Monthly Archives: April 2009

What’s For Dinner?

Sometimes I feel a little like Old Mother Hubbard, especially toward the end of some months.  Monday was one of those evenings.  As I looked through the freezer and cupboards, I knew I’d have to get creative.  

I found 4 frozen hamburger patties, some cans of diced tomatoes, plenty of rice, some cans of baked beans, and a big bag of fiesta blend cheese.  I knew I had plenty of spices and seasonings in the cupboard.  

I browned the hamburger patties, crumbling it all up to make ground beef.  I put the diced tomatoes in the blender and make a thick tomato juice.  I added in chili powder, minced onion, a little cumin, a little bit of dried red chili peppers, a dash of paprika, and a few shakes from a packet of taco seasoning.  I poured that mixture over my ground beef.

Because I knew that would not be enough chili to feed us all, I made a big pot of white rice and heated up a big can of baked beans.  I pulled out the bag of cheese and a box of saltines.  Everyone built their own chili-creation.  The rice really stretches the chili so more of us can eat with less chili.  

It actually was a really tasty meal.  The kids kept saying, “I don’t like it.  I LOVE it!”  And if all of them were saying that, –well, that’s a miracle akin to the fish and loaves and five thousand.  

What about you?  What meals have you pulled together when your cupboards were nearly bare?



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Good Time and Grace

So every year our church has this variety show.  As the director put it, “This is not a talent show.  No talent is necessary.”  Some people sing.  Some dance.  Some play an instrument or tell jokes or do a little skit.  In the past, I think somebody even demonstrated how to throw a baseball or something.  There is variety.  Hence the name. 

So my daughter ended up learning this country line dance with some friends of hers.  They’ve been practicing after church in 20-minute sessions that turn to 45-minute sessions.  My daughter got the song on her iPod so she could practice at home.  She’s been doing little heel-toes and ball-chains all over the kitchen for weeks.  

They bought matching denim skirts and borrowed cowgirl hats and boots.  The lady who taught them the dance even bedazzled some t-shirts for them to wear and bought them belts with giant shiny strawberry belt buckles.  Nothing says country line dance like a giant sparkly strawberry.  


My daughter and her friends worked hard to learn the steps and synchronize their movements.  They spent quite a bit of time planning the costumes, which we girls know was probably the whole point anyway — looking cute in a hat and boots.  The actual activity is usually secondary to how cute we look doing it.  


(And she did look cute, didn’t she?  That skirt had the exact right amount of twirl.  She didn’t break her neck in boots with a heel that high.  There was the perfect amount of bedazzle on the t-shirt.  The outfit worked.)

And I spent a lot of time and effort waiting for my daughter while she practiced, standing my ground and not taking her to a Country-Western store to buy an expensive costume, talking to other moms on the phone about schedules and skirts and boots, walking up and down the stairs to our mission barrel to look for free boots and hats, and -again- refusing to spend ridiculous amounts of money on hats and boots and skirts and chaps that don’t exactly go with those little hooded short-sleeved shirts my daughter wears every day.  Ok, maybe they didn’t actually want to buy chaps.  

And all that time and effort paid off.  Because, as I said, the girls looked good.  They were matchy-matchy in a way that tweens can totally pull off.  And they knew the dance.  They all right-stepped-behind and shuffle-ball-chained at the same time.  They smiled.  They moved in beat to the music.  They looked like they were having a great time. 


But as the music was playing and our entire church sat in the darkened auditorium watching my daughter dance on the spotlit stage, the song blared through the loudspeakers, and I realized the one thing I clearly did not spend enough time and energy doing.  I did not ever actually listen to the song they were dancing to.

Big mistake. 

As my daughter and her five tween friends scooted their boots around the front of our church, this is the Alan Jackson song she was heel-toeing it to:

Pig in the ground, beer on ice, 

Just like ole Hank taught us about

Singin’ along, Bocephus songs

Rowdy friends all night long

Good time

Lord, we’re having a good time . . . 

Shot of tequila, beer on tap

Sweet southern woman set on my lap . . . 

I wanna have fun

It’s time for a good time . . . 

A shot of tequila, beer on tap

A good looking woman to set on my lap . . . 

Oooh, yeah, a good time.

Oh, yeah.  I always dreamed my daughter would one day perform in front of the entire church to a song about tequila and good looking women sitting on men’s laps.  

After the show, I told one father, whose sweet daughter played the piano and sang a song about Jesus, that his daughter had done a super job.  He did what all nice people do — he smiled and told me my daughter did a good job as well.  Yeah, but we clearly know whose child won the Miss Spirituality portion of the contest, I thought.  

I laughed and said, “Well, I learned a valuable lesson here tonight.  Preview the song before allowing your daughter to dance to it in front of the church.  Beer on tap.”  

“Southern women on your lap,” the guy laughed as he paraphrased the next line.  Then he laughed even more and said, “Ah, we don’t worry about that sort of thing here.  That’s what Grace is for!”  

Whew.  That’s what we need — grace for when we learn lessons the hard way.  Well, that and cute matchy-matchy outfits.  



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Leaning Tower of Crocs

While everyone else was watching the church variety show, my sons were building this giant tower of shoes on my 4-year-old’s foot.  


I’m thinking we could develop this into an act for next year.


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Misc. Monday – What have you done? – 4/27

Last week, I listed things I haven’t done.  This week, I’ll list 3 things I have done.  C’mon, play along.  

I have . . . 

1.  ridden a cable car in San Francisco.  In 2002, then-baby Caleb and I flew out to meet my husband, who was in San Francisco for a trade show.  While there, we rode the cable cars, ate at Rainforest Cafe’, saw the sea lions off Pier 39, smelled the fish at the markets by the Bay (and I was in the early stages of pregnancy, so that wasn’t a good thing), and walked Lombard Street, the famous crooked/curvy street.  I also spent plenty of time shopping at a HUGE Old Navy that had gobs of maternity clothes marked way down.  

2.  been on CBS’s The Early Show.  When we were in New York City five years ago celebrating our tenth anniversary, we stood outside The Early Show on a Friday morning.  We decided to do this because they gave away Dunkin’ Donuts donuts and coffee for free.  And we love free stuff!  Especially free donuts!  While there, we stood behind that Dave guy who does the weather and acts goofy.  He handed Patrick a donut live on TV.  And we waved to our kids (4 of them at the time).  

3.  gone skiing.  Once.  And only once.  I was in high school.  It was icy.  I am not coordinated.  I was even less coordinated then.  I was going down the bunny slope — ski a few inches, fall down, ski a few inches, fall down, fall down again trying to get up, etc.  Then I looked up, and -to my amazement- a group of blind skiers was coming down the slope.  They had on bright orange vests, and they were schooling me!  Blind skiers!  Then a little later, I was falling down again when I saw a boy I knew from state 4-H camp go zooming by on his skis.  He had one natural leg and one prosthetic leg and only one arm.  OK, so I couldn’t AT ALL keep up with the blind skiers and the one-legged skiers.  So, I sat in the lodge by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and the boy from our group who broke his collarbone earlier in the day and was waiting to mention it until we left because he didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s day. 

That is a true story.  


How about you?  What have you done?


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Friday Refreshment – 4/24

Today’s bit of refreshing news comes from the International Justice Mission’s website.   

On Tuesday, IJM reported that they had worked with Mumbai local officials to rescue eight girls from a brothel.  The girls had been involuntarily sold into prostitution, one of them when she was around 11 years old, and some for as little as $3 (US) each.  They were kept against their will in prison-like conditions and had been repeatedly abused.  

Now that the girls have been freed from their slavery, seven have returned to their families.  One girl has chosen to participate in IJM’s rehabilitation program.  IJM is quietly helping all the girls transition into their lives of freedom.  

In the meantime, IJM is working with authorities to prosecute the woman who owned and ran the brothel.  She was caught off-guard with a wad of cash in her hand when they raided the brothel and rescued the girls.  IJM and local police had already collected much evidence against this woman.  

Every day, there are people around the world working to make a difference person-by-person.  While many are still in slavery around the world, there are eight fewer slaves in Mumbai today.  That’s refreshing!


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Offering With Thanks

Did you know we’re supposed to be thanking God when we make our offerings to Him?  (I know, some of you are saying, Duh, everyone knows that and I just spent 30 seconds of my life clicking on this blog, and I won’t get that 30 seconds back.  Sorry.  I’ve told you all along that I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.)

I was reading Deuteronomy 26 the other day and noticed God’s instructions for the Israelites after they harvested their first crops in the Promised Land.  As they gave the priest the basketful of the firstfruits, they were supposed to recite the stories of God’s faithfulness to them.  They were supposed to give a brief history of how God had delivered their nation from Egypt and kept His promises.  Then they were supposed to bow down and rejoice in all the good things the Lord had given them (26:11).  

God wanted the Israelites to give Him their best and to do it out of hearts full of thankfulness.  As they gave Him their offerings, they rejoiced and expressed their gratefulness to God.

You know what suddenly struck me as I read that?  The Israelites were not supposed to gather the best and first of their crops and take them to the Lord and stand expectantly to hear God thank them for their offering.  

I know, you’re thinking, Of course the Israelites wouldn’t expect God to thank THEM.  They were giving to thank God!

Yeah, I know.  But I realized that I do often sort of expect God to be grateful to me for what I offer to Him.  Do you ever do that?

There are days when I count the cost, but not in a good way.  My mind goes down the list of all the things I have offered to God.  I gave up everything — my home, having friends nearby, the church I loved, going to the grocery store and seeing people I knew, belonging, money, our trampoline, our grill.  I gave it all up to come here — where I have to walk up three flights of stairs, where getting groceries from the car to the apartment is a pain, where I don’t have many friends, where getting preschoolers to and from the car is really hard, where I don’t have as much privacy.  

And some days my list goes on and on and on.  I remind God of all the things I sacrificed for Him.  And it’s as if I am expecting the God of Heaven to declare, “Thank you, Jennifer.  I am rejoicing in all the good things you have given up for me.”  

Just so you know, that is the wrong attitude!  

I should be going down a mental list of all the things God has given to me, all the things He sacrificed for me.  And then I should declare, “Thank you, Father.  I am rejoicing in all the good things you have given me and my household.”  

Because really, when you compare the list of what I’ve offered to Him and the list of what He offers me — well, my list is pretty shabby.  

Lord, forgive me for my pride.  Help me sacrifice for you and offer to you out of a heart overflowing with gratitude.  And so I need you to transform my thinking, which is so me-centered.  Thank you for renewing and transforming my mind with your Word.  


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Hair Affair

I tend to be rather fickle with my hair.  Cut if off.  Let it grow.  Get a perm.  Straighten it.  Color it.  Style it.  Put it in a ponytail.  No, I am definitely not one of those girls who has the same hair style for 20 years.  I had 6 children in 7 1/2 years, and I have a different hairstyle in each picture of me in the hospital.  I can tell what baby it was by the way my hair was styled!  (This was #6!)


I have been known to say, “I don’t have anything to do tonight.  Mom, do you want to highlight my hair?”  I made a long-distance call to my OB/GYN when I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving and I was pregnant with our third child so I could ask him if it would be OK to get a perm.  I had woken up that morning and decided I wanted curly hair. 


 I’ve had diagonally-cut hair, wedged hair, bobbed hair, and old-lady curls all over your head hair.  I’ve had hair as short as an inch or two from my head and hair to my waist.  

I did the whole permed hair and teased bangs in high school.  In college, a boy told me he liked another girl’s hair cut and it would look good on me.  Her body size and build and the shape of her face were completely different!  Her hair color and texture were different.  That hairstyle looked horrible on me!  Why would I listen to a boy?  


I have had bangs and no bangs.  Layers and no layers.  Red hair.  Brown hair.  Highlights.  Lowlights.  

I went through a whole Meg Ryan in the movie French Kiss phase and actually used a fork — yes, a FORK — to twist my hair while I blew it dry.  That’s what the girl at the salon told me to do.  Twirl the little pieces of hair like spaghetti while blowing it dry.  I did it, and it worked.  I had beautifully messy hair, just like Meg, only much browner.  But I still think that salon girl must have had a good laugh with her girlfriends, “These people will do anything you say!  I actually got a college graduate to twirl her hair on a fork!  People are stupid!”  


I have learned some lessons the hard way.  Like you can’t really fix a haircut you hate by coloring your hair yourself.  And you shouldn’t really color your hair on a Saturday night.  The next day is Sunday, and if you end up with, say, maroon hair then you can’t get some professional to help you before church.  I’ve also learned that if you do end up with maroon hair late on a Saturday night, you can’t make it all better by using some herbal hair highlighting mix that has been in your medicine cabinet for a couple years.  ‘Cause then your hair will turn orange.  


I’ve also learned that highlighting my own hair never really ends well.  I just lack the skill or the coordination or maybe it’s just that I can’t really see my hair all around my head, so I have no idea where I’m brushing those highlights.  I always end up looking like somebody accidentally spilled some bleach randomly around my head.  


Once a hairdresser in the mall actually mocked my home highlights.  She smirked and asked, “Did you do this yourself?”  I was self-deprecating and totally blew it off.  But I hadn’t thought it was THAT obvious until she said something!  And it must have been bad because this woman had that whole 2 inches of black roots with spiky platinum ends thing going on.  So if she thought her hair was good, then mine must have been really bad!  By the way, I guess if you’re doing the black roots on purpose it looks cooler than if you just haven’t had time to get in for touch-ups.  


So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I colored my own hair on Monday.  But I really had no choice.  In the past couple months, I have found several white hairs in my head.  Gray hairs!  On me!  I’m chalking it all up to the stress of my husband almost dying in January.  That could turn a girl’s hair gray, right?  Yeah, it  must be the stress of that because I’m far too young to have gray hair.  

Anyway, so I found these gray hairs, but I still have a child who is not potty-trained so I can’t go gray.  I think that’s a rule.  If you’re young enough to change your own child’s poopy pull-ups, you’re too young for gray hair. And my husband doesn’t exactly think the color wash with highlights and lowlights from the salon is in our missionary budget.  So I bought the box of Loreal hair coloring (because I’m worth it) and decided to do it myself. 


I am happy to report that my hair is a beautiful, normal rich brown color.  Gone are the home highlights the mall salon girl scoffed at.  Gone are the wiry gray hairs my husband’s near-death experience caused.  My hair did not turn orange or maroon.  It does not look like somebody closed her eyes and colored on my head with a Clorox bleach pen.  


So, for now it’s brown, long, layered, no bangs.  But I did watch that Meg Ryan movie again, and I have plenty of forks in the drawer.  I am fickle when it comes to my hair.


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