Musings from ME

October was the most amazing month ever! I had the following firsts:
Galveston Island
Swimming in the Gulf Waters
T-Tapp Retreat with Teresa Tapp

There were so many highlights I could tell you about:
*The spiritual lessons the Lord taught me early in the month.
*Experiencing the love of my children poured out in a very real and sacrificial manner.
*Meeting a special sisterhood that promises to impact my life in a significant way.
*Learning new ways to workout with even better results.
*Spending time with the Grandparents and hearing family history.
*Being at the inspirational wedding of a very special couple.
*Spending one very special week with one very special person.
*Having one of the best hosts drive me around in style and spoiling me every day!
*Having a dear friend and daughters come visit me.
*Seeing the works of the Masters, not once but twice.

I will treasure the memories of this month for the remainder of my days. I was reminded at every turn that I am a truly blessed woman. I thank the Lord that He allowed me such blessings.

As I move into November, I am looking forward to moving into a more regular routine, something that resembles more of what we call “normal” even though I know there will be nothing normal about it!

Comments Off on A Most Amazing Month

This book was written in 1996, but I only heard about it a few weeks ago. Tom was one of the hostages held in the 1980’s by Islamic Jihad in Beirut, Lebanon. At the time of his kidnapping he was serving as Dean of Agriculture at the American University in Beirut. He was held for six and a half years by his captors. This book is the story of that experience along with the story of his wife’s experience waiting and working for his release. It is extremely well written and very interesting to read.
I well remember the day that Tom was captured. My husband called me on the phone to tell me and I threw myself on my bed and cried for the longest time. Tom Sutherland was not some mysterious name of some person overseas who got in a jam. I knew Mr. Sutherland. He built a house on the lot next door to our home in Fort Collins, Colorado. His daughter was one of my favorite playmates. Later, when I was a student he was my unofficial faculty advisor. He was a man I loved and respected and I have such fond memories of times together with him and his family.
I will admit that I am pretty ignorant about foreign policy and politics, but I love human interest stories and this is a rich one. I am in awe of both Tom and Jean as they told their stories. Tom because he has chosen to take a positive attitude and move forward to build from this tremendously painful experience and Jean for the way she persevered throughout the six and a half years. She is an amazing woman. They are both remarkable people.
There were a couple things that I take away from this book. I love that the family chose (because they knew Tom would want them to) to go ahead and live life fully, celebrate occasions, enjoy life all the while recording the events so that he could enjoy them when he was released. I would want my family to do that. In the midst of tragedy it’s that kind of choice that makes the difference, I think, in the end.
I am inspired by their commitment. “If something terrible happens to you on a mission you have undertaken you don’t give up on that mission.” We don’t see that type of perseverance very often anymore. Their spirit and commitment never wavered.
I am glad to know the bigger picture of this story. I confess, I enjoyed the fact that I could hear the lilt in the voice, picture the twinkle in the eye and genuinely feel that Tom and Jean were speaking to me personally, telling me about the risk they chose to take and the subsequent results.

At Your Own Risk: An American Chronicle of Crisis and Capitivity in the Middle East

Comments Off on At Your Own Risk, An American Chronicle of Crisis and Captivity in the Middle East by, Tom and Jean Sutherland.

I heard some geese overhead the other day. It always surprises me when I hear them in August. Seems like it’s a bit early to be heading South already, maybe some of them go scout out the best route! We’ve been thinking of migrating South for a number of years now and we’ve reached the point where we think we may actually be a bit late in heading that direction. If you know us at all, you know that more and more our children are spending much of their lives in East Texas.
I wonder if geese get excited about migrating? It is, after all, traveling and we love traveling! The idea of moving has been bantered about around our dinner table for four or five years now, but it’s never become a reality. We always liked the idea, but we couldn’t quite figure it out. When we went to Texas this year we were seriously thinking of a move and when we returned it was only a matter of weeks before we had determined that we needed to start the ball rolling and see if we could make it happen.
The ball is in motion and the house went on the market this week. Don’t run out and buy your farewell party supplies just yet. I think we’ll be here through this school year. That’s just as well because 23 years of “stuff” doesn’t disappear in the blink of an eye. We had a massive rummage sale and it was a drop in the bucket! We’re clearing and hauling and well, pretty much exhausted! This is not an overnight project.
This move is part one towards making a dream that our family has had for a number of years become a reality. What we really want to do is one amazing adventure traveling around this country together. The move to East Texas puts us in a better position to make that dream come true.
When you hear the geese overhead this fall, imagine how excited they must be to be on their way to new adventures! Just like those geese we are excited about the new opportunities we have ahead of us. We’re looking forward to some great adventures with God!

“The club was cancelled,” he said. It was a simple statement, but my reaction was strong.
“Canceled!” I thundered. “Really??? Why?”
My son is teaching Bible clubs this summer. For each club, he goes to a person’s home, a park or a school every day for one week spending about 1.5 hours teaching Bible lessons, stories of missionaries and their faith, along with Bible verses and fun songs. The children, typically, really enjoy the time and everyday eagerly look forward to the arrival of their teachers.
This week one of the clubs my son was assigned to teach was made up entirely of young children from Mexico. None of them speak English as their mother tongue and some of them do not speak English at all. Sadly, my son does not speak Spanish. There was a language barrier. Yet, with God all things are possible, right? The report after the first evening was hopeful. They were good children and they were attentive; he hoped they understood enough. We quickly made the decision to send out a prayer update to the people who have committed to pray for him and this ministry. God, the God who sent tongues of fire that first Pentecost, could surely overcome this language barrier and an impact could be made on these children. We had faith! Call out the prayer warriors! Let’s see what God does!
I was excited.
The call came the next morning. The hostess had cancelled the club because she did not feel the children were understanding enough. I felt deflated. My son felt sad. It was too soon, he told me, to cancel. Maybe they were getting more than was realized, at least give God a chance!
I was disappointed.
It’s been almost twenty-four hours now since the club was cancelled and I keep thinking about it. Perhaps she made the wisest decision, it’s not for me to know, but it has caused me to wrestle with a question. Where am I closing the door to possibilities with God? I truly believe it’s possible that God could reach those children even though the young man did not speak their native tongue. I truly believe with God all things are possible. Yet, in my own life, I know I shut the door in the same way.
Where are you shutting the door and limiting what God could do in your life?

Comments Off on Closing the Door?

Galileo, is one of the Christian Encounters series produced by Thomas Nelson. It tells the life of the mathematician and inventor Galileo Galilei. The author seeks through a summary telling of Galileo’s life to make the case that Galileo was a devout Christian who “never once balked at the authority of the Church, even when he could safely do so.” He also wants us to realize that the debate Galileo had with the church was an internal debate over the interpretation of Scripture as opposed to one of secular science versus those of faith.
I wanted very much to like this book, but I found it’s shortcomings prevented me from doing so. Perhaps I could simply state that at the end of the book I could not tell you what Galileo was famous for and that, in and of itself, is a problem. At the beginning of the book I often had difficulty following the authors line of thinking. The author has a unique sense of humor that was frequently demonstrated at the end of paragraphs. Early in the book it was mostly amusing, but it grew tiresome because it frequently read like a bad pun or a cliche and the formula was overused. To be honest, if I had not agreed to write a review for this book, I would not have finished it. In the end, the author makes a case for Galileo being faithful to the church, but I do not believe that he made a case about his personal faith in God.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Comments Off on Galileo by, Mitch Stokes
Fresh Cherry Muffins

Fresh Cherry Muffins

Fresh cherries are one of my favorite fruits! Fresh Cherry Muffins are my very most favorite muffin. This is the only time of year to make them and I thought it wouldn’t happen because of the price on cherries this year. Today I ran into a sale and splurged on a bag of sweet goodness. I just put a batch of these muffins in the oven and a batch in the freezer. Yumminess is only minutes away! These will be a welcome addition to our brunch table in the morning. If you’d like to make some wonderful cherry muffins, the recipe is found here. Also check out my tips for freezing muffins here.

What are your most favorite muffins?

Surprisingly, I have found myself thinking about and praying for Malawi often in these recent days. When the other countries in Africa had their protests earlier this year, I read about them, had concerns about them, but did not think of them the way I am thinking about Malawi. Why is this? It’s because I know somebody in Malawi.
It’s that human relationship that makes the difference. A year, or so, ago my life’s path was allowed to cross with another life’s path by something that only God could have been behind. It was one of those very special God-things that bring tears to your eyes when you think about it. So through a set of unique circumstances, I met Ann. We were both part of a prayer group that prayed fervently for a group of young men we were all connected with. I communicated, by email, with Ann on many occasions. Our hearts were bound by prayer. I’m sure if we ever get the blessing of meeting face to face we will get along famously. Sometimes you just know that another is meant to be a friend.
Ann has a family with children that range in age from young to young adult. One of her young adults has been posting on Facebook about the struggles and I’ve read a few articles in the news. All of these tug at my Mother’s heart. It’s different somehow because a heart I’ve grown to care about could hurt so deeply from what is going on around her. Malawi is in a severe economic state. They are experiencing fuel shortages, financial crisis, and many human rights abuses. Free speech is being squelched so that truth is not easily communicated outside of their borders.
We are so removed from these events and yet we’re not. This world is not the big expanse it once was. All of us have become interconnected and what happens in one country has a ripple effect that impacts all the other countries. Of this I am certain, all of these countries with wars and rumors of wars are full of families with mother’s like my friend, Ann, who only want a secure future for their children. All of these countries are full of people, young and old, who deserve a chance at life without oppression and most importantly a chance to learn the truth about their creator God and His great love for them.

Blantyre, where many of the protests have been and where my friend lives. The city of Blantyre is named for the birthplace of David Livingstone in Scotland.

According to Wikipedia, David Livingstone discovered Lake Malawi.

The above pictures are from postcards that Ann sent me from Malawi. It’s a beautiful country!

May the Lord bring peace to Malawi. May Malawi be blessed with freedom of speech, freedom from tyranny and may the gospel go forth in that country to bring it the truest freedom of all.

Comments Off on Malawi

My Memory Moleskin for Philippeans

Come join me in memorizing the book of Philippians! We’ll spend the next 16 weeks memorizing the book and then take some time to make sure it’s really cemented into our brains.
At the end of last year, I learned about a group planning to Partner to Remember and jointly memorize the book of Philippians. I wanted to join them so much, but felt I needed to help a family member memorize a different book of Scripture so I did not join the group. Time has passed and due to many things, including some Reality Checks the past couple of weeks, I’ve decided to go ahead and memorize Philippians now. I’d love to have some accountability partners join in with me!
I’m going to start next week! The first full week in July. You memorize for 6 days of each week. You can decide if you want Saturday or Sunday to be your off day. My off day will be Saturday so I will start memorizing next Sunday, July 3rd. We’ll memorize for 16 weeks, ending on October 22nd. I’m excited about this.
You do not need to make a moleskin style memorizing tool, but they are pretty neat! You can download the pdf for the moleskin here. Read the article at that link, it was written for the original project. If you want the original moleskin you can get a set of three by clicking on the image from Amazon:

If you wish to pick them up locally, Barnes and Nobel may have them in their store. You can also look for the new Eco System Journals, which are getting good reviews.
One area that I have not done as well with, in the past, is long term retention. I found this article at Fighter Verses and think it is worth reading. Read it here. I’m particularly interested in you reading from the bottom of page 4 to page 9 on that pdf. It’s the section called “Daily Procedures.”
Finally, there are some additional resources that may be of interest to you on the right hand side of this page under the heading Resource Library.
Timmy Brister, who originated this idea and did the pdf, has some tips and pointers and there are more in the comments on this article.
For those who use Twitter, we’ll use the hashtag: #P2Rx2
For those with Iphones or Itouch check out the P2R app by Chris Roberts. I just discovered it and have not even downloaded it yet! Looks like a great tool!

The inside of the Memory Moleskin

I hope you’ll join me in this memory adventure! Please leave a comment here or email me to let me know that I have an accountability partner!

A Slice of Heaven!

Dear Reader,
Have you ever noticed that some recipes take on an aura of their own? They become symbols of special family times and infused with memories from over the years. This French Silk Chocolate Pie recipe is one of those. It was given to me in 1985 from a friend at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) in Danbury, CT. We had our monthly luncheon and she served this exquisite pie. It was love at first taste!
Over the years, I’ve served it at special meals and eventually it became the birthday pie of my first born son. Because we have so many birthdays in a very short space of time, we encouraged our children to adopt other birthday desserts besides cake. When first born son left home, fourth born son quickly adopted the pie as his own.
It’s actually pretty easy to make, but you must have patience because beating each egg for five full minutes is very important. Being thorough in your bowl scraping after each egg, is also very important. Yes, I realize it has raw eggs and I know for some of you that will be a deal breaker. That’s okay, it means I can have a second piece!

French Silk Chocolate Pie
From the Kitchen of: Mary Ellen

1 cup butter
1 ½ cup sugar
4 squares chocolate – melted & cooled (can use Choco-Bake)
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 9” pie shell – baked & cooled
Cool Whip (the kind with cream in it)

Beat sugar and butter together until very smooth and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Blend in chocolate and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, 5 minutes per egg at medium speed. Taste to be sure mixture is not gritty.

Put into pie shell and chill. When cold, put on whipped cream or cool whip.

Note: This pie can be frozen.

The key to this pie is in two places. Make sure the butter and sugar are really creamed well. Secondly, scrape the bowl really well between each egg and beat for the full five minutes.

Bon Appetite!

Mary Ellen

I worked my way through The Total Money Makeover and it’s workbook in the past couple of weeks. I wish I had read this book years ago. When I was married, many years ago, people didn’t talk about finances. I don’t know if my Dad had it figured out, but I have a hunch that he didn’t really. I remember when he paid bills, we stayed clear of the room. Whatever he did know, he never taught me. Sadly, we’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. I have such respect for my young friends, like Chris and Steph, who are on the ball and making wise choices from the very beginning. They are going to live like nobody else and God will do amazing things through their family. We can’t go back, but we can make better choices for the future and that is what we are actively doing now.
The Total Money Makeover is not the best written book, in my opinion. I felt that he was repetitive in places that weren’t necessary and basically could have said what needed said more succinctly. The workbook was almost a complete repeat of the information in the book, which I found annoying. If you’re serious about taking action, you might want to just get the workbook. On the other hand, if you are just reading to learn then I would get the book.
What I am excited about is the the Financial Peace Personal Finance Software. (I would totally love it, if it were available for the Mac. The workaround we managed to do is less then ideal.) The software automates everything. All of Ramsey’s worksheets are available. You can print them out and work with them in pencil. What I love is that you can put the numbers into the computer and it automatically transfers them to every worksheet they apply to. The math is done for you. It’s super easy and when you are done you can print out the current copy with everything filled in! There is also a debt snowball calculator so you can quickly see how long it will take you to get completely out of debt based on what you can put towards your debt.
I have a number of young readers and I wish I could sit down and look you right in the eye and get this message to you: Learn about finances NOW. It matters. Take responsibility to educate yourself. There are a number of books and plans out there. Dave Ramsey is only one of them. He may not be the best, I don’t know. Maybe different people relate to different planners because of their personalities. Ramsey is what I have and we’re running with it. The important thing is for you to learn what options you have, make a legitimate plan and work your plan.
What is crystal clear to me is this: If you will be diligent for the next 10-15 years, choosing to live on less while you prepare for your future the future will be extraordinarily better then it will be if you live like everyone else. I know it’s hard to make those tough choices. Trust me on this. Now is the time to make the tough choices, because when your children are in their mid-teens and early twenties you will love the freedom you’ll have because you dedicated your twenties and thirties to future financial freedom.

Do you have a plan for your finances? Are you working your plan? You can share with me below.