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2007 February » Philoxenos


Michele’s American Brownies

12th February 2007

Michele’s American Brownies

When I first moved to South Korea, I was given this fantastic recipe by one of the other missionaries. It included ingredients that were easily available in Korea so it became one of my favourite desserts. It still is because IT’S. SO. EASY.

Often, when we have unexpected visitors or I need to bring a dessert to some function, I’ll whip up a batch of these brownies. I have some in the oven as we speak read/write. It took me five minutes to mix them up and stick them in the oven so they’ll be ready when our unexpected guest arrives (see post below). I believe these are the same brownies that my dad said could win an award and he doesn’t just throw compliments around.
Michele’s American Brownies

2 cups sugar

1/2 c. cocoa

2/3 c. oil (olive, vegetable, anything but engine)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 c flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

Mix it all up in a big bowl. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Put into a hot oven (350F or 180C) and bake 28-30 minutes, depending on your oven. Do NOT overbake. I prefer mine chewy, so I go for the 28 minutes. If you cook them too long they get a cake texture, which is okay, but they’re not as nice the next day.


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12th February 2007

unexpected hospitality

At 5:15 pm, just as we were sitting down to dinner, we received a phone call from a friend that lives in Wellington, which for those of you who care, is an 8 hour drive from here. He was at the local university for a conference and found himself with a free evening and wanted to know if we were available. We haven’t seen him in over a year and never know when we’ll see him again, so of course we were available! My first thought wasn’t - oh no, I look a mess; oh no, what will we give him to eat?; or, oh no, the house is a pit. My first thought, which went straight from my head to my mouth, was “So do you have a car? We can come and get you.”

I think this is an important part of genuine hospitality. It’s not about what the house looks like or what kind of coffee you’re serving, but about being available when the opportunity arises. It’s kind of like evangelism, really. We need to be ready to give an answer when we’re asked. In this case, when someone rings up (or just stops by) our first thought should be how we can serve them, rather than what an inconvenience it might be.

So my husband and oldest daughter have driven the 15 minutes to the university and are bringing him back even as I write. I really should clean up from dinner, but I couldn’t let a good writing moment go by. So the house won’t be perfect, I won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t matter. Our friendship is genuine and that’s what counts.

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11th February 2007

lost art of Christian hospitality

This is a rather all-encompassing post title and I’m sure that I’m not going to cover every aspect of the lost art of Christian hospitality in one post, but I want to begin addressing it, considering my husband kindly bought me this great domain name for our anniversary :)

For those of you who might not have read one of my first posts, Philoxenos, the name of my blog, means friends-strangers. Philoxenos is the word used in the New Testament for hospitality. I have quite a passion for hospitality (and evangelism, which I believe are actually quite inter-related). Not in a Martha Stewart sense, but in a real life, opening my home, kind of way. I am not a perfectionist - my kitchen floor has crumbs, there is a growing layer of dust on the top of my piano, there is soap scum in the shower. However I believe that we have a mandate - yes, a mandate - in Scripture to practice hospitality.

Starting on Wednesday I am going to be teaching for two weeks to the ladies in our young mothers group at church about hospitality. They think that they’re getting some lessons on how to cut their grocery spending and of course they will. But the underlying reason for me teaching this is so that they can learn some skills in managing their spending so that they feel the freedom to practice hospitality in the way that I believe God wants us to without feeling the constraints of finances.

As I open up the topic on my blog, I’d like to ask the question: what stops us from being hospitable? What stops us from having people over for lunch after church? Or asking a mum down the street over for coffee? Is it because things aren’t tidy enough? Is it because we don’t have fresh baked cookies to offer or our coffee is instant instead of freshly ground?  Is it because it’s just all too much work?

As I think through some of these issues myself I’ll write about them. I’ve got so many thoughts reeling around in my head and I’m not even sure where to start. I don’t normally like to write posts that are so all over the place, but I think I’ll be using this as a processsing place for all my thoughts.  In the meantime I’m interested to hear what you have to say. And to finish with a bit of a cliche, what would Jesus do? Would he let a little bit of dust stop him from sharing the Good News? Because essentially, that’s what we’re doing. As Christians we are called to be Jesus to those he came to save. If we’re not willing to be real with people and show them every part of us, then will they really know?

posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

7th February 2007

Balancing Act

At this very moment I am sitting outside, watching the kids play. It’s 4 pm and I’ve started thinking about dinner and about the living room that has toys and colouring books and storybooks littered all over every surface. But I’ve decided that I much prefer to sit outside with the breeze blowing on my face, watching my 17 month old daughter play in the water that accumulated in her wagon overnight because of the rain. And my oldest daughter is ‘cooking’ some dinner for me, which she brings out occasionally for me to test.

I’m slowly learning that being a mother requires the ability to do a hundred different jobs during the day and each minute requires me to make the decision about which job I’ll do. Some times that minute requires me to be a housecleaner, for hygiene purposes. Some times that minute requires me to be a referee. But this minute, right now, the minute requires me to just watch and enjoy.

I like minutes like this.

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7th February 2007

What is that noise?

I’m sitting here at my computer, enjoying being child-free during our mandatory quiet time. Normally my oldest will sleep, but sometimes she doesn’t, which is fine, as long as she is quiet. But I’m sitting here and there is a really strange squeaking sound coming from my bedroom, where my daughter has her rest time. I think it sounds like a balloon being rubbed, but it’s too consisten to be that. I’m tempted to go and look but if she sees me then she’ll think that rest time is over and she’ll keep calling out, asking if she can get out yet. So I’ll just have to wonder.

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5th February 2007

Mommy, that was a really big fart

It all started at the video store tonight after dinner. Tomorrow is a public holiday and my husband needs to work tonight in the office, so I thought I’d like to watch a movie that I like, rather than compromising on something we’ll both like. It ended up being a family trip since the pet shop next door always has puppies in the window.

I was quickly scanning the  video titles, looking for one that would fulfill the requirements of my $1 coupon. My oldest daughter comes up to me and asks innocently, “Mommy, do they have a toilet?” Alarm bells start to ring in my head. This is not an innocent question from a girl that has only been toilet trained for less than six months. I hurriedly assessed the situation - doing the potty dance? No. Any leakage? No. Crossed legs? No. Okay, we have a few minutes. I asked her if she could wait until we got home and she said yes.

I continued to peruse the titles available to me, realising that I’ve seen a lot of movies in my lifetime. Then I hear “Mommy, do they have a toilet here?” At this point I think, okay, things are escalating rapidly here. I hand my husband the car keys and ask him to quickly get the kids buckled into their seats and I’ll finish choosing the videos. We need to get home quickly.

We got home and I quickly herded the oldest into the bathroom and she’s dancing around, telling me that she really needs to go. Normally I would make sure she took care of things herself, but considering the urgency of the situation I helped her take her pants down and plopped her on the toilet seat. She promptly farted. Loudly. Her response? “Mommy, that was a really big fart.”

It certainly was.

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4th February 2007

Faith step or stupid step?

My husband and I have been having very deep conversations the last few weeks, particularly the last few days. We’ve been discussing various options to get us to the States so that he can pursue his studies that we really believe God wants him to do.

Without going into all the details, I have a question: At what point does a faith step become a stupid step? Yes, not all the details in life can be known in advance, there is almost always a measure of faith when we step out and do something different; however, if that step requires us to go to a place where we have no guarantee of actually being able to meet the basic needs of our family (housing, food, clothing) is that wise? Or is that just stupid?

I think about Abram being told by God to take off, leave his country and go to a place that God would tell him. I can guarantee that he didn’t have his credit card to fall back on, he didn’t know where he was going to be sleeping the next week, he probably only had a limited amount of food stored up. But he went, he obeyed and God blessed him immensely.

So when everything about a situation screams out STUPID! what do you do? I’m at a complete loss really. Although a large part of me thinks this is a fantastic idea and I’m even excited to see how God can provide in this situation, the other smaller part of me is much louder and part of that part is saying in a small voice - but I don’t want to go back to work! :)

Anyway, I’ll continue to keep you posted. Lots of items for prayer.

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3rd February 2007

The Waiting Game

To say that I’m a patient person would, well, it would be a lie. Really. I’m very impatient. The irony of the cosmos at the moment is that I’m playing a big waiting game. Life is really about waiting when you get down to it. I’m waiting for baby #3 to come (in about six weeks), I waited nearly a year for daughter #1 to get potty trained. A YEAR! Come on people, that was just torture. I even hate waiting for bread to toast in the mornings.

So I believe that God has probably been scheming (is that irreverant?) to find a way to help me learn a bit of patience and reliance upon him rather than upon myself. Of course, th first step in this programme was the introduction of children to our family. I believe that I’m currently living in the second step.

I mentioned in a previous post (that I can’t find at the moment) that we’re in the process of applying for a green card for my husband. I and my children are American citizens, but he is not. We originally thought this would take about six months, going through the American Consulate in Auckland. We were informed by letter last Saturday that, due to an immediate law change, all green card applications are now being processed through the United States and we can expect it to take at least 12 months, possibly longer, just for the first step to be completed.

I rang the Consulate on Tuesday (Monday was a holiday) and discovered that we may have to go through the Bangkok office instead, which would probably take even longer. So, now, we’re waiting.

As my husband and I talked about it, he told me “Michele, we are not going to live in limbo. Life goes on here.” It’s difficult for me to know that we’re planning on moving to another country (and all the mental anxiety that causes) but yet our life continues here in New Zealand. We still need to be active in ministry here, we’re still teaching our children here, we’re still developing friendships here, but yet part of me is thinking about America.

On the immigration issue, we’re currently praying over another option which would require a huge step of faith on our part because it would mean that our income would be drastically reduced. However, if it’s what the Lord wants for us then we know that he will provide.

I think at this point I’m focussing a lot on the line from the Lord’s Prayer:

Give us this day our daily bread…

God promises us today, only today, so I need to honour him with my best today.

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1st February 2007

For those of you with little emerging readers, check out . It is an amazing free website that has little games to learn the letters and their sounds. As the child learns the letters you can advance to more sophisticated games which practice reading skills. It’s awesome. And free!

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