Thursday, November 27, 2008

my "first" Thanksiving

(for some reason I couldn't quite get the pictures where
I wanted them to be, so instead its quite the collage!)

I'm so glad to let you know, that it was a success. My real Thanksgiving dinner prepared apartment style in our little kitchen with sometimes three people crammed in at once! I was amazed that after eating at 2:00pm, and starting to clean up about 2:45 or 3:00pm, it was all finished by 3:45pm! Now we have a refrigerator fully stocked with delicious leftovers, which we'll love to enjoy in the upcoming days.
For our family's entertainment we've had the following outings thus far:
~Matt and Jacob went to the Fraizer International History Museum
~Mom and I went to the malls to find a few more Christmas gifts for my dear husband
~we all went to Bernheim Forest, a enjoyed the amazing holly trees (I didn't have my camera with me unfortunately)
~we've upgraded our technology to the new digital TV converter box (the one public television is talking about)... let me tell you, we can see very clearly now, I'll know how much the antiques are worth when we watch Antiques Roadshow now (before I couldn't read the prices due to the "snow" on the screen), and we also purchased a new DVD/VCR combo as our old one made funny sounds when we watched anything
~we've enjoyed watching "Bella", the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and the dog show which followed... they just finished "Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving" and we may watch Luther tonight
Here are some pictures of the feast...

my mom's deviled eggs and some great rolls

the giant 14 lb turkey, before and after carving

the whole spread, above and to the left... (including: cranberry sauce from a can, sweet potato casserole frozen, Paula Deen's green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cottage cheese, deviled eggs, and rolls)

also something I loved as a little girl, my mom cross-stitched the towel to go into the bread dish, it says, "Give us this day our daily bread..."

Lastly, my mom brought our anniversary present to us early...
I cross stitched this sampler while we were engaged, and we're just now finally able to hang it, since she kindly had it framed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

the Lord at work in me

This is from an email I recently sent to a far away friend serving in Guatemala... I thought it was a good summary of life now and worth sharing in blog-land too:

My dear friend I was so glad to get your most recent update with the lessons that you are in the process of learning. I too am in the midst of many lessons the Lord is desiring for me to learn, sometimes through difficult days.
(This is kind of long... so you may want to wait to read on, if you're busy right now.)

A short briefing about that:
My school continues to provide me with great challenges every day. Really I shouldn't say "my school", mainly I mean my students. As a whole, they are the most disobedient, defiant, and disrespectful children I've ever encountered. They really don't care to learn much of anything, and they instead occupy most of our moments together in fights of one sort or another. They speak with cruel words (often cursing, and terrible name calling), and fight brutally (we call our recess time, "prison watch"). There is usually a fight every day in one of the four third grade classrooms which has to be stopped by teachers or security guards separating children who would otherwise continue the brawl until someone was bleeding or injured more severely. I've really never known anything like it existed. The students are clearly troubled by many factors in their lives, the most obvious being their homes and families. During a recent personal narrative lesson one student wrote about her "baby brother's daddy" who tried to stab her mom in front of her, another wrote about her cousin being shot in a drive-by and spending time at the hospital with him, and still another wrote about his older brother who tried to set his grandmother's house on fire when he was suspended from school. They are so full of anger it is a very upsetting place. I have seen so clearly that without the Lord's work we would all be in the same situation. I know that without the Lord working in their lives they are headed for great difficulties and a life filled with turmoil.
So as a result, Matt and I were fairly sure that I wouldn't teach there next year. We felt like the emotional and physical energy I spent on school every day wasn't helping our marriage or my general wellness. I still believe that I could never live through a healthy pregnancy teaching there (not that I'm pregnant, but that we'd like to think about that in the next couple of years). Its a troubling place to be. On the other hand, I constantly considered that without Christians in such places there is no testimony of the Lord. I also know that these children need to see adults who lead "normal" and "responsible" lives. I also remember thinking that if I were a "missionary" in title I would expect great hardship and trial, but being "just a teacher" I wanted something more comfortable. That didn't seem to add up in my mind. That with a certain title I felt suffering wold somehow be easier. So then we began thinking more about finances. Right now teaching is providing for our "life" but not for us to pay Matt's school tuition. So we had loans. The loan interest was astronomical and constantly rising (about 10%). So we realized, and had wise counsel that it wouldn't be wise to continue in that direction. So we're shifting our plans. Matt will slow down the pace of his school (taking fewer classes a semester), work part time (a matter of prayer... he's sent out a lot of applications with no response yet), and we'll use his income to pay for school as we go. We may be here in Louisville a little longer. At the same time, also means we need me to continue in a job which totally provides for our "life". Therefore quitting teaching isn't really an option, as the other jobs I'd considered (nannying, etc.) wouldn't be able to provide a similar income. So now I'm seeing the Lord at work in developing endurance within me and a knowledge of His presence that will always strengthen me for each day.

All that to say this is a passage which has particularly encouraging lately and made me think of you as well:
"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light."
A cross reference I also read is very similar:
ROMANS 15:4-6
"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
We're reading Colossians with our small group and also using some of Sam Storms' book The Hope of Glory to help in application and discussion. I thought these comments of his were also especially encouraging based upon the Colossians passage:
"The goal of this empowerment is endurance and patience, the former a reference to persevering in the face of difficult circumstances, the latter a reference to steadfastness that does not retaliate against those who resist us. Events and trials and hardship tempt us to quit, but God grants endurance. People and criticism and injustice tempt us to seek revenge, but God grants patience."

I was also so thankful to see in Romans that the basis of our encouragement and endurance comes from the Scriptures. It helps me to remained focused as I seek the Lord in study of His Word... knowing that I need it, desperately. And knowing He has given it in order that I might know more of Him and rely fully upon His promises. That is especially helpful in facing each day with God and His purposes on my mind.

Well, this has been long... I hope that this may encourage your spirit my friend. If it doesn't seem to resonate with you now in the ways I might hope, then maybe it is just a testimony of the Lord working in my life, and for that I hope He would also be glorified as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Great Break!

So, in spite of a recent and trying cold these days of no school have been productive. I've been so thankful for all that the Lord has allowed me to accomplish, while also enjoying sleeping in and resting in general. I look forward to finishing up tonight with a little bit of ironing, watching election results, reading, and resting with Matt in general.

Here's a snapshot of some recent projects:

*Our flowerpots needed some new life. The impatients were frost-bitten although the begonias and geraniums have been so hearty. I was excited to replace the impatients with pansies... a fall favorite.

*Matt and I were very excited to finish most of our family's Christmas shopping so early this year. We went back to the museum we'd visited with his dad so that we could pick up some things from the gift shop that they'd passed by on their trip. We think they'll be really excited. Then we decided that I could make winter wreaths to give to his family as well. One is for his mom, the other for his dad, and the last one for his grandparents. I'm really enjoying wreath making... maybe someday it'll be my own small business :)*I also had a great time baking lots of things to freeze (in part). Matt really loves breads and muffins so I was able to make lots of them so that when we run out of cereal (he inhales it quickly every week) there's something else for breakfast. I made:
  • Amish Pumpkin Bread (it makes 3 loaves, I made 2 loaves + 18 muffins)
  • Homemade Granola (kind of a hit, except that next time there will be no salt!)
  • Apple Cinnamon Muffins
  • Whole Wheat Waffles (plain for Matt, with chocolate chips for me)
  • Good-for-You Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (no oil, only egg whites, oatmeal, and whole wheat... they're my new favorite cookie, and I'm glad that they're healthier!)
So the freezer is full now as you can see!
(There's also a Sara Lee Pumpkin Cheesecake purchased in a great ALDI sale to save for Thanksgiving when my mom and Jacob come to visit!)

The last big accomplishment of the day: Cleaning the oven! I was able to clean out all sorts of cooked on messes with no trouble using salt and baking soda. I couldn't believe it!

So all in all, I would count this a very great break. Now, I need to remember that tomorrow the children will return to school, and I'll need to be ready to love them and teach them as the Lord gives me His strength. Colossians has been an excellent encouragement to me lately as we've begun reading it with our small group. We've also looked at Sam Storms' book "The Hope of Glory" as a helpful guide to application. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something refreshing to study.

With our love and prayers in Louisville,