April 29, 2008

Clutter is Cleaned Up, Two Bibles at a Time

I wouldn't say I'm a neat freak. I usually reserve that title for people who scrub their bathrooms once a week, clean the top of the fridge every month or so, and wash the curtains every time they do laundry. :) Nah, I'm not like that. But I do like to be organized.

If your house is like mine, you have certain "corners" or "spaces" that just get to you. Places that never seem to stay tidy or clutter-free. Our kitchen table is one such place. But there are others.
I can't stand clutter. Which is why I cringe whenever I walk by these:

And that's just our bedroom! The last picture is the worst. I mean, common! It looks like we just moved in and I haven't finished unpacking yet. Totally not true. Well, the "Just moved in" part isn't anyway.

So this week, in honor of my being healthy and a part of the house wifery world once more, I decided to do something about the clutter. I decided to get rid of some Bibles.

Now before you start writing me up as a shallow, back-sliding Christian, please let me assure you, these aren't my Bibles. Or Jason's. In fact, they belong to people I haven't seen in eight months. They belong to two young women, wives and mothers, who visited our home fellowship last year, but did not return. Their Bibles, however, were left behind. And have been sitting on my desk in the livingroom ever since.

Now I won't tell you why it's taken me eight months to contact these ladies. You may speculate away on that one. But our home fellowship now has a running joke about leaving stuff behind at our apartment on Thursday nights. Because it happens. A lot. Sippy cups, burping cloths, toys, and even the odd pacifier here and there. But most of these families come every week, so returning their possessions is usually no biggie.

But our involuntary collection of God's Word? Legendary, friends. We laugh about it nearly every Thursday.

This week, I'd finally had it. I finally broke down and called these two ladies, who were overjoyed to hear that their long lost Bibles had been found. Made me wish I'd called them sooner. ;)

Our home is now a little less cluttered. And I'm a more than a little bit happy about it.

April 21, 2008

Dinner Snafu

Pork Roast with Corn Bread Stuffing
1 2-2.5 lbs. boneless pork top loin roast (single loin)
1 tbl. cooking oil
4 cups corn bread stuffing mix
3/4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. mixed dried fruit bits
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. peach spreadable fruit
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1. Lightly coat slow cooker with cooking spray. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit in cooker. Sprinkle meat with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in hot oil. Drain off fat. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, toss together stuffing mix, chicken broth, dried fruit, and onion. In prepared cooker place stuffing mixture. Add meat. In a small bowl stir together peach spreadable fruit, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Spread over meat in cooker.
3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5-6 hours or on high for 2.5-3 hours.

This was the new recipe I tried last night.

Now, I'll have to admit, when I started putting everything together in the crock pots yesterday after church, that age-old advice did flit through my brain: Never try a new recipe on company. But I quickly dismissed it. I'd talked to Mom about it beforehand, making sure everyone in her household would like it. Wasn't sure how Jason would like the stuffing, but he'd promised to try it anyway, and I was very excited to cook pork, because we don't eat it all that often.

But I was also coming down with a cold yesterday (which fully blossomed this morning, but that's another story). So in the interest of time and engery, I skipped Step #1 listed above.

While I skipped Step #1, I ignored that nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, I should follow the recipe. See, I regularly change recipes. It's a habit I've developed over the years. Whenever there's an ingredient Jason or I don't like (mushrooms, for example), I see if I can make do without. Maybe some would consider that a little risky, but as Jason reminds me, it's good to take risks every now and then (of course, he usually says that in referrence to my play style in wow . . . eh, details). A little culinary courage is good for the soul (and the stomach). And on the whole, I'd say I'm usually quite successful. Unfortunately, yesterday was NOT one of the "usuallys".

Because Step #1 wasn't the only thing I changed.

After reading the recipe, it ocurred to me that perhaps I wasn't supposed to cook the stuffing beforehand. I was already adding in a lot of liquids, and I thought to myself, Why, I bet the stuffing is supposed to cook in the crockpot with the meat! I'll save myself some time and mess that way!

Of course, the fact that I didn't have all the ingredients to make the stuffing on the stove top helped in this persuasion. :)

Well, I proceeded to *follow* the rest of the recipe, and got the two cookers going on High about 3:30pm. At 6:30 pm, with Mom and Co. all gathered in the livingroom and the house smelling absolutely delicious, I lifted the lids off.

Ahhhhhh! The pork was a nice dull brown on the outside. And a positive pink on the inside. It was then I realized, much to my dismay, that the roasts were each about five lbs. and the recipe above called for a 2-2.5 pounder. The high-heat setting notwithstanding, the meat had not cooked. And the stuffing? Oh my. . . it was . . . burned? dried out? Not sure which word aptly describes it here, but a good portion of it was inedible. Apparently, I was supposed to cook it first before putting in the crockpot.

I was dumb-founded. My culinary courage does not usually lead to such catastrophies!
While I cried rivers of tears and repined at the way stars in their courses conspired against me, Mom and Uncle Jim cut up the biggeset roast and microwaved it to a more eatable color. Then Mom set the second roast on low heat, telling me to let it cook over night. With the green beans and mashed potatoes that Grandma had made, dinner was saved.

But as we ate (and I nibbled at the stuffing, determined to like it), Jason looked over at me with his laughing eyes and said:

"You know, they say you're not supposed to try new recipes on company."

I just looked at him.

Then we burst out laughing.

And the laughter, together with peach pie and vanilla ice cream, made the evening a much happier one. Harry assured me that he and Mom did not want to be considered company, and that I had his permission to try new recipes on them whenever I wanted. ;) Then Mom told me we'd try the recipe again sometime, because it really did look yummy in the cookbook. :) And I felt loved, safe, and secure again, in spite of my inadequecies in the kitchen.

Until this morning, when I went to check that second pork roast. The one that had cooked all night.

Let's just say, if today had been December 25th, I would've assumed Santa left coal for me in the cooker instead of in a stocking. :(

Next time, I'll just follow the recipe. Cross my heart.

April 20, 2008

The Best A Man Could Do

Ahhhhh, the quiet solitude of a Sunday afternoon! Caleb naps, the the smell of pork roast with cranberry/cornbread stuffing wafts through our apartment. Trying out a new recipe tonight; my mom and family are coming over for dinner. If the main dish meets proper satisfaction, I shall be sure to put the recipe up here for ya'll.

Some words are running through my mind this afternoon. We had a guest at church today do special music for us. Dennis Agajanian (http://www.dennisagajanian.com/), who does Christian country, sang and played (Oh! how he played!) the guitar.

He sang these words:

"There's a fire burning in my soul
It keeps a man warm,
It makes a man whole.
When the sun goes down and the day is through
To live and walk as Jesus did
is the best a man could do."

And I thought about how selfish I am; how easily angered; how petty my "issues" generally are. I want to "live and walk as Jesus did." I want that to be enough. I want Him to be enough.

April 19, 2008

A Memorial to Remember

I have come to an important desicion.

I do not like boats.

Now, I'm not on boats all that often. Last time was back in my PLNU days during sophomore year. But this Thursday, I found myself aboard the Dawn with my mother, step-dad, uncle, and Captain John for a four-hour tour.

Perhaps I should explain. We were there to hold our own memorial service for my Grandpa. He never wanted a funeral after he died and his wife honored his wishes. So after he died no service was held. Except by us. On the boat.

My Grandpa was a career Navy man, and he loved the sea. He used to go deep sea fishing, and one of our favorite photos of him is with a 250+ lbs. marlin being held up by a crane, while Grandpa stands proudly next to his catch.

A tour of San Diego harbor and bay seemed a fitting way to remember him. And since the Navy would be scattering his ashes at sea, our Captain even consented to take us out of the harbor and into the open sea for a bit.

Yeah, bad idea.

We moved our way out of the slip, past other boats with names like Sea-Questered, Sea-Esta, and Alohomora (no joke... I took a picture of that one!), and our ride through the bay was pleasant, calm, and relaxing. We got to see seals congregating on a bait dock. A ginormous Navy cruiser (not sure what exactly it was called, not an aircraft carrier, but still HUGE), passed by us. My uncle, also a career Navy man, explained the markings on the ship, and why the anchor was painted gold.

Then we got out to open sea. With 25mph winds. Salt water flying. And huge, rocking swells. Pleasantness abrubtly came to an end while I tried desperately to hold on to the rail and my Wendy's lunch. I wanted to sue Dramamine.

Captain John finally turned us around, but before we could reach the safety of the harbor, one of the lines in the sail snapped, and we were forced to stow the sails and use the motor. It was that rough.

And it was then, in the midst of the wind, water, and rocking that I made my big desicion.

I do not like boats.

Give me planes, trains, and automobiles any day. Heck, I'd even take that double-decker bus we rode through the Andes in Peru with our drunk bus driver driving 60 mph up steep, dirt, mountain roads.

But no more boats.

I think we all gave a collective sigh of relief when we got back into the harbor. Once in calmer waters, we were able to have our memorial, talk about Grandpa, and cry our tears. Which was the whole point in the first place, if you'll remember.

The memorial was a healthy, closure-bringing thing, and I'm glad we did it. But boy, oh boy, was I glad when, at 7:30, I was back on terra firma.

April 13, 2008

Lord, You Never Let Go

A more perfect song could not have been chosen for the end of church today. I've always loved Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go," but today is was extra encouraging, as if Jesus knew I needed to hear it.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth


Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

This morning, Richard Waller, the man who I knew as Grandpa, passed away. It was a shock for all of us; we were not expecting to lose him so quickly. I have no idea whether or not his heart belonged to Jesus at the end, but I have hope. Hope in a merciful God who is "not willing that any should perish."

Please pray for my family, especially my Mom, who is taking it hard, and for my Uncle Jim, who did not get to say good-bye.

We love you, Grandpa, and we shall miss you. You will not be forgotten in this world, and we hope and pray desperately that we will see you in the next.

So Sweet!

Today was Sweet Pea Day at Summer's Past Farms, one of my favorite
places here in East County:

As you can see, I picked sweet peas! They smell soooooooo good! Most exciting of all, I learned that the flowers will continue to bloom for the next three weeks, which means I can go back and pick more!
And I will, oh yes! I will. :)

April 11, 2008

One Quiet Moment

Ahhhh, quiet. Blissful quiet.

I've acheived a new level of respect for tranquility since becoming a mother. :)

Naptimes are like mana from heaven. Today, I've cleaned up the office, put laundry away, put groceries away, finished watching a Numb3rs episode while eating lunch, and ordered a small photo album off of Shutterfly.com's website. :)

Tonight, Mom and Harry are going to watch Caleb for us while Jason and I venture into Gruuls with our troop of Legendary peeps, braving the wrath of High King Mulgore (king of the ogres) and then, hopefully, Gruul the Dragonslayer himself. :) Should be an eventful evening.

And, if the phone ever stops ringing and my brain stops spinning, I might actually find some time to sit here and write a proper post for ya'll. Complete with pictures. Color pictures. :)

In the meantime, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my quiet afternoon. Later, ya'll.

April 8, 2008

A Bit of a Diversion

I'm not a big fan of fan fiction. I enjoy books, not books spawned off of other books. But I must confess, on our last trip to Barnes 'n' Nobel, I strayed from my position on fan fiction and bought The Darcys Give a Ball by Elizabeth Newark. Any idea which book inspired this tale? :)

The book begins with the death of Mr. Bennet, some twelve years after Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are married. After about two chapters, it jumps fifteen years and begins telling the stories of the children of all our favorite Austen characters, who are now grown up. While the main story line features the Bingleys, the Darcys, and others from Pride & Prejudice, there are nods to all of Austen's books: Colonel Brandon and his "lovely wife" are invited to the ball, along with their daughter Dorthea; Nell Ferras also makes an appearance, even though Mrs. Darcy knew "Mr. Edward Ferras and his quiet wife, Elinor, very slightly." Another Ferras arrives, uninvited, on the arm of one Gerard Churchill, and Elizabeth hopes very much to see her daughter Juliet settle down with "one of the Knightley twins."

I read half the book in the car yesterday as we drove out to the desert, and I finished it at home late last night. No awards will be given this small novelette; it is really rather silly (even for Austen), and from a literary view, could have been better written (one is easily lost in the history of marriages, deaths, and births that goes on). But I smiled as I read, laughed a time or two, and on the whole enjoyed the gentle diversion this author offered with her perspective on how things could have been.

Perhaps I would be a harsher critic of this fan fiction if I had not so very much appreciated the humor yesterday.

Grandpa is doing o.k. His short term memory is muddy water at this point, though his long term recollection is near-perfect. He is not the man I remember seeing at Thanksgiving last year; but he is still Grandpa. And he was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to see us.

There is much to be done in the coming weeks, and much is still up in the air. My biggest challenges will be flexibility (something I've never been good at) and trusting God with the details (something else that could use some practice).

My thanks to all of you, for your prayers and support. I love you guys, and will keep you posted as best I can.

April 6, 2008

Sunshine and Shadows

I just wanted to thank everyone for your calls, sweet comments, and prayers that I know are being offered up for my family right now. I can't tell you how much we appreciate them.

We celebrated Mom's birthday yesterday, and I know she was blessed by all the friends and family that came. Harry threw her a Hawaii 5.0. party, and with Caleb acting as the floor show entertainment, we were never short on laughter and smiles (you should have seen him with the hula-hoops!). :) At some point, we all got up to share favorite memories of my mom. What a blessing to see people she has known her whole life share what they love best about her. :) I am really thankful that in the midst of all the health stuff with Grandpa, Mom was able to relax, smile, and realize how loved she is. Happy Birthday, Me-me!

On Friday, the doctors moved Grandpa to hospice. They've given him three months. Since my step-grandma, Lou, can't live on her own right now owing to her own health problems, she is in the process of moving to assisted living nearby. Mom, Harry, and I will be driving out to the desert tomorrow to visit Grandpa and see what we can do to help. They own a condo in Palm Desert, which they were planning to sell in the near future, but now must be sold even sooner.

In the middle of all this, Caleb has decided he is either sick or teething or both, and has not been quite himself this week. "Clingy" is not a word that usually describes our son and yet that is exactly what he has been. I don't know if this was a design of the Devil to complicate our lives right now, or if it is some design of Jesus' that will eventually work for our good. Either way, Caleb is requiring more attention than usual, at a time when energy is already in short supply.

So, I guess I'm begging for your continued prayers, my friends. I was reading Psalm 30 to Caleb the other morning (a sort of breakfast habit we've developed), and I'd forgotten that this psalm held some of my favoritetest verses in the Bible:

". . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (v. 5)
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent" (vs. 11-12).
God is good, my friends, and He is faithful. He is a master musician, orchestrating Life in ways we can't even imagine. And that truth gives me hope.
Happy Sunday, ya'll!

April 3, 2008

It Doesn't Rain But It Pours

So, I need your prayers tonight friends.

I believe Caleb is teething again. It only took me four hours of crying, clinging, and refusing of his much-beloved apple juice to figure that out. Aren't I a smart one? I is a college graduwate. ;)

Yesterday was bad; today was worse. The end of nap time signaled the end of my quiet afternoon, and Caleb was not happy unless he was sitting in my lap. Which wasn't a problem until I actually needed to get up from my computer chair. :)

There I was, trying to change Caleb's diaper and give him baby motrin while he lay screaming on the changing table, talk to Jason about getting dinner on his way home before bible study, and then the phone rings. The other phone.

With my mom on the other end. Telling me that my Grandpa has terminal cancer.

Some of you have met my Grandpa Waller. Those of you who have, know he's not a believer. We knew he wasn't doing well health-wise; but we were not expecting this. We would all really appreciate your prayers. For him, for my step-grandma Lou, for my mom, and for me. We don't know how long he has; the doctors haven't said yet. But the cancer is all over his body and in his brain.

It doesn't rain but it pours.

My mom's 50th birthday is Saturday. We have a big party planned, with friends coming from out of town. Please say an extra prayer for her; this couldn't have come at a worse time.

We are all planning to be out in the desert by Monday at the latest to see him and see how things are going. Please please please pray. For us, yes. But mostly, for his salvation. My grandpa is so afraid of death, and yet, so closed to Jesus. Please pray that his heart would be softened. Pray that he would find hope and peace in Christ, even with death so close. Pray that the Lord would speak through me and my mom.