Oct 29, 2010

I Celebrate the Day

I love Christmas music.
If I was forced to choose between the twinklyness of Christmas or Christmas music, it would be a tough call but I would have to go for the music. I simply love it.
We have a standing rule in our house that you cannot play, sing, or hum Christmas tunes until after Thanksgiving. Although that used to mean the day after Thanksgiving, now it is highly likely that the music begins to play upon completion of our Thanksgiving meal.
New Christmas albums are always one of my first holiday purchases. I scour the internet for new albums and snatch up anything that melts my heart. We have about 40 albums to choose from, but my favorite are the Denton Christmas Mix. Each year our friends Wesley and Kari put together a fabulous collection of new and old songs, country, rock, children's songs and classics. The albums are super! I impatiently wait for the latest edition and try to guess what kind of magic the Dentons are creating with their Christmas mix.
I digress.
A few days ago a Christmas tune popped into my head illegally, and I can't get it out. It is called "I Celebrate the Day" performed by Reliant K, a Christian rock band. I like the song, and I particularly love the lyrics. One of my favorite lines is "And I, I celebrate the day That You were born to die So I could one day pray for You to save my life." This is what it is about people. Magical lyrics, set to rockin' tunes, telling the world about Christ's arrival into the grand scheme of life. Awesome.
26 days until Christmas music.

Oct 20, 2010

Even If...

A few nights ago Matt and I were having a deep philosophical conversation. I'm sure that seems shocking considering the antics we are usually up to, but I can assure you every once in a while we get serious. Although I can't prove that this conversation took place, I just ask you to trust me on this one.
Matt and I were talking about faith and the role that it plays in our daily lives and through difficult situations. We believe that God can protect us from harm and living in fear of something bad happening to us or our family is essentially choosing not to have faith. Worry and stress over situations that we cannot control is actively choosing not to believe that God has every aspect of our lives in his hands.
Matt summed it up well with a reference to the three men in the fiery furnace. He said "and then, just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, 'if God chooses not to save us then so be it'." That is not an officially approved translation but it gets to the point.
In Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were standing before the king to account for their actions of not worshiping idols. They said to the king "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
Now that is faith. The three amigos knew God could save them but they also knew that God gets to decide if He wants to or not. They knew that God may choose not to save them from a fiery death but they were still willing to stand before the King and denounce his idols. They said "fine throw us in the furnace, God can save us...but even if he doesn't, he will use us to his glory. The bible is full of stories where bad things happened to people who had faith in God, there are also stories where God intervened and performed miracles.
Faith in God is about knowing in my heart that he can spare me from pain, deliver me from trials, heal my body, my mind, and my heart but even if he doesn't he is still God, he still loves me and I will still worship him.

Oct 17, 2010

House Pictures

Click here to view these pictures larger

We moved into our new place a few months ago but I finally took pictures last night. I was going to wait until it was decorated and clean but at this rate, it may not happen for another year or so, so I snapped these shots and called it good enough.
To see the pictures full size and read all my explanatory captions you may need to log in to our shutterfly site by clicking the above link. The password is "ourphotos". There are other albums on the site for your viewing pleasure as well.

Oct 13, 2010

Mario Sepulveda

Mario Sepulveda was the second Chilean miner to escape from the pit of the earth and rise to freedom this morning. He jumped out of the escape hatch and was shouting, jumping for joy, hugging people, and even handing out souvenir rocks to the rescuers. 69 days he and the other miners were trapped. 69 days of wondering if and when they would make it home.

What does it take to live in those horrible conditions for 69 days? How tough is it to be essentially buried alive? I was struck by Mr. Sepulveda's comments on his ordeal. He was quoted as saying "I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God." I'm sure he was feeling hopeful and in good spirits at times while other times he was feeling darkness and despair weighing heavily on and around him. In the end he chose to reach out for the one who gave him hope.

I was moved by this simple statement because Sepulveda acknowledged the spiritual battle that was taking place within him. Although most of us are not trapped a half mile below the earth, we face situations where we find ourselves in a spiritual tug-o-war between God and the devil. Oh the devil is there, but it is simply our choice to reach out for the one who gives us life, hope, and peace. It is our responsibility to reach out for the one who gives us freedom. It is our choice in the smallest or gravest circumstances to choose to reach out to Jesus Christ.

Oct 10, 2010

Hobnail

This is a hobnail milk glass cake plate and I want it. Why? Because I find it uniquely cool and my grandma has some hobnail milk glass so when I see it I think of her.

I can't call myself a collector or enthusiast because I don't actually own a single piece, but I am on the hunt at thrift stores and flea markets. I hope to have a little collection of functional funky serving dishes in the near future.

Oct 5, 2010

Tuscan Cooking Lessons

The ad for our Florentine Villa said they offered Tuscan cooking lessons with Teresa. Not only do you learn secret family recipes for a four course meal, but after you cook it, you get to eat it! Terri and I made arrangements to meet Teresa in her 17th century kitchen for some cooking lessons, lots of sampling, and some wine.
The sun shone in the window of her kitchen and bounced off of the red tile roofs that were stacked against the hillside. The kitchen was small and warm but inviting. It was so beautiful, surely something magical would happen in there.
We jumped right into making a chocolate cake with apples and pears. When I asked if the fruit could be substituted for strawberries or raspberries, I was quickly reprimanded. "NO NO NO" Teresa said "only the apple and the pear". Teresa's English isn't so great but she really gets her point across. You absolutely cannot freeze pasta or focaccia dough, and don't you dare substitute berries in her Great Grandmothers chocolate cake!
We made chocolate cake and pasta noodles from scratch, followed by the filling for cannelloni, some herbed something or other meat dish, and got lessons on how to make the most delicious focaccia bread/pizza crust I have ever tasted in my life.
After we "helped" prepare dinner we were released to enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace overlooking the city of Florence and the family's olive grove. Later, Matt, the boys, and Matt's dad joined us on the terrace for dinner. The view was simply amazing. The weather was perfect. And the food ... oh the food was incredible. All of the herbs and vegetables are grown on the property, and the bread and pasta were so fresh they melted in your mouth. I'll never eat at Olive Garden again and something tells me it will be a long time before I have a terrace dining experience like that again either.
I doubt I'll be able to make any of the recipes we learned in Teresa's kitchen, but cooking and eating there will always be sweet memories for me.