May 26, 2014

Storing kids' art and backing up your computer

Recently my mom gave me a huge box where she had stored all of my art projects, books, programs, letters and notes from childhood. I enjoyed going through them and had quite a few laughs.

Anna and Kimberly have already started doing some 'art' at school and I was never sure where to store it. I don't want a lot of papers accumulating and I know the pile will only get larger, but I also don't want to chuck everything in the garbage and never see it again.

I decided to continue with my past post about going paperless and I found another use for my scanner: saving the girls' art projects! I created a folder for each girl and within them separate folders for each year, and I've started compiling all of their art in digital form by scanning them into my computer. This way I don't have to hold on to all of the individual pieces, only a few that I want to display. I'm thinking that I will compile all kinds of art, notes, certificates (the nice thing about scanning is that you can shrink larger papers down into smaller picture files) and other sentimental tokens and put them into a large photo book down the road. Wouldn't it be fun to have a nice book to look through down memory lane instead of piles and piles of papers!

Here are some examples of art I've already scanned. Be sure to organize them by date so you know he child's age at the time:





When you start storing important documents on your computer you always run the risk of losing them. I highly recommend getting a good backup system on your computer. You want one that backs up continuously rather than requiring you to back up manually. I've tried several and the one I've been most happy with is Backblaze. It's super easy and is constantly backing up your files without slowing down your computer too much. If you were to lose anything on your computer they would send you a zip drive with everything on it. It's about $50 a year for the service. A small price to pay for piece of mind (if you want to sign up,  you can get a free month).

May 23, 2014

What's For Dinner: Shrimp pasta

This is one of my go-to meals to bring when people have new babies (or when we have last minute dinner guests) because it's super easy, quick, simple.

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of medium shrimp
3 T fresh lemon juice
1 pound of bowtie pasta
4 oz feta cheese
Green onions, chopped
Not shown: garlic and small package of pine nuts

Cook the entire box of pasta until tender. While its cooking, peel and sauté the shrimp with some olive oil and garlic until pink (thaw the shrimp the night before by putting it in the fridge. If you forget it only takes 10 minutes or so under cold running water).

Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta and shrimp. Mix in the olive oil mixture. Stir in the green onions, pine nuts, and feta cheese. We eat it warm but it tastes fine cold, too. Serves 6.

May 22, 2014

The Kingdom

People who set out to follow Jesus often refer to The Kingdom. I've always thought of the future Kingdom as the way things will be when Jesus comes back to reign over mankind. All things will healed and as God intended them to be; no pain, no suffering, no sin. Only God on his throne reigning above his perfect creation who has been made whole. Christians talk a lot about the Kingdom... our desire for the Kingdom to come and advancing the Kingdom as an essential role of who we are.

I've always believed that we advance the Kingdom through tangible actions: sharing the gospel, providing for the poor, facilitating physical, emotional, and spiritual healing, and other acts of service and evangelism. Before he left this earth, Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations.

Advancing the kingdom is important to me as a believer. It's what I was created for. Life makes sense when you devote your time to what you were created to do. I'm reminded of the many facets of interning at Wesley when I spent an entire year serving the students at University of Georgia, missions to Guatemala, inner-city LA, and Peru, and serving at the children's home in India. Before I had young children tangible acts of furthering the Kingdom were a regular part of my life. But now that I have two little ones who require my constant time, energy, and attention that has all changed. I don't have time to serve at the church in a meaningful way right now. I don't participate in missions and I don't purposefully set out to serve the needy, though I try to make the most of any opportunity that comes my way. That's the honest truth. Some say that there is always time to make more commitments to serve, to take part in different things... but for me, I am already stretched thin and easily overwhelmed when life is too busy. I'm a big-time introvert and by nature a Mary (one who values time and intimacy with God) rather than a Martha (one who prefers to be busy doing things for God). I'm not willing to put myself in the position where I am run completely ragged out of a sense of obligation. Yet, I find myself frustrated and empty because advancing the Kingdom is such an important part of who I am. How can I resolve in my heart not advancing the Kingdom in a purposeful, intentional way? Some say that you are advancing the Kingdom by taking care of your children and serving your family... but that has never fully resonated with me. It has never been enough to satisfy my soul's desire.

Lately, I've felt the burden to re-think my understanding of what it means to advance the Kingdom. I've started to wonder if advancing the Kingdom is more than giving, serving, speaking and sharing. Yes those things facilitate the Kingdom coming in a physical way- by the gospel being demonstrated in word and action- but what if there is more to it? What if advancing the Kingdom happens in an unseen way each time we choose God ... each time we honor him in our lives- not just in physical actions but in our thoughts, wills, and emotions? What if choosing good over evil, no matter the form it takes, actually advanced the Kingdom? Maybe every time we resist evil and cling to good the Enemy is defeated in some small way.... and the Kingdom advances.

Maybe I can advance the Kingdom a hundred times in one boring day at home.

I'm certainly no biblical scholar. I have no desire to be. I'm always wary of those who purport to have t.h.e.'biblical perspective'. A good deal of scripture is a mystery and only God holds the complete key. He reveals himself and truth to us as we seek him, but I truly believe that we should approach things humbly and with fear (the good kind). One day we will stand before God and be held accountable for the things we taught in his name; not something to take lightly. So I can't say I hold the answers, but I also don't believe anyone holds the answers. The Kingdom is a mystery. What God is teaching me is to be content in believing that right now, in my crazy life with two small children, the Kingdom is being advanced. Not just through the teaching, discipline, and serving of my children and family but through each instance that the Enemy is driven back and God is put in his proper place as Lord over my life. This is the season God has me in. I know there will be future seasons of serving in a more intentional, visible way, but for now, I will rest in the unseen victories.

Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”j
Mark 4:26-29

May 20, 2014

As life passes us by...

It's hard to believe that Anna is three years old. In some ways life has flown by the last three years while in others it has seemed to trudge on. Such is the ebb and flow of life. I've always loved the book of Ecclesiastes and its emphasis on seasons. With every season for mourning, there is a season for rejoicing.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1
God doesn't promise us there will be no sorrowful seasons, but that there is always Hope on the horizon, and often this hope is magnified and our reward of glory that much greater because of the sorrow we passed through on our way there.
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10
Two years ago this was our baby girl:
And here she is today as beautiful, vibrant, and alive as can be:
I'm so thankful for the life God has brought into our lives and for every step of the road in mothering her.
Here are some of our latest life pictures:


My first 10K: The Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run

My sister and her new family's visit from Boston.

Cousins and a very happy Kimmie.

Anna's 3rd birthday


So thankful for these two 'peas in a fibular hemimelia pod'.

New 'do. Short hair has revolutionized my life. Why did it take me this long to realize this?

Missing Grandma and Pi's bi-monthly visit full of love and attention.