Thursday, December 27, 2012

Random Thoughts from the Frazzled Mind of Hannah Peterman

Okay, so ya'll know how I've been talking about "fighting the battle" of our minds??? Or have I just been thinking about it? Oh well, I forget if I actually put my thoughts into writing, but here's a little bit to add. I know preparation is necessary for a lot of things. For example, suppose I wanted to run a marathon. (actually, I do before I'm 20, but I'm waiting till February for a treadmill before I think about it too seriously.) I work out now, but I most DEFINITELY wouldn't try it now. I can probably run three to four miles now, and it would be ludicrous for me to just decide I was going to run one tomorrow. Running a marathon requires hours of training and preparation... at least, if I want to do it without falling over dead on mile 10! 

Same thing goes for a chemistry test... I HAVE to prepare for it. If I were to read the chapter and then just take the test without studying and memorizing and applying the concepts, I would be setting myself up for failure. While I apply this to the tangible things in life decently well, (although I definitely procrastinate) so often I forget that taking my thoughts captive (which for me means FIGHTING really, really hard) requires preparation. Before I get into the position where I have to make tough choices, before I get into a situation when my feelings are about to control my decisions, even when they contradict what I KNOW is true, I have to be prepared!

What does being prepared look like? Well, I'm ashamed to say it, but I'm not exactly sure. I know I need to be in God's Word diligently, and I KNOW I need to walk with Him, but I have trouble applying my inconcrete thoughts to life. Thoughts, anyone?

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Room From the Eyes of a Spider

Okay, so ya'll might have noticed that my room isn't the cleanest place in the world. In fact, you can't  exactly always walk through it without stepping on clothes and books, and sometimes it's kinda sorta maybe sometimes hard to see the top of my desk... but you know what? I was just thinking about it, and realized how exciting it must be for... the smaller creatures in my house. The ones that are even shorter than I am! Here's life as I imagine it from the perspective of a spider:

I watched as Mom peeked around the corner of our side of the room. We, the Spiderlings, lived on the human Natalie's side of the room. We have our webs in the corner untouched, and can play in the spacious carpet while she's sleeping. And when she's at English. But, danger lurks around the corner, in the human Hannah's side of the room. However, rather than keep us naive about the hazardous place we live in, Mom decided she would show each of the Spiderling spidren (that's the spider word for young spiders, in case you didn't know) the appropriate tactics to live in such close quarters with something so... unpredictable.

Today was Tuesday, and Tuesdays are the days that are most hazardous to a spider. The human Hannah is always in a rush. Mom and I took a perch on top of the giant bunk bed to watch as the human Hannah prepared for her day.

It was 8:15 as Hannah burst through the bedroom door, hair wet, in a rather stressed frame of mind. I watched aghast as she yanked a shirt out of the  dresser drawer, bounded around the corner to try it on, heaved a tremendous sigh, and tossed it to the ground. Frantically, she dug through her drawers, this time finding a sweatshirt, and repeated the entire procedure.
"This is the formation of what will soon be Mount Clothington." Mom whispered gravely in my ear. "Soon it will be an enormous mountain of all her clothes. Never, never, NEVER get caught by that dresser drawer on Tuesdays. Andrew, your brother, was caught underneath her navy aeropostle shirt, and was traumatically suffocated." She wiped a tear from one of her eight brimming eyes.

"Momma, don't cry! You had a beautiful funeral for him in the window sill, and it was eight years ago. You've had 5, 232 spidren that have lived marvelous lives." I hated it when Mom cried! Whenever she cried, it was like having eight spickets turned on, and all pouring on you. And I HATE showers.
"AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!" Hannah shrieked dramatically. I covered my ears. "Look at the time! I haven't even touched my hair! Oh why oh why didn't my alarm clock work this morning! It's unpredictable, just like my hair. I'll french braid it, that's what I'll do. Oh, but where is a pony tail holder. WHERE IS A PONYTIL HOLDER! How in the WORLD am I supposed to french braid without I pony tail holder. This is ridiculous. Maybe there's one in the bathroom!"  She dashed fromt the room.

"Look how she runs so carelessly around! Like a beetle with it's head chopped off. I almost got stepped on during her wild pony-tail  holder rampages. A near death experience. I was terrified. If you ever get in a situation like I did, run as far into a corner as possible. If she sees you, you're toast. She'll get out her old, ripped tennis shoes, and, " she shuddered and didn't finish. But I knew what she meant. It seems that the human goal in life was to kill us Spiderlings! It was a humiliating, downright painful death to be squashed to the bottom of a shoe. Not that I had experienced it myself.

Hannah came in again, this time frantically searching for... something.
"WHERE did I put my note for Mary Frances??? Does it have legs?" Notebooks, makeup, and hair accessories were falling like rain everywhere.
"See what I mean?" Mom whispered. "You MUST listen to me. If you come to Hannah's room on Tuesdays, it could mean death by flying make-up, suffocation, or squishing. Stay on Natalie's side. The only thing that makes it onto her floor are her blankets when she pulls them of her bed to make it. Its much, much safer."
"Yes, Mom," I said, and I MEANT it. I won't go on Tuesdays. But I DO think Mount Clothington would be fun to climb when Hannah's sleeping. THAT would be an adventure!

Oh dear... I feel sorry for the spiders and I'm the one who made this up! Maybe this will be motivation to keep my room clean??? 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ten Randomly Awesome Things That I Often Take For Granted

As of late, I have been a rather pessimistic, complaining, procrastinating, person. I have been looking at all the work I have to do, rather than thanking God for where He has put me right now. And I have been looking at some of HUGEST blessings in my life as, well, annoyances.  I've had enough of this sillyness! It's pathetic, not to mention miserable, to be focused on how I wish circumstances would change. God has me right where I am for a reason, and I'm going to thank Him for it! Here are 10 things right here and right now that I am super grateful for:

1) My awesome Dad. He's for sure a unique guy... the kind of guy who has woken up at 4:00 a.m. from muscle spasms caused by four solid hours of... JUGGLING! He's the kind of guy who has driven our car around the entire house... because we hadn't done it before. And he's the kind of guy who decides He wants to walk a Triple Konza (18 miles) because it sounds cool. But he is ALSO the kind of guy who works two full-time jobs to support his family. And he's the kinda guy who will do whatever is best for His kids, even if it's hard.

2.) My Mom! She homeschools three kids, cleans house, cooks supper, teaches three classes, and basically keeps the entire household from being driven to insanity. I love her to pieces.

3.) My (you guessed it) awesome siblings. Blaize, my brother, is a lego-building, fort-constructing, starwars-loving 11- year- old. (in other words, in my opinion, he's crazy!) But he's also the kind of kid who will spend his Christmas money on presents for his dear, loving, sweet, and affectionate older sisters. :) Natalie is an amazing photographer and a super listener, who loves sugar. She can always make me smile!

4.) Fruit Smoothies. (enough said.) They're amazing!

5.) Cute things. You know, things like mini-cupcakes, desks for REALLY short people (like 1st graders... I'm really short, not REALLY short (capitalization can change the ENTIRE meaning of a word)) and those  mini-fridges in college dorm rooms. Oh, and then there's the epitome of cuteness: Mary Frances's hair cut!!!!!!!!
6.) ATHLETIC SHORTS!!!!!!! They are amazingly comfy, so easy to move in, and can double as pajamas, and triple as my very favorite fashion statement!

7.) Chemistry. I complain faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar too often about how hard it is, how I'm practially flunking it, and how I have a test next week. Really, it's a great opportunity to learn about God's creation and how complicated it is. And it had better be expanding my brain, at least a little! And it's really pretty cool.

8.) My marvelously awesome friends. They really are just amazing. Some a great talkers, some are great listeners, some can always make me laugh, and some are all three. My best ones are the ones I can share the nitty-gritty pieces of my life with.

9.) My newly-tuned piano. Ahhhhhhh! It is so amazing to play on a piano that is in-key and even has a pedal that works!!!!!!!! And Christmas music sounds to fun on it, now!

10) The third graders in my class. They are just so awesome, it's hard to describe. They always eat my snack, even if it looks... eccentric.  AND, they always, always ALWAYS wake me up, no matter how tired I am going into it.

Goodness, I DO have so much to be thankful for. It's great to see just a few of these things in writing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Insecure, or Self-Focused?

If you know me well at all, (which doesn't take much considering I'll talk your ear off within the first 20 minutes of meeting you) you probably know that I am not the most confident person in the world. Insecure would be one of the first words that come to mind if I were to describe myself to you. I rarely like my hair or appearance in general, and receiving compliments does NOT come naturally to me. I hate (more like despise) pictures of myself, and I will admit that that there are still some days (okay, a lot) that I walk into the bathroom and turn off the light to brush my teeth so I don't have to see my reflection in the mirror. And to be honest, until recently, I have always thought that, while being insecure kinda painful and isn't exactly the greatest feeling in the world, at least I'm focusing on the bad in me rather than the good, right? I mean, that sounds much more humble than puffing myself up with pride!

BUT... a dear friend of mine mentioned recently to me that, while humility is certainly not taking pride in your accomplishments or achievements, it is not putting yourself down, either. As I was thinking about this, I realized that the perfect example of humility was Jesus. He came to earth and was born where? Not in a magnificent palace, not the son of and earthly king and queen, NOT exalted high above the "common people" of the time. He was born in a feed box that animals eat out of. He grew up in the home of a carpenter, and would later die on a crudely-fashioned piece of carpentry, with nails through His utterly divine yet completely human hands.  Obviously Jesus didn't come to earth with the purpose of glorifying Himself above others. But you know what? Jesus wasn't self-conscious about being born in a manger, either. The Bible doesn't say a word about Jesus being insecure about his lowly childhood of being a carpenter. What about dying the death of sinners? Wouldn't that be embarrassing, and degrading, for the Son of God??????

So we know Jesus didn't take pride in His divinity. We know He wasn't self-conscious about His behind-the-scenes childhood. We know what Jesus wasn't, so what WAS He?

Jesus was the man who reached out to the lepers, the outcast of society. Jesus was the man who associated with tax collectors, the despised and sinful. Jesus was the one who allowed himself to be crucified on a cross next to the ultimate sinners. Why? Not so He could look good, not so He could keep up His reputation, NOT to increase His popularity... to take all the sins of humanity upon Himself.  It seems there is nothing about Jesus that is self-oriented. He wasn't interested in making himself look good. He was humble, but  He wasn't self-conscious. The only word with "self" in it that can describe Jesus is selfless.

 Being self-conscious and prideful about achievements have only one focus: self. My insecurities about myself are just that: about ME. And when my focus is on me, no matter how negative the spin I put on myself, I'm NOT being humble. Instead, I'm taking my focus OFF of Jesus, OFF of the needs on others, and making, well, me, first priority.

Goodness, the more I write, the more I get depressed. I have so far to go, and so much to work on. And then I realize something else: I can't do the work by myself! Yes I am insecure. Yes I have flaws and failures. The more I try to get by in my own strength, the more miserably I fail, and the more insecure and self-centered I get.  I can allow Satan to trick me into making my insecurities my focus, or I can let God use them to make me rely daily on Him for my security. It's a choice. And for me, at least, it's a daily fight. But it's worth the battle. Because I'm not in it alone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The UPsides of Being Short

 At 5'1 and 3/4 inches, tall is probably one of the LAST  words people would  EVER use when describing my appearance. I've  definitely gotten my fair share of short jokes, and every once and a while, my beloved younger sister seems to relish staring down at me from her higher-altitude position. (She's a itsy, bitsy, tiny, little, insignificantly minuscule bit taller than me) HOWEVER, despite all the fuss made about my height, there really ARE some advantages to being short. Perhaps this post will make tall people think twice before gloating over the couple extra inches they have on me!

1.) I'm already not a super-coordinated person. Being short just means there's less of me to try to coordinate! I mean, just think about how far the brain has to send messages from the head to the legs of a 6-foot person! If I were six-foot, I'd probably be walking at the pace of a blind turtle with a bad limp!

2) Riding in my dad's new truck is AWESOME!!!!! My knees have several solid INCHES of space before they come close to hitting the back of the  front seat!

3.) If you're a tall person reading this post, then let me ask you a question: How many time do YOU have to climb up on the counters while baking to reach something? I get to do it all the time... and each time it's like a miniature adventure. You never know what you'll see when you come eye to eye with cupboards that haven't been washed in ages. Not to mention it's just exciting to be that high up!!! My head almost touches the ceiling!

4.) Speaking of ceilings, even though I sleep with bunk beds, I have only bonked my head on the ceiling ONCE. That's pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

5.) Being short means I'm closer to the ground. This helps in volleyball, because I don't have to bend over as much to dig a ball!

6.) Ahhhh, I bet you're thinking something along the lines of, "Being short HELPS with volleyball? Don't spikers have to get ABOVE the net  to spike a ball?" Well, this is true, BUT, you  have no idea how rewarding it is for a short person to just get your finger above the net? It's one of the best feelings in the world! Plus, being short forces me to be diligent to work out and try to improve my vertical, so it actually causes me to stay in better shape than I would otherwise!

7.) I LOVE shopping. And you know what? In the past couple years, I have NEVER tried on a pair of jeans that were too short on me. EVER!

8.) I went to a camp called CYIA last year and met one of the AWESOMEST people in the world there: Becca Knauss. You know why I originally went up and introduced myself to her? Because she was short. Five foot tall, to be exact. We became almost instant friends, and shortness one of the many things we bonded over!

9.) Because I'm neither althletic OR tall, I rarely get recruited by CHIEF basketball players to play basketball, which means I don't have to constantly spend my time making up excuses for why I can't play. Because thinking (and talking) about random, uneccessary things is a MAJOR time sink for me, this eliminates one of the (many) things I could choose to waste my time on.

10.) I think one of the known Christmas challenges is putting the star or angel on top of the tree top. You have to maneuver your way around the prickly branches, and figure out how to perch it on the tippy top of the tree. Looks pretty tricky to me!!! Thankfully, I really wouldn't know. I never get asked to do things like that. I get to just watch the tall people do that kinda work!

Well, if I haven't convinced you that being short is fun, I never will. I'm still working on convincing myself, actually. But, writing this post has FORCED me to be somewhat more content with my less-that-average height. And you know what? I like variety. And all the heights in this world DEFINITELY add variety. But, if you leave this post with nothing else, if you are short and have NEVER climbed on a counter before, TRY IT!!!!! It really is the BEST part about being short. And if you're tall, watch in stunned silence as the shorter people in your life have fun participating in the glorious fun of counter climbing. And us short people can hand you the star to the Christmas tree.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Ultimate Relationship

I love people. I love learning about their quirks, talents and interests, and for some rare, special people, their hearts. I enjoy building relationships with other people, especially. From the eight-year-olds in my Sunday School to the 60-year-old people we invite to Christmas dinner, I love getting to know people better. I think people are the second-biggest blessing that God has given to... people! But so often I am so focused on building relationships (and often pleasing) people, that I forget about the very best gift God has to offer... relationship with HIM!

As awesome as people are, they can never offer the relationship that God can offer! People are needy... they desire things like attention, popularity, control, wealth, and hundreds of other great things. But the main thing I think everyone on this earth needs is to be cared about. I am one of those people. I want to be loved and valued by others, and so often I feel like I have to perform to earn this love. But God is the Creator of humans, and I think He created us with this need. Because He ISN'T needy like humans, He is able to perfectly fulfill what we need. He offers love, wisdom, and peace, and relationship. How awesome is that?

But the think that I so often forget about what He offers is that I don't have to earn it. I don't have to earn His acceptance. I don't have to make God laugh or smile. I don't have to be perfectly sinless to EARN His love. What God wants from me is relationship, an so often I am so busy trying to EARN the "right" to have relationship with Him that I don't actually spend time with Him! I get distracted, and neglect to read His word. I get busy trying to "bless" other people to "shine" for Jesus, but don't actually cultivate a relationship with God! In other words, I want to "shine" for Jesus, while I let the joy He places inside me grow stale and dim. How can I be filled up with the prescence of someone I don't spend time with? How can I let His love shine through me, when I don't take the time to experience His love.

So often I try and try and try to make Him happy... as though His happiness is linked somehow to what I do. God doesn't NEED me to make Him happy. But as I think about it, I realize the thing He really  wants is an actual relationship with me. As Christians we are called to shine FOR Jesus because we are full OF Jesus. Trying to shine for Him without a passion for Him burning in us is like trying to start a fire with a couple twigs. Shining for Jesus requires FUEL! I need Gods' Word and a relationship with Him before I will be able to truly honor HIm! The works don't create a love relationship with God... the love causes us to WANT to do things that honor Him. Seems like I've been trying to do things backwards here!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The reason I look UP to kids who are even shorter than I am

I teach a Sunday School class with 13+ kids in a tiny kitchen every week at my church. Honestly there are some weeks when I have no desire to teach... there are many times when I am dead-dog tired or sad about something, or just feel like I won't do a good enough job. Teaching has never been my strength, and yet every year when our church is trying to recruit volunteers, I ALWAYS sign up. Not because I feel pressured into it, but because I can't imagine a Sunday without my "awesome" kids. The thing is, at first glance, these kids may not appear awesome. People have come to help me with it and have been annoyed with the boys for being, (in their words)  disrespectful... and naughty... and just plain disobedient. But when if you've ever heard me describe these kids to you, you know I've never ever ever called them that!!!!! However, if I look at it logically, I can see where they're coming from. These kids do disobey sometimes. They do interrupt when I'm talking. The DO naughty things... like a lot!  Even so, I love them TO DEATH! And if anyone's teaching anyone in my classroom, the kids are teaching me. You might be asking, "How could they be teaching YOU??? They're being disobedient... what's to learn from that?" Despite the fact that these kids' behavior isn't ALWAYS the best (they're good a lot of the time) every Sunday they show me something pretty important.

But before I tell you what that is, let me give you an overview of my Sunday mornings... I wake up at six, whip up some sweet snack, and pop it in the oven. By that time, it's seven. Oh dear, I need to take a shower... but I should probably go over the lesson plan. So I do.  Then it's time to take the goodies out of the oven and frost them. It's 7:30... service starts at eight... AND I HAVEN'T DONE MY HAIR!!!!!!!!!  I tend to be a rather self-concious person, and regardless of what I'm wearing, I want my hair to look, well, nice. But my hair is greasy and I MUST take a  shower... so I do. It's 7:40 when I'm dressed, and my hair (which is now quite short) looks like I stood outside in a windy thunderstorm. AHHHHHHH!!! Where's my blow-dryer??? Maybe I should straighten my sopping wet hair before I blowdry it... no... bad idea. I frantically start blow drying my hair... when I hear mom knocking on the wall downstairs. (that's the way she calls us girls without walking UP the stairs)
"Honey, it's time to go. Did you turn off the oven? Come down right now, please. We're already going to be late."

I take one lingering glance at my unsightly hair, cringe, and rush out the door with brownies in hand. My heart sinks. Everyone will see my ... hair. The whole church will probably notice... NOOOOOOOOOO! I just know I'll die of embarrassment. (I tend to be a bit dramatic when stressed)

We get to church (five minutes late... and that's on a good day) I sit down in service and consider covering up my hair with the hood to my winter jacket... then decide that would look like Little Pink Riding Hood (my coat is pink.)
An hour later, service is over, and I avoid seeing anybody I know and rush to the children's wing. When I get to the Sunday School wing I set down my brownies and find my lesson plan.
Grace Emery and Sam Dewolf arrive first.
"I like your skirt, Miss Hannah" those are often the first words I hear on a Sunday morning... after a giant hug from Grace. I ask her about her week, and she gives an animated story about her fieldtrip. Inside, I'm thinking... Did she see my HAIR??? It looks like a monstor came and chewed it up! How can she hug me when I look like this???? But I listen and laugh with her and talk to her, and pretty soon the rest of the class shows up. Not a single one comments on my hair. They don't even give me a funny look.  I compliment them on their clothes or stuffed animals( this year they convinced me to implement a class "pet") and we chit-chat (from everything about legos to what they had for breakfast) until large group.
In large group, three girls want to sit on my lap!!! (I often have the urge to HUG those kids!!!) And despite the fact that I have to quietly remind the boys to listen to the teacher throughout large group, they still every week give me their smiles and their attention. (most of the time, anyways.) Back in our small groups, I basically (and usually clumsily) go through what we're supposed to do in the lesson plan. But you know what? Those kids get to see my weaknesses on a regular basis... I forget details, and often the only thing I CAN do is smile. But they still lesson, they still get involved, and they still love me. Why? I have absolutely no idea. But the unjudgmental attitude of those kids always amazes... and convicts me. Do I love like that? Do I look past a person's appearance to what's in their heart? Do I undermine weaknesses and appreciate strengths like they do?

So you see, these kids are NOT perfect. And teaching them on a rug in a super tiny kitchen isn't always EASY. But every week when I'm with those kids, I SEE how open they are with their affection. And I experience love from them all the time. Not perfect love, but love that looks past your appearance, and love that overlooks all my weaknesses. I have had a ton of people comment on "what a blessing" I  must be to those kids. They comment on how brave I must be to put up with the same group of kids for almost three years. But you know what? I'm not "putting up" with them. Whatever there is to put up with is overshadowed by what they have taught me, and how they have loved me. Their freedom to be themselves and to not try to hide behind masks constantly amazes me. Yes I love those kids. But you know what? I'm not the one being a "blessing." Every Sunday for the past three years, I've received a wonderful gift from these kids. One that I'll remember far longer than anything they'll remember from what I've "taught" them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Randomly Super Fun Walk

Okay, I went on an AWESOME walk with a friend today!!!!! We live about a mile from a lake, and it is so much fun to walk next to the water!!!  But it's been super dry lately, so the lake has receded... like a LOT! So we got to walk where the water used to be!!! And climb the trees that are usually covered by water!  It was fun (oh wait, did I say that already) even though I got too close to othe water and ended up COATING my old tennis shoes in mud. (and my ankles for that matter.) There was this cool log that went OVER the water, and I really climb it. I kinda ignored the mud that was between me and the awesome log. My friend stayed back, and I basically went 5 feet only to sink 7 inches into mud. It was exciting, but not exactly the best on my shoes. Or my bath tub, for that matter. There is now a huge ring of dirt in my bathtub that I will wipe of... sometime. Probably after supper.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I love to bake for other people. I love the process of deciding what to make to suit the person's taste preferences, and I love the process of making the baked goods. But the best part of all is presenting the baked good to a person and hearing about if they liked it or not. It is sooooo rewarding to know that the time I used to make whatever I made was well-spent.

In fact, I am hugely dissappointed if the person who eats the baked good doesn't like it. There have been a few times when I put a lot of effort into making something, and certain family members gag and run to the fridge for a drink. That is pretty depressing. But what would be even more depressing is if the person I gave it to refused to even try it. It wouldn't matter if they took a high-resolution picture and framed it in the white house as the best culinary masterpiece: I would want them to EAT it! (although I wouldn't mind it being a framed picture in the white house.) If I ever give you brownies or bread, the best way you can show me appreciation is to eat it. That is the fulfillment of the purpose of food.

You are probably wondering where I am going with this, but hang on. Every Thanksgiving, before dinner, I usually try to go through some things I am thankful for... a specific friend, a home that's warm, family, etc. These things vary from year to year, but there is one I always say thank-you for: Jesus' death on the cross as payement for my sins. But as I was thinking about it, I'm wondering if I am only saying thank you for a gift I haven't fully unwrapped.

You see, Jesus' death was not just to keep us out of hell... it was to SET US FREE!!! Sin held us in bondage, but Christ has given us the key to unlock these chains so we can be liberated from the grip our sins have on us and walk hand-in-hand with Christ. But just like the baked goods I give to friends, using this incredible gift is optional.

We can say thank you over and over to this key to our chains. We can tell other people about the gift God has given us. We can feel in our hearts deep gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice: The ULTIMATE sacrifice. But so often I leave that key on the shelf, collecting dust. I forget that using this gift is a choice. So often I slip into old patterns of thinking and focusing on the wrong things. And then I get discouraged, because I don't think God's gift  to me is working. I don't feel free! Maybe I'm not, I think. Maybe something is wrong with me. Maybe Jesus' death didn't really set me free. I keep trying to stop sinning, but I can't!

But as I think about it, I realize that maybe I'm wrestling with the chains, trying to get them off, but not using the key. I try and try in my own power to claw them off of me, but am helpless. I can't do it with out help.  The truth is, I cannot be free unless I not only thank God for His gift, but use it. Jesus is in me. That means His power is in me to. But if I refuse to rely on His power, I say "not right now" to his gift, and put it off till later. While His key to freedom won't rust or wear out- it has eternal value- why shouldn't we use it now?  In order to live in light of the eternity we have before us, we need His power NOW!

My point is, we can say "thank you" for God's gift of freedom from sin. We can exalt it as the "ultimate gift." But in the some-what stressful holiday season, are we using His gift to help us walk with Him, or have we left it for a more convenient time? Have we laid aside are old selves and sinful patterns, or are we clinging to them? Are you going to use His gift, or aren't you? I think the best way to show gratitude to our loving Savior is to USE THAT KEY!


Friday, November 16, 2012


“How are you doing today?” my friend asks. My thoughts fly back to the argument I had with a family member, my lack of productivity in regards to school in the morning, my guilt over not squeezing my morning workout in… and yet I still manage to paste a happy smile on my face.
“Great!” I answer. I return the question, and get the exact same response from her. Maybe I’m the only one who has done that before. Maybe everyone else in the world always has a “great” day and an even better life. But the more time I spend with people, the more time I wonder if we really aren’t all having great days every day.
A perfect life is hardly possible. We’re people with a sin nature, living with other people with a sin nature. That is a recipe for conflict and bad days! Why is it, then, that it is so rare that we admit it to other people? Why isn’t it okay for me to be honest about those days that aren’t going as planned.
These past few years I’ve met a lot of people through volleyball. These people were the ones I thought had it all… popularity, great personalities, amazing athleticism. They oozed with self-confidence. I wanted to be like them someday. But a year later, after I’ve gotten to know them a little better, I realized something: they aren’t secure like I thought they were! Some feel horrible about their appearance, others have had hurtful comments made about them, others have families that are falling apart… but from a distance, it looked like they had it all.
Then there are other people, who although they have great personalities and are a blast to talk to if you get to know them,  but clam up in group settings because they don’t want to sound “dumb.” Why are we so afraid of showing the real “us” to others? Why do we have to keep up the image of having it all together? I have noticed that the relationships that I find most enjoyable are the ones I can be honest in.
While I have a lot to learn about his subject ( people will never cease to fascinate and confuse me) I know that I, personally, believe someone when they say they are doing “great.” And if they’re doing “great” then there is something wrong with me for having problems! My life is not perfect, and that’s my own fault. And I’ll look weak, and insecure, and inferior if I tell them I’m NOT doing well.  So I don’t. I say I’m great. And then, I have an false image, a mask, to keep up. Now that I’ve told them I’m great, I won’t lie if they ask about parts of my life that aren’t going well… I’ll just… gloss over it. Yes, that’s it. And change the subject. And ask them about their “great” life.
It seems that masking our lives is a vicious cycle. We hear other people say their lives are perfect, and we don’t want to look inferior, so we say the same things. What if we were honest with people? What if we believed that our non-perfect lives aren’t the thing we should let define us? I’ve trusted that Jesus has taken my sins for me. I know that it is His love and redeeming power that defines me. But do I believe it?  Without Jesus, it wouldn’t be safe to show my imperfections. Because people’s opinions would be the only ones left to  matter. But, Jesus already knows my weaknesses, and He still accepts me. My head holds the knowledge that would allow me to rip of my masks and run into the safe and secure arms of Jesus. The only thing that holds me back is the fear that is in my heart. And here comes the choice: to let my fear control me and to rigidly hold the masks in place, or to sit in the lap of Jesus with my masks forgotten.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 Reasons Pretzels are AWESOME!!!

Best Food Ever!!!

Pretzels. They're hard, they're soft. They're sweet, they're salty. They're twisted, they're straight. They're just plain awesome!!! Here are  my top ten reasons why:

1.) They taste AMAZING on ice cream. Try a caramel sundae with pretzel bits on top! Best.Sundae.Ever.

2.) Soft pretzels are sooooo much fun to make! Boiling bread dough is a blast!

3.) They are super versatile... you can dip them in anything from cream cheese frosting (amazing) to cheddar fondue! (did I mention chocolate???)

4.) They make chex mix soooooo much better. Chex mix wouldn't be the same without those adorable round and grid-shaped pretzels that taste soooo good!

5.) Did you know that you can use them in baking??? Make a pretzel crumb crust rather using graham crackers for a sweet-salty contrast in a cheesecake!

6.) They are so salty! If you  have a dad with high blood pressure, salt becomes a rare and special treat!

7.) Because pretzels are soooo awesome, Snyder of Hanover (a big, awesome pretzel company) went into business!!! They make my very, very favorite flavor of pretzels: honey mustard!!!

8.) It's exceptionally fun to see how many marshmallows you can cram onto one miniature pretzel stick. I got 72. See if you can top that! :)

9.) Have you had the cinnamon kind???  How about the jalapeno? There are tons of flavors... enough that EVERBODY should like them!!!

10.) AND (last but not least) if you're a health nut, they're super low fat!

I hope you have been convinced of how AWESOME pretzels are. And if you are sitting there picking your pretzels out of your chex mix like a two year old picks the Lucky Charm marshmallows out of the cereal, then please, don't throw them away. Save them for somebody who understands and APPRECIATES the awesomeness of pretzels. Like me! :)

The Newest Addition To the Family

(The reason I no longer have to wear a winter jacket in my own house.)

The Peterman House  is not your ordinary house. Between the  90 foot hallway that is as long enough to bowl down, to the master bathroom with four huge closets AND a bidet, it just isn't. And my dad, an engineer, will assure you that he didn't design the place... it's terribly inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling the place. It's not well insulated, and I suppose it probably doesn't help that our house is a sprawling 4000 square foot house!

The first winter in our new house was, well, cold. One time when my friends came over for a sleepover in the winter, they forgot to pack for our room, which peaked at a balmy 50 degrees. They went to bed with their jackets on and still froze! When friends came over, we offered to take their jackets for them, and declined!!! We layered our beds with four to five blankets, and once we woke up, we all put on our winter jackets like Eskimos in the arctic.

My dad decided to change all that! He decided to put in a wood stove. After much planning, decision making, measuring, and doing all the thorough things engineers do, he bought the stove and had it installed. All the while, he was predicting how warm we would be, how nice it would be to be warm throughout our house, etc, etc.

Three months later, the stove was in, and our the room our stove was in topped the upper 60's!!!!! It was great.... at least in that one room! The rest of our house was still freezing! Our family would take our supper from our kitchen into our living room and have an arctic picnic sitting inches from our woodstove. When our friends came over, our games were centered around the woodstove. When it got really cold, and barely broke 60 in the room with the fire going full blast, my dad decided he would fix that. We put up blankets in all the open walls between the living room and the rest of the house. Our "tent" was finally warm... but going to bed was a different story.

This year, he decided a second wood stove was in order... maybe then we could keep this house warm. We all smiled and laughed and agreed, but inside I was thinking,
"Haven't we tried this already???"
Well, the woodstove is in! Right now it's going full blast! Are you expecting to tell you we're thinking about getting a third wood stove?
Let me put it this way: I did my school in athletic shorts this morning... and it was thirty degrees outside. Do I like the new woodstove? You betcha!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Honey Saltine Toffee ( a.k.a. my best culinary disaster yet!!)

"Ewww, what is that? It smells like cows!" That was the comment I received from my 11 year old , Blaize, after sniffing my newest culinary concoction: Peanut Butter Honey Saltine Toffee. Blaize has always excelled at being completely honest when it comes to my cooking, but I am hoping that, with practice, he can work on being slightly more diplomatic, too. Anyways, you are probably wondering what possessed me to make such a... different dessert. Well, all started when I was sitting in a restaurant with my JV volleyball coach, Mr. McNellis. (My team calls him Mr. Mickey). I happen to think he is pretty awesome... so awesome that every year on his birthday (November 8th) I like to bring some sort of goodies. BUT, even though Mr. Mickey IS a super coach and an even better Christian example, he does have one gigantic flaw... HE DOESN'T LIKE CHOCOLATE! As a result, it makes it rather difficult to decide what to bake for him when his birthday rolls around. So, the rest of the season, I keep my ears open to find out if there are any sweet foods that he does like. (not liking chocolate pretty much eliminates them all!) Well, there I was sitting in the restaurant him and my team, and somehow we got talking about saltines! He said that he loved saltines with peanut butter and honey. And I immediately took a mental note.

Well, a month later, it was two days before his birthday, and I could NOT decide what to make for him! But, I remembered that he had said he like saltines, peanut butter, and honey, and had an "inspiration." There is something I am learning about myself, though: the majority of my "inspirations" are more accurately described as "future disasters." This "inspiration" was one of them. Before I knew it, I had whipped out saltines, butter, brown sugar, honey, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk, and started cooking. Of course! I would make toffee with these ingredients! I could just replace the chocolate with peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk, and the corn syrup with honey, and voila! Perfection that Mr. Mickey would actually eat! I googled a recipe, and threw the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a pan and boiled it for eleven minutes. Now, generally when you make toffee, you COULD (and probably should) use a candy thermometer, but ours was broken, so... I decided not to. That was a bad idea. Toffee is supposed to be crunchy and sweet, but when mine was done, the toffee layer was chewy and stuck to your teeth like glue.

But, I figured, the peanut butter mixture will make up for it, right? I stuck a big glob of peanut butter in the bowl (what is the point of measuring, anyways?) and poured a can of sweetened condensed milk in. Then I microwaved it until it looked "right." The problem? I stuck in the microwave for four minutes and didn't stir it! When it came out, the top looked great, but what I stirred up from the bottom of the bowl was a mixture of grainy, slightly overcooked peanut butter. Well, it wasn't perfect, but I didn't want to waste it, so... you know the rest. I dumped it over the already messed up toffee, did my best to smooth it out, and then called my siblings for a "taste test." While I sell taste tests as " I'm being a nice sister today and letting you eat my goodies," I usually have alterior motives. Like, "Tell me if this is as bad as it looks" motives. Well, Blaize told me!
"Ewww, what is this? It smells like cows!" Then he takes a bite.
"What do you think?" I asked.
"It's... interesting." he said. That was the most diplomatic thing he had said all night.
"The toffee's pretty good, cept it sticks to my teeth, and the peanut butter doesn't taste like cows, so I guess that's good... but it feels kinda weird on my tongue. I think it'd be better if you scrape off the peanut butter part."

I got similar reactions from the rest of my family, and decided that I would make them scrape off the peanut butter, rather than giving it to my coach to do. I have a feeling that if he doesn't even tolerate chocolate that he probably wouldn't like toffee that you can't chew, and smells like cow manure. :) And I don't really want to find out!