Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maggy - 6 months old!

Maggy is now 6 months old! It's amazing how quickly time has passed, yet I can barely remember life before her! She has been such a treasured blessing for everyone in our family. Even our pediatrician, Dr. Miller, said "she's a little angel! - Just perfect!" What a great thing to have said by someone who sees kids all day!

Stats from the 6 mo check up:
27 inches tall
17 lbs and 4.6 ounces
17 1/3 inch head circumference (brainy!)

That puts her in the 75th percentile for weight and 90th for height and head size. She is growing almost the same way that Noah did at this age... compared to Hannah and Zak who have always been more on the tiny side for their age (especially our wee little man - Zakeaus!)

Did you all see this - from so long ago?

...and since then:

Monday, April 28, 2008


I am sort of know of as a good cook. I love food. I enjoy a very wide variety of foods and there are very few foods that I don't really enjoy. I love to cook - which I think I have inherited from both my parents, but also give credit to Cutco - from my knife selling days - because I had to show people how my awesome knives cut, I ended up cutting up a whole bunch of food (which is really fun in and of itself - that's another post for another day) and then had to find a creative way to use everything I'd diced and chopped. As a kid, I screwed up the boxed mac and cheese - I hated to cook - but after Cutco - I started to appreciate cooking and, even enjoyed it! And now, I'm even finding great joy in growing food - mostly veggies so far - which I KNOW I also inherited from my mother and father - incredible gardeners! That I also did not enjoy as a child - what I missed out on all these years!

Anyway - enough rambling! I got creative in the kitchen tonight and wanted to share the recipe - try it and tell me what you think. I'm calling it Ratatouille-sagna. (I have been wanting to experiment with recipes that would be pasta like - sans pasta ... gluten free - low carb!)

1 jar of tomato sauce (ragu or the like)
1 can tomato paste
Meat (I used a package of chedder brauts)
fresh mushrooms
2 green onions
Raw Zucchini - about 4-5 medium
1 cup cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup mozzarella
Salt, Pepper (other seasoning if you want - keep it simple - sauce prolly has seasoning already)

Combine the sauce and tomato paste (when the Zucchini cooks - it'll release moisture - so you want your sauce to be pretty dense to start out.) Set aside. I use my handy-dandy Cuisinart Food processor (which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE!)...slice the meat, mushrooms and green onions. Sauted for a bout 5 minutes till the meat is warmed (since I was using a pre-cooked braut - if you are using a raw meat - make sure it's throughly cooked - of course!) and the mushrooms are tender. Set aside. slice the zucchini. Set aside. In separate bowl, whisk eggs, salt and pepper. Stir in cottage cheese and all except 2 tbs of the Parmesan.
In casserole dish (I used a oval corning wear dish), pour a couple of tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom. Layer across the bottom Zucchini, then 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella. A few spoonfuls of meat / mushrooms. Then sauce, Zucchini, cheese, mozzarella, meat, Zucchini, Cheese... etc. I had enough that I could finish the top with zucchini, sauce and a mix of Parmesan and mozzarella.
Baked covered at 400 degrees for 40 min - 10 min uncovered - rest 10 min before serving.
(May want to bake on a cookie sheet - my boiled over a bit)

Yummy with bread - of course!

Would love to hear from you if you get to try it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tip toe through the tulips

I've been wanting to get down to Woodburn for the annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival weeks, but with this icky weather... the festival was even extended an extra week and but it still didn't get nice enough to really go until the very last day (well the last free day - you can still go down this weekend but pay to park or something like that). It was beautiful though... best year I remember - the blooms were perfect!
The kids all required new clothes and shoes by the time we were through - but I was prepared for that.

Even Maggy got in on the fun... I love this picture - don't the tulips look like they are 6 feet tall?!

There is a cow train ride - little buggies (all painted like cows) pulled behind a tractor through the fields, Zak, Maggy and I rode together in the front car and Hannah and Noah behind us.

This shot was taken from the ride.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Must do: Get EXPELLED

Shane and I took off for a couple of hours tonight (THANK YOU KRISTIN AND STEVEN!!! for babysitting) to see a movie. We saw the new Ben Stein documentary EXPELLED.

Check it out!

It really brings to light, what I feel is a very important debate that is being quite neglected, and in ways I hadn't considered before seeing the documentary, but it is really scary that its being suppressed. Even for those who don't see eye to eye with me on issues of faith and /or religion, there are basic freedoms that are being trampled on.

I'll try not to go into too much here, it's a huge subject with lots of potential rabbit holes, just, please! Go see it. And tell me what you think! I would love to hear the reaction from someone with a different perspective.

Sunday at Westport, the teaching was on a very similar subject - Doubting the Creation. The series that Pastors Paul and Tim are working through is really wonderful. It is titled "I Doubt it" and addresses many of the common doubts we struggle with, as Christians, non-Christians and even just human beings. As a Christian, I may not personally doubt the One Way to God, but I have always struggled with how to respond to that question. This series has helped me to constructively explore biblically sound responses. So, go listen.... (you may need to click on the series "I Doubt It" and then select the specific message from the list.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Struggling with my Papa's heart

I saw a couple of really amazing analogies over the last few days just in everyday life....

Sunday at church we were singing a worship song - Wonderful Maker. The chorus is:

What a wonderful maker What a wonderful savior How majestic your whispers And how humble your love With a strength like no other And the heart of a father How majestic your whispers What a wonderful God

The phrase "heart of a father" really jumped out at me. I think of how my husband interacts with our children. Shane has had an opportunity to work from home more lately and Noah lives for it. He will spend the entire day in the office looking over Daddy's shoulder if we let him. He would love it if he never had to leave his father's side. The joy and exuberant "DADDY" from all three kids (Maggy will join soon enough) that greets Shane when he comes home is one of the best parts of the day for all of us. And even with Maggy... as I'm cleaning up the kitchen he takes her in his lap and cuddles and makes her laugh and she quickly learns to delight in her father. I don't bring up all these things simply to brag on my wonderful husband (thats just a nice little bonus), but the example of the relationship... I have let the junk and busyness of life get between me and my heavenly father. I want to cut out those things that keep me from following at his heels all day long, I want to dispose of the activities that prevent the exuberance at his return.

I also have been reflecting on what that "heart of a father" means, in terms of how God loves us.
I think He loves to see us smile. I think he is proud when we do as we should, or use our creative gifting. I think he loves to just have us want to be near him... just because it feels good. I think he is sad when we hurt. I think he wants to teach us the right ways because when we obey, both he and I see joy. He wants to teach us the right ways so that we have the opportunity to express our gifting. He wants to teach us the right ways to keeps us from harm and hurting.

I came away from reading The Shack and still feel strange to think of God as a "Papa"... but I know that is the intimacy I want to have with Him. I have a hard time letting go of the adult in me and being simply a child. But who wouldn't want to be a Child of God? Papa's little one... that IS me...

This brings me to my second life-experience analogy. I was sitting in the dinning room feeding Maggy some applesauce. As I am getting the bib on her, she reaches for, and successfully grabs the bowl. I jumped and squawked. She managed a handful of applesauce, but no major foul. A few minutes later, she decided to grab for the spoon, as it was heading towards her mouth. I maintained a firm hold on it, but so did she. Most of the food on the spoon did end up in her mouth, but because of her own lack of coordination, some ended up on her face and, despite my efforts to keep it from hurting her, she forced the spoon towards her throat, causing her to gag a little. I though, how much I can be like her with my Papa. He's providing for me and keeping me clean and I try to jump in and take over and end up struggling with him. He is willing to care for me and yet, I insist on trying to do it myself. But I am only a child and am totally uncoordinated, end up making a big mess of it and often, loosing my proverbial lunch.

Oh for the faith of a child.....and the joy of being a child....

James 1:18 In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Where should Liz choose?

My sister, Liz, has been accepted to Seattle Law School, AND they offered her a 1st year scholarship! This is great news, of course!! .... but... she is having a hard time deciding because the Seattle acceptance took sometime to get to her. She has also been accepted to Albany Law School (in New York) and Northeastern, in Boston. We thought we might try to help with the decision....

or maybe this might help....

Friday, April 18, 2008

What makes a church?

So through this process of leaving a church after 10 years and checking into other churches I have really grown. I've changed my definition of who I am and what defines me. I have realized that a church cannot be responsible for my faith. I've realized that a church should have a greater purpose than giving people something to do one or two days a week. I think, as a culture, we have become twisted what God intended for the church. The way I see it, the bible calls the church to care for widows and orphans. There is the great commission - go and make followers of nations, but that, I feel, is being called to believers and not a corporate organization.

So I am noticing things about some churches, and I have a hard time understanding what motivates these actions. As I am sorting through our mail today, I find a letter from a church we visited (we had already decided that it wasn't the place for us). They are in the beginning stages of a capital campaign - raising money to improve their existing property and to purchase neighboring properties. The mail we received was a glossy envelope that had been customized with the logo that has been created specifically for this campaign. The letter inside was also on customized letterhead. It went on to talk about an event to promote this campaign including a breakfast and tee-shirts.... this also happens to be the church that gave us stainless travel coffee mugs and $5 Starbucks card as first time visitors...

It saddens me because we enjoyed this church. We found the people to be very friendly, the teaching was biblically focused, the kids liked their classes and came home telling us what they'd learned. I also see that they really believe that this current effort will somehow lead them to a place where they can reach more people with a bigger or more attractive building. But what would people be getting out of a big pretty building? Jesus is not experienced in studs and dry wall.

How did the Christian church get so off base? Why are we spending money to build buildings that the lost will likely not step into just because it's there? And why are we not focusing more on service and more on caring for widows and orphans. If there are hurting and needy people in our own community, that should be our top priority. There is always hurting and needy people we can care for. I wonder how much it cost to send that letter...

How does He really feel?

My friend, my heart breaks with you as you feel so under attack, as if there isn’t much else that could go wrong. So, as much as you may want to think that today is the absolute worst it could get…. with any luck, in a few weeks you’ll be able to laugh about it. I hate those days when they happen, but you will go on.

I think that the idea of God allowing bad things to happen to change and grow us, might be slightly flawed. And my opinion on this has changed recently, after reading “The Shack” by William P Young (I have a few copies if you want to borrow). God ultimately loves us and unconditionally. He desires the best and the most for us… that doesn’t always fit in our definition of the best and most, but God only gives us good. Free will is a tricky thing, intended as a gift given in the most love, but ultimately leads to sins. And when one of us sins, there are consequences, and the consequences don’t only affect those who sinned. It isn’t just or fair, and it doesn’t discriminate. Consequences affect us if we stumble across their path, regardless of whether or not we intended to. Another wonderful reason for us to desire for others to know and live in Christ… less painful consequences of sin the more people living in Him… but in this life, in our world, we will be affected by sin, even if we aren’t the ones who sinned. AND sometimes, that consequence – that we did nothing to deserve or ask for, does cause us to sin.

God will use these experiences for good. He will grow us and change us through these experiences, but to say that he would stand back and allow us to hurt is very contrary to God’s nature. My faith has grown as I have considered what would keep my heart turned towards my comforter during painful times. I think his heart is grieved at how much “bad” stuff happens, but he wants us to turn to him for our solace. As we reconcile ourselves to him more, the consequences, of our own sin and of other’s sins, are less painful.

And as for the bad day… it was a whopper! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t crack under that strain! We (and I mean we… like me too!) do have to be careful putting such high expectations on ourselves, as well as our children and husbands and, you are right! We have to be careful of putting those expectations on our friends too. I think I’ve done that as a way to get down on myself, by comparing. I find myself thinking about what other moms wouldn’t do or would do that I don’t do. I see a certain name on the caller ID and I mute the TV – I’d hate for someone to know just how much it is on at my house, or that I sometimes use it because I don’t want to deal with the kids. I love that you want to be more transparent… we all need to be. Let’s stop keeping up appearances for the sake of anyone. Yes, let’s strive for excellence in our lives, but for the Glory of God, not for our pride. And if we fall short, God is full of grace and love. And something else I’ve realized is that God does not expect anything from us. His love is truly unconditional…. He hopes and desires good things for us, but with out expectations.

A few weeks ago, I blew up at my children in front of a friend who stopped by and stayed longer than I expected… things weren’t as I would want anyone else to see them. I need to stop focusing on the stuff and move my hearts focus on relationships –with Christ first and with my family and with others. And I need to stop putting expectations on anyone else… Oh God – do that in me. Let me love others in Your unconditional way!

So dear friend… for today – take it one step at a time. Take what you have to deal with first and do that… and if the other stuff doesn’t happen, be ok with that. Maybe there are two baskets of unfolded laundry from yesterday that wait one more day or you eat boxed mac and cheese for dinner, or cheese and crackers… OK! I hope your bruise heals soon. I don’t think God wants you to dwell on the sin, he hasn’t!

I sure hope that I don’t sound arrogant or full of myself… this is just my opinion and shared in hopes of encouragement and for my own reflection.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rite of passage

Maggy got her ear's pierced today. She did pretty well - cried, of course, but with in a few minutes was smiling a beautiful smile.

I love the sparkles! The are pink and supposed to be her birthstone - so Pink Tourmaline I think. So CUTE!

Ideas for service

I had one of the coolest experiences yesterday....

We have neighbors named Earl and Carol (I know thats his name, and I'm pretty sure that's her name) We've been neighbors for 6 years now, and they are directly across the street, so you might think we'd know them better, but alas, isn't it how communities are in this day and age. I know that they are retired, they own both sides of the duplex and rent out the other side, I know that he is an awesome gardener (beautiful flower bed all year!), and he likes to golf - I see him load his clubs into his truck almost every day or unloading later in the morning. Not really sure what their last name is. We've always been friendly, but never really had a conversation.

Yesterday afternoon I'm working in the kitchen and look up to see Earl walking up towards our front door. They are taking a trip and need someone to feed their cat. Sure! Glad to do it! A little bit of chit chat and I ask if he's had any interest in the rental, which has been empty for almost a month. He responds with "a few looking but no one has called back." I ask if he's thought about Craigslist, but he doesn't have a computer (which I sort of expected because few in that generation do). I offered to post it on craigslist for him, he said sure! An hour later there was a knock at the door, Earl says "you are good! I've gotten 6 calls already." I watched a buzz of people coming by to look. This morning he came by again... the first family to come by didn't waste any time and rented it! The family had had a fire and needed to find a place pretty quickly, so it was good for them too.... He gave me a hug! How sweet!

It felt really great to know that something that required so little effort on my part could make such a difference. It was fun too! And now we have a new connection with our neighbors. So I'm feeling this need to find new ways to serve, and my mind is full of ideas. Hard to say when we'll be able to get on making any of these ideas happen, but maybe if I write it on the blog it'll keep me more motivated. I wonder if there is a way to connect with seniors to give them hi-tech help. Not necessarily get them computers, or teach them how to use them.... unless they want to, but just think about how much stuff we do online now that wouldn't be that hard to do for us to do, and maybe it could foster relationships with people who need people to connect with. Just an idea.... now its down, I might not figure out how to make it happen for a few years, but I'll be keeping my eyes open for opportunities.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Foolishnes, anger and hopefully wisdom

I remember, before my kids were born, feeling that I would never be able to relate to children. I could look at an 8 year old and feel like I just couldn't imagine what I could talk to them about. And now I find myself, perpectually surrounded by children. There are times when I forget how to relate to adults! But as a result, I find myself relating to my children, especially my eldest son, in a way that I forget that he is only a child. What a strange reversal!

This is a good and bad. I'm so delighted to have that relationship with him... delighted that he has a relationship with me. I love relating to him. I love seeing how his mind works and how intensely complicated he is. 6 seems like such a young age, but at the same time, it is incredible... and it's a growing and developing age, which is part of what makes it so enjoyably intriguing. Now the bad ... when I relate to him in such a way, it is hard not to place expectations on him. Adults, who I've been accustom to relating to would not behave in a foolish manner. And then, expectations often lead to disappointments. I do not respond well when he behaves like a child... even thought that is what he is. I should be correcting inappropriate behavior, and teaching and training. I am lacking wisdom in responding to him in a way that would bring learning and growth. More often I find I respond in anger. :-( I hate to admit that I get angry, speak in an unkind way and even yell, but I do it all... and a lot more than I feel I should. And as I am getting angry, I check myself, hear it happening, know its wrong, but how do I squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube?. It has a horrible fruit - I hear my children responding to each other in angry and unkind tones when someone doesn't do what they want them to do.

Proverbs 22: 15 Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Anger is quite literally driving out joy. And what is it that I am angry with exactly? Frustration is a word used often around here (and kind of funny to hear the kids say they are "fustated"). I remember learning in our marriage to change and eliminate many of our expectations - and we both became much happier. I remember hearing Pastor Paul (Westport) talking once about lowering expectations, because often reality doesn't rise to our expectations. Whatever it is that I am expecting for or of my children, there is nothing more beneficial to them than a great deal of joy. So for our dose of wisdom today, I think I'll be taking an extra large glass of joy. I am praying that God will change this in me. I know I have been created to be a passionate person, God - teach me self control with my passion.

If you read this and think of it, pray for my temper and realistic expectations on my children, and for all of us, more joy.

**IMAGES: Top: Taken by Granny Franny of my Dad at a place called Gros Roche - he was about 14
Bottom: Easter Sunday 2008, the Vertner kids at Grandma and Grandpa's house in Dallas, OR

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Waldorf Bean Salad

So, I think I accidentally went Waldorf.... I'm sorry - I didn't mean to do it, it just happened!

A few weeks ago I wanted to make hummus so I bought some chickpeas in the bulk bin at Winco. (don't all the world's biggest problems start in the bulk section at Winco??) A week or so later when I started to think about actually using the chickpeas, I got them out to soak and .... well that seems odd... I don't know a ton about dry leguemes.... do chickpeas hatch? There appeared to be a different kind of smaller something - same color as the chickpeas, but looked like a BB pellet. Pulled out my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook, flip to the section on beans and legumes and scan the pictures... ah ha! I got a handful of soybeans in my chickpeas!

As I was excited to figure out what it was, but.... now I had to try to sort them out..... auggh! I really just wanted to put them to soak - 2 minutes to accomplish - now its a 20 minute project. Wait! "NOAH!!! Come here! I have a job for you." So he takes a couple of bowls and starts sorting while watching a show on TV. End of story.... no! The next morning, Noah comes into the kitchen and asks if I have any more beans to sort... "I like sorting beans!" Wow - that's cool - and unexpected. But I hear that kind of activity is really good for the brain, or something like that - right? So a few more times he asked and I said I'd get him a few more beans the next time I was at the Winco bulk section.

So this afternoon, guess what I found! Noah, Hannah and Zak quietly playing in the sunroom with a bucket of beans... how waldorf is that! But don't worry - they were still surrounded with plastic toys!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Golden opportunity

Who knew getting accosted with a gun could be such an evangelistic opportunity? What a great example of how we should live and share Christ!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Need to serve

So American Idol does the "Idol Gives Back" - we could debate about how sincere the Godly inspiration might have been, or maybe their motives weren't pure, but... I believe that if it weren't for all of us having inherited the ability to give from our creator, we would be only moved by our twisted and impure motives. But I praise God, we have inherited his ability to give.... and as we abide (hang out) with him more, our desire to serve should grow!

Jam 1:27 Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.

So now what has been causing my heart to be stirred to action....each dollar I spend, I try to evaluate, will this purchase have eternal consequences. And each dollar spent does! if I spend it on myself (which I still do - I'm no martyr! No where close to sainthood, for sure!) I may be missing an opportunity to bless someone who needs it more than I do. What about my time? Each hour I spend doing something that I feel I am "entitled" to, could be spent serving someone else. There are always people who need someone to step up and lend a hand - they are not hard to find.

A friend told me that they have been teaching their children "It's good to do hard things." I'm buying into that! I want to teach my children to serve, even when it isn't an easy thing to do. I imagine Noah and Hannah stacking cans of food at a benevolence center, with smiles and laughter.... We need to do that. I'm looking into it, where can we serve??

Feel like sharing? Tell me about your favorite experience serving someone else? Does your faith change when you serve? Any suggestions of places needing volunteers?

My Momma in me

So here I go - inspired by Christa, Tiffany, Julie blogging away - great chance to vent life in writing and think that someone else just might read it, even if not.... I put it down! I had been approaching this site before as a way to share pics with family and felt guilty posting with out new pictures! Maybe if I write more, I'll remember to get my pictures updated more often too.

So here are my thoughts for the day:

I woke up early (thank you Maggy) the other morning and couldn't fall back to sleep and my mind wandered to my Dad... what an awesome man - what a great father! I'm so blessed to have him, blessed by him. When I shared that with him, he told me that he'd been thinking of me too :-) Aaawe! He said that "your Mother would be proud and astounded that you are the one with four Kids!"

I'm astounded often too... how did I end up with 4 kids already! But as I think on my mom - when she got sick, I was only a 17 year old, rebellious, high school senior. I didn't have as much of an opportunity to value her for all she was, like I would be doing now - I do value her now, and I'd be lying if I said that I don't wonder what it could have been like if she were still here. The theme of her memorial service was basically that she had left a beautiful legacy in my brother, sister and I.

Now that I'm in the midst of parenting - foundational parenting, I relate to her in a new way, one that moves my heart. Just helping Zakey to get his pants on this morning, giggling as his toes get caught in the elastic at the bottom of the leg, I treasure that moment.... I wonder what it was like for my mom when I was that size. A silly moment to treasure maybe, but I love every little thing about these kids.... how did I learn that? I had to have a great example - even in the moments that I can't remember... she must have shown love and treasured those little moments.

She wasn't quite as outspoken as I am (not really sure where that came from - I'm even more extroverted than my Dad!) and I credit that to her wisdom - but because she was more soft spoken, her emotions, motives and reasoning wasn't so much on her sleeve. My desire to be a great mom, comes from having a great mom as an example... it just took some maturity in me to see why she did so much the way she did. Undoubtedly, her greatest motivation was out of unconditional love for us, conscientiously deciding and guiding our lives with our best interest at heart.

If things were different, I would like to think that she would delight in my kids, that she would be proud of me as a mom, a homemaker... that I've FINALLY started to develop as a cook, a gardener and seamstress (hated that stuff when I was a kid). So I strive for my best in what I do, not for pride or acknowledgement, but to dedicate it to her memory and the Mom that she created in me.

This picture was taken in August 1984 - I'm in front with my brother Bob, Liz is in my Mom's arms and my Dad and Granny Franny (Dad's mom) in the back. Check out those flowers!