Category Archives: family

Movies, Music, and Mondays . . .

Perhaps I should start with Mondays . . . Today was a beautiful Monday outside.  In the throws of summer on the first of July, and the high temp was 78 degrees.  What a wonderful alternative to the typical 95+ St Louis usually dishes out in the summer.  It is worth reveling in this weather.  Let’s savor it and enjoy it, as normal is almost certain to return very soon.

I worked today, as I do most Mondays.  I was feeling a bit puny, and I had the proverbial rough day at the office, so I am not feeling like much of a Monday fan.  But the day was redeemed by a movie with my youngest and jazz on youtube on my tv.  Technology really is an amazing gift!


I am dying to see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing.  I have been thinking about it for over a month, and now, over a week has passed since it opened, and we still haven’t made it there.  We are not the first-run movie sort of people, so this is not unusual.  But this movie has several things going for it: 1. It’s Shakespeare.  2.  Joss Whedon.  3. It looks so cool in its black and white hipness.  To get you in the mood, check out this review.

The Monday movie at home tonight with 10-year-old daughter was Parental Guidance.  Believe it or not, this is the second time we watched it.  It is just plain funny.  Billy Crystal and Bette Middler play grandparents who go to take care of their tightly strung daughter’s children.  I don’t think Billy Crystal is capable of not being funny, and Bette Middler is a great sidekick.  Marissa Tomei plays the high strung mother of three pre-teen children, and Tom Everett Scott rounds out the family as Dad.  The humor is clean, the family situations are real but still funny, and it ends poignantly enough to bring forth a tear or two.  It is a really good family movie that even teens would like if they take the time to sit and watch with you. (Mine did not, btw.)

An Open Thank You Note to My Advent Angels + A Word About Giving and Receiving

On one of the final days of November, I received an e-mail from the pastor of our church telling me that he had a box of gifts that someone wanted us to have. We wrote back and forth a couple times to work out the logistics of my getting the box. Having been in the situation of “needing” extra help from others over the holidays for some time now, I expected this to be some packages to be saved for Christmas Day to be shared with my family. I picked up the mysterious box from the church office the last day of November after choir rehearsal ended. My son carried to the car and then into our house when we got home. I opened the box eagerly to see what it might be.

Inside, I found many prettily wrapped gifts with tags attached to each one along with a typewritten note from the givers of the box. Generally, the note explained that this box contained a gift for me for each day of advent. It was prepared by two people who wanted to help me remember my worth as a “daughter of the King.” The box also contained a generous gift card to use to purchase some things for my family.

Tears were my first response because I was humbled. I had spent much of October and November wondering how we might purchase gifts for our kids for Christmas without incurring more debt. November was a hard month, as we were forced to purchase new tires for our van early in the month, and then I really felt God nudging me to visit my mom with the family for Thanksgiving, a trip from which we had just returned. The expense of the trip was felt in the family budget. When Mark went back to work at his part-time job that first week after we got home, he was greeted with the news that cutbacks are coming soon, and that his job would be cut in some fashion. So I felt sure that this box was evidence of God’s notice of my concern and worry about the coming Christmas season. Then, of course, beyond Christmas gifts, I was concerned about how we would manage beyond December.

However, my second response was not as pious as the first. My second thought was, “How needy do we seem?” And, “Are we always going to be the family that needs help?” I was getting more than a little angry with God for once again putting me on the receiving end of someone’s charity.

Yet, as the month of December wore on, I woke up each morning and was delighted by each small gift from my “advent box.” I received blank books to write in, a beautiful tea cup and saucer set, lotions, cooking utensils, a book, slippers, socks, Christmas items, and a very pretty snowflake necklace, just to name a few of the things from my special box. Every gift had a different tea bag attached to it, and I was thrilled by each one.

God was working on my attitude through the generosity and kindness of these special sisters in Christ who decided to bless me this advent season. Whoever they are, their gifts showed that they had some idea of what I like and what would make me feel special. These were not just gifts for the sake of having something to give, thoughtfulness was behind each one.

In addition to these gifts from my “secret Advent Angels,” as Christmas drew closer, Mark and I received anonymous gifts from others at our church to help with Christmas expenses. I also received gifts of thanks and kindness from people where I work that added to our holiday celebration. As I entered worship on Christmas Eve, I felt very blessed by God for the way He once again showed me that He is my Father in Heaven who wants to give me good gifts. The gift of His son Jesus was revealed to me over and over again through the kindness and love of others given to me and my family this Christmas season.

As I alluded earlier, this is not the first time we have been in this situation. Truly, every year, our family receives some sort of unexpected blessings from anonymous givers, and it is not just at Christmas time.

We are NOT really poor in the truest sense of the word. We are struggling, to be sure, but some of that struggle is the result of our own actions in the past. Yet God is not stingy in His blessings to us. He does not sit back with a record book and review all the decisions we have made to determine whether we deserve to be blessed or not. He gives to us and blesses us because He is our Father who loves us. That is all. Oh how I need to learn that lesson with my own children! Perhaps that is why we are not yet in the position to be the giver. I long to be the giver. I long to be the one who is able to bless others. Yet I wonder how much of that is pride. How can I know?

Here is what I do know—God has faithfully met our family’s needs for 20 years now. He has not seen fit to take us beyond that yet, but He has never forsaken us, and, I believe, He never will. Once again, this past Christmas season and year brought many evidences to us of God’s lavish grace. So to those of you who were a part of that, who were instruments of God’s grace to us during this time, we are very grateful. We appreciate your acts of love and faithfulness. We appreciate your being Christ to us. I pray that we can be as generous to others in whatever ways we are able. I want to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive and to live accordingly.

About a Boy

about a boy

“A person’s life is like a TV show.  I’m the star of The Will Show, and the Will Show is not an ensemble drama.”  — Quote from Will, one of the main characters in About a Boy

This post is loosely related to the last one.  Have you ever seen the movie, About a Boy?  It is one of my favorites.  The story is about, well, a boy, named Marcus.  He is nerdy and “poor” and lives with his single mom in a suburban environment in England.  He finds himself wishing for friends, and through an unlikely connection, he meets and becomes friends with an adult man, Will, who is single and lives by the philosophy that all men are islands.  By the end of the movie, both Will and Marcus both discover that life is better when lived in community.  As Marcus comments, “Couples need back-up.”

I am thinking a lot about what living in community means.  The fact is, with 4 kids in a city with no family, community is very important to us.  We count on the help of others every week to make our lives work.  That being said, it isn’t easy to do this.  Sometimes it feels like we are needy–like we are the only ones who have to make that phone call to ask someone to pick up one of the kids because we can’t get across town in time.  I would like to feel more like we can live in community where there is give and take, where people feel comfortable calling me to ask for help more often.  Sometimes I think people don’t call us because we are known to be busy, but I also want to be known to be generous and accommodating and helpful when it is within my power to do so.

I started this post on Saturday of last weekend, and interestingly, our pastor preached a sermon on Sunday about the community of believers in the Book of Acts.  My husband also preached a sermon where he talked about community.  Hmmm . . . coincidence?  I don’t think so.  I think we all long for more relational lives of meaningful interaction with others. But in our society, it is difficult to bring about.

In About a Boy, Marcus sensed what he wanted/needed, and he started to pursue it until his life looked more like what he longed for.  Real life, unfortunately, is not as neatly constructed as movies or over in a couple short hours.  So we have to work at things for the long haul.  Now I am challenged as to how best to pursue community in my own life without turning others off in the process.

Whine, whine, whine

I read this book about 10 years ago, not long after it came out.


Then I read this one:

 And, let’s not forget the Parenting with Love and Logic Seminar that Mark and I went to when the three older kids were little.

 All of these books/resources were good, and I recommend most of the concepts presented in them.  They all advocate the idea that children are to be taught when and how it is appropriate to express their feelings.

 Unfortunately, all the book reading in the world will not change the behavior of children.  Consistent admonition and consequences for wrong behavior and modeling are what really makes a difference.

 Lately, the whining at my house is driving me up the wall, and one would think we never practiced any of that.  But the fact is, we did some of the time.  Were we always consistent?  No.  Were we perfect role models, by no means.  Did we always present consquences for wrong behavior in a proper way?  No.    But the fact is, our kids do behave well a lot of the time–especially when they are with other people.  So I feel that the work that we did do is paying off some.

But, now I need some refresher courses in being consistent, in improving my own behavior and reactions to wrong behavior so that I can be a better example, and, what I believe is most important, coming up with consequences that appropriately match the offense.  Basically, I am looking for a more peaceful household.  It would be nice if I hadn’t read good books that had good advice so I could claim complete ignorance.  But I did indeed read these and several other good books on the subject.   So I am praying that all the good information floating around in my head will sink in again.  I am also trying to pray for our family more.  As the kids get older, I want peace not just for the here and now of our lives, but I want it for them as they enter adulthood and leave our home into the world.

The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Goodwill Gleaning

Our women’s group at church kicked off the fall with a Goodwill fashion show and lunch last week.  A few of the young women modeled their thrifty and fashionable finds from Goodwill. Since 2/3 of our family’s wardrobe comes from Goodwill and other thrift store, this was a function I felt I must attend.  Since Mark was working, the girls came along wearing a couple of their cute dresses from Goodwill.

Our numbers for the event were small, but everyone enjoyed sharing info about their finds . . .  As I talked about which Goodwill stores I shop in and mentioned other thrift stores in St Louis that I like to frequent, I realized what a blessing it is to live in a country where the cast offs of some are perfectly usable and worth hunting down.  It is great to glean from the waste of others.  I can’t pretend that I don’t also send my own cast-offs to Goodwill and other charity shops.  I am also blessed to have somewhere to take things we can no longer use that still have some wear in them so they can be passed on to others.  It was also good for my girls to see that other women in the church whom they respect shop at second-hand stores.  They were able to see that we are not the only family that chooses to buy gently used clothes and household items whenever it is feasible.  I hope that as they mature, they will remember this and conclude that buying from second hand stores is not something to be ashamed of, but it is something that makes us better stewards of all that we have been given.

(P.S.  Did you know you can shop at Goodwill on-line?  I have never tried it, but I like the concept.  They also have a merchant site on Amazon for books.)

Working . . . Cooking

So I have been at the full-time job for 10 months now.  Wow.  When I was working full-time at home taking care of the house and children, I was always wondered how all those women who work full-time outside the home do everything.  I always thought it would be very hard.  And, I was right.  But, I have found with 10 months under my belt, that it is ok to let stuff go sometimes, and planning ahead really does help with getting more stuff done.

So a few weeks ago, I got just a little more deliberate in my meal planning.  In 3 weeks, I have done much better than I was doing, with just a little planning.  If I have all the grocery shopping mostly complete and a planned menu for every night, we save time and money.  I know.  It is nothing new.  I just rebelled against it for a long time.  I am in danger this next week of not being prepared, but I am giving myself grace until Monday night to get the full plan for the week underway.  Plus, my planning over the past month has me armed with a chicken enchilada casserole in the freezer.

I leave you with this recipe that I tried during week one of my “more deliberate meal planning” experiment . . .

Savory Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Herbed Vegetables


 2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2teaspoon pepper

 2 to 2 1/4 lb pork tenderloins

 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

16 medium green onions, diagonally sliced (1 cup)

2 medium bulbs fennel, cored, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix onion powder, 2 teaspoons thyme, the garlic salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme mixture on all sides of tenderloins. Immediately place on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 15 to 20 minutes, turning 3 times, until meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F.
  • Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook remaining ingredients in oil 4 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.
  • To serve, cut tenderloins into slices. Spoon vegetable mixture over slices

When I made this, I used the broiler, and it worked great.  I also did not have fennel available, and we liked it fine without. Enjoy!

Time Passes


School, overall, is going well for the children.  The middlers (Nevin and Evangeline) are hitting a few bumps as they adjust to their new school, but I believe they are not insurmountable.  Charis and second grade get along well.  Yes.  I said, “well,” not “good.”   (That’s a topic for another post.) Calvin is still happy with homeschooling, and it is working out for us, too.  So no complaints on the school front!  Phew!


Our church lost an important part of the congregation last week when one of our members was killed in a house fire.  It was a shock to our system, and we will miss all this talented man added to our worship through his music and all he offered in terms of service as a deacon and beyond.  This came only a month or so after we lost one of our elderly members to cancer–another man who had served Christ and His church faithfully for 80+ years.

Also, Mark’s grandfather passed away in July, and several folks at the church where I work have been seriously ill, and some have passed away in the last couple months.  I am feeling a bit weighed down by all the sorrow around me–even when I am not one who is/was particularly close to those who have died or are sick.  I am praying for the families touched by these sorrows, and I know God is changing me through that.  One thing I am learning is to be more purposeful in what I do and to be thankful for each day as a gift from God.


We had a great visit with Mark’s parents in the first half of August.  It was wonderful to have 2 weeks with them being a part of our routine–however mundane that may be.

I have lamented not being able to get away to see my mom and brother since last July when my sister Katherine passed away.  The new job, kids’ schedules, Mark’s work schedule, finances–none of it seemed to work together to make a trip possible.  So, we are planning to have Mom and Dave out to visit at the end of October.  Mom had eye surgery this past Monday, and she needs to wait a month before making the trip.  I am looking forward to seeing them!

Nothing Earthshattering

So time marches on in my life . . . nothing big to share.  God continues to give me and our family gifts of grace and mercy.  I pray that I will not squander them, and I pray for forgiveness for the times that I have and will inevitably do it.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 -12 (esv)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Psalm 16:5-11 (esv)

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.


The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.


I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have(N) set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.


Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.


You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.





Obligatory Back to School Post


Despite my absence from blogdom and my presence on Facebook, I am a blogger at heart.  So as I have been posting back-to-school entries since my kids started school 9 years ago, I feel compelled to continue the tradition.

Last Monday, Nevin and Evangeline had their first day at Grand Center Arts Academy, a new charter school in St Louis.  Here’s are their pre-commute photos before heading out the door:

Nevin and Evangeline ready to head off to their first day at Grand Center Arts Academy.

Goofing around!  I think middle school is the beginning of the “need to be goofy” stage.

Charis, a week later, heading to day one of second grade.

Calvin is our homeschooled high school boy–yes, I said HIGH SCHOOL!!!  So far, I have no photo of him at his computer doing school work or on his way anywhere, so this shot of him at the Missouri Botanical Gardens last week will have to serve as his first day picture.

Mundane Monday Musings

I like alliteration . . . can you tell?

This is going to be stream of consciousness, so be prepared.

Word of the week — myopic:

Myopic — lacking foresight or scope; “a short view of the problem”;

Why myopic?  I have just been struck by how we all live in our own little bubbles, and we seem to think that what happens in our bubble is the most important thing in the world.  Dwelling on life in the bubble keeps us from thinking about the big picture, keeps us from reaching out, keeps us from being kind and charitable to people outside our bubble.

New Diet

No.  I am not going on one and telling you all my weight-loss goals again.  But a friend told me about a diet her sister is on, and she said it is working.  Here’s a link.  My friend is thinking of trying it.  It is interesting to consider.

Book Recommendation

I haven’t read this yet, but the same friend with the dieting sister recommended it, and it is now on my list of books I would like to read this summer.   Him Her Him Again The End of Him is a clever title, and I love the cover.  So why wouldn’t I read it?


Easter was good this year in many ways.  We attended a lovely Maundy Thursday meal/service at the church where I work.  I spent the day Friday hanging out with the kids, and we attended the Good Friday service at our church in the evening.  Saturday was busy with Breakfast with Bunny at the church where I work and then a few hours of relaxing and egg dying before going to a bonfire for the evening with church friends.  For Easter Sunday, after worship we had just our family at home for a traditional Easter meal.  It was much less stressful than cooking for company or even going to someone else’s house (though I want to do one of these most years).  We then went to a park for a bit in the afternoon, and just hung out at home in the evening.  I am so thankful for the Hope of Resurrection in my life, and I am reminded that I really didn’t understand how significant this hope is until I was an adult. Sure, I knew about Christ rising from the dead, but I didn’t really get how important His resurrection is to my life, to my salvation, to my eternity. Christ is risen, indeed!

Some pictures to close . . .

Sometimes on a Sunday

No Wednesday post this week . . .

A list of what’s on my mind, in no significant order . . .

1.  I lost the pedometer for the work insurance walking program.  I was in the girls’ room in the middle of Evangeline’s sleepover last Saturday, and it fell off.  The next day, Mark and swept all the junk out from under both girls beds, and we didn’t unearth the lost pedometer.  So I have not kept up with my plan this week.  I plan to replace the pedometer, but every one after the first one costs $25.  So I might have to wait to get back on that particular tracking method.  However, I can get a fairly nice one for $4.99 from Aldi later this week (according to their sale paper), so I am thinking I’ll get it and keep track myself until I want to spring for the $25 one.

2.  I enjoyed a day of relatively little running around yesterday, and the next few Saturdays look pretty clear, too.  Praise God for the break.  We even had people over last night.  It was a nice change.

3.  We were reminded of God’s faithful providence in two very tangible ways this past week.   Praise God!

4.  Still praying for wisdom, direction regarding the kids’ schooling next year.

5.  A good friend lost his job this week.  He is the father to 4 great kids, and the husband of a faithful wife.  Please pray for him and all those who are unemployed and underemployed.

6. My mom is having a medical test this coming Tuesday.  It is a new health concern, so I am praying for the results to be insignificant.

7.  Mark’s grandfather is in hospice care.  He and Mark’s aunt who cares for him are on my heart and mind.  Praying for them, too.

That is all.  A busy week ahead.  Enjoy God’s blessings.  Remember Jesus’s death and His glorious resurrection and the hope it brings.