Friday, October 26, 2007

Pillow Talk and Party Time: A Mom's Day Out

Yesterday was a fabulous day! Casey and I drove into Sugar Land early in the morning, only to drop Braelyn off at Nonnie's and then go our separate ways. He had work, work, work, but my agenda was cleared for super-fun, girlie, grown-ups only things all day long!

To start off my mom's day out, I got my very first sewing lesson from my super sweet friend, Erin. This summer, I picked up some beautiful fabric to make pillows for my very naked, white couch. The fabric has just been sitting in my closet, taunting me, until yesterday when Erin and I finally got together for a little Sewing 101. I brought my brand new machine (literally still in the box), so I could get familiar with all the bells and whistles. I started out the morning just practicing. Then we ate lunch, discussed my long-term pillow goals and made a plan. Since this was my first sewing attempt, I chose a simple, square pillow, with my least favorite, beautiful fabric.

I nervously squeaked and squealed the whole time, and Erin had to get my stripes back in line a couple of times, but all in all, I would say that my first sewing project was a success!

Erin, me and my pillow.
Thanks Cutshall! You're a great teacher!

At home. I love it!
She looks a little lonely, but she'll have some sisters...eventually. :)
Oh, and that's my silly dog, Tucker. :|

Once my project was complete, I raced to my in-laws, changed into my witchiest ensemble, and left for bunco. This once-a-month event is always a blast, and Julie's Halloween-themed party was no exception. The costumes were classic, and the best part...I won the door prize! I never win!

My crazy bunco gals!

It was a great day! Although, I seem to be paying for it today. Braelyn cried for two hours before her nap, and then slept for a whopping 20 MINUTES! Oh well, it was worth it!

The Sherrill Story

Hello Friends,
I just wanted to take a second to let you know about our dear friends, John and Kelly Sherrill. Earlier this week, Kelly, at only 23 weeks pregnant, gave birth to her third son, Kyle. Kyle is 5 or 6 days old now, and they say he's really a fighter. But as you can image, family and friends are laboring in prayer over this sweet baby, and so I thought I would commission my blogger friends to join in.
The whole family is John, Kelly, Jadon, Jack and baby Kyle.

John and Kelly have a blog and are posting updates so that we can be praying for their needs as they arise. Please go to their sight. It hurts your heart to see that tiny baby, but it is also such a blessing to see the faith of this family.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Corner of This Christian Life

Since I've been in Brenham, I feel like the Lord and I have been working on a puzzle together. He, of course, knows what the final product looks like, and where all the pieces go, but I do not, and so I plug away, trying to fit pieces together, trying to make out some image of this Christian life.

Recently, I feel like He has helped me put some pretty important pieces together, through reading His Word, and praying His Word. He has been so gracious to me, continuously renewing my hunger for Scripture, making it come alive. Time and again, He has made me a feast when I expected some crumbs. He has saturated my heart with Truth, bringing It's taste to my tongue and It's feeling to my hands. I want to emphasize that I take no credit. DAILY, I am tempted to put our time aside, but DAILY, HE reminds me of His "ten thousand charms" and He is irresistible. And so, by His faithful beckoning, I have been wrestling with some difficult "pieces," and by His generous counsel, an image is becoming clearer.

Materialism has been an important piece through all of this. It has always been a struggle for me. And honestly, I don't know too many women who don't find it a struggle. Lately, my closest friends and I have been laying this sin out on the table, examining it, asking questions, searching for its root. Some of the questions that have been incubating in my heart are: Why do so many women I know struggle with always wanting more, especially when it comes to our homes? Is the desire to create a warm and inviting home a sin in and of itself? If not, when does it cease to be a godly desire placed in our hearts, and become dirty, lustful, greedy sin? So, as my husband says, I've been "sitting in the tension," waiting on God to share His wisdom.

While I've been waiting, God began to open my eyes to another area of sin in my life. In a nutshell: the community that I currently exist in, is perhaps, not completely reflective of God's Kingdom. I felt encouraged by His Word to enter into honest community with all walks of life, the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the white and the black, the full and the hungry, and so on. The point was driven home further as God reminded me of people I know and people I don't know that are hurting and suffering in ways I cannot imagine.

One night on the Internet, I was faced with some of these suffering people, children actually. My heart was so grieved. I was overwhelmed with shame, as earlier in the day I was pouting because I didn't get to work on my sewing project. What a silly thing! How ridiculously insignificant! I don't even sew! It was here in this tearful moment, that God, so tenderly, fit these "puzzle pieces" together for me.

This is what I have learned: If all I have to think about is pillows and picture arrangements and antique furniture, as a Christian, then something is dreadfully wrong. If the majority of my thoughts are spent conjuring up ways to make my home more magazine worthy, then I am not about the things of God. How can I obsess over such silliness, when there is such work to be done? I have made the hobby the full-time job and the full-time job the hobby, and I suspect that I am not alone. So as I look at this corner of the puzzle, of this Christian life, this is my prayer: That I would continue to drench myself in the Word of God and in prayer, begging for Christ to constantly make my soul aware that there is work to do. That I would obsess about the things above, and get to work. And then, I bet, that my thoughts and desires would come into a holier balance, and then what a joy it would be to sit and sew a pillow.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saving Dowenksy

A few weeks ago I came across our friends, the Ivey's adoption blog. They are adopting a precious little boy named Amos Dowensky from a rescue center in Haiti. To help with the adoption costs, the Ivey's are selling "Saving Dowensky" t-shirts. We love the Ivey's and want to support the wonderful thing they are doing. So here's the Cease family, sportin' our cool, new shirts.

The photo shoot proved to be more of a challenge than I expected.

Well, this is the best we could do.

To learn more about the Ivey's adoption journey, and how you can help bring their baby boy home, go to

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Prayerful Thoughts

You may know from the little "Here's What I'm Reading" section on my blog, that I am reading E.M. Bounds on Prayer. Well the chapter I read today was called Prayer and Desire. It was so challenging and so encouraging, I thought I'd share a few little exerts.

The deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer.

Even if it is discovered that the desire is honestly absent, we should pray anyway. We ought to pray. The ought comes in, in order that desire and expression are produced. God's Word commands it. Our judgment tells us we ought to pray-whether we feel like it or not-and not allow our feelings to determine our prayer habits. In such circumstances, we ought to pray for the desire to pray. This desire is God-given and heaven-born. We should pray for desire.

The dampening of the flame of holy desire is destructive to the vital, aggressive forces in church life. God expects to be represented by a fiery church or He is not, in any proper sense, represented at all. God Himself is all fire; and His church, if it is to be like Him, must also be like white heat. The only things the church can afford to be on fire about are the great, eternal interests of heaven-born, God-given faith.

Desire is intense, but narrow. It cannot spread itself over a wide area. It wants a few things and wants them badly. It wants them so badly that nothing but God's willingness to answer can bring it ease or contentment. (Psalm 27:4)

So, praying is, after all, inspired to seek after God. Prayer desire is ignited to see God and have a clearer, fuller, sweeter, and richer revelation of God. So, to those who pray this way, the Bible becomes a new Bible and Christ a new Savior by the light and revelation of the prayer closet.

The essential prerequisite for all true praying is a deep-seated desire that seeks after God Himself. It remains unsatisfied until the choice gifts in heaven have been richly and abundantly given.

For anyone wanting to study prayer, I highly recommend this book. I'll probably talk more about it, and let you know my thoughts when I'm finished, but folks, that'll be a's a big book. I think that he actually wrote 7 smaller books, and this is just all of them put together. Even if you picked up one of the smaller books, I think it would bless you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another New Recipe: Brunswick Stew

Unfortunately, there's nothing too exciting going on here in the Cease household, so all you get is another dinner blog. Today's new recipe: Brunswick Stew, also out of the October issue of Cooking Light. Casey's out traveling this week, so I thought this Southern recipe would be a good one to try by myself. (My husband is not a big fan of vegetables in general, and specifically detests lima beans...and this recipe's gotta lotta limas!)

Anyways, this was a pretty simple recipe, although I would change some things next time and maybe save it for a cooler day :). Taste test: a thumb and a half up...if you like limas that is!

What you see in there is chicken, red bell pepper, celery, onions, corn and LIMAS! It also has a little tomato paste, a little chicken stock, and a little Tabasco sauce, although I would change it to a lot of Tabasco sauce! It was pretty good. I'm glad I gave the Brunswick Stew a try.

Alright, well, that's all I got today. Since Casey's out of town, I'm gonna go spend a little time with Tolstoy. Good Night!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A New Recipe: Baked Ziti with Homemade Marinara

I always think it's kinda funny when people blog about their food, but blogging has been increasingly on my mind lately, and as I was attempting this new recipe, all I could think about was, "I need to blog about this!" So this is a blog about my dinner.

The other day, I picked up a copy of Cooking Light magazine. It had some delicious, healthy fall recipes (attempting to disregard the lingering summer weather), and I have been wanting to try something new and hopefully add to my very modest culinary repertoire. So after a quick perusal, I decided on Baked Ziti with Homemade Marinara.

Monday, step #1: I made the marinara. The recipe makes a lot, so you can actually use it for several different recipes. I'm pretty proud of it. I've never made my own pasta sauce before!

Today, step #2: Make baked ziti using the marinara. Super easy! But, the magazine said to add the turkey meat to the casserole without browning it first, and it would fully cook as it baked. This was sketchy to me, but I did as I was told. Anyways, here it is...

Now, I don't know about you, but I try to make it a rule not to serve new recipes to dinner guests. Well, Casey was confident that it was going to be delicious, and so invited our little Brenham gang over to try it. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I didn't notice anyone dry heaving or anything. I thought it tasted pretty good, but I couldn't fully enjoy it, knowing that it was quite possible that I had just poisoned my only friends in Brenham with salmonella. This is exactly why I am a firm believer in the trial run!

Anyways, here are our sweet, potentially very sick Brenham friends. The Bever's are on the left, and the Hyde's and their son Jonas on the right. The cute one in the middle, that's my Casey.

FYI- I will probably try the recipe again, but just for my own peace of mind, I'll brown the meat first. :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

Round Top: Warrenton with Jessica

After 6 months of waiting, and weeks of anxious anticipation, Wednesday, my friend Jessica and I made our (delightfully short) way to Round Top (miles and miles of glorious trash and treasure, an antiquers paradise!). Jessica took me to Warrenton, a site she enjoyed in the past. Enjoyable indeed!

No longer a Round Top virgin, I went with a few "objectives" in mind. This helped me to admire with eyes only, while only the things on my list could be admired with money. My list contained, in order of importance, a church pew, a small white cabinet to hang over the potty, and a short cabinet to hold towels and shower stuff (this item wasn't really a possibility, but I thought I'd see what was out there).

So we began to wander through the field of tents and booths, chatting, simply enjoying the experience and the beautiful day. For the first couple of hours we didn't find much. Jessica found a $3 olive greenish, velvet throw pillow - What a steal! We decided to grab some lunch ($9 salty, chicken salad sandwich! Ridiculous!) and regain our strength for the hours of shopping ahead.

After lunch I was more successful. I found a number of beautiful church pews, some which were WAY out of my price range. Brief story about this: I had found a pew that I liked and could afford, but not wanting to make any hasty decisions I decided to look around a few more booths before committing. Right around the corner there was a beautiful pew, but it was a little too expensive. The dealer approached me and I told him that I loved his pew but it was a little more than I could spend. I told him I was hoping to find one around X number of dollars. Then, he said quite smugly, "Ha, good luck." I was a little irritated by his response and wanted to let him know that he was not going to crush my hopes, and so I said, clearly without thinking, "Well you're a stinker!" I said that! What! A stinker?! Oh, Steph. Not too long after that, I went back to the nice dealer named Robert and purchased my church pew. And then only a few yards away, I found my white cabinet. Only 40 bucks! What a happy day!

We strolled around for several more hours. Pressure off to find the "perfect" thing, it was fun to just browse and talk. We drove down to another little tent where we met another Robert. Cute as a button, Robert was an older gentleman with a gray Santa Clause beard. He has 8 kids, used to be a mechanic, collects books and wind chimes, which he also makes. The man said he had 60 wind chimes in his back yard. Can you imagine what his house sounds like in a thunderstorm! Anyways, we chatted with him for quite a while, and couldn't say no to the illustrations we found.

So that was our day. Super fun. Here are some pictures of our Round Top treasures!

Here's my church pew in it's happy, new home.

Once the cabinet is hung, I'll post some photos. I've been meaning to show everyone our new, beautiful bathroom anyway!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Gratitude...It's Contagious

I've been browsing around my little blogging community and people are taking a moment to mention the little things in life they're thankful for. I couldn't resist. Here's my list:

- unintentional rhyming :)
- Braelyn learning new words
- snuggling
- comfy pants
- afternoons spent with mom
- coffee with a girlfriend
- baby carriers
- invite-yourself-over privileges
- chatting on-line
- Diet Dr. Pepper (scratch that - a large Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic!)
- giving something ugly a new and clever function

That's what I'm grateful for this week. Your turn!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Broken and Boiling Over

Last week or so, I began to study the book of Colossians. I've read through it all at once and in chunks at a time, but I wanted to really grab hold of it, to really taste and digest it. So I grabbed my fairly unused copy of Search the Scriptures and began again. I started yesterday and I have to say that I was not prepared for the amazingly satisfying and disturbing effect these holy meals would have on me.

Yesterday's Scriptures were Colossians 1:1-14, and the book asked a couple of questions, but there was one question in particular that didn't strike me as much at first, but as I began journaling and processing my answer, I was ushered into the Presence of God and my heart was simultaneously broken and boiling over. The question was this:

"What result did the Gospel produce in the experience of the Colossians who heard it?
Short answer: Faith and love for all the saints.

Then the book asked:
Have you made as much progress as they had?
My automatic response: I'm sure I could be doing more.
That covers that, right?

Well, I sat over the Scripture and the question a while longer, and the word "all" stuck out to me like a sore thumb in "the love which you have for all the saints." (v.4) All the saints...hmm? At that moment I was drenched in a wave of Truth and conviction. The Lord sort of opened my eyes to my own life and allowed me to see, at least in part, what was lacking.

If someone was going to capture my life in a picture, containing all the people that I continually interact with, my closest friendships, my acquaintances, the people I am drawn to and initiate conversation with, the people that I serve and serve with...would this photograph resemble the Kingdom of God? Would it show God's creativity and the diversity of His people? Would the poor in spirit be represented? Would the "outsiders" that Jesus so often spent time with have their place in my photograph? The truth is that my picture is lacking, incomplete.

But here, in this sort of sad, heart-breaking realization, I found my heart boiling over with hope and thanksgiving. It is an encouraging thing when the Lord reveals means that by His grace and mercy, He wants to go to work in you! He is not done! There is more! I believe in the promise that He wants to make my picture...perfect.

"For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Thanks for letting me share. Quite honestly, I was working (with a ridiculous amount of excitement) on a blog about my trip to Round Top. But after reading today, I just couldn't talk about antiques when the Word of God had so satisfied my soul. Don't get me wrong, the Round Top blog is still coming, just not today. :)
God Bless!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Braelyn: Part 2

Alright, well I hope you'll allow me to continue in my shameless mommy moment. Here are a couple more pictures of Braelyn engrossed in some of her favorite pastimes.

Reading. She was having trouble deciding on a book. Daddy has so many!

Geology. The game is usually to see how many rocks she can hold at once.

Talking on the phone.

Or talking on the toothbrush.

There happens to be a number of other items that double as a phone (in case you're in a pinch):
- Baby powder
- Power strip (Plugged in, mind you!)
- Very small, chokable G.I. Joe helmet (which I think she was actually pretending that it was a hearing aid. Kids these days...they want to grow up so fast!)
- Spoon
- Dog bone

And here is one of MY favorite games.
"Braelyn, how much does mommy love you?"


Thanks for letting me share.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Braelyn: Part 1

So here's what we've been up to lately.
Checking out the kennel.

This is where she likes to get her alone time. I'm thinking of getting one myself.

Socks. The girl loves socks. On this day she let me know that she wanted me to put my socks on her feet. She kept them on all day.

We have been experimenting with new hair-do's.

Okay, let me explain, this blurring picture. Instead of a security blanket or lovey, Braelyn sticks her index finger in a shirt sleeve or collar, usually mine if it's available. Anyways, on this day she had these cute yogaish pants on and was attempting to put one finger in each pant leg and walk at the same time. She tried for quite a while.

I have to post the rest of my pictures on another entry because Casey said I did the picture files too big or something and now no more will fit. Oh well, Braelyn: Part 2 coming soon!