Monday, December 15, 2014

Giving Up "Enough"

Monday, December 15, 2014

Was the ninth or tenth time she asked? I don't know for sure, I lost count after the thirteenth time, or wait... three-year-olds are exhausting. I was just awake, pouring my coffee and she toddled in, "Play wifth me mommy? In da yiving yewm? Play wifth me?" I considered breakfast as I took a sip and then looked down at her huge blue eyes. I sighed to myself. Another day of giving all you've got to three kids under the age of five. I skipped breakfast and played pretend horses, plastic puppies, and markers. Yes, we play markers. They can be a family when you are three. They even talk to each other. About fruit snacks. At least, in my house they do. 

Lunch was rolling around at this point. I decided I was starving and so over playing plastic ponies. I got up and went into the kitchen and this is what I saw.


Yeah, 'cause I really want to make lunch in all of that. Inside of me was overwhelmed because I was proud, at first. Hey, I just invested three hours into my toddler. We had meaningless horse conversation of fruit snacks, monsters attacking the barn, fake sister fighting, and "Oh, no! Here come the mean plastic doggies! Hide!" I am enough as a mom, my house is secondary to my kids, after all. What is the slogan? "Excuse the mess my kids are making memories!"

We can't have a clean house AND happy kids so I have read.

I also am a bandwagon jumper on the whole idea of not competing with the Jones'. I don't have to have a perfect house because if I place up a few witty signs, when people pop in they will read them and realize I really am a terrific mom. I don't need to make bento boxes for my toddler's lunch and I certainly will not sacrifice my time to...

"Mommy play wifth me?"

I swirled around and looked at my little mini me of whom I just played with for three hours. Could she really be serious right now? She was. She handed up a Little People princess and blinked. At least, she might have blinked. My eye on the other hand did whatever that squirrel on Ice Age who constantly loses his nut does.

I looked up at my kitchen and said, "Nope, it is mommy's turn to clean the house." My girl fell to pieces on the kitchen floor. She acted as though I have abandoned her and then she crossed her arms, frowned, stuck out her big red lips and angrily said, "You are being mean ta me!"

*Insert my deep breath here.*

It was at that particular moment I decided I was done with being "enough." I was done with raising a white flag and making my kids the center of attention. They need to hear a little more "no" and my house obviously needed a little more "yes." Not because I don't love my kids. I love, love, love them. But something I want my kids to learn is I also love my house and want to be a good steward to it. I respect my husband who works to pay the mortgage on this house and I want him to feel that by cleaning it. Being a mom and finding a balance is hard but that doesn't mean I want to skimp by with complacency.

I don't want to apologize to people when they come over. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, " Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread  in summer and gathers her food in harvest."  As a S@HM, I don't have a boss who pays me and gives me a bonus for doing something well but I do have a Lord I want to please. I do want to work as hard as I can to be the Proverbs 31 woman that works before people are awake, after they are asleep, and so forth. I want to do my work for the Lord, not the Jones' and I think this is where we need to examine our hearts. Yes, let us not go above and beyond for the neighbor or the mom who looks at you crooked when you are in public. Let us work hard to please God instead, it is there where we find the reason to work harder.

The woman who says, "I am enough" stops trying. She makes reasons to not be better. She's had three kids so of course her body isn't perfect. No need to try to maintain it. I am enough. She has three kids and she puts them first. No need to stress over a clean house or sticky free windows. I am enough. She doesn't serve others because her life is enough to take care of. You can't please everyone. I am enough. She absolutely refuses to make creative lunches and snacks. She never got them as a kid and she is fine. She is enough. She doesn't need to make home made meals, she worked hard today, she is enough. If I am 100% honest, she is me.

A God's girl realizes that even though she is enough without working hard, that work done unto the Lord should be done even when people are not watching (Col 3:23). She realizes that she should cook, clean, stay healthy, serve, and be creative, just as if people were coming over but do it for God.Wait, what? Yes. God says we are enough. His gentle grace whispers, "Don't stay there."

I have quickly realized I want to please God with my hard work. My girls can still be first but they don't need to be first all of the time. I need to balance my play time with my work time. I need to maintain my home, strive for physical health, and put forth effort to surprise my kids with a fun lunch or craft. Again, not all of the time, but once and a while.

Today, my toddler and I read her Highlights magazine. We played Doc McStuffins. I taught her to pinky promise. We read Christmas themed books. It was a glorious few hours. But she knows that after that, it is mom's turn to be a steward to what God has given our family and even learns to help be a steward, too.


 
Moms, we set the tone in our homes even down to the attitude of what it takes to maintain it. There is still dust on some furniture, a few dirty dishes, and laundry to be done, but it's not going to stay that way. I pick one room a day and clean it like Jesus is coming to visit because it glorifies God to push just a little harder to be glorifying to him. When we are in a daily walk with Jesus' grace, we are indeed enough!
 
 





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Man's Best Friend ~ A Humble Wife's Story About Submission

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

 
Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands.
 
 
 A few years ago, my friend gave my daughter a guinea pig. This would be our first "family pet." We had him for a while until we realized his favorite pastime was kicking his poo all over the floor. With a newly crawling baby girl, I did not want to risk her eating the pellets. He was a lot of work and my daughter was hardly two and the pig quickly became too much work for me. We found him a good home with an elderly lady.

About a year after that, we were offered a cat. Now, my husband hates cats but allowed the adoption because he loves his girls. Anyway, a week after getting him home, we realized that he peed on everything BUT his litter. Shoes, carpet, blankets, toys... nothing could escape the wrath of this cat's pee. We returned him to where we got him.  

A while after that, my husband and I began talking about how we were done having kids and maybe a dog was a good idea. We started talking over options for a pooch and we both really wanted a German Shepard. However, an opportunity came across that we could try to adopt a free dog found on the side of the road. We knew the risk but took her in for a few days. She had eye problems and was old. My oldest named her Carol (insert a shrug here). She would bite my newly crawling daughter for no reason and was super moody. Clearly not into having kids being involved in her life. We found her an old widower who really wanted a dog, and she did well there without kids.
 
But we really wanted a dog. By "we" I really mean, I. I really wanted a dog. My husband was fine with the idea of dog ownership but wanted a more ideal situation for a dog: lots of land, older kids, a house without white carpet. I had in my mind a dog that defended their family at all costs, sat awake at night defending the girl's beds, jogged perfectly by my side, pooped in the same spot in the yard each time, never chewed on anything but it's own bone, and came in the house dry, even after being out in the rain. You know the kind.


Well, my husband did something unusual. He said, "No." Now hear me out on this one. I never really have to ask him before I make a purchase or do something. I have always honored him with my time and purchases. My husband knows my heart. He knows the girls get clothes from garage sales for .25 cents a piece. He knows I only buy things with coupons and above all else, I love Dave Ramsey. So, he trusts me and I honor him in that way.
 
Moving on! He was not the only person who told me that having a dog, in the middle of the city, in a small house, with young kids was a horrible idea. Quite a few people were saying to maybe just wait a few extra years. But I justified my need for a dog (and by need, I meant want). Don't get me wrong. I LOVE DOGS! I really do. They are a man's absolute best friend after all.
 
After all the advice from others, toppled onto my husband's response, I began to manipulate. I did not see my: sending him pictures of cute fluffy puppies for sale, following him around the house reading him descriptions of the best family pooch breeds, and asking multiple times, as being manipulative. I saw it as, "making an informed decision before making a larger purchase," and "being responsible before jumping into something permanent." But no matter how much research I did, the answer remained the same. "Not right now."
 
 




Finally, one day, I showed him a puppy and said, basically, I was going to go get our new puppy. My husband let me. I brought home a Goldendoodle and we named him Toby. If ever there is a perfect family dog, it would be a doodle and if there ever was a perfect doodle, it was this Toby. 











If there ever was a horrible time to get pregnant for your third time, it would be while trying to raise a puppy. Being pregnant exposed everything wrong with having a puppy the size of a white tail deer, in the middle of town, in a small house, with long hair, through winter, with white carpet. Of course, while having morning sickness, extreme fatigue, and sleepless nights, I simply could NOT enjoy the dog. I could not work with the dog to train him to sit, stay, roll over, pray before he eats, and not to eat full plates of food right off the table. I was over whelmed and under amused. Not to mention, he chewed all my shoes, my kids toys, and anything else he could get his "chompers" on.
 
I knew pretty quickly that I simply could not keep up. We listed him and sold him.


But wait, the plot thickens.

The family came to pick up Toby. As they loaded him up and backed out of the driveway, my husband began to ugly cry. The kind of cry where you have snot on your face and all sorts of other things happen to make your face not like it once was. As they began to back out, the woman also began to cry in her car. As they drove away, my husband, sort of, you know, followed them. It reminded me of the scene where the dad in "Beethoven" takes the huge mass of a dog to be put down for biting that cruel doctor and the kids chased the car. Yeah, it didn't go well.

You see, I sold my husbands dog. His pal who was excited to see him come home. His pal who was excited to hop up in his masters truck for a ride. A pal who loved our itty bitty girls like his own little pack. A pal who was rather fluffy and all sorts of cute. In reality, I sold my husband's friend. The next two days were really hard. John was not recovering well from my sale.

I however, was shampooing carpets, humming, and jolly.

One week later I received an email. It went something like this, paraphrased, of course, "Hi, Kirsten. I am sorry to say Toby is not doing well here. I am deathly allergic to him. Can you come take him back?" Now, the Goldendoodle breed are hypoallergenic dogs. They don't shed. I instantly knew they felt bad for my husband. I cried. I begged God, "BUT LORD, I JUST CLEANED MY CARPET!" I couldn't understand why this was happening.

A few days later we pulled in the driveway with Toby in tow. It was my turn to not recover well for a few days.

Today, I look down at this horse laying at my feet. It's snowing now in the Midwest. I can prove it. My long haired beast brings the wetness in with him every single time he goes out to relieve himself. I will not even speak about my carpet, how many pairs of mittens he has eaten, or about the fact that he is now tall enough to eat food off the table without permission. I won't tell you about how bad his farts smell, how he snores in his sleep, or how he claimed my 'chair and a half' and now no human sits there because of the residue that covers the chair. This dog I hated so much has claimed my furniture.




And my heart. He loves my kids. He loves my husband. He still loves car rides, bagels (with cream cheese) when you walk away from your plate,  and we even get along pretty well, most days. I realize now that I am stuck with this decision for the next ten or so years. Through him I have learned the most valuable lesson.


"Respect my husband." Listen to him. You see, my husband didn't tell me no because he wanted to ruin my life. He told me no because he knew exactly what would happen. He knew that we didn't have the time, space, or energy to commit. He knew that I am a huge neat freak. He knew that this wasn't the best choice for me in this season of our lives. I know that now. I know that I need to submit myself to him even when we do not agree because he really does take looking out for our family seriously.

I have learned that in submitting to my husband as the decision maker that I am honoring God. God is the head of our home above my husband. My husband respects God and humbly serves us in his leadership. He is a man I can trust to make these choices for us. A good man with a wise, kind heart. God has taught me to respect and honor my husband as the head of our home. He is teaching  me about the little things that I do that undermine his authority and the ways that I lack respect for him. God is refining me each day. Every time I look at Toby I am reminded of how I can better submit to  and support John.

God has also been teaching me about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22).

Now, if you will excuse me,  it sounds like Toby may have just eaten my Toddler's muffin.




 
 
 
 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Speaking of Ebola, Meet My Friend Stephen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Ebola, it is scary. The sickness is life threatening and it is quickly spreading through the west coast of Africa. In fact, it is easy to say Ebola is reaching more than just Africa.

  
Meet Rebecca and Stephen.
 
 
 
 
I have a few really great friends in Liberia. Their names are Stephen and his wife Rebecca. They have two biological children and three children they have taken in for shelter. We were talking about my oldest daughter being in school. I return asked him about his children who are also school-aged. His response broke me.
 
First, will you meet their kids with me?
 
Don't even say, "Aww."
 
Whatever, you will. They are adorable kids.

 

 

 

 
 

Told you, they are adorable.
 
L to R: Yonconjay Immanuel, Monconjay Joy, Harrison, and Hattie
Anyway, I was quickly informed that the kids are not able to be in school because of the out break of Ebola. I was instantly convicted with how self absorbed I truly can be. You see, we watch the news, we hear the stats, and we shut off the news and continue on with our lives. I never stopped to think (or even come close to placing myself in their shoes) how massive, life-claiming sickness effects everyone in their culture. Stephen shared with me this a few weeks back:  
 
"According to the Ministry of Health (Liberia) September 10, 2014 situation report, the number of Ebola cases in Liberia has increased greatly since the second outbreak of the deadly disease. The total cumulative suspected, probably and confirmed Ebola cases reported since the epidemic began in March is 2,415, (confirmed - 796, probably – 1,080 and suspected 539). The total number of Ebola-related deaths in Liberia is 1,307.

 The affected counties now include: Bomi-77, Bong- 179, Gbarpolu-1, Grand Bassa-46, Grand Capemount-16, Grand Gedeh-3, Lofa-698, Margibi-393, Maryland-6, Montserrado-849, Nimba 134, River Cess 1, River Gee 9, and Sinoe- 3 cases.

 Besides, the Ebola virus Liberians are also passing probably daily of other sicknesses such as high blood pressure, malaria, diabetes, etc because health workers are afraid to treat people with everyday common sicknesses. The most challenging is the deaths of pregnant women in pains who go to the hospitals to give birth and the midwives and nurses reject them because of fear that they must have contacted the Ebola virus. This has caused the deaths of many young Liberians of child bearing ages. Our health system is broken down. We really need God more than ever before to help us get this nightmare from Africa.
 
Some government employees are placed under compulsory leave to avoid crowding of people. The prices of basic commodities have increased. Likewise, transport from one place to another in the country has also increased because commercial drivers are not allowed to take more than 3 passengers on a row in their cars."
 
Think about this with me. Hospitals are refusing to care for illness that is treatable because they fear someone is contagious. A mother in labor, and her child, can die because they are not taken in. School has been shut down. Children are not learning. The rates in West Africa are rising and jobs are laying people off. This is a terrifying reality for them.
 
When I am scared for my dear friends I go to the scripture and find comfort there. I have found that God calls us to action in times of need.
 
Matthew 25:40 says this;
 
And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least
of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
 
Again in 1 John 3:17,
 
"But if anyone has the world's goods
and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him,
 how does God's love abide in him?"
 
I wonder how we, as their brothers and sisters in Christ, who live half way around the world can impact them. How can we make a difference? And does trying even matter?
 
 
Firstly, let us pray. Pray that God would heal their people and remove the disease from their land. God listens to the broken hearted. Be broken for them. Secondly, give. We hear this all of the time and we become numb to giving. But if we honestly look at what we spend money on we can find a really good way to cut spending for a short time to give more now. I quit my coffee shop trips. I won't even admit how much that saved us. If we quit just one coffee, that is $5.00. If we skipped one meal out, $20.00. You see where I am going with this.
 
Does it matter? Will it help? YES! Check this out...
 




"Many friends that I know are receiving funding from the U.S. to help respond to this Ebola outbreak. Americans are sending funds to purchase preventive materials, such as bleach, bucket with faucet, tide soap, including rice and oil. "



"A 25kg bag of rice costs $18 USD per bag, and a bucket with faucet costs $7.5 per piece, while the tide costs $ 8 per cartoon."

A bag of rice is $18.00, also equivalent to 4 lattes or 1 meal out with a family of 4.

A faucet or cleaning product, 1 coffee.

We can help. It does matter. It saves lives.







 
 
 

We can also sponsor families to receive the rice as well as home schooling materials. We can feed a family. Imagine how we would feel if we couldn't feed our children and this van showed up to say, "A family you have never met loves you and God sees you, he heard your cries for help."
 


 
 
And together, we can keep these kids educated with homeschool supplies. This supplies the learning aids they need to continue basic educational structure. This keeps them busy and occupied as well. A breath of fresh air I am certain in a time of stress.
 




 
 
 
 
 Your donation is not tax deductible, but 100% of it will go directly to a family in need. We can change the world in the name of Christ and we can pray. Pray and pray for a country who needs healing, restoration, and health. Click below to partner with us in helping them.
 
"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35
 
 

Yard Work and Heart Conditions

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees.
Hypocrites!
 For you are like whitewashed tombs—
beautiful on the outside
but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.  
Outwardly you look like righteous people,
but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness."
 Matthew 23:27-28 NLT
 
 
Today as the crisp and beautiful fall air was blowing I decided that today might be the last warm-ish day in the Midwest. I gathered my outdoor tools and began to cut hydrangeas and rake up the leaves that covered the front lawn. I worked hard. I was sweaty. I was sore and really, really tired when all was said and done. I walked around and looked at the back yard and said, "Meh, it can wait, no one will see it anyway."
 
 
 
 
Before I could put away all of my lawn care items I was convicted. 
 
See, it was a good day. At least, it was after a recovery from my two-year-old deciding to take the dog for  a walk without a leash and by herself.  She wanted a pile of leaves and then changed her mind without telling me. But that is besides the point. AFTER all that drama, it was a good day. Even still, God caught me while I did my home ownership duties.
 
I began to wonder about our own lives. Much like my attitude to my lawn, no one sees the back, but the front, no- the front must be spiffy. Is this my life? The outside must look spiffy even if the parts of me no one can see are a mess.
 
Psalm 51:6 says, "Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part you will make me know wisdom." Time and time again the word reminds us to check our self at the door. "Before you open your mouth, check out what is in your eyeball there." That, of course, was my own paraphrase of Matthew 7:5. Jesus also goes as far as say in Matthew 28 that if you think in your head about a woman you might as well have slept with her, because he judges it the same. Again, my own paraphrase.
 
See what he did there? He says, "I see what you do behind closed doors, I see your heart, the things you hide, and you might as well be public about it." However, God loves us, even in our mess. He came for the mess, the sick, the hidden, the yuck. He died for that. The broken, bruised, and burdened. 
 
Much like my back yard, I had to really examine my life at that moment. Is my private life lining up with scripture? What I say, is that what I do? What I do, is that what I say? Is my public Kirsten matching up with my private Kirsten?
 
1 Samuel 16:7 says it like it is, "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at the way he looks on the outside or how tall he is, because I have not chosen him. For the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. A man looks at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” We try so hard to have our houses in order, our bodies in shape, and our worship deeds public. Who does not envy the put together person?
 
We love that dad, so devoted to his kids and his wife. We don't see an addiction to porn or anger.
We love that mom. So thin, energetic, and crafty. We don't see her battle with an eating disorder.
We love that family member. Their new car, their new house, their new, thing. We don't see the battle with debt. Instead of supporting each other in the hard secrets, we are supporting these false ideas we have of each other in our perfection. Community with other believers is essential in maintaining a realistic vision of our self. Even more so, a relationship lived in submission and constant repentance will keep your dirtiest parts of you open with God.
 
Oh, this is painfully hard. Our earthly bodies want so badly to be strong, dedicated, and put together on our own. Most of all, we want our efforts to be noticed. When we begin to know Christ, we have to admit that apart from him, we are nothing more than a messy back yard full of  molding leaves and massive Goldendoodle poops waiting to be squashed into the bottom of God's shoe. It's humbling. So badly we crave that God would use the front, freshly painted, churched, showered, and Bible read front door. We never want him to walk in on us as we are scraping up the mess from our lives and off the bottom of our shoes. We panic at the thought that God might enter in as we are in that messy place and we scatter trying to find that excuse for being there, again.
 
The beauty of this truth is in the fact that God came for you. God came for me. Like the woman at the well, the dead girl in bed, Lazarus, and the blind man-- these are the few examples of the painful places that he went to get them. He sought them out there and said, "I got this." I can only imagine the mom of that little girl. Jesus is walking into her home to save the life of her child. I doubt she cared much about if her house smelled okay, or if she made the bed today, and if her clothes matched. I bet she was beside herself that her daughter was coming back to her again and believed that Jesus was about to do something great. He does not want us to hide our mess and be perfect before we go to him. He wants us right now, right here, just as we are!
 
Let us be like that with God. Let us open our person regardless of what is in there and say, "God, take it. Take me. Help me do this over. Thank you for loving me despite all of this decay I hide. Make me prettier on the inside in your sight." He sees our hidden parts and the beauty about it all is that he wants to take your pain from you so you can live whole, so you can be made new, and shine his glory. Instead of our lives saying, "Oh-oh-oh, don't mind the mess I haven't gotten there yet..." God can make our mess speak for him. Our mess can say to the world, "Look where I was, look where God brought me. He wants that for you, too."
 
Will I clean up my back yard tomorrow? Nope. Nope I won't. After a full day outside, the inside of my home could use some cleaning up. This may also be true to the inside of me at the same time.
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet My Friend Dawn!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hello all! I love to feature my friends here when they have something amazing to say. Dawn has been a long time friend. She sells 31, does the pastor wife thing, pulls a full time job, and is a mom. Not to mention is a great writer. Let us all encourage HER to start blogging! Thank you Dawn for letting us inside your head and sharing your heart with us!

In October of 2009, Dawn wrote this. A second child later, these words are remain truth. I hope this can speak to you all in some way.



What does Motherhood mean to me?
Wow – that question spawns so many topics…how am I supposed to keep this to 300 words? Well, here it goes. First, some background about my journey to become a mommy…

Before my precious Zoe was born, it was 8 long years of my husband Chris and I trying to conceive, miscarrying once and then trying to get pregnant again. Those years were full of the pain of loss, attending and organizing countless baby showers that I wished were mine, but weren’t, and at least 100 negative pregnancy tests. We were aching to be pregnant. It was as if we were “constipated with love” to pour out on a child. Though we were frustrated, angry and confused (why isn’t this happening for us?), that time in our lives helped to prepare us for what was to come, and brought us closer together than ever before. We never gave up hope that God would send us our little one.

On Friday, August 8th, 2008 (yes, 8/8/08!) our dream came true. I decided to take the last pregnancy test in the box and vowed that if this wasn’t positive, I wasn’t going to buy any more for a while. Negative results were too painful. I remember trembling as I brought the positive pee-filled stick over to show Chris and we held each other and cried.

My pregnancy was happy, healthy and blissful….even during my first and last trimester when I spent nearly every night on my knees before the porcelain throne – I thanked God for my little girl and knew she was worth every heave. Those months were filled with such busyness – our baby showers (finally!) and the transformation of the guest room which now would become the long-awaited nursery.

Zoe Elaine was born on April 7, 2009. It was one of the happiest days of my life. The instant I saw her I was in love. She was (and is) so beautiful and healthy. She brings so much joy to our lives.

Which brings me back to the question at the top of this essay…for me, Motherhood is…the highest of callings. It's the total denial of oneself. It’s falling asleep in the chair while breast-pumping at 2 AM (yes, I’m guilty). It’s taking the time to pack and unpack the diaper bag – day after day. It’s about being willing to be spit up on and pooped on. It’s about taking time for the little details – changing loads of diapers and sucking boogers with the bulb syringe. It’s about sacrificing my wants and needs and tending to hers. And…it’s being willing to do it all over again if needed. Motherhood is having a love so deep and intense for someone else that it is (almost) physically painful. Before becoming a mommy, I had never experienced anything like it.

I am looking forward to more additions to our family. But for now, I am going to enjoy every moment the first time around. I am looking forward to more baby giggles, more holidays and more "firsts". No matter how many twists and turns on this road called Motherhood, I’m determined to enjoy the scenery
.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pepper Steak

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Check out my mom's blog for more amazing recipes. I grew up on this and still love it today. As a mom, to be able to toss something into a crock pot in the morning and then simply leave it until dinner is a life saver. Takes the stress out of the 4:30 P.M. time frame when you realize you have forgotten to even think about making something. Try this out sometime. You will not regret it!

1 1/2-2 pounds round steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cups hot water
pan drippings
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1-16 ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 green peppers cut into thin strips
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
cooked noodles or rice

Brown steak in oil. Transfer to crock pot. Add water to pan and stir up pan drippings. Combine next seven ingredients with water; pour over beef. Cook on low 6 hours. Add tomatoes and peppers. Cook 2 hours longer or until peppers are soft. Combine water and cornstarch. Stir into liquid in crock pot. Serve over noodles or rice.


No Bakes

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fast, easy, and tasty. Grab some tums or maybe something for insulin. You will get either heart burn or diabetes but you can't stop yourself from eating these anyway! Thank you to my mom for the recipe!





Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

4 cups sugar
12 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 stick butter
1 cup milk

Mix and boil in a Dutch oven until sugar is dissolved. Add:

6 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
2 cups coconut

Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper and let cool.

No Cold Animals

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This is just a fun post for me and this little giraffe is adorable. My oldest was concerned that her animal friend was cold so I whipped this up for her. Pretty soon all the stuffed animals were out of the toy box and in a line. It is a great way to use up scrap yarn that is for sure! Enjoy, and hopefully this makes you smile as much as it did me!
Pay no mind to the cowboy boot, Frozen DVD and whatnot in my background!

Burbon Chicken

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another fast and easy family favorite. The credit goes to the internet    and is for sure in our food rotation. This dish is fast, spicy, and filling. Five stars from us! Note: Named from a cook who worked in a restaurant on Bourbon St. There is not any actual bourbon in the recipe. :)


Ingredients:
2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1-2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove 
1/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (cut back if you don't like spice!)  
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbs ketchup 
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce                                                                                       
        

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet, add chicken and cook until lightly browned then remove. 

Add remaining ingredients over medium heat until well mixed and brown sugar is resolved. 

Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve over hot rice with a side of steamed veggies (we do broccoli)! Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                    

                       

Just In Case You Noticed

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Last week, in order to become a more dedicated "blogger," I did something that was probably considered strange.

I went on my Facebook account and I created a page specifically for my blog and then proceeded to delete all of my "friends" off of my friends list. Only my family and "might as well be family" remained.

I was feeling like I made the correct decision until I received a message. The little red notification popped up and I thought, "Yay! My grandma must need help with her printer." I was a bit off-taken when I read, "I noticed you must have unintentionally deleted me off your account. No, you must have intentionally done it. That's fine, I understand, I just wanted you to know that I noticed."

Tears flooded my eyes. Not the kind where you think, "Oh no, I have hurt someone." They were the tears of, "How dare you!" I took a big breath, and responded gracefully. After stewing over if for the day, I realized, "I have not prayed about this!" So I did.

"God, my heart is wounded. I am doing what you asked and am being lashed out at for it. It wasn't personal to any of my friends. Lord, Facebook is my idol. I waste my time on it more than I live for you. I scorn and envy and compare. My life is full of jealousy and anger because I can't get off of there! I never meant to hurt anyone. Now I am angry and frustrated. Please bring me peace and comfort. Confirm in me the plans you have for me in your word (Jer. 29:11). Soften my heart. Explain to me what that may have meant in light of my choices to serve you."

Now see, on the outside, my family really seems to have it all. We follow Dave Ramsey, we go to church, my husband doesn't yell at me, my 2.5 children are healthy, we have two mostly rust free cars, we give to others, and our home has a Bible verse hung in each room that our perfectly fluffy goldendoodle follows me around in. It looks great.

But on the inside of me, I am a sinner. I am a person in need of redemption. I struggle. For me, Facebook amplified that struggle.  I would log on to see all the cool things my friends were doing. Hikes, home improvements, new purchases, the flowers for their anniversary, something their husband built, a big move, an accomplishment their child has done, and a vacation they took with perfect scenic pictures to prove it. An hour later I would still be browsing at that check in at the local coffee shop with a friend, or that retreat with their group of friends, or that...  yep. There goes my heart and my attitude.

"Must be nice to get a new car, again." was my thought. What I should have been focusing on is, "Thank you Lord for my two very reliable cars in the garage that are paid for." "I want a kitchen like hers," should really be, "Lord, we have a kitchen full of food. I am so grateful." The worst, "She looks so much better than me after five kids than I look after just three." Where was all this coming from? My rotten heart condition.

I realized that I cared more about the opinions of people who do not know anything about me more than I cared about the opinion of the one who created me just the way he wants me to be in the very situation I am in.

You see, I wanted to compete with that. I wanted to keep up with the Jones'. "Nice minivan soccer mom, look at my TAHOE!" Friends, that is sin. That is my sin.

In order to please the Lord he says in Matthew 5:29 (NLT), "So if your eye--even your good eye--causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

I had to make a change in order to be able to stand in front of God. My private sin had to be taken care of and that meant social media needed to be weeded out. God wants all of our being to glorify him. If we Christians want to rain the glory of God through out the world, we need to have his glory in every fiber of our body. Even in our secrets, no, especially in our secrets. God knows the condition of our hearts, even if we hide it. God goes there without an invitation and he sees past the way we try to justify having sin there.

So, if any of the rest of you noticed that you are no longer on my account, you are hopefully on my blog fan page. Let me tell you what is amazing about all of this for me.

My conversations used to consist of, "I saw on Facebook that you..." In the middle of a long talk the phrase, "Oh, yeah, I saw that on Facebook!"  What a killer! The topic would end there. "Oh, you already know." Genuine conversation cannot be had when you already know what is to be said! For me, a contact list in your phone is so much more important that a friends list on your screen.

My dear friends, I love you. I love you all. I want you in my life, but I want you in my life so I can be having genuine conversation with you. I want to be happy for your new houses, cars, and children's accomplishments. I want to see your beautiful anniversary flowers. However, I want to see them IN your house. I want you to come visit me in mine. I want to bump into you at the grocery store and I want to say, "How have you been?" and I really, really want to mean it. Because right now when I ask you, I get the run down of your news feed over the last week. That's not genuine. That's public.

This is true for me and in need of repentance before my Savior. Maybe your convictions are not the same here because this isn't your sin to carry, but I know for me personally, I'd rather ditch social media than risk my witness of Christ working through me.

Maybe you are no longer on my friends list but you still are my beautiful friends that I trust to carry my baggage and do life with me. So if you want to know what I have been up to, call me and ask. You will be surprised because you won't have generically read it voiced on a public forum. If you want to hear about my five year old who is teaching herself how to play a poorly tuned guitar via YouTube, then we can meet at the park and let the kids play while we chat. Even better, if you want to know about how the basement remodel is coming or what color I painted my kitchen, come over to my house. I will brew a pot of coffee and show you around.
 
Titus 1:8, "But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined."




Monday, September 22, 2014

Meet My Pal Nicole!

Monday, September 22, 2014


 
She is a strong, encouraging woman of faith with a blog that can be found here.

Nicole emailed me this fantastic post and asked me to share it! Thank you Nicole for sharing your thoughts with us!

 
 
 
My little guy started 4K this week.  He’s been so excited about school for so many years and it was finally his turn to go.  He loved every minute of the first day and couldn’t wait to go back for more the next day.  On his second day I had to work in the afternoon and the kids would need to be at the babysitter’s until family could pick them up.  I had Tater ride the bus from school to the sitter’s house.  Unbeknownst to him I watched him get on the bus from the school parking lot and then drove to the sitter’s and watched him get off safely.  (I did have to blow my cover at this point since he left his backpack on the bus!)  I gave him a squeeze and he stayed with our sitter for the very first time.  They had only met briefly about 10 days beforehand but he was excited to play!  After I got to work a few hours later I was sent this picture of Nathan zonked out on our sitter’s lap:


Photo: One reason I love babysitting! Cuddled up and fast asleep within seconds, he had FUN at school today!


Tater’s peace and tranquility got me thinking.  Trust.  Look at the amount of trust that he was able to place in our brand new babysitter.  He had met and spoken with her for a total of five minutes before the day he hopped on a bus and went to her house for the afternoon.  Yet he still was able to lay down on her lap and snuggle in for a nice nap without any hesitation.


I went through my day and counted multiple times that I have to put my trust in someone or something else.  The alarm clock, the other drivers on the road, my coworkers, my husband, my kids, my family, friends and often complete strangers.  Think about a trip to the grocery store.  You get in your car and trust that all of the drivers around you will follow the rules of the road, stopping when they need to and staying in their own lanes.  Without trust in them you wouldn’t be able to get to the store.  Driving is a constant trust in complete strangers.


How is it that we can so easily put our trust in someone, even someone we don’t even know?  If we’re able to trust so many people throughout the course of the day, are we putting our trust in God too?  Often God is the hardest for us to trust.  His paths for our life often don’t line up with our ideas and this is when it’s most important to trust.  Jeremiah 29:11 says “”For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.””


He has created a plan for you, a plan that is good and a plan that will help further His Kingdom.  Although it may be hard to understand, we do need to follow.  I have found in the darkest of times, when I feel that I have been given the wrong path and it’s hardest to trust in Him, I come out of the darkness into a light beyond anything I could have expected.  The blessings abound on the other side of the struggle.  The only way to get through is to trust in Him.  


Dear God, please allow us to give our hearts to you.  To give you our complete trust, knowing that the path you have set for us is one that is good and true to your kingdom.  Help us to follow you with an open heart to accept any challenges that might face us, knowing that there are blessings on the other side.  With our praises, Amen!


I hope that you will be able to put your full trust in God just as you’re able to do with so many others during the course of a day.  Let him be your snuggle spot when you get tired!
 
Nicole
 

That is such a truth there. The best thing we can do when we are weary and heavy laden is to go to our Father and rest there! Thank you for a great reminder here, Nicole!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Toddler Teach Me Moment #1

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I had what I like to call a "toddler teach me" moment a while back. You know the kind, where you try to teach your toddler something and end up learning something yourself.

 I'm even going to get real with you. I was just shy of 8 months pregnant and it was a daily battle to feel beautiful, especially when even your maternity clothes are just a little too tight,  you carry around a few extra stretch marks, 60 extra lbs, and your face has more hormonal acne than skin cells. This is not to even mention as a mom, you have to schedule in your showers and don't even get me started on shaving over the beastly belly!

My oldest asked if she could, "do me up" one day and I agreed. I fully believed that it couldn't get much worse but let me tell you, it could. My second daughter also got in on the action with a little shimmer eye shadow and enough lipstick to paint a barn.

I thought I would use that moment to teach my daughter that it isn't what is on the outside that counts. That no matter how much purple shadow she had on, if she had a bitter, icky, unforgiving heart then she was still ugly. I continued on with the fact that no matter how much makeup she put on, underneath, she was still "Gracie" just like I, five solid shades darker than normal, was still "muh-muh." But the more I spoke to her, the angrier I got. Probably because I didn't believe a word of it.


After my fingernails.. er.. fingertips..all got layers of different colored polish, she decided she was going to watch a movie. I used this opportunity to baby wipe my face off. As I stood there in the bathroom removing the only tan I have ever had, God started to pull at my heart strings.

Moms, we're beautiful and I'm going to tell you why.

Because when you have kids, you become humble.. and that is "precious in the sight of God." I'll tell you something.. My mom is beautiful. I've never seen her in make up. I have never seen her in anything other than a turtle neck, my dads hoodie, and faded jeans from 15 years ago. But to me, she's even more beautiful than the woman wearing skinnies, perfectly curled hair, and barn red lips. Because my mom is humble. She's the real deal. My mom will have the flu and still make you pancakes. My mom is a servant and is always last.

That's Jesus, and we call him "beautiful."

The second baby wipe took off that bronzer to reveal my red dots, pasty, ten pounds rounder face and I stared at myself for a good minute.  I became overcome with the junk that I carried. The make up I don't have the time to wear couldn't cover the shame in my heart . My insecurity to the marks that no one will even see. I prayed that God would release me. To be joyful and whole. To rejoice in the work he is doing in the lives of his moms.

We have so much more to focus on than how tan we are or if after baby three can we still wear those jeans from ten years ago (dont lie, we all have that one pair we "might get to wear someday" at the bottom of the stack...)

But what God finds beautiful, more than our ability to wake up at 5:30 A.M. and paint ourself (and believe me, I am a firm believer in getting done up to attract your spouse- but thats another post.. I'm also not condoning being sloppy but I am trying to promote realistic beauty.) He wants us to us to have a gentle & quiet spirit, a humble heart.

He gives us moms kids, less time, and more responsibility, to learn to be last. Because moms are beautiful in their lastness. Because the mom who has flour in her hair, take out after work, and who settles down after a long day and thinks.. "Did I even brush my teeth today?" is learning to be like Jesus.

And as my fifth baby wipe hit the counter and I reached for the polish remover, I decided, "No, actually, I like my ten different colored nails and I'm keeping them." They remind me that what is beautiful is how I serve my kids and my husband. That the inperfection of toddler painted nails, is much like Gods work in our life. Hes not going to quit perfecting us until our last breath. And he has a head start on his moms.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup

Monday, June 30, 2014

This is a recipe that speaks for itself. It is a soup that is filling, yet at the same time, light. When you feel sick or even on a "blah" day, you want to feel nourished but you really do not want to feel full. This meal is fast, easy, and just that. Enjoy!



2 quarts water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
6 1/2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2-3 cups cooked chicken
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
Parsley
Boil chicken until done completely and shred. (I bake mine because it retains the moisture.)

Bring water and bouillon to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add noodles; cook until tender. Do not drain. Add soup and chicken; heat through. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream. Sprinkle with parsley.

That easy, and equally as comforting!

Lets Be Biblical About This

Monday, June 30, 2014

 
Seriously, Facebook has a new trend where people are sharing their opinions via "memes." A few of them are really good, a few of them are funny, and a few of them drive me completely insane! I say this humbly, because sometimes I say, "Yeah, no kidding." But then the Lord convicts me that we share these things and they are not even true and mostly flat out unbiblical in their standards. It's subliminal but we as Christ followers really need to be watching what we think is funny or "deep."
 
The truth is, we represent Christ all the time. At least, we should be. Think about these things a little bit. Here are a few examples that sound good but really are not.
 

 
1 Corinthians 1:31
Therefore, as the Scriptures say, "If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD."
 


Happiness is when you find who you are in Christ without looking to yourself to feel good enough. Other's approval isn't needed, neither is ours. God approves of those who trust in Him and that alone should bring us true joy. We are forgiven without need to flaunt off our feelings for ourselves. Bring Him glory, not yourself.

  
  Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you,
 will continue his work until it is finally finished
 on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
 


Sometimes sorry is enough. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We did not have to change first. We are all a work in progress and we need to remember that all of us should work on changing ourselves.
 
I understand here that we like to see change once someone apologizes. However, we need to avoid the trap that they need to meet our standards of change before we love and accept them. Change could happen. Maybe not over night, maybe never. But we should love without boundaries even to death when people do not deserve it.
 
 
John 8:7
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them,
 He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

 
Oh gosh where do I start? Yes, lets nail a man's sin to a sign and publically humiliate him. In fact, why don't we do it with all of us. "Promiscuous," "Porn Addict," "Drunk," "Druggie," "Emotional Eater," "Arrogant," "Judgmental," "Bitter." We would ALL have something staked out front. Though the idea begins with keeping everyone safe, it puts this man in the position of, "Your sin is worse than mine and I don't care about details or if God can forgive you, he forgave me. Stand humiliated."
 
This is like when an angry mob stood to stone a woman. Lets publicly humiliate this woman. Jesus stood between them and said, "Go ahead. Whoever hasn't sinned, toss yours first." I believe Jesus would stand between this sign and this man saying the very same thing. "Go ahead, post the stake. Only if you cannot post one of your own."
 
How about we give them a chance to stand forgiven? Loved? Accepted? God does. He died for them too. Take the sign down. Get to know the guy instead. All sin nailed God to a cross. Not just everyone else's. Even yours, even mine. 
 
 
 
1 Timothy 3:5
 For if a man cannot manage his own household,
how can he take care of God’s church?
 


Or, maybe because you are the parent and need to make better choices for your family? Yes, lets blame the system. Here is a thought, why not cook at home? Lets not eat out twice a day and be upset with a restaurant that has really unhealthy food. Water at home is free but I am sure we have soft drinks in our refrigerators. Salad is healthy but I am sure we make dishes with a stick of butter or two. Lets make a picture about that. This frustrates me because instead of taking responsibility we again pass blame. "This is your fault our kids are unhealthy." It has nothing to do with what they eat in the morning (Captain Crunch/Pop Tarts anyone?) and nothing to do that we all work harder to make a paycheck and decide to make eating out a regular habit. I believe as women, working outside of the home or not, it is so biblical to make sure our family is taken care of at home. This means extra effort to make healthy choices FOR our kids even if it means extra work in planning healthy alternatives. This means getting our kids off their electronics and out for a walk and making freezer meals ahead of time if your weeks get busy. We parents have to make the choices that teach our kids how to make theirs. It starts with us, not the restaurant. Let us own up to our parenting and be the best leaders in our homes that we can even down to our food.


1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink,
 or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God.

 
 
Let's give to give God glory for changing our lives and making us generous. Not because of how it made us feel or makes other feel. For God. Not because of what we will get from being generous but simply to give because we love God. We are actually supposed to give in private to avoid self glorification. This makes giving about us when it's clearly not.
 
 
Psalm 64:2-3
Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.

 
 
This screams, "I love drama but don't want you to think I do." These kinds of posts are arrows that slander people without calling out people by name. That's drama. Ladies, lets be uplifting and kind. Things that sound like this are not uplifting or kind. They bring out a negative vibe and make you look foolish. If we really are adults, even more so, Christian women, who have kids to take care of, a house to clean, and a life to live, we certainly wouldn't have the time to click "share" on a meme like this.

 
 
Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.


We aren't afraid of making our kids mad. It's biblical not to. I get it. We need to rise up and be parents. However, we need to be careful about crossing a line where we become a chauvinistic parent. We can certainly raise, discipline, and nurture without provoking our children. We don't want to discourage our kids, we want to raise our kids. You can actually be your children's friend and parent at the same time if you make sure to instruct first, be a friend second. In fact, define friend.

Friend: "somebody emotionally close: somebody who trusts and is fond of another." Heck yes I want to be my daughter's friend. In fact, my three girl's best friend.

They will "get over" it? The way in which we parent our children sticks with them for the rest of their lives. Instead, parent better by being a better example. Parent with calmness, scripture, and prayer. Maybe instead this should say:

All parents need to learn to be a Godly parent
not a fraternity sibling.
Quit being afraid to challenge your kids to rise above.
 
They'll thank you for it.
 
 
Friends, lets really look into each thing we see and post. People are watching us, expecting us to have changed hearts, attitudes, and minds. What we agree with is a reflection of our lives. Let's make a direct statement without sarcastic memes.
 

 
 
 
 

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