Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: Year in Review

Here's a summary of the highlights and lowlights of 2008 for our family. I've included my personal prayer requests at the bottom. If you have any of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments (or e-mail them to me) and I will pray for you too.

January: Job hunting for Brian. We were scouring the internet and praying fervently that God would provide a job for Brian at the right time. This is the month that we found out that Foundations Academy wanted to fly him out for an interview.

February: My 27th birthday. We celebrated with a trip to Paris! Brian flew out to Idaho just before our trip and sent off his signed contract from the post office inside the Louvre. We had the wonderful news that my sister in law was expecting, and then came the blow that she had lost her triplets.

March & April: Exploring the UK with the growing awareness that we weren't there for much longer. We were surprised to find how very at home and comfortable we felt in a place that was once so foreign and scary. I wrote my first issue of Keepers of the Home.

May: Leaving Brighton for the last time. We shipped 6 boxes and had more than our full allowance of luggage, trying to carry back memories of an experience that had shaped and changed us, deeply not wanting those changes to disappear or memories to fade. We had a curry and some wine our last night at home with our two dear friends Anthony and Christina. Christina took us to Gatwick the next morning, faithfully helping us to carry everything through the airport. I remembered all of this incredibly vividly when we dropped her off at the airport here in Boise yesterday.

June: My mom had surgery, my brother graduated high school, Iain turned 2, and we celebrated 7 (!) years of marriage right back where it all began. It was surreal, eating our anniversary dinner at the Denny's where we had our first date. We had such a nice visit with our families after being away for so long.

July: Moving to Boise, Brian's 29th birthday. We took Brian's brother Austin with us as we traveled very slowly north, visiting as many people as possible on our farewell lap of the east. It was especially good to see my Uncle Greg, who I see very rarely, as he is practically my only contact with Dad's family anymore. He reminds me so much of my Dad that I tear up every time I see him. It felt like the filling of a void for him to meet Iain. Our stay with him was like a homecoming to me, a reconnection to part of my past that was once vital and now lost. (My dad passed away in a car accident when I was eight.) We stayed in Nashville after that, visiting Allan and Christine. Brian, Allan, and Austin headed out to Boise in the van while Iain and I stayed in Tennessee for a week. After arriving in Boise, our apartment wasn't ready, so we stayed with the Stutzmans and the Goodwins for two weeks. Finally on the day after Brian's birthday we moved in, but without any furnishings. The mover debacle was a definitely a low point in the year.

August: Our things finally arrived! The folks at Foundations had lent us the basics to survive. After many delays and loads more money, the moving truck finally came, leaving us with mountains of boxes. Brian began teaching at Foundations. I find a job babysitting.

September: We finally settled on a church home, All Saints Presbyterian.

October: Foundations has it's foundation dedication art project at the new building site. Iain becomes a big boy and says "Bye bye binky!"

November: Adam came for Thanksgiving.

December: Christina's visit, which I have yet to blog about, due to being busy visiting!

Prayer Requests for the New Year:
That God would allow our family to grow with the addition of more children. This is the greatest of my heart's desires, but I don't know if it is really what is best, or what the Lord has for us. But he is kind to listen to our petitions, and gracious even when he says "No."

That I would grow in my faith. I want to live like a believer, every day, in every circumstance and attitude. I find that with every unexpected expenditure, every thwarted desire, every circumstance that doesn't go I as had hoped or planned, like I react like a two-year-old child, with complaints, with frustrated tears, with a lack of belief that my Father knows best what I need.

That I would recognize and embrace my calling in life, nurturing and stewarding the talents and resources that God has given me, being full of contentment with this season of my life, and working diligently at the tasks he sets me to, glamorous or not.

Happy New Year to everyone. Praise God that we are one year closer to glory, and knowing that the fullness of time and salvation has not yet come, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Wild West

Maybe a little too wild. A few weeks ago Brian went hunting and came back with a coot, a mallard, and a jack-rabbit. Here he is with one of the birds, cleaned and ready for cooking.

And here is the stew I made out of the jack-rabbit that I was too chicken to eat. So much for my pioneer skills.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went to the Boise holiday parade.

It was fun seeing the Shriners in their crazy cars, the local paramedics doing synchronized CPR on teddy bears to "Stayin' Alive", and even...

Elvis! Everybody knew the king was alive somewhere. We told you Boise was a nice town to live in!

Brian got a real kick out of the logo on this truck. He said it looked like something out of a 70's cop show.

Iain got tired of the parade early so we walked to see the big Christmas tree in the Grove Center downtown. You can't see it in the picture, but he is crying here. Sheesh. You can see Peekaboo in her doggie sweater though. We got stopped every twenty seconds or so by people wanting to pet her and tell her how cute she was. Who know a dog in a sweater could be so popular? We just didn't want her to be cold.

On Monday night we had Mel over and decorated our Christmas tree. Iain was so interested in this and helped us hang ornaments until we were done.

(Btw, Mel, it was severely tempting to post some of those silly pics you left of yourself on our camera. Other friends have not been so lucky in the past!)

And earlier this week we made snowmen out of doughnuts, much to Iain's delight. He loves Raymond Briggs' The Snowman, and getting make a tasty dessert that looked like a snowman was pretty exciting.

Treasure in Heaven

I really appreciated and enjoyed our pastor's sermon today. It was on christian generosity in light of the humility of Christ. This was so timely for me. With all the decisions we are making regarding our finances right now, they have become something of an idol to me. It's amazing that that can be so, but even when your resources are thin, that fear of losing money can turn into an unhealthy obession.

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness.

If you'd like to hear today's sermon, please click here and choose the December 7th sermon.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

Over Thanksgiving we had the blessing of receiving a visit from a good friend from Brian's college days. Adam was here for a week and we had a great time catching up with him. With all the transition that we've had lately, it was great to be with someone who remembers the person I was 10 years ago! Adam was a groomsman in our wedding and Brian's roommate in college.

We had a fun week hanging out. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving we drove up Highway 55 to see some mountain scenery and to give the guys a chance to do some fishing.

I can't help but like the feeling this picture gives me.

I like that you can see Brian's reflection in this shot.

Iain enjoyed climbing on the rocks and watching Papa and Adam fish. He and I also picked up some nice pine cones that are now part of our Christmas centerpiece.

We stopped in a couple of interesting small towns. This was had the somewhat dubious name of Crouch.

We all got a kick out of this street sign in Idaho Falls. Apparently the Main Street/Wall Street financial divide isn't as big there.

We also stopped for a few pictures at a really pretty trail head. We couldn't get out and hike because Iain was napping in the car.

And just to entice the rest of you to visit:

Iain had fun running around and playing with the snow up in the mountains.

For Thanksgiving we headed over to David and Stormy's house. The kids had a blast playing on the trampoline while waiting for dinner to cook.

The pretty table setting.

We had a great time. The food was amazing and the company was wonderful. We stayed all day enjoying the conversation. Adam snapped this family photo for us.

I hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful visit with Adam. He and Brian even got to go to the last Bronco game of their perfect season. They rushed the field and Brian got to touch the WAC trophy. Needless to say, they were thrilled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The ungrateful debtor

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.

I was recently looking for a few books about thanksgiving to read to Iain in preparation for this wonderful holiday and I found nothing suitable. The books I saw were either about the somewhat dubious historical origins of the holiday or about eating or at best about "giving thanks". But of those few books that actually talked about thankfulness, even fewer mentioned who we were supposed to be thankful to. Most read like "A List of Things I Like". I like my house, my car, my food, my toys, my family. So thanks, whoever is out there, for giving me some things I like.

But what about people who have nothing? Or have a terminal illness? Or have lost something they value deeply? Are they called to thankfulness?

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Psalm 42:4-5

I am in pain and distress;
may your salvation, O God, protect me.

I will praise God's name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.

This will please the LORD more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. Psalm 69:29-31

What are we truly thankful for?

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.

I'm thankful for his unshakeable love that chose me before the world began. For the heartache He has saved me from and for the heartache He has led me through. I'm thankful for His almighty power which can never ever fail. I'm thankful for His goodness. He is purity itself. How lovely to look at unadulterated good. There is not even the tiniest flaw in Him, and if I think so it is because there are deep flaws in me. I'm thankful for His lovingkindness that loves me, the covenant breaker. The murder, the adulterer, the idolator, the thief. I'm thankful that though this world is broken, it can not break me, because of the One who died and shed His immortal blood for me. Thank you God!

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

And Can It Be, Charles Wesley

Dear Father, Please fill my heart with the true spirit of thanksgiving, this week and always. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

For I am with you, says the LORD.

I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant';
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:9-10

These verses have been a big encouragement to me lately-- how much more I need to think on them!

Life is never predictable, and it is my first reaction to begin to worry and fear whenever there is uncertainty in my life. So I'm worried a lot. And that's a sin. I can't begin to describe how harmful worry is to my soul. When I cling to my fears, I rebel against the Lord. Clutching my concerns to my chest, my mind races with how I'm going to deal with it-- how can I fix it? No wonder I'm afraid. I'm trusting in myself.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:4-6

So today I want to cast my cares on Him. He is capable and He is wise. Why cling to my stress and worry? He is my loving heavenly Father.

We have some big decisions facing our family-- as always it seems! Please pray for us if you have a moment and are reading this. We would love to see our family grow, if that is the Lord's will. There are many factors that play into this and due to the much more public nature of blog now than 3 years ago, I think it is the better part of wisdom to leave it at that. If you want to know more for the purposes of prayer and encouragement, please feel free to come to me and ask me privately.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I trust You. You are good and holy. I know that what you do is right. Please help me to remember this each and every day, especially on days that seem dark and scary. I cast my cares on You Father. If You are for me, who can be against me? I know that I am valuable because of You and Your love for me-- and that Your love doesn't wax and wane depending on how well I'm doing at a given moment. Help me to find my security in You. I love You Lord and I thank you so much for Your covenant faithfulness and lovingkindness. Bless Your holy name. Amen.

The Promised Menu Plan

Ok, so here is the menu I came up with. I'm just listing the dinners because I'm too lazy to type it all out! For breakfast we generally have cereal or toast, and I plan on making some granola this week. For lunch it is usually leftovers or a sandwich.

Friday: Foccacia bread to share at our friend's house
Saturday: Dinner out! :)
Sunday: Pot Roast (we had a lovely visit with some new friends while sharing this meal)
Monday: Sausage roll (thanks Sarah!!)
Tuesday: Beef Strogonoff with leftovers from pot roast
Wednesday: Chicken curry with rice
Thursday: Jacket potatoes topped with leftovers or tuna

There's the sausage plait that Sarah recommended. It looks great! I made it on Friday and froze it. It is defrosting at the moment. I also had enough left over filling for another plait, butI was out of yeast, so I froze it in a baggie for later use.

In other news, I'm feeling woefully discouraged today and am thankful for the prayers of my mother and the encouraging words of my dear friend Christina. It is amazing how much power the tongue has-- to build up or to destroy. I'm going to continue to prayerfully plug along and trust that the Lord knows all that is happening below the surface. Though I see little progress in my life, He is at work, and He never fails.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rejoicing in the little things

Those of you who know me know that I am not a seamstress. Yet I had an old body pillow with no pillowcase. I love having a body pillow-- they are so comfortable. When I was pregnant with Iain, a body pillow helped me sleep at night. Anyway, I was pricing pillowcases and I keep seeing them for $10-$15, which seems unreasonably high to me. And the selection wasn't particularly nice. So I dug out my sewing machine and made this pillowcase last week. It cost me a significant amount of aggravation, but it is the right color and made from a soft flannel that it is nice for snuggling. I bought two yards of fabric at Wal-mart for $2.50 a yard and I already had the thread, so it cost me $5 plus my time. So I'm very happy with it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Maddening Menus

To make the most of resources, I always plan what meals I'm going to have for the week before I go shopping. Every week I spend at least 30 minutes looking through cookbooks, searching online, or staring into space trying to conjure up meals utilizing what I have on hand and what's on sale. Don't ask me how it is possible for a woman who has been cooking dinner every night for almost seven and 1/2 years to be stumped every week when it comes time to plan a menu. But there it is. So I was wondering if anybody wanted to help a bit this week? :) I actually don't have to cook tomorrow night since we're going to a friend's house. So I could possibly do some baking or freezer cooking to get ahead.

At any rate, I'm pretty well stocked at the moment thanks to a buy one get one free meat sale at Albertson's. We don't eat a lot of meat, especially beef or pork since it is expensive, so this is very exciting.

Here's what I've got:
2 packages bratwurst
1 package ground sausage
1 whole chicken
1 beef roast
2 packs of chicken breasts
2 packs of pork chops
Lunchmeat (also a treat!)
fresh spinach
curry paste
cream of mushroom soup
diced tomates
canned veg
tomato soup
chicken broth
monterray jack cheese

So what should I make? I left off some staples and I can go to the store to fill in a few items, but we have plenty of food and we need to eat what we have. If you've got an idea or recipe, I'm all ears. I'll share my final menu plan after I figure out what it is.

Pizza Parlor Fun

Earlier this week I had the blessing of going on a little "mommy date" with Iain. We went to Flying Pie Pizzeria with the Idaho Mom's Network for a tour and we got to make our own pizza! Flying Pie is considered to be the best pizza place in Boise, and I must say that I agree. Here we are waiting to get started.

They had all kinds of fun hats for the kids to wear while they constructed their pizzas. Iain choose the crown, but it was so big that it looked like a royal rasta hat! He didn't leave it on for too long.

After washing our hands, we got to spread sauce and sprinkle cheese on our pizza dough.

And of course, there was some quality-control testing to be done.

Next came the meat and the olives. Yum, yum! It was very hard for Iain to be patient and not eat his pizza uncooked. I'm actually not sure if he is adding ingredients or taking them off in this picture!

Next we named our pizzas and gave them to the staff to be cooked in the oven. We called ours "Iain's Sampler". Then they gave us drinks and breadsticks and showed us the massive dough mixer. I couldn't believe the size of it. It makes enough dough for almost 200 pizzas, and they make the dough fresh every morning.

Next we saw our pizzas cooking in the oven. Then we got to eat them!

Iain and I both really enjoyed our morning at Flying Pie. If you are ever in Boise, you have to check them out!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Free Snacks!

I have a ton of things that I'm looking forward to blogging about, but I just have a minute, so I'll share this quickie. I got these for .68 cents today! Woohoo! I really like these fruit leathers for Iain (and me too!) because they're 100% fruit. Sadly, they're also a bit pricey. But I wrote to the company complimenting their product and requesting some coupons and they gave me some coupons for free fruit leathers. So I only had to pay tax on these. Writing to your favorite companies really pays off because you can get coupons for the stuff you love-- and maybe even a few freebies. What a blessing!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

First American Halloween

We took Iain to a trunk-or-treat party on Wednesday night, and being the frugal mama that I am, I decided to make Iain's halloween costume. He is a train-- and a very sad one-- if you can't tell from the pictures.

He actually refused to wear this costume on Wednesday, so we transitioned to a backup. Iain the builder!

Here he is wearing a fireman's hat that they gave him that night. Costume # 3! It was at about this point, while admiring the candy haul, that Iain decided dressing up was ok.

So on Friday he wore his costume without too much complaint.

This was our first time taking Iain trick or treating, and it was such a blessing. I wanted to have a child for so long-- it is such a joy to get to do kid stuff with our son. He did very well saying thank you to everyone. We had dinner with our friend Melody and then walked around the block trick or treating. We all had a really nice time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mountain road trip

Last weekend we drove up into the mountains which are to the north of us. Iain and I were still recovering from a stomach virus and those windy roads were a little tough for us, but we made it and we had fun too.

The first town we came to was Horseshoe Bend. I couldn't believe the size of this stack of logs. Look how tiny I am in comparison! We had to stop and get a picture.

We drove up highway 55, which follows the lovely rushing Payette River for a long time.

The next stop was at Smith's Ferry, which was basically a few houses and a tiny store and restaurant. They had a cool old fire truck parked outside that Iain got to climb around on.

We spent some time taking in the views, throwing rocks in the river and checking out the yellow pine trees. There seems to be debate about whether they are called Tamaracks or Ponderosas.

Then we headed up the road towards McCall, stopping off in Cascade at a diner for lunch. It was so strange to be in an American country diner after living in England. I had biscuits and gravy and Brian had a burger and tater tot fries. There was not a single vegetable to be seen on the menu. Hmm.

Payette Lake in McCall is truly lovely and McCall is a nice town with a compact downtown/high street that you can walk with ease. It would only be improved if there was more of a local population. I get the sense that most of the businesses up there are serving tourists and seasonal guests.

We stopped at a public park on one end of the lake before walking around town. I enjoyed snapping tons of pics while we were up there.

Checking out the dock.

After walking around town, we drove around the lake and found a nice little spot where we could walk through the woods and get onto the beach. Iain had a blast climbing around and I had fun snapping tons of photos.

Beautiful autumn leaves.

Fun with sticks!

The mystery tree. (Upon further investigation, it seems to be a Tamarack.)

Beautiful driftwood.

Beautiful blessings.