Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Baked Oatmeal

This recipe is just too good to keep to myself.
I tried a different variation of it this week and it turned out so yummy!

1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. molasses
2 small packets splenda
2 eggs
3 c. quick oats (uncooked)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 apple (peeled and cubed)
1/4-1/3 c. chopped pecans

Mix oil, sugar, eggs in large mixing bowl and whisk.
Add oats, powder, salt and milk. Stir together well. Stir in fruit and nuts.
Pour into lightly greased 9" square baking pan.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until center is done).
Serve warm with milk.

**I have been trying to eliminate sugar from my diet for some health reasons. Plus, I was out of brown sugar this week. The recipe typically calls for 1 c. brown sugar in place of the molasses, sugar and splenda. I prefer to try a molasses substitute when possible b/c it's high in iron.
The apples and pecans can be substituted for other dried fruits (I've used craisins in the past), but that combination is just perfect for a fall dish!


Friday, August 18, 2006

10 Aromatic Pleasures

I don't normally bother with 'tags' from others (not that I get many, any really), but I thought this one was fun. Plus, I love Zoanna, the person who tagged me, and don't want to offend her. :) Just kidding, Zo!

Reading others' ideas of what smells good to them and why made me realize that our sense of smell is something for which to give thanks to God. I guess it's one of those things that we may take for granted, at least I do. Without it, though, think of all the simple pleasures, memories and nostalgic moments we'd miss out on. So, thanks God for my sense of smell.

Now, in no particular order, here are my top 10 aromatic pleasures:

1. My husband's deodorant. I know it might sound funny, but neither of us are really into colognes or perfumes. But, my husband's deodorant reminds me just of him, no other. When he's gone on business trips, sometimes I'll get out a t-shirt of his that hasn't yet been washed and smell the armpits just to feel closer to him. I know I totally grossed out a few of you with that bit of information, but my husband rarely gets BO. His deodorant really must work well because even a dirty shirt doesn't smell bad. For those of you who don't know, my husband is a CPA, crunching numbers all day, not anything that really makes him break out in a sweat (unless the bottom line doesn't add up, of course).

2. My boys' breaths. And, I'm NOT talking about when they're breast feeding babies. I think that breath reeks. Sorry, Bethany! I don't know why I love it, but I do. I love to get right up in their faces and just smell them. I'm sure it wouldn't be a smell that is distinguishable or enjoyable by anyone else than me. It's especially good (strong) when they first wake up from a nap.

Those two are probably the strangest; the rest will prove I'm not completely a weirdo.

3. Bonfires.

4. Coffee shops, particularly Dunkin Donuts, as they've got the best combination of coffee and donuts/pastries baking. I love walking into the shop and smelling, but I HATE the smell it leaves on you when you leave. Strange, huh?!

5. The morning smell on a crisp autumn day in the mountains, particularly if you're at camp or on a retreat.

6. Anything baking at my mom's house. My mom is an amazing cook and baker. She typically has something yummy in the oven or already baked when we go home to see her. Her bread and sticky buns in particular are super yummy!!

7. A summertime grill.

8. Anything having to do with Kate Britton. She's one of the biggest "smell snobs" I know, so everything about her always smells good. I can always tell when she's held one of my boys or we've been to her house. It has a 'Kate Britton' smell, and since she's one of my dearest friends, that's a good thing. :) I'll let her tell some of her 'secrets' to a good smelling house in my comment box.

9. A house freshly cleaned, especially on a cool, spring day when you can combine it with the fresh air smell coming from open windows. I don't come by that smell too often anymore, given I rarely get into deep cleaning with two toddler boys running around. But, recently a very sweet teen in our church came to clean out my refrigerator, and my house smelled like Pine Sol for days. It was wonderful!

10. My roses that used to grow on the side of our house. This summer has not been kind to them, so I haven't had any blooms. It's been so dry, and I don't have time to water them much less spray them for bugs and feed them. BUT, when I had the time, it was a simple pleasure I gave thanks to God for nearly every week when I'd go outside and cut some fresh roses to bring into the house. Their smell simply could not be compared to anything one could buy from the florist or Bath and Body Works.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Papi!!

Happy Birthday, Papi!!

We love you and are glad you love us, too.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Grateful Heart

Several times a day I can be heard repeating a little phrase to my boys that I believe the Holy Spirit gave to me unless I just can't remember where/whom I heard it from first. As toddlers are known to do, my boys whine about so many things throughout their day. Sometimes, I'm convinced they're whining just to whine. In those moments, I try to instruct them to be grateful and hold out the little proverb, "God makes a grateful heart a happy heart". I'm sure it'll be one of those phrases that they will come to associate with mom and not always respond to in a positive way. But, if not for my sons, it is a good reminder to me.

Lately, I have been grumbling about my circumstances and about the lot God has assigned to me, but convincing myself that I am instead "venting" or sharing my burdens. This morning I woke up with a very disquieted heart. I was wrestless and upset, but couldn't discern completely why. I prayed that the Lord would use His Word to comfort me, but I walked away from my quiet time actually saying to my husband, "nothing spoke to me".

Over the course of the day, however, the Holy Spirit convicted me, bringing to mind some conversations I've had with friends recently where all I've really done is complain. My own words came back to convict me further, "God makes a grateful heart a happy heart". I realized I simply needed to confess my sin of grumbling and then begin to express gratitude instead. Slowly, as I have obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit to use my mouth for praise rather than for complaint, my heart has begun to quiet down, to be still again and even, happy!

And, as for my quiet time not speaking to me this morning, I was simply not willing to listen. One of the passages I read was from Psalm 148 which offered me the same advice I offer my sons when they are miserable and disquieted,

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.

Praise the Lord!
This is not the first time I have been convicted of grumbling, and knowing how deceitful our hearts are, I know it won't be the last I'm caught in this sin. But, I thank God that He graciously brought it to my attention and gave me grace to confess and receive His forgiveness. He truly does make a grateful heart a happy one.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tribute to June Clemmer, my "Ma"

There is only one difficult aspect in writing a tribute to my mother and that is to capture succinctly through words not only the strength of character my mom possesses but also all the ways I admire her and have benefited from being her daughter.

One characteristic that is strikingly obvious about my mom is her love for her home and her children. She has always used whatever resources were available to her (and at times, it was very tight financially) to make her home a place of comfort, productivity, beauty and refuge. She has never strived to find a place outside the home, but has gratefully and eagerly embraced her role as a home manager and has done so much to impart to me and all her children the skills necessary in keeping a home running smoothly.

I can imagine the temptation was great for my mom to do the necessary chores herself as she could do so more efficiently and to a higher standard than she could expect from her children. However, my mom chose what I believe is the harder path by diligently instructing us on home care and home management basics. She also faithfully oversaw or checked our work to ensure that we were really learning and excelling in the various tasks she had assigned to us. Though this was not enjoyable as a child, I am now reaping the benefits of her faithful training. While there is always room for improvement, home management and taking care of my home’s cleaning needs is an area that seems to come naturally to me. There has been very little learning curve for me in these areas as my mother excelled in preparing her daughters in particular for this unique role in the home.

My mom also excels in opening not only her home but her heart to all who are graced to know her. This is the epitome of hospitality, I believe, and my mom excels in extending this gift to others. She gives much thought to the details of what might bless her guests and has done so especially for her own children now that most of us are grown up and moved out of her home. She plans ahead to ensure bed sheets are cleaned, towels are ready and a place is created especially for her guest. She thinks through her meals, keeping in mind the particular food preferences of all her children to accommodate us as best she can.
Not only for the planned guest, but for the many who simply drop in on occasion (which in my mom’s house is really a daily occurrence), she has her home and her heart ready to receive anyone who might knock on her door. She does this by having meals, snacks and/or drinks at the ready, by keeping her home tidy and well organized and by posturing herself to entertain oft times uninvited “angels”. So much does my mom excel in hospitality that there have been numerous holidays, intended to be “family only” occasions, where a friend or neighbor has felt the freedom to drop in and make himself at home with us. To experience my mom’s hospitality is to be loved and cared for in a way that leaves one feeling less like royalty and more like family. And, I believe that’s why her home is always full of people!

Though my mom works hard giving of herself to others, she spends most of her energy pouring out her life first and foremost for her husband and her children. Among the many and various practical ways she serves her family, her encouragement to each of her children to walk with the Lord has been one that has brought significant blessing to my life. She has walked beside each of her children through some incredibly challenging circumstances, often causing her to be confronted with her inadequacies to direct our hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. In these times, she has thrown herself on the mercy and wisdom of God, appealing to us as necessary, reminding us of truth and ultimately entrusting us to the faithfulness of God. Due in large part to my mom’s faithful prayers, all of her children are believers in Christ and seeking to glorify God with our lives.

Of all the things that I cherish so much about my mom (and there are so many more qualities than I mentioned here), the quality I admire the most and am most humbled by is her perseverance to grow in godliness. There have been many hardships and trials in my mom’s life. Her parents were divorced while she was still young, and her mother died from breast cancer when she was only 8 years old. Along with her older sister, my mom was passed around to various family members to be cared for throughout portions of her childhood.

When she became an adult and married my father, she knew financial hardship most of their 18 years of marriage. A primary factor for the financial strain was the fact that she and my dad were committed to sending three of their four children to a Christian School. She cared for my father for two years while he battled brain cancer and eventually endured the loss of his life. She was thrust back into the work force after being home with children for 15 or more years in order to help provide for her four, and at that time, fatherless children.

She remarried within a year’s time of my father’s death to a man who had experienced the loss of his wife through a hit and run car accident. My stepdad’s wife was killed only months after my father passed away and by divine orchestration, my mom and stepdad were set up on a blind date, to be married only four months after they had first met. My mom chose to move her home, her family and her life to build a new one with her new husband. She faced the additional challenge of taking on the responsibility to love and care for my stepdad’s three children as well. So in total, she had a new husband and seven children, ranging in ages from 2 to 16, all responding in unique ways to the grief of losing a parent and the stress of adjusting to our new, blended family. She has also endured many years of chronic back, hip and leg pain among the more significant of bodily ailments she has suffered.

As they would for anyone, these circumstances have presented temptations to grow angry and bitter, to give into self-pity or to be anxious for the future, to mistrust God and chose to go one’s own way. But, by the grace of God, my mom has fought the good fight and continues to press into God to know experientially the freedom from these sins that Christ’s blood has bought for her. Has she done this perfectly? No. But, she has done this genuinely to be sure.

As I walk through my own hardships and trials that God has graciously brought into my life, I do not have to look far for an example of how to persevere and consider them pure joy. My mom is a living testimony of suffering producing perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
If you met my mom, not having read this tribute, you would be struck by her joy. She would tell you what a blessed woman she is. She would tell you how rich and full her life has been and continues to be. She would tell you that she has the best life a person could have and that God has been so good to her. Above all my mom has exemplified for me, this quality of humility and how to fight for joy in God, recognizing that no matter what circumstance
we find ourselves in, we have been treated better than we deserve, is by far the quality I most want to emulate.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Ps. 31: 25

Mom, while my words are woefully inadequate, I pray the life that I live, patterned greatly after you, will do a better job of rising up and calling you blessed.

“To God be the glory
Great things He has done.”

Friday, March 17, 2006

True Love

On Thursday, March 16th, Lawrence and I celebrated four years of marriage. To my shame, I usually put a lot of expectations, some spoken, some unspoken, upon my husband to romance me. And, I usually end up frustrated and in a conflict with him over how he didn't measure up. Mercifully, God has given me a husband who overlooks offense after offense, and who draws near to me even when I'm being near hateful toward him.

Over the course of our marriage, I've turned to a few, close confidants who God has used powerfully in my life, to help bring baby steps of change in my ungodly responses to my husband, among other areas in my life. Upon one of those friend's more recent rebukes, I saw that the ideas I had about love and how it should be demonstrated in a marriage are not really biblical and that my lustful cravings for more romance, and the more "Hollywood-like" displays of affection and love were never going to be satisfied and moreso, keep me from experiencing and appreciating true love as the bible defines.

From that realization and inspired by my husband's countless displays of true biblical love to me comes this poem that I wrote for him this year.

I asked God for someone to love me,
But I didn't know what love really is.
Until my notions of love were shattered,
And I could see a love like His.

A love that's patient, a love that's kind
A love that draws near, and of God's grace, reminds.

A love that does not envy, and neither does boast
A love that to all my successes does toast.

A love that is not proud, a love that is not rude
A love that humbly responds to my bad attitudes.

A love that's not self-seeking no matter the sacrifice
That's more concerned with what I'd prefer than for you what would be nice.

A love not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs
A love that assures me no matter what, it's in your arms I belong.

A love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
A love that points me to the gospel, and from that my heart is soothed.

A love that always protects my honor and my name.
A love that always trust that when I fall, I will rise again.

A love that always hopes I'll choose the best.
A love that perseveres when I've failed every test.

A love that never fails; this is your love for me.
A love as the Bible defines and brings God much glory.

Lawrence, thank you for four faithful years of God glorifying love!

Friday, March 03, 2006


When my husband proposed more than four years ago, our engagement fell over Valentine's Day. Oddly enough, our wedding day falls 30 days after Valentine's Day. So, among the few, very few, creative and romantic things I have come up with in my life, I made a little flip, countdown calendar for Lawrence to use until we were married. Each year since we were married, I have put it up and used it to countdown to our wedding anniversary.

It sits above my kitchen sink, and I am the one who flips it and reads the day's quote a million times throughout the day. I am the one who's been reminded at least 6 times today already that there are only 13 days left until our anniversary.

13 days left, and I have no idea how to bless my husband this year in remembering our anniversary. You see, Lawrence is in the midst of I would say the busiest season of work he's had since we've been married. He's out of the house an average of 12 hours a day and is working Saturdays. I am tired to say the least. Even with the daily reminder that our anniversary is right around the corner, I have not taken the mental and emotional energy to come up with any ideas on how to celebrate our anniversary.

And, there's an additional snag. March 16th is our anniversary and also the first day of the men's retreat for the men of Chesapeake. We are both excited that Lawrence is going to be able to go as his boss was rather hesitant to give him the time off. I've thought about arranging for someone to babysit the boys so that I could pick Lawrence up from the retreat and take him overnight somewhere, but he has indirectly communicated that we don't have the means for that right now. Plus, I think there's probably more of my own desire to do something like that which prompted that plan.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I need ideas. I know there are some really creative (don't get too creative; I'm highly limited skill/talent wise) women out there who might have some great ideas that I can steal. :)
I really don't think Lawrence has time to read this blog, but by chance that you're reading the blog, honey, please don't check the comments!

So, comment away...