Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet Words

I had a friend call last week all the way from Pennsylvania.  She left a very sweet voicemail, the kind that you never delete and even go back and listen to on occasion.  And when we were able to connect "in person," our conversation was so incredibly encouraging.  She has been faithfully praying for us since we left PA, almost two years ago, and God had laid it on her heart recently to share that with me.

She had no idea what is going on in our life and ministry right now.  But God does!  He knew I needed the encouragement, the perspective, even the loving rebuke that only she could give, so far removed from the situation(s).  I am so grateful for this friend's sensitivity and surrender to the Lord's leading.  Her words and prayers were truly a "balm" to my weary soul.

Margaret Grubric

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I've been studying the book of Nehemiah in preparation for teaching our teen girls Sunday School class.  This book, as well as Ezra, is about return.  The people physically return to the their homeland.  Under Ezra, they rebuild the temple.  Yet some still weep because even its present glory couldn't compare to its former.

Then the people rebuild the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah's leadership.  They return the city to the structure of strength it once was.  Yet many scholars believe Nehemiah's wall to be much smaller in circumference than the original.

And then, most importantly, the people return to the Book of the Law.  They read about the Feast of Tabernacles and God's constant dwellingplace with His people, even in the wilderness.  They weep and mourn for their disobedience in not keeping this feast since the days of Joshua, some 900 years earlier.  But they return and keep the feast, with rejoicing in the unchanging character of their God.  They read of how they were to be a holy people, set apart from the pagan influences of the surrounding cultures.  And they do the hard work of returning to that sanctity, many of them by divorcing foreign wives.

So too in our lives, we can't always go back.  We can't undo mistakes, take back words or change our actions.  We don't even get a second chance to take advantage of missed opportunities.  The people of Israel made a choice to worship other gods.  Their long captivity was the consequence, God's judgment.

But we can always return.  We can go back to the place we left behind and we can start over.  This is the Biblical idea of repentance, turning from our sin back to God.  We so easily stray after sin, "prone to wander," as the songwriter aptly describes.  But we can always return to our God.  There is not even a "shadow of turning" with Him (James 1:17).  He remains constant and faithful, waiting to welcome us back as the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  He offers abundant grace and mercy when we return to His throne (Heb. 4:16).

Why, then, is it so hard to return?  I fear it is our pride that keeps us from turning back.  It takes true humility to admit our sin and return to Christ.  And it takes grace to remain at the foot of the cross when Satan constantly reminds us of the far-reaches of sin we came from and tempts us to come back.

I can't help but think of Naomi, another character we've studied in our girls SS class.  She left her homeland in famine and some would say experienced God's judgment for doing so in the loss of her husband and sons. But she returned and what did she find?  Not only food in abundance, but a redeemer for her dying family.  What grace!

It's been almost two and a half years since I last posted. . .  So much has taken place since June 2011 - a second child, a new job, a new house, a new life for our family - and I haven't written a single sentence!  But now it's time to return.  I've been burdened lately to come back to the discipline of writing, putting my thoughts down on electronic "paper."  Not necessarily for you, the reader (because I really don't think there are many, if any!).  But for me.  I need to remind myself of the ordinary miracles present in my life - like grace for the repentant, returning sinner.

So at the risk of admitting my failure, past and probably future too, I officially return to blogging!  May God give me grace.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mystery Dinner - Times Two!

Last night, the non-profit I work for hosted its annual board dinner.  This has historically been a rather dry and boring event, but I was in charge this year.  So we livened things up a bit with a 1920s murder mystery.

I wrote the mystery myself (which was quite the literary undertaking!).  I based the plot and characters loosely on "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald (minus the drinking and swearing and other "inappropriate" behavior).

I tried to create the atmosphere of a 1920s dinner party with lots of feathers, pearls, cut glass and white linens.  We had jazz and dance music playing during dinner and even a few vintage cars out front as guests arrived.  Many people came in costume, which added to the evening.  I even managed to come up with a costume from a few local consignment shops that accommodated my growing belly.  (My husband was a character in the murder mystery - that's why he's wearing the funny glasses.)  

Overall, I think the evening was a great success!  No one solved the murder, though, so I must have made it a little too mysterious. . .

This morning my husband surprised me with a mystery of my own to solve!  Today is our 6th anniversary, so I have to piece together clues I've been receiving throughout the day (including a motive, getaway vehicle and "weapon of displayed affection") to figure out what he he in store for us tonight.  We'll see where we end up!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ladies Night Out

Much of what has been consuming my time lately was a ladies outreach event for our church.  We held our first Ladies Night Out on Friday with a theme of "Making Life Beautiful" - inside and out.

About 40 ladies got together for a night of pampering - chocolate, coffee, cosmetics and just plain fun.  We had a speaker share a few beauty tips and "trends" for the upcoming season.  We played a few games and gave away some fun prizes.  

We wrapped up the evening with a challenge from God's Word on the true inner beauty that comes only from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  

We enjoyed quite the spread of finger foods to dip in our chocolate fountain and an extensive variety of coffees and teas in our very own coffee bar!

We decorated with butterflies in fun spring shades of green and purple.

It was a lot of fun to spend an evening together with ladies of all ages and backgrounds.  What a lot of work - but it was well worth it.   Seeds were planted and now we get to see how God will grow them into beautiful, transformed lives for His glory.

Deals - May 16

Life has been so crazy lately, I've hardly had time to shop, let alone coupon!  It felt very good to go out tonight alone (thanks to my wonderful husband for watching our son) and save some money.  :)  Here are few of the best deals I found:

Pampers Jumbo Pack ($8.83)
-$1.50/1 manufacturer's coupon
-$1/1 CVS coupon
-$2 ECB
+$1 ECB (green tag)

Heinz ketchup ($1.89)
-$2/1 coupon

Kraft salad dressing (2/$4)
-$1.50/2 coupon
=$2.50/2 (or $1.25 each)

Rold Gold pretzels (2/$5)
-$2/2 coupon
=2/$3 (or $1.50 each)

Poptarts (3/$5)
-$1/3 coupon
=3/$4 (or $1.33 each)

Duncan Hines brownies ($1.69)
-$0.50/1 coupon (doubled)

Giant also had some great store coupons, including a free half gallon of Turkey Hill ice cream!  :)  My total savings was 47% - a "personal best"!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Goodness

I've been craving chocolate and peanut butter lately, so tonight I decided to make the "old standby" - chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.  The cake was in the oven before I realized I had no powdered sugar for the frosting.  Tactical error on my part.  :(

I found a recipe online for peanut butter frosting without the powdered sugar and decided to give it a try.  It turned out beautifully.  I'm not a marshmallow fan, but you wouldn't even know it's in there!  The best part is you don't even have to wait for the cake to cool - which I find the most frustrating part of baking.

My craving has been satisfied!  Momma and baby are very happy.  :)

Peanut Butter Frosting (without Powdered Sugar)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used a little bit more)
1/2 cup marshmallows (I used marshmallow creme)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine milk, sugar and butter in saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; add peanut butter and marshmallow.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour immediately over warm cake.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Events

The past week has been a busy one with many church and family activities celebrating our Lord's death and resurrection.

My husband put together a beautiful Easter program for this morning's service.  We called it "What Wondrous Love."  It was a fresh reminder of God's gracious love for us.

This past Thursday, our playgroup Connect the Tots hosted an Easter Egg Hunt.  It wasn't the warmest spring day, but everyone had a lot of fun.

Then my family came for Easter dinner today.  It's actually the first time I hosted a sit-down meal for more than four people and the first time in a very long time my whole family posed for a picture.

Noah had fun hiding eggs for us and then "helping" us find them.