Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sharing the Easter story with Children...through cookies!

The Easter Story Cookies

To be made the evening before Easter.

You need:

1 cup whole pecans

1 tsp. vinegar

3 egg whites

pinch salt

1 cup sugar

zipper baggie

wooden spoon


A Bible

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees. This is important! Don't wait until you'rehalf done with the recipe!

2) Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

3) Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

4) Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

5) Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing.

6) Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaksare formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isa. 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

7) Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.

8) Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain thatJesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt. 27:65-66.

NOW GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

9) On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter, Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matt. 28:1-9

*My MIL emailed this to me this morning. I haven't attempted the cookies, myself, but, the chemistry seems right :) What a precious idea for your older children who love to help out in the kitchen. I can't wait to try this with Ava someday!*


The "things" in our yard continue to grow. Still no idea what they are... but, it will be exciting to finally see for ourselves. I'm leaning toward daffodils now. Every day Ava and I walk to the fence line to check the situation.

There's other growth going on around here, as well. In the next day or two I'm hoping to post about the women's retreat I attended last weekend - "Proclamation!". I was so challenged with how much (or how little) I share Christ with people. I'll be giving you some points from our speakers sessions and I'm eager for your ideas and input on how you share Christ with a lost world.

And, besides the two above mentioned items...
Ava is changing and growing, my marriage is changing and growing, our ministry is changing and growing. Spring has sprung indeed! So much to write about... but so little time to just live it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday

Wow, now that Monday is almost over....

The weather in my neck of the woods: SUNNY and warming up! I heard a rumor of maybe getting to 80 this week!

One of my simple pleasures: washing and folding laundry... I love making things clean!

On my bedside table: Little Women, still.

On my TV: My hubby asked if we could finish "Pride and Prejudice", yea!

On the menu for tonight: We had a youth leaders dinner/meeting - so, lasagna, salad, baked ravioli with marinara sauce, brushetta and...orea bon-bons! Yea, we are never short on food on these nights! (Thank you Jessamyn, Amalie & Terase!)

On my To Do List: Finish Laundry leftover from today, finish trim in kitchen, finish tax prep (uuughhh)

New Recipe I tried last week: White Chili

In the craft basket: Not one thing. Tho, I will be making the Easter baskets in the next few days :)

Looking forward to: The park tomorrow morning with friends and their kiddos!

Homemaking Tip for this week: Wood Soap cleans MORE then wood... and it smells so good! Today I scrubbed down my white trash can with it - and it was sparkling clean and made the house smell wonderful!

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other): "mmmm" really caught my attention today! See why for yourself. I think I gained 5 pounds just reading! Amy - keep those recipes coming!

Favorite photo from last week:
Ava loves all things animal, and the neighbors dog is no exception!

Lesson learned the past few days: Parenting cannot be done without the Lord. 'nuff said.
On my Prayer List: Friends battling with marital issues, those who have lost precious babies... and little baby Rilyn Mason Vrooman born last week - recovering from surgery.
Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses: I'm reading through "Idols of the Heart" with my friend challenging about what we worship.

Just when you think you've got it alllll figured out

Hmph! Whiiiiiine. Scowl. Kick. Whiiiiiine more. Flail. Screeeeech. Shall I continue?
This has been my daughters behavior the last few days. And, to be totally honest... I hate it. I hate seeing sin pour out of my little one and dispise the fact that I feel like I am just one big giant disciplining machine. I want to be the "rocking mommy" that holds her and loves her. I want to be the "read me a book" mommy or the "tickle me" mommy, NOT the... "do you need ANOTHER spanking" mommy. {insert sad face}

The thing is... I knew it was coming. I knew the food throwing, screeching in church nursery, causing self to go limp in public while melting down was all coming. But, in the back of my heart I had a teeny tiny notion that maybe... it wouldn't. Some kids just don't have that stage. As a preschool teacher - I saw quite a few who didn't... at least, at school. ;)

So, enter the next stage of life. Toddler-hood. {applause, applause}

Every time I look at her this thought comes to mind.... "I can discipline now and have her be angry at me now but love me later for it, or, I can avoid discipline now, have her love me now and HATE me later". Sound biblical? It is. Now I just need that knowledge to make its way to my heart. Especially today.
(that is not my kiddo... for the record... our pics would never look so nice)

Friday, March 26, 2010

This could go either way...

In just a few hours I am heading out for a women's retreat - put on by our church. This years theme is...
Do you see what the topic is? "Proclamation!" - or, to say it another way, EVANGELISM. What is my deal with feeling a nervous lump form in the back of my throat? It's been building the last few hours as the clock ticks closer to arrival time. I've even felt sweaty palms and freezing cold feet off and on just thinking about it.
Want to hear a confession? While I'm passionate about my Jesus and my walk with Him... sometimes sharing Him with a lost world that will probably reject the message or possibly even redicule me has always been tough. There I said it. Truth be told - God already knows this about me, and I am pretty sure thats why my nerves are slightly on end and I feel my defenses going up. He knows my selfishness and pride that more often then not take the place of tackling an opportunity. Don't get me wrong - I'm open to sharing, I want to share and I know its part of my high calling... I'm just learning to get over myself and care more for what GOD thinks, not man. Gasp! I've always been accused of being, "too honest".
So, this weekend could go either way. I'm silently pleading with the Lord to really challenge me and TEACH me, to remove distractions (aka: my sick-at-home hubby taking care of our child alone) and show me how to really LOVE people. It's been too long since I've led someone to the Lord - to my shame, and... I want to dig my heels in for Christ and be bold for Him! I have a street full of neighbors who NEED this truth, family members who need it, teens in the youth group who need it...
I am so thankful for my relationship with the all-knowing KING of KINGS. I'm thankful that He knows and understands me and little by little tears down my walls and defenses - rendering me totally and wonderfully dependant on Him. And I'm thankful for these reminders...
Psalm 56:11
"In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"
Romans 8:31-39
31 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “ For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I {heart} Target

Did you get your FREE pastry from Starbucks this morning? I love free...especially when it involves a certain crumble topped blueberry muffin. :) Now that I'm completely over my calorie count for the day...

I really enjoy Target. I almost always find amazing deals on things I need... and, almost always walk out with something I wasn't planning to buy...but did. I know that's not the best model for saving money - but, I will say, its usually always something we WILL need eventually. See, I can justify anything! Today was no exception. Wanna see?

I found an adorable pair of lined blue pants for Ava... for $1.75! That's less then some of the things at our local Salvation Army! They had two pair of 24 month pants left and I snatched one for this winter. Score! They really are cute - Here's an attempted pic.

A few rows later I came upon an overwhelming display of super discounted granola/trail mix bars. I didn't think anything of it until I saw that famous orange sticker. Upon closer inpsection (and a double take) I saw the price... .48! So, I grabbed several boxes. These "trial size" bars are perfect for hubby's lunch, afternoon snacks or breakfast on the run. And, at under .50/box - we can do that!
Besides these "extra's" I found along the way - I managed to find a birthday gift (a GOOD one) for under $5 for my niece - which, was the point of heading to Target. I can always find a deal! This challenge of finding deals has become a little addicting to me. :)

Otherwise in life - playgroup was today at church. Ava always enjoys hanging out with the guys. And by guys, I'm being literal. She's always outnumbered and today was no exception. Look at how cute these kids are...

They piled themselves into these cubbies without our prompting. :)
This is the future! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

My brain is going to explode

Well, that's a pleasant title, eh?

But, it IS how I feel. I'm learning so much right now {and all at once}... about faith, God's provision, theology and sound doctrine, how to be a wife, how to mother a daughter, roles and responsibilities... the list goes on and on.

This last week I was bowled over with two specific acts of kindness and generosity. Just completely left with head spinning and overwhelmed. And, maybe I shouldn't be... because these things DO happen all the time - but, they just especially touched my heart and left me challenged.

See this gathering of shoes....
Ava was in a big need of shoes. We had a pair or two of sandals for this summer...but, I could NOT find affordable black dress shoes or "get dirty" tennis shoes anywhere. {why exactly are baby shoes $13-15 dollars, again?!} Anyway, a friend sent this bag o' baby girl shoes home with Brad one day last week. I had only mentioned my frustration of shoe shopping in passing... but she took it and ran with it. I was completely overwhelmed with her generosity and thoughtfulness! Ava's shoe collection has been filled. Another need met. Praise the Lord! The humbling part of it is... I had this little secret half fear/half stress in the back of my heart of this need for my girl, but, I hadn't even gotten to start praying about it yet. And... as always... my God provides!

Story #2 - I'm a pastors wife. Pastors wives, generally, and their children arrive at church separately from the pastor. And in our case... this is true. Brad leaves for church about 30 minutes before we do. So that leaves me the glorious responsibility of not only getting myself fed, clothed and readied...but, a little Ava girl, too. Not to mention that before both of those things we fed, clothed and readied pastor daddy ;) Anyway, sometimes {ahem...many times} Sunday mornings become SUPER stressful as the crunch is on to get everyone ready and to church ON TIME. I usually end up arriving right at 9 as church is seconds from starting... managing a diaper bag, purse, bible, coffee mug, child and endless amounts of other things belonging to her - and in the winter this is combined with HUGE winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and the whole 9 yards. Needless to say - it's tough. I'm getting better at it, but, still tough.

Yesterday as I pulled into the church parking lot (5 minutes EARLY) I was followed by another couple from the church. I don't know them very well, yet, but we have chatted a few times and they are super friendly, love the Lord...and their grandkids. :) I parked the car and began the "Great unloading" process. Set all of my bags, bibles and mug on the back of the car and then went to retrieve Ava. Upon popping my head back out - I noticed that the wife of this couple was walking towards us. She grabbed my stuff and began to tell me that she knows what its like... to be a mule. ;) How cute is that?! So I was just blessed beyond what I could express to her, for this help! And she carried my stuff all the way inside and even to the nursery. The family of God, when behaving as they should, is a wonderful thing. :) This woman, just like my friend with the bag o' shoes, saw a need and filled it how they could. Isn't that so challenging? It is to me!

"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ " Matt. 25

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Kids on the Block

Ha! I wonder how many of you opened this post fully expecting to see Jordan, Jon, Danny, Joey & Donny...etc.? {I'm laughing to myself... and feeling like a nerd all at once} No, I'm not referring to the 90's boy band NKOTB {tho, as a child I was probably their biggest fan, sadly} - but, a few new blogs I've come upon that I wanted to share with you!

Clipping Money sounds fun, right? Hop over and see the deals this gal has come upon and posted for us. I'm all about finding deals without doing the research! Just today I printed off a Starbucks coupon and found a link for a FREE bloomin' onion to send to my military-man little Bro. :) And she has a button on there you can grab for your own blog.


Stacy over at YourSacredCalling, one of the authors of "Passionate Housewives Desperate for God" has a cute blog here. Her latest post was a recipe about REAL queso. I enjoy her perspectives on raising daughters, etc. I'm new to her site and still checking it out...but so far, fairly interesting. She has a TON of children so I don't think it gets updated frequently.

Happy Saturday... and, go listen to some good music so you can get "Hangin' tough" out of your head ;)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Really, Really, good book

I can't even give a full review yet...but, I just had to share a few thoughts from the current book I'm reading. I've mentioned it a few times already, but, every time I crack open the pages I'm convicted and driven to scripture and truth. It's that good. "Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God" is the title and you definitely can't judge a book by its cover, or, back cover in my case. Both of the authors, Stacy and Jennie, are mothers of multiple children. Not 3 or 4... like 7 or 10. They both, in every picture I've seen of them, are wearing skirts or something of the sort. And, they both homeschool their 7 or 10 children. All...of...them. So, at first I didn't think I would be able to relate or even get into the "groove" of the books offerings. I have 1 child, I'm new to the homemaker thing, I prefer my comfy sweats or jeans to skirts and dresses and... homeschooling has yet to become a "passion" of my heart - more like, a terror. (well, beyond kindergarden anyway...) But, I yearn to serve the Lord in my newfound role and this book was FREE from an online source so I wanted to give it a shot. God always knows what we need, doesn't he?!

The last few days I was working my way through chapter 7 titled, "The search for a "Stepford" Husband". This chapter tackled the topic of the ever growing popular trend of the metrosexual, effemincy that is increasing in men today. She pointed out even our tv shows push it into our homes with shows like "Queer Eye" and even the majority of the "design" shows and evening sitcoms. Most sitcom dads are pushovers who don't lead their families but are belittled and strong armed by their bossy, all knowing wives and teenagers. And we laugh about it. I know I'm guilty... one of my favorite shows has been "The King of Queens" - and after reviewing this topic through scripture I see even more clearly how un-funny it is that Carrie treats her husband the way she does...and it's the norm. Reminder: I'm not here to condemn or condone my own opinions...just sharing what I'm learning. Anyway, the chapter just went on to share several good points about the role reversal that seems to be happening more and more in our world (specifically our country) and then gave scriptural support against turning our men into "softies" and women into "bruts". One example was Isaiah 3:1-12 where in vs. 12 one of the judgements was that women would rule over them. Another being Judges 4 where Deborah addresses the cowardly men of Israel. Eeek... scary ground to cover here. But true! And, maybe at some point I'll get more into that topic...

But, the benefit of this chapter to me was when she addressed us as women and what our role is. I need to be reminded of this constantly, so it seems. My attitudes and sinful heart desires pollute my mind so often. I really liked this paragraph from yesterday -

"I don't have to go out and earn money to keep a roof over our heads and come home to take care of the daily housekeeping tasks. My husband shouldn't have to do double duty, either. When I am consistently and faithfully fulfilling my responsibilities, my husband is free to do the things he was created to do."

How true is that?! How on earth do I justify my attitude and expect my hubby to carry a double load while I put my feet up and eat bon-bons? (ok, for the record... I've never had a bon-bon, so, maybe a York pepp. patty!) She goes on to encourage me that,
"Scripture shows us that a man who is supported and aided by his capable, submissive wife grows in honor and ability... No one can point to an out-of-control household behind him and dismiss his advice."

Seriously, I need to read this everyday, and take SERIOUSLY the high calling God has given to Brad and then to me in our home. This book (that directly points to scripture in almost every paragraph) is being used by God to change my life, my worldview and my relationship with Bradley. I'll end this post with one last challenging paragraph and some scripture to think about.

"The beauty of following our biblical roles is that wives not only get to fulfill the Dominion Mandate with their husbands in different but equally important ways, but they are able to present to the world a picture of Christ's bride, the Church, at the same time.
Christ is the Head of the church - not her slave driver or her sugar-daddy. The bride is joyfully joined to the Head, Who has "raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the Heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). This is the beautiful paradox of the gospel: the last shall be first, and the least shall be greatest (Prov. 25:6-7, Mark 9:35)."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Pats at our House!

What a rewarding, fun, and exciting day of homemaking. All of the prep paid off, I'll tell ya that much! {and why don't I prep that well in other areas of life... eek, perhaps thats another posting...} This is what the day looked like - Shamrock cookie baking...

I had found a recipe in my Bisquick cook book for a supposed "easy" sugar cookie recipe. I'm a big fan of that product so I thought, "why not" - and sure enough, learned my lesson. While the cookies had an amazing taste, they were waaaay too fragile and every last one fell apart. So, rather then shamrocks - we had, well... parts. When will I just learn to stick with what I KNOW works?! Oh well - it was fun, and a cookie is still a cookie - even in pieces!

In the early part of the afternoon a silly little 15 month old and I had some great play time.

She loves this tunnel from Grandpa and Grandma Great (Aka: Hindal) and we spent several minutes being silly inside of it together. Yep - I fit up to my shoulders! ;) She was dressed in her new green sweater and we even used our green sippy cup for our special day! Accompanied with her knock-out almost Green eyes... she's precious.

I was blessed with the request for a late afternoon nap {almost never happens} which freed me up for enough time to make Irish Soda Bread! And, it was fabulous and super easy! I loved the story behind the bread. Can you see the cross in it? You'll have to look that story up sometime. Here's how the bread turned out. Brad and Ava both seemed to enjoy it!

We sat down to our special St. Patrick's day dinner and used our "special" dishes. The corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes were awesome! We had our soda bread, shamrock cookies and I whipped up some limeade/vanilla ice cream shakes to top it off! I loved planning this special day and seeing it all on our table. :) In the background we had on Irish music (thanks to our cable tv) and I layed cut out green shamrocks around our dishes. It was so much fun! It really is such an honor and high calling to be able to be home like this - and put so much effort into our lives. I love planning and praying over our home and what we do with it and in it. I love watching Brad and Ava's eyes light up when they try a new dinner or treat. I like making the place smell amazing with good, healthy food - and I don't even mind the clean up because of how blessed I am with a dishwasher!

Happy St. Patricks Day! And, God bless!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The big week!

Are you ready? St. Patricks Day is officially TOMORROW! I have a grocery trip this afternoon to get our final ingredients for our St. Pats meal... then let the baking commence! I'm excited about this whole new, "celebrating the holidays" thing in our lives. And, I think my energy has caught on because Brad is now having a St. Pat's party Sunday night with our teens! It's so true that if a momma has an obvious zeal about something... its catchy! {same with...if momma is grumpy, so is everyone}

Yesterday Ava and I made our "Happy St. Patricks Day" cards for her grandma's/grandpa's. She loves being able to play with markers, and I'm happy to sit with her and be crafty. They are by no means anything spectacular...but, fun all the same! Here's what we made:
She loved seeing her picture on the shamrocks! It's so fun for me to be able to interact more and more with her over things like this. {sigh} What a life!

After craft time we headed outside to enjoy some of the sunshine. This has been a loooong time coming - and I was determined to make the most out of all this day light! It took Ava a long time to warm up to the idea of actually walking in our yard... but, after a while she loved chirping with the birds and picking up the sticks (which we have an entire yard of!).

We ended up taking a walk up and down our sidewalk and then having some discovery time in the yard. And... I found some things! I have random flowers growing all over our mess of a yard. So, those of you with a green thumb - hoping you can help me out a bit. What are these? I have a huge patch of them towards the back end of the yard...

We also came upon this patch of things which, I'll admit, at first glance looked like a pile of doggy....well, you get the idea. But, upon further inspection had green sprouts popping out of them. My fear is they are just more of the nasty clover/grass weed thing that covers most of our yard. But, maybe I'm wrong. You tell me...
They look like this - big roots on top of the dirt.

All the same - it appears Spring has sprung! I'm so excited for all of this sunshine and the promise of warmer days ahead! I almost unpacked the spring/summer clothes yesterday in my excitement...but, didn't. Happy St. Pat's Eve!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Not so much a baby...

Yesterday as I got Ava ready for church something crossed my mind. It was a thought I didn't want to have so I quickly dismissed it and continued on. But while I went on with dressing, hair combing and tight-putting-on...the thought kept coming back again. So, I blinked... and looked again. And, I saw it... She's not a little baby anymore. My heart ached as I watched her long slender arms reach for her baby doll - followed by the way she "loved" the baby and gave her kisses. Slender arms?! Where are the baby fat rolls? I quickly investigated her thighs and sighed, she still has some chubby-ness there...but it, too, is quickly fading.

I'm noticing more and more how "non" baby she is....but, I want to blind to it, just for today. I want to pretend that she needs me so much more then she really does. I want to cuddle her and look into a tiny, chubby face thats searching mine for the answers to life. She is amazing. She is chatty and smart and sneaky... everything a 15 month old should be. She's precious, and loving and sassy all at the same time. On some days she shows me very clearly the fruit of my hard work of consistency... and other days it seems we'll never get it. She keeps me on my toes and drives me to the word of God because I see JUST HOW HARD this job is.

So, again this morning as I sat down with her to breakfast - I noticed how thin her face is - how mature her eyes are and how much better she's trying to "talk". I blinked back tears as she wipes her own hands, eats her own banana and signs, "thank you" after she's done. Where have the last 15 months gone?! Was she never tiny and in my arms... ? I took this picture yesterday on the way to church - see for yourself... she's such a little lady. I love watching her grow, but I do mourn the part all the same.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's a date!

Lastnight Brad and I were able to sneak out for a few hours and enjoy a date night. It had been a long time since our last one and I'm so thankful I was able to find a sitter and take advantage of an open Friday night! We started the night @ a restaurant over in WDM called "Wok in Motion". I was having a hankering for sushi and we just love chinese food, anyway. We each enjoyed our entrees and Brad even tried some of my sushi! He wasn't a fan....but, that's another story altogether. I was proud of him for being a good sport and at least trying.
After eating we headed over to the mall for some walking and shopping. One of the home goods stores was going out of business and we found several cute pieces for our kitchen decor! We are going with the red/cream/coffee theme and there was tons of stuff there. Best of all, it's going out of business so everything was on sale and then 20% off of that! Love me some sales!!! If you live near Jordan Creek - check out Kirklands sale. The registar lady told me because the sale was going so well they were expecting to close by the 24th if not sooner!
After all the walking Brad treated us to some Coldstone {even tho I forgot my coupon...grrr!} and it was kind of romantic to share our little frozen treat together. We ran into some of the teens from youth group and got to chat with them for a minute. Overall, just a fun night. I love being out with my best friend. I love nights when we can just set out on a date without loading the carseat, diaper bag and endless amounts of other "baby" things and just focus on each other. We have so much to learn about each other - especially now that our lives are changing and different. Something I learned last night was... conversation may not come as easy as it used to. So I'm working on coming up with good conversation pieces. Otherwise, we resort to chatting about Ava or work or something we are trying to "get away from" for that time. I'm sure most people relate with this.
I tried to get a picture of us at the restaurant...but, we forgot. Bummer. Oh well. Maybe next date night...whenever that may be!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

St. Pats = Spring!!!

I don't know about you but I am eager with a capital E for Spring! Our yard is 90% cleared of the snow and the other 10% may get some "help" from us this weekend. ;) This is a fun time of the year...birds are out and singing. I actually have a little woodpecker family in my tree out back which I ADORE - they, along with our little squirrel family seem to have made themselves quite at home in our tree. I feel like Captain Nature as I gaurd them AT ALL COST from the neighbor kids.

I've missed blogging the last few days - but, I've been knee high in painting jobs, child rearing and just life in general. I'm happy to report the kitchen is almost complete and only needing some trim above one cabinet! Pics soon! Anyway, back to Spring...

Starting NOW I am making a life change. And it may sound super un-important to some of you, and that's ok {we're all wired differently}...but, my guess is some of you will agree and this might encourage you to do the same. I want holidays to be special in my home. My mom was a pro holiday celebrater. We had saurkraut/pork in honor of New Years day.... decor up for the 4th of July, and just about every other holiday - even the small ones. And I've been so very slack about bringing "Special" inside to where we live. The days pass and it does become very hum-drum or mundane. And, life will be like that sometimes... but, since I'm home and I CAN do something about this now - I plan on it...starting with St. Pats!

My clover shaped cookie cutters are ready and our St. Pat's meal has been planned. Corned Beef and cabbage! I'm hoping to use a crock pot recipe... after seeing how long good ol' Betty Crockers recipe takes. Got any?! I'm also planning on making some Irish Soda Bread and possibly some fun green sparkling drink for our St. Pat's dinner! (all of this by next week) That's the food portion of the fun... which, is my favorite and is easiest for me. But, I also want to do something for some indoor decor and I'm open for ideas. I would love to use my leftover terra cotta pots to make some kind of irish-y topiaries... or, maybe some candle holders or something. I just desire so much for our home to be one of little celebrations of life - the good things God has given us. And while we aren't Irish or catholic or any of those things... we can still celebrate the fact that GREEN Spring is on her way!

So, what about you out there? What are your ideas for St. Pat's, Spring or maybe Easter?
mmm... I can smell the corned beef already...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: admittedly warmer...AND we can see parts of our yard!

One of my simple pleasures: Those moments when Ava just lays in my arms and lets me kiss and cuddle on her. Few and far between somedays...

On my bedside table: Nada. BUT I am reading way too many books at once... more to come on that sometime.

On my TV: Off

On the menu for tonight: BBQ pot roast and mashed potatoes

On my To Do List: finish laundry, sweep/mop kitchen floor, vacuum rest of downstairs, make eye appointment

New Recipe I tried last week: Taco Salad - the original BC recipe. It was... great! Only, we had ours in tortilla bowls...not served with chips. (and cut up avocado!!!)

In the craft basket: Nada - Hey, I am painting a kitchen here!

Looking forward to: Lunch (I've been starving all morning) and working on my bible study

Homemaking Tip for this week: Looking back to the days when Brad and I registered for wedding gifts...I cringe. I def did not know what I would need. All this to say - buy good knives, good appliances and NEEDS over wants. I'm down to two steak knives :(

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other): I don't think I'm at liberty to share her link...but, a gal my age from church who recently lost her husband to cancer has a great blog. Her insight into life astounds me! And her sense of humor is such a blessing to me!

Favorite photo from last week:
She is SO ready for Spring!!! Look at those shades!

Lesson learned the past few days: I can love people, if for no other reason...because Christ loves me and gave up His son for me.

On my Prayer List: Youth group girls...

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses: This morning I got up early to read through Ephesians...not the easiest early morning read, but SO encouraging. Check it out!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sleepless in Des Moines

Ugh. I think I got a total of 4 hours of sleep last night, and NO, it wasn't because I was up having a fun time watching good movies or deep conversations with my spouse...
this headcold is taking over my life! And, 3 cups of coffee at 8pm probably didn't help. {sigh} I finally "broke down" and bought the good kind of medicine last night - $16 for 18 pills!!! (I'm not usually one for taking things to get better...) Tho, I won't complain because there are people far worse off then me paying much higher costs for meds.

My daughter, who usually sleeps in till around 8ish, decided that wakeup time today would be 7:15. :) Luckily for me, I was downstairs propped up on the couch with my ump-teen-hundred pillows and had 5 extra minutes to "sleep" while Brad did the wakeup, diaper change routine. He's so good to me! I hadn't slept on the couch since I was 9 months pregnant - so, yea, that was different.

But, despite a very sleepless night - I've already experienced the new mercies of God today. I had a front row seat for the sunrise this morning, heard the first bird outside my window and enjoyed a quiet home all to myself in the early hours. My heart, rather then feeling angry (which, I'll admit, happens when I don't get sleep) was calm and soothed. When my family came downstairs I was eager for morning hugs and kisses... something I so often forego in place of a timely breakfast and at the very least a pot of fresh coffee.

The morning was beautiful.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Little blessings

I keep a composition notebook on our bookshelf here at home. I think I got it for .99 at Walgreens upon moving to IA last summer. The point of the book was to record each and every blessing we experienced as a family. Right away it felt like we were filling out pages as we watched the Lord provide "things" and people...

We've written paragraphs about cars, furniture, money and food - and, I never thought I would have a page in our "Blessings Book" about toilet paper, but, God can bless however he wants to!

We were given this the other day...

(note: my camera keeps stamping the wrong date...annoying, but, disregard!)

Yep - toilet paper...and a LOT of it. There were additional packages other places in our house that didn't make it to the picture. But, I think you get the point. A generous friend of ours had a "surplus" and wanted to share. What a unique blessing, right?! I get a giggle each time I think about how funny this friend must have looked buying carts full of nothing else but TP. But, what a blessing this is to us! TP is expensive and another thing I can cross of our grocery list for this month. Praise the Lord for all his blessings...but, today, especially for our pile of TP!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

...My 2/5ths of a second...

Life, and all it involves, is ironic to me many times. Maybe ironic isn't the word...perhaps just, funny. Last night prior to drifting off to sleep (waaay to late) I set my alarm for 6:45am. I was hoping to start getting up early for some quiet time and just prepare for my day. I've been over the top cranky lately and I know for a fact that I can pinpoint it to not getting my heart ready prior to the family being around me. :) Not that they are bad or hard to live with...not at all actually, but, I'm just full of myself and NEED time with God. So I set the alarm and fell asleep. At 6:42 this morning my daughter woke up SCREAMING in pain. She's teething {molars} and so this has been a common thing in the middle of the night lately, all night long. But then she's been sleeping in till 8ish most days - and, I just sleep in right along with her. But I just absolutely could not believe that she slept all through the night without so much as a peep...and THEN woke up minutes before my alarm was to go off. It is ironic! She was burning hot with fever {lovely} and covered in all kinds of snot and who knows what else... geeeross! Needless to say, my attempt at rising early to seek the Lord didn't happen. But I did sneak in James 4 and a Psalm while she was eating breakfast...

Francis Chan, in his book, Crazy Love, uses the phrase "your 2/5ths of a second" - talking about how short our life is on earth and our part in this story of life. I've been thinking about it over and over again - which is a good thing, a humbling, almost scary thing. Chan says, -

"We only have our two-fifths-of-a-second-long scene to live. I don't know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about my making much of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." That is what each of our 2/5ths seconds is about."

My life is by no means glamorous...but, these are my seconds to glorify God. And this morning, though rudely awakened and derailed from MY plan - God was good to show me some other things to remind me of Him and how I can bring Him glory. How I care lovingly for a whiny, snotty 14 month old. How I kiss my husband good morning rather then snapping at him out of grumpiness, and usually about nothing. {ever done that?!} I bring glory to God by loving my family, respecting my husband...

If you'll allow me... I have re-written James 4 {temporarily} ...

"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will rise early, make a pot of coffee and stare longingly at the word of God with highlighter and journal at arms reach. We will have a quiet home, everything tidy, perfect for focus and time with the Lord. Babies will be sleeping and husbands readying themselves in another part of the home." , but, you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time (2/5ths of a second) and then vanishes away." -mandi's uninspired translation, not to be followed-

What are you doing with your two-fifths of a second today?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods:
sunny and cold - heard a rumor we may see 40 this week!

One of my simple pleasures:
being able to sit and watch HGTV for 30 minutes

On my bedside table:
Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado and the good ol' NKJV!

On my TV: Off!

On the menu for tonight:
Garlickly Hoisin beef stir fry - my hub's favorite meal!

On my To Do List:
finish the laundry, unload and reload dishwasher, sweep kitchen floor, wipe down bathroom

New Recipe I tried last week:
Well....nothing new. It was a good old fashioned use what we had week, kinda.

In the craft basket:
craft basket?! I have nothing and feel like a loser for that, thank-you-very-much...

Looking forward to:
Bible study tonight with a friend, which also means...Starbucks! :)

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Pick it up as you go. When you see things laying around...put them away right then - saves on a big mess later.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
A year of slow cooking grabbed my attention with the word, CARNITAS! yes please! Also, my blogger friend Tiffany and her family are turning a page in the book of their lives...very cool! I love watching families get the calling into full time ministry!

Favorite photo from last week:
My girl and her ball pit! Sheer joy!

Lesson learned the past few days:
My attitude really DOES set the tone in my household. The high calling of HOMEMAKER is more then just the cook...I'm shaping lives and pointing to Christ.

On my Prayer List:
All the announcements by the day! (not me)

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Reading "Crazy Love" and super convicted about James words on life as just a vapor...