Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Beauty of "Chariots of Fire"

This week's Carnival of Beauty is The Beauty of "Chariots of Fire".

This is a movie many of us have seen at least once in our lives and all of us probably recognize the theme song. "Oh, yes, the running movie!" is a comment often heard regarding this film. Yes, it is a running movie, but also so much more.

Keeping God's commandments can be difficult for anyone. Join Susanna as she reflects on the example we see in "Chariots of Fire". Stop on by and read her post. She and I were the only ones this week who chose to write, but feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

When I first saw this listing in A Gracious Home's Carnival of Beauty list for 2007 I was intrigued. I wondered how turn out would be for a film that we are all basically familiar with, but may have not seen in quite some time. I saw it for the first time in the movie theater when it was released in 1981. I was nine years old and our entire family went together. I remember enjoying it, but not really getting it all.

"Chariots of Fire" won four Academy Awards that year including Best Picture and Best Soundtrack. Even now, when I hear the them song I immediately picture the men in white running down the beach. I love the look of pure joy on Eric Liddell's face as he runs.

For those of you who may not remember the details, "Chariots of Fire" is based on the true stories of two runners who were competing for Britain's Team for 1924 Olympics in Paris and the trials they face along the way.

One of the runners, Harold Abrahams, is a British runner who is Jewish. The other runner, is Eric Liddell, who is a Scottish Christian. Abrahams struggle is over anti-Semitism as he runs to show that Jews are equal. Liddell's test comes when he discovers that the trials for the race he's qualified for and expected to win, the 100 meter, fall on Sunday. As a Christian he had already committed to not running on Sundays to honor the Sabbath.

Both men's characters are shown as the film progresses. They are both able to triumph in their own ways. Abraham did not let the growing anti-Semitism stop him. Liddell stood up for his convictions and did not bow to the extreme pressure he faced to run on the Sunday. Abraham did win the gold for the 100 meters at the Olympics and Liddell unexpectedly won the gold in the 400 and set a new world record for the run.

Imagine, your entire country counting on you to run and win the Olympics for them. Imagine, standing strong no matter what the pressure. Imagine, winning what you were never expected to win. Did God honor Eric's honoring of Him? Yes. Will we all be honored in this life when we stand strong for Christ? Probably not, but the promise is there that we will be rewarded in the end. Did Eric think that God owed him the gold? No.

To me, the true beauty of "Chariots of Fire" comes, not from the movie itself, but from the life of Eric Liddell. While the movie ends just after the Olympics, Eric's life continued on. He could have chose to live in Britain with all the honor and glory of being an Olympic champion, but he did not. He story was just beginning.

To understand Eric Liddell's conviction about the Sabbath one needs to know more about his life. The more I learned about Eric the more I discovered that his choice not to run that day was simply born out of all the days he lived before and simply, who he chose to be.

Eric, though a Scotsman, was not born in Scotland. He was actually born in Tianjin, China to Scottish missionaries. He was raised for the first five years in China. When he was six years old he and his brother, Rob, who was eight began boarding school in Scotland and was the tradition of missionaries back then. It was back in Scotland that both Eric and his brother became known for their athletic ability and strong character. He continued living in Scotland throughout his schooling.

His skill in running, cricket and rugby made him well known in Scotland and he began speaking about his faith in Christ at gatherings after athletic events. His popularity drew crowds and he was able to share the Gospel with many people, especially men, who might not have attended a church service, but enjoyed watching the competitions and would stay to listen to Eric share.

He graduated from the university just after the Olympics. After his graduation he chose not to remain as a celebrity in Scotland, but instead moved back to Tianjin, China. It was there in Tianjin and Xiaochang that he worked for many years as a teacher. In Tianjin, he worked at the Anglo-Chinese College. This was not a college as we think, but was for first through twelwth grades. He taught a variety of things including sports to the Chinese boys.

He continued to live his life in China. He married Florence Mackenzie and together they had three daughters. However, times grew even more difficult in China as World War 2 progressed. The Japanese had been fighting and taking over parts of China for many years. The British government told its citizens to leave China. Florence and the girls did, returning to Canada, where her family was from, but Eric chose to remain. In 1943 he, along with the remaining British, Canadian, and American citizens were rounded up by the Japanese and sent to interment camps.

These Japanese internment camps were horrid. The conditions, though obviously not as awful as the Nazi internment camps, were really bad. Those interned suffered greatly. Eric quickly became a leader in the camp trying to improve conditions as he could. He organized the people in ways to help with the meager resources they had. He also taught and entertained the children as best he could. He was often called Uncle Eric by the children who adored him .

It was in the Weihsein camp in 1945 that Eric Liddell died. It is believed that he died of a brain tumor. Since all of those interned suffered from malnutrition and working too hard, his body did not have the strength to fight the tumor. He was buried where he was born; serving God in China.

To me, the Beauty of "Chariots of Fire" is not the music, or the cinematography of the film, although both are excellent. It is the beauty of a life well-lived for Christ. Eric is known for the stand he took for Christ and for the Olympics, and yet those were merely steps along the way of a faithful life. Was he honored as he entered Heaven for his Olympic medals? No. I believe he was honored for the entirety of his life.

The verses from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 seem to exemplify Eric Liddell's life:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Yes, he won the prize at the Olympics, but he also won a greater prize, one that will last forever: eternal life with Christ! Well done, Eric, well done.

My favorite quote from the movie comes when Eric is talking to his sister and says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

God has made each of us for a purpose. He has also blessed us with a variety of gifts. We many not be fast, but there are things that we may do that no one else does. I want to use those gifts and feel His pleasure, don't you?

I had an incredible experience one morning when I was living in Tianjin, China, myself. I had been working as an English teacher in a Chinese elementary school for many months trying to share Christ as I could. This particular morning I was at a Chinese church service. After the service I was outside visiting with a few folks who wanted to talk to me. An elderly gentleman with a smile that shone so brightly came up and began to speak to me in English. After speaking a few moments he shared that his teacher had been none other than Eric Liddell. I got chills.
Here was a man, a Christian in communist China. One who had remained faithful.

This was sixty years after Eric's death, but his influence could still be felt through the life of this man standing before me. Amazing. I have no idea how old this man was, or when Eric had taught him, but here he was standing and talking to me.

It was such an encouragement to me as a teacher and as a Christian to see that our lives do truly live on in the effects that we have on those around us. I never got to lead anyone to Christ that year in China, but I still pray that the seeds I sowed in the hearts of my little students will one day grow into fruition. No one may remember Teacher Kimberly like the world remembers Eric Liddell, but maybe they will remember the love I shared with them, Christ's love.

Be encouraged today. Your life matters. And if you think about it, go watch "Chariots of Fire". It may seem a bit slow by today's movie standards, but it's a great story and one that should live on.

By the way, Janet and Geoff Benge have written a wonderful book for kids on Eric Liddell's life as part of their incredible Christian Heroes: Then and Now series. I've read it several times and enjoy it greatly. Also, there are many great sights out there on Eric Liddell's life if you are interested in more information. He is a hero of the faith for sure.

Picture of Eric Liddell from: Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pumpkin's First Word

Yes, he says DADA, but he says that to everything from Daddy to the dog. The first word he's spoken that we know he know what it means is....tickle. That's right, tickle. It sure beats, "NO!", but is rather funny. Sweetheart's theory is Pumpkin doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so he'd just make his first word neutral. Ok. Whatever the reasoning, it's hilarious! Even Grandma got to hear it the other night, so no, we're not crazy.
What was your baby's first word?

Sallie's Media Meme

I popped over to A Gracious Home and saw that Sallie's posted a new meme.
Join the fun!
Feel free to comment and/or link.

Action – Favorite action movie?
"The Count of Monte Cristo"

Beautiful – Most beautiful performer?
Grace Kelly

Comedy – Favorite comedy (TV or movie)?

"The Incredibles"

Drama – Favorite drama (TV or movie)

"Sense & Sensibility"

Event – Historic event that kept you riveted to the TV?

Favorite – If you could only own and watch one DVD the rest of your life, what would it be?
"Anne of Green Gables"

G – Favorite G rated movie?
"Anne of Green Gables"

Head over heels – Which star were you in love with when you were younger?
None. I never had a crush on a star.

Ice – Did you see the “Miracle on Ice” live (tape delayed) in 1980?

Justice – Did you watch any of the famous O.J. Simpson chase down the freeway?
Just what was on the news the night it happened.

King of the Thriller – Favorite Hitchcock movie?
"Rear Window"

Laettner – Did you see Duke’s Christian Laettner make the winning shot against Kentucky?
Nope. Don't even know who that is!

MP3 Player – Do you own one?
Nope, but Sweetheart has four or five.

Never get enough – Which movie have you watched the most times and how many times have you seen it?

"Anne of Green Gables"; too many to count

Opie – Opie or the Beaver?

Pride and Prejudice – Do you prefer A&E or 2005 release?
See previous post.

Quality – Best TV show of all time?
"I Love Lucy" it was all downhill from there. ;)

Remote control – Who is in charge in your house?
No one. We only use the t.v. for movies, so it doesn't matter. Whoever it's closest to will turn it on.

Super Bowl – Game or commercials?

Television – How many in your house?
One 9" screen tv/dvd player that we pull out to watch movies. My grandma's old one that's on a shelf in the basement. We'll occasionally pull that out if someone else is over to watch a movie with us. It didn't sell at the garage sale, so there it sits.

Ultimate – Who is your favorite movie star?
Audrey Hepburn.

Victory – The best sporting event/game you’ve watched live on TV?
The Olympics back when Mary Lou Retton won.

Walkman – Did you ever own a Sony Walkman?

X – Movie you wish you had never watched?
Tom Jones.

Yesterday – How many hours of media did you consume?

ZZZ’s – Best music to fall asleep to?
I can't sleep with music playing.

Here's a funny media note. Our stuff arrived from the Neilsen TV people yesterday. We did this a few months ago as well. They send you diaries to track what you watch and pay you to do it. We've told them both times when they've called that we don't watch television, but they're fine with that. The diaries have a place in the back to give your comments about television. I love that they give me $30 to rant about television and I don't even have to turn it on!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Carnival of Beauty Info

I am the hostess this week for A Gracious Home's Carnival of Beauty~ The Beauty of Chariots of Fire. Please email your post by Tuesday at 6:00 pm EST. I may be reached at thevictoriantealady at yahoo dot com. Please join in the fun!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Homemaking Meme

This meme is from Sallie at A Gracious Home!

Aprons – Y/N? If Y, what does your favorite look like?

YES! I wear aprons all the time. My current favorite is my quilted rose one is perfect for everyday. I love that it's a full apron and has a big pocket. I have a nice collection of vintage aprons as well in all sorts of colors and styles.

Baking – Favorite thing to bake
A beautiful cake

Clothesline – Y/N?
Yes, but only in the laundry room as we are not allowed outside ones in our neighborhood.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?
Yes! I made Anna's recipe from Pleasant View Schoolhouse's site once.

Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day
Cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?
Yes, we bought a used one years ago that's in the garage. It is really handy.

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?
Yes. I can’t imagine not having one.

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?
The Sparrow's Nest and Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

Ironing – Love it or hate it? Or hate it but love the results?
Hate it! I rarely iron, just a few times a year and usually only my vintage linens. I don't usually buy clothes that need ironing because I know myself.

Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?
Just one? Ok-one in the kitchen, one in my desk, one in my vanity. Oh, dear! Guess I should get cleaning.

Kitchen – Color and decorating scheme
My kitchen is my favorite room. It's big and open and from my island I can see the entire first floor. I have a window over the sink looking into the backyard which was something I always wanted. I don't really have a decorating scheme. The cabinets are cherry, the floors and counters are light. I've got antiques throughout from my jade green teapot cookie jar, to the butter churn I love to use, to all sorts of kitchen antiques above the cupboards. It's really homey.

Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Not having to try and do it all and work outside the home at the same time anymore. I think I like having time to cook and bake best.

Mop – Y/N?
Yes, but not often enough!

Nylons – Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
Washing machine in one of those little net bags

Oven – Do you use the window or open the oven to check?
I usually look in the window, and then open the door.

Pizza – What do you put on yours?
Restaurant pizza-pepperoni Home pizza- grilled chicken, bbq sauce, spinach and mozzarella (last night's dinner!)

Quiet – What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?

Recipe card box – Y/N? What does it look like?
Oddly enough, I've never had one. I put my recipes in plastic pages in a three-ring binder.

Style of house – What style is your house?
New build, older style: big front porch, used brick on the bottom with blue/gray siding above and ivory trim, two story, with a beautiful blue front door.

Tablecloths and napkins – Y/N?
Yes. Every day.

Under the kitchen sink – Organized or toxic wasteland?

Vacuum – How many times per week?
At least once, sometimes twice. It depends on the dog.

Wash – How many loads of laundry do you do per week?
Probably about 8.

X’s – Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?

I have a list in a plastic page protector that I cross off with a dry-erase marker. For things that don't occur everyday I write notes on post-its and mark them off.

Yard Work-

I do the gardening, Sweetheart does the rest.

Zzz’s – What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
Making sure my kitchen is in order and turning on the dishwasher.

Tea Things

I received a phone call the other evening from a friend wanting to know where to buy a teapot and loose tea locally. I gave her some ideas for things that would be close to where we live and not too pricey. There aren't any tea shops in our area at all. The closest place is in downtown Denver although there are several places in Lakewood, Littleton, and my favorite place, The Tea Rose, in Arvada.

I told her that we usually buy our teas on-line, but suggested she check out CostPlus/World Market in the shopping center close by as they do sell a variety of tea products. Our daily teapot is a Bodum glass teapot. Its built-in infuser is wonderful and easy to use. Simply place your loose leaf tea in the infuser. Pour boiling water into the pot. Let the tea steep as long as desired, usually three to five minutes. Then press down the plunger into the infuser and enjoy your tea. The leaves remain in the infuser, but out of the water keeping your tea from becoming bitter. When you have finished the pot of tea, just pull out the entire infuser out of the pot, pull up the plunger and rinse out the leaves. It really is quite simple and makes a great pot of tea.

Our everyday tea is Ashby's Earl Grey. We buy it in bulk from The Cafe Connection. We usually order two of the large bags to save on shipping. When it arrives we fill up our ceramic tea cannister, reseal the bags, and keep them in the pantry to refill as needed. It lasts a long time in spite of how much we drink!

The Ashby's Earl Grey is also available in tea bags as well. We've found it to be considerably less expensive to buy it loose. Also, the tea leaves used is tea bags are usually of a lesser quality than the loose teas.

There are also these nifty things that are available in stores and on-line. They are little bags to put your loose leaves in. They are handy if you aren't using a pot with a built-in infuser. They allow you to use higher quality loose teas, but without the mess. Once your tea in steeped, just remove the bag and toss the whole thing out. I use these when I'm brewing tea in one of my pretty ceramic pots.

Now, what I'd love to get soon is one of these Bodum Iced Tea Pitchers. Your leaves steep in the side chamber as desired to brew iced tea. Simple remove the infuser when done and before serving. This would be nice as the weather grows warmer.

Of course, it's currently snowing here. Again. Good thing I have my cup of tea sitting next to me to enjoy as I type! Have a lovely day and go make yourself a pot of tea!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Thought

Friendship is born at that moment
when one person says to another,

"What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"

C. S. Lewis

I love this quote. Have you experienced this in your own life? I did in the second conversation I had with Sweetheart. The first conversation hadn't gone as well as I was a bit put off by being addressed by a strange gentleman with whom I had no acquaintance.
While that may sound really old-fashioned, you'd need to realize I had just return from a year in China where I didn't have a lot of people, especially men, to speak with socially in English. I was still experiencing reverse culture shock pretty bad and I was attending the event (a Singles Bible Study) we met at with a longtime male friend.
Putting that aside, from the second conversation I knew I'd found someone pretty special who was worth getting to know better. Within a year we were married! That was 8 1/2 years ago and we grow closer together everyday.

"Meeting" the people who visit this blog has been a bit like Lewis' idea for me. I feel like I've met some true kindred spirits in this little corner of the world. For that, I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Harley's Brownies

Yesterday I made a batch of Harley's Brownies for a friend. I've made these once before and I must say this is the best brownie recipe I know. They are so good!
It's from Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader which is a delightful book for Mitford fans, as well as anyone who enjoys good food, usually with a touch of Southern style. (This is definitely not a cookbook for healthy eating!)
Go out and get a copy of this book today. It's filled with wonderful recipes as well as quotes and excerpts from the entire series of books. It's like sitting down at Father Tim and Cynthia's table and visiting with old friends over great food. If it was mentioned in the books, it's probably found in here~with the exception of Percy's Gizzards, although Velma's Dipping Sauce Recipe is given. I'm still waiting for the right occasion to whip up Esther's Orange Marmalade Cake!

Harley's Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup White Lily all-purpose flour (We don't have White Lily in Colorado. I just used regular flour and it turned out fine.)
1 1/2 cups mini Hershey's Chocolate kisses, or milk chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place the unsweetened chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at medium power for 5-8 minutes. Stir and let cool completely. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and creamy, about 10 (yes, ten) minutes. Add the cooled chocolate. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the Kisses and pecans and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth out evenly, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It takes 35 minutes here in the mountains.  Cool completely before cutting into squares. (If you can stand the wait!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Carnival of Beauty

Next week's Carnival of Beauty highlights The Beauty of "Chariots of Fire". I will be the hostess for that week. I do hope you'll join us. I am looking forward to this so much! I've never been a hostess before. Eric Liddell, the person the movie is based on, lived a fascinating life and one I'm looking forward to sharing with you all.


Looking for a quick break to take with a friend? By having a few simple things on hand you can put together a Tea for Two quickly and easily.

I started my collection of teacups and tea pots by finding pieces I liked at thrift stores and garage sales. In fact, some of my favorite things came to me for just a few dollars here and there. Now, my teacup collection is probably around 100 or so cups and saucers. I rarely buy anything anymore. I'd say that probably 30 of my teacups have been gifts, maybe more. It doesn't require that you spend a lot of money to have a few nice things.

In fact, I've been blessed so much by the generosity of others who know I like tea. When I was a teacher I received tea things as gifts from students. My finest tea pot, creamer & sugar came as a class gift one year for my birthday. It's been wonderful to use this set as it brings such fond memories.

I'd recommend starting off with a teapot, two teacups and saucers, and a creamer and sugar if you can. Two little pretty plates are also nice to have for the food. Do they have to match? Not at all! In fact, it's quite charming to set a tea table with all sorts of patterns. You may want to collect a certain pattern if you wish, or maybe just a particular color, or type of flower. I love my white teapots and dishes as well, as they can match everything. Sugar bowls, or just a pretty little bowl, can work fine, as can any little pitcher for milk. Even mugs can do in a pinch if that's all you have to use.

A tea kettle is handy if you have one, but you can simply boil water in a pot or the microwave if you wish. DON'T microwave your teapots, especially if they have gold trim! Use a big measuring cup, or bowl if needed.

While you are boiling the water pour some regular hot water in your teapot and let it sit for a few moments to warm up the pot. When it's warm, pour out the water. Then put your tea leaves, or tea bags in your tea pot and carefully pour the boiling water in letting it steep for three to five minutes. Then remove the tea leaves or tea bags. Remember, keeping the water on the tea leaves or tea bags for too long makes a bitter cup of tea.

Tea sandwiches are easy to put together. I usually just make them up based on what I have on hand. Egg salad always works well in a pinch. Just keep things small and dainty. I posted in December a whole list of sandwich ideas, if you are interested.

Scones are easy to make yourself, but are mixes are also available as are scones from the bakery. Of course, I'm partial to homemade as they are usually lighter in texture and softer. The giant, heavy, dry lumps that are called scones from some bakeries (Starbucks) leave a lot to be desired. If you've never made them yourself, try it! They are great because you can leave them plain or stuff them with whatever you have on hand.

Scones are usually served with jam, lemon curd, and cream. Yes, really Devonshire cream is a nice treat, but not always practical. I usually keep jam and curd in the fridge along with a can of whip cream. It's not as authentic, but works just fine.

Desserts are always nice with tea. I like to have cookies, sweet breads, and madeleinnes in the freezer so that I'm not trying to go nuts at the last minute. But, hey, we've all survived on things from the store as well. A few nice cookies (Pepperidge Farm) and a piece or two of chocolate can go a long way.

It's great if you have pretty serving pieces, but not necessary. Most of my serving dishes are from thrift stores and garage sales as well. However, just arranging things nicely on a plate works just fine as well.

You can have a lovely teatime with two mugs of tea, or coffee, and a plate of cookies. It's the sharing of our lives that makes it special. While it is a lot of fun to go all out and do a really fancy tea, it's not always practical, or necessary. Sometimes time, or money is short. That's alright. Remember, the important thing is that you are taking time with someone. Practicing hospitality and serving someone else is what truly matters. Having a few things on hand to make it easier, makes it more likely that you'll actually do it.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

10 Things I Love That Start With The Letter "E"

I was over visiting at Linda's blog, "Soli Deo Gloria"where she was doing a listing of "10 Things I Love That Start With The Letter "F". She was also doling out letters to people who wanted them. I got "E". She said the vowels were being neglected. I can see why, but here goes, in no particular order:

1. The Everlasting One- God
2. Eleanor Grace - My Maternal Grandmother
3. Effie Blanch- My Paternal Grandmother
4. Eileen Lucille- My Stepmother
5. Elizabeth Bennet- I love Pride & Prejudice!
6. Elegance
7. Earl Grey Tea
8. Edelweiss-Both the flower and the song!
9. E-mail- I love getting e-mail, except stupid forwards that tell me God will only answer my prayers if I forward the e-mail on to 15 people in the 30 seconds. But otherwise, leave a comment and it'll be e-mailed to me-I love that!
10. Edible Flowers- I sprinkle them on everything! (Pansies, johnny jump-ups, nasturtiums & bachelor buttons/cornflowers are what I use a lot fresh from my garden and pesticide-free.)

The image at the top of the post is of my grandmother, Eleanor, and my Grandfather, Kurt. It's a collage my Aunt, Linda Bailey-Zimmerman, did as a part of a book she created on the family. She is an incredible artist. Some of her work can be found here. I am so proud of her. She has such an amazing way of putting images together.


As a Discussion Group Leader (DGL) for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) I am reading the book Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Keri Wyatt Kent. Here is a description from the MOPS website:
"Multitasking is becoming the norm for many women who consistently find themselves trying to juggle kids, errands, church activities, jobs, and relationships. For women who have become caught up in the hectic pace of everyday life, this new book from MOPS author Keri Wyatt Kent offers help and hope.
Based on Jesus' call "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," Breathe shares true stories and practical examples of how to find the rest Jesus promised. This engaging, down-to-earth book challenges the lie that a mother's value is found in what she does rather than who she is. Calling women away from the hectic life, Breathe shows the way to a central place of rest ultimately found in one's relationship with God."

Here is an excerpt from Breathe also from the MOPS site.

"The pace of your kids' lives is the pace of your life. You can't slow yourself down without slowing them down. You can't simplify their lives, especially if they don't yet drive themselves and they can't walk to soccer practice.
You may feel pressured to sign your children up for baby swim classes, preschool language classes, and, by the time they are four or five, competitive sports leagues.
But do you give them time to play?
Not Nintendo. Not Little League. Just play. Kids who are playing are not on a schedule, so they move from one activity to the next and back again without anyone telling them to do so. Do your kids have time to play? Time to climb trees, draw with sidewalk chalk, or dig for worms in the backyard? Time to play make-believe or dress-up, ride bikes or jump rope, play in the sandbox or run through a sprinkler? Or are they (and you) too busy?
My kitchen window looks out on my backyard, and I love seeing my son out there, swinging on the swing, singing and talking to himself about everything and nothing. He is building neuron connections by the minute, sorting out his thoughts to the rhythm of the swing, without any help from me.
One summer I chose to let my kids simply play and not have structures activities. They didn't go to camp or take swim lessons. We had a great time and spent a lot of time together. We let go of our normal structured life for a couple of months. My kids really enjoyed having a lot of free time, but they often had trouble finding someone to play with because all their friends seemed to be at camp for much of the time.
The upside for our family was that my children played with each other and, I think, grew closer as a result. They had to get along, because there was no one else to play with. They also learned to be comfortable being alone, which very few people have the opportunity to learn."

Few, and I mean very few, devotional books for women have grabbed a hold of me the way this book has, and I'm not done yet. It's as though the author has seen inside my heart and seen the way I desire to live! I've been reading, rereading, marking up the book, copying passages in to my journal, and trying to not race through the whole thing. I think rushing through a book on slowing your life down is somewhat counterproductive, don't you? It's so good though, that I want to absorb it all at once.
I want to grab some of the dear ladies I know and say, "See? There is a better way! You can have a life of more than living in your vehicle driving from activity to activity!"
I feel like a complete anomaly in my world and circle of women. I have dropped almost everything from my schedule, and I love it. My one activity is MOPS and I became a DGL so that I would be serving others. Sweetheart and I discussed it together before I decided to join. It's been tough to do, especially when we were homebound all those weeks because of Pumpkin's cast. However, I am glad that I've been a part of it and I hope and pray that I can minister to the other ladies, both at my table and in the leadership circle.
The women I've met are truly wonderful, caring and very capable women. I bet they were very diligent in their jobs before they became Mommies. Many of them seem to be looking at life though, in the same way as you would a job. It's as though everyone is trying to do as much as they can, as fast as they can. Slowing down, stopping to visit with a friend over a cup of tea (or coffee) is seen as just another appointment, something to mark off a to do list. It's very hard to connect with one another because someone is always racing off to the next thing.
I've been told to enjoy my time with Pumpkin while I still have some control over his schedule because once he's older and involved in activities, I won't have any control. I must admit, this comment threw me for a loop. I bit my tongue, but thought: "At what age should I give up authority over my child to a coach? Is four years old early enough for you? Has God commissioned that soccer/hockey/swim/dance/whatever coach to lovingly guide my child's life towards Him? If I don't not have control, who will? What are you thinking?"
I knew that wasn't the time to launch off on my personal beliefs on parenting and living in general. (She had to go anyway to drop off/pick up another child and wasn't really listening anyway.) I also think it maybe better on this one to show by example. We'll see. Luckily, she's in the group reading this book as well. Praying.
I feel like so many thoughts are racing through my mind about all of this! I was even reading excerpts from the book to Sweetheart on Christmas evening feeling like someone was finally able to articulate what I want to say. Luckily, Sweetheart and I are like-minded on this issue. It's not to say that Pumpkin will never be involved in anything, not at all. But as his parents, we will control what and how much he is involved in; looking not only at what is best for him, but for the family as a whole.
I've been thinking of some of the Christmas letters I received with Christmas cards in these last few weeks. May I just say after reading a few of these and seeing all that some people are doing that I was tired? I thought to myself; when do you have time to just be a family? to be a wife? to be with God? I never want to be that busy again.
I know that we each have seasons in our lives that are busier than others. Having just come through the holiday season I think we've all been a little busier than usual! When I was younger, I was incredibly busy. I had many interests, and tried to do all of them. I was probably at my busiest in college, but still did too much later, when I was married and teaching. Teaching took incredible amounts of time and energy, plus we were often required to serve on committees and attend a ridiculous amount of meetings in addition to our classroom work. Plus, I wanted to be in ministry as well and attend Bible studies.
None of these things were bad things to be a part of. Not at all. I just didn't need to do all of them. It's so hard to find a balance, isn't it? By constantly running around, I had myself so busy that I didn't have the time I wanted to spend with God or with my Sweetheart. Life's a lot quieter now, but deeper, and richer.
One of my favorite quotes so far, "You can't love in a hurry." Isn't that so true? Love takes time. I want to have the time to love; love God, love Sweetheart, love Pumpkin, my family, friends, and those God places on my path each day.

She also writes a lot about why we are so busy: to feel important, to define who we are, to run from pain, and more. I'll try to write more about this as I can. I think it's important.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tea and Pregnancy

There was a comment on the last post about tea and pregnancy. I thought I'd just do a posting on what I've found. I am not a medical person, so definitely ask your health care provider. Here's just my thoughts on it.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is recommended for pregnancy. It's not really a tea, but an herbal infusion. Theoretically, it's to strengthen the uterus. Personally, I struggled to swallow the stuff with Pumpkin! And this morning, my friend who had her son last week was carrying a box of it to pass on to someone else. She had been told it would get her contractions going. It didn't help her at all. (Can I just say that in spite of my great love of tea, it was the last thing I was thinking of when I was in labor?!) Health food stores also sell Pregnancy Tea, which list the raspberry leaf as a main ingredient. I tried mixing it with other herbal teas to alter the taste, but still didn't like it. I don't plan on buying any more.

I would think you'd be okay with any decaf tea, in moderate amounts. Tea in and of itself is good for you. It contains antioxidents and all sorts of good stuff. Even black teas, like English/Irish Breakfasts, Earl Grey and Lipton, contain less caffeine than coffee. I personally think it's got to be healthier to have a little caffeine in a natural drink of tea, even with the caffeine, than to be loading up on decaf sodas. Most black teas come in decaf as well, if you look.

Also, since most of the caffeine is released in the first 30-60 seconds, you can cover your tea leaves, or bag with boiling water, let it sit for 30-60 seconds, pour off the water and then fill your cup or pot with boiling water to steep for 3-5 more minutes. You'll still have all the flavor, but with considerably less caffeine.

Most herbal teas are okay, but there are herbs pregnant women should avoid because they can cause your uterus to begin to contract! These herbs include autumn crocus, barberry, golden seal, juniper, male fern, mandrake, pennyroyal, poke root, rue, sage, southernwood, tansy, thuja, and wormwood. (From: I know I use sage in cooking on occasion. I've also seen golden seal, tansy, and pennyroyal in herbal teas, so be sure to read the label before brewing that cuppa!

While writing this, I took a quick tour around the internet looking up "tea and pregnancy". One site will say to avoid green teas, and the next site says green teas are fine! One site said tea can disrupt your body's ability to absorb iron, the next site up to three cups (of tea or coffee) a day should be just fine! Hmm. All the information at our fingertips is amazing, isn't it? And overwhelming, and contradictory!

I think, like most things in pregnancy and life in general, moderation and common sense are essential. People will always have their advice and it will usually contradict what the last person told you! What to do? I don't know, but I'll think about it while I go brew a cup of (decaf) tea myself. Then, I'll ask my midwife at my first appointment what she thinks. Let's hope it's not to drink the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Today's Tea Post

I received my Republic of Tea catalog the other day including a sample of their British Breakfast. I like English Breakfast teas as they are usually a blend of unflavored black teas. Think of our Lipton, only...better. I do prefer loose leaves for tea as it does make a better cup of tea, but I like to share about different types of bagged teas as they are more accessable to most people.

According to the catalog, British Breakfast, "is a robust blend of quality black teas, hearty enough to make any Brit smile in the morning. This is no mass-marketed blend, but a savory mixture of select China, India, Ceylon and Kenya leaves that sets a new teaste standard for this classic beverage."
I'm not used to savory as an adjective for tea, but I would agree about the robust part! It has a delightful aroma smelling of pure tea leaves. The color of the brew is a rich, pleasing one. It has a clean, fresh taste with a pleasant aftertaste.
This is one I'd recommend if you like black tea, but want to try something a little new. It's really good. It would make a good morning tea with a bit of a kick to it for those of us who may need a little help getting going in the mornings, that said, I'd probably buy the decaf version myself as caffeine and pregnancy aren't a good mix. It would stand up well to a bit of milk and sugar, if you were so inclined.
Of course, it would also work as a good mid-afternoon pick up with a plate of scones. Mmm...
I went over to their website at and found out this interesting anecdote about the tea:

"This blend is our version of the popular blend called “English Breakfast” which is a name tea marketers created to describe Britain’s popular morning blend. Usually this blend has a substantial amount of China teas as opposed to “Irish Breakfast” which has dominance of India teas. "
I had wondered what the difference was, as I knew they were both black tea blends. We learn something new each day! Why don't you take a break, brew a cup of tea, and relax and stay awhile?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

National Hot Tea Month

Thanks to Kelli I was reminded that this is the National Hot Tea Month. I've just made up a pot of our everday tea, Ashby's Earl Grey, and am thinking of ways to celebrate this wonderful event. I'm thinking of daily tea posts, tea book reviews, some yummy recipes, and more. I think I'll make a different type of tea each day & review them. Is there anything you'd like to see? Leave a comment, or a message in the c-box & I'll see what I can do!
Let's start off with listing what your favorite tea is. Maybe we'll find a new favorite! Want to join in the fun? Let me know if your doing anything for NHTM & I'll link to you.

Special thanks to
this site for the icon posted above!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tea Time Menu

It's been awhile since I did a tea post, so I thought I'd better get going. I was perusing a book I have entitled Tea Time by Roni & Nancy Akmon. There are many lovely recipes in this book, plus with this enchanting Harrison Fisher illustration on the cover, how could we go wrong?

I found this book when I was out to tea with a friend, Gayle, at a lovely little tearoom that used to live in Niwot, Colorado called Reverend Taylor's Attic. The owner, Cee, has since moved on to open her own Bed & Breakfast with tearoom in Longmont, Colorado. I will get there someday!

Towards the back of the book is a listing of several Tea Time Menus. I thought the "Cottage Tea" sounded delightful this morning.

Cottage Tea
Rosemary Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Curried Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
Cinnamon Pecan Cream Scones
Clotted Cream & Jam
Date Filled Cookies
Pot of Tea

Sigh. Of course, I don't have most of the ingredients, and even if I did, I don't think "eating for two" should be "eating for ten". Plus, I doubt this would fit into the Body for Life eating plan. Good thing there are "free days"!

I may do chicken salad or egg salad for lunch, though. I mix it with blended cottage cheese instead of mayonaisse which really reduces all the bad stuff. For the egg salad I would toss most of the egg yolks and just add one or two to the batch for color. It's the little things. Boy, the smoked salmon sounds good. Of course, I'm sure once I smelled it I would change my mind.

Now This is Hospitality!

I just read this story in the Denver Post on-line. These are some excerpts:

About 40 miles west of Clayton on New Mexico's lonely northeastern plains, a blizzard introduced 44 motorists stranded on U.S. 56 to the Glovers on Friday afternoon.
For two nights, the Glovers' small adobe ranch house - three bedrooms, one bathroom - sheltered the assorted 44 strangers, ages 4 to 70-something.
The snow began falling Thursday night, and it kept blowing through until late Saturday.
Christine and Randy Glover had no idea Friday morning that distressed travelers were nearby. They were talking to each other on handheld radios when they intercepted a radio conversation between two cars that had been traveling together before the storm forced them to stop.
"You could hear them, but you couldn't see them," said Christine, 34. "They were only about 150 yards from our house. They didn't even know there was a house behind the big trees. They couldn't see the barn. It was pretty much a whiteout."
The Glovers began talking by radio to 25-year-old Clayton Shumaker of Miami, Okla., who explained the situation. A minor accident had blocked the roadway. Traffic had crawled to a halt behind it. Then drifting snow trapped everyone.
"We continued to talk to them over the course of two or three hours," Christine said. "They thought the line of cars would get unstuck and continue on."
But it quickly became clear that there was nowhere for anyone to go. The Glovers tried to give the Shumakers directions to their home, but the only observable landmarks were white shapes near other white shapes.
"We finally figured out where they were. Clayton got his family settled in and asked if he could tell everybody else," Christine Glover said. "He got his goggles on and went back out to find more."
The Glover family didn't hesitate to welcome everyone, even as the house got more and more crowded. The closest neighbors were five miles away.
"It was just flat a need that needed to be met," said Randy Glover, 39, Christine's husband. "These people weren't here by choice."
Their new guests were parceled out among three beds, a recliner, the sofa and floors. Randy Glover slept on the kitchen linoleum.
"When we were all bedded down, it was sometimes hard to find a path to walk," Christine Glover said.
There was no whining, no tears, no grumbling. A little loud snoring, perhaps, but that was it.
Lance Glover, 9, and little sister Linzie, 3, thought the blizzard and their guests were "so much fun."
"We laughed, and we played dominos and cards," Christine Glover said. "The mood of the group was very loving. We told stories. We got to know each other. We met some lifelong friends."
When the roads became passable Sunday, many guests were eager to be on their way, but some lingered until Monday.
"We kind of missed them all when they left," Christine Glover said. "I'm having kind of an empty-nest thing. I've been waiting my whole life to get a chance to help people like that."
How great that they didn't worry about how it would all work out, or if the house was clean enough, or if the house was too small with just one bathroom! Instead, they opened their home and everyone was blessed for it! Good lesson for all of us to reach out to those around us. You might not be trapped in a blizzard of snow, but maybe your blinded by other things around you that keep you from serving others, maybe family, even strangers.
Lord, open the eyes of our hearts and help us to open our homes as a refuge to those around us.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Carnival of Beauty~The Beauty of a New Year

I love celebrating the New Year. I'm not into staying up all night at wild parties, by any means. (See earlier post on how we spent New Year's Eve!) I think what I like is taking the time to reflect on the past year, and dreaming about a brand new year.
As I think back over 2006, I smile. It was a wonderful year for me. It was my first year at home being a wife and a mother. It was the first year I didn't work outside the home. I felt so much more peaceful and not as torn as I did as a teacher for all those years. I've tried to learn how to be the best wife and mother I could be. Sweetheart enjoyed it too, as I was more able to keep house and cook dinner and be available to him than in years past.
I also learned how to be a mother. No, I don't know it all and usually, just as I'd feel like I was really getting a handle on some aspect of it all, something would change. But both Pumpkin and I survived and even thrived.
There were difficulties in this year, too. Feeling like I couldn't "do it all" even though I had more time. Never having a day off. Sleep deprivation. Post-natal hormonal adjustments. Loneliness. Pumpkin's broken leg and subsequent fallout we're still dealing with.
But as I look to 2007 I am excited. I am reminded of Anne's comment to Miss Stacey, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it." I think that way of the New Year: it is fresh, with no mistakes in it (yet!). What a joyful promise of hope and New Year brings!
I'll spend time this week writing down my dreams and goals for the New Year. I'm not one to just do that quickly I prefer to take my time, think and pray. Will I make a formal list of New Year's Resolutions? Probably not. It'll look more like a mix of ideas, dreams, goals, but not a list of do's and don'ts.
I am also working on a new daily, weekly and monthly schedule of routines. I'll spend a lot of time on this as there are new things I am adding to the mix this year including Precepts Bible Study on my own, and a modified Body for Life program of healthy eating and exercise. Also, Pumpkin's schedule changes and I'm adjusting for that as well.
I love this time of reflection. I think it's important. I'm also wanting to set aside time this year for Beauty itself. I want to culitivate Beauty in my life and home. I have some projects and crafts I'd like to do over this New Year that I need to plan for as well.
I usually take time in January to check out gardening books from the library as well. While we are still buried under more than a foot of snow here, I can dream about the beauty of my garden that will come later this year. I can sketch and watercolor my ideas in my journal filling it with beauty as well.
My heart is also rejoicing at the new life growing inside of me in this New Year. What could be more beautiful than that? What a beautiful new hope for 2007 we have been given!
I don't have anything profound or wise to share really, just the great feelings of hope and joy I'm experiencing as I think about a fresh start, a new beginning. Isn't a new year a wonderful gift from God? I am reflecting on how I might grow closer to Him and serve Him more in this New Year. What about you?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Pride & Prejudice

Edited on 01-20-07 to add: We watched "Tom Jones" the other night. Kept waiting for it to redeem itself. Still waiting. I cannot recommend this movie at all, and regret having seen it at all. I have no idea if it is true to the original 1700's novel, or if it was "updated" for modern audiences. (I know a version of "Mansfield Park" was made a few years ago where they turned Jane Austen into a rated "R" movie. I personally skipped that one.) There was no rating on "Tom Jones", but I'd peg it at an "R" rating. Still haven't watched "Jane Eyre" or "Ivanhoe".

Sweetheart and I (and Pumpkin between sleeps) celebrated the New Year in our own, quiet way. For Christmas I was blessed by Sweetheart with not just the A&E "Pride & Prejudice" movie I was hoping for, but the entire Romance Collection: "P&P", "Emma", "Jane Eyre", "Tom Jones", and "Ivanhoe".
We started "P&P" up about three o'clock with Cranberry-Orange Scones fresh from the oven and a pot of Earl Grey tea. What fun! We watched all six hours off and on (as necessitated by Pumpkin). We finished it around eleven p.m. It was wonderful.
Sweetheart had given me the 2005 "P&P" for my birthday last year, which I've watched a ton. We also have the soundtrack which plays all the time in the car and at home. I've also read the book several times. Can you tell I like this story? I've never seen this version before, but I had heard how wonderful it was from so many Janeites. I must confess I enjoyed it quite a lot.
I was struck though, while watching the movie last night that both versions had some wonderful parts. My wheels started turning and I thought it would be fun to combine the best of both versions. Feel free to comment with your thoughts and ideas.

Soundtrack: 2005, definitely

Costuming: A&E (2005's were dreadful)

Scenery: 2005 (Especially the Peak District and the scenes around Longbourne)

Elizabeth: A&E (Except the various proposal scenes, in which I preferred Keira's performances.)

Mr. Darcy: Hmm, tough choice, I'm sure others will disagree, but 2005.

Mrs. Bennet: 2005 (A&E's got on my nerves, so shrilly.)

Mr. Bennet: A&E

Jane: 2005

Lydia: She is such an unsympathetic character, it's hard to like either actress.

Kitty: 2005

Mary: 2005

Charlotte: A&E (Though it's still hard to see why anyone would marry Mr. Collins!)

Mr. Collins: 2005 (Could A&E's been any creepier? Too greasy.)

Mr. Wickham: See note on Lydia.

Mr. Bingley: I'd vote for 2005, Sweetheart for A&E.

Caroline Bingley: 2005

What say you?


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