Monday, June 30, 2008


our floors upstairs are FINI, TERMINADOS, all DONE!!!! :) Way to go, Ryan!!!

some photographic evidence of the labor of love:
Isn't it beautiful!?? Now to move in...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

VBS Prayer June 29

. . . the salvation of many through Olympion

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

VBS Prayer June 27

. . . Bible Lesson teachers as they prepare. (this includes me!!) The BLTs are required to do quite a bit of prep-work and self-decoration (aka dress up) in order to teach lessons in this curriculum.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

VBS Prayer June 26

. . . 3rd/4th and 5th/ 6th grade teachers and assistants.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

VBS Prayer June 25

Please pray for. . . K-4/K-5 and 1st/ 2nd grade teachers and assistants..

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Anyone who likes GOOD food, Act NOW!

NAIS (National Animal Identification System) is one way the government is showing preference for the large corporate farms and by contrast HARMING (often driving into bankruptcy) the smaller farms, which are usually owned and run by families. Those smaller farms tend to be more likely to be organic, and to use sustainable farming techniques instead of the "bigger better NOW" crops which deplete the soil and get delivered to our stores weeks after being picked, green and nutrient-deficient to begin with. Supposedly, this program (which tracks animals from birth) is meant to help our food be safer... but, as you'll read in my letter below, it won't neccesarily. My newest "beef" with it (hehe pun intended) : new legislation "snuck in" through new language in the Representative Appropriations Agriculture sub-comittee has made non-membership in NAIS even harder. Now school lunch programs can ONLY buy from NAIS affiliated farmers.

The full House Appropriations Committee will meet about the AgricultureAppropriations bill this Thursday, June 26. Sometime after that, it will go to the full House. We also need to contact our Senators now, to keep them from doing the same thing. Please contact (their websites allow you to find out who represents you and email them directly- it also gives phone & fax numbers if you can't email them or want to make your point VERY clearly) your
Senators, US Representatives and specifically Appropriations Committee members from your state and say something like this-- feel free to mimic or cut and paste portions:
(thanks to
John Moody for alerting me and helping me know what to say!)

I am a Kentucky resident loving living in downtown Louisville. I am writing because the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee has inserted language requiring the School Lunch Program to ONLY buy meat from farms registered in the National Animal Identification System. Firstly, I am against NAIS. I most certainly do not want it to be tied to school lunch programs. NAIS, which tracks live animals, will NOT improve food safety: most food safety problems start at the slaughterhouse and food processing facilities (case in point: Hallmark/Westland Beef recall).

Secondly, this bill uses the government's power to economically force farmers into NAIS. That is not a "voluntary" program. Tying it to the school lunch program also undermines the growing farm-to-school program, which helps children get fresh, local, and sustainably raised foods. Funding for NAIS, particularly any mandatory NAIS, needs to be stopped.

Lastly, NAIS has never been specifically approved by Congress. This is a massive program, one that will impact millions of people, and it should be addressed in OPEN debate, not snuck in through appropriations.

Please call me back at my number listed above to let me know where you stand on this issue.

Sincerely, Christina Szrama

Let's pray the Lord is gracious and causes this bill to fail until modified!

VBS Prayer June 24

Please pray for . . . an enthusiasm for the task before us

Monday, June 23, 2008

Daily Prayer for VBS

we here at Immanuel in Louisville are getting ready for our Summer VBS. This year, the theme is "Olympion" as we use the Olympics as a theme and teach through the story of Joshua. It's a GREAT curriculum, one I enjoyed as a kid at Grace in Taylors, SC. My home church was actually generous enough to donate many of their accutrouments for this VBS to us this year! Please be praying for them as they have their VBS this week. My Mom is running recreation! I guess it's the exersise instructor in her comin' out!

Again following the model of Grace Baptist Church, I came up with a prayer bookmark for our people to be praying for our VBS; one particular request every day from here until the last day. I'm going to post them on here, to remind myself to pray, and to invite any of you to be praying along with me and all of Immanuel!! We want God to be KNOWN, unquestionably and evidently KNOWN among us-- in our church, in our homes and in our neighborhood-- through our VBS. So much work to do!!! So, today...

Please pray that the Holy Spirit would move people to pray for VBS.
Please pray for the personal growth of Olympion workers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Have you ever thought about your thoughts? About why you think? How you think? About how your thoughts aren't the same as everyone else's?... In my psychology classes they told us that's called "metacognition," and that it's a sign a kid is growing up when he starts to be able to do that. Several of the books I'm reading touch on this topic-- one on how our thoughts & feelings must so often be images rather than only words, and how they are nearly incommunicable at times; another on how our thoughts remind us that there is a God who can hear them; another on how they reveal our true selves. So here are some thoughts about thoughts...

"I had a sudden memory of how difficult it was to describe the feelings I had on Midsummer's Eve, and of how I wrote of the day as a cathedral-like avenue. The images that came into my mind then have been linked with that day and with Simon ever since. Yet I could never explain how the image and the reality merge, and how they somehow extend and beautify each other."
~ "Cassandra" Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle, Chapter XVI

"When you think to yourself -- and most of our waking life is taken up thinking to oneself-- you have that feeling that your thoughts aren't entirely wasted, that in some sense they are being heard. I think it's this sensation of silently being listened to with total comprehension that represents our innate belief in a supreme being, an all-comprehending intelligence."
~ "Charlie" Whit Stillman, Metropolitan (1990); quoted in Tim Keller's Reason for God

"Our inner life must ultimately be recognized as the authentic life. It cannot lie or dessemble. It cannot be groomed as one's face and hair, nor dismissed in clothing that conceals."
~ Walter Wangerin, Jr., Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace, An Afterword

At first I wondered if we weren't being a little presumptuous, assuming that the deepest parts of life go on in our own heads... now I remember that we think because God thinks. We are made in His Image. Let us then aim to conform our thoughts to His thoughts; to know Him so well that we are more likely to guess His desires when they seem uncertain, and to trust His goodness when His plan is downright inscrutable.
~ my journal

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

"And do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is; His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

"In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul." Psalm 94:19

It was common in earlier days for people to keep "collects;" sort of journals where they copied down quotes and thoughts of others, sometimes commenting on them themselves, other times letting the words mesh and chronicle their thoughts for them. Especially lately my journal has become a collect. This summer is wonderfully free in some sense, allowing me to do a lot of reading and thinking; writing and planning for next year certainly, but plenty of reading and thinking for the sake of reading and thinking. I shouldn't say that; it's not just so I can exersise my mind per se, but more that I can exersise the mind given me by the One who hears my thoughts-- Elohim shema... "God hears" as He reminded Hagar (Gen 21:17). I want to spend my days remembering that our God is Yahweh El Roi --the Living One who Sees Me-- as Hagar called Him. (Gen 16:13)

"Search me and know my heart, O God; try me and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

10 Months Sweet :)

Today Ryan & I have been Mr. & Mrs. Szrama for 10 entire months. Wow. Time sure can fly and stand still at the same time! In honor of our "monthiversary" I made a breakfast "strata" (putting my Joy of Cooking book to great use!), which is something I've never done before. It was also to put the cream cheese I'd just made --for the first time!-- to a yummy use. :) Thinking about how much excitement I got out of making cream cheese, and how easy it was made me think about different "tricks" and nuggets I've learned these 10 months of managing my own home... I think that several of them are especially helpful and healthful, so I figured I'd celebrate this monthiversary online by listing 10 tidbits-- one for each month of marital joy. :)
p.s. I feel really cheeky, posting tips which women who have been married & cooking FAR longer than I have might read, so I state first of all that these ideas come from people far more educated and knowledgeable than I am!

1. Switch from margarine to butter. Yep-- if you don't do anything else for your family, do this. With the exception of specifically organic and/or NON-hydrogenated shortenings and margarine, margarine is one of the WORST things you can put into your body. They aren't made from real food, actually... not even bugs will eat it, and mold won't venture near it! (1) While this article would state that all saturated fat is bad, which I'm in the process of researching & questioning right now, it definitely states that FAKE fat is worse!! I saw a tub of margarine labeled "0 trans fat" yet with hydrogenated ingredients... I have NO CLUE how that isn't false marketing. Learn from the bugs & mold and STAY AWAY from margarine!! Coconut oil is a great non-dairy substitute for butter, if you need one.

2. Put my crock pot to good use and cook my own beans. I've learned how to buy the cheaper dried beans, then cook them up myself instead of buying canned beans. This saves on cost, waste (no cans) and nutritional cost! It gives me a chance to pre-soak the beans with vinegar (or another acidic fermenter, like buttermilk, yogurt, whey (2), or lemon/lime juice) in the water, which makes them more digestible (less gas-producing!) and therefore more yielding up of nutrition. Cover the beans with water, pour in 2 T of your acidic medium, and let soak overnight (at least 6 hrs). Pour out rinse water, rinse, then proceed as usual. The crock pot comes in super handy because the beans don't have to be watched, won't boil over and won't burn to the pot like I seem to doom my pan-cooked beans to do...

3. Soak my grains, starting with oats. This is something I'm learning about for the first time, although looking back I see that it's been something I took for granted-- all Maseca cornmeal, which I'm used to making into tortillas or chuchitos (Guatemalan fare) is pre-soaked in lime-treated water. Many oatmeal cookie/muffin recipes also call for soaking the oats in buttermilk for an hour before throwing the rest of the batter together. (3) Anyway, it's easiest to soak the grains we eat whole and as alone, like oats or millet in my gluten- free house. I'm learning to soak my flours...but amn't really sure how best to do that so don't want to comment. If you cover your oats with water and 1-2 T of yogurt, whey, buttermilk (even cider vinegar isn't bad if you have nothing else), and soak 'em over night, they're ready to cook into oatmeal the next morning! This makes oats go from being really hard on your digestive system to really great on it! NB: I have started combining the flours with the water (or milk) called for in a recipe, again along with the fermenting agent and leaving them overnight, then proceeding with the recipe as usual, and have so far had good results. Converting the more complicated recipes seems a little more challenging, though...

4. Switch to glass instead of plastic whenever possible. A recent article in Time magazine finally pushed me to stop re-using my plastic water bottles, and to instead switch to re-using glass ones, which can be washed in the dishwasher very easily. [Drinks that you buy in glass bottles: Fuze, the non HFCS sweetened energy-drink, or Starbucks Frapuccinos. Mason jars work fine, too.] Nalgenes are also out... Stainless steel is just as safe as glass. Also, re-using glass jars (ex. salsa, mayonnaise, some dressings, peanut butter jars) for food storage is ecologically WAY better than even recycling those glass jars, and they don't absorb odors or colors like plastic ones do, don't interfere with the food chemically like metal bowls can do, and by some accounts are safer toxin-wise (especially when heating and cooling of food IN those containers is concerned). (4) Related: purify your tap water with a simple carbon-filter, especially if you want to extend the life of an air purifiers or humidifier!!!

5. Make my own chicken (or turkey or beef) stock -- the sheer efficiency first attracted me: I found recipes which told me to cook chicken, then throw away the broth formed, and then add chicken bouillon cubes or canned stock ....not only did that seem awfully round-about, it was downright funny! Why not kill two birds with one stone (heheh no pun intended) and boil the chicken and KEEP the broth? Then, there's the economical aspect: here's a way to use ALL the chicken, and still get something out of it-- quite compelling for a limited food budget. Chicken broth + veggies/lentils + rice = tasty, filling, and a nutritionally complete soup that's cheap too. Add some garlic bread and you've got a meal. Lastly, the nutritional benefits are astounding. We all know the phrase "chicken soup for the soul"-- let's not forget where it came from! For centuries, sick people drank bone broths to recover from their illnesses; now modern science reminds us that it WORKED! Making my own bone broths is easy, and I'm proud to say that my latest results had lots of flavor & nice jelling action. I was very proud of myself, but I don't think Ryan fully appreciated it. :) (I even skimmed off the fat, and rather skeptically used it to cook with later on...and was floored by the results. SO TASTY!!!) Here's how.

6. Admire the possibilities of eggs ...and know how to stretch them! Eggs are a great source of protein, vitamin A, enzymes, and even anti-cavity agents! They are a wonderful renewable animal product, and great alternatives to meat at dinner time. Omelets make great dinners; you can throw in loads of veggies that are hard to eat otherwise. A little scrambled egg in stir fry rounds out the dish nicely. What about egg-cheese-tomato-lettuce sandwiches, especially toasted? One of Ryan's & my favorite dishes is a zucchini-feta-gratin, which has been a winning meal every time we've shared it with company. Again, its protein component is eggs. (If you're worried about cholesterol, maybe this will help.) So if we enjoy making eggs the "meat" of our meals, I have to try to stretch the dozen in baking. Some egg-replacers that have worked well for me (all personally tried): 1 T white vinegar; 1 T flax seed meal+3T h2o; or for 2 eggs: 3T h2o+2t bk. powder (mix until fizzy)+ 3T oil.

7. Give thanks often for cinnamon and garlic-- These two little spices are amazing!! I love the taste, but they're also powerhouses of help to us Cursed humans. They can aid just about any ailment. Read up on cinnamon here if you want, but if you don't want to, know that they are WONDERFUL at killing candida yeast. Anyone struggling to get re-balanced after a round of anti-biotics, or bad yeast infection, double dose by putting cinnamon in your yogurt. It cured me after 2 years of struggle, all at once... amazing. It also stabilizes blood sugar, making the consequenses of a sweet treat far less devastating. Cinnamon-honey toast can actually be sort of healthy!!! :) Garlic is a tremendous antiseptic, heavily used in WW1 when penecillin was too recently developed to keep up with the demands of the war. Not a single case of gangrene was reported when garlic was applied. It's also helpful if taken at the onset of a cold...and a variety of other things. Dude, if it can fight gangrene, it can fight anything!! It's also great as an expactorant. We eat a lot of garlic-- last night Ryan said I'm addicted. :) I will say that Ryan has not been sick since we got married, and has had a far later onset of allergies than most years... maybe it's the garlic?

8. Stick with non-non-stick. Pans, that is. Yes, the main danger comes when EMPTY non-stick pans are heated. And if you accidentally scrape through the lining with a metal object. If it's that easy to screw up, or that controversial, I'm sticking with stainless steel until I work up the nerve to get a cast-iron skillet. Right before I went to register for my cookware, my friend Ed Watkins told me never, EVER to get the non-stick stuff. Since he's been a chemist for 30+ years, and is very suspicious of anything "health-food-sounding" (it took him years to give up gluten, for instance), I believed him, and have learned to cook that way...and how to clean up when I still don't put quite enough oil in there. :)

9. Invest in local, raw honey. Not only is it a great way to help your local economy-- that farmer you buy it from is an actual person, with bills to pay and probably a family to feed-- it's also a far healthier sweetner than refined white sugar is. The key phrase here is raw. Once it's heated, all the valuable enzymes and glyconutrients are killed, and you're left with sucrose, just like sugar. When it's local to your area, it's a great way to immuninize yourself to the local allergens, reducing the misery of allergy season. Local honey is far more likely to be raw, and also far more likely to be affordable than raw honey you find in WholeFoods or the local health store. Look around at Farmer's Markets, and little shops...ask around; you'll probably find someone who makes a little extra income keeping bees. [Ryan & I LOVE Dr. Orrick's honey around here!!] Last honey plug: I just read a column in Parenting Magazine encouraging parents to give their tots a T of honey to soothe a cough/sore throat, instead of cough syrup, which isn't proving very good for small children.

10. Love vinegar -- this stuff is amazing. My grandmother gave me a book on vinegar as a wedding gift that has been downright inspiring! You can use it to make eggs creamier, or even replace them. It helps hard-boiled eggs be easier to peel, and draws out the nutrients of bone marrow in bone broths. It helps grains & beans ferment, and when combined with baking soda in recipes, it makes baked goods rise (often elusive for us gluten-free chefs). Use it in milk to replace buttermilk in a pinch. A little brown sugar, olive oil & salt, and you've got an emergency salad dressing. It's an effective counter disinfectant and bug deterrant (kills cockroaches straight up), and can be made into a solution that pours right into your Swiffer mop. Raw cider vinegar in water makes a tonic that I found to really helped me clear out sinus congestion, and amazingly it settles stomachs instead of aggravating them (even though it's an acid)-- it isn't even bad tasting! What else can it do?

Helpful quotes:
(1)"No matter how unsaturated the oils are that go into margarine, they are made more saturated by the very process that turns them into a harder spread. Most brands of margarine do not disclose the percentage of saturated fat they contain, and even though they contain no cholesterol, they still stimulate your body to make cholesterol when you eat them. [...] Butter is basically a natural product, and its fatty acids are structurally similar to the fatty acids in our bodies. The heat and chemicals used to transform vegetable oils into margarine change fatty acids into unnatural forms that may be most unhealthy to eat." (--Dr. Andrew Weil, Univ. of Arizona College of Medicine, "Margarine Vs. Butter")

(2) How to make whey: take a carton of whole-milk plain yogurt, one with live active cultures in it (organic from raw is best). Line a colander/strainer with a clean dishtowel, and place over a bowl. Dump the yogurt in, cover it, and leave it dripping at least a few hours in a warm room. The drips are whey, which should be refrigerated in a glass jar when they're done dripping out. Tie up the dishcloth over a wooden spoon (so it looks like a hobo sack) and set it over a pitcher overnight to get the last bit of whey out. What's left in the cloth is cream cheese-- lower in all the bad stuff and higher in good bacteria than Philadelphia's for sure!! [Here's another woman's attempt to explain the process.] It will keep in the fridge for about a month. The whey will keep for 6 months.

(3)"Grains require careful preparation because they contain a number of antinutrients that can cause serious health problems. Phytic acid, for example, is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. It is mostly found in the bran or outer hull of seeds. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss. [...]Other antinutrients in whole grains include enzyme inhibitors which can inhibit digestion and put stress on the pancreas; irritating tannins; complex sugars which the body cannot break down; and gluten and related hard-to-digest proteins which may cause allergies, digestive disorders and even mental illness. [...] When grains are properly prepared through soaking, sprouting or sour leavening, the friendly bacteria of the microscopic world do some of our digesting for us in a container, just as these same lactobacilli do their work in the first and second stomachs of the herbivores. " (Weston Price, "Be Kind to Your Grains")--all this except the gluten part was news to me, though I'd tasted the wonders of pre-soaked rice before and was amazed. I highly recommend reading that article.

(4) "Plastic containers may seem convenient, but they can leave your foods exposed to "plasticizers," the chemicals used to shape your storage items." (Sandra Foschi, "Save Your Spread")

Saturday, June 14, 2008


In case you wanted to look at MORE pictures of us, here is a link to another recent Facebook album. These pictures are from end-of-the-year events at my school, Dorothy Sayers Classical School. I must say that I'm enjoying my break from teaching, but looking at these kids' smiling (and mischevious!) faces assures me that I'll be thrilled to see them again come August.

--still and always "Mrs. Szrama"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things You Probably Won't See Anywhere Else

Welcome to Top Porch, home of the SzramaClan Lousiville.
First off, you might never have seen a Top Porch before... but let's say you brave that and come on' in, first I present to you:
The Living Room (better titled "The Sittin' Room")

Yes, I know there's not much room to actually sit, but that's only because there are so many seats crowded in there! I mean, we've got 2 desk chairs, a rocking chair, a dining room chair (that won't fit in the kitchen), a couch, a recliner, a loveseat and an ottoman... not to mention all the blankets and pillows currently stored there as well!

Next as you continue through our shotgun house is

The Dining Room (or rather, the Mattress Room)

So far, the home of 2 full mattress-box spring sets, a futon (upside down) and a bed frame, which is being kept for our friend Rob Smythe. Oh yeah, and our bed in the corner. :)

Last, but not least, The Kitchen (mercifully, it really is a working orderly kitchen... although at the moment it's also our only dining space, laundry room, and painting tool/bike storage space...)

heheh, that's fennel. I was lacking a "cool, dark, dry" place to hang it to properly dry, so I strung it up to the chandelier (which i hate anyway), using some wedding-gift tulle, and covered it with a paper bag that has since fallen off. The fennel dried just right, thank you, and now is crushed and stored in my spice cabinet. Next time I think I'll use a dehydrator... sorta forgot that's what they're FOR...

Well, live and love...and LAUGH, right? This is all temporary, and by July 5th, will be a past we tell our kids about (in a few years, of course). In the meantime, we jump around the clutter, I try to vacuum and dust as well as I can, and we fill our kitchen with as many yummy smells as we can, and people to laugh and eat with us.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Road Trip!

Like I said, Ryan doesn't have a lot of vacation days lying around ...some week-long trip last August ate all the non-Thanksgiving-or-Christmas ones up... His boss is gracious, however, and allows him to make up the hours he misses by working from home, which he can easily do, since he works online! We've been "in the hole" since April's trip to Oregon, but that hasn't stopped us from having fun anyway. :) Last weekend, Ryan's side of our family was moving, and our friends Jacqui & Stephen were tying the knot, IN THE SAME WEEKEND, so we packed up and headed to Georgia. We worked hard for 2 days, and then enjoyed a mini-vacation Saturday & Sunday, having our family's new place to ourselves for the weekend (sadly, the weekend was also Grandma & Grandpa Presley's 50th wedding anniversary... WAAAH for missing that!!!).

I posted a lot of pictures online already, so to avoid duplicating my work, here are some highlights:

Unpacking the LAST load!

Courtney & I spent most of 2 days together, packing, loading, driving & unloading. We were quite proud of ourselves. :) (And glad to have another girl to be with!)

Dad & Sarah (such a good dog!)

Most of the Furman crowd present

The Szramas & the O'Kanes

I think it's a pretty cool shot, don't you?

Heheh... on the way back home. (we fit the parcels to the side of the truck IN the cab. Not pictured: two pillows, and two people) Ryan's comment when I asked how we'd fit them in the truck: "I've got straps." His comment when brainstorming how we'd get furniture upstairs (our stairs leave no room for turning): "I've got straps." The newest answer to life, Anna! Maybe we should start a campaign "Straps for World Icon?" (to replace our childhood coalition "Tape for World Icon")

--Christina, the family chronicler

Washing of Our Feet

Well... this is LONG in reporting, but our upstairs walls are PAINTED!!! Let's just say that the last 2 weekends have been full ones. I've spent the past two days recuperating, or being lazy, or something. Finally here I am posting, and you know how that goes: when it rains, it POURS! :)

So, while Ryan was on the Retreat, and Melissa was here with me, we had a painting marathon upstairs (thankfully it wasn't so hot yet!). The next two days saw our upstairs transformed. Saturday morning, Katye, Kristy, Corrie Ann (fellow teacher at DSCS... they call her, me, and Sarah Bebee the Three Musketeers. I guess Suzanne Clark is D'Artagnan.), Ashlea, Melissa and I tackled the walls. Whew! Taping takes FOREVER!! Sunday evening, Ben & Amanda, Willy, and faithful Ashlea and came over (Ryan slept through it all; poor guy injured his knee on the hike) and we got the last bit done.

We felt amazingly loved (again!) by our church family and friends. I mean, who spends their Saturday- in Ashlea's case- entire weekend (she came with us Friday to pick out the paint, too!)- to paint a friend's upstairs!??


"...In any ordinary place/in any ordinary day/ the parable can live again/when one will kneel/ and one will yield/ our Savior Servant will show us how/ through the will of the water/ and the tenderness of the towel/

The space between ourselves sometimes/is more than the distance between the stars/by the fragile bridge of the servant's bow/we take up the Basin and the Towel/

And the call is to community: the impoverished power that sets the soul free/ in humility to take the vow/ that day after day, we will take up the Basin and the Towel."

--Michael Card, "The Basin & the Towel" for the buffing and re-application of poly coats... that's this weekend's project!


A Breath of Home-scented Air

So, let's start 2 weekends ago-- the last weekend in May/first day of June. First off, my friend Melissa and her mom Maggie (who is also my friend :D) came to visit us from Greenville! Melissa was a bridesmaid in my wedding, as well as the pianist and has been a partner in crime (especially the musical variety) since high school. It was SUCH a blessing to have her here. Partly I enjoyed her because she was like a breath of home-scented air to me --we recounted the days of Larry and Larry-Jerry-Jr., a faux family tree which we were wacky enough to fabricate, and which somehow ended by encompassing a good portion of our church youth group... and all sorts of other things. I also loved showing her & Maggie around our neck of the woods, especially with Ryan here, because I jump at ANY chance of blending our two worlds (Ryan's & mine). With Greenville 4 states away and gasoline at an all-time high, and vacation days at an all-time low, those opportunities are rarer and rarer... And then Melissa is the world's best guest -- I'm making mental note to copy her when I stay with someone next. And then... it was MELISSA!!

We took 'em to Dairy Del, fully "breaking them in" to the neighborhood by walking there. Don't worry, it's perfectly safe, just a little hair-raising at times, since you have to walk right by an AA half-way house, and a meeting let out JUST as we walked past... on the way we ran into a buddy of ours from church, Ed. The Lord has just saved Ed, whom Ryan met through his ministry at the Transformation House, a local gospel-based half-way house, which lives up to its name. The Gospel really IS the power of God! It can transform ANYONE!! Anyway, we enjoy spending time with this new brother. New believers have so much joy; it's inspiring!! Here are some pics of our Dairy-Del excursion.

Ed, Maggie, Melissa, Me, Ryan's spot

Can I do it?

They appear to doubt my abilities...

HAH! I showed THEM!

Ed, quite amused at my antics

Being goofy with Ryan

Altogether appropriate newly-wedded bliss

Friday night Ryan took off to be manly on the IBC Men's Retreat at Red River Gorge, leaving Melissa & I to explore Louisville. I was pretty boring, I guess. Paint shopping. Church stuff. (including an 8 am prayer meeting) Painting. Melissa was a trooper, that's for sure! We did compare 2 local coffee shops, both run by Christians who go to the same church, lol: Quills & Sunergos, both of us preferring the atmosphere at Quills (it seems to be a gender thing; Ryan swears by Sunergos' atmosphere). We also managed to identify ALL of the greens we received in our box from our CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture; we get a box of veggies each week. from a local farmer. Unpredictable and yummy!), making use of "The Joy of Cooking" and the internet when stumped.

I enjoyed having my friend here, very much, and am plotting and scheming to get her back in Louisville long-term! In the meantime, please pray for her as she serves with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Pacific Rim this summer. I can't wait to hear what God does with her!!

Below are pictures of the Very Manly Retreat. I make no comment and leave you to draw your own conclusions:

--Chrisseeteena (as Nathan Wessel used to call me)