Thursday, April 28, 2011

Manna providing Manna

About three years ago, we invested in some fairly expensive bread making equipment.  We bought a mill to grind our own wheat and a very high-powered mixer that can mix and knead up to five loaves of bread at a time.  We wanted to eat healthier and it seemed this was an easy way to make a change.  When I say easy, I am not kidding--making bread with this equipment is a complete cinch.  It takes every bit of the hard labor out of the equation.  Of course, this is why the equipment is not cheap.  It was quite an investment.  But it has been worth every penny.  There is nothing that compares to a loaf of fresh, homemade bread.  Nothing.  Our family has enjoyed every last morsel of this expenditure.

At the end of November, Eric lost his job.  It has been amazing to see God provide what we need, when we need it--never a moment too late or too soon.  He is the God of perfect timing!  Our faith has grown immensely during this season, to say the least.

A little over a month ago, we were brainstorming some ways we could earn extra money with the assets we currently have on hand.  We decided making and selling homemade bread was the most logical choice since it is something we currently already do.  We would just do it more.

I was really excited.  I pictured our whole familiy working together.  A partnership between God, Eric and I, selling our daily manna to provide His daily manna.  It was going to be a match made in heaven :) .

Oh, I dreamed big.  I pictured going nationwide, touring about and telling our story of God's provision...

So, we begin.  And our partnership--well, it quickly feels like a sole propriety.  Soon I am up to my eyeballs in breadmaking.  Day in, day out.  I bake bread.  It seems it is the sole reason for my vain existence.  My partner, my silent, absent partner--WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM???

Oh, yeah.  Life.  That's what's happened.  The moment we started our partnership, my partner also picked up a side job, detailing cars.  Oh, and baseball season started.  Helping coach three different baseball teams is no small task.

Even so, my partner was starting to feel sorry for me.  Either that, or he got tired of hearing all the rhetoric.  This past weekend, he showed up to offer a little relief to my vain existence.  Emphatically, I taught him the tricks of the trade.  My partner became a breadmaker and I experienced freedom from the confines of my kitchen.

Woo hoo!  I left to go party on the town (well, really I just left to run my nephew home, but dramatization tells a good story). 

...My party didn't last long...

When I walked in a wee bit later, my partner informed me that we had a slight problem.  He turned the mixer on and then walked out of the house to attend to other things (okay, that is problem number one.  Only pros such as myself leave the mixer unattended, not amateurs on their second batch of baking--what in the world was he thinking?!!).  Suddenly, he heard a ginormous crash. He ran in to find our $450 mixer had vibrated forward during its knead cycle and spun off the counter, crashing onto the floor.  Our perfectly round stainless steel bowl was now an oval.  I'm quite surprised it didn't put a dent in our floor.

Amazingly, I kept my couth.  I washed it and placed our oval stainless in the pantry and put it out of my mind.  I think this present stage of our life is teaching me to not get too bent out of shape over such mishaps--that God will provide what we need and if he doesn't provide, then we probably didn't need it.  I wondered if God was telling us to stop baking manna to provide our manna?  Was this His message?  Whatever the reason, I kind of forgot about it and moved on to the next crisis, deciding it was a worry for another day.  Thankfully, my next bread order wasn't until later in the week.

A few days later, my neighbor dropped by to bring us our egg order.  She was on her way to pick up her kids and only had a minute.  Why I told her about our mixer mishap, I'll never know.  There are a thousand different things we could have talked about.  I guess God brought it up. 

As I finished my story, she had one question: 'Is your mixer the electrolux?'

'Why yes, yes it is.' (I didn't really say it like this, but I like how it sounds)

'I just happen to have an extra electolux stainless steel bowl at my house.'

Okay, all you bread people out there.  You know the odds of someone having one of these bowls laying around their house is about one in a million.  The odds of your neighbor having one is probably twice that.  Long story short, the company sent her an extra one years ago when she thought there was a problem with hers.  She ended up never needing it.  And it has sat in her attic ever since for such a time as this!  What are the odds?  I'll tell you--God's odds.  Jehovah Jireh doing His finest!

So now I have a brand new stainless steel electrolux bowl.  Open for business once again.  Manna providing manna until the Bread of Life shows us a different provision. 

Until then, my partner has been demoted to janatorial duties.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Schools of Soph

Last Thursday was one of those vicariously fun days of entering into and enjoying the goofiness and creativity of kid world.  My niece Polly--who is four--came over to play with Jeremiah and O.  Whenever Polly comes over, Soph--my eleven y.o.--has to get in on the action.  Better put, she has to run the action.  So, Speedy Gonzalez whipped through her school work so she could get on to the important stuff--playing.

First off, she dressed them up.  Here is what they came down in first:
Of course, she dressed O up as a girl.  I am not sure how she got him to agree to it.  Two seconds after I took this pic, he began throwing a fit to take it all off.

Next, O insisted I go upstairs and help him change into 'secret agent' clothes.  I am not sure why he thought he was going to be a secret agent, as no one else was dressed as a secret agent, but ok.  He did the 'fetal position drop' three separate times (a.k.a. fit) before I finally got his costume 'right'.  Here is what we ended up with:
Is that ridiculously boring or what?  Jeans, navy polo, hat on backwards, and nerf glasses.  But he is feeling mighty cool, can't you tell?

Daily, Sophie runs a 'school' of some sort.  Jeremiah and O are always the students.  Anytime Polly is over, she gets in on the action too.  Sophie's Art School is nearly a daily event.  She tried Sophie's Ballet School for a time, but her boy students were stomping around being noncooperative.  Yesterday, she had Sophie's Volleyball School.  One day she tried to get away with 'Sophie's Video Game Class' (I didn't fall for that one).  

On this particular day, she was doing 'Sophie's Performance Troupe'.  The dance troupe, starring Jeremiah, Polly, and O, performed to 'I'm Alive'.  Joshua, Wes and myself were the audience.  They sang and did motions to the song--well, that is everyone except O.  He stood very still and just barely moved his mouth as he sang.  Actually, he seemed to be concentrating so hard on singing the words, i don't thank he could get the motions in, too.  He was so serious.  He was so funny.

But here is the funnier part.  Ms. Choreographer, highly frustrated with his performance, gave out awards afterwards: 
Polly and Jeremiah got medals.

'Soph, what is that around O's neck?'

'He got the Cone of Shame, for not doing the motions right.'

Maybe I should rename her the Performance Nazi?

Obviously, O didn't seem to mind--he was perfectly fine with his Cone of Shame.  Here he is showing it off:

He wore it for thirty minutes afterwards, he was so proud.

I love, love, love when they play like this.  I know one day I am going to be so sad when they are too old to imagine and play creatively.  One day I will be sad when Soph trades in her 'schools' for make-up, hairstyles and such.  One day I will be sad when O can't drop down to a fit position in a second flat. 

This day reminded me to live each day fully in the's gone in an instant.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Highs and Lows

I have been on a journey of highs and lows over the past five days. 

On Friday, I was completely caught off guard, as a 'dear and near' friend swept me away to a Living Proof Life conferencein Little Rock, Arkansas--all expenses paid.  She and Eric had been scheming for quite awhile to make this happen.  It was a treat in a thousand different ways.  Mostly because I would have never agreed to go if she had asked me to.  My practical side of my mind would have not even entertained the notion because who spends fifteen hours in a car for a five hour conference?  Thankfully, I wasn't in charge of this and I was taken against my will, to expereince God's will.  Wow.  What a God appointment it was.  He spoke into my life so powerfully that it was almost audible.  As Beth Moore is known for saying: 'there's no high like the Most High!'  Yes--I experienced a high of the highest sort.

We raced back to Louisville, getting back on Saturday, midnight.  The next morning, my emotions did a 180, as we listened to one of our beloved pastors preach his last sermon at our church.  He and his family are leaving to start a church in Cleveland, Ohio.  So excited for what Cleveland is gaining, so sad for what we are losing.  Their friendship, their teaching...oh, they will be missed.  While our church is thriving and it will continue to do so under sound leadership, we can't help to feel overwhelmed with sadness.  They will be painfully missed.  It was a low, but not a complete low--because there is also great excitement in seeing what God is going to do through them in a city in desperate need for Him.  It is exciting to be sending them off.  It is sad to be sending them off...oh, such an influx of contrasting emotions happening all at's just too much--too much to process.

Then yesterday, we drove to Benton, Kentucky to be with our 'dear and far' friends, to grieve with them over the death of their beloved father.  Again, it was a day of crying and mourning, yet a day of comfort and celebration.  Sad, because of the end of a life here on this earth; yet joyful over where he is right this very moment, free of suffering and pain.  Again, the contrast of emotions...oh, me...oh, my.

The highs and the lows--we've journeyed the hills of extremes going from 'strength to strength' (Ps. 84:7) in His strength--So Sturdy, so Strong, so Secure. 

So thankful for His presence in the journey, so thankful.

Each high and each low is a blog post in itself...hoping to share more over the next few days.

we'll see.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some really great quotes...

Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins but are sometimes the trials resulting from God's extraordinary gifts.  God uses many sharp-cutting instruments, and polishes His jewels with files that are rough.  And those saints He especially loves, and desires to make shine the most brilliantly, will often feel His tools upon them.  ~R. Leighton

I willingly bear witness to the fact that I owe more to my Lord's fire, hammer, and file than to anything else in His workshop.  Sometimes I wonder if I have ever learned anything except at the end of God's rod.  When my classroom is darkest, I see best.  ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, April 8, 2011

Real Strength

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:10)

The literal translation of this verse adds a startling emphasis to it, allowing it to speak for itself with power we have probably never realized. It is as follows:

"Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased and forced into a corner for Christ's sake; for when I am without strength, I am dynamite."

The secret of knowing God's complete sufficiency is in coming to the end of everything in ourselves and our circumstances. Once we reach this point, we will stop seeking sympathy for our difficult situation or ill treatment, because we will recognize these things as the necessary conditions for blessings. We will then turn from our circumstances to God, realizing they are the evidence of Him working in our lives. ~A.B. Simpson

Monday, April 4, 2011

The O Factor's Debut

Yesterday was our youngest boy's first official t-ball practice. Owen (whom we like to lovingly refer to as the 'O Factor') has been waiting all of his life to get some action out on the field. Since he was one month old, he has been sitting in the stands as a spectator. So yesterday marked a big milestone in the life of our four-year-old. Here he is right before we left for his practice:

And here he is with his sidekick, Jeremiah.  They are 'baseball ready!'
For the last two years, older brother Jeremiah played on the 'Twins' at Lyndon Recreation.  It has been the best t-ball team we ever played on because of the coaches (you can read about them here).  In fact, word must have gotten out about the coaching, because there were sixteen parent requests to play on the Twins!  Sixteen!  Wow.  We are so glad that Owen made the cut.  And so is he.  He would have been devastated if he couldn't have followed in his big brother's footsteps and be a 'Twin'.  And since he and Jeremiah are like twins (not only do they look alike, they spend every waking moment together),  it fits that he would be on a team named such.

While they may look alike and enjoy the same activities, Jeremiah and Owen's personalities are night and day different.  Jeremiah is laid-back, soft-spoken and compliant.  Owen is intense, loud and well--a rule breaker.  In fact, his personality is what led to us calling him 'the O Factor'.  I have already warned the coach that Owen is a completely different animal--I mean boy--than Jeremiah.

So off to practice they went, the daddy and son.  What Owen didn't know was that Sophie and I were going to come by shortly after they started.  There were two reasons we couldn't resist seeing the O Factor's debut:  1) because watching a four year old on the field is just hard to resist 2) whereever the O Factor is, there is usually a 'story'...

When Sophie and I arrived, the coach had divided the team into groups to practice their fielding.  We set on the stands with about thirty other people (no--I am not kidding.  You would have thought it was a game with all the spectators at this practice!  See?  These parents can't resist either!).  Anyway, suddenly Owen told his coach he needed to go potty.  Eric, who was helping another group of youngsters, began walking off the field to accompany our O to the bathroom--or so he thought. 

Our O Factor ran off the field and dropped those pants right outside the backstop.  Yep.  There he was--drawers pulled down, baring all...trying to do his business.

Everyone's attention turned from the field to this bare bottom...of course it did.  This is usually the case with the O Factor.

Soph and I about fell off the bleachers and busted a gut.

And then I remembered that I was the mom.  And a responsible mom would offer to take their child to the bathroom.  That a responsible mom wouldn't just lay there laughing while the responsible dad left his coaching post and took the O to the bathroom...

So as responsible Dad pulled up the drawers, I gained my composure, snorted one more time, and fessed up as the mom of deliquent boy.  

Well, that was a bad decision.  

O Factor hadn't realized that dear Mom was in the stands.  And dear Mom has a way of bringing out the best in him.  The O immediately ran towards the bathrooms, his defiant arms in the air, yelling, 'I going by myself, Otay?!?  I can do this myself!' 

As I chased after him, I guess the Factor got it in his head once again that he didn't really want to bother with the bathroom.  After all, he was in the middle of his t-ball practice and time was of the essence.  So he stopped and dropped those drawers again, intending to get his business DONE.

'Owen, you can't do that...pull up your pants!'

I don't know if it was me yelling or the fact that he did not want his mom to help him, but O pulled up his pants and began running towards the bathroom again, yelling, 'I don't need help, otay??!'

I finally caught up with him.  That just made him all the madder.  So he decided to do a front noseplant into the ground.  He laid there stiff on the ground.  Yes!  A fit of the finest sorts. 

'I don't need help, otay???'

Getting him to wash his hands was another whole battle.

'I don't have time, otay???!'

After practice, Owen wanted to stay and run the bases a few minutes.  And here is fit two, three and four:

Oh me. Oh my.  I think our parenting abilities are going to dissolve into the dust of the t-ball field this season.