Monday, March 28, 2011

Dessert-of-the-Month Club: March

In case you forgot, or hadn't read about this before, I gave my brother-in-law, Russell, a Dessert-of-the-Month gift for Christmas last year (go here for back story). We're three months into it, and I think I'm in a good groove with getting the dessert made around the middle of the month. (Nevermind that I am just now getting around to putting a post on my blog.)

For March Russell asked for fudge brownies. I could have gone the easy route and made them from a box mix (which are usually pretty good and pretty fudgey), but I am trying to do these desserts from scratch as much as possible. Also, since I got stole the idea of the Dessert-of-the-Month Club from another blogging friend of mine, I thought it would be cool to use a brownie recipe that she posted a while back, which actually came from another cooking/blogging friend (I highly suggest checking out both of these blogs on a regular basis). So that's how it came about that I made "Just-Right Brownies" for Russell. And from the smiles on everyone's faces after they ate them, I'd say I made the right decision.

Oh yeah, I need to mention that I pretty much forced Russell to share his dessert with a crowd this month. We (the Masseys and Ryans) were co-hosting some friends, the Norris family (or the Nori as we sometimes refer to them), who live in Birmingham. By co-hosting, I mean that the friends slept at the Ryan's house and otherwise hung out at the Massey's house, except for Saturday breakfast. I offered to make dessert to bring over for Friday's dinner and thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and make Russell's March dessert.

See all the smiles? And that was before they ate the brownies!

Friday, March 25, 2011





an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
Last month, I was reading the blog of some friends who are tremendous and generous adoption supporters and learned about a birthday surprise that was being planned to honor the blogger's upcoming 40th birthday. Knowing that her friend had a generous and giving heart, and that another family that they knew was raising money to bring a child home from Africa to join their family, readers of the blog were being asked to donate money toward the adoption. I read the phrase, "no amount is too small" and decided to participate with a small donation of my own.

You can see the results of the birthday surprise here. AMAZING!!!

Fast-forward to yesterday. I was sitting at my desk and looked out the window to see our familiar Terminix man coming across the lawn to do our monthly pest control treatment (to keep our church bug-free). He came in and did what he needed to do in the office and then I took him over to unlock some other parts of the buildings where he needed access. Normal routine.

When he came back to the office to give me the receipt, he began searching for something on his phone and said that he wanted to show us a picture. He brought up a photo of a sweet little girl with dark skin and told me that this was the daughter that his family was adopting soon. I asked where she is from and he told me she is from Uganda.

I immediately asked if she was related to a ministry that my blogging friend started, and I began dropping names of people that I either knew or read about. The light finally came on in my head and I finally connected enough dots and realized that Mr. Terminix is the husband/father in the family for whom the birthday donations were benefiting! Before I knew it, Mr. Terminix was giving me a hug and thanking me for being a part of bringing his daughter home!

After he left, I continued to marvel at everything that had just taken place. From the beginning, I had felt like my involvement was just a drop in the bucket of what was needed, and when I had originally seen the video of the results of the birthday gift, I had tears in my eyes, in awe of what God had done, using the small and not-so-small gifts of so many! It was icing on the cake to be able to make the connection with the man who is going to be traveling to Africa in a few weeks to get his sweet little girl!

Last Sunday, our pastor preached from Luke 9 about the feeding of the five-thousand and how Jesus works through His Church and His disciples to further His kingdom and spread the gospel. He desires to do it that way, even though He is capable of speaking a word and making something happen without any help from anyone. But Jesus chooses to use me, you, all believers, and no amount of money, or no prayer or no person is too small. He puts it all together and makes beautiful things happen, like putting orphans into families.

May I never be surprised at what God can do, but may I always stand amazed when I see what He has done!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We're not talking about a "Cozy Coupe" any more!

Last week, Daniel and I finally were able to find the time to go to the DMV and get Daniel his learner's permit. Yep, that's right, he's now legally allowed to drive a car (with limitations)!

Without allowing myself to get too sentimental about this milestone in my son's life, because I do realize that my son is not the first kid in history to ever get his driver's license, here are some observations/emotional snippets I've had over the past week:

  • I'm not completely sure how it can be possible that a) Daniel is old enough to get his permit and b) I am old enough to have a child that age!
  • While I was waiting for Daniel to take his written driver's exam, the thought crossed my mind that I don't remember anyone (or any parenting books) telling me about how it might feel to be at this point in my child's life. There isn't any "pomp and circumstance" with this milestone, but still causes you to stop and think about all of the other major things that will be taking place over the next couple of years. I sure don't want to "blink and miss it" and want to be the kind of parent that gives my child "wings" and doesn't hold him back unnecessarily.

  • We're not talking about bumper cars or go-carts or even the Little Tykes "Cozy Coupe" that he used to drive around the driveway. He gets behind the wheel of an actual vehicle that goes out on the actual road.
  • Driving takes courage, both on the part of the learning driver and on his parent giving the lessons. I think Daniel would admit that one of the reasons we didn't go get his permit when he first turned 15 last summer was that he had to get his courage up. I'm finding out that as careful a driver as Daniel will most-likely be, I'm going to have to gather up some new courage of my own as he starts driving more and eventually goes out on his own.
  • I'm thankful, once again, for the community that I have around me who help and encourage and walk with me as I parent my son. I have plenty of friends who have gone before me in this process, as well as many who are at the same place in the journey, and I have my family to support me and remind me that they survived similar experiences when I was a teenager.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Phone conversations with a toddler

My two-and-a-half-year-old niece, Erica, has been wanting to talk to me on the phone lately and it makes me laugh every time. Here's a snippet from our convo today:

E:  Hi Aunt Nette! (very loud and enthusiastically)

Me:  Hi Erica! (also with enthusiasm) How are you today?

E:  I brushed my heh (hair).

Me:  You did? I bet it looks pretty!

E:  I'm wearing a headband.

Her mom prompts her to tell me that it's a headband like I sometimes wear.

E:  It's pink!

Me:  That's fun!

E:  (silence)

Me:  Erica, are you ready to say bye-bye?

E:  No, I'm not finished.

E:  (silence)

N:  Are you there?

E: (silence)

Her mom asks her if she's finished and Erica says no again. Her mom says that if she's not going to talk, she needs to hang up.

E:  I'm going to hang up now.
(phone goes dead)

Another time when I was talking to my sister on the phone, Erica was singing, and Jeanette said that Erica would sing me a song after we finished talking. When we finished our conversation, Jeanette handed the phone to Erica:

E:  What's your favorite color, Aunt Nette?

Me:  Well, it's . . .

E:  Pink? OK! (singing) Pink is the color of the rainbow . . .

I guess she didn't want to wait for me to tell her what my favorite color actually is, but that's OK.

I love these phone conversations and hope they continue for a long, long time!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

2011 Scripture Memory #6

I cannot believe that it's already the middle of March! I really don't understand where time goes, but it "marches" on, day by day.

In my quiet time on Monday, I was reading from 2 Corinthians 3 about where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, and I followed the notes that were in the margin and came to some other verses about freedom in Christ. Lately I have been struggling, yet again, with my life-long sin of gluttony, still not getting the concept that I can be free to eat what is good for me and necessary to live, but not over-indulge and put unnecessary weight on my body. It's frustrating and sometimes causes me to despair and feel hopeless about that part of my life, or to feel like I'm unable to be changed.

But that is where the Evil One wants me to be, and he is always ready to feed me lies and try to get me to forget that in Christ, I am free from the bondage to sin. But what Satan forgets or hates to hear is that "if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:30).

So, for my next memory verse, I want to put some ammunition in my head to help me fight against the lies that Satan wants me to believe. I will keep taking one day at a time with my eating and exercising, as well as with other things that I strive to overcome (or be transformed by God's power). I don't want to go back to what I once was (a slave to sin) and I don't want to use my freedom in Christ as an excuse to give in to fleshly pursuits. I will stand firm and remember that I have been set free!

"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love." Galatians 5:13, NIV

Monday, March 14, 2011


It's March Madness and Daniel is holding to a long-standing family tradition of filling out (multiple) brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament. This is serious business!

He is participating in at least two different tournament pools with friends and then he likes to fill out a bracket for himself and then have the one that he fills in with the actual results of the games. He learned all of this from his dad, and if I could put my hands on it, I would post a picture of one of the first years Daniel filled out a bracket. (Why aren't things ever where you think they will be???)

This made me laugh

Well, it has not even been a week since Lent began, but this video is a good representation of how I may have felt, at times, this past week, as I have tried to deny myself something I love . . .

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.

(Much thanks to my co-worker and friend, Sondra, for sharing this with me today!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Real Ash Wednesday

Growing up Baptist among Catholic friends, I have known about the practice of giving up something for Lent, but I have not ever personally participated. Over the past year, God has been teaching me about sacrifice and obedience through fasting. I see fasting as a spiritual discipline that draws me closer to the Lord, when done with the right attitude and motives. So the idea of observing an extended period of sacrifice in order to prepare my heart for Easter had a different meaning for me this year.

Ever since last week's mistaken Ash Wednesday debacle, though, I have been kind of going back and forth in my mind about whether I will definitely observe Lent this year. Mainly, I want to make sure that I am doing it for the right reason, and not just to make myself feel better about myself or come across a certain way to other people. And I want to be sure that I won't fail at this, which I know that there are no guarantees about, except that because I'm human, I probably will have times of weakness and possibly will give in to temptation at some point during the Lenten season.

Tonight I came across a blog post from a local pastor about this subject. Actually, his words were not what encouraged me, but it was the comments of other people about how they plan to observe Lent. If you are interested, I'd recommend reading the comments, and I think that they have helped me to come to a decision about my personal observance. I am going to participate this year, and my hope and prayer is that God will do a transforming work in my heart between now and Easter Sunday.

By the way, if you ask me in person about what I've chosen to give up, I will share it with you, but I think I'd rather leave that out of this post. And just in case you're wondering, I don't plan to go get ashes on my forehead tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Scripture Memory #5

It's almost the third day of March and I realize that I have not posted my next scripture memory verse. One reason is that I am kind of struggling with this project and do not feel like I am making much progress. In other words, I doubt that I could successfully quote from memory any of the four verses that I previously posted. That's not good, but I'm trying to not be so hard on myself. I need to be diligent, but I also don't want to be legalistic about this either. God can and will use my efforts and the verses that I have chosen, regardless of my human failures.

That being said, here's the other reason that I did not post on the first day of March:  I was purposely waiting to post my verse to coincide with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. I have known about Lent for most of my life, but since my denomination doesn't observe it in the traditional sense, I have never personally observed it before now. But I had decided that maybe that would be a meaningful thing for me to do as I contemplate the events leading up to Resurrection Sunday, so I was planning to give up something in my life and was going to start today, March 2. Except that Ash Wednesday 2011 is not until NEXT week, March 9. That's right. My first time observing Lent and I got the date wrong!

So, without further ado, here is the verse I have chosen to truly memorize over the next two weeks:

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7, New International Version

I personally need the Spirit of God to continually give me power, love and self-discipline in my life and I need the reminder that He does this faithfully.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grandma and the GPS

My sister offered to bring her Garmin GPS thingy on our road-trip to Oklahoma City this past weekend. It was pretty helpful, especially when we were wanting to find out how far to the next McDonald's (many reasons why that was a good place for a car load of 2 seventy-somethings, 2 girls in the the "new" twenties, and a baby).

So then when my sister flew the coop (literally . . . she and her baby took an airplane home), she left us with the Garmin. I was driving away from the airport in OKC, asking my dad (who grew up there and also had just picked up a new map of the city) how to get to the interstate, and my mom was in the back seat figuring out how to use the GPS!

Now, with all respect to my mom (and I think she would concur that I am being factual), she is not the most tech-savvy. She has, in the past, had trouble programming the VCR and has limited technical know-how. But let me just say that she was awesome in how she figured out how to program the Garmin! She turned it on and somehow got to the screen where you type in the destination, which this time happened to be her brother's house in Memphis, TN. Her only little glitch was that when she would try to type in his street name, "Cheval", the Garmin was trying to be smart and kept inputting "Chevy Chase." Once she showed the Garmin who was the boss, it straightened up and gave us what we needed to know.

Of course, then I had to listen to "the lady" tell me insistently to "turn left in .3 miles," but it was very helpful to have a little crutch to rely on when we needed to veer off the well-beaten path of Interstate 40. Except when we decided to take a detour to drive through my dad's college campus. Or when Ms. Garmin told us that there was a Chick-Fil-A on the right, but there wasn't.

I asked my mom if she'd like to have a GPS of her own. Before she could answer, my dad piped in, "I already have a lady's voice that tells me what to do!" We got a great chuckle out of that! The next day, after I got back in the car after pumping gas, my mom told me that the Garmin had switched to a man's voice that morning. I didn't immediately clue in to her reference to the fact that my dad had been telling me which way to turn for a few minutes, but once I did, I got another chuckle.

I'm glad to know that my mom is not too stuck in her ways to learn a new trick or two every once in a while. I think she might need a Garmin of her own one day!