Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 Family Verse & Vision

I've been asked to write a bit more about our Family Words, Prayers, and Visions. It's a nudge I need,  as we realized if we want to capture these in print for the blog, I need to write a post rather than simple listing in the sidebar.

I first saw this post  (or one similar) from Ginger about a year ago. Ginger explains she chooses an annual "prayer verse" for each member of her family. She prays this verse throughout the year into that person's life.

We adapted and for the first time in 2012 chose a FAMILY PRAYER VERSE (because coming up with 11 was too daunting for me and I didn't want to wait a year while I collected individual verses).  This verse has been prayed into the lives of those Gherkins living in both Japan and  America. I believe we've seen God answer in each of our lives.

Michael and I also discussed a Family Vision for 2012. 

Mission Statement has come to mean a statement of purpose, reason for existing

Vision Statement defines what we will look like as we walk out our mission.

 An example of this would be my personal mission statement:
"My goal in life is to passionately love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I endeavor through teaching and mentoring relationships to lead others to an extravagant, lavish, passionate, whole-hearted, love of their life. It is my goal to truly love others."
Through the years this has shortened to four words: Love God ~ Love Others. I suspect one word would do - LOVE - but I wanted the wiggle room of "teaching and  mentoring" to be included.

I also have a yearly memorial stones a personal annual vision as it were:
"Grace, Holiness, Delight, Choose Joy, Contentment, Surrender, Intimacy"
I will walk in joy as I love....I will walk in surrender as I love....I will rest in grace as I love...

I have been doing this for years in my personal life and for ministry groups. Michael has been doing this for Chapels.  After reading Ginger's post, Michael and I decided to implement both a family prayer verse and a family vision for 2012.  I had thought I'd write about them, but life has been too hectic. However, both have been in the side bar as reminders to Michael and I.  We've reminded each other, prayed about it. As for that family mission statement....we know what it is; but we're still working on how to best summarize it....we hope to get it "right" before Stacia graduates. LOL
2012 Family Prayer Verse: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:52
2012 Family Vision: Walking Worthy - "...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." Col 1:10-12
This began as a personal practice, transitioned into a couple's practice, and this year it is fully a  family practice.  Michael and I prayed about a verse and vision for 2013. We also made it a topic of conversation in family circle and asked the kids to pray about it. We agreed on both and I'll share as we enter 2013.  Michael and I will be more intentional on keeping the verse and vision before our kids this year....through devotions, discussions, blog posts, read aloud selections....and whatever other means the Holy Spirit quickens to us.

Since the selected family vision incorporates the word I was thinking for "my word," I'm now wondering if that's the way it's meant to be or if word number 2 is my word.... ::snort::

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Secret Place - 2012

At the end of 2011, having lived through the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, we felt 2012 "had to be better."  We toasted the New Year with this oft repeated thought.

Via Google Images

The Memorial Stone which God led me to for 2012 was Secret Place or Sanctuary.  One focus verse of 2012 was Ps 91:1, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."

I began 2012 with a craving to abide, dwell, pitch a tent in the secret place with the Lover of my soul.  These yearly words are often nearly prophetic...giving me  a glimpse into a work the Lord will do in the upcoming year or the path I may find myself walking.  I've not shared a lot throughout this year about the lessons I'm learning....primarily because time was at a premium throughout most of the year. As I begin to consider a recap of this stone/word before moving on, I realize how much of what I learned was "intimate," "private confidences."

Via Google Images
Sanctuary - Secret Place. To fully learn to climb into that intimate sanctuary I would need practice, and the best way to practice is with a few storms. I should have known. ::grin::

Google Images - Minamisoma March 11, 2011
Ministry challenge began in Jan 2012...and continues to the present. God took me to a place of solitude in leadership which I didn't appreciate - but I grew! I stretched. He was sufficient. His grace is sufficient. He brought along two women this summer to share the regional load of leadership.  And within months, my regional position will cease to exist.

Michael, a man who has never had an IV, has been dealing with pain throughout 2012. In March he had an emergency surgery to remove a gangrenous gall bladder. He went into this surgery with me aware  they suspected stage 4 cancer. He wasn't aware of much. The recovery was tough with many complications.  God was strong in me....I was not a cowering, fearful, mess....I was strong in His strength.

Our 18 yo grew up and graduated.

Michael's father, Dad G, went to be with Jesus in eternity.  We were told Michael's cardiac tests were abnormal and we could not return to Japan until cleared by a cardiologist in America. All was well.

Michael, still having pain, finally received answers and had another surgery on 11 December.

A fellow chaplain, Don Bridges, commented March 2011 was a national tsunami and March 2012 was a personal tsunami... an apt allegory.

The secret dwelling place, the sanctuary, the hiding place with Abba, proved to be strong enough for each storm.

But that's not all that occurred in 2012.

My cholesterol continued to rise on meds. My blood pressure maintained at borderline high. My weight refused to budge regardless of my "good" diet and 60 min workouts.

Monsters I'd thought I'd dealt with long ago resurfaced in March. I began to binge and purge. I experienced  devastating shame and hopelessness. I was desperate to break the cycle, desperate for health answers...and  in the secret place Jesus quietly spoke that it was TIME. It was time to do battle. It was time to believe He was the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE even in this situation. He promised I only needed to "Follow Him to Freedom."   I did and am continuing to follow. Along the way He has shown me new things about my past, about my present, about my future. He is healing deep areas and showing me bits of what He calls me - courageous, beloved, enough.

Abba called me to refocus my ministry on the local level. For the first time in over 20 years I've taken an extended time off from teaching a Bible study. Abba needed my full attention, I needed to be able to delve deeply into any passage He led me to without the need to focus on a prepared course to teach. I needed margin to focus on my new lifestyle, to follow Him to freedom, to minister to my family and to grieve the losses of  the summer of 2012.  I began to lead the local PCOC ministry which answered our family's need for a family service project. We loved it. 

A loving Father provided two "young" friends to meet with weekly and simply share the life-giving truth found in the book of Ephesians. The time was sweet and beneficial! 

As the year draws to an end, I'm amazed at the new places Abba has taken me....and I'm thrilled.  These truths are truths that will continue to bear fruit beyond 2012....as He leads into 2013.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


Michael will go back to work today. I had thought I would go to an onsen....I've not gone for months....but alas, I think I'm snowed in. 
Via Google Images

Of course sitting outside in a volcanic spring fed bath is perfect when the rest of the world is snowed in - it may be worth the chance of a winter accident to try it. ::snort:: 
Via Google Images

Akikosan gave me fizzy bath powders for Christmas because she said I can't be driving myself to onsens when winter comes. ::snort:: 

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Christmas Joy

The younger two  have been praying for a White Christmas. It looked like a sure thing and then melted. The weather report changed from snow showers to nothing....and we all joined the youngers in praying for a White Christmas.  We woke this a.m. to brown...but around 1000 - sweet little SNOW FLURRIES began....not a lot....but some...

Michael saw a notice on FB about late reporting tomorrow...maybe more snow tonight? 

We spent a good part of the day trying to reach our kids and parents on Skype. We didn't manage to reach either parental units....we had a great Skype with Krista early in the day and knew the girls were going to a Candlelight service and then home to watch White Christmas.  The boys were working....had a midnight Candlelight service....in other words...we saw a window and were able to Skype with all at once....except for Josiah, who is at Shelby's family's. We'll try to catch up with Josiah sometime this week. 

Look at that! Eight Gherkins, Michael and me (in the granny glasses so I could SEE all those faces!) It was perfect! It was 0200 for the boys and 2400 for the girls. We stayed on the line long enough to be able to say we all were having Christmas at the same time... ::snort::  

Look at Jared with a beard....tips have picked up and -ahem- young women should be ashamed of leaving their phone numbers on public tables! 

One last sweet memory. Krista sent a package that was full of little gifts for me. Gift giving is her love language...the sweet thing was the note...she knew it would be a hard season and wanted me to have a little gift to unwrap when I was lonely. Unfortunately, due to the postal system it arrived yesterday...but I loved it and am still smiling over it. 

And finally, Arielle and I are setting up the screen to watch the Andy Giffith Show and enjoy the Cosmo corn, both gifts from Krista.  A very EXCELLENT first day of Christmas.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Happy Birthday, Jesus (Christmas Part 3)

We usually play "Pin the Star on the Stable," but we can't FIND it this year....that didn't stop us from enjoying a wonderful birthday party for Jesus. The whole day was a celebration...but here are a few highlights.

Michael and Nolan's cake was wonderful! 

I made a Single Serving Vegan chocolate cake - this is VERY rich and chocolaty  I used the coconut cream for frosting...next time I'll drizzle it....far too sweet...but a vegan yummy dessert.

We sang Happy Birthday, blew out the candle (first and last) and ate. 

We discussed our Family Prayer Verse and Vision...enthusiastic acceptance by all....I'll blog more about that later.

Gift time for Jesus....we are still discussing what our "big gift" for Jesus will be this year...it may be a well, a water buffalo or crisis care for widows and children....still sorting it out.

However, we opened Jesus'  Christmas Stocking which we'd attempted to fill this season.

If words of affirmation are your love language this event is perfect. ::grin:: 

Stacia was allowed to draw photos of  things she saw other's doing which were Christ-like. Here she explains to Nolan the good she saw him doing. 

Did I say this was rich and chocolaty - and only ONE MINUTE to bake? 

Perfect First Day of Christmas. The timing of our family gift exchange is under discussion. Most of us think New Year's Eve would be a good time...trying to stay up anyway. Stacia thinks we should way for the 12th Day of Christmas - Jan 6th. We shall see.  Meanwhile I love having a peaceful tree to enjoy a bit longer....

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Treats, Games and Gifts

With breakfast and family circle behind us, we moved on with the rest of the day.

We got Krista on Skype. We missed everyone else.

I got busy in the kitchen.  This was the perfect Christmas Apron. Amazing to reflect these little hand-prints were from 15 years ago...the little pink one on top was Arielle's  print from 6 months old...Nolan, Zander and Stacia weren't around.....So I wore the elder Gherkins this year. 

These 4 (and Stacia for about 10 min) began a 5 1/2 hour game of Monopoly. 

Lunch would have been easy....we usually just do a frozen lasagna...everything other than the lasagna was plant strong...Kale Quinoa Salad, Fruit Salad, Green Salad, garlic bread, roasted ratatouille,  and Lentil Mushroom Spinach Roulade. I nearly skipped the roulade but in the end discovered Arielle really did NOT want to eat the lasagna and was happy to have a main entree option.  
Our at home Gherkins

After lunch Monopoly moved into the negotiation phase....

The kids love to play hide and seek with Yuuki. 
They say, "Yuuki stay." 
She sits and stays...and tenses....
Finally, "Yuuki, COME!" 

The hunt is on! See the black coat? Zander in hiding. Yuuki had her nose in the shoe stand in his shoe cubby, then checked out the books before she FOUND HIM. She ALWAYS does. 

 We don't do a big gift exchange on Christmas Day....but we do open presents from far away family.

 I had just said...look at the healthy treats and then pulled out the Mocha Roca. LOL  

Grandma and Grandpa sent a table-top ping pong game...

Michael was up a lot yesterday and today....so he's down tonight....

Zander loves the whistles Krista sent. 

One of our Advent gifts was Rory Story Cubes. We've created our own way to play....all work together on a giant story.....each adding to it.... 

Funky dudes in tights, radioactive aliens, fairies, parachuters and dragons....fun times.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Vegetable Quinoa Salad (Sugar Free Mom)

Quinoa is a new grain for us. I found this recipe at Sugar Free Mom....

Such a colorful salad


1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup fresh (packed) spinach
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup sliced cucumber
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup mild banana peppers rings

Balsamic Dressing
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Place one cup of dry uncooked quinoa in a pot with water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until all water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a large serving bowl add your chopped vegetables. In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients. Combine cooled quinoa with vegetables and toss with dressing. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

Nutrition Info
Servings: 4* Calories per serving: 247* Fat: 10g* Cholesterol: 0mg* Sodium: 318mg* Carbs: 33g* Fiber: 4g* Protein: 7g* Points+: 6*

Note: I used Kale in place of spinach... this seemed to be a lot of quinoa...I may use less next time.

Choosing Joy!
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Lentil Mushroom Spinach Roulade or "Vegan Stromboli"

This is yummy. The recipe was originally found at Mouthwatering Vegan. Her pictures are spectacular, for more detailed instructions go visit her. Also - I changed out some spices and you may like hers better! This is how I made it...Arielle and I loved it. Michael said it was good. 
Note photo from Original Recipe - go check it out! 
2 T of olive oil (use up to 2 T more if you need it)
6 large mushrooms, chopped well
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Medium onion, chopped fine
3 T tomato paste
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 - 1 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp onion powder
salt to taste (don't skip)

2 C of cooked lentils (or 15 oz of canned)
2 C COOKED spinach (takes a LOT of spinach), roughly chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes (I didn't have)
1/4 C water
Splashes of lemon or lime juice to taste

3/4 C pecans (roast) - chopped
handful of cashews - chopped
1 T Nutritional Yeast Flakes 

Vegan short crust pastry - I used pie crust - enough for a double crust pie

Vegan milk to brush on top

Preheat oven to 400*.

Saute mushrooms, garlic and onions until limp.

Add tomato paste, curry, onion powder, fennel, salt and mix.  Stir for a minute.

Add lentils and stir.

Add spinach and tomatoes, water and splashes of lemon or lime. Taste. Adjust seasonings.

Original recipe called to cover and simmer. Mine didn't look like it needed to simmer so I skipped.

Roll out dough to 10x7. I figure I did THIS WAY bigger as ours were so long they had to be cut in half and they were skinner than hers...but it tasted fantastic.

Spoon lukewarm lentil mixture onto the dough. She suggests vegan cheese. I don't do vegan cheese. I opted to add extra nuts on top of the mixture - sprinkle both on. Save some to press into the ends of loaves before you cook.

Sprinkle a tablespoon of nutritional yeast on top of the nuts. You won't miss the cheese - I promise.

Roll away from you into a log. Get help to move it to a greased pan

Score the top. Brush with vegan milk.

Bake until it turns golden. Recipe said 20 min. but it took mine much longer. So long, in fact that I turned the broiler on and left it too long. LOL

Choosing Joy
©2012 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...