the goodest of friends

We got to share meals and space and time and conversation with some of our “goodest” friends (in my son’s words). The kind of friends that you do not get to see more than a couple times a year, but who never feel like you’ve lost time with during the in-between. They are the kind of friends that you want to grow old with, and swap grandkid pictures with when we’re grey, and take annual summer vacations with, and create traditions with. This is a family that is like family to us. We are so indescribably thankful for them, and how God lets us cross distances to stay close.

P1200332  P1200335     P1200345    P1200356

…There are things you can’t know,
and questions you can’t ask,
and memories you can’t recover via email and voicemail.
It was about the being there,
about being there to really see
what’s exactly the same and
what’s totally different about each one of us.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p63~


Share your life with the people you love,
even if it means saving up for a ticket
and going without a few things for a while to make it work.
There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing,
and if you let enough years pass,
and if you let the routine steamroll your life,
you’ll wake up one day, isolated and weary,
and wonder what happened to all those old friends.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p65~

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Good friends are like breakfast.
~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p65~

Saturday May 22, 2010

Isaiah 45:5-7
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides Me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know Me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides Me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Calamity. In my home. Where we grieve the death of our youngest baby.
And calamity. In the home of my friend. Where she grieves the death of her baby girl today too.
We stand with them in their grief.
We weep together for the deaths of our covenant children.
Perplexed at the calamities around us.
Certain that God is good, and equally as certain that He is terrible.

Psalm 6:2-3
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD— how long?

Saturday February 20, 2010

My long time dear friend Erin of EAdams Designs sent me a lovely birthday bouquet (it’s so nice to receive flowers for a happy occasion now & then, too!), which arrived this morning while we were eating brunch as a family. Gabriel was excited to hear the doorbell ring, and equally thrilled to help Mommy open the newly acquired box.
Inside was a beautiful bouquet (don’t you agree?!), and I was so thrilled by the bright flowers and cheeriness that I couldn’t stop smiling. It was such a sweet offering. Thank you, Erin!! I wish I could hug you right now. 🙂

In the enclosed card, along with birthday wishes, she (who is likewise a bereaved mommy) included a beautiful quote of encouragement:

The Lord does not measure out our afflictions according to our faults,
but according to our strength,
and looks not to what we deserve,
but what we are able to bear.
~George Downame (1560-1634)

Thursday February 18, 2010

Thank you, Jaclynn & Samantha, for the lilies you sent us last week. They are delightful. It has been a pleasure to watch them open and flourish, one by one.

Matthew 6:28-29
Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

Monday December 21, 2009

So we had Mommy & Tots today for the first time since September, I believe. It was so nice to have the ladies and tots in my home again! There were five moms and seven kids (plus two “baking”!) – Gabriel is the oldest. 🙂 We visited mostly, and let all the kids play with toys (and each other!), had a Christmas ornament exchange (gotta love those), and ate a brunch of orange slices, gingerbread with whipped cream, and my favorite egg casserole (Jac & Sam, I think you girls shared this with me years ago!).
I thought I would share my recipes with you, as well as our words of encouragement for the mommies this week. 🙂

Holiday Gingerbread

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/3 cup sifted flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
pinch salt
Heat butter and molasses until melted and bubbly. Cool slightly. Beat in sour cream, sugar, and egg until smooth. In separate bowl, sift dry ingredients. Add molasses mixture to dry ingredients, blend until lump-free and smooth. Pour into a greased 9-inch pan (round or square or loaf). Bake at 325F until done – firm, yet bouncy to your finger. Test after 45 minutes. Do NOT overbake. Watch it closely, since you want it moist not dry. Serve with whipped cream!!

Campbell Ranch Egg Puff

1/2 cup butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 pound shredded cheese – I use colby-jack
10 large eggs
1 pint cottage cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup or so of cooked sausage, ham or bacon (I usually use about 5 strips of bacon)
In a large frying pan, melt the butter. Wash and dice the mushrooms, and add to the butter. Saute for a couple minutes until completely coated with butter and getting a little soft. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and the mushrooms/butter. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.

Published by Nancy Ann December 6th, 2008 in Everything Christmas

The Christmas build-up is famous for being prime stress-out time, particularly and especially for busy moms. So here is your annual gentle reminder to forsake all stressing out. Put all your worries, concerns, panics, and pressures (and lists of things you cannot possibly get done) in a big box, tie it with a ribbon, and put it away. Remember that all good things come with temptations, and Christmas is no exception. Being tempted is not the same thing as sin. Having temptations to get stressed out is normal, every day life. Giving way to the temptation is the problem.

Now a little stress is a good thing; without it we might not get very much done. Deadlines make us work harder, and there is no stopping December 25. But when stress turns into worry which then leads to self-pity, which causes grumbling, which makes for a sour attitude, it is no fun for anyone, neither you nor the people who are witnesses to your stressful life. In fact, they get tired of hearing about it: Ha! You think you have it bad. I have eighty-five people on my list. And I haven’t even started shopping yet!  And of course this is not glorifying to God, which is what our lives are to be all about. Especially at the celebration of Christmas.

The worst case scenario is that you won’t get it done. The cards won’t get mailed on time. The cookies won’t get baked. The kids won’t have the hand-made gifts you had planned.  But if the kids have a joyful mom over Christmas, that will have a far greater impact on them than the missing cookies or gifts.

Maybe the stress is because of finances this year. You just can’t do all those things you had hoped. One of my kids’ favorite memories of Christmas involves stockings full of bungie cords and rubber bands! They had so much fun with those things for months.

Sometimes the big disasters (the turkey burned, the gravy spilled, the gifts were all late, broken, and stolen) make the best stories later. We need to recognize them at the time and enjoy them as we live them out, believing God as we go.

So have a wonderful time of preparation. Don’t stint on the gifts and the candy and the celebration. But do it all as an overflow of JOY, not as a panic-stricken obligation! And treasure up the good stories as you go.

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls — Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Reckless Giving
Published by Nancy Ann
December 2nd, 2009 in Everything Christmas

As you do your Christmas shopping, you are bound to run into the person who is feeling very guilty about buying presents. It’s so materialistic, they say. Well, yes, it is in one sense. After all, it is stuff. But if we are buying this stuff to bestow on our friends and family because God has bestowed so much of it on us that we just have to let it slosh over, then that is not materialism.

Thankfulness is a great antidote to false-guilt giving. Look at how much God throws away on us all the time. How much rain just runs down the gutter? How many sunsets are enjoyed by the whales because no one else is around to see them? What about the mountainsides covered in wildflowers that no human eye will behold? God just gives and gives and gives recklessly. He doesn’t want us to feel guilty about the sunset or the flowers. He wants us to overflow in thanksgiving. And though we cannot come near His capacity to give,  we can imitate His extravagance by giving gifts and filling stockings and making fudge, all to the glory and praise of The Great Gift Giver Extraordinaire.

A Kind of Christmas Tale

December 23, 2007  |  By: John Piper  |  Category: Recommendations

I wrote this story about four years ago to tell the children at Bethlehem‘s Christmas Eve service.

The Poor Man and His Cow
And the Rich Man and His Wall

Based (very loosely) on a story in T. H. White’s The Once and Future King.

Once upon a time there was a very wise old man named Job. In his old age God gave to him a daughter whom he named Jemima, which means little dove. He loved his little girl and she loved her daddy.

One day Job decided to go on journey and asked Jemima if she would like to go along. “Oh, yes,” Jemima said. “I would love to go along.”

But Job said, “It will be a journey that takes us several days. So we will be staying each night wherever people will have us. So I can’t promise it will be nice. But God will take care of us. He always does what is right. He always meets the needs of those who trust him.”

Jemima smiled and said, “And even if things go bad, God makes them turn for good. Right, Daddy? Just like the little poem that you taught us:

When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them turn for good.”

“That’s right, Jemima,” Daddy said, “and there’s another little poem you need to learn. It goes like this:

When things go better than they should
For people who are bad,
Remember, if they stay that way,
At last they will be sad.”

And so they started off on their journey and walked all day. At sundown they saw a little cottage and knocked on the door. A very poor man and his wife and baby lived there. Job asked if he and Jemima could spend the night there before they continued on their journey in the morning.

The poor man and his wife were very happy to let them stay. They gave Job and Jemima their own room and made them a simple supper. The special treat was fresh milk from their only cow. This was how the poor couple made a living. Their cow gave good milk and they sold it for enough to live on.

In the morning when Job and Jemima got up they heard crying. The cow had died during the night. The poor man’s wife was crying, “What will we do? What will we do?” she sobbed. The poor man was about to cut the cow into pieces and sell the meat before it spoiled. But Job said, “I think you should not cut the cow in pieces but bury him by your back wall under the olive tree. The meat may not be good to sell. Trust God, and he will take care of you.”

Then Job and Jemima went on their way. They walked all day again and were very tired when they came to the next town and noticed a fine home. They knocked on the door. A very wealthy man lived in this house and they hoped that they would not be an inconvenience to one so wealthy.

But the man was very gruff with them and said they could stay in the barn. He gave them water and bread for supper and let them eat it by themselves in the barn. Job was very thankful for the barn and the bread and water and said to the wealthy man, “Thank you very much for the bread and water and for letting us stay in your barn.”

In the morning Job noticed that one of the walls of the house was crumbling. So he went and bought bricks and mortar and repaired the hole in the wall for the wealthy man. Then Job and Jemima went on their way and came to their destination.

As they sat by the fire that night Jemima said, “Daddy, I don’t understand the ways of God. It doesn’t seem right that the poor man’s cow should die when he was so good to us, and that you should fix the rich man’s wall when he was so bad to us.”

“Well, Jemima,” Job said, “many things are not the way they seem. Perhaps this once I will tell you why. But after this you will have to trust God.”

“The poor man’s cow was very sick, but he didn’t know it. I could taste it in the milk. Soon he would have sold bad milk and the people would have gotten sick and died, and they would have stoned him. So I told him not to sell the meat, but to bury the cow under the olive tree by his back wall because the Lord showed me that, if he dug the grave there he would find a silver cup buried from long ago, and sell it for enough money to buy two good cows. And in the end things would be better for him and his wife and child.”

“When we spent the night at the rich man’s house, I saw the hole in the wall and I saw more than that. I saw that hidden in the wall from generations ago was a chest full of gold. If the rich man had repaired the wall himself, he would have found it and continued in his pride and cruelty. So I bought brick and closed the wall so that the man would never find this treasure.”

“Do you see, Jemima?”

“Yes, Daddy, I see.”

“So never forget, Jemima, many things are not what they seem. But if we trust in God,

When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them turn for good.”

But if we turn away from God and are unkind and selfish, then the other saying will come true:

When things go better than they should
For people who are bad,
Remember, if they stay that way,
At last they will be sad.”

And that’s the way it was with Jesus. It seemed like he was unimportant because he was born in a small unimportant town, not a big city. He was born in a stable, not a palace. He was laid in a manger, not a fine bed. He was a carpenter not a famous statesman. He had a small group of friends, not a great army. And worst of all, he was killed like a common criminal on a cross.

But many things are not what they seem. He was the Son of God, the Savior of the world. He rose from the dead. He is alive today and rules over the world and King of kings and Lord of lords. And everyone who trusts in him will have all their sins forgiven, and will be able to say,

When things don’t go the way they should
God always makes them turn for good.”

It’s only FOUR days until Christmas!! Time to start counting down….. 🙂

Friday November 20, 2009

These were the three little candles we had lit on October 15th in remembrance of Covenant, Glory, and Promise. Next year there will be another one added for Peace.

In mid-October we spent a day at podunky little town in the center of the state, meeting up with two of Steven’s buddies from “pre wife” life. lol. Abby and Jared. We had a great time hanging out at a random park, and then enjoying the rainless coziness of an awesome cafe.

Eventually the maple tree in our front yard finished dropping most of its leaves, so it was time to rake! Gabriel was thrilled and loved to help Daddy. 🙂

We have been blessed by many beautiful flowers during the pregnancy with Peace, and after the miscarriage. Aren’t these lovely? They have certainly blessed us.
This one was organized by my friend Margaret, from about a dozen families from our church!

This gorgeous vase and rose was from my friend Meggan; it has dried now and sits on the vanity in our room.

From our church family, a lovely bouquet.

From my friend Lisa, I think she said these are Peruvian lilies.

Gorgeous roses from Jaclynn and Samantha, filling my entire kitchen with the scent of roses!
On November 14th I was supposed to throw a baby shower at church for my dear friend Elizabeth. I was able to still do all the preparations, shopping, decorating, games, etc — but I did not actually go to host the shower in person. So another mutual friend pinch-hit-hosted for me, and hopefully it all went together well. I sincerely wanted it to be a time of joy and blessing for Elizabeth and her new baby boy (who we finally got to meet this week!). I don’t have any good pictures, but here are some random shots of the cupcakes I made, one of the tables, and the brunch table & gift table. Sorry you can’t get an idea for how fun and cute it was… it was a work in progress when I took these. 🙂 I’m hoping someone took pictures of the shower, because I really want to see how everything turned out! I had a lot of fun putting together the games too… I should tell y’all about them sometime. When I feel like talking baby again.

Here is my gorgeous little boy. We were playing around the house together as usual, and I brought out my camera one day. This is what we got. Plus a lot more of the same. lol.

My grandparents are in town for a while, celebrating not only Thanksgiving but also both their birthdays! (and my hubby’s birthday next week, too) So last Sunday (on Grandpa’s 80th birthday!) we had a little party for the two of them at my parents’ house.
We even brought presents — homemade goodies: soup mix, bread mix, chocolate truffles, and candied pecans.

I don’t know that you can tell by the photos, but Gabriel runs so fast with this toy — he falls down every so often once he gets dizzy, and it’s fairly comical.

The birthday boy relaxing by the fire.

Table decorations.

Smiley little Noah! He thinks Auntie M is craaaaaaazy.

Pretty little Hannah.

On the menu? Grilled surf ‘n’ turf!

Decadent chocolate cake and Baskin Robbins ice cream for dessert.

Birthday wishes!

Showing Great Grandpa his little car-driving-toy

Thursday November 5, 2009

Margaret D
Kristen T
Roberta D
Mrs. W
…and more…

Your words and wisdom have blessed us tremendously.
There have been so many emails and comments, even some phone calls/messages.
But I want to publicly declare that you lovely women have sincerely blessed us.
I don’t even know how to describe what your notes have meant to us.
for giving us words of Truth,
for honoring our children,
for your fervent prayers,
and for such tangible acts of love.

Friday October 16, 2009

Charlotte, you tagged me! And what do ya know, it’s my first tag, too. 🙂 Pretty crazy!

Charlotte has a lovely blog about her family, and I love seeing pictures and reading stories about them and their homeschooling efforts. I have known Charlotte since before I can even remember, since we grew up in the same church. I think one of my favorite things about her when I was little was when she worked at my dad’s office, and I would love seeing her smiling face and getting a hug from her when I’d stop by to see my daddy. 🙂
So anyway, here I am — obliging with my answers to the survey about my sweet husby & me. 🙂

What are your middle names?

Timothy & Joy
♥How long have you been together?
We’ve known each other for 3 years
Had a long-distance relationship 4 months
Short-distance relationship 1 month
Engaged 3 1/2 months
Married 2 1/2 years… so far!! 🙂

♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Oh, umm, that’s really a trick question for us.
We met online on a reformed singles website… so it wasn’t exactly dating…
and it wasn’t exactly official for a while, but it was always with “that” intention…
so I don’t know. 🙂
Let’s just say like two months. 🙂 Except I think it was more like one month!

♥ Who asked who out?
My dad asked him out. Haha! lol. Just kidding.
No seriously. Dad wrote to him. He wrote to Dad.
Then I wrote to him. He wrote to me.
Over and over and over and over and over…
Until he came to visit.
Then he asked me out.
Over and over and over and over and over…

♥ Who made the first move?
Well, let’s see, he moved across the country for me. 🙂
That counts, right? 😉
He said “I love you” first.
He made the first effort to hold my hand right after he proposed.
Our first kiss, later on, was kind of a mutual thing — simultaneous, you could say. 🙂

♥ How old are each of you?
wifey is 25
husby is practically 27

♥ Did you go to the same school?

♥ Are you from the same home town?
Haha, we are now!

♥ Who is the smartest?

He is more intelligent.
But I am more detailed.

♥ Who majored in what?
wifey- music and liberal arts
husby- religious studies and biblical christology
♥ Who is the most sensitive?

Isn’t that obvious?
The always-hormonal wife. 🙂

♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Starbucks. 🙂 Or McDonald’s! Not even kidding.
♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

Umm… to the Mediterannean (but that was accompanied by extended family).
Alone… to North Carolina.

♥ Who has the worst temper?
Neither one of us has much of a temper.
Go ahead with the redhead jokes.
We prove them wrong. 🙂
♥ How many children do you want?
We’re working on our fifth. 🙂
♥ Who does the cooking?

Me, oh pick me! 🙂 I love being mistress of the kitchen.
But on Valentine’s Day, I hand over the apron.
And he always makes a delectable feast.

♥ Who is more social?

Not really sure. We are about equal.
For the most part, we love small gatherings.
Double date type things.
Mostly we sincerely love just being home and being together as a family.
Not that we don’t love parish fellowship nights or parties. Cuz we do. 🙂

♥ Who is the neat-freak?

That’d be me.
I let him have his study to himself.
I don’t tidy it, clean it, or anything.
The rest of the house is definitely neat-freak-maintained.
It’s been a lifelong habit, and so far I haven’t let it go. 🙂

♥ Who is the most stubborn?

We prefer to think of ourselves as staunch and committed. 😉

♥ Who wakes up earlier?
Husby’s alarm always goes off first.
But lately I’ve been lying there awake before that even happens.

♥ Where was your first date?

Depends on what you mean by “date.”
The first time he bought me something was in a resort town by a lake 1 hour east of our hometown.
It was a sweet little independent coffee shop.
The type that serves free trade coffee.
We sat on bar stools by the windows, drinking coffee, people watching, and talking for almost four hours.
<<<happy sigh>>>
I think the first time we went out for dinner alone was downtown at a bistro type place
the night he proposed to me.

♥ Who has the bigger family?

Same size immediate family.
I have more extended family.

♥ Do you get flowers often?

Define “often.”
He loves to bring me flowers for “no reason” every so often.
Most frequently roses. 🙂

♥ How do you spend the holidays?

Since his family lives 3000 miles away, we are usually with my family for at least part of each holiday.
We love the family traditions of Thanksgiving and Christmas especially.
We do lots of reading and feasting and singing and smiling.
We have candles and music and crackling fires.
And snow. Oh we love the snow!

♥ Who is more jealous?

We’ve never been jealous of one another.
We don’t have to be.

♥ How long did it take to get serious?

Well let’s see… not long. 😉

♥ Who eats more?

Usually the husby.
But not always. 🙂

♥ What do you do for a living?
wifey- mistress of the domain, helpmeet, devoted mommy
husby- family head, loving daddy, adoring husband, computer guru at a Bible software company
♥ Who does the laundry?
Definitely me.
♥ Who’s better with the computer?
Hah! That’s another no-brainer.
He’s a computer guru, remember? 🙂

♥ Who drives when you are together?
Husby does 99.8% of the time.
♥ What is “your” song?
At our wedding it was “Love Like Ours” by Steve Tyrell.
But our family song since then has been “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” by William Cowper

Meggan, Krista, and Laura. 🙂