Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winner Winner!

I was supposed to pick a winner for the Tea With Hezbollah on Friday. But I didn't because after a very stressful and busy week in our church my husband needed to get away. So we did. We went to a hotel on Friday and sat in the hot tub, went out to a nice dinner and watched a movie in our room. We slept in late and then went downstairs and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. After we checked out of our hotel we went to the mall (I haven't been there in more than a year) and just walked around holding hands and window shopping. We split a big caramel roll with our coffee and watched people. Finally we went to the big bookstore and bought each other an audio book for Valentine's Day.

Audio books? For Valentine's Day?

Well, yes.

My husband is leaving soon for Peru to be a part of a Work and Witness trip from our church. He has been looking for a book to load on to his iPod to use on the long plane trip. We perused the shelves and he finally chose All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott. We both read those books years ago and enjoyed them immensely. I told him it was a good choice because it would make him laugh.

Ever since my word of the year - Serenity - was revealed to me I have been thinking about reading the entire Mitford Series again this year. Because I honestly don't know of a more serene place than Mitford. I thought it would be fun to listen to the books this year while I knit and sew. So I chose At Home in Mitford - the first of the series. I can't wait to start. After I got home I looked in iTunes and discovered that you can download the entire unabridged edition of Shepherd's Abiding - the eighth book in the Mitford series for 95 cents! You better believe I jumped on that.

Anyway, the weekend was just what the doctor ordered.

Now, to the winner of Tea With Hezbollah. I had asked you to share what Middle Eastern country you would be interested in visiting and I was really surprised to learn how many of you would love to go to Turkey. I guess it surprises me because in 2007 my husband and I went on a cruise that traced the 2nd and 3rd missionary journey of the Apostle Paul. We started in Italy, went to Greece and finished up in Turkey. I was beyond excited to go to Italy and Greece but Turkey, well Turkey just didn't excite me. I didn't know anything about it and I wasn't really sure I wanted to. It sounded like a scary place to me. Turkey actually turned out to be my favorite part of the whole trip. It was exotic, mystifying, different and more full of church history than I ever imagined. The highlight of the trip was Ephesus. Oh Ephesus! I had no idea how much of that city was still standing. To walk on the very streets that Paul walked on, to sit in the amphitheater where Christians were martyred, to run my hands along the walls of the shops was more than I could contain. I will never forget as we walked toward the city as we rounded the corner and saw that city before me - it took my breath away - literally. I would go back in a minute.

Anyway, the winner. I need to announce the winner.

And the winner is . . . . .

Bev from Girl Raised in the South! Congratulations Bev - I know you will enjoy this book. Just email me your address at rgryan(at)nnu(dot)edu and I will put it in the mail to you.

Now I am going to get back to playing with some sweet little grandbabies that happen to be pulling on my legs. I love it!

Friday, January 29, 2010


I started knitting a couple of years ago and I cannot begin to tell you how much of an addiction it has become. It is like therapy for me. And since I figure the laying-on-a-couch- kind of therapy is a bit expensive - I reason that the money I spend on knitting is in all reality, actually a savings.

My husband says if I save him any more money he is going to go broke.

Anyway, as I was saying, knitting is what I love to do lately. It's the perfect way to de-stress at the end of the day. I tend to love smaller projects (think instant gratification) and I find myself knitting things mostly for my grandbabies. I especially love the books by Susan B. Anderson, Itty Bitty Hats, Itty Bitty Nursery and Itty Bitty Toys. I highly recommend them to any knitter - new or experienced. Even if I'm not knitting I love to just browse through the books. I also love her blog and I am always thrilled when she posts a free pattern as she so often does.

My knitting to-do list has grown. A lot.

This morning I was thrilled to see she finally finished her pattern for these guys:

The pattern is called The Three Brrrr's - isn't that perfect? I love them! They are all one pattern using different needle size and yarn weight to achieve the different sizes. They look so snuggly and fun. My fingers are just itching to knit them.

I am going to have three grandbabies by this Christmas and I could just see it - the big bear for Tyler, the middle sized bear for sweet Ava Claire and the baby bear for the baby. Perfect!

I happily went online to buy the pattern and the yarns and was totally blown away when I saw what it would cost.

$229 ! But not to worry - the shipping is free.

I feel so much better now.

Apparently I need to rethink my philosphy on the laying-on-the-couch type of therapy.

Obviously I didn't place my order but I am the kind of person who likes to follow a pattern TO-THE-TEE which includes using the exact same kind of yarn the pattern calls for. (And by telling you that I completely realize that I just exposed my slight CDO tendancies, which other people call OCD but I prefer CDO because that's in alphabetical order as it should be.)

I'm going to have to think outside of the box on this one. Because no matter how I try to figure it - $229 for knit polar bears for my grandbabies for Christmas




Not even I can bear to save my husband that much money.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Sweet Heart

So one day this week my little sweetheart and I decided to make some Sweet Hearts since Valentine's Day is around the corner and all.

So he took up his station at the end of the counter and set right to work.

We opted to use pre-made pie crust. That's much easier. We cut out hearts - twenty hearts to be exact.

It is said that the uglier your stone is = the better it works. Obviously mine works really, really well.

Next we put a dollop of raspberry jelly in the middle of each heart. Truth be told, we ate some of the raspberry jelly right off the spoon. Mommy's might not do that sort of thing - but grandma's do!

Next we moistened the edge of each heart and laid another heart on top. Then we crimped the edges together with a fork. Easy peasy.

Oh, by the way. That football shaped cookie in the upper row? That was a special cookie made for Tyler - who LOVES footballs. It made his day.

Then we stuck them in the oven set at 350 degrees. And waited.

They were worth the wait. We dusted them with powdered sugar.

And then we dug in.

Tic . . . .

Tac . . . . .

Toe . . . .

They didn't last long.

P.S. Did you notice my new little ticker over to the right? I am elated!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Review: Tea with Hezbollah

Tea With Hezbollah - Sitting At the Enemies Table - Our Journey Through the Middle East by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis

When I agreed to review this book, I must have been in a hurry that day, because I truly thought I read that this was fiction. I imagined it being similar to The Kite Runner or something like that. When I received the book and thumbed through the pages I quickly realized how mistaken I was. This is a non-fiction book, a travel journal of sorts. It is the story of a 2 week trip through the Middle East involving meetings with high-level leaders of groups and militia that we would consider enemies of our country in every way. Mr. Dekker and Mr. Medearis desired to interview these men and ask them questions that would help their readers "get to know" them on a more personal level. The premise was that if we could see each other as just "people" and not "enemies" perhaps we would find it easier to practice Jesus' greatest command - Love your neighbor as yourself. So he asked questions such as "What makes you laugh?", "What movies to you like?" "What kind of a car do you drive?", "What misconceptions does the Arab world have about America?" and "What misconceptions do Arabs have of Americans?".

Fascinating idea. Fascinating book. Is it possible to obey Jesus' command when it comes to people in the Arab world, people we are told would love to kill us? Is it possible for them to love us in America?

What I thought .....

Mr. Dekker repeatedly states in the book that he was not interested in debating politics or religion. Personally, I don't think he batted 100% on that statement. I felt that he ventured into a bit of unnecessary criticism of America. Some of his statements should have at least been labeled as his own opinion instead of stating them as though they were facts of truth. However, I do believe overall he tried to be honest and I do believe that his quest was a genuine endeavor.

The book contains the actual transcripts of questions and answers with the people he interviewed. People such as Osama Bin Laden's brothers. Mufti's. Arab leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Beruit, Damascus and Jerusalem. Some of these people have been targeted by our government as well as others to kill. How they were able to gain access is incredible and I wondered if the questions had been previewed or not. I suspect they may have been - but that's just my opinion.

The book was an easy read and hard to put down. It made me think about things that made me uncomfortable. It stretched my thinking. One thing in particular I learned was that the term "Christian" doesn't mean the same thing to all people as it does to me. In fact, all people in the eastern world view everyone in the west as Christians. The name of Christ has been distorted and stretched into something very unrecognizable to the people I know who bear His name.

Mr. Dekker never pointed out that although the religion of Islam accepts and reveres Jesus as a great prophet - they don't accept Him as the Son of God. In fact, the biggest problem the religion of Islam has with Christianity is that we believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three in one. They are very offended by this and believe that we are polytheistic - the biggest offense there could be in their opinion. This matters a great deal in their conception of us and while they are okay with us promoting Jesus, they cannot accept that we worship Him - because they see Him as a totally separate "God". Perhaps making more of an effort to help them understand the Trinity could help in them understanding we do not worship more than one God.

I have always believed that the century's old struggle over a piece of land no bigger than the state of Rhode Island has much more to do with spiritual warfare than it has to do with the never ending fight between the people who inhabit the earth. This is bigger than anything humanity is capable of solving. This is more than we can comprehend. The spiritual battle is not going to be resolved until the day the trumpet sounds. I don't think we can really expect the physical battle to stop before then either.

Did Jesus give the world an impossible teaching? I don't think so. We are human, so we will never do it perfectly. But I believe this command was given to individuals, not governments. The parable of the Good Samaritan was shared to help us as individuals - to teach us how to behave, how to live. By following Jesus' teaching we will become more Christlike and through that our governments will improve - but governments will never be completely made up of followers of Christ. I don't believe governments will ever be able to live in perfect peace - Jesus said the same thing. I was thankful that Mr. Dekker declared he was not a pacifist and he was not promoting pacifism. I believe in "Peace through strength" and I appreciate our country's strong military. It is necessary to keep us safe.

In conclusion, I started reading this book certain I would not like it. I am proud of my country and proud to be an American and I felt this book was going to bash America - which is so popular these days. I ended up feeling glad that I read it. As I said earlier, it stretched my thinking and gave me new ideas to consider. I am begging my husband to read it so we can discuss it. This is the kind of book that needs to be discussed.

Would you like to read this book? Waterbrook Multnomah sent me an extra copy to give away on my blog. Leave a comment telling me what middle eastern country, if any, you would like to visit. I will leave this contest open until this Friday the 29th at noon. And then I will draw a name to find a winner.

If you would like to purchase a copy you may go here, here or here.

This book was provided for review by the Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheer Cheer for Cheerios!

Having grandbabies around the house has us experiencing a lot of dejavoux. Our living room could give any Fisher Price showroom a run for its money. My book shelves are stocked with diapers and wipes. My pantry is filled with small juice boxes with straws attached and animal cookies.

And I love it. I just love it.

Recently Myblogspark and General Mills sent me some coupons to try some free boxes of GM cereals. Being the old people that we are, one thing we haven't bought in I don't know how many years is good old fashioned Cheerio's. So we used the coupons to get some regular Cheerios and also the Honey Nut kind. My goodness - I forgot how good they are! And Tyler and Ava Claire giggle and giggle when they see us pull out the box.

Cheerio's aren't just good for breakfast. They make a great snack. They make a good dinner when you are just too tired to cook and there aren't enough people around to serve a full course meal to. And they are good for you too. Chuck and I find ourselves reading a lot more labels these days. Labels that tell us things we need to know about salt and fat and cholesterol. This is a good label.

So Cheerios aren't just for babies. They are good for all of us. They are simple. They are nutritious. They are good. If you would like to get some coupons to buy your own just click here. They also have lots of other types of cereals that have healthy labels too. So just in case it's been a while since you have meandered down the cereal aisle - check it out.

Maybe you could have some for dinner tonight.

p.s. Another good thing about General Mills is that they use Box Tops for Education. Having a daughter who is a teacher has taught me how important these little labels are for getting things to use in the classroom. It's a great program. Save all those little labels and turn them in to your local public school.

Friday, January 15, 2010

January . . .

January has got to be the dreariest month of the year in my neck of the woods. It is cold. It is foggy. It is icy. I think I would like it better if I could stay home all day and quilt. Yes, making quilts in January seems like the right thing to do.

A flannel quilt with ragged seams. Just the right size to snuggle in while reading, or wrap up in to rock a grandbaby or two. The kind of quilt that looks better the more you wash and dry it. A quilt that everybody in the house fights over and they think it's theirs because they grabbed it first. It's the quilt that you always, always, always find the dog curled up in.

I think I shall make a quilt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Please join me in prayer for my friend Denise. She and I connected on the world-wide-web when we found each other through a parents of missionaries website. We are both grandmothers who were left behind as our children took their children to serve our Lord in far away places.

Denise's daughter and family serve in Haiti.

Please pray for their safety and the safety of the children in the orphanages they work in.

God be with them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Worth Reading

Just popping in to share a couple of great blog reads I have enjoyed lately.

This one really spoke to my heart and I have been thinking about it for a couple of days now. Can you imagine what life would be like if we had no one to cleanse us of our sin? Unthinkable. For those who may not know, Amanda is Beth Moore's daughter. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree my friends.

And this one by Bev of GRITS speaks mightily of being where you are - fully. Powerful good advice. Advice that resonates with my word for the year - Serenity. I don't need to be going a hundred miles an hour - doing everything I can - trying to make everybody happy. I need to be where I am completely and relish every moment of it and gleaning the most I can from it. Ahhh.... that gives me a strange, uncommon sense of peace in my spirit. Thanks Bev!

And Antique Mommy always manages to jerk a tear from at least one of my eyes. This post did it for sure. I read it during the Christmas season and I am still thinking about it - a sure sign that it reached the depths of my heart. The tender moments of motherhood are so meaningful and I always admire that AM captures and illustrates them so beautifully through her words. I wish I had done a better job of capturing those moments in my own life when my kids were so little.

I hope you enjoy these links as much as I have.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The One Day Way

Update - Wow, being it is Sunday I didn't check my email until this evening. I am happy to announce that the winner of The One Day Way is my very own sister, Lisa, who lives in North Dakota! Congratulations Lisa - I will put the book in the mail tomorrow!

Many times the fresh new start that January brings is to our plans to lose weight. Waterbrook Press sent me a book to review and I would like to take the opportunity to share it with you.

I have struggled with weight for many years and I do not believe there is a solution or weight loss program that will work magic. To me the key to success is a lifestyle change - and that is major. I don't like diet plans or formulas that guarentee that you will lose X amount of weight in X amount of time. It's all a gimmick in my opinion.

That is why I liked this book - The One Day Way. It is a practical approach that doesn't offer any magic recipes or techniques. Instead it shares mostly about how to "think" about a diet. How to live it. One day at a time.

Author Chantel Hobbs breaks the chains of past diet debacles and frees readers from unrealistic goals. She teaches daily fitness tasks that develop into lasting habits. By focusing energy and attention on doing the right things every day, she frees readers to achieve their weight-loss goals one day at a time.

I’ve got great news for you: You are about to feel better and look better beginning today! Today is truly a new opportunity for you to reach your weight loss goals. No, you won’t fit into your “skinny jeans” today, but I’m going to show you how each day will get you closer to that goal.

Yesterday’s mistakes are gone so let them go. You can’t control tomorrow, so stop worrying about it. Today is your opportunity to lose weight, get strong, and look great. It won’t happen overnight, but you can build a new life by changing your actions immediately and I’m here to show you how to make the changes that will create the new lifestyle you dream of: body, mind, and spirit. Best of all, you will start celebrating right away!

Come on, my friend. Let’s get started! By opening this book, I’ll show you how to unlock every tool you need to lose weight and get fit —and stay that way for the rest of your life. Success can be yours, what are you waiting for?


The One-Day Way produces lasting results by taking you back to basics. No more complicated weight-loss strategies. No more expensive diet plans that achieve only temporary results. Instead, you will lose weight and get fit with Chantel Hobbs’s simple, high-energy meal plans and her at-home program for cardio exercise and strength training. She will teach you how to change the way you think, which leads to new actions. Before you know it you will be strong, fit, and healthy. All it takes is doing things differently for twenty-four hours—and then repeating it.

The One-Day Way gives you everything you need to lose weight and get fit in body, mind, and spirit:

* Break free from past dieting defeats
* Learn a realistic, life-changing way to measure success
* Change the way you think so you can change your life
* Translate your dreams into goals, and your goals into lasting achievements
* Get strong with thirty-one simple exercises, no fancy equipment required
* Take advantage of ten ways to eat better while you lose weight

By focusing on food, faith, and fitness, Chantel shows you not only how to lose weight, but how to build the new life you were designed to live. You don’t have to wait any longer. The One-Day Way gives you all the tools for success, starting right now.

Author Bio:

The author of Never Say Diet and The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer, Chantel Hobbs is a motivational speaker, life coach, personal trainer, marathon runner, wife, and mother of four whose story has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, the 700 Club, and the covers of People and First magazines. She appears weekly on two fitness-themed radio programs and promotes her One-Day Way Learning System on television. Visit Chantel at for fitness updates and coaching tips.

[For more information about this book, visit the publisher's web site.]

Note: A copy of this book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing was kind enough to send me another copy of this book for a give away on my blog. So the first person who emails me their mailing address to rgryan(at)nnu(dot)edu will be sent a copy. Good luck!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


2010. It sounds like a sci-fi movie doesn't it? Do you say Two Thousand Ten or Twenty Ten? It doesn't just roll off the tongue like 1990 or 1978 or one of those years.

I remember when I was in the sixth grade one of our math assignments was to figure out how old we would be in the year 2000. I remember thinking that the year 2000 would be scary and unknown and we might be flying around in saucers like the Jetson's did and seeing each other on a screen when we talked on the phone. (Well, I guess with Skype that last part came true.) And then when I realized I would be 42 in the year 2000 I felt better because I couldn't imagine ever getting that old.

Well, it came faster than I ever imagined it and I've already passed it up by a whole decade. Ouch!

Personally I am glad to close the door on 2009. It wasn't a very happy year for me. Our family was dealt some pretty tough situations - things that are really, really hard and painful. For some reason 2009 became the year of broken marraiges among our friends and family and let me tell you that divorce doesn't just ruin a marraige - it ruins everything around it. It ruins relationships between parents and kids and friends and family. I understand now why God says in Malachi that He hates divorce. I hate it too. It is completely and totally devastating and we are still reeling from much of it. Dealing with our kids moving to Peru was hard and then we had to face another difficult circumstance in our family that completely knocked us to the ground and to be honest it took me some time to decide if I wanted to get back up again.

But the good thing about starting fresh each year is also knowing that God is able. We don't walk in despair - we walk in Hope - and His mercies are new every morning. They are not limited or measured. So as I turn my calendar page to a new and fresh beginning, in my heart I find myself anticipating what God is going to do this year. How is He going to work? Who's lives are going to be changed? What miracles am I going to witness? I would love to see some miracles!

I decided to pray for a word for the year - like so many of you do. I was a little afraid to do so because it reminds me of the time I prayed for patience. God gave me lots of things to practice on to develop the virtue and I determined NEVER to do that again! So I kept thinking what if He gives me a word like that. As I prayed, one word kept coming to mind and because it's not a word I use in my vocabulary, I suspected it was my word for the year. To be honest I don't even truly understand what the word means. My word for the year is - Serenity. I have to admit that my first thought was "Yikes - does that mean I'm going to keep having all kinds of trials so I can practice being serene?" I looked it up in the dictionary and it said

n 1: a disposition free from stress or emotion [syn: repose, quiet,
placidity, tranquillity, tranquility]
2: the absence of mental stress or anxiety [syn: peace, peacefulness,
peace of mind, repose, heartsease, ataraxis]

Sounds like a good place to be. The antonym to serenity is agitation. Yeah, I know all about that word. So I'm curious to see what God has in store for me this year. I'll keep you posted.

On another note, 2010 has already brought some changes to our home. I am free to share this information with you now although we have known it for a few weeks. As you know our kids came home from Peru in November for a visit through the holidays. They were scheduled to go back on this Tuesday. However, they have made the decision to not go back. At all. Ever. And I'm sure you are thinking that I am doing the Happy Dance and am delirious with excitement.

And you would be wrong.

I know. I makes no sense.

It has actually been quite difficult to watch them work through the process of making this decision. They are staying because their house never did sell and it was a matter of facing foreclosure or staying and taking care of their responsibility. They chose the latter but it involves so much confusion and frustration and wondering why they felt God called them to go only to have to cut their contract short. They still have parts of their hearts in Peru and are just so confused. My mom always said when your kids are little they have little problems and when they are big they have big problems. She was so right. I have just been praying that God will give them peace with their decision. A place of serenity. (Hmmmmm.....there's that word I never use.) We are so proud of them. Just being willing to give up everything they had and go to a place they had never been proves how much they are willing to follow their Lord.

Don't get me wrong - I AM happy to have them home and be with sweet little Tyler. But right now it feels a little selfish to feel that way. They are going to be living with us for a while because they have renters in their house that are paying part of the mortgage and they need to keep it that way to get caught up. We are having lots of wonderful time with them and our grandson. Michelle was able to get her job back and it looks like Brad will be getting his back too. In this economy - that is nothing short of a miracle. God has rained down blessing after blessing upon them since making their decision and I can't help but feel it is His way of telling them He is proud of them and He loves them. I don't know the answers to all the questions - I am ready to put this all in the past and move on to a new day. I pray they will soon be there too.

Today I am going to take down the rest of Christmas that remains in the house. As much as I love the beautiful decorations - I also love the clean and roomy feeling that putting it all away gives.

It's a new day. It's time to move on.

I am going to look over my pattern books and supplies and lay out a plan of what I want to make next. I have been knitting for months now and I feel its time to switch back to quilting for a while.

I am determined to focus more on my writing this year. I don't think I have shared yet that I was published for the very first time in December. I have to admit it was quite a thrill to see my name in print and read my very own byline. My plan is to try to get published more in magazines to help build my resume so that a book publisher will be more likely to look at my work. I have a good start on my book and it is time to get it done. My goal is to attend another writer's conference and meet with more publishers. Maybe this year?

So it's time to close the door on the past and step confidently into today. And tomorrow. And the day after. There will be lots of good and happy and there will inevitably be times of sad and frustration, but of this we can be sure - God will walk each step of the way guiding us with His great hand of love. And knowing that is enough.

Happy 2010!