Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

In college, our chapel time worship leader was Dr. David Harris. From day #1 of being a freshman I was hooked on that hour of worship and bible study. Dr. Harris is one of the most passionate, God-fearing men I know. I can remember some days where he would be near tears explaining a hymn to us - or, wading through a scripture passage with such heart and emotion... He challenged me to live my life passionately for God - to FEEL truth and Grace in my own life. Today I just wanted to share one of my all time fave hymns with you, "Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul" written by Anne Steele (who has a sad story herself). The words have been ringing through my heart for a few days now - especially when I consider where my brother is right now... and, God is good to comfort me and remind me of WHO is in control. Be refreshed yourself, today, in remembering who God is - our refuge.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Ps. 46:1
Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On thee when sorrows rise
On thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To thee I tell each rising grief,
For thou alone canst heal
Thy word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel.

But Oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline.
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to thee
Though prostrate in the dust.

Has thou not bid me seek thy face,
and shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourners prayer
Oh my I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
and wait beneath thy feet.
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend thy will,
and wait beneath thy feet.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

As long as she can...a tribute to little girls

"Race down this hill with me, and you'll be all right," suggested Laurie.

No one was in sight; the smooth road sloped invitingly before her; and finding the temptation irresistible, Jo darted away, soon leaving hat and comb behind her, and scattering hair-pins as she ran. Laurie reached the goal first, and was quite satisfied with the success of his treatment; for his Atalanta came panting up, with flying hair, bright eyes, ruddy cheeks, and no signs of dissatisfaction in her face.

"I wish I was a horse; then I could run for miles in this splendid air and not lose my breath. It was capital; but see what a guy it's made me. Go pick up my things, like a cherub as you are," said Jo, dropping down under a maple tree, which was carpeting the bank with crimson leaves.

Laurie leisurely departed to recover the lost property, and Jo bundled up her braids, hoping no one would pass by till she was tidy again. But someone did pass, and who should it be but Meg, looking particularly ladylike in her state and festival suit, for she had been making calls.

"What in the world are you doing here?" She asked, regarding her dishevelled sister with
well-bred surprise. "Getting leaves," meekly answered Jo, sorting the rosy handful she had just swept up. "And hair-pins" added Laurie, throwing half a dozen into Jo's lap. "They grow on this road, Meg; so do combs and brown straw hats".

"You have been running, Jo; how could you?! When will you stop such romping ways?" said Meg reprovingly, as she settled her cuffs, and smoother her hair, with which the wind had taken liberties.

"Never till I'm stiff and old, and have to use a crutch. Don't try to make me grow up before my time, Meg; it's hard enough to have you change all of a sudden; let me be a little girl as long as I can."
{Excerpt from Little Women - Louisa May Alcott}

Let them be little... cuz' their only that way for a while.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When your heart leaves for Afghanistan... again.

I knew it was coming... as I watched the days on the calendar pass. But, for some reason, whether denial or just a secret hope for a change of plans - I ignored the date. But, the time has come and now my brother is once again on his way to Afghanistan.

I'm sure some of you are military families, too. So you know the up and down of emotions. The way your throat clenches when ANY report on the news has the words, "war", "soldiers" or "Afghanistan" in them... and, that's very much where I am today. I don't know why I try to hide my sadness about this - as if by being "tough" I change the situation. Truth is - I'm so proud! I'm proud of a brother who believes in the value of American Freedom and will fight for it. But, the other side of that coin is... I'm little-girl-in-the-corner-crying-scared. :/

My dad sent this email out today. Please join us in praying for my brother and his family for the next few months.

I am sorry for the mass e mailings, but it is the easiest and most concise way to do this. As we approach Memorial Day (a day in which we remember those who have served and are serving our country) it with a pensive heart that I tell you that once again our son will be in harm's way. Joshua will leave for Atlanta tonight (midnight) and then off to Virginia and then finally to Afghanistan. This is his third deployment there (he has two in Iraq as well) and he couldn't tell me exactly where -- no joke to insert here, he really couldn't tell me for a number of reasons. Joshua returns to Afghanistan a dedicated, flying crew chief. Simply stated, when the bird goes up so does he... the reverse of the statement will be left to your understanding.

We have a couple of requests to make of you our praying family and friends:

1. Pray for his safety.

2. Pray for the safety of the men he is serving with.

3. Pray for Ashley as she cares for Kaci, who is now 2, and is pregnant with their second child (I'm hoping for a boy).

4. Pray for spiritual condition of Joshua and Ashley (and babies).

5. Pray for Toni and will be a long 120-150 days.

In Him, Paul and Toni Grice

NOTE: Joshua serves in the 66ERQS / HMU. That means something about Expeditionary Rescue Squad and HMU means Helicopter Maintenance Unit. They will probably rename the unit the 41st ERQS / HMU as that is the units number in Moody Air Force Base there in Valdosta, GA. Part of the units motto reads, "So Others May Live"...and now you know why I am a bit uneasy. -Paul"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finished product

Remember that coat rack thing I was talking about a few weeks ago? It's all done! It's gone from a dirty ol' wooden lookin' thing to this! I put it up in Ava's room and I love how it has turned out. She enjoys learning how to hang things up herself. What a big girl!

Right now it holds her diaper bag, jackets and bead necklaces (her idea) - but in the future I can see it holding winter coats or bath towels or hair bows.
This little project has been a great help in keeping Ava's mind off of her "H, F & M" last week. She must have put those jackets up on the hooks & then taken them back down at least 20 times... What a sense of pride she gets each time!
By the way, she's doing MUCH better and I think we are totally done with that yucky virus! All the little spots are gone and she's back to her ornery self!
So, another house project done! I'm feeling so motivated and encouraged that I can do this decor on a dime thing! Up next : spray painting the door & finishing the front porch.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Homemaker Monday

The weather in my neck of the woods: High 70's, HOT and a little muggy! Bring on Summer!
Things that make me happy: Rocking my daughter in our rickety ol' rocking chair - she loves hearing the creaks and moans of the old chair, and I love holding her, breathing her in and making the memory.
Book I'm reading: Finishing up my, "Idols of the Heart" bible study book today!

What I'm enjoying on TV: Well, nothing really... Ava enjoys Super Why in the AM, and I guess I watch that with her. It is educational, tho annoying that they change the nursery rhyme.
On the menu for dinner: Cheesy, Chicken enchiladas :)

On my To Do List: Laundry day! And, hopefully picking up a roller to finishing painting the front porch.

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Delish Parmesan Pork Chops and broccoli with almonds were both on the menu last week - YUM!

In the craft basket: Looking for some new material for the $15 piano bench I found last week @ Sal Army.

Looking forward to this week: Jewelry Party tomorrow night, Zoo on Weds morning with moms playgroup (ava's 1st trip!), Discipling Hunter on Weds. night, Baby shower Thursday for a friend and then a FREE Phil Whickham concert Friday! Followed by a teens open house Sat. So, VERY exciting week ahead for us!

Tips and Tricks: Want your linens to smell fresh EVERY time you change them? I keep a Renuzit air freshener in my closet (the solid cone shaped kind) - and every time we take a towel or change of sheets out it smells fresh and beautiful! This month the scent is tropical something... perfect for summer! They last up to 2 1/2 months sometimes!
My favorite blog post this week: Oh man, Today's Housewife hit home with me today! Sandra shared the importance of "Organic Mentoring" and the role of the biblical "older women". Good read!
Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers): Ok, as was mentioned a few days ago... check out if you are at all into repurposing, decorating ,refurnishing, anything home decor making type stuff. You may spend more time there then you want, though!

No words needed (favorite photo or picture, yours or others you want to share):

Lesson learned the past few days: My daughter picks up so much of her personality, likes, dislikes and behavior based on what she sees at home. If she sees a grumpy, short tempered, unhappy mommy...she displays that in public. If she sees a mommy being patient, loving and teaching her things... she displays that.

On my mind:...I need another cup of coffee.

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Right now I'm working my way through a REALLY cool devo book - Espresso with Esther, by Sandra Glahn. It's a neat read/study through the short 10 chapter book with a ton of historical facts, "did you knows?", etc. Check it out! It's a great personal devo study. Here's the cover... see, cool, huh?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Plague

Oh the never ending joys of mother hood firsts...

Please pardon my slight sarcasm, but, we are having a 1st around these parts. Ava was diagnosed as having, Hand, Foot & Mouth two days ago. It started as just some fairly normal whining. Then I noticed she was biting, chewing and slobbering on everything as if she were 9 months all over again. Hmmm... teething, I thought, totally - and ignored it. Afterall, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The biting, chewing and slobbering soon became more intense and accompanied with more whining and all out crying off and on. Weird. So, off to the Doc we go - dread of all dread - I HATE paying $20 each time we go!!!

She looks at Ava for all of a few seconds and says, "Oh, she has hand, foot & mouth - look in her mouth" - sure enough pink dots. But I wasn't too convinced - she didn't have any spots anywhere else and... it wasn't our normal doc. Aren't I so smart? I have a medical degree so I can make these decisions. Anyway, {sigh}, the Dr sent us away with no advice and no hope. Basically, you can't do ANYTHING for this plague. You can give motrin for a fever and they can have popsicles to ease the itchy mouths. Thats... all. But, like I said... I wasn't convinced she even had this.

Yesterday the fever came. (Still, I wasn't convinced....but I did call moms to tell them) Then today and late lastnight... the blisters. Ew, Ew, Ew. Her poor mouth is full of ulcer-looking sores. Her lips are swollen now and the rash has spread from her feet and hands to her shoulders, legs and back. I am gagging! I hate rashes! And I feel like the plague has hit this house.

I've had to stop several times today and just pray and cry out to God. I cannot handle this on my own. And, I know some of you are chuckling thinking this is NOT that big of a deal - and, it really isn't... I'm just feeling over the top about it right now. I can't smooch all over my girl like I normally do. She isn't sleeping well or napping well during the day. She's just covered in itchy bumps so she doesn't want to snuggle or even just sit with me... and it is HORRIBLE.

So, the quarantine flag is up above our house... for kids anyway (evidently, adults are ok). See ya sometime world. Wanna know more about this weird thing... go to and check out the images. Be prepared to be GROSSED out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

And the winner is....

... Jackie!
Congrats, Jackie, on winning the "Life, In Spite of Me" giveaway. I'm ready to send you your copy - please be in touch with how I can get this book to you. Leave a note on this post with some mailing info.
And thanks all for participating in my first ever blog giveaway!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: Life, in Spite of Me ... WIN ONE FREE!

She wanted to die. God had other plans.
"Why does my life have to be so painful? What's wrong with me? It's not going to get better. It could all be over soon, and then I won't hurt anymore."
Kristen Anderson thought she had the picture-perfect life until strokes of gray dimmed her outlook: three friends and her grandmother died within two years. Still reeling from these losses, she was raped by a friend she thought she could trust. She soon spiraled into a seemingly bottomless depression.

One January night, the seventeen-year-old decided she no longer wanted to deal with the emotional pain that smothered her. She lay down on a set of cold railroad tracks and waited for a freight train to send her to heaven...and peace.
Miraculously Kristen's story doesn't end there.

In Life, In Spite of Me this remarkably joyful young woman shares the miracle of her survival, the agonizing aftermath of her failed suicide attempt, and the hope that has completely transformed her life, giving her a powerful purpose for living.

Her gripping story of finding joy against all odds provides a vivid and unforgettable reminder that life is a gift to be treasured.

About the author(s):
Kristen Jane Anderson has been featured on Oprah and is a popular speaker at colleges, women's and youth events, churches, and suicide-prevention outreaches. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute and the founder of Reaching You Ministries, Kristen seeks to help those who are hurting, hopeless, lost, suicidal, and depressed.

Tricia Goyer is the author of hundreds of articles for national periodicals, as well as more then a dozen novels and several nonfiction books, including Blue Like Play Doh.

My Review:
Life, In Spite of Me was a wake up call for me. Most of my life I've heard of people who battled with depression or bi-polar disorder or just sadness in general - but, rarely understood what I was hearing. Kristen and Tricia present Kristen's story in a way that really helps the reader understand what it's really like to live your life captured by depression, sadness and a feeling of hopelessness. Many times I felt like I was there with Kristen as she fought her sadness. I felt myself cheering her on through her long recovery and rejoicing at the end when... well, you'll have to read that for yourself.
As a youth leader and youth pastor's wife, I appreciated Kristen's side notes to those battling depression or suicidal thoughts themselves. She is personal and got right on the level with where so many of our teens are today in this society. Best of all - the Gospel is CLEAR and evident and she speaks of it unashamedly! There is hope for those struggling and I've been challenged to wake up and be more alert to the teens I'm surrounded by, who might be battling this quiet demon. Kristen's story will encourage you, challenge you and motivate you to get on board with helping people. If you have any kind of interaction with people, at all, this book could be a helpful tool for you in identifying the needs of people suffering with depression.

You can purchase this book HERE.

This book was provided for review by the Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

So, whattaya think? Interested? Wanna win a FREE copy of Kristen's book? All you need to do it leave a comment! Tell your bloggy friends to enter, too, the more the merrier! One winner will be chosen on Friday! So, you have a day to enter! Hurry and comment now!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Upcoming Book Review and Giveaway!

Good morning! At least, its a good morning here! The last few days have been so full of life and living as a's been blessed! And the good times keep on rollin' as I start my one-on-one bible study with Hunter tonight! Pray for me... I'm a little nervous and I never feel adequate to be the one doing this. If you haven't heard that story (of Hunter) - click her name above, or here for some background. We'll be meeting tonight @ 5 and for the next 6 weeks going over some basic "foundational truths" to being a Christian. I'm so thankful for a church that stands behind me and supports me in this effort. One of our pastors provided me with some wonderful materials to share with her - stuff I couldn't think up on my own. God is good! So anyway, just pray and I'll keep you posted!

This week, hopefully tomorrow, I'll be doing a book review on "Life in Spite of Me" by Kristen Jane Anderson. It's a biography type book about Kristen's choice at attempted suicide - that failed. And I won't give away much more then that... but, Praise be to God she turned her life over to the Lord and is now using her experience to glorify the Son! I'll be doing a giveaway of a copy of the book - so keep your eyes peeled (whatever that really means...) in the next day or so. If you check out the link above you can watch some videos of Kristen in recent interviews she's done - pretty interesting.
Enjoy your day! Enjoy your hubby, wife, kids... whoever you have!

Monday, May 17, 2010

One project down... another beginning

Well, I finally figured out what to do with my very fun BIG glass vases found at Ikea this last fall. A friend recommended just putting some sticks from the backyard in them... and, I did! And best of all - I love it! It's totally me and just about as "country" as I'm allowed to go and have the hubs still like it. ;) This isn't the best pic - but, just to give you an idea. So that project is done and just about wraps up the living room!

2 weeks ago I started the transformation of the front porch/sun room. It was STARK white and is being changed into a lovely "Wild Honey". Thankfully we have plenty of this color left over from the kitchen - and it works GREAT in this room. It's already warmed up just this portion!

A loooong time ago I had asked you bloggy world friends for some advice on what to do with this space. I'm still a little boggled as its just a long room with old windows, is not heated, but has SO much potential. The verdict for now is - this will become Ava's summer play room and another reading nook area. So, right now I'm painting and deep cleaning it. Brad cut down the old, nasty, non-working door bell wires this weekend. We have purchased a nice sized espresso finished shelf with hooks to hang out there by the front door entrance. Last week I repurposed a broken clock into a new non-working-but-cute-decor-piece that we'll use out there, too. I'm looking for a looooong strip of nice looking carpet or if I could luck out and find a great long, thin, rug that would be awesome too. And to top it off I'm praying for a small bistro table and chairs or just some smaller sized furniture pieces that Brad and I could use. And the ultimate dream would be to stumble across a small church pew to place under the shelf. But, my antique-loving friends have told me... "keep dreamin' sister" I shall. :)

It's fun to dream and to just put it all together.
Pictures coming soon!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Growin' up is hard to do

This morning after our wonderful family breakfast of 7-grain pancakes (from the farmers mrkt!) it was time to get to work. Our house needed some TLC... housecleaning style. Brad set out moving the heavy things to the basement while I piddled and fussed in the kitchen.

Ava knows the basement is not an ideal play place - tho - fun for a 1 year old. Our basement in its 1914 style is NOT finished... not even close. We have a BLUE toilet mounted up on a pedestal of sorts that we've dubbed, "the man throne" to be used by teen boys only... and they don't even use it. There are boxes and tubs of our belongings, a gas water heater, our ginormous furnace, washer/dryer, etc. and a few really cool "nooks" that look like little rooms... to which I WILL NOT be exploring because... just, ew. Anyway, Ava comes down from time to time to "help" me with the laundry - but, its not a play place. Today, while daddy was carrying things up and down the stairs she found her way down there and found her prize possession... her former baby carrier. She LOVES that thing and sat in it the remainder of the time that Brad was working. Very funny. So, we brought it upstairs for her to play with while we finished cleaning. And... she just sat in it for at least 30 minutes.

My not so little girl...
I couldn't help but wonder if she were thinking, "gee, growing up is hard to do".

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oh my very word

So.... Amy over @ My Front Porch lookin' In has this link on her blog to a decorator type blog... and, I just never clicked because I ultimately ALWAYS feel defeated even before looking. "I can't do those things", "Well...she has this and this and this amount of $$ so of course those things can be turned into that thing", etc. The list seriously goes on.
But then yesterday while visiting another friends home - she was telling me about some beautiful wall art she had recently made and mentioned she found the idea on the SAME SITE. So, my curiousity got the best of me and I went. And... an hour later... I had to pry myself off of the site! So, without further ado... ... I have been inspired. See for, really...go.

If you are still reading - I'll share one more thing FOUND this week. I was reading another blog that shares ideas on how to make your own home decor and in addition how to actually present/display your creations (which, is my struggle) and she had this pic up. I love this set up! But, wasn't sure Brad would go for it... he's not at all into antique looking anything (tho I AM). So, I just casually showed it to him and.. HE LOVED IT! So, this might possibly be showing up in our own form on our living room wall in the near future. :)

(Once I preview this blog a little further I will give a link... want to make sure of it, first) ;)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

DIY: Coat/towel/hair ribbon hanger thingy

Before I get to the DIY project... let me share some great news that happened in my life last week. And, shame on me for not sharing this sooner! Last Wednesday night the Lord allowed me the opportunity to lead one of our teen girls to the Lord! Hunter, the gal I blogged about a few weeks ago here came to me and asked if we could talk in private - and no sooner had we got in the door then she asked if she could pray to be saved. I was...blown away, to say the least. Afterall, I had had quite the bad day... and wasn't prepared at all in my heart to bring someone before the throne. But, God always knows - and is always ready to use ANYONE for His glory! Praise Him! So, the angels rejoiced as I brought her before the Lord and she gave her life to the Risen Savior! {sigh} This is just the beginning of her story... one I hope to have more to write about in the near future. But, isn't that exciting?

Another exciting event (though very drastically NOT as important) was this DIY project I took on this week. It was a Coat/towel/hair ribbon hanger thingy project. I've had in my mind to make some kind of "Catch all" for Ava's room - but, just couldn't figure out exactly what I wanted to do. The other day while we made our rounds in the Salvation Army I found this...

and remembered that I still had two small cans of the pink paint from her bedroom. The hook thing is hideous and had scratches and dents all over it - but, I figured for just a few cents I could repurpose it somehow....right? So, I set to work painting the thing with pepto pink, err... Foxy Pink, according to Behr. And you know what? It came out just fine!

I'm working on the 2nd coat now and am thinking about painting some tiny brown polka dots on it - I dunno though. This will be perfect for her room and only cost me a few cents to make! I was so proud of myself (admittedly) and I think Brad even smiled at my project. :) Once it's up on her wall I'll try to grab a pic to show you. I'm planning on using it to hang up her jackets, hooded bath towels - and maybe even her hairbows (once we grow our collection...and hair!).

Hopefully it'll be up before she's driving... but, looks like we are running out of time for that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I want to go to there


Do you ever just wish you could've lived in another time era? I do. Some days I think I would have made the PERFECT pioneer woman, other days - a mom in the 1940's wearing aprons and high heels to clean my house. This week I've been watching the "Christy" series in the evenings after Ava's in bed - and, I'm convinced I could be a mountain woman. :)

Today... I would just so love to live in the Victorian age. Even if just for a day. The clothes, the hairdo's, the dances... it all just seems so romantic now. Though, I'm sure then they had their struggles, too.

I would love to live in a time where every woman wore dresses... big, fluffy, poofy-on-purpose, lace or velvet trimmed, corset covering dresses. So beautiful. It seems ladies just floated around so gracefully in these things.

And don't forget the hairdos! Flowy, pulled up, curly masses of seemingly gorgeous hair tucked just so. You almost always saw beautiful ruby or emerald hair combs hidden away or showcased on that head of hair, too! And, OH THE HATS! Don't even get me started.

Lastly, I love that dainty, feminine decor. Everything was curly or rounded - no sharp edges or masculine hard lines. House were decked out in fluffy pillows, bright colored flowing curtains and overstuffed chairs. What a life...balls and dinner parties and ladies teas. I could get used to that. ;)
But, God has me in this era. And, I'm thankful for that. It's fun to dream though... and even more fun to research the past. Where would you live? What era? Would you be in bible times? Civil War? So fun to explore!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Widows Story

Our pastors message yesterday was such a wonderful reminder to me. Lately I've been yearning and longing for truth from God's word. That probably sounds funny or odd - shouldn't I always be yearning and longing for that... ? Well, yes. But do I... sadly, no. I'm guilty of letting life and the pressures that I can't even control take over my heart and mind. But, each day God is good to draw me back to himself. Each day I feel refreshed and ready to try again. It's in the hopeless, purposeless - feeling days that I seem to grow the most. {once I'm through it}

" Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside." Luke 7:11-17 (NLT)

Pastor used this as our Mother's day message. A little untraditional in the sense of not using, "Honor your father and your MOTHER", but oh so timely for this momma who needed to hear and be reminded of just how and why I can trust Christ. I won't try to exposit his message for you word for word. I will share the main points that I gathered, in hopes to encourage my readers hearts, as well. He can be trusted!
*He knows my plight! He relates and has compassion. He is omniscient God!
There was no worse of a situation then this widows. Husbandless...and her only remaining source of security/income/protection had just her son, her only son. What is your plight?
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." Heb. 4:15
*He calms my spirit by reminding me of who He is.
"Don't cry"... beautiful words said to this widow. Jesus felt compassion and saw the hurt in this widow. The very same God who calmed this widow, those seas and storms.. calms us now.
"He calms the storm, So that its waves are still." Ps. 107:29
*He'll solve my problem. He goes beyond the knowing & calming - He solves the problem.
John 16 (all of it)
(my selection of scripture, not pastors reference)
This was probably the point that I cringed and I think a few people looked at me. oops. I'm so sensitive to staying as far away from "health and wealth" gospel that even a hint of "God will just take care of everything once you know Him"...scares me. Thankfully, that's NOT what pastor was saying. Nor does he ever, for the record. And I thank God for a pastor the speaks truth! Because, life is hard and while God is in control... not every problem may be solved in front of our eyes or in this lifetime. For this widow, though, her problem was solved and her son was given back to her. For me, for us... we have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us and give us direction - He gives us discretion, discernment and wisdom (if we ask!). Praise the Lord! And, oh, how many problems we DO see solved!

Be encouraged today that Christ can be trusted! Like pastor said, "At the points in my life (like the widows) where I am at my lowest, hopeless, purposeless -est GOD IS MOST HIGH and MOST NEAR. (paraphrase)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day #2

Wow, what a difference a year makes! This was my second Mothers Day (well, with the baby on the outside of the womb!) with my Ava girl. It started off with breakfast in bed from my dear hubby - cheesy eggs and toast with strawberry jam accompanied with a glass of OJ. He's adorable and got up early to make this an extra special morning. For lunch he took Ava and I out to Noodle Zoo for their brunch buffet, which, was to die for! Seriously... they had these baked eggs with CREAM CHEESE baked in...CREAM CHEESE?! Does anyone even know of a recipe for something like that?! Gimme.... {please?}

Anyway, I found some pics of my baby and I around this time last year. I cannot believe what a difference 1 year can make. And then again... some things just never change...

Ava wasn't happy about last years pic.
And... it appears this years wasn't such a hit either!
Oh that girl! I love her. I love her sassiness and the way she loves to run up to you and act like she's going to hit...but then rubs your face so gently while smiling. tricky. She is learning to be more and more affectionate and I just eat it up! I love that Ava is my daughter. I love being her mom. :) And, tho I do sometimes think about my heaven baby... I know that we wouldn't have our Ava if we had been given the first one. It just puts so much into perspective.
Happy Mothers Day! Whether its your 2nd, 10th or 40th! Here's a few other links to be encouraged on this very special day!
Sarah Mae's hilarious video.
Beck's super cute reminder of the importance of our roles (and our momma's).
Kristi's INVISIBLE video.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Raising a Girl

My punkin! She'll be 17 months old this month... which, seems impossible. She is spunky, giggly, loves to sing and dance, make "crafts", help me cook and clean... and loves to whine. The jingle, "one of these things just doesn't belong here" is running through my brain. WHINE?! How could she love that? It just doesn't go with the rest of the things she enjoys....
It appears we have reached another milestone in raising this girl. The Whine-o-Meter is registering at VERY HIGH and mommy and dad are just about at the breaking point. Thankfully (and boy are we thankful) God's grace abounds and His mercies are new daily! The battle to remain consistent and love, love, love even when the love looks like disciplining something every second... will pay off! (tho...she may be 20 by then!)

Our newest battle is happening during the hours of 12-3am. Yuck. Let me repeat... 12 to 3 AM! The last 3 nights she has half-woken up screaming and we have no idea whats going on. She has her pacifier, her blanket and seems to be in a fairly comfy spot in her crib... the air feels nice and cool, her body doesn't feel too hot and the fan puts out a wonderful level of "white noise" to rest by. So, we don't get it! Usually when this type of thing happens its because she has been sick - so, rocking her for a little while and soothing away the tears puts her right back to sleep easily. This week its just scream, scream, scream...and all she wants is to be held... in the middle of the night. Which, please don't misunderstand me... we LOVE that we have a child to be able to soothe and love like this - it's just difficult. Especially as we just can seem to put together the "why" of all of this. Lastnight was by far the worst. She was up until around 3:20, after being put back down at least 6 times. Finally, I just pulled her into our bed (something we are not fans of doing...) because I thought I was going to pass out from being so tired. She fell right asleep - and about 30 minutes later I plopped her back in her crib and we all slept till quarter of 10am!

I'm puzzled. I'm slightly bothered. I'm praying all the time for wisdom on how to raise this girl - break these weird/bad habits, love her, discipline without being angry, etc. Because when she does wake up in the morning (normal hours) she LOVES seeing us and it almost erases the horrible nights prior. (I said almost) My heart is full this morning being reminded that God never allows us more then we can bear - and, that this phase will also pass, and that very soon someday she won't even be in this home to wake us up. {eyes welling...} In the meantime, what do you guys think? Did your kids go through this? What were your solutions? Any wisdom on raising girls? She seems to be very emotional, like me, and I'm just wondering if I'm missing something major here. Maybe I should call my mom...
{Random change of thought}
In other news - I came across a new blog this morning that I'd love to share with you. Rebecca Ingram Powell is a blogger who writes about many different things - but what caught my attention was her book called, "Seasons of Change" aimed toward raising middle schoolers. She has a new book out called, "Baby boot Camp" for new parents in first 6 weeks of baby-hood that also looked pretty interesting (or make a great shower gift!). She's a pastors wife and homeschools her 3 kiddos...with vigor! It appears she lives in TN where all the flooding is happening :( I found out about her after reading last months "Home Educating Family" magazine. Which, by the way, you can get a FREE trial issue by clicking that link and signing up. I am really enjoying my issue right now!
Check out her site and see what you think!
I added her button on my blog, too - pretty cute, huh?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Radical Review

It's that time! My very first official Waterbrook Multnomah book review! I am so excited about this opportunity to preview books, digest them and then share what I've learned. So very cool! I mentioned a few days back that I would also be doing a giveaway of the companion booklet - "The Radical Question" and I had every intention of doing so... until my 1 yr old found it and made it her own personal scribble journal. (mommy's fault for leaving it unattended!) But, GOOD NEWS... Waterbrook Multnomah is giving away FREE booklets HERE, so click the link and fill out the form to get one for yourself. :) See, it all works out! God knew my heart was spazzing out about just what to do. And now, onto the review.

"It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily... BUT WHO DO YOU KNOW WHO LIVES LIKE THAT? DO YOU? In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple - then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment - a one year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring."

David Platt is the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a four-thousand-member congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Widely regarded as an exceptional expositor, David has traveled and taught around the world. He holds two undergraduate and three advanced degrees, including a doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. David and his wife, Heather, live in Birmingham with their family.

So, what did I think?
David's passion is evident from the get go in this book. I wasn't expecting the pastor of a mega church to be so concerned with what is going on in the rest of the world - as he would obviously have so much responsibility with his own flock. His passion and drive to preach the Gospel to ALL nations was convicting and left little room for our all too common American excuses. In chapter one David says, "...we (American churches today) are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have..."
He goes on to share story after story of his experiences in other countrys with believers young and old. He gives poignant illustrations of the sacrifice and dedication of those who don't have it "so easy" in the faith. I was blown away by some of the experiences he had been able to have. Most of all I found great benefit in the challenge to look at scripture a little more closely to see what it really says about evangelism, spiritual gifts and following Christ, in general. Pastor Platt is down to earth, real, and shares a very contagious Christian faith. I found the general theme of the book to be very similar to that of Frances Chan's "Crazy Love" with the idea of just going, just doing, just giving. Very challenging and engaging from beginning to end. The book ends with the opportunity for you to fill out your own Radical Experiment and make plans for what you will do over the next year in service to God.
Radical can be purchased online at and you can download chapter one as a preview here.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Healthified Sausage-Stuffed Shells

Ok, this was a HIT lastnight in our home! Watching my 1 year old shovel spinach into her mouth willingly just about made my day! So, yes, I'll share this recipe in hopes you can enjoy it, too.

Healthified Sausage-Stuffed Shells

24 Jumbo shells (from 12oz box) -I used Barilla
1 lb. italian turkey sausage, casings removed (well...I used 1lb pork sausage...)
15oz. ricotta
2 c. shredded italian blend cheese
9 oz. froz. spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
1/2 t. basil
3/4 c. shredded carrots
25.5 oz Pasta Sauce (we used Classico's sweet Basil... yum!)

1) Heat oven to 350. Spray 13x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on box, omitting salt.
2) In 10in. skillet crumble sausage. Cook over med. heat, stir frequently, until no longer pink. Drain.
3) In med. bowl, stir ricotta, 1 c. italian cheese, spinach and basil until well mixed. Stir in carrots and sausage. ( I stirred in 2 T. flax seed meal, too.... shhhhh!)
4) Spead about 1/2c. sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon about 3T. sausage mix into each shell. Arrange shells, filled sides up, on sauce in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over the top. Cover with foil.
5) Bake 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Bake another 5-10 mins.

*this can be SUPER healthy if you use all organic (Muir Glen) products and stick with the turkey sausage. I just couldn't find the items at our store, but, it still tastes amazing the ol' fatty way, too! :)
Recipe from Eat Better America - really cool site with endless possibilities!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Housewife stuff

It dawned on me this weekend that I don't think I ever posted the "end result" of our kitchen makeover/paint job. SO SORRY! How annoying is that to have someone go on and on about something like that and then never show the proof...

I can't find any "before" pics fast enough without digging through my Kodak software - but, here are two of the "after" shots. We went with the red and cream-ish colors and will be accenting with coffee stuff. (shocking, I know!) What do you think? My camera doesn't capture all the hard work put in (of course) and how it goes SO well with the dark woodwork... but, oh well.
Don't mind the cluttery table... it was a catchall that day...and somehow everyday...{Sigh}. Anyway, the kitchen is done and now I'm just slowly collecting accents for here and there. If you have any old percolators you don't want - send 'em my way! I'm looking for some antique-y looking coffee things: tins, mugs, pots, signs. We'll see. It was fun and I am praising the Lord for allowing me a home to make my own. :)

Ok, more Housewife stuff...

I wanted to give a quick review of the AMAZING book - "Passionate Housewives Desperate for God" by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald. I finished it a while ago and to be totally honest was sad to be done with it. :( It's THAT good! These ladies have challenged my thought patterns in every aspect of being a homemaker/wife/mom (not in that order) and the Word of God was convicting page after page. If you have an extra $10-16 bucks and have heart that is "hopeful" about homemaking... IT WILL BE WORTH IT! And who knows, maybe you can find it cheaper on or something? (click the link to find out)

In the first chapter I came across this sentence:

"Real women need to know that being helpers to their husbands, raising Godly children, and properly managing their homes takes real work, but the rich reward a woman receives by diligently tending to the ways of her household is well worth the effort."

And that's what got me motivated right away...
Jennie and Stacy shared from personal experiences and lessons learned from other women on the good, the bad and the ugly of this housewife thing. Tho my mom spent many years at home... I know that I still have much to learn, aside from observing her, and this book reminded me of that. I'm baffled as to how to 1) love my husband...really. And be his personal helper. 2) Love my Ava girl. Train her. Mold her. Influence her for Christ...really. and 3) keep up with this house! Some days the task is just too daunting, while others I wake up and just feel very clearly that this is the path the Lord has laid out and all will be well. More and more the latter feeling is taking over! :) And then I came upon a whole chapter that addressed those feelings - YES! And was encouraged with,

"When we recognize and fully embrace our calling, we are finally free to truly enjoy it; we're able to experience contentment in the uniqueness of our role and achieve overwhelming victory in our homes and lives!"

The biggest influence this book (and Scripture) had on my life was the chapter that touched on our personal walks with the Lord. I loved, loved, loved the encouragement offered through their wise words about how to incorporate our children into our walk... instead of getting cranky or even angry when we hear that monitor go off early during nap time - destroying our only chance at a "quiet time". Anyone relate? I don't know your heart...but, OH how angry I used to become if I didn't squeeeeze in those few minutes of solitary time with my Lord while Ava slept. When she was very little - I could feel my blood pressure rise. And, it never made sense to me. Why on earth was I getting angry about this?! I've had 16 months to think about it and it does boil down to selfishness. Thanks be to God for these ladies and their input - reminding me I was not alone in this feeling. Check this out...

"Rather then pouring some cereal and reading my bible with the children while they ate and I sipped a cup of coffee, I would begin my day feeling like a failure, being short with the children - perhaps even secretly feeling like God was unfair. After all, I just wanted to spend time alone with Him; why couldn't He have kept eveyone asleep? I wound up getting angry because I was trying to meet God each day "MY WAY" rather then His, and it wasn't working."

"If this is your season of little ones, find ways to include them in your spiritual life."

"We need to find Him in the commotion of everyday life. We must view serving our families as acts of service to God, rather than acts that "Get in the way" of serving Him."

I was blown away to connect with the authors this way. And to be given such wise advice from women who have been where I am now. One of the authors goes on to share her personal experience of sitting in a chair to read the Word - one of her little sons came to see what momma was doing (after wanting to know what momma was doing allll day long), and rather then becoming frustrated or angry she simply pulled him up in the chair with her and began reading her study passage aloud...with voices...and directing it toward him. It went like this, "Joshua, you came just at the right moment; listen to this, "these things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Isn't that great? Jesus gives us peace in Him! (Jn.16:33)" and goes on to talk about how her toddler went away clapping and grinning because of how excitedly momma had read her bible to him. I put the book down after reading this and wept. Literally. How many times had I selfishlessly pushed away my little one to "concentrate" on God ? How many opportunities missed? I picked the book back up and read this,

"If I strive for a "me-centered" life while I am surrounded by a family who needs me, then I will find myself frustrated and desperate indeed - with an emphasis on despair."

And, wouldn't you know it. During the days as I read this book and got more and more encouraged - it felt as if Satan was working harder and harder to get at me, get me down...whisper lies at me. So many days I battled with selfish pride - still do - and control over my tongue and attitudes. It was as if he wanted to totally distract from all of this rich learning I was taking in. (duh, I know) So, I will tell you this.... don't be suprised if that happens to you. This book is FULL of scripture and wise insight - stuff Satan hates and doesn't want us to see. He wants us to be money hungry, discontent, prideful and forget what God has called us to.

The authors go on to cover topics such as : feminism, work world, avoiding becoming weary, "stepford" husband and the battle of our men being MEN, servanthood, keeping the home, mothering, being a wife, and the list goes on. The cover says it all - I think - "Fresh vision for the hopeful homemaker." Is that you? Need some refreshing? Go for it...
This book has changed the way I view my husband, my child, my church family, the lost, homemaking, cooking, cleaning, you name it... it's changed. Praise be to God for sending this my way at just the right time. He always knows!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Momentous Monday!

We are Hooooooooommmmme!

It was a fabulous trip to Ohio/Georgia, but, I'll tell ya... there's just something about being home. My Momentous Monday was actually ALL of last week. And, since there just isn't time or space to write about everything - I'll share just a few special memories made.

The girls: Kaci and Ava loved playing. They were both old enough now to get into the toys. And everything else in the house! As seen here - Kaci enjoying a storage bin and Ava learning all the ways of the world from her cousin. I just loved sitting back and watching and listening to them interact. so so sweet. Reminded me of growing up and playing with all of my cousins - now we've all grown up.

On the 29th we celebrated my "little" brothers 25th birthday! And, how better to celebrate then with a Transformers theme! We decked out their dining room in all kinds of Transformers garb - including shoving 2 action figures into a cake :) We do it right in our family! :) The girls LOVED the cool masks! (nevermind that they are on upside down)
We had such a great visit and can't wait to see them all again!
Happy Monday! clean up my house... our suitcases exploded upon home impact, I'm afraid!