Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Link Love...

I read a lot of blogs, and I am always loosing track of inspiring links to posts that motivate me.  So I am putting them all down in one place as a ready reckoner for me to come back to time and time again. Things I have been encouraged and challenged by lately...

Spiritual Discipline

Occasionally it all gets a bit much and I need to take some time to focus. From The Worn Out Woman I learnt about Retreat Days, and now every 5-6 months or so I use my RDO to take a little time to retreat and reflect.
Recently I also tripped over here and here and have been very encouraged - thank you ladies!

Sometimes its really hard to trust that things are in someone else's control... especially in marriage. This post helps me think on this...
All of Ann's posts on marriage have spoken deeply to me and help me to focus on what's important. Each post is listed at the bottom of this one.
There are many things we are concentrating on to build our marriage and we have been trying to organise semi-regular date nights.

Nourishing Foods and Dealing with PCOS Naturally

Because Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is often linked to Insulin Resistance, food plays an important part in managing the issues involved. I am starting to make some very small inroads with looking at Nourishing Foods. These websites have helped me get my head around the basics:

In preparation to see a Naturopath about the symptoms of PCOS, I realised I needed a way to chart my cycles and be specific about what I was seeing and experiencing each day. I have read Taking Charge of Your Fertility and am now using their software to chart my cycles so see if there are any patterns. I think its worth the fee. I am also considering taking this e-course towards a more natural approach to life. I think this also helps when it comes to the real matter at the heart of it all...


Do I really need to be more organised? Maybe I'm making this too hard on myself...
I recently "made under" my closet in a similar sense to this, and I am loving the easiness of putting things where they belong each night! Only days before this post I did the same thing and asked Mr. Awesome to be my "eyes" - and it was soooo much easier to part with things when I had someone else saying "Ahhh.... no."

Living in an apartment - space is at a premium - so I am so thankful I'm not the only one who struggles a little to give stuff away I might need later - its good to know that there is no shortage of so many items....

What is it that is taking up your headspace today? Do you need to write out some link love to help you clear it?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Tuesday - November/December 2009 List

91. Back pain
92. Chiropractors
93. Family-in-law
94. Natural healing and health
95. Time to pray
96. A husband who leads
97. Packed lunch
98. Bathroom scales
99. Intimacy
100. Two souls becoming one flesh
101. Drops of water on glass
102. Wedding ceremony
103. Sister bridesmaid's tears of joy
104. Hair curls
105. Exhausted husband snoring
106. Chipped nail polish
107. Wedding dances
108. Wedding speeches
109. Declarations of love
110. Early mornings
111. Season of advent
112. Surprise Bible study!
113. Quick freezer food
114. Fellowship with friends
115. Tired laughter
116. God's provision of food
117. Singing God's praises as a family
118. Challenging words from 1 John
119. An interesting drive time conversation
120. An inspired husband

By today's count I am at 334. Just 1/3 of my way to thanking God for 1000 gifts.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Completing Him Challenge Week 4

Well, this week's challenge is to ask your husband how you can pray for him each day for the whole week!

This will be challenging for me because I rarely bring up what I am thinking or praying about with my husband...

Providing that what he requests is not of a personal nature and at the end of the week with his permission, I will post a list of topics prayed for and look back at how the week went.

On the topic of praying for your husband, I thought I would take this opportunity to review the book that has had the most impact on my prayer life to date - fittingly titled "The Power of a Praying Wife" By Stormie Omartin.

I have read this book twice through now, after tripping across it in the Christian bookstore last year. At the time, I was full of criticism for my new husband, and was constantly trying to nag him and change him into what I thought he should 'be' as a husband (to no avail and my utter frustration).

On the very first page I was challenged by Stormie to look at the way I pray...

I won't spoil it for you, but just one tiny change in the way I think about prayer has forever changed the way I pray about and for my husband and for everyone around me too...

The book consists of short chapters (3-4 pages) which each focus on a different area of your husband's life. At the end of each chapter there is a sample prayer showing the way that Stormie encourages us to pray for others... by praying for ourselves (intriguing? You gotta read it!). There are just over 30 chapters - thats just one month of praying for your husband each day.  So simple, and yet the effect was absolutely profound...

A year on from my first read through of this book and I am still seeing God's answers to each prayer as I grow even more in love with my husband each day. Our conversation, our "fight style", our cooperation and service has changed completely, and while we still have many things that we need to work on, both individually and in our marriage, we are in a much better place, and growing every day thanks to God's grace. Through this book I have been able to watch that grace unfold in specific ways for both of us.  The first time round I was too scared (!) to tell Mr. Lord that I was praying for him, but on my second read through he would always give me a smile when he saw me with the book!

Stormie uses honest, personal examples and an easy-to-read writing style that make this book very accessible and a wonderful way to honour your God and your husband.

Challenge yourself. Read a chapter a day for a month and pray the sample prayer each day, and tell me that your marriage hasn't changed in some way by the end of the month.

There are many other books in this series by Stormie.  I have yet to read them, but if they are half as good as this, then they are worth it!

Note: This is not a paid or solicited review

Linked up For the Completing Him Challenge at Women Living Well

Come Link Up to the Summer Marriage Challenge.  Click on the button to find the list of topics.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup Recipe

A couple of nights ago I experimented with my slow cooker to make a vegetable soup. I struggled to find a recipe for a basic vegetable soup with no meat in it (mostly because we didn't have any!). So here is my basic slow cooker vegetable soup.  If you use a gluten and dairy free stock, then it is also dairy and gluten free!!  If you substitute vegetable stock for the beef stock I used, you will also have a vegetarian (and I think also vegan?) soup!

Ingredients I used:
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 swede diced
- 2 small parsnips (these were tiny tiny so maybe 1 bigger one) diced
- 2 cups dried soup mix - lentils green and brown, yellow and green split peas, kidney, broad and bortolli beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
- 2 litres (depending on size of your slow cooker) of beef/vegetable stock or water and stock cube equivalent
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1-2 sticks celery chopped
- 1 cup rice vermicelli


Add all ingredients except for the celery and rice vermicelli to the slow cooker, turn on and thats it!

My 2 litres of soup (I had to top it up a bit as my beans where not soaked so they soaked up a lot of water) took about 6 hours on High but another hour or two on low would have reduced it a bit an enhanced the flavour even more. I added the celery and vermicelli in the last 2 hours.

Very yummy, and we had lots of soup to freeze for later :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photos on a Friday: The Potter's Hand

  Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
       We are the clay, you are the potter;
       we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8 (New International Version)

Family Long Weekend Activity at a Pottery Studio in Berrima

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Tuesday- November 2009 List

51. Birthday messages
52. Thai dinners
53. Birthday cuddles
54. Movies that make you laugh
55. Sunflowers
56. Air conditioning on hot days
57. Birthday cards from loving aunts
58. Team members who try to see positives
59. Alarm clocks with soft music
60. Hungry tummies that tell us when to eat
61. Opportunities to serve
62. Dirty dishes in the sink
63. Job interviews
64. Unfinished to-do lists
65. Fading flowers
66. Empty lunch box on bench each day
67. Piles of bills to be paid
68. Unmade bed
69. Hungry bellies who love breakfast
70. Tired mind
71. Unfolded laundry
72. Busy schedule
73. Dancing with friends
74. Singning
75. Husband at church
76. Newborn babies safe arrival
77. A gift of new pyjamas
78. Hotel rooms with city views
79. Trains to come home on
80. A brother to rely on
81. Sore feet
82. Tired muscles
83. Lightning
84. Going to the gym
85. The motivation of dresses that don't fit!
86. Making luch for my husband
87. Sleeping next to my best friend
88. Leaking taps
89. Vegemite toast
90. Job interviews

holy experience

To Have and To Hold...

Today (even though I'm a couple of days late due to work committments) I am linking up for the Completing Him challenge Week 3.

Mr. Lord and I married on a very, very hot day in January 2009. Our wedding was in the morning and an hour from my parents home so we were up very early (3am). If anyone had told me how hot is was going to be, I think I would have panicked.. but thankfully no one did!

I'm sure this is going to sound wrong, but I just wanted that day over with!! 12 months of planning, preparing and waiting, and I just couldn't wait to have it all over and head off on our "surprise" honeymoon (I had asked Mr. L to keep it a secret from me, and he did!!) and then start our life together, on the same side of the bridge, in the same house (and yes, same bed!). 

By the time the hour drive was over, I was ready to go! Then all of a sudden it hit me - we were getting MARRIED!! Unbelievable! And it was starting to feel a little warm outside.... But there he was :) No silly grins at each other as I walked down that same aisle. Just knowing, trusting smiles. This is God's plan at work. 

To have and to hold,
from this day forward, 
for better or for worse, 
for richer, for poorer, 
in sickness and in health, 
to love and to cherish; 
from this day forward 
until death do us part

Gelato served for morning tea after the ceremony turned out to be a good idea. Sweet and cold and full of memories... warm summer afternoons in the park reading together, freezing cold nights where I begged for the sugary coldness "It'll force me to warm up inside" and him always laughing and always saying yes. Party with family and friends celebrating the day I said Yes. That quiet church moment when we each said "I do" before God.

They told me later it reached 47degrees Celsius (116 F) that afternoon during our reception! And by the time we reached our hotel, there was not a scrap of make-up left on my face - it had all melted away! But it didn't matter. We were MARRIED! For the rest of our lives. 

I still thank God for that every day. 

No matter what happens for us, from here on in, we do it together.  And through the ups and downs over this past year and a bit, we just can't help to come back to this...

Husband and wife. 

"What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate"  Mark 10:9 ESV 


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thinking Back...

This is a repost of an earlier post I have written. I mostly reposted it to help me reflect on the stillness that I so enjoyed and that has helped me to improve my marriage, service, work and sense of balance this year... because the next few weeks are threatening to tip that balance back out the window with many, many work commitments. 

Praying that you also find some stillness in your balance this week. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New-Found Stillness

I am learning during a very busy first year of marriage, that there is really no rush. No sense in being busy. It helps no one to be short tempered, stressed and worried. And I forget too many things when I am doing everything at once. Especially at work.

So, I am trying to go a little slower, wake a little earlier, pray, read, think, breathe.

If I'm eating, I'm eating. Walking, I'm walking. Talking on the telephone, without doing anything else. Trying to be less distracted.

And I've noticed its working. I am finishing things, returning phone calls, remembering details, passing them on. Not all the time, but more often.

I have made a quiet time box. I want to be intentional in the time I spend with God and not spend 20 minutes looking for what I need. An old shoe box now contains;
-My Bible
-A notebook for recording things I'm grateful for
-The Power of Praying Through The Bible by Stormie Omartin
-A small photo album containing photographs of each of the family and friends I pray for each day of the week
-A prayer journal
-Pens, paper and bookmarks
-A Woman's Book of Prayers

The box is the perfect size and completely portable, depending on when and where I have my quiet time each day. I am aiming to move towards more consistent times each morning, but shift work makes it tricky.

I am amazed how much I can see God changing my heart already, and I think my countenance at work has improved too!

Looking forward to more times with God in the coming weeks and months.

What helps you with your quiet times?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grandma's Table....

Secrets to a Lasting Marriage...

We sit at the table my grandfather has made from scratch, surrounded by the work of their hands. Fifty-something years and counting. Through the chemo, the cataracts, four babies born, one child gone to Heaven. Through the years of growing and pruning, creating, destroying and moving on, and here I am, a second-generation product of their love, finally sitting here, hearing my Grandmother's words of wisdom.  That Golden anniversary toast I gave at just 17, "praying that I might one day have a marriage as wonderful as yours."

And yet somehow I stuff it up, somehow I give her the wrong idea. We are different, my man and I, and we are young, learning... so unsure of how to make things better. And I'm expecting the Grandmotherly advice, the Lois and Eunice, the sincere faith of 2 Timothy 1:5....

Only, my grandmother does not know the One who saved her...

We are engaged, we long to be married, free of the difficulty of living apart, the tension and anxiety of waiting for one another. We wait, even though its hard, and tests us to the bone and by God's grace alone we somehow make it through the year of waiting... we live apart, on separate sides of the city and there is tension and misunderstanding and we struggle to blame and win and bait each other. It's not right, we need help. Help only He can give, and yet here I am, sitting at the table, hoping for some secret that will help us on the journey to our Golden Year and beyond.

"If you argue so much and are so different perhaps you shouldn't get married. Well, I don't know why you don't just live together first. In this day and age, it just makes more sense. "

And I'm floored. But I laugh - surely she is joking, and I flash forward, picturing one day talking to my grand-daughter, would I be proud of the child who did what the 'age' demanded?

It is no joke. And over the next few months I realise that she does not support our decision to wed.

And I am dreadfully sad.

Time passes and God touches the heart of my Grandmother. She learns about her Saviour.

She is still learning

So am I.

We marry and she asks me one more time to forgive her on our wedding day and I hug her and told her I already have.

But the secret to Holy Matrimony lies in being honest with our mate AND our God, and I perhaps have not been so truthful. She loves me and wanted only "the best" for me, and I, the one who knew God, nursed a grudge in my bruised heart and longed to have back that moment at the table to explain how wonderful this man I married truly is, how he has helped me listen for God, enabled me to get out of my own way and allow God to heal me. And I pray, that fifty something years on, she will finally have in her marriage what I am so blessed to have in our fledgling one - Christ at the center.

Linked for Ann's Walk with Him Wednesday

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Tuesday

Counting the Blessings - October 2009

21. Cuddles
22. Cool air
23. Water to drink
24. Time to study the word
25. The sound of birds in the morning
26. Time for waiting
27. Warm hot chocolate
28. Quiet moments
29. Sewing needles
30. Rain on parched ground
31. Kisses
32. Answered prayers
33. Challenging words
34. A wonderful earthly father
35. Baby grins
36. Forehead rubs
37. Laughter
38. Growing vegetables in a borrowed garden
39. Children learning to respect nature
40. Coordinating stationery
41. Freesias, a vase of joy
42. Intimacy
43. Found items
44. Time with friends
45. Moments of realisation
46. Vacuums that make cleaning easy
47. Tidy, organised rooms
48. Friends who pray
49. Friends who love
50. Friends who share

For more insight into One Thousand Gifts

holy experience

Monday, June 14, 2010

It started with BBQs...

In our house, we love a good BBQ. Mr. Awesome does the BBQ, and he is very good at it - not a burnt anything yet! I always smile when I see him cooking the BBQ, because I consider this God's first signal to me to keep an eye on this man who would one day be my husband...

It was January 2005 and one of my best friends and I had just returned from the mandatory post-University whirlwind trip around Europe. Still a bit jet-lagged, another of my best friends, Miss. S invited me to join her for a BBQ on the "North Side" where her boyfriend lived, with some of his mates. So we traveled the hour it took to cross the city and met with her boyfriend and his friends. I noticed this guy cooking the BBQ and my first thought was "OK, here is a guy who is comfortable with serving and who cooks a mean BBQ!"
But nothing further eventuated and we went our separate ways.

I moved into a rental house with Miss S and would occasionally see her boyfriends mates, including BBQ Guy at parties and church functions. I was mentally cataloging him - opinionated, loud, pretty obnoxious and this huge, almost maniacal laugh, which was mostly heard when laughing at his own jokes! Nope, not the guy for me, I decided. And time went on.

Still, he was around a lot, and he helped us move when Miss S's now-finance (Mr. J) asked him to... and every gathering we had he would come with Mr. J and cook the BBQ (and it really impressed me that they always cleaned up completely afterward)... and some how he was at my birthday parties two years in a row and he was nice enough and he was actually funny when he didn't laugh at his own joke before he finished it and....

Oh, I think I might actually like him. In the I-want-to-pull-your-hair-so-your-don't-know-I-like-you-way.

So now I have a problem. Because Miss S, and Mr. J are getting married, and I'm Maid of Honour, and BBQ Guy is Best Man.

And we have to dance. And if anyone looks at my face they will know straight away that I like him... So I better do some more verbal "hair pulling" because then no one will know.

I think I was more nervous than the bride that morning! And when it came time to walk down the aisle I found myself looking for the best man... and he was grinning at me. Like really grinning at me.  And I grinned back (there are some hideous photos of me to prove it!). And I kind of realised I wasn't going to be able to hide it any more...

So when he asked me out the day after the wedding I said yes!

We spent two years commuting across the city to see each other on weekends. There was the nervous first date where I dug my hands in my pockets so he couldn't try to hold them, the Thai restaurant where I accidentally put a whole dried chilli in my mouth then tried to spit it out without him noticing, the cards and letters and emails sent to bridge the gap each week, lots and lots of BBQs, and the figuring out that behind the loud, opinionated, obnoxious laugh was a wonderful, caring, loyal, and romantic man who loves God and amazingly... loves me!

Mr. Awesome has always been an excellent listener and an eager supporter of anything I want to do or try. He always encourages me to take on every challenge and give it a go.  When we were dating, he spent literally hours on the phone with me, gradually coaxing me to open up, to see myself the way others saw me and to believe in myself as a worthwhile person. He was (and still is) always encouraging me with notes and little presents to be the person I really wanted to be.

This season, I want to focus on being the wife that he needs me to be; supportive, organised, a good listener and a respectful encourager. Just how am I going to do that?  Well, that I am going to think about this week - I'll keep you updated on my progress!

This post is linked up for the Completing Him Challenge at Women Living Well and Marriage Mondays at Come Have a Peace

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Spiritual Discipline of Holy Matrimony #2

He is home with the flu. Has been sick for days and I smirk to myself and laugh that I have been going to work for two weeks with the same symptoms but "man flu" always strikes hard!

But then I came home today and for some reason I just felt off kilter, tired and cranky. And instead of laughing at me, Mr. Lord convinced me to go to bed and have a sleep (which sadly only made things worse), then ran a bath for me, brought me panadol and gave me a hug...

I kind of felt a bit sheepish.

We are often so quick to judge our men, to make fun of them and to cut them down when we think they are getting too big for their boots. But perhaps Mr. L was just giving me some of the same attention that he was really longing for? Perhaps I need to focus on the wonderful loving things my husband does for me each day (like not stealing all the blankets, taking out the rubbish without asking, washing up, keeping his things tidy...). He is not perfect - neither am I, but if we can't take these moments to support and value one another, our marriage will be so very shallow.

He so readily shows his love for me, not always "my way" but the nest way he knows how. How often do I show the respect he so badly needs?

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.~ Ephesians 5:3

Today, whether married or single, focus on observing and acknowledging the ways that men around you do support, love and serve you, and thank God for them! Ask that God would continue to give you the strength to respect those men in your family, community and beyond - and in so doing have them turn and glorify God for the women in their lives!

This post is linked up for the Walk With Him Wednesday's series on the Spiritual Discipline of Holy Matrimony.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Tuesday

I am officially joining the Gratitude Community.

I have been keeping a private thanksgiving journal since October 2009, encouraged to meet Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts challenge. I am finally ready to start sharing and hopefully encourage you to do the same!

I have found it to be such a wonderful practice - even on days when I'm feeling low, sick, hurt... there is still something to be thankful for!  I am currently in the 300's but I thought I would start publishing my list from the beginning. The Gratitude Community blogs on Mondays in US time, but seeing as its already Tuesday here by then - I thought I'd go for Thanksgiving Tuesday - care to join me?

Here are some of my October 2009 thank yous

1. Little girls in party dresses
2. Slow Sunday mornings
3. Twirling
4. Pancakes
5. Folded laundry
6. Married love
7. The harbour at night
8. Caring friends
9. Faithful slippers
10. New life
11. Sunrise
12. Warm bed
13. Morning hugs
14. Church family
15. Sleep
16. Hearing our prayers
17. Brothers by blood and marriage
18. Choc Chip Cookies
19. Christian women who inspire
20. Sick days at home

What are you thankful for today?

holy experience

Monday, June 7, 2010

Breathin' Deep!

Yep! I'm doing it! In addition to Ann Voskamp's Challenge to reflect on the Spiritual Discipline of Holy Matrimony, I am joining in the fun at Women Living Well to take on the Completing Him Challenge!

You can find all the details and a video explaining the challenge here.

Hope you enjoy coming on this journey with me!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Welcome Visitors

In the middle of 3 weeks of almost solid rain (a rarity in our drought-stricken country in recent years), Stu and I had a visit from some very unexpected visitors.

On the veranda railing I heard a bird and saw a beautiful Rainbow Lorikeet - seconds later it hopped on to our security door - and stayed there. 

Years ago when I was little I remember visiting a family friend who hand fed lorikeets with bread soaked in warm water and a little honey, so I quietly slipped into the kitchen and made some while Stu not so quietly reminded me that he DOES NOT like birds and that we would not be letting it in the house under any circumstances. 

The Lorikeet stayed on the door as I quietly slid it open, and took the plate out, then it flitted down to see what I had brought, while I grabbed the camera. Then it excitedly called its mate and together they shared their meal out of the rain. 

26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Wishing you a wonderful weekend 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

New Blog Look

In anticipation of blogging more regularly, I have changed the blog format. I hope you like it!

I love reading lots of different blogs, and my posts are mainly in response to what I read, so I am hoping that the page will grow and change a bit as I get a bit more frequent!

Friday, June 4, 2010

1950's Housewife

This is a clip I watched from Rachel Ray's chat show. The woman in the clip, Courtney, blogs at Women Living Well.  Many of the ideas raised in this clip are echoed in the book I read some time ago Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George.

While at the moment, financial commitments mean that I need to work - and will for many years, I can strongly identify with what both these women are saying and I have noticed that many of these points that I have been able to incorporate into our home life have a profound impact on our relationship. More about that later, but to get you started thinking about these things, watch the video, and leave me a comment. What do you think about this concept of 1950's wives? 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Holy Matrimony

holy experience

Deep Breath... I don't write about this stuff. Not huge on the PDA, not big on the talkin' bout the details.

But I have been reading, thinking, praying about this stuff. It's important... and this week Ann encourages us to think and talk about all these things... she asks us to consider the The Spiritual Practice of Holy Matrimony.

Not sure I'm quite ready to do that just yet, but I want to point you to some who have and whose words have encouraged and strengthened me as I consider 1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

You can find more examples on Ann's page above.

My prayer for all my married friends today is that you will seek to understand just a little more of this holy matrimony.