Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seeing God on the Dark Days

My heart is heavy today for friends who have known deep loss.  It was on this day that sweet Sam went to be with Jesus.  He was a little boy with the biggest smile I've ever seen and the ability to teach all in his presence about the joy of life despite his lack of speech.  "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young," 1 Timothy 4:12 says, "But set an example for the believers."  Teach in his short years of life Sammy surely did, and those of us who were privileged to know him are better for it.

Mixed emotion bears tentacles in my being.  I'm grateful for the dreams this little boy inspired in my own heart.  Surely his legacy has transformed my life, giving me courage in places I will one day share with you.  Yet, I'm sad for the void his loss leaves behind, especially for his family who daily misses those huge smiles.

Loss jars us all at one point or another.  We say goodbye to people.  We say goodbye to dreams.  We say goodbye to the life we envisioned ourselves to lead.  Sunny, humid days suddenly feel dark and heavy.  And this God that promises we will walk through fire but not be burned (Isaiah 43:2) seems quiet and even absent if we don't choose to mentally stake claim in His promised goodness when emotions don't follow.

My trip to Lewis was only to get two wide ruled notebooks to complete the first grade supply list.  After getting the rest of their items my girls were excitedly labeling their things when this need became known and once little kids are on fire with a task you simply can't leave it incomplete.  At least not with my girls.  So, I went to the nearest store because the Tiny Tot was beyond her nap time and breakdown was on the horizon.  I was admittedly in "get in, get out" mode when I saw it



And a teary sheen covered my eyes.  A frog.  A bike.  Hope.  Today.

God showed up in a frog, again.  Fully Relying On God made frogs beloved in Sam's family.  In Sammy's days here and earth and since he has gone to be with Jesus frogs have decorated his family's home and life as reminder of God's presence and love on the good days and the bad.

Slow down, I'm right here in the midst of this loving you tight, God murmurs.

And even on our dark days our eyes can see the light.  Because this God who says we'll have valleys doesn't leave us in the details of dreary hours. 

Slow down, open your eyes, & jump on the back of the tandem bike.  Pedal on even when your soul is ragged worn, my friends,



Because this is only a piece of His glorious unfolding.

XOXO
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Planting, Watering, & the Servant Life {What I Want My Girls to Know about Married Love}


The girls asked me how we would celebrate this anniversary.  Charlie had the day off.  In their minds, the possibilities ran endless.

And I suppose they did.

But I woke up next to a man who values the work of doing life together more than the fleeting joy that comes with throwing money to the wind for temporary smiles.  Remember this, girls, a real man isn’t about temporal highs that catch your emotions but die a quick death.  A man of God will seek to grow roots deep, building the kind of memories that sustain through life.

As the sun peaked, Grace and Hannah opened our door balancing a surprise breakfast in bed on a cookie pan.  Two bowls of cereal, freshly made coffee (complete with creamer), a handmade card, and flower lie on top.  It was the best start to an anniversary we’ve ever experienced.

When we started life together they were but a dream.  Imagining how children would bless us couldn’t hold a candle to the reality of how they would.  Or how they try, test, and exhaust us.  Certainly they’ve made our everyday richer and our love for life together more appreciated.  A busy life that demands effort to keep conversation and focus on our marriage first.

I was just making my way into the kitchen to start lunch when my man whisked me into dance to Ronan Keeting’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”  It was our first dance as Mr. and Mrs.  We danced through that song easily that night on imaginings of life ahead.  Now we danced with reverence, giving thanks to God that through the sickness and health, richer and poorer, and stuff of life we still desire to choose each other every day. 

“I’m going to plant those hydrangeas on the side of the house,” he tells me.

And he begins the work.  Pulling weeds of bushes now dead, moving rock to create a new space.  Hours are invested in “our” project even though my contribution amounts only to shopping for one more and watering what has been newly planted.

Girls, watch your daddy because this is the stuff a forever life is made of.  It is dedication to pulling out what is thistly and thorny and working to create fertile soil.  It is commitment to not leaving life “as is,” but actively seeking new beauty.  It is choosing to be a servant.  {Let the record show I do this in ways other than gardening J}  THAT is love. 

It’s the stuff that gets you from one anniversary picture to the next.
 

So that when you do get gussied up and kiss for the camera per your kids’ request, you can enjoy those special moments with confidence that all the moments will count special.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Best Sour Cream Raisin Pie {Recipe}

It's no secret that I love to cook.  And, of all the people in the world that I like to learn from, my grandma is most definitely my favorite.  Not only is she incredible in the kitchen, but she has made the preparing of food a ministry.  She prepares for others in times of need.  She prepares to bring smiles.  She prepares simply to share.  She lives her life to be a blessing.

My favorite dessert from Grandma Peter's kitchen is most definitely sour cream raisin pie.  If you haven't had this before and it sounds gross to you, don't worry.  I had the same reaction until I actually tried it and realized it was straight from God.  Try it.  You'll thank me later.

I've long wanted to learn how to make this delicacy but I'd never asked.  Until earlier this week when my mom, girls, and I took a girls overnight trip and we remedied this.  I can't tell how sacred the communing of our hands pressing the pie crust felt. 



Gosh I love this lady.

My mom posted some pictures to Facebook of the event.  I am the fourth generation to learn this recipe and with my girls dabbling in they became the fifth.  I love that.  The pictures tantalized taste buds, and I started getting requests for the recipe.  Well, I talked to my granny this morning and lucky for y'all it's not top secret.  I get to share.

{These are my grandma's words exactly.  Trust me when I say "heaping" and "scant" are tough on a total type A personality in the kitchen.  What do you mean not exact? :)}



Preheat oven to 400 degrees

For the homemade pie crust {which is amazing & only 3 ingredients.  Who knew?!}
Heaping 1/3 cup butter Crisco
Scant 1 cup flour
Cold water

- Mix Crisco and flour with fingers until blended
- Gradually stir in some cold water with a fork until all is mixed together
- roll on floured surface (like waxed paper) with a floured rolling pin & put in a 8" or 9" pie pan
- prick generously with fork to prevent shrinkage
- press your fork around the edge of the pie crust to make it look pretty
- Bake at 400 degrees until brown (it took ours about 10 minutes)

For the Sour Cream Raisin Pie
1 Cup raisins
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites (these will be separated 1 for filling and 2 for meringue)
1 Cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

For Filling:
- Cover raisins with water and boil until the water disappears.  Place to the side.
- In bowl, beat 3 egg yolks and one egg white (keep other two egg whites in separate small bowl for meringue later).
- Add 1 cup sugar, about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon & 1 cup sour cream with blender on low to medium speed. 
- Add filling to the raisins and cook on a double broiler until thick.
- Pour filling into pie crust.

For Meringue:
- Beat 2 remaining egg whites until stiff with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until stiff.   Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar.
- Spread meringue across top of pie. Make sure you get it all the way onto the crust to prevent shrinkage.

Bake pie at 400 degrees until brown (usually 10-15 minutes)

That is it!  It will come out looking and tasting amazing!



Learning to make this with Grandma Peters will forever be filed in my treasured memories box.  :)  I hope you made some fun memories this Fourth too!
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Working vs. Staying at Home: Who Makes a Better Mother?


“I can’t believe you are going to waste your intelligence just to stay home with your kid.”



It was said to my face.  And it left me speechless, which those closest to me will be sure to tell you is rare.

In the speaker’s defense, she was just like me.  A lover of education.  Someone who was most content with a straight A bearing every intention of getting “Dr” in front of her name.  I liked sitting next to her because we were equally ambitious in our desire to learn and solve problematic situations.  We were on a mission to change the world.

Despite our similar end goals, we were also in different seasons of life.  She was a true undergraduate whereas I’d graduated college, married, completed my masters degree in medical ethics, and returned for the final few courses I still needed for medical school application.  I was also sucking down water and praising God for dissolvable zofran because my husband and I were finally going to be parents after painful years of waiting.  She couldn’t yet know how life experienced outside of the college bubble impressions a person.

Soon after that course, Grace was born.  I believe this happens for all women – those working outside the home and those who are not – but it was as though God pulled off the blinders of who I thought I was to reveal to me exactly who He made me to be.   Children have a way of driving us to pray more about our life, our leadership, our choices.  And, if ever I have heard God speak to me, it was when my MCAT results arrived in the mail.  Before I even opened them I knew success or fail I was not to go.

I became a homemaker – a role I never thought I would fill - and I thrived in new ways.  I started to cook more, network more, play more, dream more, write more, and reproduce more. J  Two more girls would be born and, to my surprise, God would also birth through my keystrokes two books for publication.  I felt as though God unwrapped facets of myself previously hidden.  Right work looked different and the education lover in me found its most comfortable home nurturing my children’s education while rocking the PTA.

And I learned never to limit God.  And I knew His ways were better than my ways.  And what life had previously taught me about my identity was reinforced.

Identity does not come in a paycheck.  It is not found in any earthly title.  It is not manifest in the makeup of our day. Those are all surface things to the heart which feels God’s love and says, “My identity comes in being Yours alone.”

Moms,.....

To hear my answer and find encouragement for your heart today finish reading this post here

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

When The Storms Rage On


We’re glued to the radar again. 

Everybody around here has pretty much come to accept that we won’t see Jimmy Fallon on TV at night and “tornado warning” is now a routine part of three year olds vocabularies.

Damaging hail fell from the sky and torrential rains ceased to let up.  Waters filled the street and flooded foundations.  And the meteorologists would deliver yet the same forecast for the following day.  “Chance of heavy rain and hail.  Conditions may be right for a tornado.  Know where your shelter will be.”

The dings on our car exterior necessitate a phone call.

The next day I get a text from a dear friend, “Had to leave our house last night because of flooding.  Don’t know what this all will look like.”

With the turn of another calendar day friends lose windows from an angry sky raining ice and the most mature of trees are uprooted from their foundation.

A house on the street of my childhood home is struck with lightening.

The city goes on water restriction because the sump pumps run at an all time high in hopes of staying ahead while hundreds of others pull up carpets and remove valuable mementoes. 

Streets are closed due to stalling vehicles.  Neighboring communities look lost in lakes.

And just when we think we’ve had it all – seen enough – the tornadoes crop up.  We glue ourselves to media seeing if they will come here.  They don’t, but they get close enough.  My friend’s grandpa’s dairy is lost.  Homes are leveled Tuesday and then again Wednesday.

And then we woke up today - 60% chance of storms. - You can hear the groans.  It’s like life has become a bad version of Groundhogs Day.

We’ve raised our white flags.  “Enough, God, enough!”

And the storms that rage outside fire within our hearts.  And the water that sits sinks spirits.  And the intensity of life’s battle drum grows louder, LOudEr, LOUDER.

Lives are thrown into turmoil.

Lack of control shrivels hopes.

Dreams for tomorrow are lost.

Life demands a new work and outlook and vision.

In mere seconds everything looks different.

We go outside to look at our dwimpy tree that fights to grow.  Daily we’ve watched out the window as the leaves shook and trunk bent so far over it nearly cracked.  It seems miracle that it didn’t fall.

“There’s a nest in there!,” my Hannah celebrates.

My husband and I are sure she is wrong because there is seemingly no way that a nest could withstand the winds of life.

But, there it was,

 

 

Tight and protecting new life.

The radar says more storms may come.  I suppose it will always be true of our lives.

But, when the storms of life rage on - when we’re blown, bent, and nearly broken – we have a God that reminds us in the midst of it all, He will give new life. 
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Remember: You only have until tomorrow to get this adorable handmade "dance" necklace shipped to you for only $10.  My girls' have arrived and I know without a doubt you will love yours.

AND, you can still enter to win "8 Great Dates for Dads & Daughters: Talking to Your Girls About Understanding Boys."  Get your name in the mix!
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jump: How to Live When You’re Caught Between What Is & What You Dream to Be

There is a line so fine between the belief in what you secretly hope for and resigning to what is that is nearly undetectable.

Most of us brush past it in our thoughts because if we stopped to give it credence it might rile up life as we know it. 

Dreams can feel easier with a “someday” vocabulary.  It still speaks of possibility without requiring anything of us now.  We don’t have to do the work.  We don’t have to feel the feelings.  We don’t have to risk. 

And yet, if most of us are honest, some of our biggest heart issues find home in that tiny space.

I can dwell in this shell of my body or I can labor my way to the healthier version of me.

I can resist failure with my ambition or I can throw it all out there knowing there is possibility for success.

I can keep going through the motions or I can awaken what makes me tick.

Significant meaning is brushed aside or wrestled with depending on how gutsy we are on a given day.



I was walking the treadmill when news stations aired George H. W. Bush’s triumphant jump this morning.  A 90th birthday wish to parachute from the skies.

It was a dream that from the outside appeared a bit absurd to me.  Why jump out of a plane at 90?  Why jump out of a plane at all?  His legs do not have full function.  He was recently in the hospital for lung issues.  He has a form of Parkinson’s Disease. 

All odds appeared stacked against him and, yet, that’s the thing about odds.  You don’t know where you will land until you take the jump.

Risk taking isn’t attractive on the outset.  It’s why we often resign to what is rather than plunging into what could be.  But when the “somedays” run out we discover a life lived in safety is hollow and dreams never chanced ultimately show distrust in the Giver of it all.

Because all passions, however small or large they may seem, ultimately come from a God who created us with gifts that motivate and energize, that give the world brighter color and life grander perspective.  This God offers us more than the rising of the sun and coffee to face the day (although that is a wonderful bonus not to be underestimated).  Yes this God offers constant encouragement saying, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21)

Will you trust Him? 

Will you jump?

Life isn’t about getting through the time we have but making a difference with each moment we get. 

“Somedays” create boring days but “I’ll give it a go” embarks on a Spirit-filled adventure of possibility, opening your eyes to new potential and achievement that will make life richer for you and all God’s people watching and benefitting from your living the life and doing the things God sparks in you to do.


Perhaps my favorite part of George H. W. Bush’s whole jump was not the leap itself but the landing.  From the standpoint of human expectation, it wasn’t perfect.  There was a stumble, but he was safe in the care of his tandem jumper.

So too when we take our leap of faith to live our life with passion there may be some wobbles and falls along the way.  The called road isn’t the easy road.  But, lucky for us, God is in tandem, protecting and cheering us on, until we land in the place He calls us to be.  The place we finally experience self-realization and triumph.

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Reminder:  If you haven't entered to a win a copy of "8 Great Dates for Dads & Daughters: Talking to Your Girls About Understanding Boys," do so now right here!  Free is fun!

And, if your girl is a dancer, KraftyKash has this tiny dancer handmade necklace sale going right now that you shouldn't miss.  Thinks birthday & Christmas gifts :)

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

KraftyKash Tiny Dancer "Dance" Necklace Sale

Y'all know how much our family loves dance.

So, when my friend KraftyKash posted this picture yesterday

 
(photo credit KraftyKash)

I started my 2014 Christmas shopping.

Aren't they just the most adorable necklaces for the little dancer in your life? And right now she is running a sale where you can get the dance pendant necklace with the bead color of your choice shipped to you for only $10!

These are perfect for any 4-14 year old girl, although our three year old will be getting one too :)   The hand-clipped pendant comes on an 18" chain that can be clipped to best fit the age of the special girl(s) you are buying for so indicate age for each order in the notes.  Bead choices include pink, white, green, black or teal.

 


Why not grab one for each of the little dancers in your life and let them show to the world how they do ministry on stage?

This handmade deal is good through June 28th, and you can place your order here

If you want to hit a homerun in the dance world, this is how to do it.  They are sure to bring smiles to the little dancers you love.  I know I can't wait for our three to arrive :)   Shhhhh......

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Reminder: If the girl you are purchasing these necklaces for is 8-12 you should also enter my "8 Great Dates for Dads & Daughters: Talking with Your Daughter About Understanding Boys" giveaway. Bob & Dannah Gresh did a great job of writing a memory making, character forming book for you and your girl(s) :)

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