Friday, June 29, 2012

From my kitchen Friday

Today in my kitchen, I am making yogurt and bread, watching out the back as my kids make and play in mud, and trying to find my way back to normal after being gone most of the last two weeks. Have a great weekend! Things will resume as normal next week :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Letting go, being free to laugh

We spent our Saturday, really our only free day in the middle of two very un-ordinary and busy weeks, busy with outside work. Out early in the morning, the kids helped me weed the garden and plant three new rows of beans while Scott mowed the yard, and then Scott and the kids did some serious playing while I staked up my last three tomato plants.

After several hours of work, we were all sun kissed, tired, and sweaty. I was putting the finishing touches on the last tomato plant, and out of no where came a blast of cold water all over my back. I regained my stolen breath as my husband laughed and said, "you didn't even hear me coming!"

It seems, in life, that there are always moments that can either go tremendously well, or tremendously not well. Unfortunately, in the past I have chosen too many times to react in the "not well" manner. I think it even got to the point where my husband quit trying to laugh and joke with me because I was always so serious all of the time, and he decided that the risk wasn't worth putting himself on the line.

In the moment after he blasted me with the frigid hose water, I wonder if he held his breath, hoping that I would react well. When I could speak again, I screeched out that the water was freezing, and then laughed out that, yeah, I had NO idea he was coming. By then our children had caught on, came running, and proceeded to get blasted with the water hose as well.

We all took turns, then, spraying each other and being sprayed, tensing up as the cold water came our way, knowing it would take our breath away. Remi was in her element, and we waited patiently as she took her turn, trying to figure out how to get the sprayer to work with only one fully functioning hand. A few times, amid the squeals of delight from our children and ourselves, soaked to the bone and running through the water, Scott and I looked at each other and laughed. I am so glad that I chose to let go of the serious for a time and felt free to laugh.

Life seems to be much fuller of times that are carefree and full of joy when you can let go a little, and be free to laugh!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday ("Cool dude!")

Sometimes, in the midst of the craziness, you just have to stop and laugh and make the most of your time together. I will take a lesson from my baby girl, who took everything yesterday (which included visits to a doctor as well as the hospital, four different waiting rooms, and x-rays all within the span of 2 hours) with the utmost of grace. Such a trooper she was, and still is :)

I hope you have a blessed weekend! And thank you to anyone who has said prayers for my son, and now daughter also :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My children are not my own

My mind and heart spin. Round and round they go with anger, frustration, worry, mostly anger.

My boy has something wrong and everyone is sending me in circles, with no end in near sight. I tell myself all the Truth that I know. God is bigger than this. He already knows the answers. I have learned that I can trust Him with everything, including my boy. And still He leads me.

I lift up trembling hands, offering it up to Him. If I could leave it there at His feet then I wouldn't be in the emotionally and physically wound situation that I'm in. The problem is that then I take it back. He's my boy. And then I remember that he was His boy first.

And then he looks at me and smiles and says, "I love you, Mommy. More than you know I do." And then he's my boy and I'm picking him up and hugging him close and he's got his arms around me, playing with my hair. And I'm melting, and I'm frustrated, because the people who control this situation are telling me that there really is not so much a situation as I think there is.

And then I remember that really He controls this situation, and round and round I go.

And now I choose to stop. I choose to remember that my boy isn't really mine. And even if I have to tell myself the same thing over and over and over, I will remember that in Him lies the future of my son.  

In this world I will have trouble, Hudson will have trouble, but we can be encouraged because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). And because He has, in Him we have. So I will take it to His feet and leave it there. And I will rest in His calming presence, as His peace guards my heart and my mind (Matthew 11:28, Philippians 4:7).
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul. Worship His Holy name. Sing like never before, O my soul, I'll worship Your Holy name. The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning. It's time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes." 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

And we won't even go into the fact that this morning I have to take Remi to the doctor because she did something to her thumb and now it is stuck bent and won't straighten out...

Monday, June 18, 2012

The marriage garden

I was hunched down, the sun hot on my back, picking at the little garden weeds to get them out of there before they became a big problem. I glanced over my little garden, ripe with possibility in new growth. I thought about what it will look like in another several weeks compared to now, and then at the end of the summer in all it's fullness, spent of all it's offerings. How will my tending to it compare then to now?

The answer came quick, knowledge gleaned from seasons past. In a few weeks, in the hot middle of summer, and in the coolness of Fall, my tending to this garden will be much the same. I will pull the weeds before they become too big to handle. I will surround my tender vegetables with plants that will attract bugs that are beneficial to the veggies. I will quickly get rid of bugs that will destroy my veggies. I will water it. I will prune it. I will fill it with nourishment from grass cuttings and kitchen scraps.

The fact that the plants and flowers get older and more mature doesn't mean that they become immune to disease and death. In fact, the very thing that will bring disease and death is neglect from me. So I will water even when I don't feel like watering. I will not despair after a particularly hot day leaves things wilty, I will just add a little more watering. I will pull the weeds even though it is hard, hot work, and I will do it before they become big with deep roots. I will destroy any thing that poses a threat to the growth of my precious garden. And if for some reason the weeds do get big and deep, or a particular plant seems to be struggling, I will do what is necessary to fix it.

 And when I say, as I often do, that marriage is like a garden, this is exactly what I am talking about. No marriage, whether new or old, is immune to disease. No marriage can go without daily watering, nourishing, weeding, and pruning for long before it becomes overgrown and diseased. Every marriage, whether new or old, experiences really hot days where they are left feeling wilted. Every marriage benefits from having other couples around who are for their marriage and seek to encourage in that area. Every marriage, when properly tended to, yields fruit and blessing to everyone around them. Because just like a garden, the very thing that will bring disease and death to a marriage is neglect. And just like a garden, there will be weeds that pop up and threaten your marriage.

So I will daily seek to water and tend to the fertile ground of my marriage. And I will trust that the fruit that is produced will be a blessing to everyone around us.

And  I encourage you to do the same :) You, your marriage, your spouse, your children, and the people around you will notice, and will be blessed.

Friday, June 15, 2012

From my Kitchen Friday: Calzones!

Friday night is Pizza night, and after several different attempts I have yet to find a really good pizza crust recipe. But, I have found an awesome calzone recipe, and for the last several weeks we have had them on Pizza night. It is so yummy, and since we each get our own, the kids get to pick what they want and make their own.

You want to know the secret? The dough is made in the bread machine, so it's so simple!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I'm sorry

I lifted her up onto the potty, short as she is. As I sat her down she said, "sorry, Mommy." I thought she thought she had hurt me, and I said, "It's okay, Baby, you didn't hurt me." Then she grimaced a little and started rubbing her chest, and I realized that I had hurt her. Feeling bad that I must have squeezed her a little too hard when lifting her up, I told her that I was sorry.

This is a very common thing for her. Whether she is the one doing the hurting or the one being hurt, she always says, "sorry." This is even how we realize sometimes that we have hurt her, like when I lifted her onto the potty.

I started thinking about how willing she is to say, "I'm sorry," even when she doesn't need to, and how unwilling adults tend to be, especially when they do need to. As adults, when we get into an argument with someone, whether family or friend, we rarely are the first to apologize. We keep a list of our hurts, whether intentionally or not, and we wait for the other person to fess up and apologize before we offer our apology or forgiveness.

How much better would it make our relationships if, when faced with a hurt, we would be the first to bring up what is going on, talk it through, and apologize for our part in the problem? Even in cases where we have been unjustly wronged, with Christ's help we can still take steps toward reconciling that relationship. Instead of wasting days, or weeks, or years holding tightly to that hurt, we need to take the initiative to bring healing to that relationship if we can.

If a two year old can manage it, shouldn't we?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I'm so glad we fought

We sat together, dreaming, talking about the future. Trips we would like to go on. Vacations with our children. What we would like to experience together as we live out the rest of our lives. How we would like to fix up our house now that we are able to a little at a time. What we would like to do once the kids are out of the house. Dreaming and loving and loving what we were dreaming about.

I couldn't help but think, in those precious moments, that we almost missed out on them. In a flash I was filled with so much. So much pain at what we almost lost. So much joy and thankfulness that we didn't lose it. And so much love for my husband who has fought as hard as I have to make sure we arrived at the very place we are at. So much honor at the legacy we are leaving for our children.

I looked at him and he could see it in my eyes. After almost 14 years together, we are able to say so much to each other without using words. Then I told him that I am so thankful that we are able to talk about our future together, that we didn't miss the opportunity. With sincerity that I knew went as deep as his heart, he said that he is thankful every single day for what we have.

If you are experiencing a rough patch in your marriage, if it is taking more work than you find yourself willing to give, if you or your spouse has had an affair and you are trying desperately to find each other again, please know that it is worth it to fight for your marriage. Yes, it takes work, sometimes the hardest work of your life. Yes, it may take time before you really start seeing results. It has taken 2 full years for us to get where we are (and, by the way, it will take work until the day we die, because marriage, like a garden, takes cultivating and daily care to bloom). But, if there is anything I can tell you today, it is that IT IS WORTH IT!

When you offer your marriage to God and seek to be the husband or wife that God calls you to be, He will bless it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when called to go..., obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."

Is God calling you to go, to do, to love, and you don't understand why or how? Maybe it is respecting and honoring a spouse even though your relationship isn't great right now. Maybe it is stopping and talking to someone you don't really enjoy talking to. Maybe it is serving a friend or family member in need. Maybe it is stopping and praying with the random stranger you feel God calling you to pray for. Maybe, just maybe (and this has happened to me), it is getting out of your car and talking to a small group of gypsies who have taken up temporary camp in your town. And, better yet, offering them your free Speedway coffee coupon. And asking them what their story is. And praying with them. Uncomfortable, intimidating, inconvenient. Yes, but when you give your life to Christ and seek to follow Him where He leads you, there are times when He will call you to submit to His greater plan. Even though you may never know why. Because He knows what He is doing, and he weaves people into and out of your life for a reason. All He asks you to do is obey, whether you understand or not. Often times, you will be blessed in the serving as well.

From Streams in the Desert: "Many an opportunity is lost while we deliberate after He has said, 'Move!'"

Linked up wit Titus 2sdays, On Your Heart Tuesdays, What I learned this week, Teach me Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Just write

Monday, June 11, 2012

When your spouse's words deflate you

It came out of no where.

We were sitting down with the kids having lunch and a nice conversation. I said something, and he responded in a way that I perceived as very critical and unkind. And I was deflated. Immediately.

The conversation ended there, and he could tell what had happened without me even having to say anything. We have talked about this before. He knows how important words are to me. He knows they have the power to build me up or destroy me. And he knew what he had just done. He apologized, and I could see in his eyes that he meant it.  I believed he was sorry, but that didn't change the way I felt.

As lunch ended and I cleaned the kitchen up (I declined his offer to help), my mind kept going back to what he said. I stewed on it. Angry thoughts came to my head. "Well, now I know what he REALLY thinks." "I'm sure not going to bring that up anymore!" A song came on the radio reminding me to forgive. I sang the song, but still the battle raged in my mind and heart. I recognized my tendency to hold on to hurt, and I really wanted to change that about myself. Yet I lacked the strength to change my own heart. Finally, I went to change the laundry. In my mind flashed an image of Scott and me laughing together, enjoying each other, loving each other. Quietly the Lord spoke to my heart, "Doesn't that feel so much better than this?" I agreed that, yes, feeling free to love and laugh with my husband feels much better than being held captive to anger and hurt feelings. He reminded me that in order to take hold of the one I had to let go of the other. That finally gave me what I needed to fully let go.

We can't control what the people around us do or say. We can't control how their actions or words make us feel, but we can control how we will respond to it. I must admit that the old me would have definitely held on to that hurt and let it affect the way I treated Scott for the rest of the day, at least. But this me, the one who is daily seeking to be refined and sanctified by Christ, allowed Him to break through my thoughts. And this me decided to act on what I know, rather than what I feel. He had apologized, after all, and he was authentic in his remorse. The burden of responsibility lay with me.

After the kids were in bed, we sat in the living room folding laundry. We were casually talking and enjoying each others' company. Gently I said, "You know you really hurt my feeling earlier, right?" He said, "I know, and I am so sorry." I told him I knew he was sorry, I could tell when he had said it. I had seen the pain in his eyes when he realized he had hurt me. I told him about my struggle to let it go, but that I realized that if I wanted God to change me I had to actually allow him to. He looked me in the eyes and thanked me for being the woman that I am.

I believe that this is one of God's purposes for marriage. He created us to sharpen each other, to make each other better. If that means that there will be conflict, I pray that God would always cultivate in me a spirit that is willing to grow.

We see it as pain and hurt and struggle in our marriage. He sees it as a way to make us more like Himself. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Word of God speak

"I'm finding myself at a loss for words, and the funny thing is it's okay. The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what You would say."  from Word of God Speak, by MercyMe.

My little boy, he is the sweetest, most beautiful, gentle boy on the planet. I'm sure of it. You would agree if you knew him. He's not perfect, just like everyone else, and he is a boy, so he does get in mischief. He is only 4, afterall. But I love him more than I could ever explain. I love my girls, too, desperately. But there's just something about my boy.

 "I'm finding myself in the midst of You, beyond the music, beyond the noise. All that I need is to be with You, and in the quiet hear Your voice."

 And in his 4 years, he has already endured more than I wish he had to. At 2 1/2 he had a concussion that resulted in a seizure and an overnight stay in the hospital. Just this past January, right before his 4th birthday, he had a bad case of bacterial pneumonia that resulted in an overnight stay in our local hospital followed by a transport to the closest Children's Hospital and two more nights in the hospital. 

And now, he has another medical issue going on. And we are in the grueling process of waiting. His regular doctor has referred him to a pediatric GI specialist back at the Children's Hospital where he had his last stay. The issue that he has is apparently sort-of common in children, but the "common" cause for it is not what is causing his. And we wait, for the referral to go through, for the word back that he has an appointment scheduled, for answers. And every time I have to go and tend to his issue, I pray. I pray for God's hand over my little boy. For Him to go before us and iron out the paperwork. That He would fill Hudson with comfort, as he is figuring out that something is wrong. That He would fill me with peace and patience and understanding, as His will plays out in the life of my son.

 "Word of God speak, would You pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see your majesty. To be still and know that You're in this place. Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness. Word of God speak."

Lord, I trust You. No matter what.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How meal planning has helped me

In the long scheme of things, I have only been doing this meal planning thing for a little while. It has always been my heart to provide delicious food for my family, and in the 8 years that we have been married I have tried different things off and on. But, nothing really worked so well that it stuck. Finally, though, I have found what works for me. I don't know exactly how long I have been planning my meals in this way, but it has really blessed me, my kitchen, and my family. I did several posts a while back on why it is important to provide meals for your family in your home, what does NOT work for me in meal planning, the actual meal plan that I use, and what cookbooks I use. If you are interested in finding a way to plan out a menu and shopping list that works for you that is easy to follow, check out those posts to see if my plan would work for you as well.

This is what is on my mind this morning, so I thought I would share some of the ways that planning my meals and shopping list in this way have helped me.
* I have a very limited grocery budget. I have about $125 to spend on groceries for the 5 of us for a 15 day menu. It's tight, but since I am planning out all of our meals for those 15 days, and I know which of the two stores that I shop (Aldi and Kroger) sell what I need the cheapest, I can get what we need within that limit. We don't buy organic, because that would just take up too much of my chunk of money, but I feel that providing nourishing homemade meals and avoiding processed junk and fast food (when we can) makes up for it.
* The overall thought process in my home around meal time has changed from "Where are we going for dinner?" to "What are we having for dinner?" Also, that questions is easily and quickly answered by a glance at the menu hanging on the refrigerator. I read somewhere recently (can't at all remember where) that when you are consistently feeding your family home cooked meals, you are creating for your children and your family a sort of "home base". There is no uncertainty about dinner time.
* My children love helping me in the kitchen, Hudson especially. For Christmas he got his very own spatula. He was 3 at the time, and has loved using it to help me cook whenever he can. By helping me cook and, occasionally, bake, they are learning very valuable life skills. I am also learning and growing in patience :)
* My kitchen has become the place to be. I have Christian music playing in there from morning till night, and at any point throughout the day at least one person is in there. I take pleasure in preparing meals, and there is no 4:00 panic as I try to find something to make. It's all there ready for me.

If you have a desire to have more meals at home, or have been considering finding a system that works for you of consistently and efficiently planning regular menus, I would be happy to help. You could check out the links above, or contact me. My email address is listed at the top on the right under my picture.

Have a great Thursday, and happy cooking! This evening for us, it's chicken and broccoli casserole. Yummy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The blessing of sex

I am not excited about publishing this. Seriously? This, Lord? Okay, I'm most certainly no expert, but if what I do know will help others, then so-be-it.

A few weeks ago Scott had to go to his school's graduation. He rode with some of the other male teachers, and unbeknownst to him they had a plan to hang out for a bit afterwards. These are guys that have become good friends this year, and are some pretty stand-up guys. He called me from where they were afterwards so I would know why he wasn't on his way home, and I told him to have a good time. It was late already, and I was in bed by the time he got home.
It turns out, as one would probably expect with a small group of men, that the conversation turned from how to improve the quality of education at their school... to sex. Scott was the one who started it. He said, "You guys realize that you bringing me here instead of home greatly reduces the likelihood that I'm going to get some tonight." (I couldn't possibly be blushing any more than I am right now). After they joked that then they'd better get him home, they started to really talk about it. What did they talk about? They talked about frequency. How often? "About twice a month" here. "Lucky if even that" there. They asked Scott how often. One of the guys was taking a drink as Scott answered, and he choked on it. Really. When he was relaying this conversation to me later, I told him I was glad that he could be proud of his answer.
I don't want to go into specifics about how frequently my husband and I have sex, because, well my family reads this, and maybe his does, too. What I do want to say, though, is that we make it a priority. You see, we've been on both sides of this coin. In the first 5 1/2 years of our marriage, I was very selfish, especially when it came to sex. Now, after the first year we were married I was either pregnant or nursing a baby for the next 4 1/2 years. I was tired, and hormonal, and at the end of the day I didn't want anyone else touching me. I put the needs of my husband and this way of nourishing our marriage way on the back burner. The frequency that we had sex then was embarrassingly low. Yet, even in these circumstance I still didn't have a right to say that I didn't want any. In 1 Corinthians chapter 7, the Bible says that husbands and wives should not deprive one another sexually, except for already agreed upon times of prayer after which they should come together again. It doesn't say, "unless you are too tired, or had a fight, or don't feel like it". 
If I were to compare our relationship now, when we make sex a high priority in our marriage, and before, when we didn't, on those facts alone, I would say without a doubt that our marriage is happier and more satisfying than it was before. God created sex as a way to nurture each other and our marriage. He knew that regularly engaging in this very important act would bless both the husband and the wife. He knew what He was doing!

So, here are a few steps you could take to intentionally improve this area of your marriage.
1. Go visit Sheila at her blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum and read through her series "29 Days to Great Sex", or even buy her book "The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex". Really, go over and read her stuff. It is really good stuff. If you are in a situation where you have been abused or sex is literally painful for you, she has a lot of good insight and wisdom to share.
2. Sit down with your spouse and really have a conversation about your sex life. Scott and I have, on several occasions. And I have literally said, "I can't believe we are talking about this" when what we were specifically talking about was, well, embarrassing. Talk about what helps you, what hinders you, what would help you get in the mood, what would help your spouse. Talk about what would be a realistic expectation for both of you as far as what you want to strive for frequency-wise. The biggest thing here, is to take the focus off of yourself and put it on your spouse. Communication is so key!
3. Ladies, we are busy, and let's face it, sex is not something that is on our minds a lot. Guys, you've got this covered. Ladies, make a point to think about having sex with your husband. If you get yourself prepared mentally for what will come later, you will find that you are more in the mood than you used to be.
4. Pray. God wants to bless you in this area just like any other. Ask God to pour His blessing over your marriage bed as you seek to honor His ways in every area of your marriage. Pray before hand. If you don't find that your are really interested and your spouse is, pray for God to give you the momentum.

When you make sex a priority in your marriage, the blessings will abound.

I went and visited Scott at school a few days after they had had this post-graduation conversation. Two of the men, grown men, were peeking around a corner at us and giggling like school girls. They made a comment about how they had to keep an eye on us "kids" when we were on school grounds. He and I laughed, and I felt so proud as my husband's chest lifted a little. I want to be a crown on his head. I want to be a wife that he is proud to talk about. That day, I felt like one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The sweet fragrance of pain

(an excerpt from Streams in the Desert, a book that holds a very special place in my heart)

Song of Songs 4:16: Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that it's fragrance may be spread abroad.

Some of the spices and plants mentioned in verse 14 of the above chapter are very descriptive and symbolic. The juice of the aloe plant has a bitter taste but is soothing when applied to the skin, so it tells us of the sweetness of bitter things, the bittersweet, having an important application that only those who have used it will understand. Myrrh is symbolic of death, having been used to embalm the dead. It represents the sweetness that comes to the heart after it has died to self-will, pride, and sin.
What inexpressible charm seems to encircle some Christians, simply because they carry upon their pure countenance and gentle spirit the imprint of the cross! It is the holy evidence of having died to something that was once proud and strong but is now forever surrendered at the feet of Jesus. And it is also the heavenly charm of a broken spirit and contrite heart, the beautiful music that rises from a minor key, and the sweetness brought about by the touch of frost on ripened fruit.
Finally, frankincense was a fragrance that arose only after being touched with fire. The burning incense became clouds of sweetness arising from the heat of the flames. It symbolizes a person's heart whose sweetness has been brought forth by the flames of affliction until the holy, innermost part of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer.

Dear friends, sometimes God allows us to experience pain in our lives because He knows it is what we need to grow, to bloom, as in the pruning of a rose bush. Sometimes the pain helps us to see things in a whole new light, and allows us to become a blessing to someone else.
Are you in pain today? Grasp ahold of our Heavenly Father's hand, and let Him guide you through the bitter to the other side, where the sweet fragrance of pain lies. Let it fill you with praise and prayer.