Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Genetics are a funny thing. . .

Sometimes I wonder about God's sense of humor. And just in case you doubt he has one, just ask any parent of a child older than about a year old. Inevitably by that age there has been at least once that the parent has gazed with awe and wonder at said child and thought, 'God's getting me back for. . .' whatever.

Genetics are an amazing web of intricate combinations that are far beyond my comprehension. And sometimes, just sometimes, you find a genetic code that is so strongly stamped onto a person that you just have to look on in amazement.
And if you doubt that last statement, go back and ask the same parent again.

Most of us have at least one thing that we always swore would never happen when we became parents. In my case, one of those sworn to avoid things was my mom's standard answer for any question. "You'll have to ask your daddy." Translation, NO. See, Daddy worked at night for most of my early life. This meant when I got home from school, he had just left for work. And when I got up in the mornings, he was sleeping. So any request for permission had to be planned days in advance, which I never had the forethought to do.

For most moms, a stark reality hits us at the most inopportune moment and when we least expect it. Usually it's about mid sentence into what is about to be a tirade of warnings to a child who has done some dastardly deed or has uttered a forbidden rebellious statement that probably deserves a soapy dinner. And once it happens, you can never un-remember it. It's that moment when you open your mouth and your mother comes out. It just happens. And it's a frightening feeling. You are all at once a child in trouble and the old lady that you thought you'd never be.

But I really intended for this to be about something I did yesterday. I admittedly have the attention span of a flea sometimes. I can sit for hours and work on a project. But if I'm trying to multitask on chores, I walk away to get something and get distracted and forget what I was doing. I'm acutely aware of this brain malfunction. So I try really hard not to do two things at once that could be a problem if you forget to complete one of them. Like ironing. Or frying bacon.

Yesterday I was boiling chicken for soup. It was going to take a while. So I decided to do something else while I waited. I decided to wash a couple things that needed to be hand washed, which meant stopping up the bathroom sink and running water in it. It doesn't take long to fill a sink in a RV. But while I was waiting, I thought I'd take the two steps to the kitchen to check on the chicken. And I got distracted.

For the record, there is no overflow hole in the bathroom sink in our RV.

Now about that genetic code . . .

One of my daughters came in to pick up the grandkid after the water incident. She went to the bathroom. Being well trained by her mother, she wanted to wash her hands. But the bathroom sink was full of everything that was thrown in there off the counter to get it out of the standing water that had overflowed from the sink.

So I told her to wash her hands in the shower. But I forgot the shower floor was covered with wet towels used to sop up the water from the counter and out of the carpet where it spilled over to the floor. There was also a small pillow in there that my hubby had thrown in because the grandkid spilled soup on it.

I, like any resourceful mother, dug out the hand sanitizer in the pile in the sink and just squirted it on her hands and told her to go home and wash her hands.

By this time she was laughing hysterically. Not so much at the situation as at the fact that she tells people all the time that she got it honestly. If ever there was a child that was stamped with her parent's DNA, it's that girl. Bless her heart.

In other news, the chicken noodle soup came out fine.

Blessings,

Renea

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Testimony . . .

Right now I have about a dozen posts that are still drafts for one reason or another. Some are awaiting pictures. Some I just haven't finished. And some I'm struggling to find the right words to convey the message I want to give. This is one of those posts.

About a week ago my pastor asked me about giving my 3 minute testimony in church, then expanding that testimony into 30 minutes for Celebrate Recovery. I've been helping with Celebrate Recovery for just a couple of months. The Lord had clued me in that giving my testimony was coming. As soon as my pastor mentioned it to me, the nightmares started. Working with Celebrate Recovery has brought up so many memories that I would rather keep buried, hidden deep in the past. Things that are no longer a part of my life. Hurts that God has healed me from, but still bring feelings of shame and guilt when I dwell on them. There was so much damage that was done by poor choices I made. And fears that linger from damage that was done to me by others, those scars that fade with time but still sting when reopened.

Nightmares were a regular part of my life for a long time. For about two years after I was raped, I dealt with terrifying nightmares at least several times a week. They usually come back any time I have to open that wound again and talk to people about rape. Over the years, I've learned how to combat them. I know that prayer and fasting are the answer. But I didn't do that this time. For about a week, I just let them fester like an open wound. A week of sleepless nights. A week of missed opportunity to give my heavenly Father victory over my past. Again. Sometimes we are such lost sheep, even after we have been found. For me, I often find myself in a new pasture, or wandering in an old pasture that I thought had been destroyed, lost and afraid again.

Then I remember. I recall those promises I've learned to depend on.

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;
the old things passed away;
behold, new things have come." 
II Corinthians 5:17

I am reminded by my precious Savior that his love is sufficient, that his grace has covered my past, that I am no longer that lost sheep, that his plans for me are all good, that he hears me when I call to him.

And he answers.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart."
Jeremiah 29:11-13

As I've been praying about what I should share in a 3 minute testimony, I've struggled with what I should say. How do you convey years and years of foolish choices, a broken, destroyed life, AND God's grace that redeemed that life 26 years ago - in 3 minutes? I've been reading 'The Lent Project' by Journey Church. On Day 22, the prayer at the end of the devotion concluded with this sentence.

"Make me so focused on Your message that I stop feeling the need to spread my own."

And it hit me. Like God just reached down into the depths of my soul and clarified everything. My testimony isn't about mistakes I've made, my failures, my poor choices or insecurities, my broken life! My testimony is about what He has done in me, His healing, His redemption, His undeserved mercy. Three minutes certainly isn't long enough to recount all the amazing blessings He has poured into my life in the last 26 years. But 3 minutes of His miraculous works beats 30 minutes of my failures any day!

I pray that anyone reading this has found the beautiful healing love that can only come from a perfect God. If you are struggling to find God's grace, please know that He is pursuing your heart. His relentless love is infinite and unconditional. He will never fail you or desert you. And I would love to share with you how he has radically changed my life! Feel free to message me any time.

Blessings,
Renea

60 and Counting . . .

"Age ain't nothin' but a number."

I don't know who said that. But it is true. As we age our bodies tend to become increasingly uncooperative, our minds forget more than we remember, and our spirits don't seem to have quite as much passion for things we used to think so important. But other than those little details, I haven't really found aging to be such a bad thing. And there are certainly some advantages I hadn't expected, like I can honestly say no to chaperoning youth lock-ins because I'm just too old. And since the kids are grown, I get to play with the grandkids and send them home spoiled. lol.

Last month my hubby celebrated his 60th birthday. He was a little bummed about thinking he was getting old. So my family and I threw a big surprise birthday party for him. I wanted him to see how much he is appreciated by so many people. He doesn't really like to be the center of attention. But I figured with lots of friends and family around he would forgive me. It was great to see all the people who came out to show him they cared. He's a pretty super guy, besides being ridiculously talented musically, really smart, and an accomplished computer nerd, he's just an all around nice guy. Plus he's an amazing hubby and father. Here are a few pics from the party.
Not only was the party great, but the fact that due to his crazy schedule, I couldn't schedule the date and time until about a week before the party, we still managed to keep it a surprise!


And of course there was food! My mom smoked pork loin and I made blackbean chicken soup. It was quite an adventure keeping preparations for a party for 50 or so people a secret!


I adore this guy. Seriously.

Now, about that cake . . .
I you've seen my Instagram feed, you probably know that I affectionately call by hubby #MyPianoMan.
I made the cake using my favorite pound cake recipe, Paula Deen's Mama's Pound Cake. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/mamas-pound-cake-recipe.html
I made three 9 inch square layers. The top one I cut in half. My piano man sometimes plays two keyboards at a time. Hence, the stacked look. It would have been more realistic made with chocolate fondant, but since I'm allergic to chocolate, the black keys were about all I could handle. lol! Making this cake definitely did not take as many steps as the Frozen cake I made for the granddaughter. It actually was pretty simple.

I iced it with this: http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Buttercream-Icing

Then I covered it with the marshmallow fondant recipe from this blog:
http://rosebakes.com/how-to-make-homemade-marshmallow-fondant-yummy/

Yes, I mixed it with a spatula, just like she says. I usually use my heavy duty mixer. But I actually found this to be much easier than I thought it would be. The only thing I found difficult with this recipe was, after letting it rest for 24 hours, it was really hard. Like so hard I couldn't knead it in one big ball with my arthritic hands. I had to break off pieces and knead a little at time. But one I got it kneaded, it was great to work with. Her site has lots of helpful tips and techniques.

The black piano keys are Kit Kat bars dipped in Wilton melted black candy melts, available at Michaels. I placed the Kit Kat bars on a wire cooling rack and spooned the melted candy melts over them. Then I smoothed the top with the back of the spoon. After they dried for a while and started to set, I lifted them off the cooling rack by sliding a butter knife under them and moving them to a clean spot on the rack. Once they were set, I just moved them to wax paper and refrigerated them until I was ready to use them. You can lift up the candy that dripped down under the wire rack and reheat it. Before I put the Kit Kats on the cake, I scraped any hardened candy melt drips off the bottom or sides with a sharp paring knife. This made the sides look straight and the bottoms nice and flat.

I glued them to the cake using this fondant glue recipe: http://rosebakes.com/make-fondant-sugar-glue/
This worked great!

The white keys are just fondant rectangles, rolled a little thicker than normal and cut to size. I used a tape measure to get my spacing pretty even for the lines. The indentions between the keys were made with an ice pick.

All in all, I was happy with how it came out. And my man was happy. That's really all that mattered. I am definitely blessed beyond measure!

Blessings,
Renea