Tuesday, January 31, 2012

no rhyme or reason.

Who DID that?

Well...I gotta admit, yesterday's post took a way different turn than I intended.

I was going to tell you about the geese Ian and I saw flying overhead the other day. And the migration of little black birds we saw at sunrise on Saturday morning while driving down the highway to the wrestling tournament. It was amazing...thousands of birds as far as the eye could see in both directions...it had to have been miles.

I was going to tell you that my job ended...and there isn't another one in sight...yet.

I was going to tell you about the chickens and that I let them out to free-range for a while Sunday morning while I cleaned their pen...and they were happy. (And well behaved...ahem.)

I was going to tell you how if I don't have to leave the house...I won't. And how I'm not sure if that's a good thing.

I was going to tell you about some more recipes.
I still will.
But not today.

I had a lot to talk about yesterday...but instead, I wrote about my walk with God...as I do now and then. It poured out...and I let it. Sometimes I feel unsure about what comes out here at Give a Girl a Fig. I don't want to turn anyone off from church...or worse yet, turn anyone off from God. I hope I make it VERY clear that church and God are two totally different things. I hope it's clear that my journey at this point is about making sense of "organized religion" and the people in the church and not about making sense of God. God always makes sense. Even when I don't understand. That's just how He is.

Give a Girl a Fig is a place for me to sit and talk with kindred spirits (likeYOU) that God has brought into my life through the crazy world of the Internet. It's a place to walk my walk with God...out loud...through the good times and the bad times (if were talking "church talk" I'd say something like "through the mountains and the valleys"). It's a place to walk my journey with God with others...with you. Because what I'm learning is that walking this journey with God is best when walking it with others.

And ultimately, now that I think about it, that is what church is for. Church is an opportunity to gather with like-minded people who will join you on the mountain tops and in the valleys and who will pray with you through it all. I have to continue to remind myself that church is not full of perfect people that do all the right things and say all the right things and who never hurt one another's feelings. I mean, come on. Churches are full of people. And people are imperfect and will make mistakes. As the song says...love them anyway.

Yesterday's post surprised me...as my posts often do when God is in the mix. I come here to write and to share with whoever chooses to read my ramblings. But every once in a while, as I write to you, God writes to me...to us.

My greatest hope is that as you read my words...you also hear His. Sometimes you may have to read between the lines as my words can be jaded and opinionated at times. (ahem!) But in the end...when all is said and done...the bottom line is that I love God. And I trust Him. And I hope spending time here encourages you to do the same.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Murmuration...the act of murmuring or a flock of starlings. I am loving this word. I feel like it should mean more... 

Oh wait...look what I found:

mur·mur  noun

1. a low, continuous sound, as of a brook, the wind, or trees, or of low, indistinct voices.
2. a mumbled or private expression of discontent.

Hmmm..."a low, continuous sound...of low, indistinct voices." That is so interesting to me given my spiritual state of mind lately. Whose voice have I been listening to?

I had another breakthrough at church last night. I really do love this little church we've been attending. The pastor is great...his wife is great...the people are great...the worship is great...but then there I am, stuck behind a very big and ominous wall. The pastor called it out last night...talked about how we can be so on fire for God, serving Him and running after Him as hard as we can...when all of a sudden...BAM!...you hit a wall and it all comes to a screeching halt.

Yes. Wow. YES. He was totally speaking to me...and I mean He, as in God. Yes, the pastor is the one who spoke the words...but God put those words in his mouth so that he would speak them to me, last night, at that very moment. And to think...I wasn't even going to GO to church last night. I decided to at the last minute. (As if it were up to me.) God had a plan...as He always does. And part of His plan was for me to find a little weak spot in that wall...a little crack to let the Light shine through. A tiny little peep hole....so that I could see that He was right there, waiting patiently.

Of course He was...I always knew that. I know that God is never the one who disappears no matter WHAT we think. He is always, always, always, always there. Always.WE are the ones who disappear. And build walls to protect ourselves from...hurt. But the really crappy part is that we build them one little lie from the enemy at a time.

Strange how I can be so far from God but so close to Him all at the same time. This time in my life is no surprise to God. And it will not be wasted. God uses everything...even the bad, painful, unimaginable stuff...for our good and HIS glory. Amen.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days
of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will
never leave you nor forsake you.
-Joshua 1:5

Speaking of spiritual breakthroughs...
have you ever seen this video of this murmuration?
It leaves me breathless...and I cry every time I watch it.
Some see starlings. I see God.
God is everywhere...how can some people not see it?

And do you love the background music as much as I do?
How appropriate that it's titled Nomad Soul?
Here is the full length version...I'm listening to it for the third time in a row.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

a new recipe.

I may have mentioned that I am working on making a few changes in the way I cook...more protein and vegetables, fewer carbs. My boys made the request a while back (they're conditioning for sports) and I figured it could only benefit all of us.

However, I'm finding this is easier said than done. I never realized how much I relied on a starch when planning our meals...rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, tortillas...they were staples at every meal. And I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing...I believe in balance. I am not an "all or nothing" kind of gal when it comes to diet. But there was definitely room to cut back on the serving sizes.

Anyway...a few days ago I found a Martha Stewart recipe on Pinterest that looked tasty. And it just so happened I had a few sausages that I needed to use up. As a matter of fact, I had all of the ingredients I needed for this dish...canned beans, onion, garlic, carrots, sausage, broth...it was super easy. And very tasty. Everyone liked it and agreed that it should become a new addition to our menus.

Admittedly, these beans could be eaten as a main dish. Add a tossed salad and some warm, crusty bread and you'd be good to go. But this time I decided to make it an even more protein rich meal and served them alongside some broiled tilapia.  Then I added a big bowl of stir-fried vegetables cabbage and asparagus. It was all delicious. And all gone! Not to mention...hearty and healthy.

(See? Pinterest isn't all bad. It can be a wonderful way to waste time very helpful.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

slow and quiet.

After a whirlwind week of life and wrestling tournaments and then a pinched nerve in my left shoulder blade...I realized it was time for me to take things nice and slow.

So today...will be slow and quiet and easy.

The house is a wreck. But it will have to wait.

Instead I will eat my "heart-healthy" serving of oatmeal, take a nice HOT shower and sit quietly and read my textbooks. Because of my shoulder I was unable to sit at the computer to do my schoolwork so I am a bit behind. But that's OK...I'll get caught up. I always do.

Friday, January 20, 2012

the weeks are flying by...

The girls.

It's Friday...and it's raining. Looks like a good day for some bullet-points!
  • Yes...it's raining. Finally. You know I'm glad. I love it. So does the garden.
  • The girls...oh, the girls. They haven't laid an egg in...at least a month. Maybe longer.Their new pet name? Free-loaders.
  • I've started my new classes for the semester. I am considering dropping the art class. Sad...yes. It just seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth at this time. So...it's on the back burner. For now.
  • We've got the wrestling extravaganza this weekend. Ian had a dual meet yesterday afternoon, then he has a tournament tonight hosted by his school, then tomorrow we drive almost two hours away (leaving at 6am!) to another tournament in Grass Valley. Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it. I see a pajama day in my future...Sunday, you're all mine.
  • The new job is going well. The teacher I am there to assist has been out sick since we got back from vacation and will probably be out for a while more. We've had a different sub every day since I've been there. There was talk of getting a long-term sub...that will be nice.
So that's it really...not a whole lot to report. Life is moving right along...everyone is healthy, the heater works, the water is hot and there's food in the cupboard. Life's good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday in the Word.

Because you are my help,
 I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
 your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:7-8

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the winter garden.

I realize that calling 10 little plants in my backyard a "winter garden" might be a bit of a stretch. But for me...it's kind of a big deal. This is the first time we've ever planted winter vegetables. And I'm pleased to say they're not doing too bad.

They're a bit small, I think. I would think with all this warmth and sunshine they'd be a bit farther along. But...we did plant them late. And there hasn't been any rain. So maybe this is to be expected.

I'm not worried about it. Any time I do something like this for the first time I consider it a learning experience. So if things don't work out ideally I don't get discouraged. I just take note, see what happens, and do it differently the next time.

The good news is that we have actual broccoli florets growing! Chris came in the other morning and told me...so you know I had to run out with my camera!

See it? It makes me happy. I can't wait to eat it!

The other thing we have growing right now is the Meyer Lemon and it's producing beautiful lemons. I picked some the other day and they smelled so good. That has got to be one of my favorite scents ever...

So it's supposed to rain this week...maybe tomorrow. Or the next day. I'm ready. And so is the garden.

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;
it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.
- Gertrude Jekyll

Monday, January 16, 2012


"I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


It's beautiful out today...finally a chill in the air. We spent all of yesterday in a gymnasium watching Ian's wrestling tournament. It was dark when we finally got home...

Today we are all taking it very easy...a nice slow morning of sipping coffee, watching football and thinking... about dinner (pork stew I think...) and homework (I am late with some of it...) and work (it's been interesting...) and Ian's birthday on Tuesday (still have some shopping to do...) and my art class that starts Wednesday (I need a TON of art supplies...)...it's no wonder my anxiety is rearing it's ugly head, eh?

In my dream last night I was in class and one of the students stood up and said, "Psalm 118:6-9." Just like that. That was it. I woke up right after, went to the bathroom then wrote it down so I wouldn't forget. When I got up this morning I read it...

5 When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD;
   he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
   What can human beings do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
   I look in triumph on my enemies.
 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
   than to trust in human beings.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
   than to trust in princes.

I included verse 5 just now, too...because it spoke to me. Probably because I am feeling hard-pressed lately. So this is a word from the Lord...a promise...to me. That He will bring me into a spacious place...a place that's easy to breathe. It's a promise that He is my helper...He is my refuge...therefore I will not be afraid.

Sometimes I am just so blown away by God...and His ability to speak to us...through the bible, through people, through songs, through dreams. He's always there. All we have to do is listen.

On a lighter note...we are letting Seth drive Ian to the mall this afternoon. What!? I know! My babies...in a car...together...on a freeway! I'm taking deep breaths...

I suppose I've procrastinated the ol' homework situation long enough. Time to "hit the books" as they say...

Friday, January 13, 2012

ugly hallway + empty wall = personal art gallery

{this wall makes me happy every day.}
{"blue elephant" by Seth, age 3. 1998}

{"one-eyed stick man" by Ian, age 3. 2001}

{want more details? click here.}

Once upon a time I had an ugly, empty wall in the hallway. I also had some beloved art pieces I wanted to hang....some things made by the boys, some photos taken by me, some Etsy art I'd bought over the past couple of years.

But...for the longest time I couldn't jusitfy the expense of mats and frames and such.

Then one day, Aaron Bros. had a penny sale on frames and I had a little extra money...the end.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

life is full of good things.

Life is full of good things...like Noni's yellow bowl. Everything I make in it tastes SO good. I miss my Noni every single day...so being able to look around my home and see little reminders of her makes me happy.

My friend, Jennifer, shared a really good video about life this morning that blessed me and got me thinking...about paying attention, looking for the good, living each day like the true gift that it is..."It's like life-giving water if you only open your heart and drink."

I am taking part in a creative exercise hosted by this beautiful gal...we've never met, have only corresponded a handful of times...but I really like the way she thinks and the way she views the world. I was drawn to this creative exercise because it's weekly...it's low-key...therefore it's good for me and my busy schedule. A word a week expressed in any way you want...a photo, a poem, a painting...your choice. This week's word: peace. Yes, please.

Ian asked me to buy some granola...they sell it in bulk at Winco. I was in the neighborhood so I stopped and bought some. (No...I didn't make it. I know!) I sprinkled some over my yogurt...as did Ian. That is some good stuff...

I avoided Facebook for the longest time...I avoid most new things for a while and eventually succumb because my curiosity gets the best of me. I have to say...Facebook can be a good thing. Because of it I have been able to contact several old friends I thought I'd lost contact with forever. One of those friends, Kym (who I am SO grateful to be reconnected with after 25 years or so) writes a blog about her life and her sweet and adorable little girl Lily who was born with a condition called Hypotonia, or "floppy baby syndrome". Kym is beautiful, funny and eloquent...have a visit, won't you? And join us in praying for miracles for Lily.

Yeah...life is full of good things. I am grateful... And really...go watch that video...it'll change the way you continue your day. xo

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday in the Word.

Lamentations 3:19-26

 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
   the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
   and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
   and therefore I have hope:
  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.”
  The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
   for the salvation of the LORD.

After a long time of wandering...and waiting...I can feel myself slowly making my way back. I wasn't necessarily going in the wrong direction...but in a spiritual sense I was stuck. And when I did try to move it was as if I was spinning in circles.

Eventually...I just stopped.

And then I got complacent. Which is really weird because I never thought I would ever feel that way. Being so involved in women's ministry like I was I saw women try to return to church after not being for a while. Many times they had stopped going to their previous church because of being hurt or let down by someone who, many times, were in a position of leadership. And I never understood it. Because I knew that church didn't equate God...therefore the hurt was from a person...not God. So I couldn't understand how being hurt by someone at a church would prevent someone from going to church. I just did not get it.

But then...God allowed me the opportunity to feel that same kind of hurt. And let me tell you...it really does knock the wind right out of you. It stops you in your tracks. And gives you a very bitter taste in your mouth where church and its people are concerned. Not where God is concerned. I knew God well enough to keep Him out of it. But where church was concerned? And the people in it? Yeah...bitter.

So I stopped going to church for a while (as I've mentioned). And I was fine with it.

But you know...I really wasn't. I wasn't fine with it at all. And neither was God.

Church is a really good thing. I learned a lot at my long-time church. I had some really good times and met some incredible and God-loving people, several of who I still talk to and pray with today. I grew spiritually and healed and experienced miracles at my old church. There was so much good that I experienced that I've had to remind myself of all of that. I've had to realize that it wasn't all bad. Not at all. It was good for a long time.

To be honest with you, I don't know when it started to deteriorate. I think it was a slow decline...so subtle that I didn't even know it was happening. And then when I realized what was happening I denied it...thinking to myself, "It must just be me because this kind of stuff doesn't happen in church."

Well. Yes, it does. But that's OK...because wounds heal. And lessons are learned. And God uses those lessons to help us become more compassionate.

Yes, church is a good thing. As long as it's a healthy and thriving church. I didn't say a busy church. Just because a church is doing does not mean they are being. Do you get what I'm saying?

But if you can find a church where the people are kind and loving and authentic and imperfect (yes, I said imperfect) and love the Lord with all their hearts (or are at least striving to)...go there. Worship there. Serve there. Make friends there. Go to bible studies. Smile at newcomers. Sing your heart out during worship...raise your hands to God. 

Yes. Church is a good thing. And I'm grateful to be making my way back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's nice to get out of town sometimes.

can you feel the love?
Last week the boys and I, along with my mom, took a two hour drive to Donner Lake to spend some time with my aunt and uncle at their cabin. It was our second time there and WE LOVE IT. The gorgeous lake is a mere walk down their front steps and across the road...the view out of their living room window is of trees and water and mountains. It's wonderful...

I wonder how long this has been here?
The weather was beautiful. Cold and sunny, perfect in my opinion. And no snow, like everywhere else, right? It was kind of a bummer...but since I'm not real experienced at driving in snow, I was OK with it.

the water was so still.
Of course I took a lot of pictures...I think it was 124. (Or 142? Something like that.) Not bad for a 24 hour period. 

lots of love along the beach...

We also did some shopping, my uncle took the boys for a hike, we worked on a puzzle (I love puzzles), and ate good meals.

we found them like that.
But most importantly...we relaxed. We slowed down. We rested. We spent time with family. I'm pretty sure it was good for all of us.

the end of the day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

today is the day.

Rocks on the beach at Donner Lake.
Well...today is the day...I start my new job. In an hour no less.

I wasn't nervous last week. But today? Just a little...

I'll be fine once I get there...it's just the getting there that's making my stomach flutter a bit.

The boys are back in school...I miss them. They'll each be gone for 10 hours between school and sports. Being back on the regular routine is making me a little sad. Vacation is always so nice...

No matter what...no matter how I feel or what's going on...the bottom line in all things...God is good. And everything in our lives is in the palm of His hand.

I'm grateful....for all of it.

Happy Monday to you...xoxo

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday afternoon...

Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don't be afraid. 
~Frederick Buechner

Friday, January 6, 2012

more than meets the eye.

I bought this little piece of art almost 3 years ago on Etsy. It's 2.5 x 3.5...ink on watercolor paper and has some machine stitching. The artist is Michele Maule and I just love her work. (FYI...she has no idea who I am or that I am writing about her.)

Admittedly, when I first bought it, I was just drawn to the old typewriter. The letters and numbers really didn't mean anything to me. I loved the typewriter...I loved the blue...and the stitching...and it was also nice that it was an affordable original. So I made the purchase. Once I received it I tucked it away with a stack of other frameable pieces I'd collected for the wall of art collage I would have in my home "one day".

OK...so "one day" came last week when Aaron Bros. had their "buy a frame get one for a penny" sale. I took advantage of that, bought some nice frames, and went to work on a collage wall for our hallway. (A much needed project that I'll share pics of soon, too...)

Anyway...after I framed this little piece...titled "I want.."...I was admiring my handiwork when I noticed a few things. I noticed that the letters and the numbers were very significant and meant something huge. Ready?

The capital G...stands for God.
The number 5...symbolizes grace.
The little m...is for me, Michelle.

I love that the number 5, or grace, is between me and God...almost as if He's covering me with His grace.

As I was showing Chris my plan for the collage wall (7 or 8 framed pieces laid out on our bed) I told him about my discovery of this little art piece. He made a pleasant ,"Huh!" sound...and then said, "Aaaand...it's a typewriter.", and shot me a raised eyebrow as if to say, "Ya know...because you like to write."

Isn't that so cool? It makes me happy every time I walk past it. God's grace...where would I be without it?

"But by the grace of God I am what I am.." 1 Corinthians 15:10

Thursday, January 5, 2012

so much on my mind..

My thoughts are scattered. (Yes, again.) So since I can't form a complete sentence we'll just go with bullet-points today. Sound good?
  • I'm enjoying this time off. It's been really nice. And I have no idea how I'm going to get back in the swing of getting up early. This is gonna be interesting...
  • My boys asked me to make meals higher in protein and lower in calories. Ian needs to make weight for wrestling and Seth is working on getting in better shape. I agreed. It won't hurt me to miss a carb, that's for sure.
  • On that note...I need meal ideas: lots of veggies, lots of protein, low or no carbs. All I can think of is chicken...and that's gonna get real old real fast.
  • I start my new job on Monday. Chris asked if I was nervous...I said no. I'm not. I'm ready. And capable. It'll be an interesting next chapter.
  • I started one of my online classes yesterday...Eng450, Children's Literature. I'm really excited about this class...I think it's going to be a good one.
  • I ordered my books late. I hope they come soon as my first assignments require reading!
  • I took my mom and the boys to visit my aunt and uncle at their cabin at Donner Lake on Monday and Tuesday. We had a nice time. Getting out of town is always so refreshing.
  • My community college classes begin on the 18th...I'm gearing up for them. One is Human Development and I'll be taking that one online. And then Printmaking at the college on Mondays and Wednesdays. I'm so excited for Printmaking.
  • I'm resisting the temptation to take even more classes to just get this whole college thing over and done with by the end of summer. But I know it will be too much. (I'm already pushing it at times.) Had I not accepted a job and could just focus on school full-time, every day, all day...then I would. But...I did accept the job. So...I need to be realistic.
  • All vacation long I have wanted to do something creative. A lino cut to be exact. I was going to make our Christmas card. Then it turned into a New Year's card. Now I don't know what it's going to be! I have a few days left to actually make something...I just need to DO IT.
  • The winter garden is coming right along...I can't wait to actually eat something from it!
  • The chickens haven't laid an egg in weeks. Free-loaders.
  • Seth got his driver's license. Can you say bittersweet?
  • I'm having a really hard time lately with this whole cycle of life thing...birth and death and growth. Ever since Papa went to heaven I've been having a hard time with...life. And the fact that my parent's will age. And that my kids will grow up...and move away. And that I will age. And that the cycle of life continues...no matter how we feel about it.
  • On a positive note...2012 is full of possibility. And I'm looking forward to what lies ahead...
This scripture comes to mind...Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press
on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Have a great day...it's sunny and cold here...perfect.

Monday, January 2, 2012

one word.

Happy New Year! It's 2012. A few days ago I mentioned wanting to choose one word to represent this coming year. When I first thought of it there was a word that popped into my head...but I quickly dismissed it. For one thing, I thought it was kind of a boring word. It wasn't a word I'd want imprinted on a charm or tattooed on my ankle. (No...don't worry...I'm not considering a tattoo...been there, done that.)

For another thing...I was feeling a bit pessimistic about the coming year. I didn't have the excitement and hopeful attitude I did when 2011 rang in. So...as this word entered my mind I shrugged it off...and waited for another word...a better word...to come to mind.

In the meantime...the original word kept showing up. I would hear it. I would see it. I kept thinking about it. It was everywhere...and it was clear that it wasn't going away. So I gave in...and I prayed about it...and I realized that it was the perfect word for this coming year...


Yep. That's it. That's the word. Possible.

"Everything is possible for one who believes.” - Mark 9:23.

What is impossible with human beings is possible with God.” - Luke 18:27.

I can't wait to see where this leads...