Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Saturday 7

1. I had an awful work-week this week.  It rained every day I was there and I was just in a baaaad mood.  Plus Lucy's teeth are bothering her, so she was grumpy too.  It was not fun for anyone.

2. This is random: I love sleep, but I'm scared to fall asleep every night.  I hate giving up control of my body. Have you ever thought how weird it is that for 8 hours a day we're essentially unconscious?  I hate laying there not knowing what I'm going to dream about, or what's happening in my house in the middle of the night.  I have issues.

3. I'm not sure if I ever wrote about Lucy's second tooth - it showed up not long after the first, so now she has the two bottom teeth.  They're still pretty small - not terribly visible - but they're so cute!! Her one year pictures are a week from today, so I hope they pop up a little more for those.

4. Because of my bad mood all week, I wasn't too creative with meals.
M - Justin made himself tacos, I had potluck at Bible Study
W - Justin made himself spaghetti, I had a sandwich (not a big fan of spaghetti)
Th - pulled pork sandwiches - they were disgusting.  The pork burned in the crockpot and I didn't like the new BBQ sauce I tried
F - chili dogs

5. Oh - I have to write about Easter! I did decided to get Lucy an Easter basket.  Well it was actually an Easter bucket.  She got a Veggie Tales movie (the Easter Carol), a board book Bible, a stuffed lamb, and some yogurt melts.  And my parents got her a tin lunchbox and some goldfish.  She loves that lunch box.  It is the greatest thing in the world to open it, put toys in it, shut it, open it, take the toys out, shut it, repeat! Anyway, we had a great day at church and with our families.

6. I did not watch the royal wedding.  I honestly don't know why I'm so irritated by it.  I just think it's another couple getting married.  I don't know them.  I'm just annoyed by all the hysteria over it!! That said, I did see the pictures of her dresses - they were beautiful.  Although I wish she would've worn her hair up.  It didn't look much different than all the other pictures I've seen of her - just down and curly.

7. I was going to write a whole entry on this point, but I never remember.  Lately I've been plagued by the infamous "mommy guilt."  I feel like I don't play with Lucy enough, I don't read to her enough, I don't teach her enough, and the worst: I don't feed her right.  I was on a parenting message board the other day and this lady was complaining about the foods daycare feeds her kid.  Her complaints were: sugary jelly, carb-loaded bread, empty calories in pizza, and nitrate-filled deli meat.  She wanted her kid eating veggies, tofu, and fruit.  And everyone agreed with her! Ugh.  Lucy's main meals are: grilled cheese, mac n' cheese, deli meat and cheese, and spaghettios.  I actually thought the deli meat was healthy.  I didn't know I was supposed to be worried about processing and nitrates in it!

I tell myself that I grew up eating that kind of stuff and I'm fine, but honestly I have horrendous eating habits.  I don't want that for Lucy.  But because of my bad habits, I don't even know what is considered healthy.  Is she just supposed to eat fruit, veggies, and tofu all the time?  She won't eat most veggies and I wouldn't even know where in the store to buy tofu! Blech.

Sorry to end on a grumpy note.  That just kind of epitomizes my week.  Haha.  Tonight I'm playing in a Wizard tournament with Justin's family and my mom and sister.  (It's a card game - not like a dungeons and dragons kind of thing. Haha.)  So stay tuned for a recap of that!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Saturday 7

1. You all convinced me.  Lucy will have an Easter basket this year. :-)

2. After being healthy for all of a week, Lucy has another cold.  I'm so sick of snot!!! And she is amazingly good at wriggling away from nose-wiping.  Ninja baby.

3. We didn't eat very healthy this week.  Tyson frozen, breaded chicken was on sale.  I'm a sucker for convenience.

M - Pizza Hut . . . it was snowing and I refused to leave the house to go grocery shopping, so Justin picked up pizza on his way home from work.
T - Chicken nuggets and broccoli
W - My winning meal of the week: Artichoke and Feta Quiche.* Yes, you read that right!  It's a recipe from Cook This, Not That, and it actually turned out really well!  None of us had ever had artichoke before.  We were surprised that it's a little spicy!  But it was good, and Lucy gobbled it right down.
Th - Chicken sandwiches, baked beans, canned peaches
F - Leftovers

4. Lucy is getting really good at standing on her own.  She has pretty good balance!  But she has no concept of moving her feet to go anywhere.  If I sit a foot away, she just falls forward into my arms.  Haha.
I'm pretty excited about this new skill. Lol.
5. Since I was pregnant I've had problems with sensitive teeth.  It's gotten to the point that I can barely bear to eat.  It's only my molars, and it almost feels like there are exposed nerves or something back there.  I can hardly bear to eat anything sweet - especially on my right side - because of the intense, searing pain.  Ugh.  This might just turn out to be an inadvertent diet.  The dentist said it could be because of the hormones from breastfeeding or because I need my wisdom teeth out so badly.  He said food gets caught between my molars and my impacted wisdom teeth, causing the sensitivity.  Gross.  I've been avoiding getting my wisdom teeth out, but it'll be worth it to me if I can eat normally again!!

6. Here's the fun Easter treat I made with the kids this week:

It's a recipe that I found in a Christmas issue of FamilyFun magazine, but I tweaked it for Easter and called it "Easter Egg Nests."  Ingenuity!

1. Preheat oven to 170*.
2. Arrange pretzels on a cookie sheet.  (You're supposed to put parchment paper under them, but I forgot and they were fine.)
3. Cover pretzels with unwrapped Hershey's kisses.
4. Put in oven for 4-6 minutes.
5. Immediately press M&Ms into melty chocolate.  I used Reese's Pieces because I couldn't find any pastel M&Ms at Meijer! I would not recommend letting the kids do this step.  The chocolate is hot and messy!

7. I'm having a hard time, lately, reconciling all the different opinions people have about the Bible.  Francis Chan says the lukewarm won't be found in heaven.  Uncle John says God doesn't kick family members out of the family.  Romans says God's call is irrevocable.  Hebrews warns against falling away.  Rob Bell says there might not be a Hell.  Mark Driscoll says if you don't believe in Jesus, you're going to Hell.  (I'm not real conflicted about that particular issue - just illustrating the different opinions.)  The thing is, someone has to be right.  I believe that truth is black and white.  But I'm having a hard time finding it [truth].  I know that the Bible is the source of truth, but I've been studying the Bible all my life and I still don't understand it.  You can twist any part of the Bible to fit your belief.  So I've gone back to the gospels, and I'm really trying to read it for what it says.  Still confused.  I'll let you know if I get any enlightenment.

*Artichoke and Feta Quiche recipe:
3 extra large eggs (I used 5 large)
1 c. milk
1/2 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. chopped, sundried tomatoes (I couldn't find "sundried" so I just used regular canned, diced tomatoes)
2 links cooked turkey sausage (yeah right - you better believe I added 5 links)
salt and pepper to taste
1 frozen piecrust

1. Preheat oven to 350*
2. Whisk the eggs until frothy, then stir in the milk, artichoke hearts, feta, tomatoes, sausage, salt, and pepper.  Pour into the crust.
3. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the eggs are completely set (a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean) and the top is lightly golden brown.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Great Easter Basket Debate

The other day I asked Chase what Easter is about.  He answered, "The Easter Bunny comes and brings me toys and candy."  Ugh.  Granted he doesn't go to church and his family is not particularly religious, but it still made me sad.  And I worry about Lucy growing up with the same idea.

We never had Easter baskets when I was a kid - just a bowl of candy we all shared on the kitchen table.  I never felt deprived or left out.  And I never had any questions about the meaning of Easter.

Similarly, we didn't celebrate Halloween.  I did resent that a little.  I didn't see the harm in dressing up and getting a little free candy!  I'm pretty sure we'll let Lucy celebrate Halloween (she dressed up last year).

The distinction for me is that Halloween is not a celebration of a Christian holiday.  I don't worry about its meaning being skewed or distorted.  (Actually I kind of encourage its meaning being lost.) I do worry about the meaning of Easter being adulterated.

Justin doesn't really have an opinion one way or the other about Easter baskets.  His only question is the same one I'm sure many of you are thinking as you're reading this: What about Christmas?  Am I going to take the commercialization out of Christmas?  Ummm, no.  We will definitely do stockings and lots of presents and the whole nine yards there.  Although we won't do Santa (separate post - haha).  So is it a double standard for me to discourage presents on Easter, but encourage them on Christmas?

What do you think?  What are you doing with your kids?  Am I overthinking this?  Haha.

Monday, April 18, 2011

This and That

I forgot a couple things in my Saturday post.  Consider this an addendum . . .

1. Even though the weaning is going fabulously, Lucy will not drink milk.  I've given it to her warm, cold, mixed with breastmilk, etc., etc.  She takes one sip and spits it back out. Hmmm. She eats lots of cheese and yogurt, and loves juice and water in a sippy cup, so I'm not terribly concerned.  But when she's totally done nursing, I think she really is going to need to start drinking milk.  Any other suggestions?

2. I forgot to mention our new fruit and veggies this week.  Fruit: nectarine.  Lucy loved it.  And actually Justin and I don't remember eating nectarines before either, and we enjoyed it as well.  Veggie: zucchini.  I put it in that failed chicken alfredo on Friday and fed it to Lucy with bites of pasta.  The zucchini was mushy, so she didn't even notice it.  FTW!

3. I just have to record this: it is April 18 and an inch of snow accumulated on our deck overnight.  It's still coming down.  We were going to go grocery shopping today, but I refuse to get my boots on and leave the house.  Grrr.

I think that's it for the addendum.  Have a great week, everyone

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Saturday 7

1. We had such a nice day last Saturday thanks to the warm weather.  Justin let me sleep in, then we went for a walk on the trail.  We walked about 3 miles and I thought I was going to die.  Yikes.  We finished off the evening with dinner at Logan's and a trip to Wal-Mart - where we got a free rotisserie chicken as we were leaving!!

2. Justin really wants to do some landscaping on our property this year.  Last year he dug out a flowerbed and planted some bulbs.  I stayed inside with our newborn baby.  But this year, I wanted to help.  So I agreed to help him dig 10 holes for trees in our backyard.  Ugh.  I was sore for like 5 days afterward!  Haha.

3. I did a good job cooking again this week.  I think it helps that I know I'm going to report it here.  It keeps me accountable.  Rachel - I'm going to abbreviate the day of the week before each meal. ;-)

S- We usually go to one of our parents' houses for dinner on Sundays, but it didn't work out this week.  So we had our free rotisserie chicken, scalloped potatoes, and mixed veggies.
M - chicken caesar wraps, sweet potato fries
T - Subway
W - taco salad
Th - enchiladas
F - chicken alfredo - it was a total bomb.  I tried a new recipe from the book Cook This, Not That and my bechamel totally didn't thicken.  Blech.

4. It was a big week for Lucy.  She finally sprouted her first tooth!  Bottom right.  I first noticed it on Tuesday when I was fishing something out of her mouth.  Haha.  It's still not terribly visible, but that's mostly because she refuses to let me look in her mouth.  That said, today I noticed a second one peeking through! Bottom left.  I figured it would show up soon since they tend to appear in pairs.  The good news is, they don't seem to be bothering her at all!  I never noticed any crankiness before the first one popped through, and she's still acting her normal self.  Woohoo!

5. When Lucy turned 11 months on Monday, I dropped her afternoon nursing session.  It didn't bother either of us.  Piece of cake.  Unfortunately, yesterday - a mere 4 days later - my old friend showed up.  I didn't miss her one bit.

6. After much debate, I think I finally set a date for Lucy's birthday party, and now I'm in full party-planning mode.  I really was just going to do cake and balloons and call it good, but then I started looking up themes online . . . Now I think I might go a little crazy. Stay tuned. ;-)

7. While I was writing this, Lucy found a basket full of clean laundry that I haven't gotten around to folding yet.  You know she's in her glories when she finds clothes to sort, so I wasn't watching too closely.  I seriously just looked down to find her with my underwear on her head.  Lol! At least it was clean!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On Faith and Works and Crazy Love [Part 2]

*This is part two of a mini-series on my response to Francis Chan's book Crazy Love.  Please go here to read the first part.*

It's taken me this long to write this entry because I feel like I had to offer some sort of conclusion.  Here's the best I've got. :-)

When I finished that last entry, I was going to start the next one like this:

How many of us are doing anything to live out our Christianity?  Sure, many of us refrain from getting drunk, swearing excessively, or sleeping around, but what are we doing to further the kingdom? Are we reaching out to the poor, witnessing to the lost, etc?

I'll be honest and tell you that about 15 minutes after I finished Crazy Love, I signed up online to sponsor a child through Compassion International.  I felt like I had to DO something right then.  Maybe that was God pressing on my heart, but honestly I think it was fear.  Obviously, sponsoring a child is not a bad thing, and I've enjoyed writing letters to her, and trust God to provide the money to pay our monthly sponsorship.  But it just goes to prove my point.  Since then I've been thinking a ton about works and how they relate to faith.  I've also been fortunate enough to glean wisdom from a few people who have worked through this themselves.

I talked to my Uncle John on the phone for an hour and a half one day during Lucy's nap and took meticulous notes.  Here's some of what I learned.

One of U.John's main points was that we are part of God's family.  There's nothing we can do to get kicked out of the family.  Keep that in mind.

He also had some insight on the passage about the lukewarm in Revelation.  That letter was written specifically to the church in Laodicea.  Here are some fun facts about Laodicea:

- Laodicea had 2 water sources: one that ran hot and was used for medicinal purposes and comfort, and one that ran icy cold for drinking water.  When John wrote his letter to the church about being either hot or cold, he knew they would associate it with their water sources.  Hot and cold, in this case, are both good.  U.John related it to either a hot cup of coffee or an icy cold Dr. Pepper.  You don't want either of those beverages to be lukewarm.  And you'd likely spit them out of your mouth - simply because it's distasteful - which is how God feels about our apathy.  It's not a deal-breaker.  His mouth doesn't represent heaven.  He just doesn't like it.  He has better for us.

And look at the verses that follow the famous "lukewarm" verse: "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." (Rev. 3:19-20)

These verses are often used to preach salvation.  But I don't think that was their initial function.  This letter was written to a church - a group of believers.  After God rebukes them, he calls for them to repent, then invites them in . . . to eat?  That seemed so weird to me.  But U.John explained that eating is a sign of intimacy.  God calls us to repent, turn to Him and develop a relationship with Him.  He desires intimacy with us.  

Getting off track . . . I'm not 100% sure if there is such a thing as "eternal security" and if "once saved always saved" is an appropriate mantra, but let's pretend for a minute that it is.  Even if you say the prayer, then go on to live your life as if nothing's changed, you will face the following consequences:
- You'll be rebuked and disciplined (Rev. 2:19)
- You'll miss out on God's blessings
- You'll miss out on an intimate relationship with God.

The last one is really how this debate is summed up for me.  I explained it like this to Niki: Say I have a piece of the most amazing cake ever, and I tell you, "You have to try this. It's the most amazing thing ever."  If you say no, I'd say, "Wait - you don't realize what you're missing!"  She wouldn't understand how great it was if she'd never tasted it.

Similarly, I think if we've never tasted that genuine intimacy with God, we can't comprehend how amazing it is.  I don't think it means we're not saved, just that we're not striving for what's important.

Despite my disregard for Francis Chan's fear-mongering tactics, one thing he said really did stick with me: "The fact is, I need God to help me love God." (pg. 104)  He explains that loving God doesn't necessarily come naturally and it's ok to pray and ask God to help me love him more.  That seems kind of crazy to me, but I think it's true.

And as we seek to love God more, I think the "works" will come as a natural result.  This is getting long, but I have a couple more illustrations that really helped me.  I'll try to be quick.

U. John drew my attention to the story of Mary and Martha.  He said we need to stop trying so hard to love God, and just pursue a relationship with Him.  I kind of thought the two go hand in hand, but U. John put it like this.  Trying is doing a bunch of things to show God how much I love him. (Martha in the kitchen.)  Pursuing a relationship is sitting at His feet (Mary).  I bristle a little at that.  We can't all just hang on to Jesus' legs all the time.  Stuff has to get done!! U.John went on to explain that when we are set free to enjoy Jesus, the doing of things follow - the motivation will come as the intimacy grows.

A final word on Crazy Love.  I was a little hard on this book.  But tonight as I flipped through it looking for quotes, I was reminded that Chan did have some awesome things to say.  I will go so far as to say I disagree with his statement about the lukewarm not being found in heaven.  But don't disregard this book on my say so.  Honestly, I think Chan came to the same conclusion I did (much more eloquently and expediently).  I just got hung up on my fear somewhere along the way.  I should've know better.

The week after I finished Crazy Love Pastor Chris admonished us from the pulpit not to let Satan entangle us in fear - something I'm very susceptible to.  Uncle John lives by this principle when reading the Bible: Never buy into something unclear if there's a clear statement in contradiction to it.  If God says it clearly, don't buy into Satan's fear-mongering.

Here are some clear statements to end with:
Galatians 2:16, ". . . a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."
Romans 4:23-25, "The words 'it was credited to him' were not written for him [Abraham] alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to our death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."
Romans 8:1-2 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Hebrews 10:10 "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Hebrews 10:22-24 "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

Whew! Way past my bedtime.  Thanks again for your input, everyone! I really do appreciate it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

11 Month Update

Today is a golden birthday of sorts for Lucy.  She's 11 months on the 11th.  Woot!  Trying not to be emotional about her 1st birthday being right around the corner . . .

So here's the update!

Her routine hasn't changed much since the 10 month update except for dropping one nursing session.  Starting today, though, we're going to drop the afternoon nursing session.  If all goes as planned, she'll only be nursing in the morning and at night for the next two weeks - at which point I intend to drop the morning feeding.  Wish us luck! Haha.

I hope I don't jinx myself by writing this, but sometimes I'm amazed at what a great sleeper Lucy is.  She doesn't take particularly long naps, but she lays right down without a peep and goes to sleep.  I think she takes after her parents a little bit in that respect - the girl loves her bed! I'm also amazed that since she started sleeping through the night at about 8 months, she has never woken up once in the middle of the night.  *knock on wood*

If you've read any of my other entries, you know how this is going.  She still doesn't really like any vegetables.  She's pretty good about most fruits.  Her favorites are bananas and blueberries.  When I give her apples, she sucks the juice out, then tucks the piece away in her cheek until her cheeks get so full that she has to spit all the pieces out.  Haha. Silly kid.  I'm still experimenting with sneaking fruits and veggies into her food.  Recently, I've started smearing applesauce or pear puree onto toast, pancakes, and graham crackers.  She loves it.  And the other day I snuck pea puree into white chili and she slurped it right up! 1 point for mom!

Milestones and Personality- the fun stuff!
I've been jotting down things to share, so here they are, in no particular order.

1. Lucy will not let me read to her.  It seriously breaks my heart.  I try, but usually only get through one page before she throws herself off my lap.  I blame this on number 2 . . .

2. The girl has got to be in motion at all times.  Sometimes I feel bad that I don't spend more time doing "structured play" with her, but she hates it!  She spends most of the day crawling around the house pulling things off shelves, out of baskets, and out of my purse.  She rarely plays with her toys.  And we've learned to close the bathroom door.  Haha.  The only time she is still is when she's . . .

3. Sorting!  She's still totally obsessed, and honestly it worries me a tiny bit.  I swore I wouldn't be one of those mothers who worried needlessly about autism, but her obsession with sorting just does not seem normal.  She spends a good portion of her day moving blankets, burp cloths, or even her dirty laundry from one side to the other and back again.  Over and over and over.

4. She still doesn't have any words.  I take it back about her saying "bye-bye."  That didn't last.  I was speaking in sentences by my first birthday, so I'm kind of surprised she isn't more vocal, but I'm not too worried.  Justin is slightly less verbal than I am, so she must be taking after him. :-)

5. Still no teeth.  She does take after me that way.

6. She loves clapping, clucking her tongue, and making Indian noises with her mouth (sorry if that's not PC - I don't know what else to call it).

7. Just in the last week she's really started to get the hang of "cruising" around furniture.  And she has finally learned how to get down from a standing position.

8. Her favorite place in the house is standing next to the bathtub.  Haha.  She books it in there any chance she gets.

9.  She likes "shaker" toys.  I tell her to shake it and she usually shakes her head first before figuring out to shake her hand.  Haha.  It's like "rub your tummy and pat your head . . ."

10. Speaking of shaking her head . ..  she definitely understands the word "no."  When I say it, she stops what she's doing and looks at me.  Most of the time she just smiles and keeps doing what she was doing, but it's a start! Haha.  The thing I tell her "no" about most often is throwing her food on the floor.  It's gotten to the point where I only have to give her "the look" and she shakes her own head.  It usually doesn't stop her from throwing food on the floor, though.  Haha.

11. I'm not sure I should admit this, but Lucy knows how to use the TV remote. Lol.  She picks it up and points it at the TV, then looks at me when the TV doesn't come on like, "What's wrong with this thing?"  Haha.  Oh boy. I'm a failure as a mother!

12. It wouldn't be a monthly update without a run-down of her new fears.  We went to Logan's the other night and of course got seated next to the kitchen - which is right by the bar.  She was terrified every time the bartender used the blender.  And she lost it every time someone had a birthday and the whole restaurant yelled "Yee-haw!"  Haha. Poor kid.

She's still the sweetest baby ever.  She's always full of smiles, still loves to snuggle, and has the best giggle in the world.  We love her so much and while I'm sad she's growing up so fast, I'm looking forward to all the fun we're going to have together in the future!  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Saturday 7

1. I did an amazing job with cooking this week.  Although when I looked back, I realized every meal was full of cheese. Not great for the waistline.  M-homemade mac n' cheese with peppers, T-amazing white chili, W-cheesy rice with smoked sausage, green beans, and Brussels sprouts, Th-lasagna with spinach! (my first time trying that), F-leftovers.  I'm pretty sure we had vegetables in or with each meal.  That's a major accomplishment for me.

2. Lucy's new vegetables this week were Brussels sprouts and spinach.  She wanted nothing to do with the Brussels sprouts, but she gobbled the spinach right down because it was hidden in lasagna.  (She ate a whole piece of lasagna, btw!) We didn't do a new fruit because I still had lots of grapes and pear leftover from last week that I wanted to finish off.

3. Lucy has officially learned how to climb up stairs.  Fortunately our stairs only go down and the stairs at Chase and Lyla's house have a gate on them.

4. Work was brutal this week. Spring Break. Extra kids. The extra kids have friends over to make even more extra kids.  Lots of whining, fighting, and crying.  And of course it rained pretty much every day.  We did go bowling one day.  Niki watched Lucy and I took a couple of her boys with my kids to hit the lanes. That was Thursday and I'm still wicked sore.  Haha!

5. My brother accepted a job in Florida yesterday.  He's been interning down there for a month, so we all knew it was coming, but part of me hoped he'd miss us so much or not be offered the job or something and come home.  No such luck.  I seriously am overjoyed for him.  He loves the job, loves the people he's living with, loves the weather (ugh - how could you not??).  But we love him! And we want him home.  I'm sad that he'll probably just be Lucy's "Florida uncle."  She won't grow up knowing him like I want her to. :-( But at least we have a place to go on vacation now!

6. I got up at 7:15 to nurse Lucy this morning, then Justin took her and I went back to bed 'til 11! I don't think I've done that since she was a newborn! It was amazing.  And now she and Justin are taking a nap and I'm enjoying my coffee on the couch in a quiet house with the windows open!!! (Although I'm sitting under a blanket, because it's still too cold for me.)  Thinking we might go for a walk today.  Maybe spring is here to stay this time??

7. I can not think of a seventh thing, so I'm going to leave you with that amazing white chili recipe:

1 lb. ground turkey, browned
1 c. water
1 c. salsa (I used corn and black bean, and probably a little more than a cup)
1 c. frozen corn (I didn't use this because of the corn salsa)
8 oz. block monterey jack cheese with jalapeno, diced
2 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

Throw it all in a pot and heat until the cheese is melted.  Delicious!

Monday, April 4, 2011

On Faith and Works and Crazy Love [Part 1]

Here we go again with me being all vulnerable and honest.  This is going to be another difficult entry, but I will try to articulate as clearly as possible.  Put on your thinking caps. :-)

Growing up a Christian, I sometimes lamented that I didn't have a radical transformation story.  I was saved at a young age and have spent my life trying to please God.  But somehow I feel like I always fall short.  I wonder often if I'm pleasing enough to God.  I try to convince myself that I am.  Anytime I get particularly nervous, I flip through my Bible, reading all the verses I've underlined about God delighting in me.  But the verse that haunts me perhaps more than any other in the whole Bible is this: " . . . faith, by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:17)  *Shudder*  I know that I am saved by grace, not works.  But how many deeds do I need to perform to keep my faith from being dead?

This is where Crazy Love comes in.  Many of you expressed surprise that the book evoked such fear in me.  It was a beautiful book.  It was full of proclamations of God's love.  It was an incredible reminder of Jesus' sacrifice for us.  But it raised some very scary questions.

To me, the scariest part of the book is wrapped up in this quote: "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing.  To put it plainly, churchgoers who are 'lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven."  (pp 83-84)


It seriously gives me a stomach ache to go back and read this.

Chan, (the author of the book) is not just making up crazy things.  The entire book is punctuated with Scriptural references to back up his claims.  He has an entire chapter devoted to what lukewarm looks like.  Here a few of his examples.

- Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they only want to be saved from the penalty of their sin. (pg. 70)

- Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable. (pg. 71)

- Lukewarm people say they love Jesus and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives. (pg. 72)

- Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. (pg. 73)

- Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (pg. 74)

- Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be "good enough" without it requiring too much of them. (pg. 76)

- Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong. (pg. 79)

ALL of those statements apply to me, which is why his initial statement about the lukewarm not being found in heaven is so terrifying.

Of course, Chan is referring to Revelation 3:16 when he talks about the lukewarm.  "So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

Chan says, "My conclusion? Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing." (pg. 85)

And Chan's definition of "all or nothing" is nothing like the Christians I know (who have read this book and sung its praises to me)!  He writes chapter after chapter calling us to be "radical," to give all we have to the poor, to serve God on mission fields in Africa, to get out of our comfort zones, quit trying to be safe and happy, and to live outrageously for God.  Yes, those are all great things! Yes, I wish I was more willing to do them!  But is my lack of willingness a testament to the genuineness of my faith?? 

I finished that chapter of Crazy Love, sat on my couch, and feared for my [eternal] life.  I had a terrible stomach ache and wanted to distract myself with the TV or the Internet, but thought No, those things are not of God. How can I watch "30 Rock" when I just read that book?  So I went back to my bedroom and started the next chapter.  Relief flooded my soul when I read this:

My fear in writing the previous chapter is that it only evokes in you fear and guilt.  Personal experience has taught me that actions driven by fear and guilt are not an antidote to lukewarm, selfish, comfortable living. I hope you realize instead that the answer is love.  (pg. 101)

My relief was short-lived.  Now my mind is screaming, "Love? Oh snap. All that stuff about not living comfortably is supposed to be my response if I truly love God?"  Chan is clear that living a life that pleases God must come as a response to our love for Him.  Fear and guilt don't cut it.  But if we truly love God, it will be our natural response to react radically.  Which leads to my next question:

If that's not my natural response, does that mean I don't love God enough?  And if I don't love God enough am I even saved to begin with?

This has already gotten ridiculously long, so I'm going to wrap it up for now.  What do you think so far?  Next time, I want to talk a little bit about Pastor Chris' sermon from today that relates to this.  He was much more hopeful, though I still have many questions.

Please feel free to give your opinion.  I'm looking for all the advice I can get!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Saturday 7

1. This week's new fruit and veggie were pear and avocado.  Lucy loved the pear and gobbled it right down.  But she spit out every bite of avocado.  I don't blame her.  That stuff is nasty!!

2. Speaking of veggies . . . last week I flipped through a cookbook at Chase and Lyla's house called Deceptively Delicious.  It's by Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry's wife), and is about sneaking veggies into your kids' food.  She purees a bunch of veggies, then gives you ideas of how to add them to kid favorites.  I was thinking about buying a food processor and doing it, when I realized I already have pureed veggies in my cupboard. Baby food! Duh! So on Monday, I made Lucy a grilled cheese sandwich (her fave), and smothered pureed squash on the inside of the sandwich.  She was none the wiser and polished off the whole sandwich!

3. I read an article in the Grand Rapids Press about the Zenz family here in West Michigan.  The dad is an author/illustrator, and they have 6 kids.  They have a blog where the kids review children's books, then make their own illustrations.  It's so cute!  And the kids are crazy talented.  I would love to do something like that.  Maybe I'll start interviewing Lucy about what she thinks of the books I read to her.

4. Justin bought me flowers this week just because. I love him. :-D

5. I only had to work 2 days this week.  Yesterday, I sat on the couch sipping coffee while Lucy played with her toys and I thought, "I have got to figure out a way to make this my every day life."  I really do appreciate my job.  I do love the kids.  I do love my boss.  They pay me very well.  But I just want to be home with my baby.  I just keep reminding myself that this is where God wants me right now.  Until our house payment goes down or we lose the student loans (which will be when Lucy is like 45 years old), I have to work.  When God wants me to be a stay at home mom, He'll provide a way.  But if you want to pray that He provides sooner rather than later, I'd really appreciate it. ;-)

6. Yesterday, I pulled two bins marked "12 months" out of the basement closet and dragged them up to Lucy's room to sort through. (Side note: Lucy was in her glories with all those clothes to sort! Lol)  Holy cow, she has so much clothes!! I washed everything yesterday and have no idea where I'm going to put it all.  I think I counted 5 swimsuits and two swimsuit cover ups.  What one year old needs five swimsuits?  Haha.  We are so blessed to have people who have generously given their stuff to us.  It's so fun to come across something I used to dress Lyla in.  Now I just need to find room in Lucy's closet . . .

7. As I've been trying to plan Lucy's birthday party, I realized we did not time her birth very well.  She was born smack dab in the middle of soccer season! My sister and her boys have to be at Lucy's birthday party, but between the 3 of them, someone always has a game.  And they will for the next 7 years!  Oh boy.  By the time they're done with soccer, Lucy will be starting it! It never ends!!!! Haha.  Back to the birthday party . . . I had planned on just a small, family gathering.  Kind of hard to achieve, when we have huge families!  If we invite only our siblings, parents, nephews, and one set of grandparents, it comes up to 22 people!! And half of Justin's siblings live too far away to come! Oh well.  It'll be a blast!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Frugal Friday

Here's my money saving tip of the week: get a store credit card!  Haha.  This is a dangerous tip.  You have to have some self-control, and you have to be sure to pay the card in full each month.  Store credit cards are notorious for having some of the highest interest rates possible.

But, if you can charge responsibly, you can get some really great deals!

For instance, I have a Meijer credit card that I use for gas, which gets me 5 cents off every gallon.  (Side tip: if you "like" Meijer on facebook, they give alerts when their gas prices are going up, so you can fill up before they do!) Also, every once in a while - usually on a Monday - you can use your credit card in the store for 15% off general merchandise and 5% off groceries and health and beauty.

Similarly, Kohl's has a credit card program with incentives.  Every month, I get a coupon for either 15, 20, or 30% off my entire purchase.  Kohl's is great because they have no restrictions.  You can use that coupon on clearance, sales, anything!  I'm fortunate, because my mom, Niki, and "sister" Amy all have Kohl's cards, too, so between the 4 of us, someone is bound to get 30%.  And anyone can use the coupon.  You just have to have a Kohl's charge card.

So when I want something specific - like a baby shower gift or presents for Lucy's birthday or a dress for a wedding - I wait until one of those offers pops up.

There you have it.  A tip that is probably common sense, but fun to share anyway. :-)
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