Esther 4:14b

"...and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this."

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blog Book Club

I found this book a week ago when I was cleaning out some boxes and started to read it. I thought it would be neat to maybe host a blog bookclub and discuss the book as we (I?) read through it. Here it is in case anybody wants to join me in the journey through it.

Description: In our postmodern world, every view has a place at the table but none has the final say. How should the church confess Christ in today’s cultural context? Above All Earthly Pow’rs, the fourth and final volume of the series that began in 1993 with No Place for Truth, portrays the West in all its complexity, brilliance, and emptiness. As David F. Wells masterfully depicts it, the postmodern ethos of the West is relativistic, individualistic, therapeutic, and yet remarkably spiritual. Wells shows how this postmodern ethos has incorporated into itself the new religious and cultural relativism, the fear and confusion, that began with the last century’s waves of immigration and have continued apace in recent decades.Wells’s book culminates in a critique of contemporary evangelicalism aimed at both unsettling and reinvigorating readers. Churches that market themselves as relevant and palatable to consumption-oriented postmoderns are indeed swelling in size. But they are doing so, Wells contends, at the expense of the truth of the gospel. By placing a premium on marketing rather than truth, the evangelical church is in danger of trading authentic engagement with culture for worldly success.

Welding extensive cultural analysis with serious theology, Above All Earthly Pow’rs issues a prophetic call that the evangelical church cannot afford to ignore.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Birthday Cakes

I caught so caught up with getting ready to go away to Vancouver that I never posted the recipe for the cake I made for my father-in-law's birthday the day before we left. We enjoyed every last bite of it because hubby and I knew it'd be the last cake we'd get to have for 90 days (that means we'll be celebrating hubby's birthday 2 days late when we get off our exercise regime).

For dinner I made sweet and sour chicken and served it over brown rice and had roasted asparagus on the side. It tasted a lot better than it looks in the picture. I basically sauteed some onion and bell peppers, added in some pineapple chunks, cooked chicken tenders and used a store bought sweet and sour marinade. My favorite way to eat asparagus is when it is oven roasted. I turn the oven to 400 to 450 degrees and spread the asparagus spears on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and some fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Turn with your hands to coat. Roast in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the asparagus have shrunk to about half their size.

For dessert, I made a chocolate cake out of the cookbook my mom gave my sister and I for Christmas two years ago. She compiled all the favorite recipes she uses from when we were growing up plus some new ones she found and gave them to us in printed and disc format. It is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten! Normally I make it with the frosting listed, but this time I used the peanut butter frosting recipe from my mom's book instead and it was delicious. Unfortunately, I ran out of flour so I didn't have enough to flour the pans so that the cake would be released, so it wasn't the prettiest cake I've ever made, but boy was it moist!!! Oh yeah, they ate some of it before I got home so I wasn't able to get the best picture of it either.

Serves 12

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa
2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. hot coffee
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. milk
5 T. all-purpose flour
½ c. butter, softened
½ c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla

Sift together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add oil, coffee and milk; mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 2 more minutes (batter will be thin). Pour into two greased and floured 9” round cake pans. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes. Cool cakes 15 minutes before removing from pan. Meanwhile, for icing combine the milk and flour in a saucepan; cook until thick. Cover and refrigerate. In a mixing bowl beat butter, shortening, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add chilled milk/flour mix and beat for 10 minutes. Frost cooled cake. Note: The frosting is very rich so I always put jam or some other filling in center of cake.

4 T. unsalted butter, softened
½ c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. powder sugar, sifted
1 T. milk

In medium bowl, with mixer on medium, beat butter and peanut butter until well blended. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add milk and bat until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From My Bookshelf

While I was in Vancouver I read two more books that I thought I'd post a review on here.

This was by the same lady who wrote "The Immortal" that I did a review on earlier. It is about three women who become trapped in an elevator during a hurricane in the Tampa Bay area. They are all somehow connected to the same is his wife, one is the woman he's having an affair with (she thinks she's dating a widower), and the other is the cleaning lady for his office. They call an elevator repairman who risks his life to come out and rescue them. While reading it, I forgot that it was by a Christian author and thus was just reading it for the story. However, at the end I noticed the study questions again and realized how it really is a picture of Christ coming in the midst of terrible storms in our lives and bringing us salvation. We need to be willing to reach out take his hand, and make the leap. If we don't we won't be saved. I highly recommend this book and will be looking for another Angela Hunt book to read in the future.

The other book I read was one that I found on the new release stand in the library and the cover caught my attention. It's sort of a spoof on the realty tv shows like The Bachelor/Bachelorette and Desperate Housewives. It's an easy read and just a fun book. No deep thoughts here really. There might be a few bad words, but I don't really recall any. I'd recommend it as a good beach read or just a light hearted read.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Alright, so I'm a little behind, but what do you expect when one is busy doing this all weekend?

Afterall, it is as they say, you gotta make hay while the sun shines. Oh, and by the way, before you go thinking that's me on the tractor, let me just say no it's not. My job is to drive the truck and trailer while hubby and his parents pick up the bales. How'd I get the best job out of the deal? It's's called allergies! You see, there is something that comes out in the fields at night (a bug or pollen or something) that makes me incredibly itchy and I spend all my time scratching instead of picking up bales which isn't too productive, so I've been assigned driving duties.

This is how we spent a lot of our Memorial Day weekend. Between this and the diet & exercise regime that hubby and I are on, we didn't have any time for a bbq so our weekend wasn't too relaxful. Any extra time I may have had was spent preparing all our food for this week (that's one downside to the workout regime is that the food prep takes FOREVER) and still trying to put together my craft room and pack things away before my parents come to town in a week.

I did want to pause, though, and share one of my favorite patriotic songs and give a shoutout to those members of my family who have served to preserve our freedom.

Artist: Lee Greenwood Title: Proud To Be An American

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
'Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

And I’m proud to be and American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

Thank you to following:
1. My father-in-law for his past service in the Army
2. My brother-in-law, Bennett Eggar, for his current service in the Air Force
3. My uncle, Scott Vriesman, for his current service in the Coast Guard (he was involved with the real perfect storm and got to meet George Clooney when the movie came out and had a full page picture in People magazine and couldn't have cared less!)
4. My husband's great uncle for his service in the Army at Omaha Beach on D-day. He was one of the few to make it home. His story is incredible and I may tell it here someday.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman

Please keep the Chapman family in your prayers. Yesterday, their 5 year old adopted daughter from China was accidentally struck and killed by their teenage son as he was parking his SUV in their driveway.

This family has been such an encouragement to me, and I pray that God minister to them, comfort them, and encourage them during this difficult time, especially their son.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Daredevil Husband

Here's the video of my hubby on the zipline. He gave me permission to use this because you can't really see his face, but if you feel like commenting, please don't use his name still.

Photos from British Columbia

Canada Place Totem Poles in Stanley Park
Hiking to Nairn Falls
One view of Nairn Falls
Ziplining - the helmet doesn't make for a good hairdo!
I'm trying to post a movie also, but I can't get blogger to accept it right now, so I'm trying to convert it to another format. Once I do, I'll get that up.

British Columbia

Well, I can finally say that I've been to Canada! Hubby and I drove across the border and we were disappointed that you don't get a stamp in your passport when you drive across. What's the point of needing a passport if you don't get a stamp?

We had a lot of fun! The first few days I hung out in Vancouver and shopped (I should say WINDOW shopped) in the Kitsilano neighborhood. I loved this area and actually bought a few silver findings in this really cool bead store. I checked out some thrift stores in search of a springy-looking trench coat and found some that I loved, but they were still out of my budget, so the hunt continues. We ate at some awesome restaurants in Gastown and other areas. We had been warned that Vancouver was pretty pricey, but it didn't shock us too much because things are pretty pricey where we live and were actually about the same. It's such an easy city to drive in, so I also explored some ritzy neighborhoods while hubs was in the conference (which was held at Canada Place).

It rained for the three days we were in Vancouver, but the weather was still pretty warm, so it didn't really dampen our spirits. Before heading out of town on Wednesday to head north to Whistler, we drove through Stanley Park to see all the totem poles. We were going to take the horsedrawn carriage ride, but decided that'd be better done on a nicer day.

We then stayed a few days in Pemberton which is about 20 minutes north of Whistler. Whistler is where all the skiing and sliding events are going to be held for the 2010 Olympics. We got to see the bobsled track (one of my favorite winter events) which was pretty neat. The town is designed to be walked, not driven. It reminded me a lot of Breckenridge/Aspen/Vail. While in the area, we hiked to Nairn Falls, took a zipline tour, ate more good food, and relaxed around the hotel and caught up on our reading. If you're ever in the area, we highly recommend staying at the Pemberton Valley Lodge. It has it's own little kitchenette which we took full advantage of to help save a few dollars.

I'll post some photos of the trip in another post. I'll also post a video of my husband ziplining (and yes, I did ask his permission prior to posting!). He's quite the daredevil. Oh, while talking about ziplining, I should say that it was my idea to go, but that didn't mean I was excited about it. You see, I'm terrified of heights and have never really believed that those little harnesses will actually hold me. Our tour was Friday morning, but I made our reservations on Wednesday and everytime I thought of it between then, my palms would break out in a cold sweat. But, I'm proud to report that I went off each zipline with no hesitations whatsoever and was loving it each time! The longest line we did was 1100' and about 60' high!

On our flight back home, we had a layover in Denver, so my parents drove up from Colorado Springs and we had dinner with them. So, I got to see all my family besides my brother because he was busy working at his new job as a park ranger.

My Visit with My Sister

No, that's not my sister! That's a monk fish...pretty cool, huh? I flew out to Seattle a day early to spend time with Chelsea and her family. I got to see where they live (on McChord AFB) and experience Pikes Place Market (the place where the toss the fish and have amazing floral stands at CHEAP prices). Plus, we ate here - one of my favorite restaurants that we don't have near us. I can't wait until they come visit me in a month!

I can't get over how big Braden is getting. He no longer looks like an infant, but a little boy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And the Winner is...

I had fun getting to read everyone's comments when I came back. I learned that I have some readers out there who found my blog via other blogs I read. How exciting! Thanks for the feedback on the topics you enjoy reading about; now I know what to write about more.

And the winner is: TIMALEE! Congratulations! How neat seeing how you too got married in CO, moved to the East Coast, and lived with your in-laws.

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering what she won. Well, here you go:

A really cute cupcake plate and a great cookbook full of different cupcake recipes. I'm also going to throw in some edible marker pens (for writing on food/frosting), some cute cupcake liners, and a few other baking items.

Hope you enjoy the gift, Timalee. Send me an e-mail at brie14(at)juno(dot)com with your address and I'll get it off to you over the weekend.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Back in person, but not in mind

Well, hubby and I made it back from our trip yesterday. We took the red eye in from Seattle with a stopover in Denver. My parents drove up from Colorado Springs so we got to have dinner with them which was nice. We didn't get home until 5:30am or so and I was up until 1:30am getting things ready for the new diet/fitness program hubs and I are starting. So, needless to say, I'm exhausted!

I'll be drawing a name tonight for the winner of the cupcake giveaway and post the name sometime tomorrow. I'll also post photos (and a video!) from our Vancouver trip...we had a blast!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My 1st Ever Giveaway!

I'm going to be gone next week and won't be able to blog, so to add a little excitement while I'm away, I thought I'd host my first ever blog giveaway!

Plus, I just installed a hit counter, so I want to see how many people actually read this thing and that will help me determine how much time and effort I should put in to making it more interesting.

My first giveaway was inspired by some items I came across the other day that I have never used and probably never will. However, they are very charming and I know somebody else would love them very much.

The only info I'm going to give you is this:

So, if you want to be included in the drawing, leave a comment telling me how you found my blog and/or what topics you'd enjoy reading about more, and I'll enter your name in the drawing. If you want to be entered twice, leave a link to a post on your blog, telling people about this giveaway.

The drawing will be open until midnight EST on Sunday, May 18th.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blog Privacy

I was reading The Homespun Heart this morning and came across this post:

"Just a quick note about blog privacy. Each of us have different comfort levels with what information we share on our blog. Some of us real names, some use code names, some of us give out our city and state or address and church name, some of us are more vague.

I've noticed through personal experience and reading other blogs, that sometimes when we know the other person in real-life, we can get more relaxed about what we share even in the comments. And, this can be an opportunity to share information that the blog owner would have preferred not to share.

I just want to offer a friendly reminder for not only my own blog, but the whole blog community. Please do not include city or town names, church names or last names of friends or family in comments. This puts the blog owner in an uncomfortable position of having to delete your comment or let their info remain on the comment. If there is any doubt in your mind about including a word or name in your comment, please do leave it out.

This is not directed at anyone personally, so please don't be offended. I just want us to be consciously respectful of one another and the information we share on our blogs."
I too have experienced this. My husband has asked that if I blog, I don't reveal his name, our last name, or where we live due to some people who would like to dig up any "dirt" they can on him to try to get him out of politics. So, I ask that you please respect this and do not reveal any of the above information if you know me. If you accidentally do in your comments, I apologize, but I will have to delete them in order to respect my husband's request.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

The song by Casting Crowns called "What If His People Prayed" popped into my head and I thought it was a good reminder of the impact that believers can make in our world, if we just take the time to pray.

If you want to hear the song, scroll to the bottom of my blog and click on it in my playlist.

Another thing I was reminded of was the verse that tells us to "love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us" (my memory is failing to recall the reference right now). In a life (especially when one's life is a life of politics), it's very easy to criticize those who attack us or have different views from us; what they're really needing is not our criticism, but our prayers that their hearts would be changed and their eyes opened to the grace of God. If we don't show them love even when they're unlovable, who will? After all, isn't that what Christ did for us?