Friday, July 29, 2011

The Gardening type

My thumbs are not green. In fact, they range in the brown to black area when it comes to gardening, plants, and even a vase of flowers. Call me death thumb - if you will. Because everytime I attempt to plant and grow anything... it dies a slow, pathetic, over or under watered, dried and shriveled death. I just can't get it right!

{Showing mommy her "dirty" hands}

Enter SUPER MOM idea #485409... attempting to teach Ava to plant and care for a garden. {are you keeping in mind what I just mentioned above?} Now chuckle.

Even though I can't grow dirt - that doesn't mean Ava doesn't have the FULL potential to be able to. So, last weekend we went to work. We dug holes, put the flowers in, watered them... and then a week later... we are watching them die. {sigh} But you know what - it was SO much fun to interact with her and talk about "sowing" and all of that. She loved watering the plants and in the process completely soaked herself under the spicket. The whole fam was outdoors for a good hour and it was lovely to just enjoy these overly-hot summer days together. Even August got in on the action by watching from her bouncy seat. :)

Maybe we'll try again in the fall with some good ol' mums?! This picture was taken when the plants were first potted... they are now a crispy brown color. I don't get it... maybe I'll stick to cooking.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thai anyone?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine wrote something about going out for Thai food on her facebook page. My mouth began that weird salivating thing even thinking about it. I LOVE ME SOME THAI! I never even thought that Iowa would have a thai place. :)

Thankfully, I came across this recipe and was able to make some Thai right at home - for half the price of what it would have cost me to go out. Because I also LOVE ME SOME MONEY SAVING.

Thai Chicken Fettuccine

1 c. salsa

1/4 c. creamy peanut butter

2 T. orange juice

2 T. honey

1 t. soy sauce

8 oz. fettuccine

3/4 to 1lb. boneless, skinless children breast, cut into strips

1 T. veggie oil

1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned

1/4 c. minced fresh cilantro

1) For sauce, in a micro-safe bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Cover and micro on high for 1 min ; stir. Continue until warm minute by minute and then set aside.

2) Cook fettuccine. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook chicken in oil over med. heat for 3-5 minutes or until browned. Add red pepper; cook and stir until crisp tender.

3) Drain pasta; top with chicken mix and sauce. Sprinkle with cilantrol.

(Makes 4 servings)

Quick, Delish and doubles easily for company!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

HE is higher

"Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

Psalm 61:1-2

It happened again. Instead of being a cool, calm, collected momma I lost my patience and resorted to voice raising and rash decision. I hate disobedience. And what a glimpse I get of how God must feel about ours towards Him each and every time my daughter does the opposite of my desires. Just a glimpse.

My heart absolutely falls to the floor after those moments. I feel like a failure. The Lord knows my heart, my shortcomings {aka: sin} and He deals with me so graciously. My bible reading today was perfect for where I was and I was left so encouraged and motivated to cling even tighter to His truth today. My high rock.

In the little devotional I was reading that went along with this chapter in Psalms there was a question/thought at the end that got me thinking:

"When we get discouraged, we need to follow this pattern for ourselves. Seek strength from God (vs1), remind yourself of who He is and what He has done, and then, get back to work (vs8). Which one of those steps do you need to take today?" {source: Ontrack devos}

For me - the answer is GET BACK TO WORK. When I feel defeated or like a failure I just want to quit. Give up. Discipline doesn't seem to be working... give up. Potty training is taking a zillion years... just quit. The baby won't take naps and I'm exhausted and don't feel like taking care of my home or being the adult... don't. That's the easy way, and sadly, the way my human-ness seems to veer. But David's example in Psalm 61 is the opposite - he ends Psalm 61 with this verse -

"So I will sing praise to Your name forever, That I may daily perform my vows." (vs 8)

Challenging. In a world today where mom's leave their families if they "can't handle it", dad's take off when things get rocky, teens quit school if its too difficult, and public leaders resign when the pressure gets to be too much - it's such a contrast on how to live. So thankful that when the going gets tough and my heart is overwhelmed, like David, I can cling to the Rock that is so much higher then I.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays

Several months ago I was able to read the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. I got it for FREE and it was such a timely blessing in my life... but not only a blessing, a challenge. While I knew we are commanded to "give thanks in all things" - so often I don't take that seriously.

I finished the book after highlighting and underlining it to death. I felt stronger, more thankful, or at least more aware to be thankful. It. was. good.

And then, as life went on I forgot.

I forgot to be thankful. I forgot the feel of the challenge, the tug on my soul to praise my maker daily in all the small ways I had noticed before. And I wondered why I felt so barren. {nevermind being pregnant and chasing a toddler around} My life was evidence of my absence of thanks. My husband sees it and my children experience it.


Julie, over at Whimsical Words, had a link up to this Multitudes on Monday idea. I have so loved reading the things she's giving thanks for and this weekend decided I'd like to hop on this train myself. So consider today my KICK OFF of thanksgiving!

One Thousand Gifts - #1-10

1) Summer mornings... with potted flowers on the front steps.

2) Children in matching footie pajamas

3) Sisters - watching them learn just how to be

4) Hot coffee with hazelnut creamer

5) the knowledge that none of this life is done on my OWN strength

6) silly 2 month old faces

7) baby giggles

8) 2 year old saying, "mom, I have a question"

9) bright green leaves blowing on the tree outside my bedroom window - reminder that summer is in full swing

10) piles of laundry. reminder of God's provision and lavishing on us.

Will you join me? Link up on Ann's page here and let's celebrate all the things we have to be thankful for!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's what we do : Family

{Ava (2) and Kaci (3) playing!}

A few weeks ago I was released from the hospital. My liver was still a mess and I was sent home with plenty of prescriptions to be filled, orders on how to sleep and when, etc... but I was home. My mother in law flew in from Florida to take care of the girls while I was still in the hospital. She did everything. Cleaned my house. Bathed, fed, and loved my children. She even covered the middle of the night feedings! I was so thankful to come home and have her there. Especially as hubs was on a missions trip and I cannot even fathom doing it alone right from the get-go. I am so blessed to have a mother in law who so selflessly cares for her children and their children. She wouldn't let me lift a finger and set to work keeping things in order for me so I could recover. What an impact on my life she has made. I'm so grateful.

{Me, Hailie (7mo), Brother, Mom, and August enjoying some family lounge time}

After MIL left, my nurse-mother asked if she could come to care for us. But not just her... my entire family. Mom, dad, brother, brothers wife and 2 children. :) I automatically said yes! My brother and his wife are a military family and we so rarely get to see them - I had to jump on this opportunity. So they caravan-ed out here to Iowa, all 6 of them. They gave up their vacay time to come be with a sicky me and my little family - to help me get back on my feet.

{the princesses at Cheesecake factory with hubs}

Our home is cozy. It's not the biggest house on the block - but we do have some space. It's plenty big for us. We each have our own room and its cozy. However, add 6 extra bodies and it becomes even more cozy. :) And that is just what we did. We had bodies in just about every room of the house. Mom and Dad slept on a mattress in the living room. My 3 year old niece slept on air mattress in the dining room. We kept our room and my girls stayed in their own, as well. Brother and sis took the upstairs back porch {which was about the same size as their air mattress} and shared with their 7 month old. And did I mention it was in the middle of one of the muggiest, hottest, stickiest weeks we've had all summer? The AC was cranked and I think at one point we had 5 fans going around the house, too, just to move the air.

{Poppa with his 4 granddaughters}

They made all the meals. They cleaned the house. They entertained the children. Mom went to Dr's appointments and labs with me. Dad picked up my hubs when he got home and rescued his car from the airport. All I had to do was BE THERE - which, the first day was actually some work as I adjusted to steroids pumping through me.

{steak eating 7 month old}

hrough all the chaos and bodies and children squealing and people snoring and laughing and OH THE TECHNOLOGY {everyone had an IPAD or laptop}... I felt alive. This was my family. This is who I was and where I came from. This is what family does. While my physical body still had a ways to go to get better - I could already feel the healing begin just by having them there, like I did with my MIL before them. And the truth is that I'm still basking in the warmth of them being here. It does something for the soul, I'm convinced, to be with the ones you love. To hug your parents everyday for 5 days in a row. To sit on the couch with your brother, both as adults with children of your own. To sit around the dinner table like you did growing up... with some added faces and years. It's beautiful. It's bittersweet ALWAYS because it goes too fast.

{family dinner at cheesecake factory}

Not to sound like a country song here, but, everytime I say goodbye to my family my heart breaks. I still cry as they round the corner and leave. I'm never satisfied with the time I get with them. But a good time was had. And this is what we do as a family - we care for each other. We travel and do things that are inconvenient. We make our own fun. I'm so thankful for my incredible family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Double sided heart

Life is weird. Lastnight we spent some time at a local splash park/pool with some friends - laughing, enjoying the water and just loving summer. Our children played, husbands rode the slides and we ladies got to chit chat. It actually felt like summer for me for the first time all year. {I even purchased a bathing suit!} The sky started out dark and ominous but it ended up sunny and perfect for swimming. The way some summer evenings are...

And while I was dangling toes in cool water, enjoying my 2 year olds shrieks of joy and fellowship with friends... my heart felt so torn. Life is weird because it goes on. My friend Becca is battling a disease - it's on my mind all the time. Right now things just don't look good, there's really no other way to say it. She has two precious little girls and a husband who loves her. My heart feels so double sided when things like this, in life, happen. How we have the capacity for extreme joy and fullness and deep grief all at once is amazing and complex. What a wonderful maker we serve. Please pray for Becca.

Today marks the last day of drugs for me. I take my very last dose of prednisone and I'm done. No more pain meds, no steroids, not even an antihistimine. I'm done! This is huge! I'm off all the creepy creams they gave me for my drug rash, too. Seriously - while God is good all the time - I'm especially grateful for His goodness in this area as I'm such an anti-medicine person. My liver enzyme count has normalized, white count is back to normal as well as platelets. Even just this last week I've seen a marked improvement in my energy level. Praise the Lord! Now... to work on this pasty, white colored skin.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


It's finally happened...

Out with the old and in with the new! We never thought this day would come, especially while trying to do it ourselves.


I say "we" but really mean "they" being Rick and Julie Young. What a blessing the "Handy Helpers" ministry is at our church. This group of men {and their wives for sharing them} came together to be a blessing to people in our church that need help with things around the house. We were so encouraged by Rick's help putting up our new dining room light - something that was beyond both hubs and I's know how. And do you know how frustrating it is to just stare at a hole in the ceiling for hours trying to figure it out?!

Another household task accomplished. We love our new light and can't wait to entertain in our dining room again. And in case you were wondering or had forgotten - this is QUITE the change from what USED to hang in this room.


Needless to say we are so thankful for this new change!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Some nights the sleep doesn't come easy. I tried to put most of this blame on the fact that I'm still pumped up on steroids...for a few more days. {the good medical kind, if I really need to clarify} Last night was a different story. Bad combination of too much too late caffeine and a head full of questions and concerns. Mix that with an overly tired momma who is still seeking so many answers - it's a wicked cocktail.

I had another lab taken yesterday - which, for those of you non-medical people like me, simply means... more blood taken to be run through the tests to see whats going on with me. They are still looking at my liver enzymes/bilirubin, iron, etc. A normal person ranges in the 40's-60's and I was in the 600's, now working my way back down. And of course the dr almost never calls me back on the same day - so I have hours to sit and wait and think all of the "what if's". Hopefully today we'll get some good news - that things continue to normalize, etc. Until then... I wait.

This weekend at church as I heard myself utter the words, "She's two months old already..." in regards to my "newborn", I felt a weird pain strike me. TWO MONTHS {basically} since I first became sick. It's been a long two months, that's all I can say. I'm still majorly processing - and the Lord is still chipping away at some of the hurt and panic that was settling around my heart. I will always wonder...

WHY get so sick after the blessing of a new baby.
WHY lose the privilege of nursing so soon? After waiting almost 10 months to do so.
HOW did all of this happen?
Will I ever feel normal again?

I was telling my husband the other night about my lowest point during my hospital stay. It was July 4th and I was reduced to watching fireworks on the hospital TV. Hot tears spilled down my cheeks as I lay there wondering what was going on... why was I here? I missed my babies and the fact that every night someone ELSE was putting them down to sleep, giving them kisses and hugs. I was miserable and tired of the sound of the IV stand beeping and dripping at me. Always pumping in some kind of something. Fighting for me. I would just lay in bed for hours - while the nurses would encourage me to "take a walk" - only, taking a walk would have to be with them and we'd have to talk about the risks, and I'd have to wear a goofy mask and... this and that. Never simple.

While I've known this fact - hearing someone else say it hits home harder. 40% of people who are checked into hospitals with Sepsis or Toxic Shock don't leave. And that's what I originally went in for. 40%! And I know part of the hospital staffs job is to not make things seem super serious - but, I don't think this was explained to me at any time. I did wonder why someone woke me up every hour. Why my temperature and blood pressure were taken like every 39 minutes. Why they seemed obsessed with me drinking water.

I do still wonder, often several times a day, why all of this had to be. But, I will tell you this - wow, have I been learning things and experiencing the goodness of the Lord. Never have I felt so loved and taken care of. The body of Christ has done exactly what it was meant to do - and my family is so grateful. I've gotten phone calls, texts, visits, meals, cards, hugs, etc. People have brought us meals, flowers, balloons, gift cards - offered to help clean our home, watch our children, take me to dr appointments. I feel showered in the Love of God. And through all of this I know I'm experiencing something great. Though painful and confusing, great!

Today I will wait on that Dr's phone call. Today I will try and carry on life as normal... as a wife and momma. I still have so much to process - and it's a day at a time. But that's all I have in this life - time. And I thank the Lord for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Homemaker Monday!

The weather in my neck of the woods: Outside my kitchen window - the thermometer reads in the 100's! Geesh! Let's just say... I'm not going anywhere.

Things that make me happy: Frozen Gogurts, happy baby in the swing, toddler napping.

Book I'm reading: "Loving the Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic. I could go on and on and on about that little book. Awesome.

What's on my TV today: It's off! But I so enjoy Brian Williams newscast at 5:30.

On the menu for dinner: Having some possible new youth leaders over tonight, which means... PIZZA ordered in! :) Gusto Pizza downtown is amazing!

On my To Do List: Search ads to see what I can score for free or cheap this week, laundry, general tidying, call to see why our mortgage went up. :/

New Recipe I tried or want to try soon: Hmmm... still using up leftovers and enjoying meals brought to us. God is so good. But I am eager to try out a new taco salad I found in a magazine.

In the craft basket: Well, we are putting up a new dining room light. Does that count?

Looking forward to this week: Aug's 2 month appointment tomorrow, Playdate Weds, GIRLS NIGHT on Friday! :) Looking forward to some time out of the house with friends.

Tips and Tricks: Potty Training our 2 year old is very interesting. I've found that positive reinforcement is working best. And reminding her of her older friends and how they "go" seems to make her more interested, too.

My favorite blog post this week: none.

Blog Hopping (a new discovered blog you would like to share with the readers): failed on this one, too.

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

Lesson learned the past few days: After a 6 day stay in the hospital away from my spouse and babies and 2 months of sickness... I'm learning how important it is to lean on friends and family. God gave us an amazing church and ministry and I'm so thankful to call them "family".

On my mind: My friend Becca struggling with cancer. :( Praying for you Becca! And wondering what my blood tests this morning will reveal. Is Liver back to norm?

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Loved the reminder from Proverbs 18 today that the man who is slothful or lazy in his work is just like someone who is a destroyer. I needed that reminder and motivation!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

August Hope - 2 Months already?

This morning I was able to be back in church. Wow - what an encouragement to be back with the "body". What a blessing to be able to stand and sing to God and praise Him despite the hard times and questioning. It felt good. I'm so thankful for all the Lord has pulled me through, or, I should say carried me through. And deep inside somewhere I'm thankful that He has allowed me to go through this. I am learning things... but, still piecing those things together.

I realized that today is August' 2 month birthday! 2 months already?! Now I know I've been a pretty sick momma - but, has 2 whole entire months really just blown by? As I was holding her in church tonight I was just memorizing every movement and twitch as she slept. I've heard people say that baby #2 seems to grow a little bit faster... but, my heart is not ready for the speed of this kiddo. She is a gem.

August fun facts:

- At 2 months old she holds her head right up there!

- Cracks herself up. I've never seen such a little baby giggle so much. Especially loves mommas face and sisters singing.

- Still only drinking around 3 or 4 oz. at a time, doesn't seem to be as serious about eating as baby #1 was. Kinda takes her time and enjoys it.

- Sleeping around 5 to 6 hours at night. She was doing 11p-6a stretches while I was in the hospital. Let's just say... that has NOT been happening since I've gotten back. {It's like they know}

- Last week she weighed in at 12 pounds. :) Has her 2 mo appointment this week - we'll see what they say.

- Likes to sleep on her right side face buried in a blanket. Makes momma nervous, but, thats what she likes.

- Just started trying to touch things... mostly me, while eating. It's precious.

I found this pic of Ava around August' age now - and I just can't believe the similarities.

Ava around 6ish weeks...

And here below - August, this afternoon.

I should look harder and find pictures, because...seriously, it's like having another mini-Ava. :) Looks wise anyway. What a blessing this precious bundle is~ I love you August Hope!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I'm so glad I came across this book by Rachel Jankovic - "Loving the Little Years". I've mentioned it a few times now, and I find myself telling more and more people about it. It's such a tiny little thing jam packed full of wisdom, insight and truth. Since the focus of my life right now has been "taking care of mommy" so I can actually be mommy effectively again - I was so encouraged and challenged by her chapter titled "Me Time".

My idea of "me time" right now is having 5 minutes to drink my coffee while its still hot. Usually by 11:45 as I'm giving Ava her lunch I'm still finishing that "hot" coffee - now having been nuked at least 5 times in attempt. I'm adjusting. Another "me time" activity is folding laundry. It's so calming for me - and makes me feel like things are actually getting done. I can clean this house from top to bottom and it takes that same toddler mentioned above 3 minutes to undo the whole thing. With laundry, I can wash, dry, fold it and get it put away and feel like something actually got done! I do struggle with selfishness in this area. I want "me time" instead of changing a diaper. I want to be "left alone" for "just 2 minutes" to brush my teeth or pee in silence. And not that those are wrong things - but, I so lack the grace and patience somedays. Especially when I'm not feeling the greatest. But I'm learning.

Anyway, Rachel had some wonderfully challenging things to say about this topic. Things that are still echoing through my brain on a daily basis as I continue to recover and re-learn how to mommy these precious girls. And while my mind races thinking of the 30 some pounds I need to lose, the newly identified stretches and "extras" post baby #2 has left me - I'm encouraged that I'm doing exactly what I need to do by just BEING.

"Motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damages."

"Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work."

My favorite part of this chapter was where she helps us identify the whole myth of the "forgetting who I was" kind of mentality. This is something that rings true for me right now -

"...the Christian view of self is very different, and you need to make sure that it is the one you have. We are like characters in a story. Our essential self is not back in the intro, waiting to be rediscovered. Who you are is where you are. When you are married, your essential self is married. As the story grows, so does your character. Your children change you into a different person. If you suddenly panic because it all happened so fast and now you don't recognize yourself, what you need is not time alone. What you need is your people. Look out - look at the people who made you what you are - your husband and your children. Study them. They are you. If you want to know yourself, concentrate on them."

Ah, isn't that so true?! When I get caught up in "what I once was" or start to feel sorry for myself because I'm so tired, so worn out, so...different. What a great perspective changer that I'm doing exactly what God has for me. And that is exactly what I need to focus on right now. I'm getting stronger, and when I start to get down or confused or frustrated - I can look up and see the faces and remember God's goodness and Grace. Who I am is where I am. I am momma. And thankfully - I know from God's word that these trials and tests and hard times are perfecting my patience...growing my faith... and teaching me to see.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ministry Update

Two weeks ago my hubs along with several of our teens made our/their first ever missions-trek down to Louisiana. New Orleans, to be more specific. While I didn't get to go with them - we prayed them on and now looking over their pics I know God is doing something big in our youth group. I'm so thankful for a husband whose passion for the Lost and for our God is so much bigger then I can understand sometimes.

We so desire for these teens to magnify the Lord with their lives! And its so refreshing and rewarding to hear the stories, see the pictures and hear the passion in their voices. May God be praised!

Brad put together a really cool video of their trip. If you have a second check it out here on Youtube. Very exciting stuff! :) So proud of my hubs and these students!

*Pictures courtesy of Elevate Student Ministry Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

still hangin' on

I didn't think that by July 13th I would still be writing about being sick.
I also didn't expect this "day by day" mentality to get to me. I'm ok with "day by day" or "day at a time" because I know that's all we have anyway.

But, all the same...

July 13th. And I feel like the tunnel I'm in has no end. I know there is light at the end of it, I see it faintly. But for right now it's just turn after turn of tunnel. I'm still hangin' on and we'll get through this - but I would be lying if I acted like it was easy.

Saw my Infectious Disease doctor today. Doesn't that just sound lovely? INFECTIOUS DISEASE. Ugh. He says while my liver enzyme levels are coming down - they are still rediculously high. Normal is in like the 60's. I was in the 600's and am now in the 300's. So yea - a liver freak. Which explains my ZERO energy. Literally zero. Walk across the room and call it a day is my level of energy. Makes life interesting with 2 kids 2 and under.

My family came to be with me and take care of me this week - which was awesome. I hadn't seen my brother and his family in months. We packed 6 adults, 2 toddlers and 2 babies into this place and I loved every second of it. I miss them so much already. What a blessing to have a close family.

Sitting here has completely drained me. So, time for a nap. I'm hangin' on - God has me in His hand, and I know that.

still hangin

Thursday, July 7, 2011

bad times, sickness, poorer, worse

Well isn't that a pleasant title?

Bare with me.

Yesterday I {finally} got to come home from the hospital after 6 of the longest, most confusing days of my life. I don't have the energy to sit here and tell the whole story - but, over those 6 days I have been...

-jabbed by a zillion needles and eventually given a picc line. ick.
-tested for HIV, hepatitis and a whole slew of other things that were so far out of reality...
-seen at least 10 Dr's. All of which let me know what a "strange" case I was. thank you.
-had an 11 hour stay in the ER
-xrays, cat scans, drinkable inks, blood pressure cuffs, more blood draws in abundance.

I'm tired. I'm weary. I'm still confused by it all and I have a million and a half questions that no one can answer. Tomorrow I head back to the first of a few "follow up" Dr appointments and I dread them. They found something "different" on my ultrasound of my gall bladder/liver. While no one would really explain, tomorrow a dr will.

So, as Brad had to once again load up his wife and take her to the ER last week... I was thinking about how funny vows are. We say those happy little things on our wedding days and do we even stop to think what the "opposites" look like? Of course not - it's a happy day. I guess that's normal. I just remember saying to my husband,
"well, welcome to bad times, sickness, being poor and worse all at the same time." We both just gave a weird smile. It's accepted right now.

I know God has a plan in this.
It's just hard.