Monday, October 31, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

Because I have writing to do today for an upcoming event that I will be speaking at, our verse will be short and sweet.

Every Monday morning, for a little over a year now, I give each of my girls a Verse to Chew On for that week.  I write it on a 3x5 card with a couple of thought provoking questions or interesting comments (at least I think they're interesting) on the reverse side.  This year the Joyster receives hers a day late in her college mail box (some college kids get baked goods to snack on, mine gets a card with a verse), Lopey usually has hers waiting on the kitchen counter (appropriate place to do your Bible chewing I say) is what I shared with them today.

Base your happiness on your hope in Christ.  When trials come endure them patiently: steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.  Romans 12:12 Phillips

Here are the questions from the back of their cards...

1)  Who are we to base our happiness in?
2)  How are we to react to trails?
3)  What habit are we to maintain?...What does it mean to be 'steadfast'?

If we practice what this verse 'preaches' how do you think it will affect this day...this week?

As you take time to chew on this verse, in addition to my girls questions, why don't you insert the Webster's definitions of the following words for a fuller flavor.

Happiness = contentment or pleasure
The "Habit of Prayer" - hehe
Hope = desire with expectation of fulfillment
Trials = source of great annoyance; test use or experimental effort (hmm maybe that annoyance can result in something useful?)
Endure = last, tolerate
Patiently = without complaint
Steadfastly =  faithful or determined
Habit = usual behavior...addiction (in this case it would be good to be addicted - don't you think?)
Prayer = earnest request, addressing God

You might even want to write your own Amplified Version of this verse by rewriting it adding in all of these definitions.

I hope this Verse To Chew On is an encouragement to you this week! :)

Serving Him and you,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Food 4 Thot

Today let's talk about Burnt Offerings...I know, you are thinking that is sooo Old Testament...and it is, so let's begin there :).

Leviticus 3:14-16 speaks of Burnt Offerings made by the priest, "From what he offers he is to make this offering to the LORD by fire: all the fat that covers the inner parts...the priest shall burn them on the alter...All the fat is the Lord's" (Italics mine)

This 'inner part' fat referred to here is what is known in medical circles as Visceral Fat...fat that is central in obesity in humans.  Interesting, don't you think?

I won't go into a teaching on the purpose and significance of Burnt Offerings in Biblical times but I will give you this partial definition from my NIV Study Bible: It was a 'voluntary act of worship, expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to the Lord'.

The example from Leviticus certainly isn't speaking directly about the fat in our bodies...but I do think that we can draw a relative comparison from this without being heretical in any way.  We do know that the Bible says that gluttony is sin (Prov. 23:2) and that we are supposed to be good stewards of these bodies that the Lord has given us as our spiritual act of worship (Rom. 12:1).

I think that it is safe for us to say that our desire to see less fat on our bodies...if we are motivated by wanting to please God by taking care of His temple and not by pride or the praise of man...can indeed be considered a Burnt Offering...voluntary act of worship, expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to the Lord...a Fat Offering so to speak.

And I think that if this is our motivation then we will be much more likely to succeed when temptation sneaks up on us.  If we reprogram our thinking into living life...including how much and when we eat...within God's parameters for us then it will be much easier for us to keep with it because the benefit will go beyond a smaller pair of jeans and have spiritual significance for us.

So how do we know what God parameters are in regards to eating?  Well I believe that godly guidelines are to only eat when we are hungry and stop when we are satisfied.  Sound too simple to work?  God has equipped us with the ability to know when we are tired and need sleep, thirsty and need drink, hungry and need food.  Watch a small child...with the exception of a strong-willed toddler who may pitch a fit at nap time...they follow the God give cues, placed inside of each of us, for healthy living.  We all know that weight loss is not a mystical thing to try and be is the simple chemistry of calories in and calories out.  So if we are putting less calories in then our burn ratio is high...our fat stores are then burned on the alter of obedience.

The next time we approach food let's decide if we are trying to feed a true stomach/body hunger or if we are attempting to feed a head/heart related to boredom, emotions that we don't want to feel or an 'I want to eat just because I want to eat' attitude.  And once we are feeding a true body/stomach hunger lets thank God first for the food set before us and ask Him to help us to slow down and be sensitive to when our body has had enough and not eat past satisfied.  This may be a struggle if we are not used to following these cues, but waiting for a true tummy growl before eating will be worth it.  The pounds will drop off like a Fat offering to the Lord. 

Since I am a visual person here are a couple of pictures to help be see the benefits...
Every pound of fat we offer to the Lord by only eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full is equal to a package of butter.  The next time you think "dog-gone-it, I only lost a pound" grab that pound of butter out of your fridge...see how heavy it feels in your hand and thank God that fat isn't on your body right now!
When you get up to 3 pounds grab a large can of Crisco off the shelf of your grocery store, [I certainly hope this isn't a pantry staple for you :)], feel how heavy it is, visualize this much fat being gone from your body and give it to the Lord as an offering.

Here is another little visual aid...groddy, I know.
See how much larger in mass the fat is than the muscle!?!  With every pound of fat we loose our body shrinks more than we think.  Now that is certainly encouraging!

What do we do then when we really want to eat when we are not needing to feed a physiological hunger?  This is when the Offering part truly comes into play.  When we offer our selfish desires to the Lord and seek Him instead of the temporary fix of food God will satisfy us with His presence...we won't have the guilt or health conditions, or bad self image left by eating outside of His parameters.  If we are eating out of boredom instead we should look for a way to serve God and others...if we are eating out of a desire to stuff emotions we can talk or cry out to Him and He will meet us there and give us true comfort.  If we want to eat just because we want it or think we deserve it and choose instead to bow the knee of our will to the Lordship of Jesus in this area then we will start seeing less of us [no pun intended] and more of HIM in our lives.

Choosing to eat within godly guidelines will not only result in a smaller and healthier body, it will also yield a closer and more personal relationship with our Father as we run to Him and His Word and seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  Let's feast together on His's zero calories and high in nutrients! :)  Let us make running to God instead of food a Fat Offering, an expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God!

Serving Him and you,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I Love...

I love the smell of Autumn in the morning...even when it's 28 degrees and it makes my nose hurt!

I love going for coffee with my girls followed by a walk where fallen leaves crunch beneath our feet!

I love wooden clothes pins...not sure why but I do...besides hanging clothes they are great for keeping packages closed and cute in your pantry

I love this tea...especially on days like this...don't have to worry about the caffeine or extra calories that come from the half and half I take in my coffee. :)

I love going for coffee with my girls followed by a walk...yep, I know I already said that...but I really love that...and them...and there's two of I think there should be two mentions of this.

And I love baking I did...Old-Fashioned Iced Pumpkin Spice...and here's the recipe if you love baking too! :)

Old-Fashioned Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees       Baked 15-20 minutes


2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
(Icing recipe below)

In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients and stir with a whisk...set aside.
In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer...add pumpkin, eggs and vanilla and beat until creamy.
Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoons - smooth tops if needed.
Bake - Cool- Cover with Icing - Enjoy!

In a small bowl combine 2 cups sifted powered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk or (1/2 and 1/2), 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, sprinkle of nutmeg, sprinkle and a half of cinnamon. Blend until smooth.

I love all of these things...But I love the Lord the most...and thank Him for everything on my list!

Serving Him and you,

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

Sister~Friends I must apologize in advance for this blog post.  Today is not only the standard 'laundry day' in my house but I also need to add on 'various errands' and 'mowing the yards' to the To-Do List today...along with all the other everyday chores.

Anyhow, this post may seem a little off the top of my head in form today but please know that in content it is from the bottom of my heart.

So lets get to it...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.        
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV

That verse is a lot to chew on...partially because it's two verses instead of just one...partially because it's so meaty...we could really spend a few days chewing on various aspects of it...but I can hear my grass growing and my dryer buzzing so I'm just going to bite off one little chunk of it today.  Of course, it goes without saying...but I'll state the can spend as much time with this portion of Scripture as you want and savour all that it has to offer. :)

The part I want to chew on is the one that challenges us to comfort others.  I am so thankful for the fact that God, as our Father, comforts us in our afflictions...but I also love the fact that He doesn't just heal us up for our own good but so we can be His healing representative as well...sharing His comfort to others that hurt!

Before we start talking about comforting others I think we should think about how God comforts us...since it's that same comfort we are to offer others.  Well, let's see, God comforts me...*through the counsel and encouragement of His Word,*by the presence of His Spirit,*through others who offer a listening ear, practical help and companionship...can you think of other ways?

Some hurt because of the gospel [this is the experience Paul was referring to]...we don't see this happen much in our American least not to the degree that it does in some countries or in Biblical times...but it still happens.  There are missionaries and native believers in various parts of the world that could receive godly comfort from you in their pursuits through your prayers or financial support.  If this pricks your heart find a way to help through either your church's missions board or through a para-church missionary organization.

Some are hurting, to a different degree, because of the gospel here locally.  Some may not come from a Christian family and endure criticism for their faith...other's may be judged in the workplace...or ostracized on the college campus for being a follower of Jesus.  Do you know someone like that?  How could you bring comfort to them?

There are other 'afflictions' that we see commonly in our culture...older people who are lonely or in need of help with chores who might be comforted by a visit [with or without a plate of cookies :)] or help with raking their leaves...young singles and college students can suffer from loneliness and being homesick as well and would be greatly comforted by being invited for a Sunday dinner with your about single moms who would find comfort in you volunteering to watch their kids for an afternoon or evening so they could have two minutes to themselves to relax or get something done that needs doing?...what about the person with a scary medical diagnosis that would find comfort in your prayers or presence at at doctor's appointment or a meal delivered to his/her home?  What about sending an email or an old-fashioned card to someone 'just because' - there is great comfort that comes from knowing that someone took the time to let you know they care about you.  Or send a verse by text or snail-mail or carrier pigeon to someone the Lord lays on your heart.

The list can go on and on...I'm sure that you can think of ways to comfort that I don't have time to mention or wouldn't even think of.  I have experienced God direct comfort and godly inspired comfort time and time again through out various 'afflictions'.  Sometimes it's been really hard to be on the receiving end...but it has always been a blessing and just what I needed at that time.  When people have made the effort to be the hands and feet of Jesus to me it hasn't always changed my circumstance or situation but it has infused me with God's presence and brought me comfort beyond words!

As you and I chew on this verse I'm going to challenge us to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and follow through with someone He lays on our heart or opens our eyes to before the weekend.  I would love to hear how God uses to to 'comfort those who are in any affliction'!

Serving Him and you,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Food 4 Thot

Help...I've been Super-Sized!...and so has a huge percentage [no pun intended] of the American population!

So, if you've been reading my Food 4 Thot posts, you know that I am struggling with some added poundage that I collected like souvenirs while traveling the 'health crisis' road with my husband.  I could blame it on the erratic lifestyle that I led for well over year [home---Seattle---home---Seattle], or sleep deprivation or the stress hormone.  I'm sure that these all played a factor...but way down deep I think the nasty little word lazy had something to do with it.

My suspicions were confirmed when reading through the book of Titus recently.  My home church is doing a series on this book and I was doing my homework for it when the possible reality of this hit home!  It was 2 pesky little words in the 12th verse of the 1st chapter that hit me like a punch in my flabby gut...lazy gluttons.  Really, really!?!  Could I possibly have something in common with Cretans...apparently least it wasn't the reference to liars or evil brutes that bore witness with my spirit though...sheesh!

People that know me may think I'm being overly dramatic...not because I'm known for drama...but rather because I'm known for being too hard on myself.  I easily extend grace to others but have a bit of an issue with being as kind to myself...probably because I know me so well...but I am getting better at should have known me in my 20's...well some of you did so can I get an Amen to the fact that I am way better about being self-critical than I was back in the olden days? ;)

In this case I'm not being dramatic or overly self-critical...just exploring with honesty how this lazy glutton moniker could fit me...and maybe other Americans too.  I'm not calling names here...just trying to look into some of the pitfalls of our culture that may have something to do with our my super-sized situation. 

Since I'm a self professed Word Nerd let's start with a definition of the two words that make up this tag:

          Lazy = disliking activity or exertion (Websters)
          Glutton = one who eats to excess (Websters)

Well, I have to admit I do see a slight!

As busy as I have been over the past 2+ years in caring for my husband, trying to maintain my home and yard and attempting to keep up with 2 teenage girls I have been a bit lazy about caring for myself [I do dislike sweating] and I have obviously eaten more than this body can burn in a day.

My aversion to getting up at 5 am  and heading to my now cold garage to bust my behind until I sweat like a pig [do pigs sweat?] and gag like a cat trying to hack up a fir-ball...and my tendency toward unconscious eating [you know the kind where you know you ate but not sure what or how much because your brain was consumed with other 'you' and 'your' I mean 'me' and 'my' :)]..are not the only ways that lazy glutton may apply to me.

Before I discuss my hunches here, I have a  couple of disclaimers...1 - none of the facts I'm going to share are  facts based on research by case study groups...they are just hunches - some Food 4 Thot - based on my observations and some information I've come across.  2 - I am not blaming culture or industry for my current condition...I am solely responsible for what I do, or don't do with my own body...I am simply  looking to draw attention [my attention...and yours if applicable] to some pitfalls that we may not be conscious of.

First...I have a hunch that the accessibility of Fast Food in our nation has something to do with the super-sized me and American culture.  As much as I know about the importance of good nutrition, not only in general but specifically in relation to my husband's health issues, I have been known to hit a drive-thru or call for pizza on occasion when my body or brain are too tired or overloaded to figure out and pull off dinner.  This may not qualify as lazy in the true sense of the word...and some might even say that choices like that are understandable from time to time given all that's been on our plate lately...but that easy choice [the one that requires less activity and exertion] does indeed lead to gluttony as even the 'healthier' fast food options lead us to eat to excess in the areas of calorie, fat and sodium intake.  In the little research that I did do, I found that obesity in America increased dramatically between 1977 and 1995 as [get this] did the consumption of fast food!  During this same time span fast food intake quadrupled....hmm, interesting don't ya think.

My second sedentary life style would land in the lazy column.  Again, the fact that I've spent countless hours [days, weeks] in hospital and doc office chairs may be deemed "understandably out of my control" and not lazy by dictionary definition...never-the-less I should have made more of an effort [other than taking the stairs at UWMC] to off-set the change in my activity level.  I knew that I was sitting more and doing less but you really don't know how quickly this can change your pant size!  By in large our American society has found itself stuck in a similar situation...desk jobs, TV watching, and vehicles instead or our own two feet to transport us through our busy lives.  None of these things are lazy in and of themselves...but unless we make a conscious effort to amend our less active lifestyles we will need a larger wardrobe.

Thirdly...and I'll end with this one before this post ends up way too long [too late for that I know ;)]...the term lazy glutton can be applied to ones emotional neglect.  It's not always cool or timely to deal with our emotional response to something.  American culture is getting a bit better with this in some regards but many of us were raised in the 'buck up and deal with it' era.  And Lord knows there are times when a situation requires just that...but there are times when we need to be honest about how something makes us feel and process that instead of just trying to jam it down with a Twinkie or Frito battering ram.  Depending on our emotional circumstance a heart to heart with a trusted friend or counselor may be just what we are craving.  But there are times when only and heart to heart with the Lord will fill that need...there are times when He is the only One who can understand, counsel and support us.  While walking through this medical crisis with Mercedes Man I drew strength from my trust in the Lord...and I experienced incredible peace in the midst of outrageous storms...but I didn't always connect with how I felt in the midst of it and in hindsight, probably did stuff some of my emotions, subconsciously thinking that it wasn't the time or the place to deal with how I felt.  Looking back there were times, probably out of sheer exhaustion, when my emotional state was laid bare before the Lord...and you know what - He met me there and made it all better.  The circumstance didn't change but my ability to deal with it did.  At times I was so afraid of letting know, like if I start crying I may never stop...but the thing I was afraid of [letting down] became the very thing God used to reveal Himself to me in a deeper and more intimate became a catalyst for boosting me back up.  I've found that being lazy about dealing with my emotions can lead to gluttony in trying to feed a soul hunger in a physical way.  But I've also found this Psalm to fill me up and satisfy like nothing else can...

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you , my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands.  My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.  Psalm 63:1-5 [Italics mine]

Just some Food 4 Thot from me to you. :)

Serving Him and you,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inventory Your Kitchen Cabinet

Inventory Your Kitchen Cabinet...sounds like a domestic challenge that would go on the top of your to-do list and keep you in the 'command central' of your home all day doesn't it?

If you are anything like me you might even be giddy with the anticipation of getting your cupboards and pantry organized and you probably have hopes of me providing you with lists of must have pantry staples and go-to gadgets to make kitchen chores and meal prep easy and fun.

Well I hate to disappoint and apologize for misleading you...but the kitchen cabinet I am referring to has very little to do with the hub of you home and has much more to do with the center of your life.

Before I go any farther with my Kitchen Cabinet message please allow me to interject a small but interesting history lesson...

I'm sure you are somewhat familiar with Andrew Jackson - the 7th President of the United States of America.  He was not a fan of big government and thought that the control of the country should not be in the hands of the wealthy but rather the common man...making him known as the first 'citizen's president'.  Many of his practices and beliefs were considered unorthodox by those in government...resulting in a less than cordial relationship with his political cabinet members.  So President Jackson assembled his own unofficial cabinet team. This group of personal advisers were mostly old and trusted friends from Tennessee that reportedly met with him in the kitchen of the White House....they were called the Kitchen Cabinet.

You may have an idea of where I am going with this mini history lesson - and I have a confession to make...I stole Old Hickory's idea.  [I was a big fan of Andrew Jackson and his beloved wife Rachel all through my Jr. High and High School years.  They were always great to do a report on since they were not among the most frequently reported on historical figures and carried with them all the drama, courage and excitement that a teenage girl needed smack dab in the middle of U.S. History classes :)]

When ApronStrings Ministries started in the kitchen of my home way back when my daughters were just little things, I felt the nudging of the Lord to make sure that I had a Kitchen Cabinet of my own...and I still do.  My cabinet members are close friends and advisers to this ministry...some are stay-at-home moms, some are working women, there are pastor's wives and women's ministry directors and a fellow speaker/writer.  Some are in my cabinet for a season and some have weathered all seasons.  Some have been 'officially' asked to fulfill a specific purpose and some just naturally, through the course of relationship, influence and support me as I seek to serve the Lord and His ladies.

So ApronStrings Ministries has a Kitchen Cabinet but so do I...and so should you...and you probably do!  My personal and ministry cabinet members have quite an overlap of the same people - but for right now I want to focus on the personal aspects of the benefit of having a Kitchen Cabinet chock full of valuable friends.

My Kitchen Cabinet is as eclectically stocked as this one here to the right.  I have long distance friends and local friends [my Idaho cabinet was empty when I moved here but the Lord has graciously filled it with gals that have embraced me and blessed me]...I have long-distance friends who are now local friends having moved to the Boise area 6 years after me!!  I have family who are friends and friends who are like family.  I have friends that I used to work with and friends that  I work out with [love those neighborhood walks].  I have friends who are married and friends who are single...friends who are newlyweds and friends who are empty-nesters...and friends who are, or soon will be, grandparents!  Their lives may look as different from one another, or mine, as the items lining these shelves, but their value in my life is beyond measure.  These friends have comforted and encouraged me, rebuked me and rejoiced with me,  made me laugh and think and shed a few tears.  They have shown me Jesus in their eyes, voice and touch...and I am a better me for having them in my life.

So who is in your Kitchen Cabinet of friends and advisers...who sits around your kitchen table literally or figuratively?  In this time of social media and easy access technology it's easy to feel like we have friends based on a 'like' button or text message...but who do you really allow in...who does the Lord use on a regular basis to shape and mold you?  If your Kitchen Cabinet seems as bare as Old Mother Hubbard's then ask the Lord to fill it.  And if you have a cabinet filled with treasured friends then take some time to let them know that they are valuable to you...invite them for coffee...send them a note via snail mail...thank God for the gals He has blessed you with.

Check later this week for Food 4 Thot.

Serving Him and you,

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Verse to Chew On

The fog is lifting...the roof is dripping [outside - frost don't ya know]...looks to be another beautiful autumn day in the North-west!

The perfect day to brew a cup of coffee...or tea...or hot chocolate...or spiced cider :) and sit down for a minute between loads of laundry [doesn't everyone do theirs on Monday?] and chew on a portion of Scripture!

I think Laundry Day might be the perfect day for A Verse to Chew On.  The 'chewing' metaphor works great on a plethora of levels but spending time in the Word has some laundry connotations as well.  For me, not only does Scripture feed my spirit, but it irons out the wrinkles of life as well.

So, before the dryer buzzes and another load needs to be flipped, let's get to it...

"Faithful is He who calls you and He will also bring it to pass"
1 Thessalonians 5:24 NASB

This is just a little smidgen of the Word but it covers so much if you think about it.  Paul, in his closing statement in his first letter to the Thessalonians, gives them [and us] such a powerful reminder of a couple of different things.
     1.  God is Faithful!  If we've been a Jesus follower for any amount of time we probably know this one...but today, on this Monday, knee deep in laundry, or Cheerios, or smack dab in the middle of an office cubicle or classroom...with Lord only knows [and He surely does] what this week holds for us [good, bad, beautiful or ugly] do we know down deep in our heart that Faithful is He?  Chew on those three words for a minute..
     2.  He who calls you...think about it...the Creator of the universe calls you!  God calls to humankind universally and corporately but He calls you individually, personally,!  You may be feeling lonely, invisible, overwhelmed, used, frustrated, under appreciated, disposable but the Almighty God sees you...knows you...calls you!  That is a great Monday morning kick-off in my humble opinion!  God calls you to relationship with Him...calls you to living a life that lets Jesus shine through you [see vs. 22,23]...calls you to His plans and purposes.  What is He calling you to today?...
     3.  He will also bring it to pass...that 'thing' God is calling you to - He will get it done!  Seem too good to be true?  Well, it isn't.  If God calls then He equips and He makes sure it happens.  All it requires on our part is cooperation and dependence.  If we carry the stress of the 'thing' and try to flesh it out on our own then we are up the creek so to speak.  We may get the 'thing' done on our own, but we will miss the purpose of the 'thing' all together.  Most 'things' that the Lord calls us to are a catalyst to draw us into deeper relationship with Him.

Well there goes the familiar buzz of the dryer.  As I get ready to move laundry day on into the ironing phase won't you join me in allowing this verse to help iron out the wrinkles of your life?  What 'thing' is God calling you to?...walk out a tough spot in your marriage...keep consistent in parenting through the trying twos or your best work in the office or classroom...wait for His mate for you...step into a ministry opportunity that takes you out of your comfort zone?  Get that 'thing' in the forefront of your over lay it with the facts that God is faithful to you in whatever it is and if you choose to depend on Him He will ultimately get it done through you!  

Does that make you more willing to walk it out?  It does me!  Shoot it even gives me the gumption [old fashioned word to go with the old fashioned picture above :)] to leave the beautiful autumn view out of my office window and head downstairs to the laundry room...and that's sayin' something! 

Coming later this week...Inventory Your Kitchen Cabinet.

Serving Him and you,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

If It's Not One's Life

Hey there...boy has it been awhile since I've fired off a blog post!  Sheesh, seems like I've just been busy, busy, busy!  I am sure all you gals can relate to that.  Seems like we are pretty dang busy most of the time anyway...but then there are certain seasons that just seem to make us feel like we are chasing our tails...and when those seasons overlap with the fall season and some rain - well then that stinkin' RA of mine kicks up and I am more tired than usual and my fingers seem to freeze up and the stuff I attempt to type just isn't suitable for reading!

That was long winded and sounds a bit like whining...don't mean it to...just trying to quickly explain my 2+ week hiatus from the blogging world in case you missed me. :)

Some of that extra busyness was just regular life that bunched up all at once...but part of that busyness was celebrating my younger daughter's Sweet 16 birthday!!  Not sure how my baby Lopey got to be 16 so quickly but I sure am glad that we got to celebrate her!

And boy did we have fun!  She is such a sweet girl...unless she is in a Debate Match - then they call her the Hidden Beast...but that's a whole other story!  Back to the sweet girl's sweet 16.  When my husband and I asked her what she wanted for her birthday she said that she wanted to have a birthday dinner with her 'away at college' big sister.  So, lucky for us, the Joyster was out of class at 6:20 the evening of Lopey's actual birthday.  We drove out to her college town, picked her up as she walked out of class and headed to her little sister's favorite restaurant for dinner.

Aren't the sisters cute?  Lopey is the one on the right with, what her sister refers to as, geek-sheek glasses! :)  We had a great time visiting and feasting on her favorite Italian food...which comes from a restaurant with olive in it's name but a graphic of grapes next to it on the left-overs bag...weird and random I know (and I had never noticed it before this) but don't you think an olive branch would be more appropriate? Just sayin'

OK, back to the birthday girl.  A couple of Saturday's later we had a little party for her.  The girls don't get a real 'themed' party for their birthdays every year - just the special 10 (cuz that's double digits) and 13 (officially a teenager) and Sweet 16 of course! :)  Anyway, we had to wait a couple of weeks to throw the shin-dig because she wanted her big sister to be there of course...and with her sister's schedule it took a couple of weekends to find a Saturday night open.  Lopey thought it was worth the wait to have her there!

The theme that she chose was A Masquerade!  Over the years I have pulled off  Barbie and Winnie-the-Pooh parties, tea parties, ballerina parties, jungle adventure themes and even a retro 60's beach party bash (in January in Idaho), but I wasn't quite sure what to do with a masquerade theme.  Thankfully the Lord gave me some creative inspiration and the birthday girl had some ideas of her own!

We kept her party small this year...just a few friends from church plus the Joyster of course.  We decided to get out the fine china, silver and crystal (I think the girls forgot I had this stuff it had been so long since I had the time and energy to use it) and have a dinner guessed it - Italian themed.

The guests were asked to come in their dressy duds and after dinner, they created their own masks, played a couple of homemade mystery games and ended the evening by watching Phantom of the of the birthday girls favorite musicals and fitting for the theme...while eating killer chocolate cake naturally!  (On a side note, I was never a big fan of chocolate until I was pregnant with this one...and it's her only dessert of choice).

The evening was full of good friends, good food and good times!  It seemed to go by as quickly as the past 16 years have!

To my Sweet 16 year old...I love are and a deep thinker...beautiful inside and out...a sense of humor and funny moves that leave my sides aching...and a love for Jesus and others that blesses me so....I am so happy to be your mommy! :)

To my reader...that's for putting up with huge gaps in my blogging as I live life with my family...and thanks for indulging me as I talk about them! :)

Serving Him and you,