27 February 2008

Breakfast for a two year old

It's a chilly day at our house.

I asked Tristen if he'd like hot tea for breakfast. He smiled and looked at me with those big blue eyes of his and said, "Chocolate cake!"

Not too surprised really. I'm married to a man who loves dark chocolate. Guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

the Breeze that is God

In our adult Sunday School class we're working our way through "Firm Foundations", an intense study from Creation to Christ produced by New Tribes Mission

We're now at about lesson 12 and last Sunday talked about the serpent's deception and Eve's taking the bait. I'm more convinced than ever that Genesis 3 is my least favorite chapter in the entire Bible. Every time I read through the Scripture I dread Genesis 3. It gives me a sinking feeling. We blew it. God gave us perfection, and we blew it. God started out with the ultimate life and we messed it up. But that's not really what this post is about. End of rabbit trail. 

The verse that really caught my attention though is verse 8. "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . ."

The word cool also means "breeze, wind, breath" and "spirit of the living". This word "cool" is found 379 times and is translated "spirit" 227 times, "wind" 82 times, "breath" 27 times, various other words the rest of the times, but only once as "cool". 

I began to wonder: What does it sound like when God walks through the garden? What does it sound like when He walks through my garden? 

Psalm 139:7 "Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your Presence?" Guess what. That word "Spirit" is the same word as "cool" in Genesis 3:8. 

Then my mind did a mini marathon and arrived at Acts 2:1-2. "And when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, when suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting."

There it is again: sound, and wind. Oh, to have the Spirit of the Living God fall fresh on me! The mighty Breeze of God Himself. The sound of God walking in the garden. 

So, when I once again hang laundry out to dry in the Spring, or when I sit on my front porch after a long day, or when I stand high on a mountain top and feel a breeze, I will remember that my God is a Breeze, a Wind. It is His Spirit passing by. Wanting to be near me. Wanting to swirl around me and tease my hair. Wanting to dance beside me. Wanting to remind me of the nearness of Himself. 

That is my God. The sound of my God, walking in the garden. 

26 February 2008

Potty training advice

Well, I guess it's not really advice. More like a warning. 

If you have a 2 year old who is being potty trained and you find him in the bathroom having removed his own training pants, the very first step is to put him on the potty. 

The very next step is to check the floor for puddles. 

I followed step one. I did not follow step two. 

P.S. Paper towels make for easy clean-up. And my bathroom rug is in the washer as I type. 

24 February 2008

Speak the Truth

"Lo, I say unto you, be not intimidated by anyone, but speak forth My Word, even as I give it unto you.

You have written freely and fearlessly. Now speak in the same way. Your spoken word must be brought into conformity with the work I have done within you. This you need for your own personal sense of unity. This you need for your own strength. For the house divided against itself cannot stand; neither can you so long as you bear one testimony in your heart and another with your lips.

You are not pleasing Me, but trying to please men. They will detect the inconsistency in spite of your best efforts, for in one way or another, the truth will break through. You need not say all that is in your heart, but you must either speak the truth or be silent. If you cannot bring yourself to speak the truth without apology, then speak nothing.

Let the life and witness of Jesus Christ be your guide. If you are willing to attempt to emulate His honesty, I will come to your aid and give you the wisdom also; so that the answer may be not only true, but forceful. For you wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen opposition of satanic forces. 

I will be with you and keep your mouth. Trust Me." 

Frances J. Roberts in "Come Away My Beloved"

22 February 2008

Tea with Great-Grandma and Nana

Tea time with my girls usually happens once a week. And since we were in Ohio this week, we enjoyed Turkish Tea using Mom's authentic Turkish Tea set she bought in Turkey in 1988. (Was that too much Turkey in one sentence?)
Mom served cinnamon tea from her beautiful china teapot, and we dropped cinnamon red hots in our cups to intensify the flavor. 
Great Grandma Showalter surrounded by Elsa, Emelyne, Carol and Sophia after tea time. 
Tea time was hosted by Mom (or Nana, depending on who you are). 

I asked Grandma if she had any words of wisdom to share with my girls. Here is what she said:

"First of all, obey your parents. Also read your Bible. Get to know Jesus."

It was special. Grandma is holding her own right now, but in her mid-eighties, her strength could wane quickly. She walks around the house using a walker, with someone always at her side in case she stumbles. She needs help with nearly every task, no matter how simple. 

These days she spends a great deal of time with her Bible in her lap and her journal close at hand. She still writes little notes about each day's happenings. And she reads. And reads. 

There is no way of knowing how long the journey will last for her. But I know she is ready for that final passage into eternity. She has spent her lifetime in pursuit of Jesus. 

Doesn't everyone love a pedicure?

Mom takes care of Great Grandma's feet for her, so after Great Grandma was done, everyone else wanted to get in on the pampering. I wish I had captured the sound of Tristen's laughter as Mom worked on his feet. 
Mom did my feet and then I returned the favor. 
Tobin wanted a second and third turn. He thought pedicures were great. 

Wonder what he'll think of these pics when he's 20. 

Home again

There and back again all in the same week. We'd planned to be in Ohio until Saturday morning, but with storm warnings abounding, we decided to leave Rosedale after supper last night and drive home. The roads were sometimes snow covered, sometimes icy, sometimes wet. But always there was prayer. We arrived home safely at 1:30 AM. Ah, home. It's nice to go away. But it's nicer still to come home. 

Here are a few shots of the neighbor boy's puppies. . . This is Tob with a shivering puppy that made his heart tickle. 

19 February 2008

A wee update

Somehow it's just nice to be with Mom. Mom understands things. Mom loves you and loves when you come home. Mom feeds you comfort food. Nuff said. 

Dad and Daniel left for Hicksville, Ohio at around 6 this morning in order to make the 9 am start of Minister's Fellowship (the annual pastor's conference of Conservative Mennonite Conference). The children were rather bummed to have missed saying goodbye at that early hour. He did sneak in to kiss them all goodbye, it's just that they didn't realize it. They were all still sleeping of course. 

It was a full day. We had school this morning. Sophia even read a chapter of "Owl at Home" to Great Grandma Showalter. Nana kept two active little boys entertained while I read aloud to the girls (and Great Grandma, who also adores read aloud stories). We're half way through "The White Stallions of Lippiza" and I always hear, "Just one more chapter, please, Mama!"

The boys napped after lunch. Emmy finished up multiplication flashcards. We went to the neighbors to visit their 4 new puppies. Tobin held a shivering puppy and then said, "Oh, that makes my heart tickle!" 

We had a wonderful supper of turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, applesauce, jello and fruit salad, and Great Grandma's raisin filled cookies. Shaun, the neighbor boy and puppy owner, came to play after supper, bringing a huge bin of Legos with him. 

Somewhere along in there we managed to fit in several baths in Nana's big soaking tub. One daughter sank into the bubbles and proclaimed, "This is paradise!" When it came time for the boys to have their turn Tristen very carefully blew out all the candles we'd lit around the tub. This two year old has no sense of ambiance. Yet. 

And we finished the evening off with a traditional Showalter snack of graham crackers and milk. With the crackers being dipped in the milk of course. It's tradition. But as one of the children said so truly, "It's just not the same without Grandpa here."

So there you have it. It's been a day. A good day. From a good God. 

18 February 2008

Off to Mom's house

We leave for Ohio this morning. Daniel and my dad will spend Tuesday through Thursday at a pastor's meeting in western Ohio. The children and I will spend the week with Mom and Grandpa and Grandma Showalter. 

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do while I'm gone, but hopefully I'll at least be able to post a few updates for friends at home. 

Thankfully, Mom has a big, beautiful iMac in her office I can use, so at least I won't be having Mac withdrawals!

More later. . . 

16 February 2008

Soup for a Wintery Sunday

Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 12 oz. can whole kernel corn
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
14 oz. water (rinse out your tomato sauce can)
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. can kidney or black beans, rinsed

Brown ground beef, add 1/2 of the taco seasoning to meat. In a crock pot put meat mixture and canned goods and the rest of the taco seasoning. Simmer 2 to 3 hours on low. Serve with tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, grated cheddar cheese and sour cream (any or all of these are great additions!). 

I make this on Saturday afternoon and put it in my crock pot in the fridge. Not the heating element, just the crock. :o) Sunday morning I remove it from the fridge and turn the heat to low. The soup simmers all through Sunday School and morning worship and is ready for my family when we return home. 

"You've been accepted. . . "

Some dear friends sent us an email earlier today to tell us they've been accepted by a denominational mission board to serve in a third world country. 

That line, "You've been accepted. . . " has been following me all day. When I read the email I could only cry. You see, we've sat with these friends and had long conversations about missions. We've understood the long wait. The longing. The testing. The wondering. The questions. "Will we be accepted?" 

And now, after months of paper work, and questions, and more waiting, the news: "You've been accepted!" 

My heart was shouting praise to God with them! I wanted to dance and sing and laugh out loud. And weep.

"What about me, Lord? What about my dreams? Am I good enough? Will I ever be accepted?" 

And then I remembered: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. . . to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6

I am accepted. I still don't know about the dreams. The desires. The plans. The future. But I am accepted. Jeremiah does quote God as saying, "I know the thoughts that I think toward you. . ." I surely don't know them, but God does. (Check out Jeremiah 29: 10-14 and note all the times God says, "I will. . . ".) 

And so, I am comforted today knowing that God knows the thoughts He thinks toward me and to top it all off: I am accepted in the Beloved. That's my Jesus.

Funny little boys

Several days ago I overheard Tristen (2) giving Tobin (4) a piece of his mind. 

Tobin had apparently done something Tristen didn't like. I didn't catch everything Tristen said, but the ending I didn't miss. "Is that clear, Tob? Is that clear?" 

Things sound a little different coming from the mouth of a 2 year old.


Today I caught Tobin (4) with his hand in the deep freeze. He had one hand inside and the heavy lid was propped up with his other hand. He was alone in the room and I guess I startled him. "What are you doing, Tobin?" I asked. "Mama, you scared my arm!" he replied. 

14 February 2008

A hug from God

I love cardinals.

We've had several pairs around the house, but not often this close. I'm so thankful for a God Who knows my heart and sends things my heart loves, just when I need them. 

Isn't He wonderful!

Cookie Day!

I mixed the dough and chilled it several hours so it was ready for rolling out and cutting.
I rolled the dough out and let the girls cut out the cookies.
Tobin tried to have a nap, but ended up joining us part way through the decorating process.
The girls love being creative with their cookies. I did have to put a limit on how many decorations could go on a single cookies. There were times you had doubts about there really being a cookie underneath all the red hots, white chocolate chips and multi-colored sprinkles!
Oh yes. We did decorate with a few conversation hearts as well. 

And besides all that, they are really yummy cookies. Even Papa said so. And he isn't a huge fan of plain old sugar cookies. I think it was because I substituted the vanilla for almond flavoring.

 He says it's my Asian influence. 

Hike in the woods: no snow

We have a spring behind our house and the children love playing in the water and mud. 
More water. More mud.
Mama and the girls.
Papa and the boys.
I especially love that picture of the boys and Daniel. Doesn't it speak volumes?

Amish Friendship Bread

This is the bread starter that comes to you in a gallon zip lock bag. You "feed" the starter over a period of days. It grows. You squish the bag, let the air out and watch it multiply. 
I did the unthinkable. I left the bag home alone for a day and a night. Here is what I came home to:

13 February 2008


I want to know why my house is being invaded by a colony of very tiny ants. It's the dead of winter. We are having snow and ice and sleet and rain. 

Where are the ants coming from? And why are they just showing up now? I could understand if it was summer and I could see a trail of them coming in around a door jamb. But now?

And so, upon the advice of two friends, I purchased Terro. From what I hear it's the only ant killer that really works. I'm trying. The bait's been out for about a week and I'm starting to find dead ants. Hopefully they'll take the yummy poison back to all their relatives and they'll all go to ant heaven together. That way they won't be wandering around under my sink and in my spice cupboard anymore. 

About that ice: when I got up and looked out the window this morning, the bright overcast sky shone it's light on a very shiny road. It was glare ice. But at 30˚ and rain, it's melting. The children are begging to play outside today.

I said only if it's not raining. 

12 February 2008

Bragging Rights.

For family devotions we've been reading through a book called From this Verse: 365 inspiring stories about the power of God's Word, by Robert Morgan. (Click on the name to check it out on Amazon.) We begin by reading the suggested Scripture, but often read the whole chapter, not just the suggested verses. That way we get the whole context of the verses.

Today was a story about Sam Jones (click here to read more) and his conversion. Sam was an alcoholic. But he had godly parents who prayed for him. When his father was on his deathbed Sam promised he'd meet him and his mother in Heaven. 

"I went to the bar and begged for a glass of liquor and looked in the mirror. I saw my hair matted, the filth and vomit on my clothes, one of my eyes closed, and my lips swollen. I said, 'Is that all that is left of the proud and brilliant lawyer, Sam Jones?' I smashed the glass on the floor, fell to my knees and cried, 'Oh God! Oh God, have mercy!' The bartender ran to my side and thought I was dying. I staggered to my cheap rooming house and asked for black coffee. I went through three days and nights of hell, but when the morning came, something happened to old Sam Jones. I went to the clothing store and said, 'I want you to give me a new suit. I got saved last night.' I went to the barber for I had not had a shave in a month. I left to go to my wife whom I had beaten till she was black and blue. She didn't even recognize her own husband. I said, 'Honey, God has given you a new husband and the children have a new daddy, and I wonder if you will forgive me and start all over.' I have been going round the country bragging about Jesus ever since."

As Christians we each have bragging rights. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 12:9 ". . . I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me." And again in Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (NLT)

I've been musing ever since we read that story this morning. What are our bragging rights? Our Jesus Who saved us. Some are filled with gratefulness to God for saving them out of deep sin. My gratefulness to God is that He rescued me before I walked into deep sin. But then as I pondered some more I realized that to God, sin is sin. Wow. Deep thought. When God rescued me from myself He said, "You have a rebellious heart." The Scripture is very clear about rebellion: it's the same as witchcraft. Yes, sin is still sin to God. No, I haven't the memories to deal with as some have, but I have been rescued just the same as a murderer, or a thief, or an adulterer. What a merciful God! 

Bragging rights. I have them. I've been rescued. It was Jesus. He did it. He died so that I might have life. Not just life in Heaven with Him forever some day, in the sweet by and by. But life NOW. 

And that's another reason I want to be salty. Jesus is Life. Go tell somebody. 

11 February 2008

It's Monday.

Today I'm reminded all over again how exhausting Sundays can be when you're a pastor's wife. (Or maybe everyone feels this way? If so, then I must ask, are we really living Sundays as God intended? Hmm. That'll have to be another post. . . ) Believe it or not I did actually take a nap yesterday afternoon. Sometimes the exhaustion is more emotional than physical. 

Sundays can be so full of worship and learning, yet so draining. They can be encouraging as you watch people soak in the Word of God, but also the times when you hear the most criticism. 

And so, I find that the more things change, the more they stay the same. God will always come where there are hearts hungering and thirsting after Him.

Before we were taken in as members yesterday I had the opportunity to share my testimony. I didn't know this was coming until Daniel and I stood up at the front and Daniel whispered, "Why don't you share your testimony first." I contemplated a state of panic and then falling into a dead faint. Instead I calmly walked to the podium standing just below the main platform. I didn't even have a big pulpit to hide behind. 

Later I asked Daniel if I'd said too much. Because it was either that I spluttered off the top of my head or I was guided by the Spirit of God. I trust it was the latter. 

It is one of the supreme joys of my life to share with others the miracle God has done in my heart. Just before I had this opportunity again yesterday, we'd sung the hymn "O happy day!" Yes, it's an ancient song, but check out the words.

Here's the last verse and chorus:

Now rest, my long divided heart; Fixed on this blissful center, rest;
Nor ever from my Lord depart, with Him of every good possessed. 

Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!
He taught me how to watch and pray, and live rejoicing every day;
Happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away!

I've sung this song many times before, but I think never with the understanding with which I sang it yesterday. I know the truth of what I sing. My heart was divided for so long. Everything looked good on the outside, but only God knew the true state of my heart. I'm so thankful for the faithfulness of God in revealing who we really are before Him. 

And please don't ask me to sit down and be quiet. I want to tell somebody! Jesus did say we are to be the salt of the earth. I want to make people thirsty for God. I want them to see my walk with Jesus and yearn to know Him more. Do you?

Happy salty Monday!! Go spread the Word!!

09 February 2008

May this journey bring a blessing. . .

As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
And I'll follow, though I'm worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart's testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go -
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker

When I'm in the middle of the journey it's sometimes difficult to see how there can ever be a blessing at the end "of my heart's testing". The journey includes pain, weeping, and that inner struggle that wrestles and won't let go. There are questions. There are accusations. "Lord, is it me?" There's  a burden that won't go away. And at the end of the day I find that God is still there. His Spirit lives within me. Amazing Love. God knows me. He knows where I live. And more than that He sees and knows my heart. I am comforted.

05 February 2008


travail: painful or laborious effort, labor pains. 

How often do you pray travailing prayers? Once a month? Once a year? Once a week? Never? Three times a day?

I find myself praying prayers of travail at a greater frequency than I have, say, in the last 7 years. And I wonder why. Why the intensity now? 

My conclusion is that it's all part of the journey. I am being led deeper and deeper into a relationship with the God to Whom my prayers are presented. There are things I understand about the nature of God that I didn't realize 7 years ago. (Not sure why I picked 7. Perhaps because it's somewhere between 5 and 10.)

My desire to know the heart of God has intensified. So have my prayers. My knowledge of the Scriptures has increased. So has my ability to pray God's words back to Him. My longing for God has deepened. So has my longing to communicate with Him. 

And I'm realizing all over again that prayer is not one sided. It's not me always being the talker and God being the listener. But it also includes God being the talker and me being the listener. 

Today I had some open moments for quietness. I fled the noisome main floor and escaped to my own (nearly) silent place upstairs. As I emptied my heart to God He showed me a place where the motives of my heart were not right. Confession and repentance followed. 

But I noticed something. After I'd confessed my own sin, I felt a greater burden for those around me and I prayed with weeping for the Spirit of God to meet with them as He'd met with me. It was travailing prayer. It was understanding the great love and forgiveness of the God of the universe, my High King of Heaven, and wanting those I know to experience Him as well. 

Seeing my imperfect, sinful self as God sees me is not pretty. How thankful I am that as I cultivate openness to the Spirit of God He will reveal Himself to me. And reveal the me that only He can see. 

My life has not always been so open to the Hand of God. It's a new freedom to be open. Nothing between my soul and the Saviour. Nothing to hide. My past is covered in the blood of Jesus. Heart wounds have been, and continue to be healed. There is freedom to be the person God wants me to be. But it's all because of Him. That's my Jesus. 

Something makes me think there is more travail to come. For my children. For repentance. For growth. For the body of Christ. May I be open and willing to travail in prayer as God calls my name. 

Care to join me?

04 February 2008

I stand amazed!

Ok, so it was a Mommy moment. 

This morning I stood in church holding my hymnal in my right hand, with a two year old boy standing beside me. He was standing on the pew, and my left arm was wrapped securely around his waist to keep him standing and not wiggling. He was belting out the song in his heart with as much gusto as he could muster. It sounded nothing like "I stand amazed." In his two little hands he held his very own hymnal. Upside down. 

I glanced at the platform and caught the eye of my pastor husband. It was all we could do to keep the smiles on our faces and prevent them from frolicking down the center aisle. 

"I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner, condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvelous! How wonderful is my Saviour's love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone." 

How marvelous! How wonderful! This is my Jesus. I stand amazed. 

02 February 2008

Phil saw his shadow. . .

Happy Goundhog day! No, we're not celebrating this "holiday". Daniel is out visiting. I just finished mopping the kitchen floor and really need to start meal prep for Sunday. The children are watching "Little Bear goes to the Moon". 

If you really want to see Phil's official end-of-winter prediction go here

Maybe I can post more later. It's another "deep thoughts" day. . . 

01 February 2008

Burn update

Here is Tristen this morning. This was his chosen pose. Daniel slept in the living room with him last night. He had a little trouble falling asleep. He'd sleep for a while and then move around a bit and the pain in his hand would waken him. The last thing we did before sleep was to put raw honey on his hand and then wrap it in gauze. The gauze stayed on until about 5 am. 
Here you can see the blisters on his palm just under his fingers and also the blisters on each finger tip as well as his thumb. 

 Here he is at his favorite activity: looking at books. When I first caught him "reading" he was holding the book with his left hand and his right hand was resting on the floor beside him, palm up. At brunch this morning he ate using his left hand. It was a little awkward since he's right handed, but he was hungry enough it didn't matter.

Yes, it was brunch. On days like today I'm so grateful God has allowed Daniel a flexible "pastor's schedule". We were up very late trying to get Tristen settled for some rest amid the pain. 

Daniel and I were planning on skiing today with some family and friends. But since we're having ice and rain that was cancelled anyway. Hopefully some time this winter I'll have a chance to try my legs at skiing again. 

Hmm. When I think of skiing I could almost cry. But today it's not because I'm disappointed. It's because for so long I lived in fear of so many things. Skiing was something I didn't want to try. Two winters ago I skied for the first time. And I loved it! So today, even though my ski trip was cancelled, my heart is full of gratefulness to God for the freedom He has brought to my heart. 

Ah. Freedom. 
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