Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy (REALLY late) Birthday D!

I wanted to start a new tradition on my blog of posting a few pictures on the birthdays of family members; I started by telling my youngest nephew, P, happy birthday in November. However, I totally missed my niece, D's, birthday in early December. So, in an effort to follow through with this new blog-tradition, here are retroactive birthday wishes to my oldest niece, D.

D, I love your love for life. You are creative, artistic and curious. You never fail to amaze me as you create "stuff" out of nothing.

You can pout with the best of them, and despite your super sad eyes that make an occasional appearance, I love your competitive nature.

I can't wait to watch you continue growing and maturing into a beautiful, smart and talented young lady during 2010! Happy birthday, and I'm sorry the wishes are late on my blog:)

Monday, December 28, 2009

End of the Spear

I watched the movie "End of the Spear" this weekend and it was great! It's the story of American missionaries who were speared to death at the hands of Waodani tribesmen in Ecuador. I loved the story because it made me think how the message of Jesus can be shared across language and cultural barriers. It's a well-made Christian movie and it even involves some action! Here's the description from the DVD case:

Many years after his missionary father was speared to death at the hands of Waodani tribesmen, a young man returns to the Ecuadorian jungle to meet the native who murdered his father and learn the truth about his family's legacy. The result if a life-altering experience that brings him closer to the kin of his father's killer.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

A merriest Christmas to you and yours! I pray you had a blessed day celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas!

It is with great joy that I write you, and yes I mean each of you. I fondly think of each individual and family as I address envelopes (or write emails) or open the letters you already sent. God has richly blessed me with your friendship and it is with genuine love and thanksgiving for you that I send this Christmas letter.

My second year ended much better than the first; I worked really hard to establish boundaries during the year so that I could have some type of division between my professional life as an Ag teacher and my personal life. While I obviously do not have a famiy waiting on me at home, I knew it was not healthy (nor sustainable) to continue working the same number of hours as I did my first year. Hard as it was to leave a long "to do" list on my desk and papers ungraded many a night, I found myself making more time for communicating with family and friends and hobbies. I also found some time for stress relief in the way of good 'ol exercise:) My principal retired at the end of year two and with my new administration came a welcomed change of pace and management styles. My third year got off to a great start and I have thoroughly enjoyed my incoming class of freshmen Ag students, going strong at 84 students!! Teaching has gone smoother than ever but I continue to be a "student" of teaching. I have a feeling I will never stop learning about the art (and science) of teaching.

Another interesting and exciting highlight of 2009 was my younger sister's wedding in April! Anna and Bass officially became Mr. and Mrs. Aja on April 24 on the lawn at my parent's home. While I have been in wedding parties before, this one was especially fun to stand by as my sister prepared to embark on this new journey. The ceremony was beautiful, the weather was perfect and my family was so grateful for everyone who came to share in the special evening. Anna and Bass hosted the entire Groseta crew for Thanksgiving at their new home in Wellton (AZ); I was definitely impressed with our host's and look forward to our next holiday with them!

After preparing the lawn and house for the wedding, my mom and dad hosted several other events in the following weeks; they hosted a ranch tour and a group of teachers traveling around Arizona for the Summer Ag Institute. Mom continues to work hard to keep her quilt store successful; she did a long term promotion this past year giving out "quilt bucks" as a customer reward. The event ended with a live auction where they could buy all kinds of items, fabric included, using their quilt bucks and it was a huge success! Dad ended his term as president of National Cattlemen's in January but has continued his involvement on the local, state and national levels. Paul and Gretchen (my brother and sister-in-law) keep busy with their brood of my four nieces and nephews. Paul has been driving to the far reaches of Arizona completing appraisals and getting several ranch listings and in addition to the PTA, Gretchen has been working as the Executive Secretary for Yavapai CattleGrowers. As you can tell, life is never quiet around the Groseta Ranch Headquarters!

I can't end this letter without telling you about the new love of my life. No, no, no folks I do not mean a boyfriend, I mean a d-o-g! I got a little female Queensland Heeler pup the same week Anna got married. I named her Johnnie Reb and she is a perfect match for my personality...super energetic! I have had a lot of fun taking her through beginning training classes this fall and am preparing for an intermediate class this winter.

I cannot close my 2009 Christmas letter without praising God for his provision and generosity during 2009; I am continually in awe of the Lord we serve and the earth He created for us to enjoy. I pray 2010 brings continued health for your family and plenty of rain for your ranches.

Katy (and Johnnie Reb)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hot Mama!

After hiking the Elliott Ramada Trail at Papago Park in Scottsdale this past Saturday, a friend and I headed to Lulu's Cupcakes. We figured we deserved to ingest some extra calories after our grueling 2.7 mile hike on a paved walkway;) We each got a four-pack of delightfully decorated, oh-so scrumptious cupcakes. My four-packed included one lemon wedge (bought for my mom who I was going to see on Saturday night), one Eggnog cupcake with vanilla glaze, one Great Pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting and one Hot Mama. The Hot Mama cupcake, pictured below, is a chocolate cupcake made with Mexican chocolate and chili pepper. It was the perfect balance of chocolate and spiciness; the chocolate was subtle and the chili pepper just kind of warmed my mouth. Delightful. I would buy it again. Twice. In one day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Throne Room

I love watching movies that involve some type of king or queen from long ago. The gowns and jewels they wear are ornate and beautiful. Their conversation is formal, restrictive almost in its ability to help them connect with one another. And their throne rooms are exquisite. Surrounded by their court of subjects, the king and queen sit on magnificent thrones, their robes lay in expensive piles around their feet and their heads are adorned with heavy crowns.

While I love the culture depicted in scenes like the one above, I have no connection with it. The society that we live in today does not demand that I bow and kiss the ground as the President graces it. I have profound respect for our President and the position he holds, but I do not fear physical harm from him like some people did of their kings and rulers.

Cultures involving kings are different and this includes the culture of Christianity. After explaining why Christ followers should endure and not turn back, the author of Hebrews says "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16, emphasis mine) Have you ever thought about how grand a command this is?

If we think the throne rooms of medievel times are impressive, let's try describing God's throne room:
  • "Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder." Rev 4:5a
  • "And before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal..." Rev 4:6a
  • "...the voice of man angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands" (Rev 5:11)

God's throne room will forever trump any throne room that we have seen. He is the creator of the universe; his grandeur and glory are greater than we can even fathom. We will be dwarfed by the hugeness of everything contained in this throne room. He deserves this throne room as well as the adoration of men and angels.

As we think of this, again, think of how wonderful the command given in Hebrews 4:16 is. Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. In His infinite wisdom and mercy, God gave us His son so that we might be able to draw near with CONFIDENCE to find MERCY and GRACE in our time of need. Wow. If imagining the throne room of God doesn't take your breath away, the opportunity we have in drawing near should.

I praise God for being able to approach His throne; I am thankful that Jesus has granted me this access. I ask for help in remembering the great cost of my access to God's throne room so that I might approach God with greater respect, admiration and thanksgiving. May it be the habit of my heart to come before God knowing I have been commanded to draw near with confidence in my time of need.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day Trivia with a bit of thanks on the side

What president tried changing the date of Thanksgiving?

Drumroll please........

FDR! In 1939 he proposed moving the date forward one week to extend the holiday shopping season. I understand his thought process considering the US was coming out of the Depression Era and we were involved in the war. Stimulating consumer spending would have been wonderful; however citizens around the country were divided. After two years of debate at the state level, he decided to officially leave the date alone.

Happy Thanksgiving to my family, and family of friends!!

I am soo thankful for the rich relationships that the Lord has blessed me with! I pray you have a restful holiday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Birthday P!

Happy birthday to you,
happy birthday to you,
happy birthday dear cowboy P,
happy birthday to you!!

I love you P and I love watching you grow! It's hard to believe that you were the tiny baby I held after Thanksgiving've grown big so quickly! I love your curiosity, the fact you love cows and your smile! Have a great third birthday buddy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My little graduate

Johnnie Reb (JR) and I have been attending puppy obedience class for the past eight weeks, and last night JR graduated after passing her eight "tests." She had to demonstrate her ability to follow commands for various things like come, sit and stay, lay and stay, walking on a leash, the "leave it" command and shake. We are going to start our intermediate class in three weeks where we will continue building on these skills. Tracy, our trainer, says one of the primary goals of intermediate obedience is to develop self control. JR will have to demonstrate the commands I listed above with distractions and with me leaving her side.

I had so much fun doing this and I felt like I was the getting trained at times too. Enjoy the picture below....JR knows she's a star:-) Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thankful for Ranchers and Farmers

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching I find myself frequently thinking of things that I am thankful for. I wish this attitude of thankfulness was contagious to the other ten months of my year, but I guess that is something I can work on in 2010. With that said, I want to briefly describe a group of individuals who I am thankful for at least three times a day.

As the fourth generation to be raised on my family's cow-calf operation in northern Arizona, I fully comprehend what it takes to get beef from the gate of the pasture to the plate of a hungry consumer. I'll list a few things that I am especially thankful for:
  • I am thankful that ranchers and farmers are good stewards of the land they produce food on. Serving as good caretakers directly benefits them because if they misuse or abuse it, they will not be able to pass it on to their children. If they are to ensure the sustainability and longevity of their operation, you can be they will do all they can to protect, provide and invest in their land.
  • I am thankful for the abudance of American agricultural products. Technology and transportation have evolved over time, making more products available to more Americans.
  • I am thankful for the affordability of food in America. Relative to the rest of the world, Americans spend the least amount of their money to purchase food. People in other countries spend anywhere from 25% to 65% of their money on food simply so they can eat while Americans spend approximately 10%.
  • I am thankful for the high standards that American farmers and ranchers continually meet and surpass. The food we produce is not only great tasting, it is also safe. American agriculturists meet the strictest food safety standards anywhere in the world.

If you haven't thought about the effort that goes into raising the food on your plate, please take a moment to do so. If you want more information on production agriculture in America feel free to post a comment or question and I will respond directly.

Note: This blog was in response to the "food fight" that National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and other agriculture commodity groups are launching against mainstream media. If you are involved in production agriculture, please join this "food fight" and post reasons why you are thankful for America's farmers and ranchers on your own blog.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jesus was a man

If someone were to ask me a series of true-false questions about Jesus I feel like I would get most of them correct.

True-Mary was Jesus' mother
True-Jesus was born in a stable
True-Jesus came to earth as a man, yet was still God

But if I had to describe something in detail about the nature of Jesus as a man, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to describe it in depth. That is until last night. Now, don't let me mislead you here, I'm not trying to win a bible trivia contest. I just wanted to admit that something HUGE clicked for me last night during week 8 of our Hebrews bible study.

I've always assumed (incorrectly) that Jesus had a man's body but was operating with God's brain. How else then could he live a perfectly blameless life, right? I don't know any human being who has ever been able to live a sin free life; there always seems to be something entangling us. The one person that this does not apply to is Jesus; he was wholly man (even his brain and thought process) and yet he remained sin-free his entire life. Now, let me back this up with a little evidence just so that we're scripturally on the same page.

Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb just as any other child would have been (Luke 1:26-35). Jesus had siblings and was son to a carpenter (Luke 2:4-12); he was was made fun of like a regular Jewish child (Matthew 13:55-56). He was circumcised and sacrifices were offered to God on his behalf (Luke 2:21-24). He wasn't born all knowing about scripture, but He grew in wisdom and stature, having to learn just like other children (Luke 2:51-52).

That Luke 2 reference is what really took my breath away last night. Jesus didn't just know everything. He was learning alongside other Jewish children. Now let's take this a step further. If it wasn't hard enough for Jesus (God of the universe) to simply be a human in every aspect, he also had to take on sin even though he was sinless. Wrap your human mind around that. Would you want to/be able to bear the weight of the world's sin? Once for all time. Completely.

I know that it is a stretch to imagine taking on the sin of the world so let's break that down a bit more. Look at Luke 22:39-44 or Matthew 26:36-44. Jesus knows what lays ahead of him and he is praying about it all night to God; he even tells his disciples "my soul is crushed with grief to the point of death." Let's apply that to us, yep, you and me. Have you ever been witness to sin or participated in it, and somewhere in the middle you were overcome with grief and disappointment because you realized the severity of what was going on. And I'm not even talking about something like murder. I distinctly remember a time in my sophomore year of college when I was out-and-out avoiding God on purpose. Refusing to pray and refusing to read the bible for months. The weight of putting God off was like getting hit with a load of bricks head on. We each have experiences with sin but realizing how heavy that sin can be around our neck can be staggering. Now imagine this. Jesus-wholly man. Never sinned. Perfect in every aspect. He took on the sin of the world, once for all time and for every person that will ever exist. Ah, now I get what he means when his soul was being crushed to the point of death. I imagine his earthly body having a hard time breathing. I imagine feeling like I was being torn apart.

Can you imagine any other human being doing this? I can't. While he was praying in the garden, he asked God for another "cup" but ended with a request for God's will to be completed in his life, not his own. In addition to not being able to fathom the weight of the world's sin on a perfect and blameless man, I also can't imagine myself asking God in this situation for his will to be completed over mine.

Do you get it now? Jesus-human being in every aspect, including his brain and thought process. He lived a perfect life, tempted in every way we are, yet remained sinless. This wholly human being took on sin. For us. You, me, my neighbors. It still takes my breath away just thinking about it. A man died for me. Jesus died for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Joyful and Content

I have just a second now to post, I'm actually at school in between teaching right now. I wanted to share something God put on my heart this morning though. There was a brief moment on my drive that I felt an overwhelming reminder that I can be joyful and fully content in God anytime, anywhere. Regardless of my current situation, good or bad, challenge or blessing. I know this isn't a breakthrough, but my emotions have been on a pendulum this week; swinging from unsettling feelings about feeling purposeless on Tuesday all the way to other extreme of feeling fully joyful and content this morning. I am hesitant to trust my "feelings" because they are temporary and shifting; far from being a feeling though is understanding that my identity in God brings joy and contentment. It is something I am confident of.

Just wanted to share. Boldy proclaim. Praise God.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Happenings

I was in Cottonwood this past weekend and thought I'd share some pictures....I'll narrate as I go. After I stopped for a bite to eat at mom and dad's I went over to P & G's to get a glimpse of some good 'ol fashioned jack-o-lantern carving. You can see my brother doing a magnifico job! You can also see my sis-in-law's completed pumpkin with "Boo" on it.

Here are the kiddos posing with one of the completed pumpkins. I love J's scary face:-)
I had to get one picture of G in this cute jacket...I made it a few years back for D when she was younger. It's now the perfect size for G; doesn't she look darn cute?
Please note the black ears of some cute heeler puppies below us. My dog actually made it over to P & G's first; she definitely took G out in one swift jump. G didn't mind so much as my mom did!
After carving was complete for the night, the girls had to try their hand at snapping a few pictures with my camera. Do you like the interesting angle in this one?
After getting some work done on Saturday morning, we watched D's fall gymnastics performance. Here she is on the balance beam...good job D! You did a great job!!
Saturday concluded with some trick-or-treating in Clarkdale and Old Town Cottonwood. J was Iron Man, D was a rockstar ferry, G was a cat, and P was spider man....please note spider man's boots.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm back....

Hello I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! I've just been away for work and having some internet connection issues at home. I just wanted to give a quick update this morning on recent happenings...

I traveled to Indianapolis, IN last week with 14 of my students for the National FFA Convention last week! The weather was great and I really enjoyed this particular group of students I was with. I also had the chance to run into several friends, both those who are Ag teachers and those who are not, so all in all it was a great time last week.

School has been going well; my worst student (this year AND of all time) moved away two weeks ago. I hate to say it, but he was a management nightmare and it is a blessing he is gone. With his move, I thought my 6th period class would dramatically improve. I was correct in my thinking, however there was a group of boys in that class who treated my sub terrible last week. They got a good tongue lashing on Monday....I've officially decided if a child of mine ever treats a sub (or regular teacher) that way, I will tie their arms behind their back and make them pick weeds with their toes for three weeks. Sometimes student behavior still mystifies me. Should I be more upset with the student or their parents for the way they raised them???

I'm headed home to see my folks, and my brother's lovely family this Halloween weekend. Looking forward to sitting on the front porch, enjoying the reprieve from the city and trick-or-treating with my nieces and nephews. Hopefully I'll get a chance to post some pictures this weekend...have a great second half of the week!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Progressive? I think not!

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gave Baltimore Public Schools the "Proggy" Award for 2009 for establishing Meatless Mondays in their school system this year. Tony Geraci, the school district’s food and nutrition director was quoted in the Baltimore Sun as saying: “Tapping into a national campaign, the ‘Meatless Monday’ program is intended to make lunches more healthful, stretch the district's food budget and raise awareness about the environmental impact of large-scale meat production.”

Progressive? What?! Instead of progressive, I would desribe that as ignorant. The sole part of Geraci's quote that I can agree with is the part about stretching the budget. Protein is understandably the most expensive part of any diet. Expensive but necessary. But making it more healthful? Environmental impact? What about telling both sides of the story? Unfortunately though, where PETA is concerned, there is only one side to tell.

While I fully support the inclusion of an animal protein source in diets, the following points specifically speak to the value of including beef.
  • Eating less lean beef will not solve the greenhouse gas problem, but it will negatively affect our diet quality by restricting a rich source of important nutrients. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, and beef provides the most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron.
  • For America’s farming and ranching families, our land is not just where we raise cattle, it’s also where we raise our families. That means we have a personal stake in the quality of our environment; we always are looking for new ways to improve the air, land and water on or near our property.

I'm not so much disappointed in PETA as I am the move that Baltimore Public Schools made in pursuing this so called progressive decision. Maybe next time they will do a little more research when it comes to doing something that affects the 82,500 students in that district.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Little "Helper"

I took advantage of my time over fall break to do quite a few things, one of them being change a few things in my classroom. And I had to bring Johnnie Reb of course...when I'm not teaching she's my little sidekick. I just throw her in the truck (okay, she actually jumps in herself) and off we go. She does really well in my classroom. You can see just how helpful she was below:-) When she wasn't wrestling and chewing on butcher paper for my bulletin boards she was trying to eat gum off the bottom of the tables. No joke. Dis-gus-ting. I still think she's cute as heck though, even though she eats ABC gum (already been chewed).

And here you can see my (ahem) our finished products.

PS-Thanks Emily for letting me use your borders!! I love shopping at "Emily's Educational Store."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

La Ranchita: Then & Now

When I first started this blog in 2007 I didn't have a clear purpose. Or maybe I should say, the purpose wasn't yet clear to me. If you asked me then I would have said I was starting a blog because I was going to eliminate my Facebook account. I had been so bombarded with information in my teacher prep courses about professionalism that I felt Facebook was not in my best interest as a blossoming high school teacher. So I started my blog with the intent of keeping in touch as I returned to family in Arizona and left friends in Florida.

If you asked me now I would say that I write about the three things I am most passionate about: God, my family (yes, this includes friends) and agriculture. While it may be random thoughts or a soapbox issue that I must get off my chest, I love having the opportunity to communicate in writing. I never thought I would enjoy writing as much as I do for this purpose, but it's true.

Two years later though I am more confident about the direction of this blog and it's purpose in my life. So what's with the name then: La Ranchita? Growing up on a cow-calf ranch in north central Arizona permanently planted the long term desire in my heart to someday have a ranch of my own to call home. For now though, this is simply an idea knowing that I can make a home wherever I am because where I am, there God also resides in my heart. La Ranchita is a chance to welcome family and friends into my "home" and share what I am most passionate about....just as if you were to come and stay awhile at the ranch I hope to someday own.

With this reflection on where I've come, and where I'm going, I plan on changing the profile found on my bio but I would like some feedback from you-please let me know what you think about this:

Loving life as a rancher’s daughter, now removed from the family cattle operation and teaching high school agriculture in central Arizona. More importantly though, I am a daughter of the living God, never to be removed from His kingdom. Someday I hope to own my own ranch but until then welcome to my current frontier—I hope you enjoy learning about my passion for God, my family and agriculture.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Quotable moments

I'm on fall break this week and have enjoyed every moment of it thus far. I started the break by visiting my folks and brother's family in northern Arizona, returned on Monday to clean my house and then worked all day on Tuesday in my classroom. I flew to Indianapolis on Wednesday to spend the remainder of my break with my former college roomie and long time friend, Amanda. She is a third year PhD student in Agricultural Economics at Purdue. It's been a nice break but I did come down with a small headcold...yuck! I've still enjoyed catching up though and actually experiencing some true fall weather. I wanted to share a couple of quotes from this week though that made me chuckle-

(after climbing in Amanda's truck at the Indy airport)
Me: "You're like a comfortable pair of shoes."
Amanda: "You're like my favorite handbag."

Isn't that what good friends are like? Even if you don't live in the same town, or have coffee every day, there is still a comfortable familiarity that resumes once you're with them again. I love this quote too because it totally reflects our personalities (to a point).

(we grabbed coffee midday at Java Roaster coffee house)
Amanda: "Can we have two large coconut coffees with skim milk in each?"
Me: "Actually can I have whole milk in one?"
Barista: "We only have skim; we're like...2020 or something in here already."

The barista's comment totally made me laugh because instead of saying that they're more health minded, he says they're more 2020 or something. Totally funny.

Amanda is actually teaching right now and I'm taking advantage of a few unoccupied moments to read email and blog. We're headed to Chicago tonight to watch the Ryan Montbleau Band, catch some fall foilage tomorrow and watch Amanda's good friend run the Chicago marathon on Sunday. Hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's in the numbers

Disclamer: I am in full support of most agricultural producers.

It doesn't matter to me if you choose conventional production methods that include the use of pesticides, herbicides or growth implants or if you choose to produce food products in an organic or natural manner. If a farmer can make a profit in a niche market for organic products, local products or natural products hats off to them. But please, pretty please, don't criticize the thousands of producers who currently employ conventional methods. Too often ignorant consumers and media extremists report that organic, natural and local are the only way to go. What? Excuse me, let me rephrase: WHAT?! In a few concise points below, I hope to illustrate that the world has an undeniable need for conventional methods of production in the coming years. (Note: John Lawrence, ISU agriculture economist has studied the effects of modern technology on beef production. To read more:

  • Some estimates predict that the current world population of 6.7 billion people will expand to 9 billion by 2050.
  • Based on 2007 prices, removing the use of growth-promotant implants, dewormers, and fly control from cow-calf production would increase the breakeven price 47%, a value f $274 per calf.
  • In the feedlot phase, removal of growth implants ionophores antimicrobial therapy, beta-agonists, and dewormers results in a 13.2% increase in breakeven, a $155 value.

If these numbers haven't hit home yet, let me elaborate a bit more. In 2007, 11.1% of US households were reported as food insecure ( If the cost of food production increases as illustrated above, this cost has to be passed onto consumers. If people already cannot afford the price of food, then increased prices only means more of the same. Fewer people can afford food that is becoming increasingly expensive.

Now back to organic, natural and local. While I don't have specific research that supports the following claims, personal experience and first hand observation are enough to tell me that my claims are true. Organic, natural and locally produced foods are more expensive. Because of their comparitively higher cost, fewer people can afford to purchase them. If we require the production of food animals (or plants) to be organic and natural, fewer people are going to be able to purchase enough food to meet the requirements of their family. And this goes without considering the fact that our global population is growing.

Now back to my disclaimer at the beginning. I wholeheartedly support agricultural production, even if its not the method that I would choose. What I don't support though are people who deny the facts--the world population cannot afford to survive on organic, natural and local products alone. There is nothing wrong with consuming or producing such products; but please don't try to pull one over on America by telling her that organic, natural and local are the only way to go. She simply can't afford it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Lamb of God

The more I study my bible the more I understand how essential it is to learn about context. When I simply read over a passage, think about it and move on, I don't find much significance or depth to the passage. What I often fail to do is think about who the author and recipients were and what their world was like when the text was written. I usually learn that Jewish culture plays a huge role in understanding what is presented and also that I usually need to refer to some part of the Old Testament to really understand the big picture.

Case in point--what is really meant when Jesus is described as the Lamb of God? Just off the top of my head I think about him being a blameless, perfect sacrifice. I think about the huge role sacrifice played in Old Testament times where there were very specific procedures and requirements for sacrifices. I think about the blood of calves and goats being sprinkled on books and clothing in the temple. But what I fail to think about is the value of the sacrifice--be it an actual lamb before Christ or more importantly, the value of Christ as a sacrifice for my sins.

What really got me thinking about this was the book I am currently reading, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I don't want to lead you to think this is a book on Christianity because it most certainly is not. But in telling the story of an American mountaineer's quest to build schools in Pakistan, the author shares a story when a regional nurmadhar (chief) tries to stop the "American infidel" from educating local girls. He and his henchman visit the village where construction is currently underway and demands 12 of their largest rams if they wish for construction to continue and for no one to be hurt. Without batting an eye Haji Ali, the local nurmadhar, sends the village children to retrieve the rams. After handing the rams over, he leads his people back to the village and joyfully says that while the other chief may have food for a time, his people will have education forever. He didn't question his decision and fully understood that the sacrifice of those rams was more than worth it.

The picture depicted in the book was beautiful and made me think so much more about the sacrifice that was given up for me. In my book, Greg, the American mountaineer, described the rams as the most cherished and valuable posession of each family in the village. They were treated like firstborn children and it was devastating to willingly sacrifice these rams for the betterment of their community. After reading this chapter though, my eyes were opened in a whole new way to the value and importance of a sacrificial lamb. Rams must have been treated and thought of in a similar fashion in Jewish culture. The people were looking for something that could be given to God to cover their sins--they needed as perfect a sacrifice as they could find. Rams (and other animals) were sacrificed on an annual basis to act as an atonement for the sins of the people (for more info on Old Testament sacrifices, read Leviticus). These sacrifices could never complete the job though and that's where our Lamb of God comes into the picture.

Jesus is called the Lamb of God (John 1:29) because he was the perfect sacrifice for my sins. He completely satisfied God's wrath. Forever. Death and sin have been conquered. Knowing this, and having come to understand more about the value of a perfect sacrifice, I want to think of Jesus more like those Pakistani children thought of their rams. Do I cherish Him? Do I value Him and lavish attention and care on my relationship with Him? I want to place more value on my relationship with Jesus knowing that He was willingly sacrificed so that I might have life. I also yearn to know the depth of His sacrifice because He is the one, perfect sacrifice for all time.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Comforts of fall

I think fall could quite possibly be one of my favorite times of year. I love fall colors, especially if it means adorning my house with them. I love the smell of pumpkin pie, be it in candles or pies. I love the crisp, cool mornings that are so refreshingly light after a hot repressing summer. And I really love bringing out the sweaters baby! It's not that long sleeves are appealing to me, but sweaters in themselves are very comforting for some reason.

Now, the one thing I don't like about fall is the fact that I live in Buckeye, Arizona where it just happened to be 108 degrees today. Yep, far above average officially one week after the start of fall. What's up with that? My one comfort at this point is to look forward to this coming weekend's visit to my mom and dad's where I will joyfully wear my sweaters!

I hope you're enjoying this season's first week of fall! Want to celebrate the season and win something in a fall giveaway contest? Check out the Thoughts and Whatnots blog!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Week 3: speed=danger

Yep, that's right. It is officially the conclusion of week three in my bible study. I have to be honest though before I really delve into the heart of things; speed and danger aren't really the topic from my study but I do have a comical story to start off with. Remember last week? I locked myself out of my house before bible study. Well, the devil is playing a few games with me because as I quickly tried to re-heat dinner tonight so I could make it to bible study on time I accidentally created this:

Yep, that's right. There is a whole pile of spaghetti sitting on my floor. Here's what happened--I dumped the said spaghetti out of a tupperware onto a plate to re-heat in the microwave. As I spun around and opened the microwave I realized I no longer had any spaghetti on my plate! I didn't realize how quick my cat-like reaction was and in the process of dodging and weaving in my kitchen to get to the microwave, the spaghetti pretty much slid off my plate. And here's where the story gets really good. I definitely salvaged what I could off the top of the mound and reheated that. I said I was in a hurry so please don't judge me. I was 2.5 seconds from being late, so salvaging was my only option.

Okay, onto the real meat of tonight's blog. Our study was primarily about chapter one of Hebrews. After we de-briefed we were asked to share how we applied this. As a teacher myself, I know that application is everything; without it, there is no personal connection to the content. It really hit me tonight though--chapter one is all about the majesty and superiority of Jesus. God says He (Jesus) is the heir of all things, the world was made through Him and he is the exact representation of God (1:2-3). Knowing this then, how have I managed to "humanize" Jesus so much so that he seems like a dusty mid-Eastern man who's main purpose is teaching us how to love our neighbor better? Doesn't that seem way oversimplified? YES!! Listen to what the author of Hebrews says about Jesus in verses 10 through 12:

And, "You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle (outer coat) you will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed; but you are the same, and your years will not come to an end."

Wow, breath that in. Can you imagine grabbing the sky and rolling it up as if it were a piece of paper? That blows my mind--the author is saying that the heavens, made by Jesus himself, will cease to exist while Jesus will remain. Even the heavens will become old, and just like old clothes, the heavens will be changed. Jesus though, no not Jesus. Jesus will be the same. Jesus' years will never come to an end. The imagery in chapter one really captured the bigness, the hugeness of Jesus and how superior He truly is. Jesus humbled himself to the point of allowing himself to become a dusty mid-eastern man who was purely committed to love and service of our neighbors. His example is beyond my ability to describe.

If you want to know who Jesus is, think about Him in both ways. Heir of all things yet human enough to become dusty and dirty in His service to other humans. Powerful enough to roll the heavens up at the end of time, yet tender enough to love the those who wronged him. Wow. And that's the note I'll end on tonight, as un-eloquent as it is, Wow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My prayer this week

As I was driving to church this morning I prayed that God would prepare my eyes, ears and heart for His word as delivered by my pastor. Little did I know what God would do. I will tell you more later, but suffice it to say now that the Lord got right down to the root of a huge issue in my life. More to come later....

For now though, I want to share the lyrics with you from the song titled "Speak O Lord" (emphasis below is mine). It was written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. I love the truth that is captured below and desire to make this my prayer this week.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your holy word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today,
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us all your purposes,
For Your glory.

Teach us Lord full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility.
Test our thoughts and our attitudes,
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise,
Cause our eyes to see,
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of power that can never fail;
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us.
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time,
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises;
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built,
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Good (early) morning! I would have posted my thoughts regarding last night's bible study but I locked myself out of my house and had to sleep in my truck. The locksmith finally made it out and I'm in. Just kidding, well at least about sleeping in my truck. I did lock myself out of my house last night but thankfully some friends of mine had a spare key and brought it over (thanks Sarah and Bryan!).

Last night we recapped week two of our study which was a continuation of the overview we started on the entire book of Hebrews the week prior. While describing the priesthood of Jesus in chapter five, an individual named Melchizedek is introduced in verse 10. The following attributes of his are listed in 7:3:
  • Without father or mother
  • Having no geneaology
  • He did not have a "beginning of days" or "end of life"
  • He is made like the Son of God
  • He will remain a priest perpetually

I am so curious about him--chapter seven even says that after returning from battle, Abraham gave him a tenth of the spoils, a practice reserved for the priests. That wouldn't be that interesting if we also didn't know that he WASN'T from the tribe of Levi, the tribe that had been chosen to care for the temple and have priests selected from.

Here are some questions that I have regarding Melchizedek that I hope to pursue the answers to during the course of the study. Feel free to leave a comment with questions of your own regarding this interesting character.

  1. Who is he and where did he come from? (6:20)
  2. How can an individual have no mother/father/genealogy? (7:3)
  3. When was the Levitical priesthood established?
  4. How did the Israelites view Melchizedek then since the Levitical priesthood had not been established at that time when Abraham gave him a tenth of all spoils? (7:2)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Week 1: Endurance & Strength

After a summer sabbatical from bible study, my church resumed our Growth Groups this week. The women's study I have joined will be studying the book of Hebrews in entirety over the next year. I am very interested in learning about this book because there are many things that remain unknown to me at the outset of our study, even though I've read the book before. The first few weeks of our study will revolve around learning about the context of the book. Who was the author? Who are the recipients? What was the author's purpose in writing this book? Our discussion tonight revolved around these exact questions.

The majority of our discussion focused on the recipients of Hebrews--after jotting down many notes this is what I would summarize. The author was writing to Jewish Christians; individuals who had been persecuted and challenged about their faith in Jesus Christ as the messiah and were growing weary (10:32-35). They had been made public spectacles, their property was siezed and some were even prisoners (13:3). It seems they have been believers for some time because the author admonishes that they should be teachers at this point but still remain infantile in their faith (5:12-14). Despite their current state though, the author is exhorting them to love and encourage each other (10:24-25), and reminding them of the value of discipline (12:7-11).

Okay, so I've learned something about the recipients of the book of Hebrews. Big deal, right? What does that mean to you? Me? I may be a Christian but I'm not a Jewish Christian. My faith has been questioned by some, but I have not been persecuted to the point of being imprisoned or having my property taken by family or friends. But I've been there, in that same weary state. To a point where I'm tired, grumpy and nearing the point where I'm tired of waiting on God's timing. Confused, overwhelmed, perplexed on God's purpose in something.

Don't you sense the love with which the author of Hebrews writes though? He wrote 13 chapters building an amazing argument of why these Jewish Christians should remain strong and steadfast in their faith. The prize that awaits them (and us) is far more valuable than anything else in this world.

"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire." (12: 28-29)

Regardless of the persecution or challenge, he says to lay aside everything that hinders us and to run with endurance.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (12:1)

I appreciate the direct, uncompromising nature that the Hebrews author uses. I am strengthened by his message of exhortation and admonishment. I pray that as I continue to learn about the context of Hebrews and the situation of the original recipients, that I may apply these timeless principles to my own life. I already have been encouraged in week one and I anxiously await week two, three and many more in the year to come. I hope to share my walk through Hebrews with you....feel free to contribute your own thoughts, questions and insights as I share mine.

Note: All scripture references are from the book of Hebrews.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Destructive Doggies

Anna and I came home late Saturday afternoon after handing out samples of beef at the Phoenix Cooks! culinary event; we handed out well over 1,000 samples of a beef chimichurri. The event was awesome and I am so glad Anna asked me to help; not only was it fun to promote beef but on my breaks I got to sample other food and drink that was to die for. I will recount my two favorites before divulging my destructive dog story.

Favorite #1: Chilled Mango Soup
The chilled soup included strawberry, mint and basil (I think...correct me if I'm wrong Anna/Gretchen). Not a combination I would have put together but it was phenomenal. It was served in a plastic shot glass with a dollop of cream. So good in fact I had to go back for seconds. This was served by The Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain.

Favorite #2: Ahi Tuna-Avocado Appetizer
I'm not actually sure what the official name was but it was amazing. From a distance it looked like diced tomatoes with a scoop of chunky guacomole on top and garnished with a crispy cracker. When Gretchen and I bit into this we both knew it was not tomatoes--Gerti knew before I was marinated Ahi Tuna. A-maz-ing. This was served by Tommy Bahama restaruant.

Okay, onto another crazy Jonnie-Reb (JR) story. After we came home, Anna sat down at the table to eat and I was headed back into the garage to unload more stuff out of Anna's car. As I stepped outside, I heard Anna say "Oh, no." I immediately knew that the dogs had done something they shouldn't. When I say dogs, this includes JR's sister, Lucy, who is owned by Patrick. The picture below is what I saw when I looked outside. Please note that the debris is dead plants (3 hibiscus plants and my beautiful mexican petunia) and the planter was full when I left that morning.

I just don't get it. I honestly thought they would be less destructive because they had each other. Not true. Another thing I don't get:

Does anything look pleasant or appetizing about that spiky plant? I know it hurts like heck when it stabs me everytime I weed eat around it. I don't understand how my dog chews on this thing every day.

Here's a shot of the two yahoos playing tug-o-war with an uprooted hibiscus plant. Forgive its fuzzy nature, I took it through the screen on the window.

Despite being destructive, I adore these two dogs. Jonnie Reb is so fun and Lucy is very sweet. I am fully committed at this point though to NOT replace any plants in my backyard until JR grows up a bit. I figure I'll get a better return on my investment that way.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Giving Thanks

I tried talking myself into returning to school after dinner tonight to complete a new bulletin board and start a quiz that I will be giving my Animal Science class tomorrow. The idea sounded brilliant at 7pm but after cleaning up my kitchen at quarter 'til nine I thought otherwise.

Instead I thought I'd give thanks for a wonderful evening. I made Tamale Pie for dinner and invited a handful of friends over to share it with. Now don't get me wrong, dinner turned out great, especially considering it was the first time I had made this, but the part I am most thankful for is the time I had with new and old friends tonight. This may sound trivial to some, but let's briefly re-visit my first (and some of my second) year of teaching.

For about the first six months of teaching two years ago, my usual day looked like this:
4am-rise and shine
6am-head to school after devotion, hearty breakfast and getting ready
8:30am-school starts, the big rug rats arrive
3pm-the final bell rings, I collapse into my seat, and take a mental break for about 5 minutes
3:05pm-coach a team, grade papers, prepare lessons...etc.
5:30pm-break for dinner....this would be the second meal I have eaten at my desk today
8:30-9pmish-drive home, set automatic coffee pot and fall asleep instantly

I was working far too many hours and as far as I was concerned my social life was over. I was practically crawling to my truck at night so I could just get in bed and start the same overloaded schedule as the day before. I longed for the sweet days of graduate school where I had friends over for dinner frequently and they returned the favor at least once a week. Instead of evenings filled with satisfying food and friendships, I was trying to keep my head above water trying to prepare myself to teach parts of the cell to my freshmen Ag classes.

It's been a long time coming, and I have neglected far too many friendships and hobbies over the past two years. My third year of teaching has gotten off to a strong start and has included more time with friends than any other of my previous two years and for that I wish to give thanks tonight.

Note to other "foodies:" for a great recipe on tamale pie or other classic American dishes, check out The Cook's Country Cookbook: Rediscovering American Home Cooking. As my friend Sarah pointed out tonight, I know it's hard to believe that a dish with the word tamale in it is American, but it is. Believe me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bread and Lots of Butter

After watching The Time Traveler's Wife with several girlfriends this afternoon, we headed to Olive Garden for some soup, salad and of course breadsticks. After our waitress brought out a second heaping bowl of breadsticks, I selected one and then commented rather absentmindedly, "I wish I had a bowl of butter to dip this into." The three girls I was with thought this rather amusing considering they were already slathered with butter and garlic.

When our waitress returned to check on us, I mentioned that dinner was great and the only thing that could have made it better was some butter. She smiled and promptly returned with one of those single serving type packets, with butter wrapped in gold foil and the Land-o-Lakes seal. She asked if I would like it melted and without hesitation I said, "If you wouldn't mind." (Note: Our waitress had already endeared herself to me because of her laugh, and this only sealed the deal for getting a great tip.)

Just as I had wished, I was able to enjoy my third (and final) breadstick of the evening by dipping it in butter. Much more butter than most people enjoy but I'm not most people. I love butter. I'm not just a bread and butter type of girl, I'm a bread and LOTS of butter type of girl. I don't mess around when it comes to adorning toast, croissants and english muffins with golden, translucent, savory butter.

PS-I'm not sure when my love for butter started but I have also been known to consume small tubs of cinnamon butter at restaruants in exchange for having my dinner bought. You can ask my friend Brian about the time we went to Billie Jack's in Williston, FL....that was some good eatin!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Random Reviews

It's not the end of the week yet but I feel ready to give some random reviews of my happenings and wanderings of the past seven days.

  • God has been so generous in providing a really solid start to my third year of teaching. I have a tremendous set of freshmen coming through my Ag program and they have really supportive parents. So supportive in fact that I had a line, yes a line, at Meet the Teacher night last night. It was only scheduled to last 1 1/2 hours but I stayed 35 minutes longer because the line was never ending....
  • I ate a fried egg sandwich on sourdough bread everyday this week. I have this really annoying habit of falling in love with some type of food and then eating it day-in and day-out until I become sick of it. I've done this many types before with things such as cheese crisps (senior year at UA), bean and cheese burritos (junior year at UA) and green apples for lunch (the past year). The funny thing about eggs is that I love so much I rarely tire of them.
  • My dog has been destroying plastic water bottles and milk jugs everyday this week. She has fantastic little chompers and I try to keep her occupied chewing up recyclable material as opposed to killing my poor plants. First I freeze the bottles with water and once I set them out she has a hay day trying to pick up the frozen bottles.
  • I have enjoyed amazing sunrises each day this week as I walked Johnnie Reb (my plastic chewing dog) around 4:45am. It's been a peaceful and energizing way to start the day and I am hopeful about making this a daily habit this school year.
  • Anna (my sister) and I tried a new restaruant on Tuesday with Kami, a friend of ours. It was called Orchid Thai Garden (Dysart and Indian School). The food was pretty good but my favorite part of the whole experience was the 70-something owner who was named Perry. He shared that he had been traveling to Thailand for the past 20 years about two times a year. He must really love that place. He was eager to share his love for Thai food with us. He gave us a Thai ice tea on the house so we could try it....not bad but I probably wouldn't order it on my own. It was very earthy tasting. If you live on the west side of the Valley and need a Thai fix, check this place out.

I am looking forward to the weekend and I hope you are too!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Donate Blood Marrow

I'm writing today's entry for my friend Summer who was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in February 2009. This rare disease has basically stopped her body from producing red and white blood cells and platelets thus making her super susceptible to infection and also making her very fatigued. At this point, Summer has already been through a treatment that involved blood transfusions to replenish her supply of red and white blood cells and platelets. Her body responded for awhile but has reached a plateau in terms of improvement. Currently, her physician is considering a second round of this same treatment and if that doesn't work she'll need to have a bone marrow transplant. Please be praying for Summer's FULL recovery--her body needs to be able to produce both types of blood cells and platelets so that she can return to her normal life which includes caring for a 9 month old. Please also be praying that this second round of treatment is a success so that they don't have to resort to a bone marrow transplant.

Now onto my next request and the subject of this blog. Most people have heard of donating blood but not as many have heard of donating blood marrow. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Summer's last resort for treatment is doing a bone marrow transplant. The thing is, she doesn't have perfect match registered in the nationwide bone marrow transplant. That's where you come in-if you read my blog I would like you to prayerfully consider donating bone marrow or at least spreading the word to your family and friends about this life giving opportunity.

To register in the blood marrow bank, you simply request a kit and then swab your cheek. It's really simple, and honestly pain free, and once the registry is updated, you could be a life-saving match for someone within a week. There is no fee associated with donating bone marrow--and even better is the procedure that they use to extract your bone marrow. One way that your bone marrow is harvested is a process called Stem Cell Pheresis. In stem cell pheresis, a donor gives only stem cells (undifferentiated cells that can develop into any type of cell) rather than whole blood. Prior to the donation procedure, the donor receives an injection of a special type of protein (growth factor) that stimulates the bone marrow to release stem cells into the bloodstream. Whole blood is drawn from the donor, and a machine that separates the blood into its components selectively removes the stem cells and returns the rest of the blood to the donor. For more information on how to donate bone marrow, please visit or stop by a blood bank today and tell them that you would like to register in the bone marrow bank.

Finally, there is a replacement blood and bone marrow drive for Summer on Sunday, August 16th in Auberry, CA. If you know of anyone who lives in California who might be interested, please pass this info along to them.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Aunt Katy the Nanny

I played nanny for my brother and sister-in-law a week ago while they traveled to Oklahoma for my sister-in-law's high school reunion. While I never thought motherhood was easy, I have a new found appreciation for the day and night job that mothering is. Each day started around 4:45am when P, my youngest nephew, usually woke me up by crawling into my bed. About five minutes later G would follow and ask me what I was making for breakfast. I enjoyed my three and half days with my nieces and nephews and would readily agree to do it again. Enjoy the picture anthology below...
Notice P sleeping on the floor...not sure why. He went down for his nap really easily, no persuasion required, so sleeping on the floor wasn't a product of a fit. I just liked the picture...pretty soon he won't be taking naps anymore and I won't have a chance to snap fun photos like this.

We went to see the movie "Ice Age, Dawning of the Dinosaurs." P got a nap before we went so he didn't sleep on the way back. G however refused a nap prior to the movie, so she zonked out on the way home.

Since my parent's were also out of town for my cousin's wedding, we made several trips to my folk's place each day. My nieces and nephews are drawn to collect snails like most kids are drawn to candy so each time we came back, a few snails made the trip back with us too. D is posing next to the "snail city" we created on top of the dog crate...everyone know that snails needed a good home to rest in while we went inside.

J is big enough to ride in the front now...he was holding our leftover popcorn tub on our way back from the movie.

I can't get enough of this kid. P wants to wear his boots no matter the occasion and you'll notice that his boots were perfect for riding his little bike around the driveway.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mere shadows

My friend Janette just got me hooked on a new (to me) series by Janette Oke. The series is placed at the turn of the 19th century (early that 20th century?) and describes the unique bond between two families, one of French descent and one of English descent. Circumstances between the families fostered a secret relationship between the two wives and through a long series of events including an Acadian expulsion, infant daughters were switched to save the life of one. Due to the expulsion, the daughters were never returned to their biological parents and each family raised the other's daughter thousands of miles away never knowing if their own daughter was even alive.

Fast forward 18 years and both daughters meet....when asked what her birth parents are like, Nicole responds, "Everything good about me, everything worthy, is just a faint shadow of who my parents are."

That brief sentence totally took my breath away. Have you ever thought about how your life reflects your upbringing? If you haven't I'm sure your parents have. I'm not at the stage where I have children, but as a teacher I'm always concerned about the behavior of my students while I am absent. If this is a concern that our earthy parents have, how much more is our heavenly father concerned about the message we communicate by the life we lead? We are the living bible. Some people may never read the bible but our lives can be open book to them. Whether you think about it or not, your attitude, demeanor, perspective, and choices all serve as reflections of the Lord we serve. While I can never make a complete list of the attributes of God I do know that God is love; it makes sense then that John 13:35 says the world will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another.

Just like Nicole said I know that anything good or worthwhile in my life is a direct reflection of my heavenly father. If my life is only a shadow of God's goodness and love, how great, powerful and loving is God? While I am only a mere shadow, I pray that His reflection in my life is as bright, clear and unmistakeable as it can be.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I've been punked

Twice. And by my dog. In my own truck. Need I say more?

Let's rewind to Monday of this week. I stopped by the local dance studio in Buckeye to pick up my camera from a friend (she picked it up for me after I left it somewhere). I was literally going to run in and run out so I left my truck running with Johnnie Reb inside. When I returned she was sitting in the driver's seat and the door was locked. I know it wasn't an accident; if I had waited a second longer she would have slipped it into gear and taken it for a joy ride. Anna helped me get a hold of AAA and my friend called a local auto shop. Thank goodness for living in a small town because AAA had just dispatched the call to them and they were headed my way.

Fast forward with me to this morning. I stopped by a Verizon Wireless store to inquire about getting a discount for being a public school teacher. While I was enjoying the pleasant surprise about my discount, Johnnie Reb was gobbling down the pan of seven layer bars I had brought to share with my family this weekend. I always fall prey to my pride and this morning was no different. I was secretly patting myself on the back thinking how clever I was for hiding the pan of goodies underneath a cooler on my front floor board. God, with his ever witty sense of humor, used Johnnie Reb's terrific sense of smell and led her to eat the seven layer bars to humble me. Hmmpphh. No wonder I didn't see her sitting on my console when I looked out; I assumed she had laid down in my back seat.

Johnnie Reb-2

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The right size for kids

A few posts back, I mentioned the quail eggs my sister bought me. I promised to post some pictures, so here they are! My sister and I were talking about it and quail eggs are the perfect size for kiddos...if you have a child, or niece or nephew, or someone else who is small and likes to hang out with you, it would be fun to cook the quail eggs with them because they're totally kid size. Speaking from experience with my own nieces and nephews, they love to have things that are "just for them."

I just wanted to show you the difference in size between a regular, large egg and the quail egg. There are actually two quail eggs in this picture; I didn't want you to think the quail egg had a wierd growth off to the right side.

Not only are the quail eggs perfect for kids, they're about the same size as my cowboy and cowgirl salt and pepper shakers. Not that you really needed to know that but I love Pamela Pepper and Sammy Salt so I thought I'd share them with you this morning. There's nothing like making breakfast with two good friends at your side:-)

As if you needed more proof about the difference in size, I thought I'd confirm that one is still bigger and one is still smaller even after they're frying in the pan.

Have a lovely day folks!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Paul and the trump card

I've been reading through many books of the bible authored by Paul as of late. I love his directness and his desire to grow people for God. It seems that as he closes every book he writes, he mentions the name of many people that he has worked with and is praying for (Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 16). God blessed him with the opportunity to influence many for His sake. This is just me speaking, but I think Paul was extremely honored to be able to work on behalf of God. Especially considering his life prior to accepting Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.

Paul is the topic of my blog today because he has long intrigued me and I just read an article in World magazine that led me to think even more about his perspective on the war against Christianity. To quickly summarize, the article said that while many headlines today herald a decline in Christian faith, a closer look would reveal an actual rise in serious faith. The article was a refreshing read and I thought the author, Marvin Olasky, said it quite well when desribing this perspective of Paul's: "The apostle Paul was note unduly impressed by temprary ascents and descents. His confidence did not depend on which emperor was in power or who the next emperor might be. He knew that a benevolent reign would allow more to hear the gospel, but a hard reign would create inspiring testimonies that would show how the gospel sustained believers amid pressure-so Christ's cause would win either way."

God's truth will trump everything in the end. Regardless of who is at the helm of our government, or any government for that matter, we can be confident that any trial or challenge will only serve to bring more glory to God and the gospel that is shared through our lives and testimonies.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Junky Car Club

Have you ever wondered what you could with the extra money you would have if you learned to live on less? I have, but it's not usually for the benefit of anyone but myself. I find myself selfishly dreaming of all the things I could do with the extra money I'd have if I could only refinance my home mortgage. These dreams usually revolve around doing something to the interior of my home-new window treatments, new decorations, maybe even a new drip irrigation system for the one my puppy just ripped out. If I ever happen upon extra money, the drip system will definitely have to wait until my puppy (hopefully) grows out of this stage.

Anyway, refocus with me back to the subject of this particular blog. I recently read about the Junky Car Club, a group that encourages people to drive older vehicles that are paid for so they can give their money to those in need. I have heard lots of talk lately about little ways to save money, but this is definitely a big way that could benefit someone else. Think about it-our culture encourages us, practically begs us, to have the biggest, bestest or newest. This is a great way to go against what our culture says and live out the what Christ has asked us to do.

What do you have, that you could give up, sale, or trade-in so that you might help someone who has gone without?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Rose and The Thorn

When I was in grad school, my group of friends shared lots of meals together. It never failed that we would go around the table and share the best thing from our week and the worst thing. I have heard this "game" referred to as the rose and the thorn and following this style of sharing I'm going to tell you about the coolest things and uncoolest things of my week so far...

Coolest: Anna bought me a dozen quail eggs from the Asian style Ranch Market over in the Chinese Cultural neighborhood in Phoenix. I had two for breakfast this morning and they were pretty good. The hardest thing about eating them was getting the shell and membrane to crack--I cracked the shell on the side of my skillet like I normally do but I practically had to tear the membrane to get the yolk to come out. I still have ten in my fridge so I'll take a picture and post it later.

Uncoolest: Johnnie Reb (herein referred to as JR) is tearing my drip irrigation system out! As I was frying up some quail eggs this morning I looked out just in time to see JR pulling with her little might and then nearly tumbling backwards as she succeeded in ripping it out. JR definitely knows she is not supposed to do this because she runs from me as soon as I come out to give her a swat. I discussed this with the smartest maintenance man at my school yesterday and he told me that if I put the system back in, I need to make sure I bury the line deeper. He thinks they left it pretty shallow and that is why JR can tear it with almost no effort. Besides going crazy finding black drip line all over my back yard, it's been a pretty good week.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gopher poop

I've been in my classroom for most of the afternoon today with the intention of working on writing lesson plans for the Ag business curriculum I am incorporating into my animal science class this fall. I've been halfway productive but I definitely felt the need to share something with all three of my blog readers. It's so gross, so disturbing that I can't pass this moment up.

I just returned from taking Jonnie Reb to go potty outside...yep, that's right from the mild heat of an Arizona. Okay, so 112 probably isn't considered mild. Temperature aside though, Jonnie immediately found some gopher poop to eat. Or at least I thought it was gopher poop. After she chewed up that little doggie delicacy she found another pile of it. Meanwhile I'm standing in the shade of my building gagging, and begging her to quit being so gross so she can hurry up and go potty. She has this innate ability to locate and devour piles of poop like this.

The wierd thing about is not that I'm drawn to blogging about this subject, but that it totally doesn't gross me out when she eats cow manure at home. In fact, I encourage her to do so. Cow manure to a puppy is like otter pups to a child. Anyway, there is something just downright wrong about eating unidentified (gopher?) poop.

Okay, that's it. I feel better now that that is off my chest. Thanks for bearing with me. I hope you come back and read my blog again. I promise never to blog about gopher poop again. I swear.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Something I can't live without

Besides God, nothing else is truly essential to my life. I do however like to think that seeing sunrises and sunsets are essential. It's wierd. I'm so drawn to these events each day. I delight in seeing them as if God created each one specially for me. I am also very partial to Arizona's and wish I could say that they are truly the most dramatic. I willingly concede this point only because I myself have witnessed sunsets equally impressive in places like Omaha, Key West and Gainesville. I don't know why I crave seeing them but I do know that are a generous gift from God and perfectly depict his creativity through color. I hope you enjoy this picture of a sunset at Picacho Peak and in it are reminded of God's power, glory and goodness in giving us gifts such as this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The hard stuff

Webster's dictionary defines "hard stuff" as any challenge or difficulty in our life that makes us question God. Okay, I joke, I joke. Webster's didn't say that, but I did. I may only be 26 but I have experienced a few storms that have made me question God and ask why. Why is this happening to me? What are you trying to teach me? Why me? Why doesn't God make it stop?

You may have asked yourself similar questions, and also like me you may have not made the most of the pain in your life. Make the most of it? Whoa, Katy, back that horse up. Make the most of pain? Strife? Discomforts? Someone's death? Losing a job? Working with a challenging co-worker? Divorce? Miscarriage? Feeling desperate? How are we to make the most of something like this?

I've been toying with some of these questions during the past two years as I've dealt with various challenges; most of these challenges associated in some way with my new career as an Ag teacher. There were brief moments of feeling desperate, not knowing how to deal with the situation, and definitely not understanding why I had been selected for this. What I failed to recognize through most of this though is that even in the most painful and challenging moments of my life God is still good and I can trust Him. It's not that I didn't know this truth, but I failed to let this truth permeate my perspective of each situation.

In Romans 8:31-32 God says, "What shall we say about such wondeful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?" Think about this-God didn't just lay down the life of His son and then expect us to deal with everything else on our own. No! As Paul states, won't He give us everything else too? Through every challenge we must be confident that God is still good and we can trust Him. The one man who was perfect and blameless still suffered and died (Jesus). If Jesus expected to suffer, we too can expect this. But...the big but...there is a purpose in our suffering. We may not always know what it is or why it is happening to us but we can be confident that God does. God is good and we can trust that He knows the purpose for every bit of suffering and strife in our lives. This is the eternal perspective that we must approach all things.

So, why am I talking about this today? Partly because this message struck a still-sensitive chord in my heart after two years of a specific challenge. Partly because I am still learning to make the most of pain and struggles in my life. And partly because I have been an observer of the grief of two of my good friends. I met Jake and Rebecca Mutz while living in Florida for graduate school. They now live in a suburb of Denver and last year they lost their daughter, Molly Ann, shortly after giving birth to her. Rebecca's pregnancy seemed perfect--full term, enjoyable. Even her labor and delivery went off without a hitch. But after rushing Molly to the NICU they found out that half of her brain had been affected by brain damage. The doctors told them they would need to make Molly comfortable until she passed away. Jake and Rebecca waited nine months to hold their precious daughter in their hands to spend the rest of their lives investing in hers. And then they were only able to spend roughly a week with her, making her comfortable, until she could go home to Jesus. Why? Why the Mutz's? Why Molly? Why this way? It just doesn't make sense. Jake and Rebecca still don't know the purpose of this, but they do have hope. Hope based on knowing that God is good and they can still trust Him.

I know it doesn't make it easier in the middle of your grief for someone to say that grief is good and can still have a purpose in our lives. Even if you believe in Jesus it's not easy to hear this. Sometimes having someone try to encourage you can be frustrating and angering. I pray that you have this confidence in God, that even in the midst of the most miserable circumstances in your life, that God is good and you can trust Him. I pray that your perspective is one permeated by God's truth and God's promises. Even in your suffering, we must trust that God is good and we can trust Hhim. We may not know the purpose of our suffering, or we may not even like the purpose, but we can know without a doubt that God is good and we can trust Him.

God bless you this day as you deal with the hard stuff.

If you would like to know or read more about Jake and Rebecca, check out Rebecca's blog: Rebecca just co-authored a book with her mom recounting her journey through this experience. Also, some info for this blog was taken from my notes on Jim Burgen's May 2 sermon at Flatirons Community Church.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sweet babies and special friends

Yesterday I was able to visit my dear friends, Jeremy and Rebekah Copeland and their new daughter, Sophie, in Sahuarita, Arizona.

I met Jeremy and Rebekah during the two year period I lived in Florida for graduate school. I still remember the first time I had coffee with Rebekah because I was so hungry for fellowship after moving to a new place and not knowing a soul. Not only did Jeremy and Rebekah welcome me with open arms but the entire Copeland/Mauldin crew did. I consider them like a second family and that's why it so special to finally meet their daughter yesterday! Jeremy's parents had also flown in that morning so I was able to visit with Mr. and Mrs. C. Love you guys!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good bye calend-grrr

One requirement of my job as an Ag teacher is to complete SAE visits for each student. I also like to call SAE visits "home visits" because I visit the home or work place of the student to check the progress of their project that they are required to have as a part of my class. I was out in Palo Verde this afternoon visiting a pair of freshmen siblings that I had this past year and I brought my puppy along with me because I had several more visits to complete later that evening. Johnnie Reb did really well at this particular place because they had several horses and calves around. She was in heaven because of the abundant manure. After visiting with the brother outside I put Johnnie Reb back inside the cab of the truck so I could see the educational display that the other student had completed inside the house. Twenty minutes later I go outside to retrieve my pup. As I approach the truck I see she has some paper hanging out of her mouth. I silently get after myself for leaving a letter out thinking she has torn it up.

Little did I know that this is what I would find when I opened the planner!! She got a couple of good mouthfuls out of this week and the next couple of weeks. I told Anna about this and as she was driving home she called me to share her thoughts on what was going through Johnnie Reb's head: "Where's that calendar? That schedule of hers is always taking her away from me. Well take this. (bite, tear, swallow) And this. Grrrr. Rip. Shred."

This is Johnnie post calendar massacre. Real innocent? I think not. Her middle name spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Working for God

With the conclusion of my second year of teaching, it seems appropriate to discuss the topic of work. Over the past two years I struggled with the transition from college to career. It wasn't so much the pace or demands of my job, but more how I was perceiving my role as a Christian in a full time career. Many people have told me that teaching is full time ministry, and I whole heartedly agree, but that's not what I was struggling with. It's hard for me to explain, but it was as if I almost felt like I didn't know how to incorporate my life as a Christian into day-to-day living in my career as a teacher. I have slowly acclimated over the past two years while God slowly reveals things to me about this struggle. I am not out of the woods yet on my struggle, but God shared some neat things in a sermon last week at church. The sermon was given by Bill Eaton, a past Deacon of my church and the notes that follow were based on his sermon.

Bill shared some startling statistics--we spend more than 50% of our waking hours in our jobs. With that in mind, how might my career be different so that I am pleasing God in this activity that I will dedicate a large chunk of my life to? God calls us to be salt (Matthew 5:13) and light (Matthew 5:14, Philippians 2:14-15) in this world so that means we are to be salt and light in our places of work too. I like how Bill phrased this on Sunday, "Salt is used to prevent decay. It is supposed to flavor what it touches. As God's salt and light in the world, do we touch all things with the will, love and grace of God?"

Hmm. That's something to reflect on now, isn't it? I know I can be salt and light when it's easy and when people are nice to me. But what about those students of mine who just wear on my nerves? Or that teacher who asks question after question in staff meetings? Do I leave a little salt and light in their life? Am I an identifiable follower of Christ throughout the school day? Both as a teacher and a co-worker?

Bill posed the following questions as some things to think about in regard to our lives at work. They can pretty much be applied to life in general. Read over them. Think about them. Make yourself answer them. And don't worry, this isn't like one of those tests in Good Housekeeping that says your wierd if your answers aren't all "yes." I'm not perfect, no one is, so don't feel bad if your answers aren't all yes. Okay, go ahead and feel bad. It's a part of the process if you want to change.

  • Do I reflect the self giving of Christ or the grasping of whatever I can get?
  • Do I seek to serve others or seek to control them by expecting them to serve me?
  • Do I only serve those who are pleasant toward me or all those who God brings in my center of influence?
  • Do I demonstrate that I am only working for money or do I demonstrate that I delight in a God who gave His son for me?
  • Do I offer my work to God in worship of Him?
  • Do I grumble and complain or am I appreciative and thankful?
  • Am I the light of Christ in conversations with others? Do I lend comfort, hope and encouragement or do I appear downcast?
  • Do I act as light with my employer? Do I work with a sincere and pure heart that is full of integrity when I am supervised only?

I'm not off the hook from following and obeying Christ at work, even now with summer break in full swing. I have found that it is sometimes harder to follow Christ at work, laying aside my own desires. But I pray that God will be evident in your (and mine) work ethic, attitude and desire to serve as you work day in, and day out. George Washington Carver said, "When you do things in life in an uncommon way you will command the attention of the world." Bill paraphrased this quote in closing last Sunday by saying, "Do the common things in life in an uncommon way because we have an uncommon God." So when you're at work to tomorrow, give it a try. Do things in an uncommon way. You'll make some heads turn and you'll definitely please God.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Calling it like it is

My friend Ann forwards me devotionals that she receives. I really appreciate the straight forward approach the author of these devotionals writes in; in fact I enjoyed it so much in a recent devotional that I'd like to share a part of it with you. The following excerpt is taken from the Dene Ward's June 1 devotional titled, "Stuck in a rut."

It seems to me that when someone complains that his religion no longer has meaning for him because he is “stuck in a rut,” it says more about him than it does about the religion he practices. While babes in Christ may need special care, mature Christians should be past the need for coddling. It is my responsibility to keep my heart and my attitude right in my service to God and to keep myself out of the rut of rote ritual, even if God tells me to do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way for ten thousand years. Exactly who is it that is being worshipped anyway? It certainly isn’t me and my likes and dislikes—at least it shouldn’t be.

If we need to change the things we can change, by all means, let’s change them. But when the reason becomes “how I feel” instead of what is best for the body of Christ and the mission God gave us, we need to stop and take a better look at ourselves.

These comments were based on a reflection that too often we make the excuse that we are stuck in a rut, especially in regard to the manner in which we worship. That excuse is our justification for changing something about the way we worship simply because it suits us better, not necessarily because it is what God has commanded.

Too often I find myself making changes in my own life simply because "I feel" that it is best. I don't mean to degrade my own or your decision making process but I know that I could exercise more self control and diligence in keeping aligned with God's word for living and practicing my faith. Our culture has become one that encourages self-service and self-promotion when making decisions. Living for God though demands that we set aside our own justification for decisions and seek God's will.

"And now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but to fear the Lord your God and to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you this day for your good."
Deut 10:12,13.