Monday, November 30, 2009

Tis the Season for...Listening

I like to talk.

I like it so much that I make my living doing it.

I like it so much that God decided to give me a ministry that includes it.

You know all that research about how many words girls have compared to boys, how even from very young ages, girls will use about ten times the number of words in a day that boys do?
I'm here to tell you that research is right on, yes it is. Except at my house, with three females living here, my husband's words are buried exponentially. Bless his heart.

I like to talk when I'm praying. Sometimes I am talking for a practical reason: to keep my ADD brain from flying off to the grocery list, or an assignment for 1st period, or a chore that must get done. Mostly, however, I talk because I, well, like it.

For Christmas, I want to give God something I often neglect to do.
I want to listen.

Years ago, I found a Christmas devotional that I've used each year since. It's called Jesus, Be in My Christmas by Sarah Hornsby. Allow me to share a brief word from it:
If I listen, God speaks daily to me, making the most ordinary of circumstances profoundly holy. God speaks through words of wisdom, words of Scripture or song, through intuitive insight. God speaks through nature, events, friends, children, husbands/wives, through the sacraments. God even speaks through mistakes and through deliberate wrongs others do to me.
Father God, thank You for Your tireless efforts to communicate with me. I want to be open, available, listening, ready to participate in bringing in Your kingdom, whether in small, quiet, ordinary ways or great. Jesus, be in my listening.

Shhh...can you hear Him?


Sunday, November 29, 2009

We Gathered Together to Count the Lord's Blessings

For the first time I can even remember, I sat down to a Thanksgiving table to which I had contributed NOTHING.

Not one thing. Not a pot of turnip greens, not a cranberry salad. Not even the World Famous, Absolutely-Must-Be-There Butternut Squash Rolls, guaranteed to insure familial love for many hours.

The reason for this slacker Thanksgiving? A brutal round of bronchitis that wiped me out for four days. I wasn't contagious on Thursday, but no one wanted me breathing on their food just in case. I was exiled to the couch, my home away from home for most of the week.

Sitting around a feast I did not prepare, eating a life-changing bowl of Paula Deen's banana pudding, I savored the blessings of simple things that I love:

My favorite people in the world. Hands down.

A warm, charming home decorated with the stylish simplicity that so characterizes my sister.

Enjoying my mother's laughter and conversation, sounds that only a few years ago seemed gone forever.

My Thanksgiving Day seemed odd without the bustle of baking, but perhaps it was a clearer picture of the reality of my life. Thinking back, it strikes me that every day I sit down to a feast I did not prepare to which I contributed nothing.

Every day I am invited to a table in the Presence prepared for me by my loving Heavenly Father, my attendance made possible by the sacrificial grace of Christ.

I contribute nothing. I can only savor the life-changing Bread and Wine that have provided all I need.

This week, I have been praying a lot and fretting a little (okay, a lot) about some unknowns coming quickly upon me--my subbing position, some doctor's appointments. (Even my phrasing is ironic there, because, truly, isn't every week full of unknowns, whether I'm anticipating them or not?) As the holiday seasons begins, I am thankful my God is both Emmanuel, God with me, and El Roi, the God who sees me no matter where I am.

He is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning of all and the End of all, my Morning Star and Evening Star, the One Who never changes.

The One Who sets the Table for me and bids me come and dine.
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy, eat!
Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what
does not satisfy?
Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."

Isaiah 55:1-2


Monday, November 23, 2009


...for my husband, who has gotten himself and the kids off to school BY HIMSELF for two days now, once to help me recover from a speaking engagement last week, and this morning because I have the creeping crud;

...for a doctor to go to this morning for the crud;

...for a weekend full of powerful worship

...for God's mercy in allowing my voice to hold out for all the worship services in which I've participated the last few days...right up through choir practice last night;

...for an awesome group of MOPS ladies who opened their hearts to hear about the outrageous grace of God through Jesus Christ;

...for my Savior, my Prince, Who redeemed this messy life and lets me talk about Him be the glory and honor and power forever and ever!

...for you, particularly if you're still reading this.

Blessings today,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sing a New Hallelujah

Can you hear, there's a new song
Breaking out from the children of freedom
Every race and every nation
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

When DD#1 suggested that we act as a host home for a choir visiting our church, I admit I was nervous. Our home was a serious fixer-upper, and while we've fixed-up a lot, we have much still to do. I wondered where everyone would sleep, whether they'd be embarrassed to ride in my old car, if we'd know what to say.

After this weekend, I'm ashamed of myself. I almost robbed my family of one of the greatest blessings we've had in a long time.

The Daraja Children's Choir is a ministry of 410 Bridge, an organization doing great work in Kenya. In a world when Christian relief efforts seem to often be miles wide but only inches deep, 410 has chosen to sow deeply in a few communities, partnering with local Christians to provide clean water and educational opportunities. Our pastor's parents have served over fifty years on African mission fields; now in their eighties, they help provide pastoral support for one of the 410 partner villages. Our church has had a deep love for the Kenyan people for many years, and this more recent connection with 410 Bridge and Daraja Choir has only strengthened the bond.

Twenty-two smiling Kenyan children descended on our church for the weekend. Betty, Esther, and Cynthia came to stay at our house, and my family will never be the same.

We played Twister (not quite the same at 41 as it was at 11) and Sardines. They poured over our bookshelves and instantly became kindred spirits with the bibliophiles who live here. We looked at pictures of their homes and families outside Narobi. Betty's album featured three different pictures of the family's water spigot, where, she emphasized, the water that came out was clean.

Ya'll, I had been worried about how my house was measuring up to some of the other host homes they'd visited.

The director of the choir spoke last night during their concert. There is much that we have that these children do not, she said. We have lots more stuff. But there is one other thing we have that they don't:


As entitled Americans, we are frustrated that God is messing with our stuff. These kids are excited about water spigots.

And they are excited about their Savior.

One thing they had that I really, really want is contagious joy . They exuded it; it radiated from their faces. I want that.

Our idea of the simple life in America is buying organic and, if you're really out there, having a composting toilet. In other words, the "simple life" here is expensive.

I want to get to the point where I don't want stuff, even politically correct "green" stuff.
I want to truly get to the point where my stuff is God's stuff, because He owns it all anyway.

I want Christ to be my Treasure.

And my contagious Joy.


PS If you are interested in having the amazing Daraja Children's Choir come to your church, you can visit

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: 2nd Best Biscuits in the World

You cannot live in the south and not love biscuits.
Blanketed with butter.
Gently enfolding a slice of ham or a piece of sausage.
Or the ultimate, soaked in cane syrup and served as dessert.

Nobody makes better biscuits than my mama. Hers are the French pastry of biscuits: short, thin, and crispy on the edges.

At 83, my mama rarely makes biscuits anymore. She passed down the secret proportions to me, her younger daughter.

I have no idea what they are. You dump some self-rising flour in a bowl, add several spoonfuls of shortening, add enough buttermilk to make it look right, and mix this concoction with your fingers, gradually smoothing the lumpy shortening and working in the tiniest amount of flour possible to create a solid mass. Bake 'em for about 10 minutes in a super-hot oven, like 475*or 500*.

Got that?

In Married Life BC (Before Children), I made a pan of these delicacies for Big Red every. Saturday. morning. Ah, the days of newlywed bliss.

Then came colic.

Have some cereal, honey.

Until I discovered the 2nd Best Biscuits in the World. Not quite, but almost, as good as Mama's. Almost.

Here's the top secret recipe. Destroy this blog post after memorizing.

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
That's right. Two ingredients. Two. You can do this.
Stir together. Pat out gently on a floured surface. Cut into biscuits; bake at 475* for 10-12 minutes.

For you unfortunate folks who do not have self-rising flour, a moment of silence on your behalf. I'm sure the internet has about two million listings for how much baking powder and salt you add to plain flour to duplicate self-rising.

I confess. I haven't made Mama's biscuits in a while. I might destroy this blog post after writing, because if Big Red reads it, he will want those biscuits again.

Tonight, 2nd best will have to do. ;-)

This post is linked up with Jen at Beauty and Bedlam.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You've Got Mail

All my literary friends in the blogsphere have been raving about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You've already noted my devotion to the written word, so I dutifully put my name on the library list and patiently waited my turn.

Oh, my.

Was it ever worth the wait.

Over the past few days, I have stayed up way past my bedtime, neglected the dust bunnies, and sipped hot tea, all to reach the satisfying end of this book.

I loved it partly because I sorely miss the art of letter-writing. When I was in high school, my best friend and I wrote newsy letters to one another all summer long. She didn't have a phone, so this tradition began out of necessity but continued out of pure pleasure. During the school year, I wrote notes to her after finishing my assignment in typing class. These turned into a lengthy continuing mystery story starring all of our friends as suspects. We thought ourselves terribly witty. To this day I wish I'd copied and saved them all.

Alas, one simply cannot picture today's emails tied in a blue hair ribbon and stored in a treasure box. It makes me wonder what else we've lost in these days of instantaneous, impermanent communication.

For instance, who doesn't love mail, the good kind, the personal kind, that lets me know someone other than a credit card company was thinking of me from far away?

Besides that, what about the fun of searching for the perfect card? Or searching for stationary that was just so you that the receiver could instantly identify the sender? I spent many a delicious hour in my college bookstore selecting cards for my mother, who had to have been the World's Best Correspondent. She sent me oodles of mail that made me the envy of all my friends.

Even after I moved closer to home and saw her often, my mom continued to write me letters. I think perhaps it was a more comfortable medium to say things that were hard to say face-to-face. She could safely comment on my dating woes or encourage me through a long and discouraging season with my health with those lovely mama words that seemed awkward in our new adult-to-adult relationship.

I think I'll whip out the yellow pages and find the nearest Hallmark store. Then I'll actually buy some stamps, something I haven't done in a long time. It's time for a newsy letter or two for a friend far away.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Even Tastier on Thursday

The delectable sight before you was supposed to be Tuesday's post, but life around here went nuts in a matter of hours. Long story. I'm sure you know how that works.

DD#2 has just completed a neat heritage project for her class. I like any project that involves food, and for this one, she could choose to prepare a recipe that had been handed down in our family. This required about...oh...10 seconds of thinking, because my mama's chocolate pound cake is about the best cake I've ever put in my mouth. Hands down, it was the favorite choice for birthday cakes around our home when I was growing up. My mother liked it because pound cakes are easy and require ingredients readily available in the pantry. I liked it because it was chocolate and could be iced with chocolate frosting...and served with chocolate ice cream.

So without further ado, here is Granny's Chocolate Pound Cake:
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla

Cream together butter, shortening, and sugar. Beat each egg in separately. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla. Bake at 325* for 80-90 minutes.


I've been planning to have someone take my picture for this blog when I had on makeup and a favorite outfit that makes me look thin. In the interest of full disclosure, I might as well share this more realistic shot, featuring my usual stained, bulky sweatshirt and humidity hair. :)

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am thankful for a heritage of sweet memories as well as sweet treats. Be blessed!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Picking Your Brains

Over the years, the Lord has so graciously given me the sweetest mentors and friends. Older women (well, not really old, because they were probably my age now ;)) came alongside me those years when I was a single teacher living away from home. When He stirred my heart to want more of Him than I knew, He sent this young mama to an awesome fellowship of Bible study ladies who introduced me to Beth Moore. In the last few months, He's sent me the dearest prayer partners and wisdom-givers who are holding me up as He grows a speaking ministry in me.

He's sent me some awesome mall buddies and chocolate chip cookie bakers (and eaters) and coffee-drinking gals.

I love worshipping alongside my sisters in Christ, and I love women's ministry.

This weekend, our church hosted our second Ladies' Gathering. We had an amazing day of God's Word in testimony and in song, and sweet times of laughter and prayer.

Besides the planning team, there were 14 people there.

Our church is not huge, but it is not small enough to consider 14 people a crowd. Don't get me wrong. I know numbers are not the point; hearts are. The Most Important Guest showed up and showed off. The women who came left blessed and full of the Spirit. They want to come back.

My question for you is this: what does your church do, or what do you wish your church would do, to draw women in ? I'm asking for the spiritual and the practical. How do you make women hungry for more, and how do you schedule and plan so that the ball game or shopping or a nap doesn't seem like the better deal? I realize our hectic lifestyles ( which I would argue are not of God, but that's another post) often make prioritizing extremely difficult. I know everyone can't do everything; several women let me know that they wanted to be there, but life happened in the way it does.

How do you, my far-flung group of imaginary friends, stay connected with the ladies of your church? What binds your heart to those sisters in Christ?

Thanks for sharing your collective wisdom with me. The Lord is binding my heart to yours, even though we can't see each other. Let's sit over our coffee cups and share how God moves among the women in your church body. I'll eat your chocolate chip cookie for you.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

To Everything There is a Season

So glad I took this a week or so ago:

because now it looks like this:

The leaves, glorious in their fall finery, could not withstand the wind and rain. Their beauty meant something was dying.

Please pray this morning for the teacher for whom I am subbing in a few weeks. In addition to her own health problems , she lost her father Tuesday. I cannot imagine the physical and emotional stress of going through that while in the ninth month of a high-risk pregnancy.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time thinking about losing my own father almost three years ago in December.

I remember those last days, both beautiful and terrible.
To sit at the bedside of that elderly man in his final hours was one of the great privileges of my life.
To know that he had finally seen his need for a Savior days before was one of the great blessings of my life.

I don't really understand this mystery of living and dying. I only know that God so cherishes this cycle He created that, through it, He imparted grace to the fragile things He made.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ brought our pardon and set us free from our earthbound chains of sin and death.

His beautiful and terrible dying meant something could now be living.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Midweek Mary Moment

In our Stepping Up study, I looked at these verses in Jude:
To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power,and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!
Jude 24-25

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tasty Tuesday:Chicken Chili Soup

**Edited to add: Note to Self: Check to see if memory card is in camera before photographing your supper.

At least that's what I'm calling it.

Over the weekend, I had my annual autumn allergy attack, complete with headache and sore throat. In this rotten estate, I visited my sweet friend whose daughter is DD#2's BFF. She took pity on me and served me a cup of Harry and David's ginger spice tea with sourwood honey. Ahh...just what the doctor ordered. If the hot spicy goodness of the tea wasn't enough, she handed me a bowl of the best chicken soup I've ever put in my mouth.

Alas, there was no formal recipe for me to copy. How sad.

So last night, as the headache lingered on, I craved that soup again and went to work on a copycat. I wanted a) to get as close as possible to the original and b) to avoid the grocery store at all cost.

That last part meant I had to wing it on the seasonings, because my friend used a packet of white chicken chili seasoning mix, which will become a pantry staple at my house in the future.

Here's what I concocted:

White Chicken Chili Soup

2 cans chicken broth
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (If you happen to have taco-flavored chicken in your freezer as I have, use it. If not, prepare the chicken however you like. You may want to boil it and prepare homemade broth, or cook it with salsa and seasonings like mine. )
2 cans great northern beans, drained
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can whole kernel corn
1 packet white chili seasoning OR
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp seasoned salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp pepper
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup chopped broccoli, very lightly steamed, or 1 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

Dump everything except the rice and broccoli in your crockpot and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours. Before serving, add the rice and broccoli and heat through.

Serve this to your pitiful sick friends with some cornbread (with NO added sugar, or your southern bloggy friends will label you a heretic). It tastes lots better than zinc lozenges.
I'm linking this up with Jen's Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam.

Be blessed and allergy-free,

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is Only a Test

Awhile back, I shared that our family was praying about a decision.

It's made.

In a few weeks, I'll be taking a long term subbing position at a local middle school. Yes, that's right. I'm having such a blast with the hormonal middle schooler in my own home that I've decided to be with 120 of them every weekday for at least six weeks.

For the record, I did this professionally before I had any children of my own. When I left to become a stay-at-home mommy, I thought I had shaken the dust of all 7th and 8th grade classrooms from my feet. Apparently, I now need a do-over.

God has a way of doing that, doesn't He?

Here's the thing: In Round 1 of my teaching career, I wasn't very good at it. I had been a believer since I was nine, but I was only beginning to grasp that there was more to this walking with Jesus than just being a good church girl. I was deeply in bondage to perfectionism, and perfectionism and teaching do not mix. The Lord was setting me up for when He was really going to rattle my cage as a new mama, but that's another post (or two, or three).

A few years ago, I went back to full-time teaching in a private school. I loved my 3rd graders.
They still wanted me to like them. I loved being silly with them, and I loved teaching them from
God's word. Soon, however, it became clear that there was much my husband and I did not love about other things at that school, and it was obvious that God was moving me in a different direction.

I was bitter about that for a long time.

Then one day, I heard Him speak so distinctly to me that His voice may as well have been audible. My sweet Father tapped me on the shoulder and said, " I did that, Ginger. No one had the power to move you from that place but Me. I did it. Now let's move on, shall we?"

Yep, He sure did. That's what He said. Maybe He doesn't talk that way to you, but with this girl, He has to be blunt. Otherwise I miss it.

And now, this season. It's been a long journey back to a middle school classroom. A bittersweet journey. There's been much to love in being back at home . I wasn't sure I wanted to give that up, as nice and necessary as added income is right now. After much praying and much heavenly silence, my husband and I got to a point where the thought of me being full-time temporarily didn't make us sick to our stomachs. (Does that sound odd? Please don't get the impression that we are independently wealthy. This economy has hit educators hard; it's just that we've now had many years of seeing God provide, and we have lived relatively simply for a long time.) We felt we could go forward.

We're moving on, my Father and I. For those of you who have done Beth Moore's Stepping Up, this will no doubt be a large part of my face-down listening.

Speak, Lord, for your servant really wants to pass the test this time around .