It's a beautiful morning in May, as well as my son Andrew's 14th birthday! Happy birthday, Andrew!
This morning I walked with my friend Tonya for about 45 minutes. We're trying to get out there several times a week so we can get healthy and lose some weight, especially since a whole bunch of my relatives are having a fun little weight loss competition. See here: On Weight Loss: Water, Walking, and Watching
While on my way to meet Tonya midway between our houses (we live about six blocks away from each other), I snapped a few pictures of the fresh morning sky. I had my iPod music on, but all of the sudden I heard a telltale rat-a-tat-tat and realized a woodpecker was looking for his breakfast in the tree above me. I tried to snap a picture of him, too, but he was too far up.
I decided to take off the earphones and just listen to the birds. I heard another woodpecker, some mourning doves, a mockingbird, and several other chirruping choruses. I also heard a car beep -- and saw my husband Thad waving as he passed me on the street!
My kids were watching a movie when I got back, and I let them continue since it wasn't time to start school yet and it's Andrew's birthday. We usually sit down as a family to eat waffles on birthday mornings, but most of his sisters and my husband are already gone for the day, and the rest of them are just now ambling into the kitchen and popping them into the toaster. Excuse me for a moment while I go join in the fun... Oh goodness! Somehow my five year old managed to eat four waffles when I told her she could only have two! That was not part of the plan this morning!
I'm not worried about the lack of birthday ceremony this morning, since I let the kids pick out their favorite foods for all three birthday meals, which means pizza for lunch and then Orange Sesame Chicken for dinner when big sister Mary is over with her little boy. For dessert, there is cheesecake (from Walmart brand boxed mix, which turns out quite well) and orange sherbet.
In other news, my daughters Rachel and Joanna returned home on Monday after three months in Chiavari, Italy. It's so good to have them home! Joanna went on an interview yesterday and landed a job as a Disney World photographer at the Magic Kingdom. She starts on June 7, just after her high school graduation. In the fall she will continue at Valencia State College, where she has dual enrolled for a year and a half. Rachel starts nursing school at UCF in the fall since she earned got her AA from Valencia in December. She is in the midst of looking for a summer job. This morning, she's off picking strawberries and blueberries with a friend, and she just called to let me know how much they are per pound since she's buying some for me, too! Rachel and Joanna blogged about their Italy adventure at Abbondanza di Vita. There are already a lot of gorgeous photos there, but when they have time, they will post even more. In between teaching English as an outreach, they traveled a lot to various cities: Florence, Venice, Rome, Paris, Nice, Genova, and even Monaco. I envy them, but I'm sure glad they got to go!
Oh, did I say that this is a Friday Favorites post? Yes, I am continuing my series of sharing web links that I found encouraging this week!
- Food on Fridays: Kitchen Pantry -- by Ann Kroeker -- I link up to her Food on Fridays series most of the time, including this morning! Linked posts don't have to be a recipe, just something about food; as in this case, how we celebrate birthdays with food. Ann's post is in her kitchen pantry. We're blessed that we've had a decent sized pantry cupboard for the past 18 years we've been in this house, but like Ann, I find the need to clean and organize it once in a while. She might have a surplus of evaporated milk (hence for links for recipes to use it up) but we often overstock on black beans and cream of chicken soup. We also have a random can of sauerkraut back in there somewhere. Now what am I going to use that for -- and why did I buy it in the first place?
- Titus 2 Moms / Older Women Younger Women Older Women? / Elisabeth Elliot by Tonya Travelstead. Tonya and I often chat about blogging while we walk. We get lots of ideas from each other, and help refine our thinking as we go. Tonya found links for a whole bunch of audio messages by Elisabeth Elliot, who has been one of my favorite Christian authors since I was in college. I started out listening to one on the Lord's Prayer, which is timely since our church just started a five week sermon series on that.
- Speaking of prayer, you can still download Paul Miller's book The Praying Life in Kindle e-book format free here: The Praying Life on Kindle. You don't need a Kindle -- you can download it to your computer, iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device. I highly recommend this book! It is not an intimidating book that beats you up because you don't pray enough. It's more like a gentle encouragement to start where you are. As Miller says,
"Jesus does not say, "Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest." No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. What does it feel like to be weary? You have trouble concentrating. The problems of the day are like claws in your brain. You feel pummeled by life. What does heavy-laden feel like? Same thing. You have so many problems you don't even know where to start. You can't do life on your own anymore. Jesus wants you to come to him that way! Your weariness drives you to him. Don't try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what's on your mind."
One last note this morning... In the checkout line at Walmart the other day, I started talking to the cashier. After exchanging a few pleasantries, she mentioned that her day was going well; at least she wasn't having a meltdown. I smiled and replied, "Yeah, I had one of those just last night! I was so stressed out that I stomped around yelling about wanting to break things! My husband just kept hugging me and telling me it would be all right. But I'm doing fine today." Then she shared that she had been going through a personal crisis for a few months and had done a lot of sobbing her heart out. On top of this, she had to leave the church she had loved for so many years. I could relate to that, since we too had to transition to a new church last year. My heart went out to her. We all go through struggles, but some are going through extreme turmoil. Dear sisters, I ask you to be sensitive and aware of what challenges others (even strangers!) are facing so you can reach out to them with compassion and a word of encouragement. I gave her a card from our church, which offers free counseling. I assured her that it is a mellow little church which has been such a refuge for me. She smiled warmly and said, "Maybe I can ask for a Sunday off so I can come!" I hope I see her there, but even if I don't, I pray she will receive the healing for her heart that she needs!
Come, weary moms! Let us receive our strength from God, and then go to strengthen one another!