Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just one more cup

There was a lot of good "extra" stuff from this retreat that I wanted to share. Thanks for being patient.
What are you?
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She didn't know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as if as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. There, the mother filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second, placed eggs. In the last, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. About 20 minutes later, she turned off the burners.
She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled teh coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she said, "Tell me what you see."
"Carrots, eggs and coffee," the daughter replied, in that lovely tone of voice.
The mother brought the daughter to the bowls and asked her to feel the carrots. The daughter did and noticed they were soft. Then, the mother asked her daughter to take and egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg inside. Finally, she asked her daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted the rich aroma.
"So, what's the point, Mother," said the daughter, again with that lovely tone of voice.
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity- boiling water- but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile, it's thin outer shell protecting its liquid center. But, after sitting through boiling water, its insides had become hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in boiling water, they changed the water.
"Which are you?" the mother asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
Which are you?
The carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt, become soft and lose my strength?
The egg that starts will a malleable heart but changes with heat? Do you have a fluid spirit but after a death, a breakup, or other hardship, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your outer shell look the same but on the inside is tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or the coffee bean that actually changes the hot water- the very circumstances that bring the pain. When the water gets hot, do you release fragrance and flavor- changing the situation around you instead of letting it change you?
Our song leader taught us this song. When you take the time to really pay attention to the words, I hope you are as moved as I am every time I hear it.
The Potter Knows the Clay
I know you are going through the fire
It's getting hard to stand the heat
But even harder is the wondering
Is God's hand still on me
It's lonely in the flames
When you're counting days of pain
But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
'Til there's submission to His will
He's planned a beautiful design
But it'll take some fire and time
It's gonna be okay
'Cause the Potter knows the clay
Friend, I just came through that fire
Not too very long ago
And looking back I can see why
And that my God was in control
But on the hottest days I'd cry
Oh Lord, isn't it about time
But the Potter knows the clay
How much pressure it can take
How many times around the wheel
'Til there's submission to His will
He's planned a beautiful design
But it'll take some fire and time
It's gonna be okay
'Cause the Potter knows the clay

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aroma from the Grinder

I thought I'd share a few more things I read at the coffee themed Ladies' Retreat.
10 Uses for coffee grounds
1. deodorizer- dry them out, then put them in a bowl in your fridge or freezer or rub them on your hands to get rid of food prep smells
2. plant food- for rosebushes, azaleas, evergreens, camellias
3. insect repellant- sprinkle old grounds where you don't want ants or even on the ant piles
4. dye- steep grounds in hot water, then you have brown dye for fabric, paper or even Easter eggs
5. furniture scratch cover up- steep grounds and apply a bit of the liquid to scratches with a q-tip
6. cleaning product- great for scouring greasy and grimy stain-resistant objects
7. kitty repellent- sprinkle mixed with orange peels around your plants to prevent kitty powder rooms
8. flea dip- follow up doggie's shampoo with a coffee ground rub down
9. dust inhibitor- before you clean the fireplace, toss in wet coffee grounds over the ashes to keep dust under control
10. cellulite reducer- Yes, that's right! Mix 1/4 cup warm, used grounds and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Rub on then wrap with shrink wrap, leaving on for several minutes. Unwind and rinse off. For best results, do this twice a week. I may need to give this one a try. Too bad I don't drink coffee.


Cowboy coffee? It's said they made their coffee by putting grounds into a clean sock and immersing it in cold water, then heated over the campfire. Hmm, were those socks REALLY clean?


Tips for handling your "cup"
1. Don't drain your cup dry (exhaustion)
Psalm 37:7- Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him...
2. Don't get it too hot (temper)
Ephesians 4:31- Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.
3. Don't let it get too cold (indifference)
Revelation 3:15- I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would that thou wert cold or not.
4. Don't let it get too strong (overwhelmed)
Psalm 61:2- From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
5. Don't let it be too weak (fatigue)
II Thesalonians 3:13- But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Perfect Blend

Earlier this month, I attended the Ladies' Retreat with our church. The theme was "The Perfect Blend: Living Above the Daily Grind". Let me tell you, the team goes all out with the theme too- all kinds of coffees (and teas and hot chocolate) and snacks, a insulated mug gift, team names, decorations and much more. Our speaker, Martha Johnson, even titled and taught her sessions with the coffee theme.

Mrs. Martha enjoying some quiet time before a session
This year, we were out in Glen Rose, at a marvelous retreat center. The rooms were so nice, comfy beds, big bathrooms, and beautiful grounds along the Paluxy River (where dinosaur footprints have been discovered). The staff was so nice, and the chef made amazing meals! This was a huge step up from our youth-camp like place last year. The weather was fantastic, too- cool mornings turned into nice days. Each room had a balcony, too. Just gorgeous! Bonus, we were close to town. Glen Rose town square is a quaint little place with a handful of boutiques and antique shops. We had some free time on Friday to explore and really enjoyed ourselves.

We had craft time. We decorated bookmarks with our "life verse"- a verse that encourages us or has spoken to our hearts. Later, in devotion time with small groups, we traded bookmarks and explained why that verse was significant to us. Now, I have a verse and bookmark from a friend, that reminds me to pray for them. We also got to decorate an apron with paint, material, ribbon, and other crafty things. It's amazing to see the creativity of the ladies of the church and how each of us managed to create something different.

One of the things most ladies look forward to is the baskets. Oh my! This is an experience! People donate items to be used in themed baskets- like Christmas, home, cooking, scrapbooking, chocolate, etc. The team puts together the baskets and puts them on display. Ladies buy tickets to put in drawings for whatever baskets they would like to win. I'd say there were at least 50 different baskets this year. There are also a handful of auction type baskets. All the money went to the church for a need- this year, new lawn equipment. Not long before the last session, tickets are drawn and winners pack away their baskets. Yup, I won two of the seven baskets I was hoping for!!!!!
Yes, there was lots of fun times. But, there was also great time learning more about God's Word. A few of the points that stuck in my head were
  • God's plan is to fullfill HIS purpose. It is a process until we are the product He needs.
  • Why is (fill in the blank) happening? To reveal things about myself and to perfect me. I Peter 5:10
  • All resentment is rooted in unmet expectations
  • When we ignore God, it grieves Him. When I'm grieved, I don't say much. Is it like that with God?
  • Just like coffee, we can be weak (Matt. 6:30-34), bitter (Eph 4:31-32), stale (1 Corin. 15:58) and cold (Psalm 119:97-115).
  • Having the "Perfect Blend" means being "rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17). God's unending, perfect love.

At the end of the last session, we take our burdens, big or small to God. We privately write them on a paper, fold them up and staple them to the cross. It is an incredible feeling taking it to Him and leaving it there. Now, even as I type this, I realize that I've tried to "take back" what I gave Him. I have to remember that in God's awesomeness, He will take care of it. I cannot, in my humanness, begin to understand God's greater plan for me. I have to "let go and let God". That's the purpose of taking it to the cross, to lay it down and let go.

I'm already looking forward to next year's retreat. I'm planning for my mom and a college friend to join me too. If you happen to be in the Fort Worth area next October and want to experience Christian fellowship and growth, I'd love to have you along, too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The most magical place on earth

I was "encouraged" by a friend to update my blog, so I guess I best get to it.

I have recovered from vacation. That laundry is all caught up (though that stuff keeps coming back, you know) and almost all the souveniers have found a place to belong. I downloaded the 1000 pictures, deleted a handful and poured over them, relishing each wonderful day and memory. We treasured the time as a family, away from news and internet, just enjoying the magic Disney had to offer us every day, all day, for a week.

This was Jacob's first trip. Seeing it through his little boy eyes, the recognition of his favorite characters and movies played out in grand Disney World style- gosh, it couldn't be beat. His first plane ride, which he loved. Sleeping at "Cinderella's house" was pretty exciting, too. His absolute favorite ride was Finding Nemo at Epcot. His least favorite ride was "the fast slide" (Malestrom in Norway) at Epcot. He surprised us by being such a trooper, never having a meltdown, falling asleep when he needed to, going on rides he wasn't sure about only to say "that was fun" at the end. He wasn't going for the characters though. No way. The big fuzzy ones he would just watch but not talk to or get near. The human characters, he eventually would take his autograph book to but didn't want to stay for a picture. The only way to get Jacob to be still and quiet was to have him watch a parade or big show. I can only imagine what his brain was processing watching it all.

Beth still remembers her first trip last year and looked forward to doing some of the same things again this trip. There were plenty of firsts on this trip. Beth is tall enough and getting braver every day. She got to ride some bigger rides with Kevin- a thrill for both of them. She had no problem meeting all kinds of characters, though she sometimes didn't want to slow down to stand in line and would rather just skip it to go to a ride. She turned into a *more* beautiful princess, enjoying every minute of pampering (and was quite thankful to return to comfy clothes and shoes after lunch at the castle). I had done some research about special treasure hidden within the normal realm of the park, things easily overlooked. Beth enjoyed finding these- like the special horse on the carousel, Cinderella's horse. Despite the big firsts, she acted like a pro, telling Jacob about something we were going to do or explaining "Disney magic" along the way.
It was an incredible week together. I truly treasured the moments of joy we shared with the kids. Disney is fun, even more so through their eyes. My favorite moments were the ones away from the parks, honestly. Waking up to the sounds of whispers and giggles from the other bed and hearing a sweet little voice wonder if I had "anymore presents today" (I gave them a small present each morning, Disney themed of course). Our now traditional room service pizza picnic is another favorite, just recapping the day we ended early, knowing it's okay not to go from sun-up to sun-down.

We're already dreaming about another trip. It seems that no matter how long you go, you still can't manage to see it all. Until then, I relish the magical memories we created as a family.