Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Bigger Last Time

Audrey is a senior and since graduation is essentially a month away we've begun the firsts of the lasts. Actually all year has been a series of little lasts. Last first day of school, last marching band, last pep band, last musical, last play, last something or other. but this afternoon a red-faced, watery-eyed daughter made her way upstairs because tonight was the last time her church small group would meet together for the school year and she would not be a part of it as a student after this. This was a bigger last time.

After some spectacular teenage feelings (they can be big at times) and a good sit on the back of her car listening to moody music, I beckoned her to come out to the garden and just be with me. Her dad was doing some extra special work for me and I was digging in a fair amount of compost and peat moss and really, there's nothing better to soothe one's feelings than a good dusting of garden soil and the ear splitting sound of a drill into metal. After that, she summoned the mental and emotional strength to play a little catch with her brothers (and then I had all the big feelings).

It's a bit hard to wrangle one's thoughts and feelings in the kind of days we are now walking. After getting on her reminding her about her laundry (Dear Lord, the laundry. Amen.) I pulled her aside for a few thoughts. 

I told her that this is what she had been working towards for the last seven years in youth group and small group and that God has been faithful in all these years. I borrowed from this morning's message of excitement, fear and gratitude and showed her that the same holds true for her. She is so excited for college and the next part of her life (journey, path, all the hip words). She is fearful. You don't show up for college knowing how to do college. I told her to be honest with the other girls in small group about this. Don't we all believe that somehow, if we could just get to this X marks the spot place, life would be smooth going and then we get there and there is still fear and still faith to step out on? Yup. So ask the girls to pray for her to be bold and courageous. And then there is gratitude. I didn't have to explain this aspect to her.

Then I shared from my recent readings in Matthew 8 and gave her three more words. Faith, obey and unbelief. These were my simplified thoughts of the stories in that chapter. Again, returning to faith- believe. The man with leprosy. The centurion with the sick servant. They had a lot to lose (fear) but their faith in Jesus saved them. Obey- Almost all of us usually want some perfectly scripted scenario played out before us in a vision, dream or text with cute emoji's but Jesus tells us to obey. Read the Word. Do what it says. There are so many questions teenage girls ask and want to know and want to know the will of God and pursue God and on and on (I love them bunches.) but, goodness, the answer is usually to obey. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says." James 1:22. Finally, the opposite of faith and obedience is also true- unbelief. The last scene we are left with in Matthew 8 shows the townspeople driving Jesus away because their fear lead to them unbelief instead of faith. That can be true of us, as well.

Those things said, I gave her another encouraging, understanding hug and let her get her thoughts settled before leaving for small group. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Maple Cookies and Candied Bacon, Oh My!

Oh my! may have been your first words after seeing theses pictures. I totally get it. I do. 

Vanilla Chip Maple Cookies from Taste of Home. The first time I made these, I thought they were my favorite candy, maple nut goodies, but in cookie form. The link will take you to the recipe I use but here are a couple of tweaks that I think would elevate this cookie even more. Toast the pecans before adding them to the dough and on top. A toasted pecan is just a gift and would add a bite of crunch. The second tweak would be to add a bit of coffee to the frosting, a la Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. 

The next one with the bacon? Well, friends, this is something worth trying. This is what I call Candied Bacon. I used this recipe. What is happening on the right side of the photo is this- I dipped the candied bacon into melted chocolate. Yes, yes I did. A bunch of us did and none of us are sad about it. (Jessica and I hosted a shower for Danny's bride, Morgan, and served chocolate fondue.) My only advice about the candied bacon is to watch it very carefully towards the end of its baking time otherwise there is a high possibility your neighbors will witness you flying out the front door with a smoking baking sheet in an attempt to keep the smoke alarms silenced.   

(Also, let's do a little tiny handclap because I figured out how to post pictures again!)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Boys, They've Been Racing

The racing season has started. If you're new here and wonder what racing season I'm talking about, its the IERA hare scramble series. We ride dirt bikes in this family and we like it.

Below I have posted both Ben's and Luke's latest races from Prophetstown, IL which was held in March. March. I can't even remember March anymore.

First off is Luke's race. He's going to be racing more this year. He's fitting the 65 bike better and has gained quite a bit of confidence in just a short amount of time. His race is much shorter than Ben's but more importantly, Ben helped him record a voice over for the entire video, which is about thirty minutes long. If you've watched any of Luke's other races, you know he is vocal during his rides. He talks, he sings, he makes motorcycle noise while on the motorcycle so thirty minutes of commentary is no problem for him. He would be thrilled if you would leave comments or likes on his video. Yours truly makes a vocal appearance as does the vacuum. It's just the sort of high quality you expect from top film makers who still live with their parents and have chores to do.  

Ben's race video, while not long in words is just longer, around an hour. Ben likes to sum his up as quickly as possible. Most notably for his race this time is that he got the hole shot* and rode the entire race up front with no traffic to pass. All is good until his rear brake fails and he discovers that his kick start is missing and that's it. The end. He didn't even finish. I'm telling you now just in case you don't want to spend an hour of your life watching trees whiz past you from a helmet's view. I should know. I've spent many an hour doing just such. The boys, particularly Ben, can spend hours watching the same race they just raced

To prompt you a bit more, Ben has extra stuff added to his video. They show the speed he's going and also the route. To do so requires him to ask for special permission to wear my Garmin watch which is now dirtier in two races than in the last two years and sync it to an app or something or other. I don't know. I discovered what it was that Ryan Dungey was using and told the boys. That's when the whole watch thing started. A bonus is that I might get a new running watch out of this. 

Bill is also racing but doesn't wear the GoPro. Instead you can use your imagination that he sits on a bigger bike and the view is higher up but the view is the same. 

As the race season continues, Ben will be uploading more of the races onto this YouTube channel. You'll get to see more of the race course than I do. 

*hole shot- to be the first rider past a designated hole, pole or other such thing