing treatment may not use them, this is a great way to keep the family fed.
- iTunes gift cards so they can download music to listen to (if they have an ipod or shuffle or mp-3 device that they like to listen to) during treatments.
- Silly things that will help keep a sense of humor…joke books, humorous calendars, funny movies, etc.Â Our life group gave Matt a chemo care package in a Superman bag, complete with detachable cape.Â He wore it to one of his treatments.Â Cancer is so scary and serious and the rooms are so sterile that keeping a positive outlook and a sense of humor can go a long way toward healing.Â And knowing that Christians can have fun and a sense of humor is a powerful witness, too.
- Make sure they’re not alone.Â Go to treatment with them if no family is available.Â If possible (and check with them first to see if it’s allowed or if they’re even interested), have someone bring lunch to them during a treatment.Â Or have someone offer to take them home if they don’t have family in town to help.Â Matt’s sister brings us lunch every time he has a treatment.Â I can’t tell you how wonderful it is not to have to eat hospital food (or vending-machine food) as our meal.
- Provide a meal post-treatment.Â Knowing we have a hot dinner ready for us after a long day of treatment makes a hard day more bearable.Â Sitting in a small, windowless, drab hospital room for several hours is emotionally and mentally exhausting.Â We have neighbors who are providing meals on a rotating basis for us, and we’ve had friends who just drop by with a meal “just because”…and I don’t know that they will ever know how much that helps.
- Help with yardwork or projects around the house.Â We’ve been fortunate in that Matt has been well enough during his treatment weeks to do little odds and ends around the house.Â For those who don’t tolerate treatment as well, or who have more aggressive treatments, knowing that things are being taken care of would allow them to focus on getting well.
- Drop them a line.Â It’s so rare to get things in the mail any more…we live in a technological age where email, im and text messages are the way we communicate.Â But getting a little note in the mail is special.Â We have one friend in particular who sends us her handmade cards with little notes every so often, and those cards just brighten our day and make us smile.
We have been truly blessed with a wonderful support network who have given freely of themselves to help us get through this rough patch.Â We’re on the downward slope of this mountain, and I believe we will be back on level ground soon.Â But until then, we are grateful for those who are journeying with us…who have encouraged us and helped us in so many ways.Â Hopefully these ideas can be a springboard of practical ways to help others going through a similar situation.