Sunday, November 30, 2008

Olive Bread

I love kalamata olives. Don't remember the first time I tried one, but it was love at first bite.

Last week, Joel came home with Olive bread (didn't know it my life is changed) and we dipped warm slices in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It was so good, we were fighting for the crumbs. Olive bread...Olive wonder I named my first born Olivia.

I digress. We went back to the store and bought another loaf. We decided to pace ourselves and not devour the whole thing in an evening. The next afternoon, when I went to cut it, the crust was distinctively harder. It had hardened overnight, I guess, perhaps because I didn't seal the brown paper bag well enough. As I took my big, serrated bread knife to the thick, rock-hard crust, you can guess what happened. Slip. Knife in hand.

Index finger, to be specific. The kind of slice this is a little too deep and too quick to realize just what you've done. "JOOOELLL!" I scream from the kitchen. He ran to the garage, where we keep the first aid kit.

He helped me with a band-aid as I debated whether or not this was an ER laceration or simply a band-aid-sized-kitchen-mishap. I ask Joel. He says something about "...and why did you do this when there were three seconds left in the game and they were about to kick the field goal?" A response like that generally means I don't need to go to the ER.

Three hours later.

Joel heads into the kitchen. He has Olive bread on his mind. Same knife, same bread....same slip. Same finger.

Bigger cut.

I will not post what he said next.

Good thing the first aid kit was still in the kitchen. The debate about whether this was the time to visit the ER began again. Joel was feeling a little queasy (we think he hit a nerve in his finger) so he went to lay down.

A few minutes later, he returned, holding his finger above his head. I asked if that helped, and why he was doing it. He just looked at me and slowly lowered his hand.

I think the part that bothered us most is that we just wanted a piece of that dang bread. I felt like a mouse reaching for cheese and then SNAP! goes the trap.

This morning, the bread was still on the counter. The crust, a day harder. My will - a bit stronger. I microwaved that thing to "soften" it, and then ripped a chunk off. I took my prize into the living room and sat by Joel.

"You are a brave woman." And he smiled.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Puppies and Coins

I'm sure glad my Gran and my Mom saved a bunch of my baby dresses. It saves me time (and money) when I need to dress Olivia for the holidays. This dress was actually mine when I was two (and when I go into the garage later to get our Christmas tree, I'll search some old albums and see if I can find a photo of myself at this age and we'll compare!)

Thanksgiving with Joels family was great. His sister Emily knocked it out of the park with her candied yams (extra marshmallows) and her apple crisp (extra crisp.) The kids had fun running up and down Granddad's hallway, back and forth, sliding on hardwood floors. And surprisingly, no tears! Although, Olivia got tired of that dress REAL fast, so she ended up looking like this most of the night:

And to get her to look at the camera and smile, her Granddad held up a cupcake to catch her attention. This is the smile she in "GIVE ME MY CUPCAKE."

On the drive home (after the sugar rush from the cupcake wore off) Olivia was content in her car seat and Joel and I were listening to Christmas music. We hear this little voice in the backseat, counting. "One, two, free, four ...coins."

Coins? I follow her eyes and she's counting street lights. She calls street lights "coins" evidently. This is new to me. Whatever.

She counts her coins, smiling and laughing, and then begins to talk about a puppy. There are no dogs in sight. It's dark out. Just meaningless chatter coming from my curly-top-almost-two-year-old in the backseat.

Joel and I exchange curious glances, and he looks at me and says "Duh, Sarah. Puppies and coins. Could you imagine anything more wonderful? This is what she's thankful for. Coins with Puppies on them. Puppies with a coin for a tag. Coins. Puppies. Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, far be it from me to judge. Count away, darling. Count away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm currently reading a book by Francis Chan entitled "Crazy Love."

In the book he tells the story of a friend who was faithfully giving 20 percent of his income to God, and suddenly his income dropped drastically. He knew he had to decide whether he should continue to give in a way that proved he trusted God. It wouldn't have been wrong to lower his giving to 10 percent. But instead, his friend chose to increase his giving to 30 percent, despite the income reduction.

Today we are partnering with Seattles Union Gospel Mission to provide 1 meal - 1 hope.

$38 a month for two months will provide 40 meals and care this holiday season at Seattles Union Gospel Mission. The meal is the "point of entry" for so many other aspects of Seattle's Union Gospel Mission. You can know that with each meal you provide, you are making a difference.

You can give here right now!

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~W.T. Purkiser

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'd Like To Buy A Vowel

Have I told you this story? Stop me if you've heard it. But its one of my favorites to tell, and I've been asked to speak at a Womens Conference in January (click here for more) and I feel like this might be part of what I talk I'm going to practice it on you. Ready? Hold on to your seat.

When I was a Senior at the University of Washington, I asked my dad if I could work part-time for him over the summer in order to save up some money. I was also in transition with roommates, so I asked dad if I could move in with him for a few months. Hes a good dad, so he said yes.

I was in church one Sunday, and Pastor Brad was telling our congregation that we were getting ready to expand our church and build more room. Building For Life is what the project was called, and each of us were asked to pray about what God would have us contribute towards the project. I remember feeling a pang in my heart - I knew I wanted to help - but how? I didn't have any extra money, I was barely hanging on as it was. "Jesus," I prayed in the pew, "I want to help. I don't know how. Please show me how."

A few weeks later, I was sitting at the receptionist desk at my dads business, working on an excel sheet. A co-worker popped by my desk and mentioned something about the television show "Wheel Of Fortune" being in town, taping some special Seattle episodes. She told me they were doing College Week and that I should audition. "You'd be great," she said. And then she walked away with her fax.

I logged on to Wheel Of Fortunes website and took a look. I entered my name and email and clicked submit. Then I went back to my excel sheet.

A few days later, an email came. I'd been selected to audition....along with about 300 other super-eager-college-hopefuls. We all gathered in a hotel conference room downtown. My dad (remember I told you he was great?) gave me the afternoon off to go call out a few letters and spin a pretend wheel. I mean, how exactly does one audition to play a game show? I will tell you how! It was so funny. The first thing they did was pass out paper with the game "Hangman." We seriously sat in a room with a #2 pencil and tried to fill in blanks with letters. It reminded me of the SAT's.

If you passed that round, you got to go to another room. There is where you stood up when your name was called and belted out a letter, any letter at all, at the top of your lungs. I chose the letter R. I yelled it loud, smiled, and sat down. That was it. I am not making this up.

I'm glad I picked R. I think that was the clincher. I feel sorry for the people who picked L or T. They got sent packing.

The Wheel people called me back the next day - I'd made the cut. I would be one of the 15 people who would be spinning the Wheel - for real. I would be meeting (hold your breath) - Pat and Vanna.

To me, this whole thing was just too funny. The producers said I needed to get a college sweatshirt and wear it for the show. I didn't have one, so I drove to my school's book store and complained about paying $60.00 for a UW sweatshirt.

Flash-forward to the day of the taping. We were at the Convention Center downtown, and I was super excited. They kept all of us contestants in the back room, unable to talk to anyone, for fear of cheating or breaking some game-show rule or something. I don't know how cheating could happen, but whatever. The point is, I found myself behind the set, and in one fraction of a second, it hit me. I was here because of God.

God whispered to my heart - "Sarah, you prayed that I would do something through you for your church's building project? Well, hello! Do you think it's any accident that you're here?"

OH! I got it now! "Jesus," I prayed with a huge grin. "Whatever I win today is YOURS!"

That took away all my nerves. I knew I was on a special mission, and nothing was going to stop me. I was gonna spin that wheel with all I had - and call out my letters with gusto.

That day, I came in second place according to the score boards, but in my heart, I knew it was much more. My cash and prizes were over 11,500 dollars. Now, taxes took pretty much half of that, but I didn't care. Just wait until Pastor Brad got a load of this!

The next Sunday, I slipped a note to Pastor Brad after the service. I laughed out loud when my cell phone rang that afternoon. "Now let me get this straight," he began with a smile. "Is this for real?"

I told Pastor Brad the story, and he encouraged me to share it with the congregation the next Sunday. I began to write out what I was going to say.

**May I pause for a moment, and let you know that this begins the best part of the story? This is God about to do exceedingly and abundantly more than all I could ever ask or think.**

When I started to write my words, the words of the story I'd tell the church, I found myself getting nervous to speak in front of a large group of people. So I needed to practice on someone....someone safe....someone like Dad.

It was perfect since I was living with him at the time.

But before I go on, I need to let you know that my dad was not really the church-going type. He had been when he was younger, back when he was in high school and college he went all the time. But for the past decade at least, he and I hadn't talked about our faith much together, nor had we been in church together. I had a Bible engraved with his name and gave it to him for that previous Fathers Day, but I had doubted it had been opened. I didn't want to push him, I wanted to respect him, so I didn't know how he would take the words I was about to read to him regarding Wheel Of Fortune and my plans for the money. What would he say?

I read my speech anyway.

And what did he say? Nothing, at first. Because his eyes were filled with tears.

"Sarah," said my dad.

He paused.

"I am rededicating my life to the Lord."

It was that moment that I knew - I knew - I knew that was why all of this had happened. It was why I was in church that one Sunday. It's why I felt a pang in my heart - wanting to help raise money for our church. It was why I was on that game show. It was why I was asked to speak. It was why. He was why.

It started out that I just wanted to help bring in money for our church to bring in more people. Little did I know, the first person would be my dad.

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Luke 15:4-7

Countdown With Style

How cute is this?

Growing up, my mom always made sure we had our chocolate advent calenders on December 1st. She knew how much we loved counting down the days until Christmas.

Well now, instead of stale chocolates, you can create your own advent calendar with pictures of your family - and customize each box to say what you want.

Click here: MemoryBox Calendars

Pretty cleaver, yes? I'm gonna go make mine right now!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I'm enjoying Olivias increasing vocabulary.

"Mama glasses."

"Daddy phone."

"Kitty Boots." (Joel bought her a pair of "Hello Kitty" boots which she looooves)

"Purple Keey" (blanket)

"Ah kitty go?" (Where'd kitty go?)

Olivia has also named herself "DeeDee." I think O-Liv-EE-Ah is too hard for her to pronounce. Plus, she's always called babies "deedees" so, in her baby mind, since she is a baby, she is a deedee, therefore she calls herself "DeeDee." I think it's funny, and so does Joel, so we have honored her new request and begun to refer to her as such.

And the other night, I uttered a sentence I'm sure I've never said before in my life.

Olivia was in the other room, playing quietly. Too quietly. I heard a "plop" and then an "uh-oh" and then more silence.

I found her in the bathroom, with a little Beanie Baby stuffed elephant that Joel brought her back from Alaska. It was soaking wet. (And you need to know that in our house, we call elephants "Fuuuus" because thats the sound me make as we put our arm to our nose and raise it high: "Fuuuuu!")

So here comes the sentence that I'm pretty sure no one has ever strung together until this weekend:

"No No, Dee Dee. No No. We do not dunk our Fuus in the toilets."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I think I can, I think I can...

Thanks to my 2-week-free-guest-pass, I'm doing Step Aerobics with Callie. This is not something I would have tried on my own, but Callie is quite persuasive (plus she's lookin' mighty fit these days, so that speaks well of the class.) And a big thank you to Joel, who watches Olivia while I'm at class. I know he's her dad and all, but still, I'm appreciative that after a long day at work, he doesn't mind me coming home even later in order to squeeze in an hour at the gym.

We went last night, and it was great. When I say great, I mean I got a good work-out. But it also means I watched the clock, praying for time to speed up, and for more coordination in my feet. The only part that is enjoyable is when the class is over and I'm like "Whew, I made it."

I'm also still juicing, for those of you who were wondering if that fad came and went. All this healthy eating and exercising has been a prayer of mine for a long time. I really wanted to feel better - I wanted to drop some weight and gain some muscle and fit in my clothes and feel healthy and have more energy. Praise God that He understands those prayers, and has helped me accomplish these goals. After all, when I'm healthier and have more energy, I'm a nicer person to be around... or so I've been told. Joel uses words like "less edgy" and "not so moody." Thanks, sweetie. :-)

*crunch - there goes my apple...