Monday, February 17, 2014

Even the Small Things

Yesterday morning my four-year-old son bounded into my bedroom, while I lay asleep, exclaiming, "This is the BEST DAY EVER!" He had found the new set of crayons and Disney 'Planes' coloring book on the kitchen table, as I knew he would. 



He could hardly contain his joy, immediately nesting into the space between my legs on top of my bed covers. Carefully selecting his first color, he awed over the beautiful array of fresh, sharp colored tips. The five different oranges and greens all neatly packed together.

I couldn't help but smile. What a lesson to us grown people. That happiness is truly in the small things in life. Let us not grow old and tired of small things, but find the wonder and beauty in even these. The problem lies in how we view it, life. So let's savor a single piece of dark chocolate, sit quietly and earnestly over a warm cup of chai tea with a friend, walk through a crunchy, sparkling new snowfall. 

Let us not become so inundated with extravagance, that we forget the satisfaction of the ordinary pleasures of life.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Making the Most of my Mommy Margin

This year I've made a commitment to changing some of my habits. Mainly, what I do with my "margin".

If you haven't been listening to the sermons at First Church in St. Joseph, I recommend them! You can listen to any of them here.

"Margin" is defined as the space between our load and our limit.

This season of staying home with the kids has been a very heavy load. In more ways than one! (mom humor insert here)

I've realized that my margin was very small. I was hitting my limit on almost a daily basis. And really, who doesn't as a stay-at-home Mom? It is honest, hard work that is hard to quantify or measure.

In the way that the dishes were all cleaned and put away and after two meals every dish we own is in the sink once again. Or the toddler is throwing yet another temper tantrum after your "Come to Jesus" talk only minutes before.

I so desperately need my margin to restore me, so I can keep going.

So I am exchanging some of the ways that I spend my "margin" or free time. One exchange is Target for Southshore Health Club.

This is nothing against Target. I do love you so, with your cutesie picture frames and shabby chic throw pillows with birds on them. I love spending mindless minutes adoring the newest seasonal platter or ice bucket, but after leaving the doors, how do I feel?

Still. Exhausted. And sometimes guilty for that needless splurge.

Instead, I go to Southshore. (Membership gift! Yes!) I drop the kids off in the nursery (PTL for that) and pretend I know what I'm doing in the gym for 15-20 minutes. My breathing gets a little heavier and the elliptical tells me I burned like 58 calories! Woo-hoo! This is coming from someone who has always hated the idea of just running. Ew.

Even if my total trip is under an hour, I feel:

ENERGIZED. Relaxed.

That is the opposite of Target. So I must choose this. Why? 

Because it helps me to be the Mom I need to be when we pull back into the garage and back into our comfy pants for the remainder of the day. I am less snippy and impatient. I have just a few more ounces of energy than I did before.

 How is this of spiritual worth? I think that God is glorified when we take care of ourselves physically too. I am learning that it is often a physical expression of the state of my heart and my soul.

I get that not everyone can make this change. But what change can you make? Is there a sacrifice worth making to make the best use of your margin?

I am still learning. I would love to hear about your margin too.




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Give Your Gift

"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another."  1 Peter 4:10

Two questions for today:

1. What is your gift? 

2. How will you use it to serve another well?

The last two-three years God has been revealing to me just how important this is! It's huge! There are so many spiritual gift tests available, which can be helpful tools. It is also important to have the gifts confirmed in you by others around you. 

Once you have confidence in them, embrace them! Run with them! Get creative in ways you can use your gifts. 

For me, I have Creative Ability, Teaching, and Encouraging, among some other lesser gifts.

I chose to concentrate in these areas with ministry. I made a decision to lead a girls small group, so that I can use my teaching and encouraging. I am embracing writing and videography for my creative outlets in the church. It becomes a sort of filter for the decisions I make, for what things I say 'yes' and to which I say 'no'. 

Find another, seek them out and serve them well today.


Friday, January 24, 2014

A GF Toddler Dip Plate

 
Sometimes the simplest ideas get overrun by routine. 
  
 I am on my 23rd day of going gluten free. I still feel great. Although I think I have experienced some wicked withdraw symptoms. (i.e. mood swings etc.) I feel better than ever. My head continues to be clearer everyday. It's strange, I can think so much better. AND my creativity is coming back to me! I have had a looong dry spell. I even picked up my guitar and painted something all in the same day. Ok, it was just a little picture frame that I painted turquoise, but still. It excites me.

Since I've been eating mostly salads for lunches I've realized how much bread and unhealthy processed foods my kids eat. So today I thought to myself, "I'm just going to make them one colorful plate of veggies and make it fun and have dipping sauces to dip things."

We do eat a lot of carrots or tomatoes with meals, but I've never made that the meal before. I happened to have a lot of random veggies I needed to finish off anyway, so it made for a great way to clear out the fridge too. 

 I gave them two saucers one with ranch and one with red pepper hummus. Since it was all finger foods, there were no forks to wash or extra plates. Bonus! 

It's the little things. I want my kids to be excited about eating healthy. Sometimes I think it helps just to put it in front of them and make it fun.







Friday, January 10, 2014

Dining Room Remodel; Whitewashing the Fireplace

We bought a new home! A super-seventies ranch! Woo-hoo! This is the first post of several, with before and after pics of some of the remodeling work we have done. 

 

This is our "family room" adjoining our kitchen. This photo was taken when we first purchased the home. The cabinets on the right were hanging over a bar in the kitchen. The carpet was super dirty and stinky and it just felt sort of crotchety. Yes, crotchety.

I love the space and we want to be able to host dinner parties so we decided to turn this into a large dining room, sort of a great room feel I suppose. The french doors on the right lead out to the enclosed back porch and then the backyard. 

 

Here, you can see the bar and we removed the hanging cupboards that were above it. I think it really opened up the space and makes the kitchen seem larger. We have since painted the cupboards, but that is for another post! The next step was to paint the entire room top to bottom as well as whitewashing the fireplace and spray painting the lovely brass guard.

Here I am starting to paint, no turning back! We better like this!
 

To whitewash a brick fireplace, you make up a mixture of half water, half white paint, preferably a flat or eggshell so there is more of a matte finish. Paint into all the crevices with an old brush. It is pretty watery and sloppy so take precautions with tarps and tape where needed. At first it seems very white, but after awhile the brick soaks in the paint and you can still see the texture and slight color of the brick. We were very happy with the results!


After the fireplace was all painted, I taped off the guard, and used newspaper to make a barrier all around and on the glass front and spray painted it with an oil rubbed bronze spray paint. It is very dark, almost black. I painted the room a very, very pale cool gray called tundra. I wanted the room to stay a light color because it doesn't get much sunlight and we decided on a darker wood floor. I also taped and painted our french doors black for a more modern look.


Here you can see the fireplace all painted. And the wood floor going in. Dan did a fabulous job on it! It is an engineered locking hardwood floor, called Vintage Hickory. It has a hand carved look and little dents in it, to give it that vintage look. We weren't sure how it would look, but once it started covering a larger area on the floor, we fell in love! It took probably about 3-4 full days of hard work on my hubby's part. Good job Daniel!


Here is the new look! We love it. It feels more like us now. Ahhh. Next up for this room is to paint the built in on the right of the fireplace (probably a darker gray) and wire our lamps above the table into the ceiling, as well as several can lights in this room, particularly above the fireplace. I think adding the lighting will really bring this room into this century. By the way, that table from Ikea seats like 16 when you put in the leaf. It's huge. Come over for dinner there is plenty of roooom! (P.S. better quality photos next time)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A new year! A new diet? Going Gluten Free

I admit it. I judged them. I thought it was crazy. I thought it was a fad. I didn't understand how a "natural" derivative of wheat could cause so many health problems. And then....I tried it.

Many people don't know, but I have been having all sorts of health problems over the last 8 years. Mainly severe joint pain and inflammation. Also, fatigue and stomach pains at almost every meal. In the last couple of years it has become close to debilitating. I wake up and can hardly walk or open anything or even hold a coffee mug my hands are so swollen and in pain.

Today is my sixth day on a strict gluten free diet and I feel so great. I'm not jumping to conclusions until my 30 day trial is complete, but oh. my. goodness. I feel amazing. My joints in my hands and wrists were less swollen by day three. My husband even commented on them. My belly is less bloated and I haven't had any stomach issues, at all. This is big people.

I can't tell you how many times I have prayed for this, or had people pray over me for this. I must acknowledge that God has been leading me to figure this out. I still have a lot of blood work and labs to sort through as I do have an auto immune disease, we are trying to pin down, if it be different from the psoriatic arthritis I was originally diagnosed with. But we are on a path to healing and this is everything to me. I feel like I am hopeful for the first time in years.

I would love to hear of anyone else that has gone gluten free and how you determined that helped you. Also any tips for good meal ideas. Right now I pretty much eat hard boiled eggs for breakfast, salads for lunch and soup for dinner....every day. So that might get old soon.

Hooray for feeling better, here's to a great new year.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Freezer Meal- Southwest Black Bean Burgers

The second freezer meal that has proven to be awesome, is:

Southwest Black Bean Burgers (recipe cred: Nicki Britten and Joanie Gentry)

Get out a big bowl and dump 3 cans black beans and smash up with a large spoon. Just until mostly smashed not all.

Chop up two or three colored bell peppers, one medium onion or a couple shallots, 4 cloves of garlic. Sautée in a pan with some olive oil until onions become translucent and peppers get a little soft.  

Mix in peppers and onions in bowl with black beans, add some chopped fresh cilantro, about two big handfuls. Squeeze some lime juice and add spices. 1.5 tsp cumin, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. salt. Add 3 eggs and 2-3 cups plain bread crumbs or enough until it becomes like a thick paste that you can mold into patties. 

I got about 18 burger patties! That is a real savings from 3 cans of beans. 

This is really so easy. You can even adjust recipe to your taste, add jalapeños for more kick or even a can of corn etc. 

Then flash freeze and put in freezer bags. They are so delicious and handy! Just pull a couple out nuke for 1 min and then sauté in a pan or on the grill. We love pepper jack cheese and avocados on them!