Saturday, March 26, 2011

Where Am I Going?

To Fort Mill, South Carolina, in York County. Here is a little excerpt from the Wikipedia description of the areas yearly temperatures.

York County has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. Precipitation does not vary greatly between seasons. July is the hottest month, with an average high temperature of 90 °F (32 °C) and an average low temperature of 70 °F (21 °C).[3] The coldest month of the year is January, when the average high temperature is only 52 °F (11 °C) and the average low temperature bottoms out at 32 °F (0 °C).[3] The warmest temperature ever recorded in Rock Hill, the county's largest city, city is 106 °F (42 °C), on August 21, 1985,[4] and the coldest temperature ever recorded in Rock Hill is -4 °F (-20 °C), on January 21, 1983.

So as it seems to me, it will be much warmer there, year 'round. For those of you who know my love of the outdoors and growing green things, this is a bonus for sure. 
My morning was spent researching all I could about all the new and exciting plants I can grow in York County, which is a zone 7 according to the USDA hardiness zone chart, which you can look at here.
Here are a few of the ones I am the most excited about; things I wouldn't dream of growing in a zone 5!
First off - bananas, mostly ornamental, but beautiful none the less. They have new varieties with purple leaves called 'blood' bananas or 'red' bananas that you can grow up in a zone 5, but you have to bring them in every year. Who has space to bring in a 4-6 ft tree every winter? Not me.
These can stay out year round in a zone 7, wahhoo!
regular banana tree

Next is the beautiful Mountain Laurel, which likes to live in and near the Appalachian Mountains. Some of these flowers are exquisite. They like acidic soil, which I don't think will be a problem, but for now I don't know a whole lot about them. Aren't their flowers lovely though, and they are a small shrub that can grow in part shade. Nice.
Mountain Laurel comes in pinks, whites,
raspberry, wine, and this color.

Another new one for my growing experience is hardy palm trees. There are a handful that will survive in a zone 7, but not all palms will. The one below is one that will survive in our zone and do quite well. Palms, they make it feel so exotic.
Palmetto Palm tree

Lastly, a few of my favorites that I grow in a zone 5, but have to dig up every year. In South Carolina they will winter over fine in the ground, and that makes me want to cry. So wonderful, so carefree! Canna bulbs and Elephant Ears, and another one that was always marginal in zone 5 and would die in bad winters is the Catawba Rhododendrons (fun note, the Catawba river runs thru York County, South Carolina).
Most everything else we have up in the northern growing zones, but I will have to do some more research, because some plants that we grow in a zone 5 become invasive and weed like in a zone 7 (aka ground covers and perennials) because of the lack of a hard winter to keep them in check. Still, it is a fair trade I think. Give up a few ground covers for some beautiful trees and shrubs, I can do it!

And for all my friends who are remaining in a zone 5, don't hate.

Purple (called black) Elephant Ear Plant

'Nova Zembla' Catawba Rhododendrons
Canna plants, love them!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sick = Cuddles (and movies)

Well, my oldest is sick with some flu bug, and at about 3am she woke up screaming for her momma. When Ken and I stumbled out of our room to help her with whatever was wrong we found her standing outside the bathroom door. Ken thought she just needed to pee and left me in charge, but as soon as the door was open she lost all of her dinner. Thank the Lord she made it to the linoleum because it was much easier to clean up than our white carpet would have been.
thankfully she doesn't have
a temperature
After stripping her down and putting her in clean jammies, I put her back to bed, but only to have to wake up and do it again two more times. Finally it was time to get up for the day, and so now she is happily propped up on the couch watching the movie 'Babe'. Although I can tell she still feels poorly, she is also basking in the glow of my attentions. She got to eat her crackers and water on the couch, which never happens, and she gets to watch a long movie, which also never happens unless someone is sick. Lastly, she gets lots of cuddles and loves and that is something she hardly ever takes time to get anymore. These days she is so busy that cuddles cramp her style most days.
So both mommy and Kinsey are enjoying the moment and although I want her well soon, it is sort of nice to have my cuddle bug back. Kalei is also basking in the glow of having all the toys in the bedroom to herself.
As for my last post about goal setting. Today most of those family goals go by the wayside. We will watch an abundance of movies while my girl is sick and my bathrooms will probably not have a pleasant odor until this is all over. I also might need to buy a few more of those Reese's Peanut Butter eggs to get thru the day. :-)
Lord bless this day and make it special despite my girl being sickly. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Personal Goals

Ok, so I have been thinking a lot about goals lately. It must be inspired by the move. I am trying to plan what my new life in South Carolina will look like, or something. So with a new life comes some changes to my list of goals, at least the short term ones.
I don't remember which Monthly Moms Gathering featured a speaker who encouraged every mom to set short term and long term goals, but it was way inspirational to me at the time. For as often as I've quoted the scripture, "where there is no vision, the people perish", I for most of my life have never had any concrete goals. Perhaps this is because I am secretly terrified of not achieving the goals and therefore tasting failure.
Yet over the years I've learned that it isn't about making goals and then achieving them that matters, but the whole process. Figuring out what is important to you, and then as your life gets jumbled up with a whole bunch of 'stuff', being able to go back and look at the list of goals. I can weigh the 'stuff' against the goals and get rid of what doesn't fit. It helps me de-clutter my schedule, it also helps me to re-sign up in the areas that I have been slacking off in. Reading my goal sheet is always very inspiring and gets me all excited to reach for them again.
So as I've had a few new goals pop into my head in recent days, I've gone in search of that goals sheet from my last year, and couldn't find it. Guess that means it's time for a new one. I've been working from scratch, using my 'mothering mission statement' as a starting point. Then I ask myself what I would like to be doing well in six months to a year (short term) or two to six years from now (long term) and then I re-evaluate my life goals to make sure they are still in their proper place (self explanatory i think). I also look at my schedule as I make these goals to see what is realistic to try and squeeze in.
I won't list all my goals on here, I just wanted to tell you other moms out there about the importance of setting goals and encourage you to do the same (if you are not already). For those of you who don't have a grid of what I'm talking about for short-term and long-term goals, here are a few examples from my lists.
Short-term (6 mo to 1 year time-frame):
  •    fast one day a week (while I'm not pregnant or nursing)
  •    read thru the New Testament every 30 days
  •    maintain a fresh smell in my bathrooms (this equals a cleaning goal)
  •    restrict kids movies to 2/ week (made this one after a long winter in which I used movies to cope)
Long-term (2 to 6 years)
  • home school my children
  • eat mostly raw
  • keep a large garden and can/preserve most of my own food
  • be debt free
Then there are other life-goals, like: maintain my intimacy with the Lord, raise children who fear the Lord and that each would have a passionate personal relationships with Christ, honor my husband with all my words and deeds, etc.
That is just a taste of some of my goals. They don't all have to be domestic, and they don't all have to be spiritual. Another example from my short term list is that I hope to do crunches to work off some of my baby chub and rediscover my six pack. Not super spiritual right? but a goal none the less.
So Happy Goal Planning to you! Be creative, and be honest with what actually matters to you. Don't try to make goals because you see other people making similar ones, make ones that are realistic and personal to you in your season of life.

It is hard, however to work on my six pack, when I keep coming home from Target with a six pack............ ........................of these.

What can I say, I'm a work in progress.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Night of Embracing Weakness

In our community we are blessed with a ministry designed just to speak to moms. All ages and stages of women in mother-hood can come to these monthly meetings and be surrounded by other moms and worship together and then hear a message from a seasoned mom who has lived in the trenches. It is practical as well as spiritual and up lifting.
When we move it will be one of the things that I will miss a lot. Last night however, was one of the best messages I have ever heard. It was brought by Tracey Bickle who is our senior pastor's sister. She was talking about how as mothers, one of the best things we can do is manage our hearts correctly. She said if you don't pay attention to what is going on in your heart, and don't talk about the pains, disappointments, hope deferred, or loses that we have lived thru, then we are setting ourselves up. Our hearts long to talk about these things, but if we don't allow these things to come out, even in our quiet times with the Lord, then our hearts will talk when it is the least appropriate time.
Last night the Lord showed me that I was holding some sadness in my heart because I was afraid to let it out and look weak. He showed me it was okay to be sad to leave some of the people and things that I love behind in KC to move into His new story for us in SC. I could be excited and sad in the same moment, and it was okay. I was not weak, or an emotional sinfulness, or double-minded to have such feelings. That may sound simple or not be a revelation to you, but it was a real 'wow' to me last night.
He also showed me He was big enough to take the bulk of them from me, if I would just hand them over. It was a beautiful exchange in the end. I gave Him my fears, my sadness, my weakness, and He took it all and gave me peace. It was a tangible peace too. The kind that makes you sigh deep inside your heart, and your whole body feels relaxed, and you suddenly realize you've been wound tightly for so long, but now you are free. I could weep right now in just remembering how it felt.
After that release I was able to come home too, and share how I was feeling in a logical and calm manner and my husband was able to hear me, love me and offer encouragement. That is a new leaf for us, because me holding in emotions is not a new thing. Usually I wait until I can't hold them in any longer and then I just explode on my husband over nothing and shower him with an irrational torrent of pent up emotions. It doesn't end pretty when that happens. Trust me, it probably looks more like the displays my three year old is fond of these days; a lot of flailing and wailing.
So, take what you will from this post. It was more a way for me to get some more of my thoughts out than it was for you (my readers) to make sense of and try to apply.
I will say though, that for those of you in KC whom I'm close to, you may see me weep more often as I talk about moving; as the reality of what I am leaving behind hits me. I'm just thankful the transition is going to be short, only 6 more weeks and I will be in packing mode and too distracted to think of much else. For 6 weeks though, I will be able to look at all the people and places I love in KC and realize that it could be a really long time before I see them all again.
If you feel so inclined, you may weep with me.
PS, if they record the sessions from these monthly mom meetings, last nights was worth the effort to obtain. It spoke to every woman at every stage in life and was powerful and anointed to say the least. You can try to obtain a copy by emailing, or if I find a copy first, I will post a link.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


No, I'm afraid this post is not going to be very spiritual in nature, it is about irrational food cravings. On the front end of this post though, I will assure you I am not pregnant.
These are a bit different from pregnancy cravings in that, if I were pregnant, history tells me sweets would be the last thing on the list of cravings for the first trimester. Carbs, anything potato, and grease are what my body craves in pregnancy, and sugar is what my body craves, I approach another female "reality" each month.
Today it was completely out of control! I was in line at SunFresh Grocery with two loaves of garlic bread for a friend, and as I had to wait in line I looked at the candy bars on display. It was a dumb thing to do, even if I wasn't having a voracious appetite for sweet things, but chocolate is my special weakness right now.
I even attempt to tell myself to save the money, use it on something else more necessary, but at the thought of not buying a candy bar I felt as though I might burst into tears. Another irrational hormonal side effect of the imminent arrive of my female "reality".
So I told myself, "yes you may have one, but just one," so what did I choose, a package of Reese's peanut butter cups, because I rationalized that I get two for the price of one. Before I reached my car in the front row I had the first peanut butter cup partially devoured and I felt as though I might cry again. It was really just that good. All the cares of my day melted away as the chocolate melted in my mouth, and I drove home with a silly grin on my face, sated.
The funny thing about cravings is that they don't always go away that easy. I did good for the rest of the night, I even ate all my dinner, and then the house was quiet and the kids were in bed, and the husband was gone and I thought to myself, I just gotta have something sweet....again.
To my credit I don't keep sweets on hand, just baking supplies and even that stockpile is running a little low at the moment. So what was I to do. I found my carrot cake recipe, and decided to bake. Then I remembered that Ken is about to go on a fast, and I felt guilt at the thought of baking something delectable that might cause him to stumble.
It was quite the quandary, and then I had another thought. We have lots of jelly in the I got a spoon, promising myself to just have one bite from the jar. One bite turned into three and then a spoon full of peanut butter and honey to top it off. Who needs bread.
Ah, sweet sweetness, the craving has yet again been satisfied, but hopefully I will do better tomorrow on the self control portion of my life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"More stimulating than coffee"

So many things have been touching my heart and convicting it and challenging my comfort zone lately, and I thought I would try to share on just one of them, in case others of you out there are also struggling with this same thing. Let us strengthen one another with what we hear the Lord saying.
I'll go first.
Admittance: Finding time to read the Word of God is really challenging for me, and several days go by at a time without me opening His Word.
Agh, it sounds even worse written down than it did in my head, but it is also cleansing to have this struggle out in the open (now maybe you all will keep me more accountable).
I've tried unsuccessfully for months now to wake up earlier so that I can read before the girls wake up, but for months now I wake up and all I do is pray and ask the Lord to forgive me for staying in bed 20 more minutes. In fact, in recent weeks, I don't even think I've repented for this sluggish behavior, I think I just turn off my alarm and roll back over.
Another thing that has hindered my resolve to read everyday is the lie that because I am a mother of two I deserve to be a little lax in my pursuit of knowing Christ better, especially through reading the scriptures. Certainly my days are busy and I adore my sleep and personal time, but somehow I still find time to quilt and crochet, so why can't I find time to read the Bible.
I pray a lot, I even keep a sacred trust (unofficially) of sorts, doing roughly 12 hrs a week at the house of prayer. I pray in tongues, I pray with my children, I worship the Lord in my home, but I struggle to read the Word. So what is wrong with me, why is reading so much harder.
There is also that little voice in the back of my head that keeps saying things like, "you are doing good, that is a lot for a mother of two, don't be so hard on yourself, etc."
Yet I know the scriptures are a powerful tool, they are the living Word of God, sharper than any two edged sword, and worth more than their weight in gold for anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear.
And if the scriptures are the Bread of Life, and we need bread to live, then I am practically starving. Three or four meals a week is not enough to sustain much of a life in Christ (I know the other 'stuff' I do could be counted as meals, but to keep the focus on reading the Word I have not factored them into my meals total).
Now I know that the Lord sees our weak struggles and loves our attempts toward obedience, but I don't feel I'm being too hard on myself. I know in my heart of hearts that I'm not trying very hard. I've also heard a sermons recently that encourage the body of Christ to throw selfish wants and comforts to the wind in pursuit of what will last in the age to come.
My few extra snippets of sleep will not count for much in the age to come, and I certainly wouldn't die without them, but when it actually comes time to wake up in the mornings and sacrifice that last few minutes in bed, I balk, I make excuses. Then I pathetically plead with the Lord to look the other way as I resign myself to ignore His promptings to rise up and read the Word.
Ugh, I feel even more pathetic writing about this, but now that it is out in the open, maybe I will try harder. Maybe..... but I think I also need to ask for more strength. I need to put a stop to all my excuses and make this a priority. It is not okay with me or the Lord if I take even a few months off from pursuing this, and I don't want to lose track of time and realize it has been years since I have seriously studied the scriptures.
The saddest part. I have been a 'Christian' for over fifteen years and I can barely quote a handful of scriptures and those I can quote almost word for word I couldn't tell you where they are actually located in the Bible. So you see, this isn't a new problem.
I know a lot of things in paraphrases and approximately where things are, but I want to be sharper in this area. I want to do my Lord justice by knowing more of His Words by heart, so that perhaps I can be an even better tool in His hands.
Also, as a sweet friend of mine reminded me, there may come a day in the near future where our Bibles will be outlawed and I will only have limited access to the written Word. At that point, what is stored up in my heart will be worth more than gold to me and my children.
Lord, teach me how to love Your Words more, enough at least to get up out of bed in the morning to soak them up. Let them be more stimulating than coffee to me. Amen.
I am resolving in my heart today to be able to report to you in six weeks....six months....six years that I am excelling in this area, or at least keeping up the good fight.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A New Adventure

Well, it looks like we are moving....perhaps as soon as June!
I am so excited I can barely contain it. Certainly there are sad points to moving, always, but this time around the Lord has been preparing me for it beforehand.
Since around the time of the OneThing conference at the end of December 2010, I knew something big was going to happen in our lives in 2011. At first I wondered if my excitement was due to the looming New Year. I reasoned that everyone feels like they are on the edge of something big when a new year is about to roll in. As I began to examine the stirrings more closely though, I began to suspect it was about a move. So I say all of that to confirm that I  have had a lot of time to deal with my heart and my mind about the whole idea of leaving Kansas City.
Now my suspicions have been confirmed, and it looks like the location is Fort Mill, South Carolina, near MorningStar Ministries.
One of the entrances to MorningStar.
For those of you who don't know, Ken just returned from there after having a week long retreat to hear from the Lord on what direction our life would take in 2011. Yet it was no random thing that led us to send him to MorningStar for that quiet time away.
We felt early on that our new steps would lead us toward MorningStar for various reasons and prophetic inklings, but it was nice to finally have some confirmation and a more clear reason why it was toward MorningStar.
Looks like the Lord is directing us to serve under the leadership at Morning Star, submitting ourselves to their vision and doing our best to support the ministries that they are carrying out.  It is my understanding that they have a school, hold regular prayer meetings similar to ours here in KC, and they have prophetic and healing ministries as well. So I imagine our lives will look a bit like what they do here, with Ken serving in those ministries for a season. Then we will wait and see what the Lord will open up to us as time goes on. That is about all we know, but we are ready to spread what we do know and begin to walk into it.
None of the details are in place at the moment, like how we will get there, how we will pay for things, where we will live, etc. We are going regardless. The Lord has been faithful to confirm the move to us over and over and the Lord has comforted me with the scripture of our Lord owning the cattle on a thousand hills.
I've recently visited an organic beef farm and saw cows for as far as my eye could see, and it wasn't anything near a thousand hills, maybe like four or five hills. So wow! If my Jesus wants to send me to Morning Star to serve their ministries, then I am ready.
Now onto the more sad details. From Kansas City, we will be approximately 16.5 hours away, and from my home town, 13 hours away. I am an only child, and so my mom took this news really, really hard, especially because she doesn't want to miss out on seeing her grand babies grow up. It has sobered my excitement in someways, but I am still ready to say 'yes' to the Lord, even when parts of this journey will be painful.
So if you would join us in praying for the rest of the practical details to fall into place that would be amazing, and if you want to give me a call to hear more about the events leading up to this big decision feel free to.
I know this will be a big change, and although I'm excited, I have enough of an imagination to know that not all of the parts of this transition will be pretty. There will be lonely times as we search to build new, meaningful friendships. Ken will probably be more busy than he ever has been, taking him from home more than he is now, and that will be hard. I mostly likely will not work, and that might be hard for me too, me who enjoys the stimulation when I am out of my house for several hours a week without my babies.
There are SuperTargets and a Costco though, near where we will live, so as far as my domestic needs go, I'm set. Then there is the ocean which is only 3.5 hours away! Not bad. I haven't been to the ocean but once in my life, and it was in North Carolina, so this is very fun news.
Well, I guess that is all I have to say right now. As the weeks move along though you will probably hear more reports of planning and excitement, as well as some tearful stories. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some Gardening Info from My Other Blog

When I was in college classes for Horticulture there were some things that were immediately helpful to my gardening skills, two of those tools were understanding what is meant when a plant is given a growing 'zone' and how to understand light requirements.
So, to share a bit of the wealth, I have decided to break it down for those who don't already know.
Zones are based on average winter lows and the smaller the number, the more cold hardy the plant is. Example, a zone 3 plant can stand a very hard freezing winter, and a zone 8 plant is probably tropical. Zone 3 is somewhere in Canada most likely, and a zone 8 is in south Florida. Got it. Now some people even break them down further and say things like zone 5a or 5b, if it is a rather large zone. That tells you for sure if it is hardy to that zone or only marginal.
An example, of a marginal plant (one that can still die, even in the zones specified if not given proper protection in winter) would be some of the rhododendrons that are zoned for zone 5, but I use to live in central Illinois and we were considered a zone 5a, the colder half of zone 5. So if we had a particularly bad winter one year, or my rhododendron was in an unprotected spot, it may not survive even though I am technically a zone 5 and it should be hardy.

Purple Rhododendrons can be marginal

That is why in a previous post I talked about mostly only using plants with a cold hardiness zone of 4 or lower, because plenty of plants with a zone 5 were only marginal in my region of the zone. I had some very pretty roses one year, but they were hardy to zone 5, and when it came around to the following spring they had died back all the way to the root. Only the root survived the cold winter and so I ended up with a very vigorous red rose instead of the pink hybrid I had purchased... (hybrid roses are grafted onto the root stock of a more vigorous variety sometimes)
Roses are a bit temperamental in general, but there are plenty of other plants that do the same thing, but they are not grafted on a root stock and so you lose the whole thing. Lavender is one of those. I have tried and tried to keep different lavender plants that say they are hardy in a zone 5, but they always die in the winter, and if they do survive, they are so maimed why keep them.

Now on to light requirements. First off, full sun is not all day sun! That said, full sun equals 6 hrs or more of direct sunlight. Typically the more sun the better, but it is not required for the plant to live. 

For flowering plants, sometimes when they are not in full, all day sun they tend to not bloom as well, but they will live and be beautiful. 
Part sun therefore is between about 3-6 hrs of direct sunlight, and shade is 3 hrs of sun or less in a day.

There are also different types of shade. Dappled shade, as in a bed under a very tall tree, where light comes in through the leaves and where the branches are trimmed up very high from the base of the trunk (picture a very tall tree, and the nearest branch from the ground is 6-10 feet up). 

Big Leaf Hydrangea's like dappled light.
This is most common under deciduous trees (non-evergreen, lose their leaves in the winter). Dense shade is that of evergreens, or trees that have branches hanging very near the ground, or very heavy leafing trees, like maples and lindens. Not much will grow well in dense shade except moss and moss requires it to be damp dense shade.

Another shade condition is the north side of buildings, which are usually a problematic spot, because it never gets hardly any direct sun and a building does not create any dappled light. Yet, as long as it is open aired and there is nothing to block early morning and late evening sun, then there is still hope to grow some shade plants there, like ferns and Hosta and some shade loving shrubs like Japanese Kerria.  
So hopefully that sheds some light on some of these issues (the pun is totally intended). 

One thing that I will mention is that these light requirements do not carry over to indoor plants very well. If you are growing a cactus, obviuosly it needs high light indoors, but that is a totally different kind of light than the full sun mentioned above. It is unrealistic to expect it to receive 6 or more hours of direct sunlight in a day, but I shouldn't get started on that subject, I have not the time or energy to tackle that topic.
For another day, and until then, I hope this was helpful.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Little Birdie!

Recently my oldest has begun to be very creative in trying to get out of trouble. She is very imaginative as I was when I was younger, and she uses her growing powers of persuasion to her benefit as often as possible.
Her newest one is:
"Mommy, you can't give birds a time out."
To which I reply, "no, probably not."
"Mommy, I'm a bird."

Next it was me trying to tell her to clean up her room before bed.
"Mommy, you can't talk to birds, they only say 'chirp, chirp'"
Me: "Um, I guess not."
"Mommy, I'm a bird, you can't talk to me."

Nice try my little sweet! My new response is that she is MY little bird and therefore she has to obey me. Place emphasis on MY, because I use that word to emphasis where I have dominion in my home. It's MY kitchen. Don't pee on MY toilet seat. You're MY little bird. Ah, I love it.
So thankfully the bird role playing has subsided somewhat.

So why am I telling you all of this silliness. Well today I found the idea to make bird masks on another blog I follow - Pink and Green Mama! They looked so fun!

The mom who writes the blog is oh so crafty, and although some of her crafts are a bit too advanced for my girls at this point in their lives, this one I felt was worth my effort to create. If you want to see her version of the masks, go here.

To say the least, we had a blast making them and wearing them!
Am I reinforcing the bird theme? Maybe. Did we look goofy wearing them? For sure.
Did it pass the morning with little to no whining? Yes, ma'am!
Ah, the memories that are made with glue and feathers.....happy crafting.