Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dinner's good, Mom.

Recently, my three year old has gotten in the habit of telling me, "Dinner's good, Mom." My two year old also repeats it. It's great. Richard frequently tells me that dinner is good, so I'm sure they get it from him. It makes me so grateful to see my children mirroring the great characteristics of their dad :)

I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but I also happen to think dinner is good most nights. So I thought I would share some of my favorite meals with you.

Spinach and Cod

I made this recipe up inspired by a dish from Eat'n Park.

Saute onions in butter, lots of butter.
Add drained, thawed spinach or fresh and saute.
Add bread crumbs until spinach holds together.
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Lay out cod in a baking dish and put butter, salt and pepper on top. Spoon the spinach on top of the cod. Bake at 400 or so until the fish is flakey.

Yummy! Serve with buttered noodles and a veggie!

Notes: I usually just use one onion and one bag of spinach, or sometimes I'll make this dish with swiss chard when it's in season in the summer/fall. You don't need a lot of salt because spinach is naturally salty. Sorry my recipe isn't more detailed, but cooking is more of an artistic expression for me, so I don't usually use recipes.

AND YES, this was the meal that Evelyn was shoving in her face telling me how good it was! And Richard, the fish hater, also likes it.

Conversations with Evelyn, Maybe Part VII

I had a really funny conversation with Evelyn the other day, and now I can't remember it. This one isn't so much funny, but I thought it was pretty clever on my part.

Evelyn and Riley were being really rowdy yesterday, and consequently, driving me crazy. It was mainly Riley, being two, she took all of her clothes out the drawers and then she took apart half a box of tampons. So I sent them both to their room and told them they had to sit on their bed and read books. Which they did, and my life got a lot better :)

A little while later Evelyn came out and announced, "We're good now."

I said, "Good, then it's working."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tales from Youth Ministry

Well, here's something interesting: the youth ministry program that Richard and I nurture has been growing. Both in spiritually and physically. It's been so great. My biggest problem now: the church. We had our sponsorship dinner last night. Not only is it our biggest fundraiser of the year, it's also the best opportunity that the members of our church have to get to see the youth group first hand . . . in all it's goofiness and Godliness. The kids put together a talent show that was awesome! They did a lot of their acts that they did for the school talent show and also did little skits that shared parts of our youth group experience (that were pretty much just goofy).

Explain to me, when we had over 100 people in church Sunday morning, why only about 35 (1/3 parents) showed up for this!? Here's the thing: we raised more money than last year. Why? Because the people that were there, cared and gave us money. But I'm still so, hmm, what's the word, jacked, at the larger congregation. Only 3 or 4 of our 13 session members were there!? Ah!!!

Yesterday, was also our first contemporary youth service. For all of you who have experienced nothing but contemporary worship at large evangelical churches, you probably do not understand why this is a big deal. But it is a very big deal in probably 90% of the churches in the country that didn't emerge in the 80's/90's at the dawn of CCM. I feel that most of the present churches at that time didn't know what was hitting them - and then felt bitter that they were going to have to either change or try to let their beautiful pipe organs compete. Hmmm.

Anway, it went really well. We used a projector and Affix lead worship with just guitars (we'll introduce some more instruments next time). And, I preached. I didn't cry either - or even come close to crying - which is a huge success for me! A lot of people said they really enjoyed my sermon, and they seemed sincere. (Disclaimer: I didn't write it - I adapted one that came with this new curriculum I'm using). It went pretty well, just some technical issues, that we'll iron out for next time. Like getting the screen up higher and Affix bringing their sound system because the church needs a new one! A lot of the youth participated in the service, I knew a contemporary service would be better received if it involved the youth! For now we're going to do this six times a year, but I'm hoping it will lead to permanently blending the two worship styles together!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Love who?!

May Teen Connection Message:

In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees to give what the greatest of all the commandments is. The Pharisees were a bunch of religious know-it-alls, so I’m sure they were expecting an answer that had something to do with giving money, or not working on the Sabbath, or not murdering, or remembering all of the Jewish holidays. But we all know that Jesus never gives the answers we expect, so here it is from Matthew 22:37-39 (The Message//Remix):
‘Love the Lord your God will all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

I’d like to focus this message on that second part: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’

What does Jesus really mean here? Is he saying to be nice to others? Does he want us to hold the door open for the people behind us? Fix meals for hungry people? Respect our parents and teachers? Well, obviously, he does (we can double check this from other verses), but I think Jesus is going a lot further here.

I Wikipediaed the word agape (which you’re not allowed to do for school, but I am – since no one is grading this). Agape is a Greek word that really gained popularity in the early church writings. Authors used it to demonstrate “divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love.” Agape also happens to be the word that Jesus uses in Matthew 22 when teaching us what the greatest commandment ever is! So, Jesus isn’t simply telling us to be nice, to hold the door open, to feed the poor, and to respect our parents and teachers.

He’s telling us to voluntarily sacrifice our selfish desires in order to demonstrate God’s love to people who do NOT deserve it! I know: it’s radical. That’s the thing about Jesus. He wasn’t a luke-warm, mediocre Christian. He was extreme! Radical! Today we’d probably think He was cool, but a little bit crazy.

Here’s the Message: Jesus wants us to be a little bit crazy with Him. He wants us to radically love others in a way that allows them to undeniably recognize the power of His death and resurrection.

Challenge: Think of one person in your life who doesn’t deserve your love. Do one thing for that person that shows him Christ’s love.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crazy Week!

Okay . . . I'm either going to be posting a lot or not at all this week. I have to finish my newsletter, write my sermon, put together the youth worship service, practice for the sponsorship dinner talent show with the kids, cooridinate the sponsorship dinner, and who knows what else! I'm pretty overwhelmed right now wondering how I'm going to get all that done, teach classes, do laundry, and keep the house clean! Ahhhh! I can't believe I had the bright idea to do the youth service and sponsorship dinner on the same day.

So, yesterday, Richard and I went to Camp Presmont and helped clean (a little, I'm not very helpful with the girls) and then we went to Rachel and Joe's for a cook-out. We turned our cell phones off most of the day and it was awesome! Yay for family time! The girls had so much fun playing with Susanna and Sarah and our Melanie's little girl, Iris. The guys lit a big fire and did their man thing while the ladies chatted. I wish I was better at taking my camera places so I could post pictures for you all. Melanie had her camera there, so I'll try to get the pics from her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lessons Learned

Recently, there was a circumstance with one of our good friends where he was doing something that Richard and I didn't agree with. So we told him about it. I'm not saying we shouldn't have done that (I still think our opinion is discerning and Biblical), but we definately should and could have handled it better. Perhaps - thinking out our thoughts beforehand, having specific scripture outlined, and certainly presenting ourselves in a more loving way. However, the point of this blog is not to analyze what we could have done differently. Needless to say, the conversation didn't go well, and we ended up alienating and offending our friend.

Well, it all worked out and we all apologized, and one might think that was the end of the story. But God had bigger plans for me.

Two thoughts kept running through my mind:

The first was part of a verse: Build each other up in brotherly love. (I couldn't remember any more than that, but I looked it up for you; it's Romans 12:10, and actually the whole idea is scattered throughout the NT).

The second thought was some parenting advice that I read or heard at one point and it was: for every time the criticize your child, you should encourage them 40.

So I merged these two thoughts to get: What if we send our friend 40 text messages telling him all the things we admire, respect, and love about him? What if we tell him that he's special to God and us? I know, it's a little radical and crazy. But, I determined that these thoughts were coming from God for two reasons. One, I often get crazy ideas, but usually I can't remember them five minutes later (momnesia), and two, they were convicting me.

I really expected Richard to laugh at me, but he didn't. He actually, although slightly self-conscious for a moment, agreed! So we spent all day yesterday text messaging our friend. It was a blast. At first he didn't know what was going on, but after about 20 of them, I think he got the idea. The result: instead of our friendship being awkward, it was made even stronger. It was great for Richard and I too, to do that act of ministry together.

So the lesson I learned: holding our friends accountable is good - Biblical, ethical, important, etc. But, we must not forget that our FIRST commandment is to Love God, and the SECOND . . . well, you know it!

(Note: I asked my friend if it was cool to post this before I did).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Conversations with Evelyn, Part IV

Richard: This computer is gay.

Evelyn: Every time the computer is gay to me I just push bottons and then it's done gaying.


Disclaimer: You probably won't care to read this. I'm writing it more for me:)

I've been on such an emotional roller coaster this last week, it's ridiculous. I'm all over the map, and right now I just feel plain anxious and even a little depressed. And it doesn't help any that I haven't been getting enough sleep, feel run-down, and my asthma has been acting up and the lack of oxygen just makes me feel so sluggish. Today is supposed to be laundry day/ clean the bathroom and bedrooms, and I just can't get up the energy to do it. And there's still milk on the kitchen table and floor from Riley spilling her cereal this morning. I just want Richard to come home, so he can give me a hug!!!

So after I wrote that first paragraph, I went and folded two loads of laundry (but have yet to clean up the milk) and believe it or not, I feel better.

Easter was good. David preached a great sermon yesterday, and the girls were so good I actually got to hear it. Sunrise at Calvary went well, despite the wrath of judgment I received from the organist for not having a bulletin. Why do we always have to have those things? Why does so much of our worship experience depend on reading from a piece of paper? Grrr. The kids did really well though; I'm so proud of the young men and women they're becoming.

After church we went to my parent's house for Easter dinner, I wish everyone could understand how good our family dinners are. I'm not exaggerating, I anticipate them weeks in advance. My Aunt Brenda fed Gigi sweet potatoes with all the sugar and butter and she loved them (of course). The Easter egg hunt was too much fun! Riley was having a blast, and she would get so excited she would pass up two or three eggs because she'd see another one off in the distance! Ah, I'm pretty sure 18-30 months is my favorite age! And I went to bed at 9 p.m.! I was so tired and Evelyn and Gigi were already sleeping, so I took Riley to bed with me, and out we went. I got really good sleep until about 6 a.m., and slept on and off until 9 a.m. I so needed it after the maybe 3 hours of sleep I got on Saturday night.

So I guess I'm working backwards in this post, which takes me to Saturday. It started off sleeping in (kind of) followed by a trip to the mall because I hadn't bought the girls anything for Easter yet. All was going fine, until we got home at 2:15 and Chad (the new guy in Affix) was supposed to be here at 3:30 p.m., which led to us cleaning. And all that went fine, and everything was clean but the kitchen and I asked Richard to finish it while I laid down for a minute because I wasn't feeling too well. That's when he made a comment about cleaning up my mess, which of course led to a fight because, you know, I never clean up any of his messes. Then I cooked an awesome dinner and took new pictures for Affix because of the band change (I'll talk about that later). The guys sat around and worked on music while I cleaned up some of the kitchen and put together the lasagna for Easter and Tuesday and one for the freezer. By the time we were finished it was after 10 p.m. This was then followed by a conversation that didn't go as well as I hoped which is still really bugging me, even though Richard assures me it's fine. So by the time we crawled into bed around midnight, Gigi decided to wake up and cry for two to three hours (I'm pretty sure she's teething). Then I definately couldn't go to sleep between worrying about the conversation and the fact that I was going to be exhausted on Easter.

Affix change: I'm not sure how many of you who read this actually know anything about Affix, but after the last drummer quit, the band was down to Richard (guitar/singer), Scott (bass/back-up singer who really didn't sing in the shows), and Eric a.k.a. Hank (guitar). Not much of a band, I know. So they devised this plan which I was not too happy about. Richard was going to move to drums/back-up vocals, Eric to bass, Scott to rhythm guitar because they picked up Jason to play lead. And they auditioned Chad to sing lead. This to me is absolutely insane! I mean, they've been at this two years, have all this music written and have spent over $1000 recording their CD. HOWEVER, I stood corrected because after one kind-of practice the other night, I can't believe how well it's going to come together. Chad is an amazing singer and I think probably just want they needed to take it to the next level. So we'll see . . . I'm really anxious about all this because I know, given the opportunity, Richard will want to quit his job to pursue this.

Add the earthquake in Italy last week, and that's pretty much why I feel the way I do!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

News from Italy

This journal is written by Pierangela Badia, a very distant relative of mine whom Richard and I met in L'Aquila in 2004.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Last night we went to Maundy Thursday services at Coalbrook. It was progressing as usual . . . Riley was running around, playing hind-and-seek in the pews, going up front to get a better view. Evelyn was trying to be good, but really wanted to play with Riley. And Gigi, God bless her, was being her usual sweet-natured self.

Then came time for communion. (We let our children take communion, which is a different story and I'll let you know why if you care, but anyway). Evelyn got her bread and ate it, and said, "Umm, this is good." The result: Richard and I laughed through the rest of it. And for some time, I'm probably going to laugh during communion. This is why:

A conversation taking place at our last youth outreach event at Calvary:

Richard: So did you guys like this? What do you want to do next time?

A (an 8th grade boy who is stinking hilarious): Oooo, Can we have breakfast food next time? (All boys this age think in food).

All the kids: (Agreeing, liking that idea).

A: No! Communion bread!

S (a college age helper): Yeah! Communion bread is so good. We can make it and just not bless it!

Tears are seriously coming to my eyes right now. So funny.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In Sadness

Five years ago, Richard and I had the opportunity to visit the place that my grandfather's family was from . . . the small town of Barisciano, Italy. It was an awesome thing to walk along the same streets that my great-grandfather had ran along as a child. To be in the churches they had worshipped in, and meet our Italian cousins. It will be a trip that we will always remember, but probably will never get to relive. As of April 6, 2009, most of the historic building and many of the homes were destroyed in the earthquake.

We have many distant cousins who still live there, some of whom we were able to meet. I wrote them a letter and am hoping that somehow it will reach them. Please pray for them.

In this week that we remember the death of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I am reminded that this life is full of pain, suffering, and sin. No matter how many vaccines we invent, no matter how many beauty and health techniques to master, no matter how great we make this life with all of our technilogical gadgets . . . it is but temporary. Our only lasting and eternal hope, comes from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Conversations with Evelyn, Part V and a Bonus Quote

Me: "Evelyn, you're adorable, too."

E: "No, I'm not."

Me: "Why?"

E: "Because in this life, you don't always win."

(I'm not sure if I should post this one, but I'm going to anyway).

Richard on CNN: "Can we change the channel now? They're getting a *** talking about Obama."

10 Thoughts

1. So I'm teaching again this quarter and it's great! I always thought that I would like teaching college, and I was right: I love it! I really hope it's something I get to keep doing. My students this quarter are probably more typical than last, and I have 20 this quarter versus 7 last. So I'm really thankful that I taught the class once before because it would be hard keeping up with that many students.

2. So what makes young adults inable to communicate effectively? I want to know both as a teacher and a youth director. It's so important to be able to be your own advocate, and I feel that so many young people don't know how to be.

3. Evelyn said something really funny last night and I can't remember what it is right now: that's called mom-nesia Hopefully, Richard will remember and I'll post it later.

4. It's Holy Week. Growing up this was one of my favorite weeks. We literally had church activities/services for four straight days. Maundy Thursday: passover meal. Good Friday service: a reminder of the crucifixtion, this was always intense. Saturday: Easter Egg hunt. Sunday: sunrise service/breakfast/regular service. So of my fondest memories are from this time.

5. It saddens me that most people would be put-off if we required this much of their time now-a-days. How dare the church impose on people's lives?!

6. I'm really excited about doing this on the leadership retreat I'm planning this summer:

7. Even though Amanda and John aren't going to be in Ohio this summer, I'm really excited about them moving to Louisville. When I was planning on going to seminary there, I really loved the city. It will be nice to have an excuse to go visit there. I'm also excited about them only living 5 hours away:)

8. I'm also really excited about how some of the ministries I'm involved with are progressing, if I can use that word. It seems like some people are finally getting excited about being part of the church.

9. Our van is broken, and I'm hoping it doesn't cost too much to fix. I hate it when things interfer with my get-out-0f-debt plan.

10. However, the plan is looking good! With Richard starting classes here soon, we'll be banking the left over GIbill money, which will excellerate my plan. (Insert evil laugh here). I just hope he can keep up with his classes with every thing else that's on his plate.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Block Hard Core

We had youth group today, which is one of my favorite things:) So we were discussing one of my students weird-o text messages that she was receiving, and Richard and I were telling her that she should have her cell phone provider block him.

This lead into a conversation about blocking people on Facebook. Which lead into a conversation that went something like this:

Richard: I wish there was the option to block people hard core.

Someone else: yeah, like you can just block people or block them hard core.

Me: block them gently

Someone else: or block them hard core with the option of hate mail.

Conversations like this are frequent in my youth group. We've extended youth group by half-an-hour, so now we meet for 3 hours on Sunday and could pretty easily go for four. I'm not sure this is a good thing or a bad thing. (We did practice for Sunrise service and do a Bible study)!

Friday, April 3, 2009


Amanda and John and Maryn are on their way!