Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Favorites

These children are dear to Me. Be a mother to them, and more than a mother. Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind. If thy heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of My own. If these young children are docile and obedient, bless me for it; if they are froward, call upon Me for help; if they weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy Reward.  Amy Carmichael

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Center Your Day Around Jesus

Yesterday I needed to make a list of things I was thankful for. It was a less than smooth morning and I needed a reminder.  I decided to do it in pictures because that was more fun and so I put this little collage together. 

But then I remembered an important principle I had been studying that helped me even more. I am supposed to center my day around Jesus. Not around what I wish my reality was or what I want my day to look like. Not around naptime or my husband coming home or drinking Dr. Pepper or anything else I might look forward to. Not around checking everything off my list or my perfect vision of home. 

I was frustrated because we got a late start. (I told my husband that I got up 9,000 times the night before with our children although that might have been a slight exaggeration.) As much as I hate mornings I hate getting a late start because then I feel behind from the get-go. I was frustrated because my children weren't living up to my expectations. (And I'm here because they need training and loving, not because they have already learned everything.) I was frustrated with myself. Then I remembered. 
...and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;       Hebrews 12:1b-2a
It's about Jesus. It's not about me or what I want. It's not about my expectations for the day; the race is already set before me. Jesus has mapped out my day. I need to look to Him for strength and grace for my race. It can be a race today because all today needs is today's energy. I don't have to worry about tomorrow. I don't have to worry about getting up and doing this same stuff over time after time.  I just need to be faithful today. 

Our preacher has taught us that patience is "cheerful and hopeful enduring." God's working in me. God's working in my kids. I am not to run impatiently or in frustration. I don't have to finish today. I won't finish until I go home with Jesus. 

I read somewhere that I shouldn't complain about the service God has called me to until I have done as much as Jesus did on the cross. That really stuck with me. I'm not to compare myself to what my husband or my neighbor or anybody else is doing, just what Jesus did.  That means I should never complain. I will never give as much of myself or give up as many of my own desires as Jesus did when He died for me.  

So how can I center my day around Jesus? Here are a few things that help me. 

1. Start your day with Jesus. Read your Bible and pray. Ask God for His help. 

2. Know what's most important. We've recently narrowed our parenting goals down to two concepts. (Another post for that story.) Can you pinpoint exactly what you are supposed to be doing right now? Knowing that takes some of the pressure off. All the little things just aren't that important. 

3. Release control. This is a mental effort. Actually all of these are. So many of the battles in our lives are mental. That's why we are to bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) This is Jesus' day. His plans matter, not yours. Give it to Him.

4. Give yourself grace. A lot of times the things that stress me out are expectations I've imposed on myself. I must read x number of books with Micah to be a good mom. I must complete x amount of work around the house to be a good homemaker. I can't give you a verse for those things and while they are good occasionally I need to throw them all out the window.  God's plans for my day may not involve any of my checklist! 

5. Repeat. I have to constantly remind myself to stay focused on Jesus. That it's about Jesus.  

Jesus can help me to walk through each part of my day with His grace.  Through the expected, the unexpected, the unpleasant, and the exciting. I don't have to wait for some thing to happen for me to have a good day and then be disturbed or upset if it doesn't happen.  Jesus is enough. 
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11 (emphasis mine)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer Goals

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul:  Pro. 13:19a
Picking out three summer goals was a lot harder than I expected it to be! I went to my husband for suggestions and he had some great ones. Problem was all of them were going to take lots of time. Time that I couldn't find in my calendar on a regular basis.  I wanted some goals that would push me in what I was already doing. 

photo courtesy of photostock/

Now I picked three for simplicity. And it's easier to keep up with and not feel overwhelmed. But imagine if I did three every three months? That's twelve goals a year! 12, people! I really think I could be accomplishing more than I am. Now after that sorry pep talk- the goals! 

June-July-August Goals

1. Drink 1 Dr. Pepper a week. I'm crying a little here, folks. I'm drinking a glass of Dr. Pepper now. I love the stuff! But it's full of junk. It's just unnecessary liquid calories. And sugar makes you fat. (That's my main thought on weight control.) Now please note, I did not say that I was NEVER EVER going to drink Dr. Pepper again. I'm just limiting it to one a week. And not one 2 liter either. 16 ounces. 

2. Finish my second music technique book. That's measurable and it will be pushing it to finish in three months.  I've planned several things to help me with this. 

A. I already set the keyboard back up in our bedroom so I can use it to practice while the boys are napping, after they've gone to bed, before they get up, etc., etc. A few minutes here and there will add up. And it allows me to spend my normal practice time at the piano on other things if I've already done/will be doing scales and technique. 
B. I'm going to count how many songs are in the book and divide it by 12 so I know how many I need to finish per week. I haven't done that yet and it scares me a little! 

And did I mention I still have five songs left in the first book to finish?? Better get on that. I still have seven days left this month! 

3. Stay under my allotted grocery budget.  This is not because of a money crunch. God has blessed and we budget so that's not the issue. But I have three motivations for this. I want to
  • be disciplined with our money
  • be a good steward of what God has provided
  • be a blessing to my husband. 
Will all this really accomplish anything in our lives? I hope so! I hope that really pushes me to grow in my piano playing. And not waste that five minutes on Pinterest when I could work on a song. I hope the other two help me grow in self-discipline and who doesn't need that? Hopefully I'll be healthier and wealthier too! ha! That was a joke...well, the wealthy part was. 

Have a good weekend! And since it's not June yet I'm going to drink another glass of Dr. Pepper! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Today's Energy

I love "The Sound of Music." (Justin, don't roll your eyes when you read that.) I only watch parts of it occasionally because of its length but it's one of my favorite movies. In one part Maria is exhorted- in stirring song: it is a musical after all- to find "A dream that will need all the love you can give. Every day of your life, for as long as you live!" And really, why shoot for something lower? Do I really want to do something that's not worth doing? Why not find something worth doing and do it with all my heart. All my energy. All my effort. All my love. 
I have on desire now- to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it. -Elisabeth Elliot
This work- being a wife, a mom, a homemaker- is worth all my energy, my effort, and my time. If I am in God's will and if you are in God's will we should each bring our best to the table each day asking God to work through us. So often I am guilty of trying to conserve, as if my goal is to not be tired at the end of the day. What am I keeping today's energy for? I don't need it tomorrow! When I remind myself that my goal is to give my all to God's work today I find I can smile and go on when I wanted to quit. Yes, I said God's work. This work that I am doing is God-ordained. He made me to help my man. He gave me His children to train and love. He assigned me this home to care for. I am on personal assignment from God to these people! How that thought changes my attitude and my approach. 

If I am on personal assignment from God I want to do my best!
  • I want to learn and grow in wisdom and applying it to my life. I want to develop better skills in homemaking. Learn to better understand my husband. Find out what each child needs and seek God's face for them. 
  •  I want to remember that I am representing Jesus to everyone who sees me. I am showing Jesus to the public. What are they seeing? What do I look like? How do I talk? How do I spend my time?  I am showing Jesus to my children. Will they be turned away from the faith because of my hypocrisy? Will they see authentic faith modeled in my life? I am showing Jesus to my husband. Do I serve as Christ served? I am seeking to provide what He needs instead of thinking of myself? I want my life to make Jesus look good, not bad. 
The greatest error is not in trying and failing but that in trying we do not give our best effort.
Every single day I live is worth that day's energy. I may not have energy when I look at the week, or month, or year. I may not have the time when I consider all that I must do in the next ten years. But I do have the energy for God's work today. I do have the strength to put into God's work today. I do have my best to give in service today. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Food We've Been Eating

I love food. And I love food pictures. It always makes me hungry to look at them though. But regardless of that I wanted to share some pictures of what we've been eating. 

I marinated some chicken in mesquite (McCormick at Wal-Mart. It's seriously amazing!) and then put it over a salad. Romaine, carrots, and Ranch. I would eat a whole plate of that right now.

Amish Friendship Bread....except simpler. You just mix it up and bake. It was delicious.

I used the rest of the mesquite chicken for some tacos. I would also eat that right now.

Skinny chicken florentine. So yummy! Think alfredo but much healthier. And I love the spinach in it. Mushrooms would be a great addition!

Blueberry bagels! Hello! These are my favorite. I made these and we took them to Pigeon Forge on our trip. I might tweak this recipe a little...not sure yet. But they were delicious.

But now these raspberry bars are some of the best sweet things I've ever eaten in my life! So delicious and buttery and raspberry-y (?). Anyway, take my word for it. You MUST make these. Try not to eat the whole pan. But if you do, you don't have to tell anybody.

Then for some more real food....sesame chicken! I loved this meal. I actually modified my stir-fry sauce to include sesame oil and poured it over the stir-fried veggies. Justin worked late the night I made this and I had to make myself leave him some.

And chicken fried steak. I had never made chicken fried steak before. Actually I had never eaten chicken fried steak before. It's amazing! Justin rated it as better than Cracker Barrel. That's an A+ in my book. Go, Pioneer Woman!

What have you been eating lately?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Favorites

DollyWood was so much fun last week! We had a fantastic time! It was supposed to rain all day Friday but it didn't! The weather was perfect. The company was perfect. We practically walked onto rides at the park the crowd was so small. (And the newer rollercoaster, Wild Eagle? Awesome. I hadn't ridden it before.) So I thought I'd share some pictures. 

We had just arrived! We were waiting on the trolley. We took the trolley to DollyWood on Friday to avoid paying to park for two days at the park. It was fun. And it cost us $3 total to ride. 

When we got on the trolley to go from the main hub to DollyWood we were alone! I told Justin it was our $1 limo! 

Waiting in line at Blazing Fury! Mostly for nostalgia sakes; it's not really exciting :) But they took the water out. What??? We actually asked. and they said the new braking system couldn't get wet. And here I prepared myself for nothing. 

Super old piano in the church. Most of those keys are broken; I didn't really play anything. 

Yes! Yes! Yes! 

Too bad none of these purses were very attractive. (Does that sound better than saying they were u-g-l-y? Because that's what I said first.) But I loved the sign. 

View from the top of the ferris wheel! 

Texas Roadhouse! Love my ribs! 

We stayed at a new place that has suites. They were super nice and had a fully stocked kitchen. We'll definitely be doing that again! 

Why, yes, we did get rained on Saturday. That must be why I look like a drowned rat. haha

And the soaked hair instituted the "let's pull our bangs back in a funky braid" because all the bobby pins were in the car.  The big cookie....well, who needs an excuse for that?  I could eat that right now. Too bad I don't have any cookies. "Does anyone have any cookies??" (I said that in the voice of Jimmy from VeggieTales, just so you know.)

But the best part was coming home! Look at this guy! 

And this guy! 

We had a blast and I'm so glad we found a time to go. But as we've always said, real life is so much better. I'm glad we don't live for vacations and fancy things. I love our day to day work and life! 

Mother's Day picture with my boys! 

We got most of our garden planted! Isn't Kentucky beautiful? 

Cute sleeping baby! Chubby legs, baby feet, crazy hair. Babies are amazing! 

On a walk with the boys! And yes, I did get a haircut yesterday! 

Bathtime! hahahaha I have no words to caption this! Love my boys! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Goals

Summer is almost here! Well, for practical purposes at our house it is here. Mostly because it's warm and the college students are gone. When you live in a college town and your husband works at the university that's a very noticeable change. I love summer but I can't believe this much of the year has passed by already! Let's put the brakes on time and not just for the baby (who's trying to crawl!). 

 I'd like to make some summer goals for June, July, and August. But I'm not sure what yet. I want them to be measurable so that I will know if I've met them. And I want them to be realistic; sometimes my expectations can be a little high. I guess that's better than not expecting myself to do anything! 

I'm throwing around a few ideas and I'll try to let you know next week what I've decided. I'm leaning toward making three goals right now but I may change my mind. 

Do you have any summer goals? 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was yesterday. If you didn't know that you missed it. And you should probably call your Mom pronto. Mothers deserve to be celebrated. As I told my mom I never realized how much work a family was until we had our own. I'm so thankful for my mom and mother-in-law! They are both great mothers and great grandmothers! I should word that differently. They aren't great-grandmothers. Obviously they aren't old enough for that. They are fantastic grandmothers. That better? 

I was thinking yesterday about what a solemn responsibility raising children is. God made these children for a specific purpose and then He asked me to help Him train them into people He can use. That, my friends, is a job that deserves prayerful consideration and purposeful time. These are God's children. What a sacred trust is handed to mothers with a baby.  

This recognition of Who my children belong to begs me to reconsider my mothering. Would I talk that way to God's child? (Or even a friend's child?) Is it not worthwhile to find the time to teach, train, and spend time with these children who are loved and valued by God? Is God pleased with my partnership in this work of their lives? Am I modeling God's behavior toward me in my behavior toward my children? 

One of my favorite quotes for this year states: "What I am aiming to be I am becoming today." Today is a step toward that goal. Today is a chance to improve. How is my mothering today impacting who my children will become? How is my mothering today forming memories for our children? How is my mothering today changing the person I am becoming? 

Motherhood isn't just dishes and laundry, diapers and boo-boos. Motherhood is soul-forming. Motherhood is dying to self. Motherhood is partnering with God to create vessels He can use. Motherhood is becoming an example my children can follow. I can't just throw together some crazy plan with my children and hope it turns out okay.  Motherhood deserves prayer; motherhood deserves my hunger to learn more from the Bible and experienced Christians. Motherhood deserves my best. There are some jobs that I feel confident in my ability to perform but mothering isn't one of them. I know that I need Jesus every hour of every day. I need Jesus working in my heart and the hearts of my children. 

My children don't need a perfect mother because they will never be perfect.  My children need a godly mother so they have a pattern to follow.  My heart's desire is to be a mom that will impact my children's lives for eternity so that one day they will "arise up, and call [me] blessed." (Pro. 31:28)


I've had a pancake obsession for some time. I ate them constantly when I was pregnant with Kevin and it's one craving that did not go away. I found a recipe that was simple and delicious but since I was eating them so often I wanted to make them a little healthier. So I tweaked it some. I'll give you the basic way to make it too. 

3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. butter, melted

1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

chocolate chips, blueberries, etc. 

Combine milk and vinegar, let sit for five minutes. Heat a pan over medium low heat. 

Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Combine milk mixture, egg, honey, and melted butter. 

Add liquid to dry ingredients while whisking. Really, use a whisk; it incorporates more air into the batter.  Let the batter sit for about five minutes. Believe me. Check out the difference. It gets...almost fluffy. 

Spray pan with cooking spray and measure out pancakes. The recipe will make 6 normal sized pancakes so use discretion with measuring :) 

When bubbles appear in the pancakes add your chocolate chips or blueberries or whatever you are putting in them. Let cook another minute. 

Flip and cook for two to three more minutes. 

Dish out and "cover" with butter. 

Then syrup. Although I should point out that this is a my sized portion of syrup. My husband uses about three times as much. And drinks the extra. *shudders*

If you aren't feeling as healthy, replace the honey with 2 tbsp. sugar; add the sugar to the dry ingredients. And you can use a cup of all-purpose flour in place of the oats and whole wheat flour. The pancakes will be firmer this way. I personally prefer the slightly nutty taste from the whole wheat and oatmeal.  And I feel better about eating them multiple times a week too! 

These freeze and rewarm famously! All this pancake talk has me wanting pancakes so I warmed some up in the oven. I will not tell you what time of night it is in Kentucky as I'm eating pancakes. That would be embarrassing. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Favorites

Right now, as you are reading this (at least if it's after noon), I am out of town on a getaway with the hubby! 

Think DollyWood. I LOVE roller coasters and I intend to ride some. (I did mention we were going alone, right??)  

And we're eating at Outback. I also love bloomin' onions! I intend to eat one. Well, maybe I'll let my husband eat some of it too. :) 

We haven't left overnight since before we had Micah. We've had several trips semi-planned and usually Micah has gotten sick. Once we canceled for a work emergency for Justin. (And no, going to the hospital to have Kevin did not count.) I'm excited to go with just the hubby but I'm a little nervous leaving my baby too! Micah won't even notice we're gone because he'll be having so much fun! 

Marriage is important. I want to keep our marriage a priority. I want our children to know our marriage is a priority. And if that means I have to suffer through food and amusement parks, I'll try to manage! 

You'll see pictures later! Any of you ever been to DollyWood?

(And I seem to have a parenthesis problem.)

Also, I was called to jury duty. Unfortunately I won't be able to complete this because of a childcare issue but I would be honored to. We are fortunate to live in a nation where we are allowed trials and trials by our peers. God bless America! 

And for your viewing entertainment...

And last but not least....Happy Birthday to my Daddy!! Your card is in the mail :) 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Live in the Yeses (Yes's?...Yes(s)?..never mind)

Occasionally I met people who are all about their standards. "We don't do _______."  "We don't ________________." It doesn't matter what it is, they probably don't do it! And they are probably going to tell you all about it too. I run far, far away when I see those people. Or at least hide behind something. Usually there's a kid hanging out and they see me anyway. 

You try hiding with two kids, a purse, and a diaper bag. That's like four people by squeeze mouse standards. Or sardines, as I learned it's called in most places. Anywho back to the story. 

Standards are important. Wanna know what's not important? Letting everybody know what your standards are. You don't have to announce them; people are smart enough to figure them out by watching your life. Sure there are some things I don't do. There are some things you don't do. Everybody has things they don't do. Why live there? Know why you don't and then focus on what you DO. Make a big deal of what you love instead of bashing what you hate. I could be so focused on what I don't do that I miss out on doing all the things that I do.

 (Did that make sense? Read it again. Then just pretend.)

Nobody is attracted to a life of rules. No one is attracted to a Christianity of rules. Although it might be easier to have a checklist of "I don't do these" to qualify good Christians. Yes, God has standards and guidelines. He's not a suggestion God. But God gives us far more to DO than to NOT DO.
  • We are to love. It's not that we "don't hate."
  • We are to serve. It's not that we "don't seek to be served."
  • We are to share the Gospel. We aren't asked to spend time pointing out all the problems with other religions. Not that there's not a place for that. But I want to be more concerned with telling someone about Jesus than telling them why Islam is wrong and never telling them about Jesus.
  • We are to honor our bodies as God's temple. It's not that we "don't drink, smoke, or chew."
And it works beautifully. If I'm busy loving, guess what? I'm not hating. If I'm busy serving, then I'm not focusing on what others can do for me. And for that matter, it's that I wear skirts. It's not that I don't wear pants. But that's an entirely different post. (And I don't care what you wear. Really.)

I want to show my children a life of joy serving Christ. Yes, they will learn our standards but I want them to know there is far more to the Christian life! I want them to hear, "Yes, we love those people because Jesus loved them!" "Yes, we help those people because Jesus said to help them." "Yes, we take care of our bodies because it's the only one we have. Because we represent Christ. Because it's God's temple." 

Obviously with my children it's a little different. We will teach them that alcohol is bad; that immorality is bad, etc, etc. But that's not what I want other people to remember about me! Jesus did condemn the Pharisees. Jesus did clean out the temple. But that's not what most people knew about Jesus. They knew He healed. They knew He loved and cared. They knew He didn't care if you were a known sinner or a religious leader He wanted you to come to God.  He had the perfect balance between the two sides because He was God. Also it was His job to point out sin in other's lives. That's rarely my job.

I want people I meet to know that I want them to know God. That I would rather tell them what Jesus can do for them than judge them because they live with their boyfriend or drink alcohol or smoke or have tattoos.  If they will meet Jesus He can change their outside to what He wants it to be. But cleaning up the outside won't do a thing for a person when they stand before Christ one day.  What really matters is the heart.

Looking at the DO side brings me joy. Focusing on the DON'T side often leaves me feeling defeated. Which would attract you most to Christ?

(And please, this is not a call to dismiss standards; none of ours have changed. There is balance to everything. But my standards are for me and our family. I'm talking here about relating to other people. There is definitely a place for proclaiming the truth about sin, but it is rarely when meeting someone at Toddler Time or the grocery store or the doctor's office.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kitchen Experts

No, the title is not referring to me! I made a bread recipe (from Pinterest!) and learned the niftiest trick from Julia Child. She's the kitchen expert. Whenever I've shaped my bread loaves I've always had problems with them being.... unusual. I used the usual techniques of rolling the bread dough out and then rolling it up from one side to the other. Julia Child did things a little differently. 

Roll the bread dough into a rectangle. 

Fold into thirds. 

Keep folding. 

Plop into greased loaf pan. Perfectly shaped bread loaves. That was easy, wasn't it? 

I think there's a reason some people make a name for themselves in their field. Genius!