Sunday, December 18, 2011

Harry Potter Christmas Party

Last night, we had a Christmas party themed as Harry Potter.  James and I were Remus Lupin and Nemphadora Tonks with little Teddy Lupin on the way.  It was probably the most detailed party I've ever undertook but I didn't go nearly as far as some people have (http://myharrypotterparty.blogspot.com/).

SPEW was able to cater our party, thankfully they were available.   The menu was as follows:

Quidditch Player's Pie 







Treacle Tart


Peter Pettigrew's Fingers


Felix Felicis Fondue 


Blast-ended Skrewt Dung


Chocolate Frogs/Every Flavor Beans


Hagrid's "Happy Birthday, Harry" cake.  Thankfully, he didn't sit on it this time.






Of course we had the most delicious Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice as well.  I am so proud of our nerdy friends, also, who showed up in full costume.  I was very impressed with my guests.  

Professor Umbridge


Bellatrix LeStrange


Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy



The LeStrange Sisters


Hagrid


A Ravenclaw Student back from Hogwarts for Christmas (still has the Trace)


Professor Trelawney 


Igor Karkaroff



Rita Skeeter



Moaning Myrtle


Sirius Black….?



Playing Harry Potter Pictionary 


Esther (Myrtle) saying that her team are such "Harry Potter Geniuses" that they got this clue right away.  Do you know what it is?


I'm very proud of my paperback tree creation, so I had to take a picture.


Photos of the Harry Potter family.  Can't forget Jo!


Floating Stars.  I wanted them outside but it was too windy. 


Everyone was pretty creeped out by the hand bowl.  :) 


Happy Christmas from the Lupin's!  

















Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Expanding in Every Way

There are so many things that I want to do when I stop watching my nephew, Bradley, come January.

1) Finally take those piano lessons I was promised for my birthday last year.
2) Learn to read knitting patterns.
3) Finish my book.
4) Clear out the "baby room".
5) Take my water aerobics classes!
6) Paint and draw
7) Figure out how to get my vegetables to grow already.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

With a thankful heart...

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, I went in for my very first pregnancy appointment.  A few months later, I wrote a note on Facebook entitled "With a thankful heart...".  I've come to find that it remains true in my circumstances even now. This brings to me the realization that God is good all the time.  I don't know what the future holds but what I can be confident in is the absolute proof in my life that God is never changing and He is faithful to bring us through all storms and sunny days of life.

As I am sure most of you know by now, James and I are expecting on May 1st, 2012.  Together we rejoice in this blessing God has given us but also reflect on the things He has taught us over the past year with our miscarriage.  As I state in my note below, there is nothing else that could have gotten me through such a difficult time as the foundational truth in the word of God.  I am so very thankful for His counsel and provision over my life.  I hope you can come to find a thankful heart toward Him during this time of year as well.

Psalm 139:17 "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!"

Here is the note I had posted on Facebook last year:


James and I have had a very trying month.  On October 22, 2010 I had a positive pregnancy test.  I sat there staring at it for a while, just staring at the two pink lines in total shock.  I didn't know what to think.  I contemplated throwing it away and not even telling James.  In the end, I scrounged at the bottom of my garbage can and dug it out.  I laid it on the kitchen table and waited for James to get home.  When I told him, he didn't believe it either.  He went out and bought the kind that says "pregnant" or "not pregnant" just to be absolutely sure.  Three tests later we gave each other a hug, too scared to go crazy with joy.  Especially James.

He made me call the doctor right away and make an appointment.  The nurse said it would put me at 5 1/2 weeks (from Sept 18), they would see me at 6 1/2.  We had to wait a whole week.  The suspense was unbearable.  November 4, James and I went into the doctor and were immediately seen for an internal sonogram.  The grey and black image appeared with a large empty hole.  Nothing was there.  James and I looked nervously at each other.  What did this mean?  The doctor said it was possible that it was too early to detect.  They put me at somewhere around 3 weeks.  I had blood work done to check my HCG levels, they are suppose to double within 42 hours if you are pregnant.  

I was called a few days later stating that my HCG levels had gone from 13000 to 17000, not even close to doubling.  I had a feeling there that hope was lost.  I prayed that God would give me the strength to not be upset but I started to feel a strong wave of depression pass over me.  It was like fighting against a strong current.  All I wanted to do was lay on the couch and sleep.

The doctors wanted me back again on November 10.  James and I went for another internal sonogram.  This time, there was something there.  A little fetal pole that looked like the shape of a bean in that big black hole and a tiny flicker of "what could be a heart beat" the technician said.  We went in to see the doctor and she said she was much more optimistic, especially since I had all the symptoms-purpetual nausea included.  Things looked better and we were due July 5. James was so encouraged and praised God every night for our little baby and that the heart would grow strong.  I, on the other hand, kept my guard up.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to fight off the strong current that was depression if my hopes were crushed again.  They set us up for an initial OB appointment November 22.  

On November 22, we went into the doctor at 9:50am.  The nurse gave me a lot of papers to sign and a big packet of information telling me how to pre-register at the hospital and then ushered us into the OB's office to talk with him about our questions/concerns.  James and I exchanged anxious looks.  "Are we going to have a sonogram?  Tell them we want a sonogram, " James said to me.  I knew exactly what he was thinking.  They were getting our hopes up and we didn't want that happening until we saw proof that was the little heart beat on the black and white screen.  

After a short meeting with the doctor, we went into the exam room where we had our third internal sonogram.  There was something in my heart that was ready, as ready as I'd ever be, to see the empty black hole.  The doctor apologized and we left the packet on the nurse's desk.  

Throughout this entire experience, James and I have been praying for peace and understanding and for God to be glorified in whatever circumstance we are faced with.  That's not to say we aren't disappointed, we certainly can't deny that.  But what we do know is that God has control over our lives.  We don't have to worry.  During this past month, my prayer has constantly been Philippians 4:6-7 (Philippians 4:6-7  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.).  Throughout this pregnancy, I thought I was praying for answers through this scripture.  But I wasn't.  I was praying for peace.  God has made us a promise, that He will give us peace that surpasses all understanding. And He has done it!  

I have a peace that He has a plan for James and I.  For one reason or another, we aren't suppose to be starting a family yet and only God knows why.  In James prayer, on our way home from the doctor, he said Luke 12:24  Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?  

God loves us most out of His entire creation, He is waiting with open arms to mend our broken hearts.  
I never knew this statistic before but 10-25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  When I started having complications, I went on some blogs and found such an overwhelming sense of desperation among women who had gone through a miscarriage.  My heart went out to them.  I never thought before how often it did occur, and when it did how painful it was to go through.  The constant roller coaster of emotions are almost too much to bear.  If you've gone through a miscarriage or lost someone you love, I now can say that I know how you feel. Helpless, hopeless, and guarded.  Please know that God loves you and I love you.  Your story is important, and I would love to hear it if you'd like to share.  I want to be there for you to listen and encourage you.  

James and I have a lot to be thankful for this time of year.  I know this experience has left an overwhelming sense of appreciation for so many things that I never appreciated before (my husband, feta cheese, my family, the lives that do come into this world, and above all God's love).  My hope is that you can also find a great appreciation for your loved ones and for your life this Thanksgiving.  Hug your parent, tell your husband you love and appreciate what he does for you, be patient with your child, or show love to someone less fortunate.  I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving.   

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Serpents and Savior

I am currently doing a study in the Book of John.  In my study this week, I had to read the very familiar John 3:16.  I noticed in the margin of my page that I had written Numbers 21.  As I tend to forget what my notes actually mean, I turned to the Old Testament out of curiosity.

In the 21st chapter of Numbers, Moses is leading Israel out of Egypt.  In the previous chapter, Aaron has died so this means that Moses has been leading Israel on this journey for some time now.  God has already provided Israel with manna bread (bread from heaven, described in Numbers 11:7) to eat at this point and the people of Israel continue to complain about their circumstances as they are being led to The Promise Land.  Let's also keep in mind that they have a pillar of cloud leading them by day and a pillar of fire leading them by night (Exodus 13:21) to show them that He is always with them.  Just sayin'.  

There is a lot that happens through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers where God shows His gracious provision* over Israel and His righteous wrath.  But for our sake let's just stick to Numbers 21- specifically 21:5-6 which says: And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread". 

Wow, that's some nerve, right?  God provides them with this sweet bread from Heaven and they call it worthless.  As a result of their selfishness, God sends down serpents which bite the people and many of Israel died.  Israel, thankfully, realize that they have sinned against God and ask for forgiveness.  So, the Lord tells Moses to make a bronze serpent to set on a pole and whoever is bit just has to look at the serpent in the eye and will not die.   Do you think there were any people among Israel who refused to look at the bronze serpent to be healed?  Who maybe thought it was a dumb idea and refused to do it out of pride?  Do you think anyone tried to search medicinally/scientifically instead of just obeying God's simple command and ended up dying because of it?  
We can clearly see that God always provided for Israel because He loved them so much.  If they had repentant hearts, He was quick to forgive and provide a way out, an escape, a savior of sorts.  

Let's now look at how this ties with John 3:14-15.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 

God provided a bronze serpent attached to a pole as a way for Israel to trust in their God.  It was a simple way for the people to put their trust in Him that He would save them from death. But, that wasn't enough for God.  He wanted to provide a Savior for everyone, whether it's from a snake bite or the tragedies of this awful, decrepit world.  The only way He could do that (note the word "must" in the scripture above) is by bringing down His Son as the ultimate sacrifice to die as an innocent lamb who is led to the slaughter, covering our sin with His blood, so that we might live.  (John 3:16)  Not only live, but live eternally with Him.  God has already provided the "serpent", we just need to come to Him with a repentant heart and put our trust in Him.  It's that simple.  

Isn't it awesome that God's provisions are so simple?  So, why do we hold back?  Why do we not lay it all down before Him?  

I urge you to search your heart, find out what is holding you back.  Is it pride?  Fear?  Anger?  Hurt? If this post stirs something in you, please don't push it away.  There is a void in us all, something we feel is missing, that can only be filled by God's love.  We are all a result of sin and in need of a savior.  He's there waiting for you.  Just look Him in the eyes with a repentant heart and you will spend eternity with Him.  He simply provides.  God will always provide for those who love Him. 




*Definition of provision: noun
1.
a clause in a legal instrument, a law, etc., providing for particular matter; stipulation; proviso.
2.
the providing or supplying of something, especially of food or other necessities.
3.
arrangement or preparation beforehand, as for the doing of something, the meeting of needs, the supplying of means,etc.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Busy little Bee

When I posted my last entry regarding the caramel disaster, I had intended to also post the other events that had gone on this past weekend.  Firstly, I really had the desire to do a movie-themed-meal weekend.  I was only able to do meals from two different movies but I think it would be fun to revisit that activity.

The first meal was from Spanglish.  Some of you may know that I've already made this meal before and have posted pictures...maybe on my LiveJournal many moons ago?


Unfortunately, the bread I bought sort of shrank as it cooked so it doesn't look exact to the one Adams Sandler "made" in the film.  I'm pretty sure I have all of the ingredients right.  I paused the movie to see the layers.  Yes, I'm a huge dork.  Layers: Some type of white melted cheese on one piece of bread.  (I used Provolone) Then lettuce, tomato, once over easy egg (that's just how I like my egg to be cooked), small bacon strips (it looks like on the film that it was the already cooked bacon but I used the real stuff), and mayonnaise.  

My second meal is from It's Complicated.  Meryl Streep "made" this meal for Steve Martin in the most beautiful kitchen in the world.  I just want that house in general from that movie.  Amazing.  


Hm, the picture isn't so wonderful.  Ah well.  This meal consists of croque monsieur and caesar salad.  YUM.  Croque monsieur is swiss cheese, ham (not deli), and french bread.  Caesar salad recipe is Guy Fieri's, it's really easy and very delicious.  

Lastly, my dear friend Jenn made me a beautiful apron.  


My friends and I are starting a coffee ministry at my church and this weekend is the grand opening.  We've been brainstorming and praying about it since December and, since May, we've been researching and testing and purchasing to turn the idea into a functioning operation.  Tomorrow's the big day!  I will post pictures of the other two aprons Jenn made for us soon.  A HUUUGE thank you to Jenn for making us all look stylish while we serve others :D 

Monday, July 4, 2011

New Things, New Flings

As I posted before, this weekend was sort of a weekend of experiments with candies.  The two candies I tried to tackle were taffy and caramel.  I worked on my taffy recipe on Saturday night while watching Tangled.  I didn't really get to watch any of the movie because my eyes were glued to the pot on the stove and the candy thermometer.  Unfortunately, the taffy turned out very gooey.  The recipe I went off of said to get it to the hard ball stage when really it should have probably been closer to the cracking stage.

Then on Sunday, I decided I had a few hours to try the caramels.  I read up on it a little and a lot of people were saying to be patient with the caramel and that it could take up to an hour to reach 250 degrees.  It took TWO HOURS!  I'm not sure though, it might be my thermometer but I did the test and it seemed on a degree or two off (which I took into account).  After about the first hour I tried turning the temperature up a little which I thought could backfire on me, since I read so much about being patient, and it did.  So, here is my caramel scorching:

Here is the finished product.  You may not be able to see but it isn't as smooth as caramel is supposed to be and I blame that on the batch scorching.  


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ambitious in Nature

I was determined this weekend to make use of the fact that I had no plans.  I was going to make candy.  After researching it a bit, I knew that it was going to be a bit time consuming, maybe a little frustrating, and certainly messy.  When I was at Target yesterday, and I told the cashier that I was going to make taffy and caramels she said, "Wow.  How ambitious of you".  I felt like she meant it in a negative way but I held my head high leaving the store.  I was determined to at least try.

So, I did.  It was pretty comical.  I yelled for James to come help me because my hands were glued with taffy and I had no way of getting it off.  It was such a mess and took so long to wrap each piece in wax paper, that I gave up after about 20 pieces.  It sure was yummy though.


I also ended up making buffalo wings for dinner.  I have never made them before so I found a recipe on AllRecipes.com (my go-to site, love it) and tweaked it a little bit.  I was really happy with it.  The sauce was delicious.  I'll be posting that on the cooking blog soon.


Update:  I don't think I've ever added to a recipe so much that I don't have to site it like I did with this wing sauce!  It makes me pretty proud, but please try it for yourself and tell me what you think.  It's not very spicy because I can't handle too much spice so that's just a warning there.  Buffalo Teriyaki Wings
Also edit on the taffy:  I've thrown it all away.  After giving out two pieces at church today, I've decided that they're just too gooey and the wax paper was sticking to them.  I'm going to try a different recipe soon.  Maybe tomorrow if I feel up to it.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Death Eating Destroyer: Tile

The Culprit:  The Death Eating Destroyer named Tile.
The Location:  Bathroom
The Victim:  3G White iPhone


I'm so sad!  I've had this phone for YEARS! It has so many precious memories on it and though it was a bit slow and pretty unreliable, I loved it.  We went everywhere together and it has all my pictures on it and what am I going to do without it?  Yeah, sure it may have shut down when I'd try to open Angry Birds or would crash when I'd try to use Maps but it was old.  It was like a good wine, you know grows better with age and... and.... wait, what?  I what?  I get a new phone?  A brand new, shiny phone that can open Apps in seconds instead of minutes?  WHAT?!  That exists?!

See ya, 3G!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Excuse me, Miss. May I have some more peanuts?

When I think of the word "steward", the only thing that comes to mind is a stewardess.  That's pretty much the only time we hear something close to that word.  But, that name has even been changed.  We have to call them flight attendants, right?  When I think of a good stewardess, she is right there waiting for you at the door and welcoming you as you step on the plane. She is quick to help you lift your luggage into the overhead bins.  She asks you if you need anything.  She gives you extra peanuts or the entire can of Coke.  She patiently helps the little old lady waddle to her seat.  She is very good at serving others, it's her job.

Could you image if you stepped on a plane and she's running around trying to find her uniform, still in her bathrobe?  Her hair still in rollers and her makeup not done.  She starts barking to take your seat because she's trying to get around the crowd to finish getting ready?  She doesn't have any ice for your drinks and there aren't enough peanuts to go around.  People are hungry, irritated, and may feel unsafe with such an unprepared stewardess.  The stewardess becomes flustered and angry at all the complaints she's receiving, she may even forget some procedures thus putting people's lives at risk.  Little does she know, the President of the airline is about to step on the plane.  I think we'd all agree that in any job, being unprepared is a very bad thing.  It's even worse when you're job is to serve others.  Even that much worse when the boss sees that you are unprepared.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a good steward. As Christians, we hear this phrase often. "Be a good steward of your time." What does that phrase mean?

I decided to dig around and see exactly what being a "good steward" means. I thought I should first go to the world's definition of "steward" so I went to Webster's Dictionary of course:

1stew·ard noun \ˈstü-ərd, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd\
Definition of STEWARD

1: one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts)
2: shop steward
3: a fiscal agent
4a : an employee on a ship, airplane, bus, or train who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengers
b : one appointed to supervise the provision and distribution of food and drink in an institution
5: one who actively directs affairs : manager
Examples of STEWARD:
the steward of their investments
teaching our children to be good stewards of the land

Then I looked at the Synonyms: daily [British], domestic, flunky (also flunkeyor flunkie), lackey, menial, retainer, slavey, servant


What?!  This is what steward means???  Being a slave or a servant?  That can't be what it means!  Let's continue deeper and go to what the Bible's definition of "steward" is.  


Luke 12:35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38 And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” 
41 Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

WOW!  Do you feel a little convicted right now?  I do.  That is some tough stuff to swallow.  This scripture is saying that we are servants of God!  Not only are we servants to God, but we need to be alert for His return.  He has entrusted us to do His work, to prepare the "house", to keep things in order for when He returns and with that, we are held accountable to those responsibilities.  So if we are to be servants of God, how do we know what He wants us to do while we're waiting for His return?  
Well, I'm glad you asked! 

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers,be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.10 For
      
“ He who would love life
      
And see good days,
      
 Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
      
And his lips from speaking deceit.
       
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;
      
 Let him seek peace and pursue it.
       
12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
      
 And His ears are open to their prayers;
      
But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.”


Living a godly life sure isn't easy!  We're suppose to have compassion for everyone?  Love everyone?  Not say something crude back if someone offends us or go after them if they've done something wrong to us?  How could I possibly do that?  We are all imperfect people.  We are a result of sin and therefore have a sinful nature.  That is why we need to constantly rely on God to give us the strength and wisdom to follow what He is calling us to do.  We need to guard ourselves with the "helmet of salvation" and the "sword of the spirit which is the Word of God" as it says in Ephesians 6:17.  (AKA Read your Bible!  It is your weapon in this fallen world.  Memorize it to recall it in times of need, you will feel a change.  You will see God changing your heart, making you patient, giving you wisdom to make decisions.)


So, to summarize being a good steward means taking care of these people on the earth while we're here, maybe give someone the whole can of Coke. We are to serve others with an extremely humbled heart (only obtained through God's grace), to be patient, courteous, and loving others like they are our family.  As we read the Word, God's will for our lives will become more and more evident.  Someone at the youth conference this past weekend used a good analogy as to how we are to be good stewards.  This is is analogy:  


What if you were a doctor and you had a patient who's test results just came back saying he has terminal cancer with only a few months to live and you've just discovered a cure for cancer.  When the patient comes to see you, would you say to him, "Hey, how are you?  How's the family?  Everything looks great!  See you next time."  No, you'd say to him, "Man, I'm so sorry to say this but you have terminal cancer.  But, listen, I have awesome news for you to save your life!  I have a cure.  Let me tell you how we can get you better."   That's the same as the Gospel.  We have this news, this key ingredient that our souls long after, and lots of times people don't know it.  We, as servants of Christ, are to be giving away this medicine, this love that heals all things, this Savior that died for us to be SAVED!


Let's be ready when He comes home, guys, so that it will be a joyous prepared occasion rather than scrambling around to get things in order.  Let's be good stewards.