Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Perspective

Life is about perspective. Oftentimes we get so caught up in the dailiness of our own lives or intensity of our own struggles that we can easily lose perspective or allow that perspective to become skewed. Looking outside of ourselves is a good reality check.

A friend posted today that their family received a letter from the recipient of her son's corneas and the joy it brought them to know Nick lives on in others.

Perspective.

Attending the funeral of a precious 14 year old friend taken home to be with Jesus in his sleep.

Perspective.

The "C" word creeping into the lives of too many people I know.

Perspective.

Walking the dark road of depression with someone I love.

Perspective.


When life doesn't make sense, when things happen that we just can't wrap our minds around, we come to a crossroads. We can turn away, disillusioned and defeated or we can turn to the One who can somehow help us make sense of it all. 

Turn and lean deeply into Him.  

And in the quiet we hear him whisper "I have a plan in the pain. I'm writing their story - your story - and this part, no matter how hard, is just another chapter."

In the leaning and the whispering we find a new perspective...one that gives us hope again.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Does your house tell a story?

Homes are a beautiful reflection of family. They hold memories of movie nights, holidays, special meals and every day living. If you look past the clutter of six people sharing one place, you'll see a reflection of who we are; a reminder of the special people we've had the privilege of doing life with.

Fresh flowers from my thoughtful husband after a hard week.

Hand drawn pictures from my sweet, crazy kids.

The cross sitting on my kitchen island from my special friend Lindsay.

The chair Barb and I bought on one of our many Saturday yard sale adventures.

The original painting filled with special coffee memories made by my amazingly talented friend Marla.

The glass domed cupcake stand I found with Pam and Sherri on a hot, humid day in May while scouring deals in Canton. Fried pickles and ice cold Dr. Pepper were the order of the day. Oh I miss that place...and the fried pickles...but most of all the friends.

Each one of these things, these objects, reminds me on a daily basis how blessed I am to be surrounded by love. To have had the privilege to do life with some amazing people. My home may be a bit eclectic and I'm fairly certain you won't be seeing it in Southern Living anytime soon, but it wraps around me like a warm blanket and speaks to my heart in ways nothing else can. When the world outside is gray and gloomy (which happens a LOT during these Idaho winters), these things remind us to be thankful and challenge us to love one another well.

Filled with memories, our home is the setting where our story is being written each day. It may not be a best seller, but personally it's my favorite read. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love and bacon

We postponed our Valentine's day family celebration until this morning. Heart shaped waffles with whipped cream, raspberries and chocolate chips and bacon...
 
Because everyone knows bacon equals love.
 
As I spent time writing notes to hubby and the kids, I was reminded of the fact that while V-day is a good time to remember how/why we love the people we do life with, it shouldn't be the only time we celebrate that love. I use to be good at writing notes to the kids. In fact, when they were younger I kept a journal for each of them, writing down milestones, thoughts, observations and prayers for their lives. When did that stop? Why did it stop? I could come up with a hundred reasons, but truthfully they would all sound pretty lame.
 
Like getting up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning to make breakfast and decorate the table in pink and red, love is a VERB! It doesn't merely express an emotion. In fact, it's when we equate love with emotions that we end up on trouble. The reality of it is I don't always FEEL loving towards my family. Chalk it up to hormones, lack of sleep, never ending to-do lists or whatever, but the truth of it is selfishness plain and simple. Love takes laying down my needs/wants in place of theirs. It takes sacrifice. It takes biting my tongue when I want to respond, ironing the shirt when I'm tired, not having the last word, doing the dishes and laundry for the millionth time and knowing it won't be the last. 
 
Real love requires something of me. Sometimes we get lazy and our excuses become lame.  We forget the importance of letting people know what they mean to us. Since we aren't guaranteed tomorrow maybe it's time we put a little Valentines day into every day of the year.
 
After all, who couldn't use more bacon?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Parenting - Letting go...just a little

He saunters off, hat on backwards and backpack slung over his shoulder.  As I watch him go I realize a large part of my heart is walking away with him.  My 6'3" son, my baby, started his second semester of college this morning.  I'm really not sure yet how I feel about it all.  Yes, I know we raise them for this moment, but I'm still trying to figure out how we got from birth to this point so quickly.  Where did the time go? Being in the middle of diapers, discipline, temper tantrums and the chaos of little ones, you think these days will never come...but they do. One day you turn around and there in place of your little boy stands a man ready to face the world.

And so with a hug and a lot of prayer I let go...just a little.  So very thankful that when we let go of them, God never will.  He's got this.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Homeschool days - what do they look like?


Our homeschool days rarely look the same. Each one has it's unique set of challenges and joys.  Take today for example. It's been a busy week, with several extra things thrown in that needed my attention. Couple that with a three day headache and well, mamma slept til 8:30 this morning.  

As everyone slowly began waking up, we found ourselves sipping coffee in the living room together. That turned into our oldest teaching the youngest two how to play a G chord on the guitar.  They're excited to learn to play so why not start today? Then Emma, Greyson and I finished up a geography book/unit we'd been working on.  In our discussion we were looking up states and capitals, which led us to find a fun quiz app on the tablet to sharpen their skills.  After a quick math lesson, we pulled up Pinterest and chose an art project to work on while listening to a Jonathan Park episode on Fibonacci numbers.

None of that was on my radar when I woke up this morning, but it was far better than anything I could have planned. We laughed, built relationships, enjoyed art, music and storytelling, learned geography and marveled at how God created order through math. When we submit our hearts and homeschooling to the Lord, he directs us in ways that will delight our hearts and the hearts of our children.  

Planned or not, I'd say that makes for a very good day.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Chalkboard lettering Pinspiration

Here's a peek at this week's chalkboard art.  I love this one because it reminds me of our wedding.  My little brother who was five at the time, sang "You are My Sunshine" as a surprise for my hubby.  Sweet memories!  It's also a great reminder during these gray January days that LOVE shines through the darkest clouds!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

5 Steps to EASY Once a Month Cooking


I spent just 2.5 hours this morning preparing 10 meals for my family's freezer. Instead of messing the kitchen up to make dinner 10 different times, I messed it up all at once and got it all done!  Think about how much time you spend each evening making/cleaning up dinner.  Maybe an hour total?  That would be 10 hours to get done what OAMC gets done in under three.  Despite the craziness of homeschooling and various afternoon/evening activities, we can still eat good, home cooked meals.  That makes this mamma happy.

The key to once a month cooking (OAMC) is planning and prep.  If you do this step correctly, the assembly goes much more smoothly.  Here are a few quick tips to get you started.

1. Choose recipes you are already familiar with.  Yes, you can look on-line and find a plethora of OAMC recipes, but choosing 10 new recipes to assemble on cooking day will slow you waaaay down.  Instead, look over your family's favorites and see which ones might freeze well.  Soups, stews, casseroles, sloppy joes, quiche, crockpot favs, chicken in marinade...most recipes will freeze fairly well.  If you want to try a new recipe, consider limiting it to one or two each cooking session.  If the family likes them, you can add them to your regular rotation.

2. Decide where in the cooking process you will freeze each meal.  I don't like my meals to taste like leftovers, so if I'm assembling a casserole I put it together and freeze prior to baking.  This way when I take it out of the freezer I just defrost and bake.  Right now I have Salisbury steak patties and Ranch chicken I am flash freezing and will bake when we're ready to eat them.

3. Prepping is the key.  I list out how many pounds of hamburger I need to brown, how many onions I need to chop, how many pounds of cheese I need to grate, etc.  Keep this list handy to work from.  Taking the time to chop all the onions at once instead of each time you need them saves loads of time...and sanity.  


4. Lay out each recipe with the ingredients.  I'm a visual person, so this helps me IMMENSELY with assembly.  When I start putting it all together I'm not scrambling all over the kitchen and pantry to find what I need - it's right there. Makes the process super fast.




5. Gallon Ziplock freezer bags are your new BFF.  Just label with the recipe name and date and pop the meals in the freezer. These freeze flat and don't take up too much space. The only thing I ever freeze in a baking dish would be lasagna or something I need to layer.  Even the quiches fit nicely into the bag and freeze very well.


Now to relax.  After all morning in the kitchen, hubby's taking me out to dinner! :-)

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