24 February 2011

Choosing Diligence

Sometimes I read my Bible very first thing in the morning. Usually, though, I read it after the kids and I have had breakfast and they have settled down to watch cartoons or play. Sometimes I use a Bible study. But many times, I choose a book in the Bible and read anywhere from half a chapter to a chapter a day. Sometimes I read my Bible at the table, where Daniel can see me. But most of the time, I go in my room, shut the door, and sit on my bed.

But, you know, I don't think when, how, or where matters nearly as much as whether or not I'm studying His Word consistently and with the right heart.

I'm a person who thrives on getting "things" accomplished. Read about Mary and Martha lately? Yep, I get convicted every time. That means that when it's "time" to read my Bible, if I'm not careful, it can become one more "thing" I cross off my mental list. And what does that really accomplish?

Going back to the right heart. We get a good picture of what it is in John 1:45-51. When Philip introduced Nathaniel to Jesus, Jesus praised Nathaniel in the presence of the other disciples by telling them that Nathaniel was an Israelite in whom there was no guile (or deceitfulness). According to John Phillips, Jesus was alluding to the fact that Nathaniel was unlike Jacob, the Supplanter (or deceiver); but, instead, possessed the heart of Israel, the man Jacob later became after wrestling with God. I think this commendation implies a single-heartedness on Nathaniel's part -- a desire for the Truth.

I love the fact that Jesus goes on to say that he saw Nathaniel under the fig tree. As many others also believe, John Phillips points out that this is most likely a reference to Nathaniel's taking time earlier, possibly that day, to study the Scriptures or pray. The point is, he was SEEKING. His diligence in searching resulted from a singleness of heart! A heart in which all other things paled in comparison to knowing God. He desired to know more of God and God's plan! And you know what? God noticed him. God not only noticed him, He sought him out. It was no coincidence that Jesus found Philip, and Philip in turn went to Nathaniel that day.

So just what did Nathaniel "find" THAT day? The Word Incarnate revealed! And because he had been searching the Scriptures, he recognized the Truth when he saw Him. I love how Christ honors the seeking heart. Not a heart who was seeking any old "truth", but a heart that was diligently seeking the one and only Truth.

"...for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6

I can think of specific times when I have really sought to understand something in God's Word on a deeper level. I can recall one time, not long ago, when I really longed to understand how to practically apply a certain truth. I prayed, I read, and after several weeks, God clearly answered my question through His Word. And, can I tell you, when He did, there was absolutely no doubt that He had led me to a certain a passage and was answering my question. I was so thankful to Him for showing me Grace and showing me Truth!

I want to be more like Nathaniel. For Christ does see me -- whether it's under the fig tree or sitting on my bed. But more than that, he sees my heart. He knows whether or not I am truly seeking Him. I wish I could say there were more times when I was "diligently" seeking him with true singleness of heart. Because when I choose to seek Him in that way, the reward IS great!

18 February 2011

A Cure for Cupcakes

A couple of months ago, I brought home some gourmet-type cupcakes from a new little cupcake shop downtown. One of the flavors we really liked was a spice cake with maple cream cheese frosting. I thought about trying to make my own version of it, but most spice cakes I've had are way too dry. I sometimes put hot milk over a cake; but with cupcakes, doing that can make the bottoms too soggy. WELL, fortunately for me, Kelly T. and I had a cupcake discussion this week, and she told me what she's been doing lately to make a better cupcake.

Are you ready for this? I just love this idea! Seriously, I came home excited about it! (I know. That makes me a baking nerd. But I'm okay with that....)

Here it is......

Yep. That is a medicine syringe, like you get FOR FREE when your child is on meds. (Probably the only thing you got free when they were sick!) Well, here's one more way for you to use it.

After you've made your cupcakes, boil 3/4 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of sugar. Use the syringe to infuse the cupcakes with the hot milk when the cupcakes first come out of the oven. (I used 3/4 of a teaspoon for each cupcake).

I did this with the spice cake cupcakes, and they really did turn out good. (I had a coupon for a free cake mix, so I just used the Duncan Hines Spice Cake mix. I did add 1 T. of cocoa - idea courtesy of Paula Deen. I think it made the cake a little less spicy, a little more rich.)
My family likes maple-flavored things, so the maple cream cheese frosting REALLY topped it off. I omitted the vanilla, and instead added 3/4 teaspoon maple flavoring to my cream cheese icing.

As you can see, the kids really liked them, and it made for a nice Friday treat. Plus, since I had too many for our family to eat (without crossing into the realm of gluttony), I took some over to my favorite neighbors. And I'm so glad I did! It gave us a chance to visit, which we haven't done in too long.

We stuck Addie on the trampoline while the boys were jumping off all that sugar.

It really was a nice way to end the week!

15 February 2011

Our Apart-time

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

A college professor of mine quoted this old saying to a group of us my freshman year. He stated that he had found it a good thing to be away from his wife every once and a while. Made them appreciate each other more.

My soon-to-be husband and I discovered that little truth our first summer apart. He traveled out West for eight weeks. Eight long weeks. No texting. No facebook. No email. Not even a cellphone. Only occasional phonecalls placed on his AT&T calling card and hand-written letters. But it was that absence that sealed the deal. Before that summer, I was pretty sure I could live with him and be happy. After that summer, I had no doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him as his wife.

We still know the value of short absences from each other. Makes us appreciate each other a little more.

We also enjoy a few days alone here and there. A couple days like we had last week. We were fortunate to have the Grandmas tag-team the babysitting for us so we could go to our church's couples' retreat.

Talking without interruptions.

Shopping without extended restroom breaks and snack times.

Eating together over still-hot food.

Surprisingly, the children seemed to appreciate the short apart-time as well. They look forward to the extra attention from grandparents and enjoyed the special privileges that only Grandmas can give. But, sweetly, they were so excited to see us Saturday evening. And to top it all off, they even surprised us with homemade presents!

Maybe this week we'll appreciate each others' company a little more. Be a bit more patient with each other... at least for a little while. And it is nice to remember the feeling of anticipation over seeing one another!

It is true. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

08 February 2011

Overheard in the tub

Thomas + Daniel + bathtub = lots of talking.

My boys talk ALL the time, like any 6 and 4 year old, but usually it's directly to me. That's why sometimes I just stick them in the bathtub together and leave. Okay, I know the bad mommy siren just went off in some of your heads. HOWEVER, my house is small, and I stay right around the corner in the kitchen or the living room. And as loud as they are, I can hear that no one is drowning. So, with that disclaimer out of the way, these are some of the things I overheard tonight:

"Thomas, do ALL Indians have weapons?"

Then Thomas, who apparently is an expert on the history of the American Indian, launched into an explanation of just which Indians carry weapons and exactly what kind of weapons they carry. The conversation then became much too technical, and then downright silly, for me to record.

After that discussion, Thomas decided that it was time to explain to Daniel how to wash off. I then heard Thomas say, "Do it like this and then you'll be clean as a whistle!" Clean as a whistle? Where on earth did he hear that? Sounds to me like he's been watching too much Little House on the Prairie with Grandma Russell!

And after that episode, Daniel decided that he was done with bathtime. I then heard him say rather loudly, "I'm ready to get out. We've been in here for HOURS!" Oops. Facebook was interesting and the couch was comfortable. No, really. They had been in there for all of twenty minutes. The water was still warm. But apparently, they were done conversing over poofs and bath soap.

Oh, the things you can learn when you eavesdrop!

04 February 2011

The Chihuahua

Meet Addie. Also known as The Chihuahua. What would warrant such a name, you may ask? Well, these are the kinds of things Addie does:

She slobbers on her Daddy's suits.

She whines so we'll give her food.

She has chewed on our furniture. (More than my boys ever did, by the way!)

If you look closely, you can probably see the chew marks!

She used to crawl under the table while we were eating dinner. That's when we found out she was eating the boys' crumbs off the floor - not to mention eating the scraps they would slip her under the table! We quickly put a stop to that!

Hence, Daddy started calling her The Chihuahua. And then we started confining her to a highchair during meals (or hypnotized her with PraiseBaby).

Well, this morning she continued to live up to her nickname. This is what I found her doing.

I think this photo definitely captures her "personality"!

She was very proud of herself. I, on the other hand, was not very impressed with her new-found ability to shred Kleenex! (I took her back over to the scene of the crime and told her "No, no, no!" Then I took a picture of her in front of the evidence. Sending mixed signals, maybe?)

But unlike the first and last dog that we had (Tex, for those of you who remember that rascal), we've decided to keep our little Chihuahua. Maybe the next stage will be that one that involves sitting quietly and looking at books, loving on her babydolls, and sitting beside Mommy and coloring. I've heard there are other little girls that do this. A little far-fetched for our Addie? Maybe. Oh, well. Like I said, we think she's a keeper. :)

Working on a quiet and non-destructive activity....