Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Man of the House Day!

Do you ever just know God wants you to do something?  That's how it was for me yesterday.  I just knew Little Mister and I needed to plan an impromptu, simple celebration of our appreciation for Kevin.

I did not feel well.  I did not have any fancy ideas.  I did not have special ingredients in the house to make a spectacular dinner.  My child was being extremely disagreeable at first in the morning.  I kinda wanted to postpone what the Lord was impressing upon me to do.

But it was one of those things that just wouldn't be ignored.

So, I pulled myself together, managed to deal patiently with Dear Son until he turned his day around (oh, thank You, Lord, for answering my prayers by working in me and in him so powerfully when we both needed an attitude adjustment!), told Dear Son what we were going to do, and we enthusiastically planned.

We don't look exactly like this!  ;)
Kevin is a great husband and dad.  He deserves (and perhaps your man does, too?) to know he's appreciated.  He prays with us first and last thing of every day (and often in-between, too), is a diligent spiritual leader in our home, works long hours to provide for us, helps many people in many ways, serves faithfully at church, is loyal, faithful, and loving.  Just to name a few admirable traits. ;)

The first thing Dear Son and I decided to do was to each write Kevin a letter to express our gratitude, love, and appreciation.  DS decided to make a card and to include his own original poem about his dad.  I was seriously choked up as I read my 10-year-old son's tribute to his "papa" ("papa" is pronounced with a French accent, for whatever reason! lol).  (Oh, and I have his and Kevin's permission to publish this).  :)

A man at the test
A man in the field
He has the guts
To God he will yield

He is my papa
He is the one
I cherish always

He has what it takes
To stand and fight

I want to follow
I want to give
If I were God,
And I think He would agree,
I would say,
"Well done good and faithful servant
You have given your son
All he could want.
Love, patience, kindness,
And most of all, understanding."
Then we planned and cooked dinner.  We haven't been eating desserts or sweets at home unless we have company or something, but we decided since it was a special occasion, we'd break the rule and make one of Kevin's basic favorites--brownies.  I found a recipe online that made just a small pan, and that was perfect.  While those were baking and cooling we made a spinach salad that Kevin loves (actually, so do I, and DS likes it.) and this Pinterest recipe for Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry that we all enjoy.

Nothing fancy.  But served with love and special admiration!

When Kevin came home, we shouted, "Happy Man of the House Day!"  He was surprised and touched and enjoyed our efforts.

Incidentally, "Man of the House Day" was the only name we could seem to come up with.  We couldn't call it Husband or Daddy because neither of those applies to both of us, and DS doesn't call Kevin, "Kevin."  There probably is a better name out there, but it did not reach out and grab us, and my feverish mind was not up to searching for it overly long!  ;)

I don't know that this will be an annual thing, or more or less than once a year.  I just know that yesterday it needed to be done.  As I cleaned up the kitchen after our celebration, feeling like I absolutely couldn't stand up another minute (I've been quite sick the last several days, and, though I'm on the mend, I don't have my strength back yet!  This was a nasty one!), I thought about the look in my husband's eyes when he read our notes and ate those brownies, and knew I couldn't and wouldn't and shouldn't have chosen any other day to celebrate who and what he is to us. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Discover 4 Yourself," An Awesome Teaching Tool for Kids!

The Bible is where it's at.  It's where all the answers are . . . every single thing of lasting importance that we need to know during our life here on earth can be found in this living and breathing book!

Kay Arthur
But we need to be students of it to really understand what it says, of course, and I am a long-time fan of Precepts Bible studies.  The wise and gifted Kay Arthur heads up this ministry, and she is a joy to watch and listen to on her accompanying DVDs.  I've been attending the Precepts Bible studies at my church on Wednesday mornings for years, and, though circumstances are such that I can't attend this year, I am happy to be doing the study at home.  Being able to discuss what I was learning and hear the DVDs was icing on the cake, but at least I have the cake itself this year! :)

This semester's study is on the first part of John.  And guess what I discovered through some other ladies in the Precepts Bible study?  Precepts now has Bible studies for kids!  The series is called Discover 4 Yourself, and I am just delighted with the one I purchased for Little Mister to do.  The extra-cool thing is that he's doing the one on the first part of John, too.  This should make for some interesting discussion right here at home! :)

What I love about Precepts, for adults and kids, is that they take the inductive approach.  They show you how to let Scripture interpret Scripture, rather than allowing your preconceived notions taint the interpretation.  Here's the simple explanation of inductive study that is in the LM's kids' study:

When you study something inductively, it means that you look at it very carefully so that you can discover for yourself what it is or what it means.  In other words, you don't just take someone else's word for it or go ask an expert.  It means you begin by trying to figure it out for yourself. 

It's not that other sources, like commentaries, are never used, but they are used after thorough study of the Bible itself, and looking to see how the Bible as a whole helps to interpret the passage being studied.  I love this because I so want to know what God has to say, even if that means I find out I've had wrong ideas about something.  I'd rather go through the process of adjusting my thinking than to believe, and therefore live, a lie or a misconception!
One helpful (and fun, according to LM) part is marking key words in the passage, which is printed in the back of the book, with colorful symbols.

So if you have any 8-12-year old kids in your life, a "seriously fun" way to teach them Bible study skills is available here and here.  There are about 21 different studies to choose from at this point!

I couldn't keep this to myself.  I'm so thankful for those who told me about it! :)

Monday, September 17, 2012


A house is nothing to envy.  Too many envied mansions hide cold or indifferent hearts living (or maybe not so much) together-but-not-together.

A house is nothing to miss once you or they have moved on.  Walls don't really whisper.

But houses are often envied or missed.  It's easy to do both.  There's always something "better" we want.  Always a moment elsewhere wanting to be relived.

The truth is, though . . .

A house is a shell.

The people within are the home.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Saturdays at our house are typically a chance to catch up on things we didn't have time to do or finish Monday through Friday, like:

Sleep a little longer,

Take it at a slower pace for awhile in the morning,

Share a pint-size cuppa joe with Dad,

Finish science experiments,
Volcano--for some reason the black paint turned purple! :)

Volcano "erupting" with vinegar and baking soda.  Totally fun! An ever-needed reminder for Mom that messes can be cleaned up, and that the mess-maker is only here with me for a blink of an eye.

Yard work.  Today I did some weeding while the guys mowed and other stuff.  I adore the chorus of distant lawn mowers, tillers, leaf blowers as I'm working outside.  Takes me back to my childhood back yard for some reason.  I know now it was an ordinary back yard like every other back yard, but at the time it was a magical playland.
It still chokes me up a bit to see my big boy mowing, even though it's not new to him anymore.

Maybe having some sloppy egg salad sandwiches for lunch,
On white bread (because a sandwich on white bread every now and then keeps us young at heart) and cut in triangles (because they taste better that way!).

Planning for the next week of school,
I do my planning on Grandma H.'s old drop-leaf table.  It's so very old and loved and memory-inspiring.

And winding down over a dinner of yummy Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs. Click here for recipe!
These are awesome taken off the sticks and served over rice! :)

Saturdays are a lovely gift! :)  How are Saturdays spent at your house?

Grilled Greek Chicken Kabobs

So easy and yummy.  The red onion is perfect! :)

1/2 cup KRAFT Greek Vinaigrette Dressing
2 Tbsp.  KRAFT Real Mayo Mayonnaise
1-1/2 lb. Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1   Red onion, cut into small wedges
1 Lemon, halved

MIX dressing and mayo; pour over chicken in shallow dish. Stir to evenly coat chicken. Refrigerate 20 min. to marinate.*

HEAT grill to medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Thread chicken and onions alternately onto skewers.
GRILL 8 to 10 min. or until chicken is done, turning occasionally. Meanwhile, place lemon, cut-sides down, on grill grate next to kabobs; grill until heated through.
SQUEEZE lemon juice over kabobs just before serving.

*You can marinate up to 2 hours--that's what I did this time and it was even more flavorful.

Serve with salad or your favorite veggie.  Yummo!   Great served over rice as well!

By the way, I got this recipe years ago from my sister, and I think she got it from one of those free Kraft magazines.  :) 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dear Laurie

A letter from me to my "former self."  I wish I could reach back in time and hand myself this letter.  

It's funny--I posted this letter and then found out about this link-up.  :)  God-thing, maybe?


Dear 1980s Laurie,

Grandma H was right when she told you time goes faster, the older you are.  I know you'll believe her when she says that, but I urge you to do more than just acknowledge what she says is true.  No, I can tell you from experience, you must LIVE like you believe her with all your heart.  It seems like yesterday that I was your age, but now here I am in my 40s!  I remember when 30 seemed so old and far off.  Now I'm more than a decade past that.    Redeem the time!

So how can an old lady of 40-something have anything relevant to say to you?  Well, because I am you. 

Stop being so independent!  Break that habit while it's still easy.  Grab hold of wisdom wherever it's offered (true wisdom, of course) and seek it wherever it may be found.  You have many wonderful people in your life--some that you see every day and others who pop up here and there.  You may be well-behaved on the outside, but you have too much stubbornness, pride and rebellion in your heart, where it counts.  Yes, dear, always remember that good actions with a rotten heart are as filthy rags--useless, disgusting and not actually helping anything/anyone.

Be more than polite to those dear elderly people at church who always seem to genuinely like you, despite the span of years between you.  Do more than smile and thank them for their notes of encouragement--ask them what you need to know.  When your parents are doing their best to instruct you in the ways of God, don't be a putz and rain on their parade.  It's okay . . . no, it's necessary!. . . to have joy, even when your heart is breaking.  Please pay attention to this, young lady, because this information is going to come in handy now, but even more so in several years:  Joy is a choice!!  Happiness is not always a choice.  There are many factors affecting our happiness, or lack of it.  Happiness is an emotion.  Joy is an attitude!  Joy is a choice!  It's a matter of who/what you choose to rule over you:  your emotions or the Lord.  You will need to learn, as difficult as it is, that you can have the proper attitude of joy even when your world seems to be falling apart.

Why?  Because it's not your world!  It's not your life!  You gave it to Jesus when you were six years old.  At the moment you believed, He sent His Spirit to reside in you--don't quench this perfect gift!  There are all kinds of reasons for sadness, but your feelings don't give you an excuse to rebel against God, or doubt His love for you, or retreat from life, or treat people rudely.  Joy, a fruit of the very Spirit living in you, gives you the power, if you choose to use it, to wake up in the morning and declare to God:  "I feel rotten today and I barely want to be here!  That's how I feel!  But I'm giving all I have to You for Your glory.  I'm going to do the best I can do with what I've got to work with today.  It might not seem like I've accomplished much at the end of today, but I'm going to do SOMETHING for You.  'Cuz it's all about You."

Now, let's talk about your hair.  I hope I've caught you before you dyed it blond.  Not that there's a thing wrong with blond hair but God did not give you bleach blond hair!  If you still choose to dye it, there's nothing sinful about that.  It's the discontent that concerns me.  And the time you spend feathering it every morning, only to spray that Aqua Net on a style you're still discontent with.  I wish I could tell you things have changed.  But, at the age of 40-something, only the actual style and brand of hairspray has changed.  Yes, it's good to look as nice as you can, but don't make it the main focus!


And, um, you may want to lay off the blush a little!  :)

One "main focus" I want to warn you against is boy-craziness!  Oh my goodness!  I know you well enough to know that you'll go bananas over too many "cute"guys.  You're too young!  You don't have enough wisdom yet!  No matter what the songs say, a kiss is NOT just a kiss.  Save those kisses!  It's so not worth it to waste them on toads disguised as Prince Charming.  There's only one Prince Charming for you, and God will work wonders you can't even imagine in order to bring the two of you together.  He isn't who you think he is, by the way.  You think you're so sure, but you don't know ANYTHING yet!  It's okay--just be so careful to guard your heart.  Don't compromise!  I'll say it again:  Don't compromise!

A few side notes.  Get those Michael Jackson posters of your walls!  First, and most importantly, there really is no reason to have pictures of someone you don't even know hanging on your bedroom walls, feeding your idolatry (I know you're not worshiping MJ in the way you worship God, but your fascination with him would be much better spent on the Lord).  Secondly, well, just wait until you see how his life turned out--and his nose.  He had so much talent, but he wanted and enticed people to idolize him, and all he really ended up with was a shortened life.  That seems to happen to a lot of people, famous and otherwise.  Don't go down that path!

You know that blue and pink eyeshadow combo (from CoverGirl) that you love?  Enjoy it while you can because you won't be able to find it in a year or two.  It's never made a comeback.  Nor have the  headbands across the forehead.  I've seen a few leg warmers and turned-up collars here and there in recent years, though.

Relax a little.  Listen a lot.  Be an example and don't be ashamed of what you believe!  God does use you but He can use you even more if you'll fully surrender to Him.  Learn to do that more now, so maybe it will be easier for you later.  Surrender is so difficult.  Trust is almost impossible at times.  Again, that's a matter of your will.  I wish I could say I've learned more in those areas by now.  Help me out here!  ha ha

Your parents--well, they're just people.  You count on them for everything, but they aren't perfect.  You will still be imperfect when you're their age.  It's difficult sometimes, but don't harden your heart toward them when they're doing things right, because of the pain you feel from past imperfections.  At your age, you need whatever Godly guidance they are offering you.  I can't tell you, young lady, how many times I hear God talking to me through my own voice as I discipline and correct your future son.  Your parents are learning right along with you.  You're their first teenager, and it probably doesn't seem so long ago to them that they were teenagers themselves.  They have a big responsibility.  They're going to fail sometimes.  But don't make it harder on them by nurturing a bratty heart.

You know what Mom keeps saying, about your sisters wanting to do everything you do, not because they're trying to bug you but because they look up to you?  I know you don't believe that for a second right now.  But I can tell you that it's true.  I'm sure they don't consciously think, "Laurie is so cool (that's the timeless way to say 'totally gnarly') and I want to be just like her!"  But they're watching and listening.  They see and hear how you are.  Be excellent for them!  Don't talk down to them!  Don't insult them!  Stand up for them when they need an advocate, or just a helping hand.   When your sophomore sister slips and falls on the floor at school, don't walk over her and continue on your way up to the Cool Seniors hallway.  You're going to have to make a quick decision at that moment.  Don't choose the way that will come back to haunt you and cause you sorrow for years to come.  You will feel great regret for any mean thing you did or said to your sisters, who were looking to you to be a good big sister.
  You have mostly awesome times together with your family.  Treasure this time you have living together.  It doesn't last forever.  Thankfully, your memories can!

Lastly, your friends.  You might be surprised at who is still your friend at the age of 40, and who isn't.  I'll leave that as a mostly-fun surprise, but there is one thing I want you to know.  You will have many opportunities to make fun of other people and plenty of fuel for the fire, in terms of others thinking you're so funny or even you thinking you feel better about yourself at the expense of someone else.  Don't buy into that lie!  Talk about more haunting memories!  Just don't even go there!  God loves each and every person as much as He loves you.  You have absolutely no right to treat anyone with anything less than respect and dignity.

Laurie, you have a decently bright mind and are generally easy to get along with.  Be smart about your smarts!  Study well!  Study God's word!  Study your academics!  Study things like geography that don't get much emphasis in school.  You can study things other than just what's required of you!  And use your easy-to-get-along-with personality wisely.  Sway people in God's direction, rather than allowing others to sway you.  Don't be wishy-washy.  Stand up for what's right!

I do so wish I could literally give you this letter.  There's so much truth to the saying, "I wish I knew then what I know now."  Not that you should know what events will happen in the future, but to have the wisdom . . . it's priceless!  Maybe you wouldn't listen to the wisdom of this letter any more than you listen to all the wisdom already around you.  That's the problem, isn't it?  The wisdom is always there.  I have to make a choice to embrace it.

Laurie of 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11: More Than a Memory?

No soul old enough to be aware of the world on September 11, 2001 will forget where he/she was when he/she heard the news.  Who is capable of erasing the devastating televised images from his or her mind?

Something that horrific doesn't go away.  It fades, but its presence is always hovering.

Everyone says they'll always remember and never forget.  But what does that really mean?

Yes, we owe it to those who died, whether victims or heroes, to remember.  To honor.  To shed tears.

To never forget.

I wonder, though, what those people would tell us if they could whisper in our ears or write a message across the blue canopy of the world.

I think perhaps they would want us to do more than remember.

Maybe they would tell us . . . beg us even . . . to LEARN!

Learn from history!  It seems when we look at the powers that be at this very moment, that we, our country as a whole, are not studying history and learning from it! 

Would wisdom have us re-elect a president with known ties to an unapologetic terrorist, who from all appearances is doing his best to drive our country into the ground both financially and morally, who would appear to want to force us into socialism (when has this ever worked out well overall for a country?), and whose health care legislation allows 15-year-old kids to have irreversible sterilization surgery WITHOUT parental consent?   What is wise about having a government that infiltrates every aspect of life, to the point of seeking to destroy the morale of business owners by telling them they didn't build their businesses?

This is not freedom!  It's a submission of ourselves to potential future tyranny.  Why would we do this to ourselves when we have a choice?

What difference does it make to remember if we don't learn as well?

If you are a Democrat, I'm not mad at you.  I won't un-friend you (on Facebook or in real life). ;)  As far as I'm concerned, if you are my friend, I love you for reasons that have little or nothing to do with politics, and I always will.

Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or neither, I do encourage you (and I'm talking to myself here, too) to do your homework.  To study the causes and effects of history.*  To not allow stubborn pride to cause us to cling to anything that isn't right or beneficial for our country.  To pray and ask God for the wisdom to know the right thing to do and the courage to do it.
Let's not help those terrorists finish what they started on 9/11.

*The revisionists' version of history will do us little or no good.  Real history is what's true, not someone's made-up version of the truth.  Generally speaking, the older the history source, the more accurate it is likely to be.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Let 'em Vent!

Don't you appreciate having someone who will just listen to you from time to time?  I mean, just listen for awhile, without interrupting to tell you how you're wrong or to offer suggestions.  Yes, a good friend will not allow you to wallow forever, but might sometimes just let you air your feelings before helping you to see things more clearly.

I've realized that kids need that, too, sometimes.  My son needs a safe place to "vent" his frustrations and get his thoughts out in the open.  Kids need that as much as we do at times!  Of course, we mustn't tolerate or allow inappropriate behavior (temper tantrums, destruction of property or people, vicious language, etc.), but neither do we need to correct every word the second it comes out of their mouths.

There is a time for correction.  After they've said what's on their minds.  Again, appropriately!

I think I surprise my 10-year-old son when I just listen and acknowledge that I'm hearing what he's saying, but don't interject my commentary for awhile.  And I've learned (notice the word learned--it's definitely taken awhile!) that when I just listen and let him talk, I find out more of what he's thinking and feeling--what's behind the anger.

As I mentioned earlier, there does come a time when it's his turn to listen.  I try to sympathize where appropriate, but also hold him accountable for any faulty thoughts/actions/words of his own that contributed to the situation.

Prayer is vital in correction as well.  Only God changes hearts.  We want more than behavior modification in our children, right?  God works through us in that, but only He can change their hearts.

So, let 'em vent (appropriately) once in awhile!  When there's time. It's okay, and even good.  :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I seem to live my life by numbers.  Numbers on the clock, numbers on the scale, number of things on my to-do list, number of hits on my blog, number of times I must say the same thing to my son . . . the list of numbers appears to be endless!

We need numbers, but do we perhaps become a bit obsessed with them and allow them to skew our focus?

Being on time is important . . .
           . . . but maybe when I don't have to be somewhere I can be less rigid about the numbers on the clock and more focused on spending each minute wisely.

A scale can be a useful tool . . .
            . . . but isn't it better to be obedient, moderate, and practicing healthy habits because they are the right things to do?

Lists help us remember , , ,
            , , , Maybe, though, it's okay to put the list aside from time to time in order to make memories.

Counters on blogs provide interesting information , , ,
            , , , but is it not a more productive use of time to pray that the Lord will lead the readers to my blog that He wants to be encouraged by it?

Yes, it's discouraging sometimes when Dear Son doesn't "get it" the first or second or third time he's corrected about something . . .
            . . . . Is it up to me, though, to change his heart?  Or am I to declare to God that He is not working quickly enough?

Numbers are fairly neutral things overall.  Just like with most everything else, it's how we use them that can make them good or not so good.

A better use for numbers in my day?

How many hugs and smiles did I give out?
How many times was God merciful to me today?
Did I indeed meet all my responsibilities on time?
Which verses/chapters did I read/study in the Bible, and what did I learn from them?
What percentage of times did I choose to forgive?
How many people did I pray for as they came to mind?
How much time did I spend listening to my son instead of talking at him (or listening to my husband instead of griping about my day)?

Life is more than a series of NUMB3RS!  :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Amish Potato Salad

A half-recipe makes a large amount--this is just what was left over. :)
My first recipe post on my new blog!  What's a blog about home life without recipes, right?  There will be plenty more to come, just wait and see!

I've had this recipe for quite awhile and have made it for many carry-ins and family get-togethers.  Everyone but my son likes it. :)  People are always asking for the recipe, so here it is!

The funny thing about this to me is that I don't think I got the recipe from any of my former Amish neighbors, who wrote their recipes longhand on recipe cards or index cards (oh, yes, I remember them fondly when I see their neatly-written cards in my recipe boxes).  This Amish Potato Salad recipe is printed out on computer printer paper!  Hmmmm . . .

But it is very Amish-like, simple yet delicious, with sugar in the dressing to give it some sweetness that balances very well with the vinegar and mustard.

Well, here goes!

Amish Potato Salad

Note:  I usually halve this recipe!!

12 cups potatoes, peeled, cooked, and shredded
12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
1 1/2 c. chopped celery

3 c. mayonnaise
3 tbsp. vinegar
3 tbsp. mustard
4 tsp. salt
2c. sugar
1/2 c. milk

Mix together potatoes, eggs, onions, and celery in a large bowl.  Whisk dressing ingredients together in separate bowl, and pour over potato mixture.  Mix well, cover and refrigerate. 

This full recipe says it serves approximately 30.