Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Last Snowfall

I happened to be out the other day when it was snowing and chanced upon these sweet faces in the pastures below the house. The snowfall that day was so beautiful. Big, fluffy flakes floating down slowly, but in profusion! *sigh* I will miss this.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Yield: God Making Changes Ahead

Whole lotta packin' goin' on in the Paul household this week and probably into next.

Sunday James announced to the congregation that we would be resigning here at Alliance Fellowship. I was very proud of my husband. He filled his announcement with grace, peace & love.
It has been a culmination of many things over the past 2 years. God's great work has gone on in our hearts and we are blessed to be the apple of His eye, it seems, in His dealings. We are more like Him, I hope. As we have beheld His face in the many hours of crying, thanksgiving, dancing, and desperation he has changed us from glory to glory and I pray that as others behold us that they see Him.

We do not know where we are going yet. Our district superintendant believes J is ready to be a senior pastor and would like for him to take a smaller church in the RMD (Rocky Mountain District). That, however, is up to the churches and God. We are waiting on the unveiling of His plan. Our applications, resumes, cover letters, photos, sermons mp3s, etc. are into the Dist. to be distributed. We just have to wait now.
Alliance Fellowship is embarking on a new journey. As this journey of discovery, change, & growth has happened in us, it has also taken place in Dan (sr. pastor here). He knows better his own strengths and shortcomings and is inviting someone in to be the Aaron & Hur he needs to lift his weary arms.

Please pray for us as we wait on, listening and asking, God for His will to be made plain. We would love for this to be a speedy transition, but maybe that isn't God's desire. There are so many little details to be decided, loose ends to tie up, and the daily function and flow of the household has to continue as well. Homeschool, laundry, meals, dishes, etc... still have to get done around the stacks of boxes and the closing of accounts. We need you all to be our Aarons & Hurs. We know you will; you are faithful friends.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Misadventures of Mr. Bumbo

Not sure what came over my sweet little girl. We've gone from petite fairies to a tiny Play Doh man who is always having some misfortune befall him. She calls him Mr. Bumbo. A snake has him wrapped in his coils - about to strike, He is sinking in quicksand, has been shot with an arrow, Is about to be smashed into an Adidas tread pattern, gets abducted by aliens, and nailed by a rogue hammer.

Who would have thought that buying clay for a science lab would lead to afternoons filled with Bumbo's pain?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Value of the Vision of Blind Faith

The beauty of God's sovereignty has come round again in my heart over the last week. Circumstances have caused me to grieve, but the sorrow that filled my soul has been slowly replaced by an unutterable peace in knowing that there is nothing that occurs without ultimately accomplishing His purposes in my life and the lives of those that love Him and seek to glorify Him.

"It will be as I have planned" Is. 14:24b

"For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever. Amen." Rom. 11:36

Life is so much more difficult when I think that it is all about me. 'Why is this happening to me?', 'What have I done to deserve this?'... I am not omniscient. I can't see the big picture. I don't know what plans from ages past God is bringing to fruition here and now, or what the future will hold for those beyond my lifetime who will be affected by His purposes for me. Yet I worry, and grieve, and scheme, and fig-leaf subconsciously believing that I somehow can mess up His ways. That I am somehow in control.

I found myself wondering why Jesus instructed us to pray, "Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven," if His will (according to the verses above & many more besides) is already being accomplished. I heard, soft, within my spirit, that it was for me. That in praying for His will to be done I am placing myself in humble submission to what He is accomplishing. That, in and of itself even, is His will.

So, as events unfold in the weeks ahead, I am resting in the knowledge and assurance that Christ is omniscient (He knows all, He has all wisdom, all knowledge, is all intelligent), omnipotent (there is none more powerful, None besides who is almighty, only He is supreme), omnipresent (infinite, always present everywhere, without beginning or end) and sovereign (He alone is commanding the stars & moons in their orbits, He is unmitigated, He alone is master of creation, holding the reigns). There is nothing new under the sun for Him. There is no heart I trust more deeply.

A song is playing in my thoughts, written in days of old , still speaking Truth:

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don't lose the vision here
Carried away by emotion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control, oh God is in control

History marches on
There is a bottom line drawn across the ages
Culture can make its plan
Oh, but the line never changes
No matter how the deception may fly
There is one thing that has always been true
It will be true forever
~Twila Paris

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In the Land of Flowers

Minda came home from an afternoon with Molly awhile back with the cutest, little, wired doll. She had embroidery floss hair, a silk flower petal skirt, and a beaded head. She was all of 3 inches tall and Minda had drawn on the sweetest violet eyes and quirky smile. All I could think about was how cute these would be as fairies flying over my sink while I did dishes. :o)

It has been a long time since I sat down to do any kind of craft other than making cards for J., but Minda was sure she could recreate her tiny friend, so off to Micheal's (craft store) we went armed with coupons! The only thing we couldn't find were wings. I'll be brainstorming as to how we can make some but below are the results of a very fun filled afternoon with my "little" girl. The process is simple. You need covered wire used in making flower arrangements. We wanted hemp colored, but could only find green. Wooden beads for the heads, silk flower petals for the skirts and various colors of Floss for the hair and clothes. We used Tacky glue to attach the hair. You'll also need wire cutters to trim lengths.Simply fold a 6.5" length of wire in half and slip it through the bead. We added antenae, but you don't have to for dollies. Take a 4" length and wrap it around the 'body' where you want the arms to be. Fold each end of the wire up and in, just a bit, for her hands. Then wrap arms, shoulders, & chest with whatever color of floss you want for a shirt. We used 3 flower petal layers for skirts, but you can use whaterver you want. The one Minda brought home from Molly's only had one layer and was very cute still. Fold the ends of the bottom wires up and in just a bit for her feet. Pull out lengths of floss in the color you would like to use for hair, to the length you would like it to be and then loop it back and forth until you have enough to give her a full head of hair. I found 10 loops to be perfect.Cover the area of the bead where you want the hair to be with the tacky glue and lay the loops on it evenly, with each strand touching the glue. We used scissors to snip the loops and even the ends. Then we used colored pencils to draw faces. Minda gave her girls' antenae dye jobs with Sharpies. Mine remained Au Naturale. :o) Aren't they adorable? Their faces are so full of personality we had to name them. Minda's are Tibs (with the electric blue bobbed hair), Topsy (with the lime green hair) and Tabitha (with the royal purple locks). Mine are Pippa (with the pink braids), Piper (with the orange pigtails), and Penelope (with the lavendar dreadies in a braid down her back).
(We added 5 more today! Trixie on the far left is sporting glasses and a flower parasol! Tam is next to her with the emerald green hair and crown. They are Minda's - continuing with her "T" theme. The tall blonde in the middle is Portia, then the raven haired beauty with the starry violet eyes is Persephone, & the one with the bright red pigtails behind her is Poppy. )
J. was surprised I was condoning fairy making. When the kids were little we were very strict about watching, reading, listening to, playing with and creating things that were real and godly. No magic, no sprites or pixies, no pokemon, no dragons... We wanted them to grasp that those were the world's explainations for God's creations because, as humans, we can't understand how God can create something from nothing. For some reason most people would rather believe in tiny little magical beings or big bad dragons than in angels, demons, God, and the devil. So as toddlers and young children we crafted sheep, and barnyards. We made homes for mice families out in the fields. There were elaboarte bird houses and starfish we painted white and added glitter to and hung on walls. We collected feathers and rocks and leaves and pieces of bark; looking for the minute amidst the big picture of woods, and farmland. Still "magical" without taking away from God's wonder. Now they are adults. Now they know the truth, and making tiny people who are nothing but our imaginations creation and have no powers & are inanimate is fun not damaging. I still love to collect flowers and press them and bits of robin eggs and seed pods to clutter my window sill, but now those will have these tiny friends among them made of wire and thread!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beauty & Pain

The sunsets have been astonishing this week. God has seemed to cast the beauty of Himself across each horizon night after night... HT: Tof took all the sunset photos!

Even on the eve of the news that, once again, we had lost a friend God made the sky fill with his glory. Last January our friend, Kathy, passed away after a battle with Luekmia. Thursday we got a call that Denny, her husband, was gone now too. It was unexpected and has deflated my world a bit. And, like a ball that doesn't bounce quite as high until it is pumped up, life seems to need God's breath blown into it.
Beauty & pain. They seem to walk hand in hand. We have lost Denny, but know he has gained Christ's eternal presence and ...

(In Hawaii with family)
He is with his bride once again. Though our hearts are sad, we know he is rejoicing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Behind Closed Doors

Because many of you have asked (and because I am feeling the need to evaluate and reconnect) I'm going to give you a "tour" of my pantry. I am far from where I wish to be, but I love to cook as naturally and as simply as possible using ingredients that I keep on hand all the time. Let's go!
Fats & oils: I have a few criteria for this shelf - 1) Used since ancient times (1000's of years) in traditional dishes & cooking methods, 2) Organic -because steroids or pesticides are stored in fat, 3) as little processing as possible because the enzymes in fat are important to it's breakdown in your body are killed in processing. That being said, here are the ones I buy:
* Cold, first press olive oil. If it is unrefined it will be cloudy, and in a dark bottle to keep the light from starting a chain reaction that will destroy the fatty acids, vitamin E and anti-oxidants.

* Unprocessed, organic, virgin coconut oil. It's gotten a bad wrap. It is an excellent butter substitute (use 25% less than what is called for with butter when substituting).
* All vegetable shortning. I try to rarely use shortning.
* Sesame Oil. Plain - not toasted.
* Pistachio Oil. Deep green color and unprocessed - I use this sparingly, as a finisher and only in no-heat dishes. It is expensive, but wonderful.
Of course Butter is an oil too, and I do use it, but it is not in my pantry. Again - organic, no salt, unpasteurized (and local if possible).

Onto sweetners. Again, I buy organic, unrefined or processed, and as old as the hills in cultural cooking!

*Raw or Strained Wild Gathered Honey. Raw will still be in the honeycomb (which you can chew)I buy local, but because honey is one of those foods produced from natural extraction, it reflects the host it came from. So though I buy the local clover honey, I also buy alfalfa & lavender & sage honey from Washington State, eucalyptus honey from Australia.
*Raw Blue Agave Nectar. 100% pure, with a rich, dark amber color. This is almost like honey with a lighter viscosity &, in this form, milder than honey.
*Organic, Unsulfered, Black Strap Molasses. My grampa turned me onto this. He used to feed this to our pigs as part of his slop to keep him healthy and his meat sweet. He also would mix our cows milk with a very small amount to "sweeten the pot" he said. Though it has many health benefits, I buy it simply because I LOVE the flavor over any other kind of molasses.
*Organic Muscovado. Unrefined, brown cane sugar. Has a stronger appearance and flavor than brown sugar.
* Raw Organic Turbinado. Looks like "sugar in the raw", but is not heat refined. It is crushed from freshly harvested Cane, and then spun at extremely high speeds to remove excess liquid, thus crystallizing the sugar. It is a darker brown than s-i-t-r.
2 things I am looking for, but have not found so I can try them are - pomegranate molasses & date sugar. I hope to make them a part of my pantry too.

I also have Vermont Pure Maple syrup... But I have yet to use it.

Now for grains, nuts and seeds. Which I adore. So many flavors and textures and colors and scents. This is my favorite shelf in the pantry. :o) Same criteria in choosing these.

*Oats. Raw, unrolled, organic, and local. I don't like oatmeal, but I do love oats in many baked goods and in my raw granola bars.
* Oat Berries or groats. Simply the whole, hulled grain that hasn't been cut, heated or rolled.
*Quinoa. (said KEEN-wah, or KIN-wah). This is one of the grains I can't be without. I love it in so many things. Though I buy this in bulk, & organic I do buy it pre-rinsed. Which just simply means that it has been soaked to remove the hulls & then allowed to dry. If you don't get it this way, you will have to do the soaking & rinsing.
*White & Brown Rice. Nuff said. I know long grain, wild rice is good for you, but I can't stand it.
*Garbanzos/Chick Peas. Hummus, hummus, hummus - yummus, yummus, yummus! I do use these little gems in other dishes, but I think God created them for hummus!
*Variety of Beans. Red, pinto, navy, great northern, kidney. Like the things above, I buy these bulk and air dried.
*Lentils. Brown, red & yellow. So great for so many dishes.
*Bulgur Wheat. I am a total Tabouleh freak. I also use it as a rice or cous cous substitute and as a hot cereal.
*Flax - whole and crushed. We eat this raw and use it in baking. It's an amazing little seed. You can totally due away with eggs and never lose moistness (sub = a tablespoon of flax to 3 tblsp of water per egg), but we sprinkle it on salads, add a cup to fresh baked breads or pastries, and boil it with water until it becomes goo & mix it with honey and lemon and use it for a sore throat soother!
*Farina - like Malt-o-meal. I use it in muffins, as a cereal, and on biscuit dough for texture.

*Raw, shelled Sunflower Seeds. You can find me at odd hours of the day, standing at the pantry door with the jar of Sunflower Seeds in hand, eating them by the handful. We put them in salads too, but they are mainly a snack!
*Raw, shelled almonds. Again - salads, snacks, toasted, almond milk... you name it.
*Hazelnuts. I am blessed to have a mom who grows these and a daughter who loves to crack them. :o) We have a steady supply of organic, raw, yummy hazelnuts (filberts) year round.
*Sesame Seeds. For my Korean, Thai, and Mediterranean dishes that I love so dearly.
*Popcorn! Yellow, organic - by the half gallons for the air popper!
~Some I would love to try, but have been unable to find - Hemp Seed, Amaranth, Teff, & Farro.
Pastas: Here I try to keep to whole wheat, but my family doesn't care for the texture often times, so I do go with spelt occasionally. Bulk, organic, and LOTS!
*Cous Cous.

I also buy fresh, pillow, stuffed pastas for the freezer: Tortellini, ravioli, & pierogis.

* Wheat Germ (local, organic),
*Whole Wheat flour(local),
*White unbleached flour(local),
*yellow corn meal,
*uniodized salt,
*Turkish Pink Salt.


*Shredded Coconut
*Dried Cranberries
*New Potatoes
*Red onions, Yellow Onions
*Dried Porcini mushrooms
*Multi Grain Chips

*Adagio Organic Peppermint Tea
(there are many different kinds of tea in our repertoire, but they rotate and are seldom the same from month to month other than the peppermint, green, sleepy time and earl gray - favorites by far!) Currently we also have 2 kinds of Rooibus (citrus and raspberry), Huckleberry Green, & a White Peony.
*Mulling Spices
*Dark Roast Coffee (I love Ibis' Aztec Dark!)

Canned :
*Tomato Sauce
*Crushed Tomatoes
*Green, black, & Kalamata Olives
*Sun dried Tomatoes
*Vegetable Broth
*Mushroom Broth
*7 yr. aged Balsamic Vinegar
*Oak Barrel Red Wine Vinegar
*Rice Vinegar
*Garlic baby dills
*Green Curry Paste
*Yellow Curry Paste
*Red Curry Paste

When we were in Washington I had a garden and I dearly miss it. I grew herbs, and lettuces, and salsa ingredients. We had fresh cucumbers, carrots, green beans and peas - not to mention the flowers! Here I must buy all of that as there is such a short growing season and deer, rabbits, and other vegetarians in abundance - and I just can't afford to. So I use dried herbs, and we buy salsa instead of buying ingredients to make the good stuff, and I live with Romaine instead of mescluns, and bibs, and butterheads... I honestly like pulling weeds, tilling soil, and watering.

My next project is to try to make everything pretty. I use almost all recycled jars and containers, so nothing is uniform. Still, cover them with fun paper or make labels and they suddenly seem to be family! :o) I also want to paint the shelves and inside walls. I'll keep you posted. :o)

You don't see the bottom of the pantry where the potatoes, onions, etc. are kept. I forgot to photgraph it, I'll try to get a photo up soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Call to Pray - - Ammended at the end

This morning I received a note from a friend about the Freedom of Choice Act. I had never heard anything about it. In researching and seeing that it is, indeed, real, I am now asking anyone and everyone who reads this blog to pray that this does not pass. We don't have much time, but God is always in the knick of time anyway! Read below, research for yourselves and then hit your knees, PLEASE.

Please join in praying the 9 days of prayers in the hope that FOCA will not pass. If you are apposed to abortion then there is bad news on the horizon.For those of you who do not know, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is set to be signed if Congress passes it on January 21-22 of 2009. The FOCA is the next sick chapter in the book of abortion. If made a law then all limitations on abortion will be lifted which will result in the following:

1) All hospitals will be required to perform abortions upon request.
2) Partial birth abortions would be legal and have no limitations.
3) All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.
4) Parental notification will no longer be required.
5) The number of abortions will increase by a minimum of100,000 annually.

Perhaps most importantly the government will now have control in the issue of abortion. This could result in a future amendment that would force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, down syndrome babies, etc) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have.

***I have since learned that this bill may not be passed on the 21-22nd of this month, however, it is still vital to be on our knees, seeking God's intervention and power in the face of what this bill could mean.
It is still a bill that is before congress that will likely pass (due to the majority of democratic support), it is still a bill that will give the government control, it still means that my taxes will be going toward taking a life, and that abortion could become common place. Catholics aren't the issue, in my opinion, life is. This bill is like putting a Herod into law who will be able to send out forces to kill at whim. The bill is real, even if the statement by the "novena" was misleading as to the extent of impact or the day of passage.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Long Awaited!

24 is BACK!
(Since Paul asked, Here is a link to the Charlie Rose conversation I mentioned in the comment box)
'24' - the movie

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bird Song

Ok - I did think of one thing I could tell you about that is rather AWESOME!
A few years ago, through a website called LA Blogotheque, J introduced me to a musician named Andrew Bird. The site is a bunch of random (well produced) videos of up and coming - usually indie - artists in public settings. They are called "The Take-Away Shows". The video was of this lone little man and his guitar, wandering up some cobbled lane in France, whistling and warbling. I wasn't overly impressed with his vocals, but was enchanted enough to continue delving into his music via the internet.
Fast forward to 2008. Andrew's last album, Soldier On,
was one of my very favorite, all-time albums. It won me over. I love the raw, edgy, quirkiness of his music - yet, he is an amazing instrumentalist & fun to listen to. They are calling his music 'whistle rock'. :o)

So on to the big news... He already has another album coming out! "Noble Beast" is due out on the 20th. Unlike "Soldier On" it is full length, and completely new stuff! He did an interview on NPR and you can listen to the entire album free too!

I'm so excited to soon be filling our days with sweet Bird songs!

And just to catch you up in the swirling, symphonic, whistle-filled wonderland - here is one more video.

slow beginnings

I've been struggling this week with what to post. Life is normal. Probably much the same as yours. We are waking up, making beds, getting breakfast, doing schoolwork, shoveling snow, going to work, making dinner, letting the dog in and out, and trying to stay in contact with friends and family from the warmth of our own home...
Kate and Kara came over to hang out with Tofer and Minda. But I'm falling down on my phototog-y-ness. I got no photos of them or of the muffins (I also added cinnamon and orange zest) I made for them while the played games. Nor did I phtotograph the process of making the Sundried Tomato/Garlic Hummus.
A new friend of Tofer's, Andrew, came over to jam while we were at small group - hence, no photos of them either.
I did manage to shoot a little snow removal, and Tofer helping out with worship at "The Gathering" last night. The Gathering is our churches vehicle to get new people together and plugged into small groups so they can build relationships. We worship, eat, and connect.
I love this shot. Tof just slipped on my grampa's old insulated long johns over his jeans! Nobody would have known they weren't snowpants, probably, if I hadn't said something, but it so reminded me of my childhood on the farm, I just had to say something!Minda bought snowboots! She hasn't owned a pair since we moved here 2 years ago. I had looked and looked for a pair for Christmas but couldn't find her size in my price range. She combined her other Christmas $ and what I gave her and bought these Kameks. :o)

Matt, Tofer, and Tanner led us in worship last night.

It's Saturday and we are going to try to get Christmas totally put away. I made Cinnamon Rolls for breakfast. The kids have their monthly game night at Luckey's tonight.

Life is rolling slowly along.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Into '09

2009 is going to be a year of big changes for our family. With high school ending in May, all 3 kids will be off on new life adventures by Autumn. We relished each other's company during the holidays knowing Thanksgiving and Christmas may never look the same again.
We see God in every moment of life right now. It isn't "magical" or even "awe-inspiring" so much as sobering. The preciousness of each day granted and the joys, trials, sufferings, and even the mundane within it are His work and grace flowing from His heart to us that, in the end, we might glorify His name. Our prayer for years has been that as the kids go out into the world that they would be shot as arrows, that they would be made straight a sturdy, and fly true - hitting the mark. Now we have to look to the future, in faith, believing and hoping that that is exactly how God has fashioned them through us and those who have linked arms with us.
But we still have to finish the school year! :o)

With one day left until it was back to the books, I made the most of yesterday. Here's some scenes.
Sir Nimbalo absorbing the rays of January sun on the front porch post.
He is too cute!
Rockford, bright and early, with Sara. We hadn't gotten together for a couple months, so we set a date, but it was cut short - SOOOO we'll be doing this again very soon!
(Photo by Sara!) She is so pretty.
Lunch date with Babe-o-liscious! It's been weeks. Being a pastor at the holidays doesn't allow for much spare time. That and being worn out has kept the date nights at bay. So, we settled for a date afternoon, even though Monday's are technically family day. We went to Cat Eye for lunch and then took a drive and listened to Matt Chandler. Love that guy!

We also had a chance to talk and reconnect a bit.
It was a great day!
Now onward! Last 4.5 months of High school - here we come!