Thursday, November 22, 2007

What Holiday are You?

In case you hadn't guessed, we're out of town. We're on our annual South Brazil Missionary Thanksgiving Retreat in Florianopolis, SC (motto: "Nothing says Thanksgiving like a beautiful South American beach filled with Argentinians")

Here's the post for today:

You Are Thanksgiving

You are a bit of a homebody who enjoys being in the company of people you love.
It doesn't take a lot to make you happy. You're enjoying life as it is.
You have many blessings in your life, and you are grateful for each one.
You believe that life is about what you *do* have. You feel like you have enough of the good stuff.

What makes you celebrate: Family, friends, and the changing of the seasons.

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The host of the party

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Spend so much energy preparing that it's a full time job

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


And we're off!
We're off to our annual South Brazil IMB Missionary Thanksgiving Retreat in Florianopolis (SBIMBMTRIF-motto: "Nothing says Thanksgiving like a tropical beach paradise filled with Argentinians").
I don't think I will have internet access at the hotel. If I do, I have drafted a host of postjunk for your holiday perusal. If not, I may backdate it when I get back or just "keep moving forward".

Here are some pics, just to rub it in:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Urban Jungle! II

In an attempt to make it through NaBloPoMo, many folks are googleearthing their homes.
Here's ours:

And closer up:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Once Upon a Time -- Games People Play

Once upon a time I had a Boss Brilliant. A brilliant person and I really learned a lot from him. He was known far and wide for his people skills, his ability to work with difficult people and resolve conflicts. One day I sent an email to my co-workers at our office and apparently I came across as bossy. I was fully in my realm of authority to send the email, I had cleared it with Boss Brilliant (BB) and I was merely communicating a decision BB had made to everyone else.
Well, the tone of the email didn't sit right with one of my co-workers and he reacted. He responded by sending an email tirade to the boss about my dictatorial attitude.
What did BB do? My wonderful BB, acclaimed for his people skills and conflict resolution abilities? He forwarded the tirade to me and left on vacation.
He had to come in on his first vacation day to resolve the conflict between me and my co-worker.
All of a sudden I realized:
1. How did I know that my co-workers required someone of such exceptional skill to lead them? How did I know how very dysfunctional they were?
BB had informed me on the first day of the job.
2. Who was able to step in as the hero and solve these conflicts between these horribly dysfunctional people? BB--who had encouraged the conflicts in the first place.
BB had set himself up as the great peacemaker. The only stability amongst such incredibly unstable people.
I suddenly wondered how many of these heroic peacemaking opportunities had actually been conflicts started and fueled by BB himself.

The other day I had someone try to instigate a conflict between us and another family. When we said, "Please don't say that, it could lead to a conflict." He responded, "It seems you two families have a history of personality conflict and I just can’t get into that."
I wanted to say, "I've got your number, buddy, and I'm not playing that game. There is no history of conflict and there won't be unless you insist on trying to make one. I refuse to let you."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Big 4-0!

It's official. No more avoiding it. No more forgetting it. It's happened.
I'm 40 years old. Entering my 5th decade of life. Oh my.

I got such an enthusiastic greeting this morning, I just can't be sad about my age. Blake, my 8-year-old son really goes all out in celebrating Mommy. This is a wonderful result of living in Brazil where there is no shortage of enthusiasm and demonstrated affection. This morning he had made a banner, hung it himself, and painted face paint all over his body saying "Happy Birthday Mommy!!" (exactly backwards because he had done it himself in the mirror).
Align Left

"Look Mom, I did it myself!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NaBloPoMo--Half way there.

I can't decide if I like NaBloPoMo or if I hate it.
I've found several new blog friends, which is sort of a weird thing in itself, but really nice. My long backlog of "recipes I've been meaning to post" is getting shorter.
More folks are reading what I write, and I'm writing a lot more. The problem is

Prior to this month's challenge, I only wrote when I had something to say--usually.
Now I'm up til midnight frantically scratching out ANYTHING to just say I posted that day.
I feel like I'm really junking up my blog.

I'm not the only one who feels this way, either. I'm in good company.
Actually, the other folks who are saying this I'm still enjoying reading, so maybe it's not as bad as I think. . .

Or maybe it is. . .
I have a plan. I'm still going to endeavor to post every day. But, come Dec. 2 (I have plans Dec 1), I'm going to delete all the junk.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Unfortunately, Brazilians haven't discovered Mexican food. Most North American's think that all cultures south of the US enjoy that spicy, tortilla-based cuisine.
Nope. Not here.
So, we get a pastry dough (used for fried pies). We put it on a hot, ungreased griddle to get just a little of the moisture out, and top it with taco-flavored meat (we like chicken strips).
The taco seasoning mix I use comes from AllRecipes. I don't think I'll ever buy seasoning packets again.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Urban Jungle?

These are pictures taken from our apartment. I like to pretend I live on Coruscant.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I love radio. Always have. I don't know if it's just that I'm too lazy to deal with CDs or what. I suspect it's my extreme passivity that prefers to be surprised by what pops up next on the radio.
There's also the "company factor." CDs are just music. Radio is someone playing music and listening with you. Commenting on it, making jokes, you know. Research shows that, despite the public's continuous cry for "less talk, more tunes", stations that do nothing but play music (no DJs, no commercials) don't get listeners.
As a teenager, I would spend hours cuddled up with the radio. Fine-tuning the AM dial after dark to see how far I could get. I dreamed of picking up K-Love from Chicago in my home in South Carolina. Never did, but had a good time trying.
I remember getting excited about the possibility of one day moving to Alaska and beaming radio into the Soviet Union.
In high school, I volunteered at the local radio station. It was exciting to get to actually see the personalities I had envisioned for so many years. I audited college courses on the radio. Dr. Belcher took us through books of the Bible. I remember sunbathing and diligently studying the book of James.
I went to work for the same radio station later on. There I made a startling discovery. Working in radio is EXCRUTIATINGLY BORING! If you're an on-air personality, you sit alone in a room or, worse yet, if you're a morning personality, you sit in a small room with the same one or two people EVERY SINGLE DAY. Day after day, month after month, year after year. You punch the same button at 6:32 EVERY SINGLE MORNING OF EVERY SINGLE WORKDAY OF EVERY SINGLE MONTH. You never see your audience, and when you do it's creepy. They know you and are thrilled to see you but you have never seen them.
I was not an on-air personality, I was in PR. I only had to do the same thing every single year. I lasted three years.
I do believe that radio and TV are excellent investments of our ministry time, efforts and dollars. I do believe that they are the most efficient, one of the most effective, and dollarsmart ways of reaching our culture today. I am probably the only person in blogtown who believes that the TV station of NAMB was a good use of missions money, even if it wasn't self-supporting.
I have lately fallen in love with internet radio. With the click of a mouse I can hear my station from back home, NPR, or an endless randomization of 80s hits. There's even an all-barouque station for the Suzuki mom in me! It's great!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Movie of the Year

We just saw the best movie this weekend.
"Meet the Robinsons" was a great, feel good flick.
We liked it so much we watched it twice,
once on Friday and once tonight (Sunday).
It's not due 'til midnight, I'm tempted to watch it again.

The basic idea is a follow-your-dreams, never-give-up kind of theme.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why I Love T. D. Jakes

I love TV preachers. I guess it’s because I got saved listening to one of them that I like them so much. I love to just turn on the Christian TV channel and see what’s on.

“How can you say that?” you ask.
“Aren’t you concerned about their theology?” you cry in indignation.
You see, this is a pastime I call “gleaning.” Walk through, find what’s there, eat the wheat kernels and spit out the chaff.

There’s lot less chaff than you’d think.

There’s a place called that hosts shows (TV and radio) from Focus on the Family, Chuck Swindoll, Jack Hayford, Beth Moore, and lot of others. Those four I’ve mentioned are virtually chaff-free.

I saw Joel Osteen for the first time the other day. You know what he said?
Think about God. Give God preference in your life.
Not much chaff, there, despite what I’d heard about him.

One of my favorites is T. D. Jakes. I tell you, if you listen to that man, you’ll come away believing that God can do ANYTHING. It’s amazing how much power he thinks God has. He’s almost got me convinced.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Cheeseburger Soup

1 1/2 cups water
2 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
2 carrots, grated
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled
1 pound ground beef
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 pound processed American cheese, cubed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine water, potatoes, carrots, onion, and bell pepper. Sprinkle salt and bouillon over the mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain.
Stir cooked beef and 2 cups milk into the soup and heat through. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk with flour, stirring until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted. Season with cayenne.

Source: Becky Taylor on

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Our Timeline

I have been homeschooling my oldest son, Blake, in 3rd grade American History. This is really the way to go with homeschooling: I send him to school all day to learn everything else and on weekends and holidays we read really entertaining books about American History. All the non-fun stuff (papers and such) we skip, because he gets that kind of thing in regular school.
We're having a really good time.
I'm particularly proud of our timeline that we're building. There were some pre-printed stickers that came in a package from the curriculum provider, but some stickers we had to make ourselves. I'm having Blake draw his own pictures for these. We've been pretty impressed with his artwork.

Captain John Smith

William Shakespeare

Magellan's Trip Around the World

Captain Kidd Becomes a Pirate

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How Nerdy Are You?

I am nerdier than 67% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

I was quite relieved to realize that, while I'm not prime nerd material, I'm still nerdier than 67% of people. Whew!

HT: Micah Fries

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe looks terribly overwhelming, but it's actually really easy!
The dough rises overnight, so all you have to do in the morning is roll it out and bake. It also meets my main requirement of yeast dough recipes: it's a very gratifying dough to work with. It never sticks and is easy to handle.
It's also easy to halve, which you need to do unless you have a big group.
It also has ingredients that I keep on hand, except for the cream cheese, which I have to remember to buy.

2 cups lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
Bread flour (about 1 kg or 2 ¼ lbs.)

1 stick melted margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
1 ½ Tablespoons cinnamon

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons milk
¾ lb powdered sugar, sifted

Whisk together all ingredients except flour. Gradually, add flour and stir with back of a spoon. Knead. NOTE: I do all this with the whisk and dough hook of the KitchenAid.

Place in LARGE bowl, greased, and cover. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, mix all filling ingredients together well. Roll out dough into a large rectangle and top with filling.

Roll up, slice and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Mix together glaze ingredients. Remove buns from oven and glaze while hot.
This makes 2-9" X 13" pans.

NOTE: The pic is Alton's, but my recipe is easier!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Warmest Aloha

Early in our marriage, my husband and I spent a year in Hawaii. As a result, I have three pieces of advice for you readers:
1. If you ever move to Hawaii, never move away, and,
2. If you have to spend only a year in Hawaii, make sure it's at the end of your career and not at the beginning. Nowhere else compares.
3. If you've never seen Hawaii, FIND A WAY! Swim, if you have to. Every human should see Hawaii in their lifetime.

Some of the best things about Hawaii you could only experience by living there. The business culture in Honolulu was one of the most frustrating, and most rewarding, places I've ever worked. Like most tropical areas, professionalism is pretty laid back, if it's there at all. Then again, you don't have to be very skilled or accomplished to rise quickly in the companies there. We actually had a friend who was a high school graduate go from working as a maid to being a fairly high ranking banking executive in just a few years.

The church atmosphere was also frustrating and very gratifying at the same time. People were always leaving, so we were continually saying goodbye to someone dear. The church we served lost half of it's elder board the first two months after we arrived. Yet, this same frustration made it easy to give the church the "personality" that it needed to have. There simply was no "old guard" to battle with over the "way we'd always done it."

I'll never forget our arrival in the Honolulu airport that June night of 1997. I knew the minute I stepped out of the gate that part of my heart would be forever broken. I knew I would spend a year missing home and friends and family. I also knew that as soon as I left I would carry with me an ache for Hawaii and the friends and church family we'd leave behind.

I suppose that's the missionary's dilemma anywhere she happens to go.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Beef and Barley Soup

I have tried for the past couple of winters here in South Brazil to make soup once a week. I've gathered quite a few good recipes during these months of May-September. The problem is that I forget to post them during the US winter, December-February, when my readers are interested in making soup. I want to use this month as an opportunity to remember to post those recipes.
We just love this Beef and Barley Soup recipe. I use a cut of meat here called "musculo" (which I think is called "heel of round" in English. It just falls apart in the crock pot. But you can substitute any roast you like.

1 1/2 - 3 pounds beef heel of round
4 cups water
4 cubes beef bouillon cube
1/4 cup barley
1/4 cup wheat berries
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (28 ounce) can chopped stewed tomatoes
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

Put beef in bottom of crock pot. Add water and bouillon. Cook on high 3-4 hours. Add barley, wheat berries, and bay leaf and cook for another hour.
Let mixture cool some. Remove bay leaf and chop meat into small pieces, removing connective tissue.
In large stockpot, Saute carrots and onion in a little oil until the onion is done (translucent). Boil liquid and grains from crockpot, carrots and onion for about 20 minutes. Add frozen mixed vegetables and beef mixture and boil until vegetables are tender, adding more water if necessary.
Add sugar, cayenne pepper, and tomatoes and boil another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I use 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).

I serve this with a homemade whole wheat bread, butter and honey.

NOTE: I should say the photo isn't mine, but mine generally looks like this.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Too late? NOT!

As missionaries, we spend one year of every five in the states recuperating, sharpening our skills and soliciting prayer support for our ministry. One thing that really surprised us was how very many people had felt called by God to be missionaries at some point, but never made it to the mission field. Almost every church we visited had someone who fell into this category.
I always wondered how they felt about this. Did they spend their entire life thinking they were one the wrong track? Did they feel guilty, or somehow inferior or inadequate? Did they think they had just heard wrong or imagined it? And, if they did feel like it was their imagination, why would they still be talking about it years later?
Here is the story of one lady who felt God's calling the missions as a child and now, years and years later, is on track for fulfilling it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Once Upon a Time I - Familiarity

Once upon a time (1989, to be exact) I was a manager trainee at Toys 'R Us. I was 22 and fresh out of college--a skinny thing with a big curly perm. Actually, the personnel trainer who hired me was later fired for hiring too many skinny little girls with big curly perms who couldn't get the job done. I lasted 9 months in that job--those employees chewed me up and spit me out.
The first week I was there I met a storeroom department head named Kirby. Kirby was an older guy whose life's dream was to be a mananger at TRU. He related well to the other employees, he had years of experience as a department head and knew that storeroom inside and out. He also hadn't the slightest chance of ever getting the manager position. Fortunately, he figured this out pretty quickly and was gone a week after I started.
Why didn't Kirby have a chance? Familiarity. The management in that area of the country had seen him as a department head for so long. Every mistake he ever made they remembered. They were never going to give him a shot at anything more.
I don't know what brought Kirby to mind this week. I've no idea where he is or what he ended up doing. I just wanted to share a small piece of his story.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


It's official. I've committed myself to NaBloPoMo. Apparently, this is National Blog Posting Month (motto: "Let's all post until the internet explodes"). This is an annual event wherein bloggers commit to post every day for the month of November. So, get ready for all the stuff that I've been meaning to post, but didn't want to take the time. That should get me at least to the 5th. From there you can expect recipes, silliness and the mundane.
I am also planning a series--"Once Upon a Time"--of random stories and observations that I think you may find useful.
If you join NaBloPoMo, please let me know here in the comments so I can subscribe to your blog and steal your ideas.