Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not My Blog!

Here are some things that I have read in recent weeks on other people's blogs that have made me ponder, laugh, and tear up just a little.  You just simply MUST click on these blogs to read their posts in full.  You'll be glad you did! 

"You see, life in all its' inherent busyness can start to fill places in us that it isn't meant to." - Transparent Mama

"And that's awesome to me. That He cares so much for me that He will bring me back to what really matters, even when I didn't know I'd forgotten". - Resolved 2 Worship

"Dear Hobby Lobby,

I really don’t even know where to start. 
You are the bedazzled apple of my eye. 
You are like a giant crock pot full of crafty goodness. 
You are the Chick-fil-A of department stores. 
To put it bluntly, if you were a person, you would be Beth Moore."  - Stuff Christians Like.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hello, my name is Lisa and my favorite color is brown

I am learning to embrace change.  It's not easy for me, but finally at age 40 I am realizing that it's necessary. 

When you are learning something new, and you start to see how much it is opening up your world and revolutionizing your life, do you spend time wishing that you had learned it oh, say 20 years ago???  I do.  But, part of the beauty of embracing change for me is realizing that it's ok to learn something new and move forward without regret or berating myself for not learning it sooner.  That time was not wasted...all those years that I feared change and resisted it.  God was busy teaching me different things then.  Now, I am ready to learn this lesson...to embrace change rather than fear it.

I am a creature of comfort.  I crave sameness and predictability, it gives me a sense of security.  I'm not just talking about big things like being married to the same man for the rest of my life, working for the same agency for 17 years and counting, and not wanting to move out of our home...ever.  Even in the little things of life, I find what I like, where I am comfortable and what I enjoy...and I stick with it.  I have my favorite restaurants and I usually order the same thing nearly every time.  Even at HuHot, the mongolian grill that I am absolutely in all kinds of love with.  The whole idea of that place is to try things new and different, but I have my favorite recipe written down and keep it in my purse so that I can make the same meal every time I go there.  Some may find that boring, my husband for one.  But he's not judgemental about it.  He's perfectly happy that I order the same meal every time we go somewhere, even though he happens to be the exact opposite.  He goes for things different and unique.  And that's fine with me too, I get to live adventurously by stealing a bite off his plate!

I'm not just like this with food.  I like to do things the same way in other areas too.  For instance, I still say that my favorite color is green, because it always has been...when actually for some time now I have been all about brown.  Can you change your favorite color?  It almost feels like a betrayal.  Forgive me, my beloved Green, I still love you but it's time that you step aside and take second place in my heart and my wardrobe.

And (this is really significant) until recently, I have always dried my hair upside down.  This goes way back to my college days when I had the "big hair" going on. (I really miss big hair.  I had a rockin' spiral perm too).  However it really hasn't been working for me to dry my hair that way anymore.  Until recently that is what I've been doing...just because that's how I do it.  And I've had the bad hair days to prove it.

Yes, I realize that sounds pathetic.  Because it is.  But it's all part of my process of learning that change is ok.  Little everyday changes, and big life altering ones too.  I can do things in a different way, or like something new, or even consider a new career...just because I want to.  Or I can.  I've been too afraid to do these things before.  Especially without alot of thought.  I've always thought that change has to be a process in order for it to be real.  And if the thought of change is scary, then maybe it's not what God wants me to do?  After all, God feels safe, right?  Well, God doesn't motivate by fear, and I'm now realizing that real and lasting change doesn't have to be a process.  Sometimes it is, but it can also happen in an instant.  One decision.  One encounter with God.  One word from a believing friend.  One thought planted in your mind by the Holy Spirit can change the course of the rest of your life.  Today.

Sometimes it will still feel scary.  It's ok.  Do it anyway.  That's the definition of courage....do it scared.

Don't worry, I'm not going to get all crazy.  I will still carry around in my purse my recipe for my favorite meal at HuHot, the same one I make every time we go because I know I'll love it.  And I will continue to hang on to my hair scrunci's and my diffuser, just in case.  Whoever decided that big hair wasn't in style anymore anyway?  You make me sad.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Some great movies, new most perfectest purse awesomeness, and what I'm hoping to get for my birthday

I was just a little bit stressed last night.  I'm not going to go into it because I have adopted a new philosophy on my life which does not allow me to whine about it.  We'll see how long that lasts...Instead, I did what every respectable (and desperately hormonal) woman does when she is stressed...I shopped.  I hit Target hard, and didn't even once feel the urge to put something back on the shelf to avoid the inevitable buyers remorse that usually hits me somewhere between the candle aisle and the checkouts and causes me to walk all the way across the store and put something back that I spent 7-9 minutes pondering over and have now decided not to purchase. (Big breath).  Nope, not this time.  This time, I walked out of there proud with a new purse (which meets my high standards for the most perfectest purse ever, and may even be perfecter if that is possible).


Also got  three new t-shirts, and a little planner for my purse which is now large enough to hold one.  Now I can carry my life with me and there is a slightly higher chance that I will have a clue about what is going on each day.  Awesome!

I'm still trying to decide if I want a Kindle or not.  It would be a big change for me, and we all know how I handle change (I'm getting better - kind of).  I love books - holding them in my hands, underlining and writing in the margins - and I might miss that.  But on the flip side, it's really appealing to me because I could carry a Kindle with me (in my new purse even) and could read whenever and wherever I am...you know, because I spend tons of free time at coffee shops and sitting on beaches wishing I had brought something to read.  I'm usually reading 1-3 books at a time, and who wants to carry all those around?  Another cool thing about it is that books for it are really cheap (the devise is not, but the books are mostly under $10).  And the coolest part for me is that you can turn it to audio and it will read to you - which is the feature that really intrigued me because I spend so much time in my car for work.  And getting ready in the morning.  And waiting at the dentist office and such.  I'd have all my books with me, all the time...oh joy! 

Vince and I finally watched an awesome movie last night that we have been wanting to see for ages..."Shutter Island".  SO good!  If you can overlook some colorful comments and words and a few unpleasant scenes (I hide behind my fingers during potentially disturbing parts in movies) it really was an excellent movie with a great plot, and the cinematography was fantastic.  I am not one for scary or gory movies at all, but I do love psychological thrillers that keep you guessing, but (and this is the important part) make sense in the end.  I hate movies that are confusing all the way through, and still leave you confused in the end.  They anger me.  Just ask Mr. Wonderful about the time he made me watch "The Game".  I didn't talk to him for like 1/2 hour after that.

We took the kids to see "Toy Story 3" on Saturday and (singing) LOVED IT!  Yes, I am a huge Toy Story fan, and yes, I cried!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The only reason I am posting today...

...is because I am tired of opening my blog and seeing pictures of hamburger.  I have nothing to say of any importance or interest at all. 

Actually that's not entirely true.  I have ALOT to say, really, but not enough time to say (type) it all.  God's been doing a whole lotta changing in me these last few weeks and months.  I went from being utterly convinced that He wanted me to quit my job and open a daycare....to being entirely confused as to why it wasn't happening...to being 99% convinced that I am to stay put right where I am.  I've moved through the confused (and angry and frustrated) phase and have found myself with a renewed commitment and dedication to the children and families that I work with in my job.  Why exactly God let me walk this entirely different path (and spend all that money) only to find a dead end, I'm not sure.  But I know He had purpose in it, and I think it may have been to show me that this is in fact exactly where He wants to use me.  Maybe He had to pull me away, just far enough, to give me a new vision.  Sometimes it's hard to see the big picture when you are immersed in something. 

So here I am.  It's not the easy road, and it's not the one I thought He had chosen for me, but it's my mission and purpose and I am thankful. 

As far as our kids go...one of my biggest motivations for doing daycare was to be able to be at home with them, especially during these summer months.  I thought maybe it was an answer to years of prayers and my dream of being a stay at home mom.  But maybe this experience has been designed by God to help me let go of that dream and focus on where He has called me.   If that's the case, I need to continue to trust.  Trust that God knows what He's doing, and has the best interest of all of us in mind.  Because I know in my heart that He does. 

And we have been pleasantly surprised at the maturity we have seen in all of the kids so far this summer.  They are being more responsible and getting along far better than I had anticipated.  Maybe I just needed to get out of their way?!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Sorry if you think that your burgers are better than these, 'cause they're not

We made Vince's Kick-Butt Burgers again tonight...big hit at our house!  Especially with moi.  So as promised, here are some scrumdillyicious pics for you to drool over! 

First you take some hamburger and sprinkle in some house seasoning (see, you really don't need a shaker)...


Then add a little onion powder...


and 'bout that much liquid smoke...


Mix it up...


Ok, use your hands...


Measure out 5-6 ounces of meat, you know, if you are really anal have a cool food scale like we do...


Then play pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake baker's man - er, I mean you patty up the burgers like a man...


Place them on your totally awesome patty press...


Press 'em down, and comment (again) on how much you love your patty press...


because it makes such perfect burger patties...


which turn into purfect burgers...


While the burgers are cooking, shred some colby jack cheese (or whatever kind you like), and place a pinch or two on top of each burger, like this...


Cover the pan and wait for the cheese to melt all over the sides, and onto the pan (trust me, you want it to do this)


When the cheese has melted into a yummy golden brown on the pan, and when you can't control your drooling any longer, place it on a bun (I prefer wheat buns from the bakery), take your first bite, and let the moaning begin! 

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Packing some heat and Vince's latest kick-butt culinary creation

Would it be wrong to let my son set up his pellet gun in my bedroom window and pick off the bird that sits in our neighbor's tree and CHIRPS LIKE A FREAK every morning at 5am?  Because I am SO going to let him do that one of these days.  Just once we'd like to sleep with our bedroom windows open, but even with them closed this freak bird is loud enough to wake us up.  Remember how ridiculously unnecessary it was two years ago when we first moved in?  Yea.  It still is.

I haven't wanted to kill things very often in my life.  Maybe the dog.  And once in a while the children.  But I have a death wish for this bird and I'm pretty sure my son would be thrilled with the idea, 'specially since he already asked if he can shoot the hummingbirds that visit the feeder we have hanging above our deck.  I said no, but who knows...maybe if the word got out to the birds in the neighborhood that we are packing some heat, they would be a little more respectful and let us sleep. 

I was able to go back to sleep this morning, which was nice.  However, once again we overslept and were not able to make it to church.  GAH!  I guess I should have set my alarm, but since we are usually awakened in plenty of time to get ready on Sunday mornings, either by animals or children, we have always thought it unnecessary to set an alarm.  We did, however, wake up to the yummy smell of cinnamon rolls made by Nick and Vinny!  They have been really interested in cooking recently, because of the mad skills they are learning in their FACS class at school.  FACS stands for Family and Consumer Science which sounds much smarter than "Home Ec" but that's what it is, Home Ec.  Last night they made puppy chow and a couple weeks ago they taught me how to make yummy nachos in the microwave (which launched me on a short lived nacho kick). 


I know the picture is blurry, I just noticed that.  But it's to late 'cause they are so gone!


Ok now that I have rambled my way into talking about food (shocking, I know), the other night Mr. Wonderful made the most awesomest and yummiest burgers that I think I've ever had in my entire life!  We were actually planning on going out to eat, as the kids had already eaten earlier...but after watching an episode of "Diners Drive-ins and Dives" on the Food Network and seeing these yummy burgers being made, we decided to try them ourselves, and oh. my. word. they were amazing!  Vince took some house seasoning (I'll tell ya 'bout that in a minute), onion powder, and liquid smoke and mixed it into the meat.  Then he made them into patties with his very cool hamburger patty press and placed them in the frying pan.  I know, he usually grills them, but you'll understand why he didn't in a minute.  When the burgers were just about done, he took a handful of freshly shredded colby jack cheese and piled it on each of the burgers...enough (and this is the crucial part) so that some of the cheese spilled off onto the frying pan.  Then he covered the pan, and let the cheese melt onto the burger and carmelize into a nice crispy brown on the frying pan.  Then he place each one on a nicely toasted bun and voila....an unbelievably yummy burger that will have you moaning like Bob Whiley did about the fried chicken in What About Bob.  I'm pretty much certain that this baby won't make it into the Weight Watchers Cookbook, but it has certainly made it into Vince's repertoire of kick-butt culinary creations!  Next time he makes them I'll be sure to take some pics.

* House seasoning is our favorite seasoning and we use it in almost everything we cook.  I learned about it from Paula Dean - and it does not even involve "a pound a buttah"!  It is simply this: 1 cup salt, 1/4 cup black pepper and 1/4 cup garlic powder.   We mix it all together and keep it in our cupboard in a small tupperware container.  I don't bother putting it in a shaker - just using some side-to-side motion with the container to sprinkle it on works just fine for me.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Messing around with my new best friend

I have been getting more and more involved, intrigued, passionate, and potentially obsessed with photography lately.  Vince got me my lovely Canon about a year ago, and initially I was scared of it.  You may remember that I left it in it's bag for about two weeks before I started using it.  I was just overwhelmed at the thought of having a camera that was so complicated (and more expensive than I ever thought I'd own.)  But I have overcome my fear and intimidation and have grown to love it!  Bit by bit I am learning how to use it, what the settings can do, and what kind of lighting lends itself to a good photograph (or not).  I know I have a very far way to go and tons more to learn, but I'm getting there. Baby steps. 

Most recently I have started to get to know my new best friend...Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  In a word...IT'S THE BOMB!  Ok that was three words, but it deserves it.  Here's what I have been able to do with it recently...

This is a picture of Trevor and his girlfriend Whitney on prom night.  This is how it looked straight out of the camera.

  
Love that picture!  And this is what I was able to do while playing around in Lightroom...



Isn't that fun!?

Here is a picture that I took of Vince and his dad a couple weeks ago when we met them for dinner at Pannekouken.  I have no idea why it looks so yellow (or how to spell Pannekouken), but it probably has everything to do with the lighting in the restaurant (and maybe some photographer error, who knows).  But anyway, here is the picture right out of the camera...


And this is how I was able to make it look after messing around with it in Lightroom tonight while listening to Patty Griffin...


I'm not sure what Patty had to do with it, but I'm so happy I could just spend hours and hours and days and weeks doing nothing but sitting here at my computer going through all my thousands of photographs on my computer and editing them in all kinds of fun ways.  But I won't, because I have a husband and children.  And a house and a job.  And I may need to go to the bathroom now and again.

Folding up my map

Mr. Wonderful read this to me last night.  It made both of us cry.  Read my last post and you'll understand why...

"You and your spouse may think you have your entire life mapped out.  You know where you are going, and you have figured out the way to get there.  But be forewarned:  You may run into delays and detours.  In fact, God may ultimately have in mind for you a change in destination. 

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

It's hard to discern what is happening when things seem to go awry along our life's journey.  Did we mark the map correctly?  Did we make the right turn?  Have we missed an important intersection?  Something's wrong.  Nothing looks familiar.  This is not the direction we're suppsoed to be going.  We must be lost!

When panic begins to set in, pull over for a few moments, shut off the car, and breathe a little prayer.  Ask God to calm your fears and help you understand what He's doing in your life.  Fold up your map, put it away, and pray for new direction, asking God to not only show you the way but ride with you and be your guide.  Then turn the key, shift into gear, and head on down the highway, trusting in the Lord's goodness and in His ability to take you where He knew all along you needed to go.

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

We think we have control over our lives, don't we.  We so often live with the illusion that we know what the future holds for us and we plan accordingly...we plan to grow old together.  We budget and count on the fact that we will be working the same job five...ten...twenty years from now.  But then, unexpectedly, life happens.  Things change and we are taken by surprise.  Spouses die.  Or they leave.  Jobs end or companies shut down.  Our desires or the needs of our family changes.  Or our perspective does.  And suddenly, the road ahead seems less clear and we are unsure of which way to go as we find ourselves on an unexpected and sometimes scary path.

Vince and I are all too familiar with these situations, if not personally then we know someone else who has been.  I bet you have too.  And it can really throw us off balance for a while, can't it?  Somehow, I always blame God for it...as if He was obligated all along to adhere to MY plans for MY life, and now He has decided to turn the tables on me and mess things up, or let things get messed up, or whatever. 

But here I am again, reminded of the fact that Jeremiah didn't quote the Lord as saying "I know the plans that you have for yourself...", but rather "I know the plans that I HAVE for you".  (And it should say in parentheses "so shut up, stop whining and work with me here"). 

Ok, Lord.  I get it.  And thanks again for waking me up at 4am to tell me all this. 

Really, thank You.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I'm here! I'm here! Wait....where am I?

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth yet.  Not that I'm aware of anyway.  But if you know me, then you know that it's not outside the realm of possibility that I have indeed fallen off the planet and am still oblivious to my whereabouts. 

Let's pretend, just for kicks and giggles, that I am still here.  Where exactly HERE is, I'm not so sure. 

Am I starting a daycare?  I don't know.

Am I quitting my job?  I don't know. 

Am I sure of what God wants me to do?  Heavens no. 

Am I confused?  Ummmm....yea.  You could say that I'm just a little confused.  Kind of like the Grand Canyon is just a little hole.

I built it, and they have not come.  I am all ready to open my daycare.  I've got toys, games, activities, plans, a website, contracts, policies, a license from the State of MN, an ad in the paper and our town newsletter, and I've got lots and lots of people encouraging me and telling me how fast I'm going to fill up and what a wonderful thing this is that I'm doing.  What I don't have are kids.  Other people's kids I mean (I still have my own, of course).  I don't have one single family signed up.  Barely any calls even.  I spent $80 on a 2 week ad in our paper and got exactly one phone call.  They wanted a daycare that would be open from 6am - 10pm.  Umm, sorry no.  It's been almost 2 months and not a single bite.  So here I am sitting on the end of the dock with my pole in the water, waiting...while my bobber is bobbing around and nothing is happening except the sound of crickets chirping in the background.

Am I learning to trust God in all of this confusion?  I'd like to say yes...I'd love it in fact...to be able to honestly say that my faith is growing and I'm more sure than ever that God is and will continue to guide my steps and lead me down the right path. 

I could say that.  But I'd be lying. 

This is what I get for praying for God to help me trust Him more.  He just lets me flounder around in a big ole cesspool of confusion...or so it seems from my perspective.  Which I don't trust AT ALL anymore.  I could add an "hmmmph" here, but that just wouldn't cut it.  Because I'm actually pretty mad.  I'm just wondering what in the world is going on?  I thought this is what God wanted me to be doing.  I thought it was an answer to years of prayers to be able to be home with my kids and still be able to provide for them financially.  I thought it was the right timing, and the right everything.

I'm not sure how to feel about all of this now.  Or what to do.  I'll just keep working at my job I guess (which I do love) until God makes it clear that He wants me to do something else (which I thought He had already done, but I won't go there again).   

Has this ever happened to you?  Where you thought you were on the path that God had planned for you, but it just wasn't going where you thought He was leading you?