Friday, December 16, 2011

2nd Trimester and I'm Back!

Okay, so it has been pathetically long since I wrote anything on my blog. Even if I hadn't been gagging on and off for two months, I wouldn't have had much to write about though. The view from my couch, or bed is not that exciting, and you would have gotten sick of all my new mother details which centered around what I've eaten and how much I've slept in a day.
Now I feel as though I have started to come back to life. I'm no longer gagging up my prenatal vitamins and they are making me feel just swell. I get an extra little kick each morning from my folic acid supplement, it's one of the B vitamins you know! Oh, and I ate eggs today, that I cooked myself, and they tasted great!
These are all huge accomplishments for me as a pregnant lady, but that is not all I want to talk about. There's more on my mind.
Christmas!
That is the real reason I wanted to write.
We're missionaries, as most of you know, but this is the first Christmas that we haven't spent it with our little girls in a community surrounded by other missionaries. It has been an awkward reminder of the junk that has still been hiding in my heart. Doubts and worries and fears and comparisons that have been coming out over the last six months in our new home. We are surrounded by people who work at jobs that pay them a regular income each week. No matter how slim their check is though, they always know they have one coming at regular intervals. Our livelihood is completely dependent on the Lord. We don't know when or where the next check is coming from, I can't plan my grocery shopping on the same day of the week, I just go when we have money. Most of the time I can handle this. I've grown use to living with the unknown but always timely provision of the Lord. He has never failed us, He has always provided, and I've grown quite confident that He will supply all our needs.
Holidays throw a kink in this confidence though, because Christmas presents aren't really a need are they? Do they qualify as a necessity? How can I ask for Christmas presents when what I really need is enough money to pay the gas bill or rent?
Yet I live in a community where all my friends are preparing for the holidays and I feel as though I am holding my breath, hoping they don't see how little I am able to join in with them. I have been believing the lie that I am not as good of a parent as my friends because I can't do all the things that they can do for their children. Another lie, I am not a good friend, daughter, wife, mother, etc. if I can't buy so and so a present on their birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc.
Recently the extent of these lies that I was believing came to the surface in one of my emotional breakdowns.
Ken sat as patiently as possible and listened to all my nonsense and then he methodically thwarting all of my arguments/lies and gave me a  much needed pep talk on who my Father is and what Christmas is all about.
Ugh, I both love and hate that man! Love that he tells me the things I need to hear, but hate that he is so right a lot of the time.
By the end of the episode and certainly by the end of that day though I had come to some revelations. Here they are:
Who cares if we can't get the girls what I had been hoping to get them, who cares if we can't buy our family anything this year. We will send them our love, and a card, and maybe even something handmade if I can find the time to finish the dozens of half started projects. People who love us and are close to us are not going to think we are cheap or ungenerous. Our kids aren't old enough to count how many presents are under the tree and calculate the total cost that their parents have spent on them.
All of that means that I can just relax then (well once I have all my homemade presents done) and enjoy the season. My parents are coming down to visit us over Christmas, and that is a cause for celebration, not panic. They don't care if I get them anything. My sweet mother told me today that my dad would be happy with some cookies. Well I know how to make those, so let the baking and sweet making begin!
Another added benefit to all this drama has been that it caused me to re-evaluate what we are doing here in South Carolina. Apparently two months of being sick has caused me to lose sight of what the Lord has called us to here, and it certainly isn't so that we can live the high life and buy everyone expensive Christmas gifts that they don't need. We are called here to pray, to encourage our community to pray, and to serve the body of Christ in the areas the Lord has opened to us. The simplicity of our call should be a reassurance, and it is when I stop and take time to remember it.
And......Jesus is the reason for this season, and what a better way to celebrate Him than by remember to slow down and talk to Him. To take the focus off of all the stuff that is thrown in our faces at this time of year, and just sit and think on our Savior, our King!
He has never let me down, not once!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Was Boring

As a mother who still feels rather new to motherhood, even though I now have two under my belt, I always am looking for ways to improve upon my skills. My favorite sources often include large families that I feel function well, then I track down that busy momma, and ask her all sorts of questions about her secrets to success.

So before I took my sabbatical from blogging to do some other writing though, I was working on a series of tips for motherhood. I thought I would share a new tip that the Lord has recently re-taught me.

Don't fall into the trap of being boring.

What were my first clues that I was being boring. It started when I started to notice unrest in my home. There was fussing, whining, dramatic displays of moods and attitudes, and lots of poor napping going on in this house. Disobedience was on the rise too, as was mommy's temper gauge.
See what I mean, drama and exaggerated boredom.
This scene was
reenacted from actual events that took place.

My husband was the first to point out that there was a problem, and we had a talk about what we felt like wasn't working. I wanted answers to "fix" the problem fast, thinking we needed to ramp up our disciplines to deal with the increased disobedience issues. My husband, who is wise even when he doesn't realize just how wise, suggested we pray and ask Holy Spirit what to do about it first.

There is another tip that is invaluable: Ask Holy Spirit when you see a problem but don't know the root cause.


So I prayed, but I was already pretty sure I knew the answer. That is when the Lord started to show me things in my own heart. Somewhere in the last few months I had lost sight of my goals as a mother. My vision for motherhood had started to wane and so had my ability to change and adapt to new realities in my home (like my 4 year old growing out of most of my old tactics) because I just didn't care enough to try and be my best anymore. I was focused on other 'things'.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Those seasons where your mind gets preoccupied with other 'things' and so I had lost focus on what I wanted to accomplish else where. My house had started to fall apart in the meantime. Bathrooms were dirty, floors hadn't been mopped, and my kids were bored nearly to tears. Well, there were probably some actual tears.

All their favorites in the schedule like craft time, reading time, outside play, etc. had been denied them because I wanted to focus on my own things, like crochet, computer time, sewing, eating, sleeping, etc. Pathetic momma, I know, but it was only for a season and then I had my Holy Spirit wake up call.

Now I am trying to be fun again. I am letting them pull out creative crafty games in the morning, planning family devotions for a few mornings a week, letting them enjoy their favorites again. My initial reasons for not wanting to do some of these things was because I was afraid of the mess it would make. My cleaning schedule had also fallen to the wayside, so extra messes were unwelcome during this past season. Epic fail.
Kinsey and her birthday chain, counting down
the days to her birthday, 54 days in this
picture, but it was super fun to make.
She was able to work on her mad scissor skillz!

Now that I am out of my funk though, I can see that messes are worth it. My girls are loving all the craft time, and my mornings fly like a breeze because they are using up all their creative juices making crafts rather than inventing ways to misbehave. There is a whole lot less whining, crying, drama and tears, and you know what, at the end of it all I don't even mind cleaning up. With the total lack of drama, it is so much easier to clean and then move on to the next thing. They are sleeping better at nap time too, and I am spending less gas money taking them to friends houses for entertainment (don't get me wrong, we still have plenty of playdates, just not every other day like we were doing.), and I feel great about how happy they are. Success is a great and heady feeling and I only have the Holy Spirit to thank for this little insight. Who else could have told me, or would I have listened to, that I was being super boring as a mommy? Probably not too many, maybe none. I've still got some pride to kick, I'm sure of it, but Holy Spirit always knows how to say these things to me.

Thank the Lord I don't have to parent out of my own wisdom or only out of the wisdom of others!

So what is your current parenting challenge, or schedule challenge, or whatever conflict you are facing? Ask Holy Spirit about it (literally probably whisper it out loud a couple times in a day), then find some time during the next few days to sit and listen. Seriously, that is it. You don't need to rattle on a laundry list of prayers, you just need to sit and wait for that still small voice. When I first started sitting and listening for Holy Spirit, I did it in 20 minute increments, that was all I could handle.
Sitting quiet and being focus on the Lord is really hard, so if your mind keeps wandering the first few times you try, keep trying. If you keep thinking of all the things you should be doing with that time, write them down on a piece of paper and then refocus. Sitting quiet seems like a waste on the front end, but some of my most amazing revelations from the Lord have come through times of sitting quietly.
When Holy Spirit does speak, I usually don't recognize it right away, even when I am listen for it. In the coming days though, what was spoken to my mind in those quiet times (which I thought on the front end was my own imagination), is usually confirmed within the next few days in other ways. It is really that simple when you know Christ.
He can tell you all sorts of mysteries about your spouse or children or yourself. Sometimes when I think a problem is with my children or spouse, it is always humbling when the Lord shows me the issue is in my own heart. Whenever He shows me the problem though, He also suggests the solution. I love that about Him. He is so good!

So recap of tips:
Don't be Boring.
Ask Holy Spirit about Problems
Learn to Sit Quietly to Hear Holy Spirit

Outdoor play is a must for burning energy, thank you mowing
crew for blowing all the leaves into a pile and disappearing for
about twenty minutes so my girls could 'swim' in them!

Maybe coming up next time in this series will be: Making a Mommy Vision and Making a Schedule to Fit

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brief Explanation

For those of you who actually read this thing half way regularly, I wanted to explain my recent absence from writing on here, and give you a time frame for when I might be back.
Currently I am focusing all my writing energies on something else I'm working on, another writing project so to speak. Not ready to talk about it yet, but it requires most of my spare writing time on the computer (with two babies I am somewhat limited in computer time).
So, hopefully soon I will finish my post about making a dress for my daughter. Having a hang up with a lack of bias tape, trying to make my own, but a bit baffled at the moment with the whole concept of how to make it. After that you may or may not anticipate a post on me making some roman shades for a friend out of some super cute Ikea fabric.
Other than that, it could be quiet on here until sometime after Christmas.
Does that mean I will be finished with said "other writing project" after Christmas? Probably not.
If history repeats itself, which it usually does, then my writing project energies will disappear some months from now when I start to feel utterly overwhelmed by the project. At that point I will put it on the shelf of unfinished projects and writing on it will not recommence until at least 6-8 months later.
Yes, I've been working on and off on this writing project for over two years now, and there is a definite pattern established in the way I work on this thing. Right now, however, I'm feeling quite invigorate to write and work on it, so see you on the other side of this writing spurt!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mommy Tips

Over the course of the last four years, I have acquired a lot of little tips and tricks that help me to keep my sanity as a momma. I have decided to start compiling a few of my favorites in a place where other mommies can benefit. Most of these are not original to me, so you may have heard a few of them before, but they are all worth repeating if they help a new mommy become a better and more confident mommy.

Tip #1 Scheduling
    This one is highly debated, and widely talked about, but for me and my lifestyle it has been a lifesaver. My children thrive when their days are halfway predictable. Wake up time is almost always the same, breakfast is almost always at the same time, next is playtime/errands, then lunch, then book reading, then the nap. Naptime is my time, so I protect this time and make sure my kids are home and in bed on time almost every single day for the past four years. Any changes of when nap time starts, and my whole day is thrown off. It has to be a really important gig for me to change nap time. :-)
After nap is more playtime/outings, then I cook dinner/short movie (movies only on bad days which occur less often these days), then we eat dinner, we play some more, then we bathe, read books and do our bedtime routine. They are almost always in bed by 7:30pm, unless we are out to dinner at someone's house, which is pretty rare. Again, I really protect bedtime, because after they are in bed, it is my time to do what I want, like quilt, crochet, or watch BBC Victorian era romances.
So there you have it, a glimpse into our scheduled life, and with it we have a whole lot fewer fights because they know what to expect. They sleep well because they have so many cues that bedtime is on its way; another huge plus. I am totally a huge believer in routine, and it has helped me to have a lot more sanity.
Side note: I'm a only child, so I feel like I require a lot more personal alone time than probably most people, I recharge my battery (so to speak) by being alone or doing things on my own.

Tip #2 Eating Out
    Eating out can be a chore sometimes with children, especially when you are trying to talk and socialize with other adults while your children run wild. Or while trying to get your kids to behave/eat their food in a reasonable way. So I go into every dinner meal away from home like it is going to be a battle, and I pack my diaper bag with a whole arsenal of tricks and toys. I also feed my children before we go, always. Then, if they decided they don't want to eat, or are too distracted to eat, I can say, "okay, get down and go play while mommy talks," and I never have to worry that they will go to bed without proper nutrition. When they come to me fussy, I make sure I have sippy cups and snacks within my reach, and/or toys to appease them.
Because seriously, what is the point of going out with friends if all I do is put out fires with my children all night.
However, even with all my planning, we have still had our share of nights where we have to throw in the towel and go home early because the girls won't behave or are too tired to go on. On those nights, I just say, "okay, sorry, please excuse us, we'll see you all again soon," and I tell myself on the way home not to feel embarrassed, because anyone else with kids knows what we are experiencing and probably have a lot of sympathy for us.
Those without children, well I tell myself that someday they probably will, and therefore the understanding will dawn on them. Then I go home, put the kids to bed and find some chocolate treat to devour in the silence.

Tip #3  Quiet time
   My oldest has given up napping, and so we had to come up with a solution that still gives me some time during the day to get things done. Quiet time is the answer. She does really well with it though, because we've been doing quiet time for a long time. Even before she gave up napping.
Whenever mommy is having a bad day, quiet time is an option. It is as much for me as it is for my children. Like those nights where I'm trying to cook dinner, and my girls are just 'at' me because they are bored, or didn't nap well. When I feel my blood beginning to boil and my patience wears thin and my husband isn't due to be home for a couple more hours, we have quiet time. Mommy puts them in their beds with books and a few toys and they have to stay in their beds until Mommy's cool has returned.
It is not a punishment, so they never look at it like a time out (because toys are not involved in time outs) and so they sit and talk to each other and read and whatever, but they are out of the kitchen and happy and that makes me a whole lot happier.
This even works with one child. I used quiet time a lot when I was pregnant with my second, so I could rest quietly for a twenty minute break during the day. Like after a particularly long morning of errands or something and my feet were hurting and swollen (late pregnancy) and so I put my 1+ year old child in her bed with toys and took a 20 min break. Still within earshot, but out of sight.
The point of this tip is: protecting mommy's sanity so that she can be a better mommy when her children are in the room. I remove them from my immediate presence while I rediscover my patience, love, joy, peace, whatever I'm lacking. When I've recovered and snuck some chocolate from my hidden stash, I am ready to go back into the battle and keep a cool head. Yet I was able to avert a total melt down before it hit, and for that, I think this is a worthy option.

So those are the three I've been thinking about recently. As with any parenting advice, children are individuals and so are parents for that matter. Take what you like, throw out the rest, modify it, and make it your own. What worked with my first child only partially works with my second, so flexibility and being in regular communication with Holy Spirit is still a big part of my training as a parent.
Still, I gleaned these gems from other seasoned moms, and I felt they were worth passing along. Hope you enjoyed them, and feel free to comment and share some of your own favorite tips. I love to learn new ideas, especially as my children grow up, because what works when they are babies eventually becomes obsolete.
Bring on the advice!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Empowered

You might think that title is referring to some spiritual quality, but today it has to do with crafting. After my confidence was boosted after learning to gather fabric and learning to sew a stretchy stitch, I have now progressed to making garments.
Baby doll garments.
They are like regular clothes, but in miniature.
Baby Rosy, shown here in her pink dress, needed some new clothes and I was up for the challenge. So I gave the pink dress a quick look over, looked at some patterns online and then decided to wing it with no pattern. Too cheap to print them off.
So I eye-balled, it came up with a pretty decent looking dress (for my first try ever). Professional sewers, do not read further, you may gag.
First off, my first button-holing experience was a bit dramatic leaving the area around the button hole a bit frayed looking. Overall however, I think it turned out okay.
New techniques I used: button-hole foot & stitch, finishing a raw edge without a serger, and sewing in a circle for sleeves. All very interesting and not nearly as overwhelming as I thought they would be.
I finished the dress in about 4 hrs, but next time it won't take so long. At least an hour of that was trying to figure out how to get my button-hole stitch to work properly. Thank you Brother manual for such good pictures.
Oh, and it turns out that baby doll dress sleeves are too small to fit over the end of my machine's sewing platform thingy, so I had to hand-stitch them on. Still, they turned out fairly well too. Although I'm not sure they would hold up if I were to wash it in my washing machine, they will hold up okay being played with.
I wish I could say the same for my first button hole. It may not last, but if it totally falls apart, I will just sew on some velcro strips, since I think my 2 year old would appreciate them better. I've already caught her trying to rip the dress off while almost ripping the single button off in the process.
Velcro is probably in this dress's future.
My final quirk that will be fixed on my next dress. I forgot to cut a neck scoop. Look at how the neck portion stretches almost straight across the poor dolls neck. If this were a real dress, I guarantee my kids would hate it. So note to self, next time cut a neck scoop.
And there you have it, my first garment of sorts.....in miniature. Look how happy Baby Rosy looks.


By the way, do you recognize that polka dot fabric Martha, it is from your blessing of scraps you donated to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Being Crafty doesn't come Cheap.

Sometimes it is cheaper to make things than it is to buy them new, but I have been finding that some things are still cheaper to buy pre-made from the store. Seriously, like quilts, unless you find all the material at 50% off and stockpile a ton of it over the course of the next few months, you could end up spending hundreds of dollars for fabric. You will spend that much at least if you plan to quilt a blanket big enough to cover a real size bed, even for just a twin. I've looked, fabric is not cheap.
A glimpse of my own little crafting space. In my closet.
Like it, check out more about it here.

Another project that is turning out to be not so cost effective for me right now - crocheting a blanket for my daughter's twin bed. By the time I'm done I probably will have spent over $50. That is even with me only buying the yarn when it goes on sale. (you can get yarn cheaper, but it is crap and all scratchy and pills up when you wash it, don't go cheap with yarn if you want it to last)

Lastly, scrapbooking and cardmaking. By the time you buy the stickers/embellishments, papers, and tools, you will have spent way more than you would if you had just gone to the dollar card rack at Walgreen's Pharmacy.
So why do I still craft?

Because handmade is special and making your own stuff is memorable and a form of good pure enjoyment. Sure, I spent like $50 bucks to crochet my daughter's blanket, but when she asks about it when she is old enough to appreciate it fully, I can proudly say that I made it. The project itself has also provided me with a lot of spare-time entertainment. I can watch the prayer room and crochet and sing to the Lord all at the same time. It is truly glorious.

So then why am I making my huge quilt? That will not be cost effective either, will it?
Well this particular quilt is being made out of scraps that have been donated to me over time. I think I've only spent maybe $20 on a few extra fat quarters of fabric. So even though this blanket will fit my King size bed, it will have been achieved at hopefully very little cost to me.
Most quilts however do not end up being so cheap. My last quilt, big enough to suit a toddler bed, I spent over $100 on the fabric, and that was after using my 50% off coupons at Joann's. Still, it is beautiful and my first half way decent looking one. I will treasure it always.

Scrapbooking is another memorable one. Nothing says special like handmade memories set in stylish papers and embellished with love.
Card making is less memorable, because in my opinion a card is only as memorable as what is written in it. A card that is simply sent to a loved one is appreciated for the moment, but is later discarded, but if it has a memorable and loving message handwritten inside, it tends to be cherished longer. So who really cares what is on the outside of the card? Wouldn't it just be cheaper to buy one at the dollar rack at Walgreens?
Well, for most people I would say yes, go to the dollar rack, but if you are also a scrapbooker, then you already have most of what you need to make cards also, so make a few and save that dollar. That is me, the savvy card maker, using scraps from my scrapbooks....most of the time.
Why am I even writing this post?

As a possible rant against all the other crafts that are not cost effective. Like wreath making or silk flower arrangements. I can go buy a silk flower arrangement already made at Big Lots for half the cost of making my own. I can buy my own beautiful wreath already made at Michael's for cheaper than I can buy all the materials to make my own. Unless of course you are use to shopping for these items at places like Crate&Barrel or PotteryBarn, then making your own might be cheaper.
But again, that is not me, I am not the Crate&Barrel, PotteryBarn kind of girl - although I do enjoy looking at their catalogs for inspirations. Still, I can do most of what they do in their catalogs for half the price! It is my opinion that their market must be to the creatively challenged or the extra-time challenged (as in no time to create).

Here are a few more crafts that I find are not cost effective....making your own clothes, painting, crocheting/knitting (even though I do enjoy it enough to fork out the dough), and jewelry making.
Perhaps I have been living in a thrift-world-sort-of-reality for far too long, but I just can not digest the idea of forking out $40 for anything I might want to wear, let alone spend that much to make my own which will take up my time also.

You know what, I think I should just stop there. What is the point of all this rant? My main point has been stated.
It costs a lot to craft! People should craft because they like to craft, not because they think they can make things cheaper than they can buy them in the store.

It is a huge misconception: Don't buy it, you can make it for less.
Most of the time that is a false statement, but one I have fallen into often.

I grew up with a dad that had that as his motto for saving money. Remember those topsy-turvey pony-tail things that easily helped you to flip your ponytail back through itself to make a cool yet simple hairdo. Well I wanted one when I was in grade school and my dad was convinced he could make it. I love my dad, only a man who truly loved me would have went to so much trouble. He was convinced they were a rip off, that they were cheaper to make than what was being charged.
So he found an old ink pen, hot glued a piece of weed whip cord looped into the empty pen and there you have it, a home-made topsy-turvey ponytail thingy. However, the hot glue came loose the first time I used it and it has forever been a joke in our home.  Love you dad, most dads would have just said, "no, we don't have the money right now for that new-fangled thing," but no, you went the extra mile and tried to make what I wanted and although it didn't work, I love you for it.

Back to my point though. Most of the time you can not make what you want for cheaper.
When I realized this, I wondered if I should quit crafting, but to me that felt like I was saying I should stop breathing. So I craft, but with the full knowledge that it is just for fun.
If the store you are looking in is too expensive, don't fool yourself into thinking you can make it for less. Some other store, probably on the wrong side of the tracks, has already thought of that, and they are creating what you want in bulk for half the price you would spend on the supplies. So go on, check out the thrift stores, the discount stores, the less than trendy stores. You will find a smorgasbord of less than perfect and total knock offs of what you were just ogling in that high end store.
I've been there, I've done that! I only go to the trendy, high end stores for things I need in quality (like shoes & bras), and to get inspiration for what I want to look for in the low end and thrift stores.
So, I end with, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle........................and Craft if you must.
I do :-)
By the way, here is my next crafty project, a wreath
made of old book pages.
I can hardly contain my excitement.
Want to make one too, check out the tutorial here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Music Memories

Yesterday was a very cool day for me. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary happened, I just felt....different. It was rainy outside, and so I talked myself into doing laundry. The girls played in my room and around me as I did my cleaning in the midst of laundry time.
We played, we picked up and then it was time for lunch. I put Kalei to bed, she didn't sleep, so I laid with her for a bit. Kinsey wouldn't sleep either, so Ken took her for a walk. My house was peaceful and I was peaceful....on the inside. Nothing could ruffle my feathers, no circumstance could mess with me.
I know this peace, I remember the times I've felt it before. It is supernatural grace, and I love the way it makes me feel. I'm a better mom, wife, cook, housekeeper, friend, and daughter when I am feeling that overwhelming grace.
Like I said, nothing really ruffles my feathers when I'm feeling it.
Does that mean that I don't still have kids that bicker and fight, or that I suddenly love cleaning my floors or folding what feels like endless loads of laundry? No, it just means that I don't feel hopeless or without purpose when I'm dealing with all those things. It means I have this inner peace and I feel overwhelmingly connected to the Lord, so that everything I do, no matter how boring, feels as though it has been seen by Him personally (which is always the case, even when I don't feel His affectionate eye upon me).
We (as Christians) all know the scriptures that tell us that He is the God who sees, but there are those days where you KNOW He sees you, and so you are completely confident in all you are doing.....nothing ruffles your feathers.
Has anyone ever felt this way? I know I wish I felt this way more often, but it is usually just a passing gift, a reminder that what I'm doing is important.
Once you've experienced it though, you recognize it quicker the next time so you can savor every moment. I'll never forget the first time I noticed that I was feeling the supernatural grace. I just kept thinking to myself "I should be freaking out right now, but I feel so peaceful and calm" or I would think, "I should be offended at this, but I'm not, it's fine." It was a bizarre new reality for me.
So, I finished up my night with listening to some Josh Garrels music (Love & War & the Sea in Between), one of my favorite artists. It was then that I felt as though I was even more connected to the Lord. He was now more than the God who sees, He was the God who was listening to my heart sing to Him and He was more than just a friendly bystander, He was tangible in the room.
Just writing about this I feel as though I sound insane. I promise you though, this is how it felt, and I've been loving the Lord for a while now, so I know these things are genuinely true. He really is this personal when you seek Him for a relationship.
So I was just siting at my computer playing Spider Solitaire (not terribly spiritual) and singing Josh Garrels music to the Lord. The words were like a drink offering being poured out of my heart, and I felt like I was joined to an ancient Power (probably because I am) in a deeply personal way. (to draw a human type parallel, I would say it felt maybe like I had been commissioned by Donald Trump to paint a picture for him, but he came to my house to sit in my kitchen while I painted it....poor attempt, but I had to try and explain it further.)
Sigh.
Then it was time to go and so I grabbed the ipod, which I never do and drove to small group, still listening to Josh Garrels, this time the Jacaranda album. It kept up, the connection I mean. I was technically driving in the end of rush hour traffic, and yet I cruised down the back roads only driving the speed limit. The people behind me were probably upset, but I just couldn't rush it.
Small group was awesome.
But when I was back in the car with the ipod it was even enhanced by my time in small group (we had been talking about God given dreams and desires in our hearts). I rolled down the windows and let the wet rainy air come in while I lifted my voice even more. Kinsey was probably a bit puzzled as to why I was singing so loud to seemingly no one, but she is probably use to that by now. I sing a lot in the privacy of my own home, quite loudly.
Seriously though, this will be one of those music memories in my mind. There are a few of those memories that have stuck with me over the years. Probably the one that was the most powerful, ranking above this one even, was one I had as I flew into the Chicago O'hare airport from our New York City mission trip. It was a very cloudy day, so as we flew in over the Michigan lake, and there was this magnificent classical piece playing on the headphones. I love classical music.
Then we started to descend out of the clouds. At first all I could see were glimpses of the bluish green water below us, but all around us were clouds, then we came lower. Out the window I could see the forms of clouds near to us and farther off too, in layers that hid us, and then the water started to appear in bigger patches. The music was magical as I watched the water come more and more into view and the clouds began to drop away from us, and then we were out of them, and the thick clouds were a low ceiling above us and the water was an amazing expanse of greens and blues. Then as we banked toward the airport, I caught a glimpse of the city skyline in the haze after a thunderstorm. It was all so beautiful and surreal. All the while, the beautiful, ethereal music is playing in my headphones and I felt like I was a part of some heavenly realm for a moment. Or in some beautiful movie at least, where the music fits the breathtaking scenes being shown in slow motion.
I will never forget that music or the way it made me feel inside.
Cumulus clouds,
these are what we flew through.

Photo courtesy of NationalGeographic stockphotos.
Just like I will probably not forget the way the music made me feel last night.
It makes me want more and more of this Grace to come in and shine on me. It really is better than chocolate or caffeine combined.....

Side note: I think this kind of Grace is very much available to all people who love Christ, but I also know that I usually get it when I have been pressing in harder than normal. When I say pressing in, for me that looks like....praying in tongues a lot more than usual (maybe going from 5 min a day to 15 min a day), reading my Bible regularly and praying about what I've read, putting myself in places that I can receive sound Biblical teaching (more than just on Sundays), and worshiping in my home. I've also just recently added one day a week where I am trying to fast food. I'm not pregnant, so it is a good season to do so. I got to say, I'm not doing great at it, but the Lord sees my efforts and it all counts.
So just know that it isn't how good you can do all these things that awards you the Grace, it is just your effort in pursuing more of the Lord. He gives you more eventually, and it is always more than you expected. So keep pressing onward for the prize!

*disclaimer: All the things I do to press in are not on a daily basis. I am a busy mom, but when I do find time, I find it is easy to fall into time-waster tasks instead; like playing on the internet or watching a movie or sleeping. I have found that doing the things that don't come to me naturally when I have time, result in a touch from the Lord. Example: when I want to watch a movie, I've learned now that it could be better to watch the prayer room and crochet for a while. If I'm too tired to watch the prayer room, then I'm too tired to watch a movie. But don't get me wrong, I still watch plenty of movies, I just try to balance it with plenty of prayer room time also.
Be blessed!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading Romans

I'll be honest, I use to really dread reading through the book of Romans. I like Paul, don't get me wrong, but that book was just hard to get. All that 'shall we do this, no!' stuff was really confusing to me. I finally asked Ken what it was all about - I'm good if I can look at the big picture first, then I can pick out the pieces as I find them and fit them into that big picture and it all makes more sense.

It is a love letter to the Gentile people, about how the Lord has extended His grace and mercy and even blinded the eyes of His beloved people to make a way for us (the Gentiles). He teaches about faith and a righteousness that leads to holiness.
Sigh.
It is really good, now that I get it all. Tonight, I prayed before I started reading it because I wanted to see the fullness of what is there. I'm telling you, you can't go wrong if you pray before reading scriptures. He always points out something that gets me all worked up. Well tonight it wasn't just one thing. It was the beautifully orchestrated history that led up to Christ dying for our sins. It was all the arguments that Paul makes for the power of faith and grace. It was like knowing you were looking at a big masterpiece, but for the first time stopping to look at all the fine details and have on 3-D glasses that make it all sort of jump out at you.
Wow. It was really that good tonight.
I've been having some of those moments lately. Where the Lord's power and sovereignty and beauty are just so real and tangible.
The other night while I was quilting (seriously I was sewing blocks together with my machine humming and drumming) while worshiping and I started singing a song that was pretty well known. Then I just started making up a love song to God.
I am not a singer, remember, I'm the girl who can barely clap and sing at the same time. My vocal range is horrid, and yet here I was sitting in my room singing out a song to God and I got to say, it wasn't half bad. At least all the lines made sense and my voice seemed to stay on key (I think).
It was just so beautiful though to sing and know that God was right there listening to me. He was hand feeding me the words, and I was singing them back to Him and I could feel His pleasure. How simple and yet so satisfying.
I know that is essentially what they do in the prayer room, but this was my first time leading the chorus in the privacy of my bedroom. It was exhilarating. I wish I could remember all the words that I was singing, but it was spontaneous, so I didn't write them down.
All I sort of remember was singing something about 'you take my mundane and make it beautiful and complete in you," or something like that at least. There was lots more, I just can't quite remember.
Again I sigh.
So why am I even writing about this? Because I know I am nothing special. If I can have these sorts of encounters, a mother of two who is home most of the time doing mommy sorts of things, then the rest of His people can have things like this too! You just have to want it and welcome it and put yourselves out there to receive it.
I tell you what too. Once you've had a few of these little tastes of His tangible goodness, you are gonna be hooked! I'm actually considering what and where I can meet with Him next because I'm so much more hungry for Him now that He's touched me just that little bit. First with the spontaneous song, and now with the scriptures coming alive.
I'm feeling prepared to go out of my way....like wake up on time so I can read tomorrow, or not take a nap so I can be with Him, or not check my facebook, so I can have my mind be more focused on the Spirit.
Those sorts of wild crazy ideas (or not so crazy).
I want to also point out that Ken and I are in a crazy season right now, when we are rather desperate for the Lord to lead and guide us in what He has called us to in South Carolina. We are stretched thin by all kinds of circumstances, and yet the Lord had been teaching us together and separately to just seek Him. He takes care of the rest. Our jobs are to love Him well and be obedient with what He has made clear to us. The rest is not for us to worry about.
As tough as it has been to trust and let go of worry (I'm a really good worrier, I pick up anxiety way too easily), the reward for when I do is little touches like this. He makes my weak attempts at obedience so satisfying that it makes it easier and easier to keep doing it (being obedient that is).
So that is all I wanted to say. Go for it, ask for a special and personal touch! I pray that He gives you more than you bargained for!


*Hope all I've said makes sense, sometimes when I'm feeling passionate about something I think faster than I can type and although I have proofed this twice, my way of writing can still be confusing when I'm feeling rather excited during the writing/reading process. It would probably be good to hold this until tomorrow, but ah, what the heck, I posted it anyways. :-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Randomness


It's been a while since I've done a randomness post, and there is plenty of it in my life right now, so it is time to share some of it.

1. Ken is getting his hair cut.....I'm a little nervous, but I'm ready to see what he chooses. I think it is just a trim and will still have length, but oh how I love his blond Braveheart look. Mel Gibbson, you ain't got nothing on my man!

2. Just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett and loved it. It is probably the reason I just used the word 'ain't in my previous random thought. I've been saying things like 'ya'll' instead of "you all", and 'fixin' in place of 'I'm going to'. I didn't know I could pick up a southern sympathy accent just by reading a book.

3. Picked up the movie Bolt from the library and am watching it with a friend who has a strong accent that reminds me of the cat in the movie's New York accent. Looking forward to seeing what my friend thinks. Hope she gets a real kick out of it - in a nice way.

4. Been thinking a lot about deception. It is like a disease that clouds people's ability to hear truth. Literally, like someone who has cotton in their ears, is a person who has agreed with a lie the enemy has sold them on, and when people around them point to truth, they can not hear it. Learning not to waste my breath then, and just pray that cotton right out of their ears. Jesus is the only cure. The books I just read by Ted Dekker illustrate that picture very well - the Circle Trilogy. Check em out if you like allegories.

5. Working on my quilt and realizing that I may not have enough scrap fabric to finish making all my squares. So now I have a half finished afghan that I ran out of yarn on, a quarter finished quilt that I ran out of fabric on, a Christmas present that I"ve run out of yarn on, and a load of cards that I've lost patience to finish. Lord break in with extra provisions.

6. Kalei has begun to use all kinds of words and phrases and even sentences. She is done letting Kinsey speak for her and she is done doing what Kinsey wants her to do. She has her own personality and knows it and is very much expressing it. I'm totally loving it of course. The ability to finally communicate with her and so clearly is totally amazing to me. I use to ask her if she was done and she would just shake her head yes or no, now she says 'I'm done' or "no I'm not'. When she is fussing at the fridge I ask her what she wants and she says 'I want a cup' and when she takes a toy from Kinsey and I tell her to take it back she says 'there you go baby' to her big sister. Seriously, this is a blast for me to hear.

7. Kalei has also started to want to poop on the potty. She has only tried twice, the first time it was gas, the second time she was too distracted talking to Kinsey that she never went. As soon as the diaper was back on, she filled it up. Still, she isn't even two yet, I'm not sure if I"m totally ready to encourage this behavior. Potty training is a lot of work, for me. Sigh.

8. Ken and I are finally under MorningStar's mission covering, and now we can accept gifts and support that will be tax deductible. That is great and it also makes me feel super official. Like we are really doing what we set out here to do. Thank you Lord.

9. Seriously I love MorningStar and the people, but I got to admit a little fear I have of being in the south. Will it even feel like Christmas this year if it doesn't snow? Will it get cold enough that I will enjoy eating a big pot of chilly after taking a crisp walk? There are so many evergreens and trees that don't lose their leaves here, will it even look like winter? Silly fears I'm sure, but still, I don't know what to expect.  Everyone assures me if I miss the snow too much though, I can drive three hours to the mountains and enjoy it there, or drive 3 hours the other way and enjoy the beach. Guess I can't complain.

10. I have decided that people who move into new places, the quickest way for them to make it feel like home is to hang lots of pictures. Everyone comments on how settled our home feels, and comments on all the things on our walls. There must be a connection.
I have to admit, it makes it feel more permanent when you start whacking holes in the walls. So go for it, make your home feel homey, hang a few pictures.

The end.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Finding Tranquility

I gotta say, lately I've been experiencing a lot of weird symptoms.  Physical symptoms that are not terribly alarming so much as a little strange and disconcerting. Lots of headaches, back aches, shoulders and neck stiffness, fatigue, but then insomnia, and lack of appetite.
When I started listing the symptoms off in my head though, I remembered what condition they all pointed to....anxiety.
Then I felt confused.
What am I anxious about? Sure, we have plenty of trials going on in our life, but I have Jesus, so none of that should be getting the better of me. I certainly didn't feel like I was focusing on any of those things. In fact, I was doing my best to completely distract myself.
Whenever I would feel myself worrying, I would go and clean something, or I would take a nap, or I would watch a movie, or make cookies. I would pacify my flesh for the moment, and then move on. Or so I thought. My body was telling me different, and my expanding waistline was telling me that sugar was not the answer.
Then I went to small group, the same night I was processing through all of these thoughts.
What did the small group leader talk about - fears and worries. He asked if anyone would like special prayers for overcoming fear. I was tired of always being one of the ones who raises their hand every week. I was tired of being the terribly broken one in the group, and I was 'afraid' that they would think I just wanted the attention raising my hand brought me, so I didn't raise my hand. I just sat there and talked to the Lord.
Pretty much I said to Him, "okay, I'm listening, what do you want me to do?"
I felt like He said, 'do the things you did at first."
Which to me was like a 'duh' moment.
What have I been neglecting to do all this time (probably for the past month). Read the Word. Watch the Prayer Room. Pray in Tongues (mostly while I"m driving).
Sigh.
Fear is a tactic of the enemy to cripple us, and he was doing a darn good job these past few weeks, but only because I hadn't been eating the right breakfast (wheaties = the Word).
Yes, my Bible is pink. So that Ken will never
run off with it....hahaha.
So what did I do, first I repented for not doing what I know to do and not asking Holy Spirit sooner what to do, and then I prayed for the Lord to strengthen me and give me another go at it.
The next day I jumped back into my Bible reading plan, had some sweet fellowship with the Lord, and then I sat down and worked on my quilt. You know what I discovered. I felt more content sitting on my couch working on my quilt than I had in weeks.
There was a quiet sense of peace that was almost tangible. I had no urge to jump up and clean something, I had no tension in my body, and I felt about ten times better.
How can the Word be so powerful in just a few short chapters?!? It made me hungry for more of that peace and Presence.
So, feeling tired, worn out, anxious? Find your Bible and give it a go! It's better than chocolate, but chocolate is nice too, sometimes, in moderation. :-)
Still, "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" - John 16:33
I feel that pretty much sums up what I've been experiencing!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stretchy Pants

Sewing on stretchy material literally terrifies me.
There, I've come clean, because it was just yesterday that I came to a friend's house to inspect a dress that she wanted to see if I could repair. What was it made out of you ask?
Stretchy polyester/spandex, purple, and I had brought black thread to work on it by hand.....
Already I was feeling like a dork, but I had a seam ripper and she did not, so I felt a little cooler, especially as I began to rip a seam out so as to remove a problematic portion of the lining.
Thank the Lord I looked down and noticed that the stitch holding the lining was also the main seam holding the boob cup (a sophisticated sewing term) to the main skirt (like a baby doll style dress thingy). I had just seam ripped out about an inch and a half portion leaving a gaping hole right below the boob cup.
Crud muffins!
So I smiled and said, "whoops, when do you need this back by?"
Thankfully I was given 24 hrs to correct the issue and finish the removal of the lining.
Did I jump right onto the task like I said I would though?
No, I was totally freaked out.
I have never been able to figure out how to make an elastic stitch. Once I tried to hem a pair of Ken's sweat pants or something with a bit of stretch to them and when he tried to wear them, the seam was so tight that the thread snapped as he pushed his foot thru. There was no give in the seam, I didn't know how to make 'give'. Like I've said before, I'm good at sewing in a straight line, that is why I quilt. And what do I quilt with?
Cotton.
Cotton is what I know, so I use cotton, cotton, and cotton. It's natural, it breaths, it washes well. What could be better than cotton!
Yet even a simple cotton blend can throw me into a slight panic, wondering if I will have to change the thread tension on my sewing machine, or if it will pull away from the 100% cotton backing I'm using.
Oh, the stress of it all.
So I picked the dress up at approx. 3pm, and I had until the following evening at 6pm. When do you think I chose to start working on said sewing project?
Not until the last possible moment, and then I was sweating bullets as I studied and re-studied my sewing machine's recommendations for doing an elastic stitch. Then I practiced on some stretchy pants that belong to my daughter, and then I re-practiced, then I took the plunge.
I sewed an inch and a half stretch on a hem with an elastic stitch. It was a huge success, and now it seems that I've been fretting all day for nothing. Maybe I'm on my way to being a pro!
The finished project! Beautiful, and despite
the look of this photo
the dress is actually more of a plum color.
So now you stretchy pants with a ruined hem, you just better watch yourself! I got the elastic stitch under my belt, and I know how to set my thread tensions and stitch length to optimize the experience.
Sawwweeet!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Healthy Eating

In past posts I think I have talked about my journey to eating healthy. In there are sprinkled a few detox moments and a couple of my favorite recipes and ideas on how to eat healthy on a budget.
Well now I have found myself in another season where I am again living by faith, even for my food. It has helped me to reevaluate all my healthy food goals, because when you only have a handful of money to buy a weeks worth of groceries and you don't know where the next handful of money is going to come from, then you start to plan your meals very carefully. Even with all of my knowledge on healthy foods and the reasons why to buy organic, pesticide free, rBST free, raw, and all those other healthy food words, I can't always justify the expense.
It is a huge injustice, the cost of healthy food. Sugar free foods are more expensive than foods with sugar, yet there is one less ingredient, so why the extra cost. But I won't get started on that subject, because it could get ugly and would accomplish nothing in the long run. I don't have the ears of any major food companies with this blog, just the ears of a few sweet friends.
Isn't it just scary how perfect these peppers are,
like they are fake or something.
That is how I feel when I go to buy my produce
sometimes, like it is way to perfect to be real.
So moving on, into my reason for writing.
So what do you do when you know all about the benefits of healthy food but can't afford to buy said food? It is one of those things I don't really have the answer too. I still cringe inside when I reach for the colorful, jumbo sized sweet bell peppers which scream foreign produce that is much larger than any normal sized garden bell peppers should be. I also still shy away from cheap beef and highly processed meats. I don't eat much dairy any more, and I still splurge on Almond Milk and bread without high fructose corn syrup.
Yet I feel as though I've had to pick my battles in the food world and leave the rest up to the Lord.
Novel idea right, its a real 'duh' moment to leave my health and the health of my children ultimately in the hands of my Creator. Good place for them to be, and although I am a control freak, and there is something that just feels right about eating as good as possible, we just can't always.
So I have been especially finding comfort in the scripture that encourages the disciples that they will be able to drink poison and it will not harm them and then goes on to say that they will pray for the sick and they will be healed - Mark 16:18. I'm sort of banking on that; that we can eat the poison that is put in food these days and not be harmed, and I love the fact that our God is a healer, so there is always plan 'B' in a way.
Now if you are a theological guru, I don't want to hear from you on this. I am completely aware of the fact that I am probably taking that scripture a bit out of context to fit my current situation. I'm married to a bible student and if he ever read my blog he would probably give me a sermon on what that scripture is really talking about, because I actually don't know.
But alas I'm not making a platform to manipulate and influence the masses with my interpretation, I am simply trying to comfort my own heart as I feel I am forced to buy non-organic produce and can no longer afford my healthy food habits.
The saddest part about this whole thing, is that it has again shown me a level of pride at work in my own heart, and a man-pleasing spirit. For a while I was extremely embarrassed to talk about our food consumption with our friends because I wasn't able to eat as healthy as I use to. Something about being able to buy organic and support the organic agricultural industry made my heart swell up with a bit of pride.....well okay, maybe a lot of pride. Especially being a hort-a-nerd (that is someone who grows plants for a living, infatuated with plants to the point of nerd-dom) from way back, knowing the value in organics first hand and the health benefits.
Still, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it, Katrina, so suck it up and feed your family as well as you can!
So I have been, and taking more comfort from the story of Exodus, how the Israelites were slaves = probably didn't eat well, and how they flourished under the Lord's blessing and they just kept multiplying. As a child of God who has favor in His eyes through the blood of Jesus, I think I can bank on the Lord having His way in my life despite what I consume.
So.....there it is. I am learning to be content in a new area of my life - my food life. Today I shopped and bought stuff I hadn't bought in years and I decided it felt nice to be able to feed my family so well.
I hope this post doesn't sound completely pathetic, like I'm whining, or saying eat healthy or don't eat healthy. I'm just processing these thoughts with the rest of you. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has ever felt embarrassed not to be buying healthy when lots of people around you are. Perhaps I've given you some food for thought....get it, food, the post was about food. I'm cracking myself up!
Okay, enough, be free of the bondage of food envy, and fear of pesticides. Make wise decisions and feed your family as best as you can, leave the rest up to the Lord. He's really big!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Word Pictures

What makes a good book in my opinion is one with really strong word pictures. I like to feel like I'm inside the story and yet I feel I may have some really strong opinions on what a good word picture is. For instance, I like to know what is happening with the characters, but I like better to know about their environment in detail. Colors and sounds are very helpful, but the one that is really strong for me is when they describe smells.
I would wager I have a rather strong sense of smell and it is highly linked to my photographic memory.
    *side note: for those who don't know, I have a pretty decent photographic type memory which is helpful in some ways, but also sort of disturbing in others ways.
So smells, they invoke all kinds of memories and pictures in my mind. Some smells can take me from feeling bored to overwhelmingly happy, some smells make me feel sad, and there are even some smells that make me feel physically sick because of a memory they call forth.
An example of that last one is in order, because perhaps some of you think I am exaggerating, but I am not, I promise. When I was small, I once rode in a friends car that had leaky exhaust smells in their car, they also I would suspect had mold carpets in the back seat. Both of which give me headaches. Combine the mold/exhaust fume headache with a child who also suffers from severe car sickness and you can imagine what that 20 minute car ride was like for me. I can remember the color of that carpet and the seats and the mess of papers and magazines on the floors in the back. Mostly I remember the smell. I would wager most people would not get in that car and think a thing of the smell. For plenty of cars it is a normal smell. For me, it was the doorway to sickness that I would assume ended in vomiting.
So now that smell has been linked to a sense of nauseousness that even as an adult can still affect me in the wrong car.
Hopefully you can see how much smell affects me and therefore you may have an image of my immaculate house - yeah right. Dirty smells don't really bother me, the smell of dead animals or a skunk don't bother me. It is not like I go out looking for those horrid smells, they just don't evoke memories that bother me.
Yet the smell of my house is a different thing for me. I strive to have a smell that reminds me of some of my favorite family type memories.  My parents house smells like a combination of fabric softener and wood smoke and occasionally bacon. The smell of my aunt's house always smelled like oatmeal, apples, and vanilla. My first house smelled like fresh paint and coffee.
All of those smells are wonderful to me, and even now as a twenty something mom of two, when my mom sends me a package from her house, I breath in the smell from their house that lingers on any soft surfaces. It is a link to a very happy period of my life, when I lived at home.
My life is happy now too, but I still have not managed to get the smell of my home down. I think I cook good smelling food, but the smell that lingers after the food is put away is sometimes less than desirable. I have good smelling candles, but I rarely burn them because they are too expensive to replace. We don't have a wood burning stove, and Ken doesn't eat bacon. I have apples and vanilla and oatmeal in my house, but I don't know how my aunt got those smells to linger in the air. Fabric softener is too expensive and in our current home, our laundry is on the second floor, so the smells of laundry never greet me when I come in the door.
You can see my dilemma.
Then one day recently my housemate cleaned with some bleach and I came into my house horrified. The smell permeated all the way downstairs and made my home smell like a sterilized hospital or worse, a nursing home. The smell of sweet smelling lotions mixed with the smell of old woman perfumes and then on top of it the scent of food that has been sitting in a buffet under heat lamps for too long, all with an overwhelming scent of clean bleach - that is the smell of a nursing home in my opinion. That is sort of what my house smelled like.
I immediately went to the kitchen to cook something or at least fill my nostrils with the over ripe melons sitting on my counter. Then I opened the downstairs bathroom door to let out more of my Glade plug in scent that is strong enough to knock you out when you enter our little cubical-style half-bath.
Sigh. It didn't overcome the bleach and took several days to return to my regular smell - stale dirty dishes in the sink mixed with Glade plug in mixed with Swiffer Sweeper citrus scent mixed with what ever Asian-style dish my housemate has cooked recently in my absence. Not my favorite combination so far.
When I smell the smell of my home the most is when I first walk in from being away. So I feel the smell of my home is sort of like a first impression that I am still trying to perfect. I want the first smell people smell in my home to match with my personality and skills as a hostess - yummy food, gourmet coffee, fresh fruit, mixed with clean & breezy fresh air (that last one is hard to accomplish in summer because the windows are never open).
So for now my house doesn't smell much like any of those things.
But at least my house doesn't smell like a typical house with small children, which in my experience includes the smells of pancake syrup, slightly sour milk, and stale mac n cheese, sometimes accompanied by the smell of a dog or cat.
Now, for all of my friends who I have ever visited in their homes, none of you need to worry. The smell of your homes is not going to reflect on our friendships. In fact, the smells of peoples homes is a very individual type thing and as I fall in love with the people in the homes, the smell of their home grows into a beautiful memory that will affect me for years.
So even if your home smells like mold, pet urine, cooking beans, and stale wet laundry (had a friend who's house smelled like this as a child), I can still love you and as I enjoy your friendship deeper and deeper, the smell of your house will be a reminder of that love and all our good memories (some of my best child hood memories were in that same friend's house and therefore I love some of those smells now because they evoke such happy memories).
For a few of my friends who I spent considerable time at your houses, here is what I remember of your smells.
Lydia, the smell I most remember about your house is garlic and onion being sauteed on your stove, a very comforting smell even at this distance. I cook so often, but I always think of you when I cook onions and garlic together, or when I make fresh salsa. Another smell memory in your home centers around coffee and warm chocolate.
Elizabeth, your house always smelled fresh, like when you open the door after you take a shower and the smells of soap and warm water come wafting out - like that and sometimes like apples.
Rachel Cherry Myers, your dwellings were all about the same, the Shiloh office, the Shiloh house, your room at the ranch - the smell is of dried mud, old dusty furniture, stale food, and spices/dried herbs.
All three of those just described smell combos are very dear to me, and whenever I smell them randomly somewhere else they always make me think of you. So I hope you all know that, even as I am still trying to perfect my own smell.
PS. If I could make an air freshener for my home that would be unique to me, it would be the scent of warm sandlewood and baked apples and roses. Sigh.

News Less Worthy

I'm sorry to inform my blog readers that the exciting news I shared in my previous blog has turned to sadness. I've miscarried my baby about a week and a half ago, and have spent that time grieving and praying and learning to worship the Lord thru my pain. It is a really hard thing to lose one, even so small as my little baby, but the Lord has been faithful to meet me in my pain and comfort me as only He can.
Most of you probably already know of our tragedy, but I needed to make it clear on here for those who might not have heard. It is also a kind of way to thank those of you who have walked with us through this and loved us well in the midst of our hurting. Thank you to all of those people who said kind words and gave us hugs and prayers, and thank you even to those people who said the wrong things but with well intentioned hearts.
We are healing and with the Lord's help, we will rally and be stronger and better equipped to comfort others in the future.
That is all I have to say for now, but in the midst of all of this the Lord had been giving me some creativity that I hope to share more about soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

News Worth Sharing

For weeks now I haven't been on my blog much. I just felt like I didn't have much to say. I also has a lot of things on my mind that I wasn't ready to talk about with the world wide web audience.
I guess now I'm feeling like it might be time to explain the journey we've been on.
It all started last fall, in November I think (I would have to look back in my journal to be sure, but I'm too lazy to get up and go find it at the moment), when I was feeling the baby itch. Kalei had just turned one in October, and I was ready for another. Rational, I think not, but then a mother's heart is not always rational.
So I was praying and asking the Lord when, when would my third baby come? I had already been praying for a few weeks for the Lord to move on Ken's heart to make him want another one, but so far there was no interest from Ken. I had just started a new and sort of stressful work schedule, and I wanted to know when I could expect to take a break to be with a new baby.
So I ask and asked the Lord, and then one day while I was sitting on my back deck drinking coffee I heard the Lord whisper 'when you are settled your third baby will come along'. I had no idea what that could mean, so I thought it must have to do with my new job assignments. I thought, as soon as I get used to this new work schedule, and learn to enjoy the routine, then I will get pregnant. I related it to the way that Julie Meyer's talked about her seasons in the 'back row' and how the Lord told her she wouldn't come out of the 'back row' season until she learned to enjoy it.
Then near New Year's Ken and I separately started to hear the Lord telling us we were on the verge of some big change. We had no idea what it was, but we began to ask Him what He wanted to do with us. Separately we both felt the Lord pointing to Morning Star in Fort Mill, SC, and so we sent Ken off to visit and hear from the Lord.
He came back and we both felt we were to move there and be intercessory missionaries on the Morning Star Campus. It was a big change for sure, and suddenly, the Lord's words back in November were making a little more sense, literal sense. So I began to pray again for the Lord's will to be done and I started praying for this little one that I felt was going to come along soon.
About that same time, without me saying anything to Ken, he decided he was ready to consider having another baby. It was a great breakthrough, because I had tried so hard not to talk to Ken about having more babies. I didn't want to manipulate him with my own wants and emotions on the subject. I wanted the Lord to make Ken ready when it was time.
So then I waited. Months went by, we were packing and moving and then we were in transition, me in Peoria with the girls for three weeks, and Ken here and there making loading and hauling our stuff. Finally by the first week in June we were in Fort Mill, all as a family.
Immediately I set to work. The Lord said the third baby would come along when we were 'settled', so I made my house as complete as I could. I cleaned and unpacked and organized and decorated. I even hung pictures within the first month, determined to make this place feel like home. It paid off, it did feel like home, but the baby didn't come in June. I wasn't too sad.
Then we had the whole month of July, and we had no money. Baby was not really on my mind. I was praying and petitioning for our finances, and I used all my extra energies to stir up my faith and hope in the Lord to provide. On August first we had no money for rent. We had a five day grace period to pay it, so we waited and prayed and prayed some more.
On the fourth day we decided that we would have to pay it, so we pulled money from our two credit cards and paid it. I cried all day. I felt so betrayed and hurt, because using the credit card felt so fleshly. I was a wreck literally, because I knew that the Lord could have come through but for some reason He didn't. I was so confused and I spewed all kinds of accusations at Him, and then Ken made me get out of the house which helped me get out of my self pity mode also. So I talked to the Lord and felt a bit better.
Later that same day I noticed some spotting and knew I was about to start my monthly cycle (men reading this, sorry, but this is how it happens, so get over it). I felt even more bummed out. He hadn't given us money and He hadn't given me the baby I'd been praying for.
        *side note: Kinsey had also been praying for a little brother in the month of July. Out of no where one day she asked me to get her a little brother, and I laughed and told her she had to talk to Jesus about that one, and so she did. I heard her pray out loud at least a half dozen times for a little brother, and it was so sweet, but I also had guessed it would be powerful because the Lord loves the hearts of little children so much.
But here I was with no money, a huge debt on our credit cards and a monthly cycle that made me feel even more pathetic.
The next day money came in, a lot of money, enough to pay off all that we had just put on our credit cards. It was amazing and wonderful and I cried. Then my spotting stopped, and I was confused, but I told myself not to be hopeful. Then it spotted again a bit, and it was all 'old' (women will know what I mean, men, be grateful if you don't). Then it stopped, and never started again.
Meanwhile, we got a house mate. It's a really long story how we met and this story is already long enough, but the Lord connected us in some odd circumstances and she came to stay with us the day after we got all the money to pay off our credit cards. So on Friday we got the money, on Saturday we got the housemate, and then on Sunday I took a pregnancy test and it was a bold two liner that made me cry with joy. I was pregnant!
Sigh.
What a crazy month, eh?
So now I have been just sorting through all the emotions while coming to terms with the fatigue that has already begun to set in. I am praying for an awesome pregnancy this time though, no sickness, so if you would like to join me, I would welcome it.
Meanwhile I've learned that although I want to be strong for the work that the Lord has called us to here in Fort Mill, I think this last month of testing was a beautiful picture of how we can be so strong up to a point. Then our weakness shows itself, we fall flat on our faces, and the Lord still comes through despite our weakness and makes us shine because of His strength and faithfulness.
If there is one words that sums up the way I've been feeling for the past week, it would be - grateful. Nothing has been able to dampen my spirits (except a brownie hang over which I suffered from early this morning, darn those brownies). People say that women glow when they are pregnant, but I think if I am glowing it is because I realize how loved I am by the Lord. Even little 'ol me is loved and precious and I'm feeling it full force right now.
Lord never let me forget these things which you have done for me and my family. Amen.
(PS, I have not proofed this post, I just hurried and put down all my thoughts, so if something doesn't make total sense, just try to grasp the jist of it.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Reading List

Well, I took almost two weeks off from my facebook page and blog to de-clutter my time and help me to refocus and make a plan for this fall. I'm starting homeschooling with Kinsey, which is pretty simple at her age, just lots of reading and we play learning games and then I read to her some more.

As you can guess, all that reading has helped us to make fast friends with our new local library in Fort Mill, and I'm happy to say that I have been reading a lot too because of the social networking break. I've found it helps to pass the time on really hot days when it is way to hot to go outside to play/clean/do anything but sit under a vent.
Already I've put a pretty good dent in my summer reading list and added to it some.

What I've read so far:
    The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson
    The Centurion's Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke
    The Prophet (from the Sons of Encouragement series) by Francine Rivers
    Unashamed, Unveiled, and Unspoken (the Lineage of Grace series) by Francine Rivers
    The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser
    Katrina's Wings by Patricia Hickman
    As High as the Heavens by Kathleen Morgan

Currently Reading (or have in possession to read):
    The Scribe (Sons of Encouragement series) by Francine Rivers
    Green (Circle series) Ted Dekker
    Entering the Presence of God by Derek Prince
 
Updated List of Remaining Titles:
    The Priest, The Warrior, The Prince (Sons of Encouragement series) by Francine Rivers
    Black, Red, and White (Circle series) by Ted Dekker
    Appointment in Jerusalem by Lydia and Derek Prince
   Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson
    Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman
    The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey
    The Azusa Street Mission and Revival by Thomas Nelson
    The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum

So there you have it. My summer reading list, updated and revised, and here are a few of my opinions on the books I've read so far. Right off the bat I'm going to say don't bother reading 'As High as the Heavens', it was a predictable as all get out. It was also a sappy romance type that even though it had a weak strand of Christian principles in it, was very lacking in spirituality and there were even romantic parts that I skipped over because I felt they were too details for any good Christian to read. That again, is just my opinion, but we women live a lot in our minds, so why feed our minds unrealistic fantasy that will only make us bitter with reality.
On to the next few - I love all the books by Francine Rivers in the series of Sons of Encouragement (5) and the Lineage of Grace (5). She takes Bible characters and builds a real life type story around them. The ones I've read so far were about Tamar, Bathsheba, Rahab, Amos, and Silas. So good, and very well written to teach about the culture of the times. Which leads me to another Bible character type book, the Centurion's Wife, which was based in Bible times. It was so cool to read about the times right after Jesus has died and to the time when He eventually ascended. My only grumble was that the story ended quite abruptly and there is no sequel, so I'm left with my mind trying to finish it because I don't feel as thought the writer did. I even checked at the end to make sure that none of the last few pages had been ripped out and missing, that is how abrupt I felt it was.
Now lastly, another few titles that I want to rave about, they were that good. Katrina's Wings and The Swan House are both stories based in the south, one during the 70's and one in the 60's. Both were coming of age type books, as two women find their identities while also discovering Christ in their respective cultures. The word pictures in Katrina's Wings was amazing, and The Swan House just made you ache with the main character. I like books where I can feel like I am a part of them because they are just that real.
So, if you like to read and want a few good books to check out, then I highly suggest these and a few others I've read in the past few years.
Some titles that I like to tell everyone about are: Perpetua by Amy Rachel Peterson, Winter is Past by Ruth Axtell Morren, and Prophet by Frank Peretti - also by Peretti, When Heaven Weeps, and The Martyr Song, and This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness.
All of those I would highly recommend, not all of Frank Peretti's books are scary.

Since summer is almost over, make a fall reading list. As the weather finally starts to get colder and colder (which can't seem to happen soon enough for me right now), it is always nice to curl up with a good book. Blessings.
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Randomness II

Sometimes I blog about really spiritual things, and sometimes I tell funny personal stories, and other times I share crafty or inspirational ideas, but I also share some randomness. These are little stories or ideas that I feel are worth writing about but are too short to make their own post, or are just odd and all disconnected but I still wanted to share them with someone. Strangely enough, I got more comments on my first ever randomness post, that I think I may start doing them more often. I have lots of things cooking in my head all day long. I'm a full time momma these days, and so I have very few outlets for these gems. So you get to feast on them.
Enjoy.
A random clutter of ideas and word pictures.

Topic #1
As a missionary, you go through seasons where you have very little money. We are currently walking the fine line in our budget right now, and it is these seasons where I always get the most awesome coupons. It irritates me to no end!
You might think coupons is a good thing, but the truth is, you have to have money to even use the coupons, just not as much as when items are at regular prices. So I get all kinds of awesome coupons for my favorite crafting stores, like Joann's and Michael's and I can't use any of them.
The one that nearly had me in tears - Joann's had all their yarn on sale, all of it, for 30% off, then they sent me a preferred customer coupon for 20% my entire purchase. Get that people, I could have had the nine skeins of victorian rose simply soft Caron yarn for 50% off! That is an insanely good deal, but you have to have some money to be able to even afford it at 50% off....sadly, that sale has passed me by and I've paused my victorian rose afghan to work with some other yarn I have.
I have other yarn to work with, and so I tried not to be to upset when I couldn't get more yarn at 50% off, I have more than I need in so many areas of my life. I wonder if all those coupons aren't some sort of test for my heart. To bring up selfishness and covetousness and show me the areas that still need some work. Thank You Lord that You care enough to do it.

Topic #2
Kinsey is in the most hilarious phase of sponginess and spontaneity. That girl goes from a full dead sleep to full sentences in the morning in 30 sec or less. Three mornings ago I had to go wake her up because it was almost eight and as she groggily turns over in her bed she says, 'some puppies go arf arf, but other bigger dogs say arf arf too.' What a profound statement from the girl who was just recently unconscious. Where does it come from?
Or how about this morning at 3am when I went into their dark room to comfort a crying Kalei. When I opened the door and the glow of the night light passed over Kinsey's bed she sat up and said in a sing song voice, 'the dog has no bones, the dog has no bones,' and then she asked if I liked that song. What the heck was she doing awake at 3am thinking up a song about dogs having no bones. It was so funny.
I later discovered that it was some song they had sung in the children's church at the church she visited this past Sunday, but still, what was she doing singing it at 3am? Weird is the information she picks up and retains, and weird also are the times she chooses to spout off that information.

Topic #3
The power of observation in the hands of a 3 year old. Kinsey talks with me about everything she sees, and sometimes it terrifies me. Today as we walked into the bathroom there was a woman in the stall that we tried to go into, but then we went in the one next to it. Kinsey asks, 'is she peeing?'. It's a bathroom, everyone can hear everyone, and I"m left to say as lightly as possible, 'probably so', although there was an uncomfortable silence from the stall next door.
Then later, when leaving the library we walked out to see a little baby boy sitting with his mom in the grass as she talks on the phone. Kinsey spots them right away and asks, 'what's that little baby doing?', I say, 'sitting with his momma,' and then as we walk by even closer, I notice that his momma is sitting forward and her butt crack is showing above the edge of her jeans and I cringe inside. The girl with the eagle eyes could see this, I thought, and I feared the next words out of Kinsey's mouth (who only runs on two volumes, loud and louder) would be, 'why is that girls butt showing?' or 'is that her butt cheeks?' There were several steps where I might have failed to breath and administered a few quick arm jerks to distract my 3 year old from the scene. Thankfully it worked and the butt crack was not discovered, but that is what I deal with daily folks, a girl who sees everything and says what she sees. She calls it as it is. One word for this phase, awkward. But also severely funny.
Even if Kinsey had spotted the crack and mentioned it, who really cares. The woman might have looked at us, hiked her pants up and moved on, and I might have blushed and tried to move my kids on, but really, what are the chances we would ever see that woman again. So I guess I need not be so up tight.

Topic #4
Loved making fresh salsa tonight, but seriously, the hot peppers I used were hot. I don't even think they were jalapenos. Yet as I worked with them I chopped the ends off, cut them in half length wise and then ran them under cold water as I pulled and washed out all the seeds. Simple enough right. Wrong.
Somehow running them under the water stirred up some water spray laced with hot pepper fumes and juice and as I inhaled unknowingly, I inhaled flames of fire. My throat began to constrict and I began to cough and wheeze and cough some more. I feared my throat would close up because of the burn, but it didn't and finally after hacking loud enough to draw the attention of my husband, I felt better.
So then I moved on to chopping them, and even then there was fine pepper mist rising up from them and causing me all sorts of problems. They were not even that hot tasting, but to breath the fumes I would have thought them way hotter.
Then, like an hour and half after dinner, the skin under the thumb nail I used to scrape all the seeds out with started throbbing like it was burned. So I stuck it in my mouth, like you do when you burn your finger and suddenly my entire mouth was on fire! The peppers struck again,  even an hour and a half later. The juice that must have dried up under my thumb nail was burning me and was still potent enough to burn my entire mouth with one taste. Wow, that is some powerful stuff!

Topic #5
Bug bites and the power of meditation. Last night my poor Kalei was stung or bitten by some bug. She has bad reactions even to mosquito bites, so this new bug had her skin in all kinds of reactions. First it swelled up to the size of an egg under her poor skin (on her back) and then it got red with a little tiny bump where the actual bite was. Freaked me out, we were only outside for 30 min. tops.
So I got online and started looking up bug bite photos and trying to figure out what kind of bug bit her. I gotta say, it is a pretty useless to search if you didn't see the actual bug that bit her because most of the bites I saw for different bugs and such looked all about the same and most of them did not cause near the reaction my poor girl had.
So, I searched and searched though, and couldn't decide if it was from a black fly or not in the end, so then I prayed over her and put her to bed. Then soon after, I went to bed.
That night I dreamed that I was trying to stop an alien from eating a car that was in the garage, but to get to the alien to pull it off (it looked a bit like the blob) I had to run through this garage with a dirt floor that was filled with tiny biting insects that you couldn't see, but would attack as soon as you stirred up the dirt. After my first foray into the garage, I realized I was being bitten and my whole belly and upper thighs were covered with bites that were filling up with puss. I freaked out, but I had to keep the alien from eating the car, so I ran around the car, stirring up the dirt floor and was being bitten almost continually. When I finally succeeded at getting rid of the alien, I ran for the door as if I was a child running through a sprinkler, trying to keep the bugs from reaching my face as I ran.
By the end I was covered with welted up bites and puss filled bumps and so I went to an Amish rummage sale and asked them if they had any yarn or muffin tins for sale. They didn't and I was so disappointed but I stayed around and helped them sell vegetables.
Weirdness, eh? The funniest part to me was about the bug bites. A prime example of the power of meditation. So tonight I think I'll read the fourth chapter of Revelations and then go to bed and see what I dream about. I hope that it ends up to be more than a dream.

This concludes the second edition of the randomness postings. Hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Not to Do

When embarking on a sugar detox, one should not completely detox and then go and eat real ice cream, especially any ice cream containing both sugar and chocolate. Not only will it make you feel slightly ill to have that much sugar again, it could also give you a severe headache and make you toss and turn all night in misery.

I've been fully detoxed from white sugar for over seven days, and then last night, I went to Bruster's Real Ice Cream stand and indulged in a Mint Chocolate Chip scoop on a waffle cone. It was divine tasting for the first 20 minutes, and then, but the time we got home, I felt ill. The headache was starting, my neck muscles were tensing up. I went to bed, felt like puking, but never did. Tossed and turned all night because my body was exhausted and my muscles all ached, but my mind was rushing on a sugar high, so I couldn't really sleep.

What a horrid experience! I share it only in hopes that it will spare you from doing something equally dumb. Once you've detoxed, your body will not be accustom to the amount of sugar you use to consume in a day, so don't try to consume that much in a day ever again.

Now onto something else that I thought might be interesting to the rest of you sugar detoxers. For some time now I've always felt that brown sugar was better than white sugar. Less refined, and molasses is suppose to be good for you right, lots of vitamins. Well, maybe you all know what I didn't, that that is actually false. Brown sugar is just as refined and then the molasses is added back in. I googled it and found several websites that told me the truth, but there was one that explained it the best, in plain language. So look here and be horrified. It is just as bad as white sugar and so after your detox, keep that in mind when baking and stirring in sweeteners. Raw sugar is best, and although organic is always going to be the best choice, I have a budget to maintain and so just plain 'raw' is fine with me. You pay a lot more for that little 'USDA Certified Organic' stamp, and for some things it is worth it, but overall, I don't think sugar is.

Guess that is all I have to say today about the detox. Keep at it girls! You can do it and be free of that wretched addictive white substance (sugar)! Be blessed today.