Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Seize the Moment

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On a beautiful chilly fall morning a couple of weeks ago, the kids and I decided to head out for a little hike in our woods. Some of them had been working on a fort they wanted to show me and I wanted to take some pictures of them that sunny fall morning.  I grabbed my camera and headed out the door.


As we walked down the driveway and up through the little side yard on our way to the woods, we trudged past the colorful play toy that sat abandoned near the beginning of our targeted trail.


I suddenly felt a profound sadness as I followed the kids beyond the big yard toy. They didn't even slow their steps as they scurried past it. Excited chatter and laughter peppered the silence of the morning. The now abandoned, colorful, big toy, had been the source of such excitement and joy for the kids for many years.  Hour by hour they played outside, climbing on it, washing it with buckets of soapy water and the garden hose, playing house, hospital, hide and seek, practicing their sliding skills, perfecting their climbing skills, and performing skits with it as their stage/backdrop  It played a leading role in their backyard childhood play time and now they hurriedly moved past it as though it wasn't even there.


I suddenly found myself going back in time to memories of them in their pre-school years. With chubby little legs and rosy cheeks, running through the yard, their blond hair blowing in the wind as they played, and faded memories of their sweet little voices filling the air. Their shrieks of laughter, games of hide and seek, excited little voices as they found a dead bird and prepared a funeral for it all came to mind as we walked past that toy. I suddenly thought "where did the time go?" How did it slip by so quickly?


I am grateful I enjoyed those days and cherished them. I knew they would fly by quickly, but even though I have raised two children into adulthood already, I still wasn't prepared for just how fast it would go with these younger kids.  It seemed like I barely blinked an eye and my oldest daughters were out of the house, married and eight grandchildren appeared on the scene. Somehow it seems like their younger siblings have grown up even faster.


We now have two teen agers (again), and one just a few months away from becoming a teen. Our two little guys are turning seven and nine years old in the next couple of months.


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Seize the moment.


This is the thought that keeps coming to mind. I need to seize the moment every day. Enjoy these blessings. Embrace them and take the time to listen, snuggle, hug, read to them, listen to their dreams, help them set goals, and most of all enjoy mornings when we get together to read God's Word, pray and talk about the important things.


Somehow, when I view things in light of how quickly they grow up my perspective changes.The fighting between two brothers that irritated me earlier in the day, ceases to be an irritant, but rather an opportunity to guide them while I can. The attitudes that arise from my teenagers, are not really intended to irritate me, but again, an opportunity for me to check in with them. REALLY check in with them and listen, ask questions, show interest in what bothers them and frustrates them so I can prayerfully guide them while I still can.


Seize the moment, parents.


Don't let it go by unnoticed.


All those little moments add up into years and they are gone before you know it.


The baton has been passed on to our precious grandchildren now.


The big, colorful back yard toy is now serving as a place for our children's children to hone their climbing skills, play house and whatever other uses their little imaginations might come up with. They love playing at Nama and Papa's house and the big, colorful toy will be a part of their childhood memories just as it has played a big role in the memories of their aunties and uncles and parents.

Monday, October 21, 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

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Thick fog, colorful leaves, a cozy warm house, two Golden Retrievers, a Toy Poodle, a handsome man and five beautiful kids.


Home.


I'm so glad we have one.


We are blessed and I am grateful that we have the freedom to educate our own kids.


After several days of constant running, the kids and I are enjoying a quieter day at a slower pace today.


We are getting the house in order, catching up on book reports, science back ground papers, studying for nine week exams and doing plenty of piano practice.


I love that we have the option of taking a day off from the regular routine now and then.


I love that we can snuggle up under soft blankets with cups of steaming tea and read the Bible together.


I love that I can enjoy cuddle time with my kids at home as they are growing up and that I don't have to send them off into the chilly morning every day.


These are just a few of my favorite things.


What are some of yours?


Friday, October 18, 2013

Follow the Rule and Enjoy the Exception

Eat To Your Health


Last night Rich and I took one of his business colleagues who is visiting from Australia, out to dinner.
We went to one of our favorite restaurants over-looking the water. The atmosphere is cozy and beautiful with white linen table clothes and candle light. Tiki torches on the outside deck finish off the warm, inviting atmosphere.



It was a really fun evening and we enjoyed good conversation over a delicious meal. I ordered wild King Salmon which was served over grilled asparagus on a bed of wild rice and sweet potatoes. Rich ordered Prime Rib which was served with a potato and carrot side that resembled a sandwich. We shared our meals with each other and everything was simply amazing.
We started off the evening with a halibut appetizer and some flatbread with spinach dip.


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After dinner Rich and I did something we rarely do. We shared a dessert. We chose a chocolate rum mousse and enjoyed it with a cup of coffee.
Everything just melted in our mouths and was so incredible. The conversation was good and peppered with laughter and the entire evening was enjoyable from beginning to end.
We rarely eat that much food in one sitting and we don’t indulge in rich foods on a regular basis either, so my tummy was angry with me all day today.


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Allowing yourself to enjoy an out of the ordinary meal occasionally is important. We so enjoyed ourselves last night and I have no regrets. Overall we did make pretty healthy choices and I ate much less than I would have on a night like that a few years ago. I didn’t devour an entire dessert by myself or choose high carb foods heavy with cheeses and thick sauces. My choices are much different than they used to be and since my diet is so healthy and light on a regular basis, my body doesn’t know what to do when it receives something that different. That’s okay though. I took good care of it today and I feel fine tonight.


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I kept my meals small today, drank plenty of water with apple cider vinegar to help neutralize the stomach acids and even though I felt exhausted, I did a really intense twenty-five minute cardio workout and followed it up with a shower and a nutrition packed Shakeology for lunch.


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It amazes me how much better I felt after the exercise and getting my body back on track with the normal light and healthy nutrition it’s accustomed to.
How about you? Do you beat yourself up when you overdo it a bit or make choices that you know aren’t the best, or do you give yourself a little grace and enjoy it?
I have a rule of thumb that works really well for me. I follow the rule and enjoy the exception. Today I went back to the rule and yesterday I enjoyed the exception.
Don’t beat yourself up. Make good choices every day and enjoy some variation once in a while. It’s good for you!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Seasoning with Grace

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It was a cold, brisk, sunny fall day and it was a Friday. Two of my favorite things. The kids had nearly completed their seventh week of school and we were all feeling a need to take a day off and regroup a little. After chores were completed, four of the kids headed out the door to go work on the fort they had been busily building in the woods. Their older sister and I decided to take the opportunity to catch up on laundry and a little house cleaning. We cranked up the music and got busy.




I love days like this! There is something about the beauty of a sunny fall day that cheers me up and gives me energy. I decided to head outside with my camera and capture some of the beauty of the day.
As I stepped out my front door the colors on the trees nearly took my breath away. It’s amazing to me how bright and beautiful dying leaves are. Just before they fall off the trees, they are in their most glorious state and I thought about what a parallel to life that is. The older we get, the more experiences we have under our belt. We may have lost the initial budding of beauty that was evident in the spring of our lives, but the experiences of life develop a different kind of beauty in us if we let them. Marriage, raising children, infertility, unwanted divorce, relationships of all kinds, work, responsibilities, losses of loved ones, rejection, loss of job, location changes, taking care of sick family members and sometimes aging parents or whatever else may be written on the pages of our lives, all blend together to tell a unique story.

 

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Out of pain, a new kind of inner beauty is born. Out of struggles, strength is obtained. Out of mourning, grace and compassion are developed, out of consequences for our choices and actions, wisdom is gained and out of a combination of all of these, character is formed.
As we grow older, we change in depth of character and in physical beauty. When I was younger, I thought about outer beauty all the time. If my hair wasn’t just right, or I didn’t have the most updated clothes to choose from, my life felt out of control. I felt “ugly” and insecure. As I have grown older, my outlook on that has changed. Sure, I still find it important to take care of my physical appearance and I love new, updated clothes, but those aren’t the only things that matter. It’s not the number one priority anymore and how I look on the outside no longer defines who I am or my security level. If I am dripping with sweat after a workout and I have to head out the door to get my kids to piano lessons on time followed by a stop at the store, that’s just part of my day. It’s not the “life or death” situation it seemed to be when I was younger. My priorities have changed. Getting my workout in and being responsible with my health, for example, is more important than heading out the door looking perfect. Feeding my soul each day, from God’s Word is top priority and allowing Him to form character in me and change me into His image, is my strongest desire. Allowing Him to define me has made such a difference in my thinking, priorities and choices and the wisdom He is developing in me is much more beautiful than any outward appearance could ever be.
“Gray hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the way of righteousness.”
Proverbs 16:31
My Grandpa stood about six feet tall and he had a head full of gorgeous white hair. I loved to look at him. There was something about him that drew me to him. He was wise, kind, gentle and strong all at once. He was a quiet man with a witty sense of humor and he was also a gentle, caring, compassionate, consistent leader. I remember mornings at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. After breakfast he would pull out his Bible and everyone was expected to sit still at the table and listen quietly while he read to us. Sometimes we would snuggle into Grandma’s lap while he read and the love around their little table was so sweet. He usually read a Proverb, a Psalm and sometimes something out of the old or New Testament and then he prayed with us. He prayed for people he cared about and he really did care. I heard it in his prayers as he petitioned God on the behalf of others. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the impact he had on my life was huge. This quiet, gentle man who just loved Jesus was gently pointing me in the direction of my Savior every time I had the pleasure of spending time with him. You see, my Grandpa was like those beautiful fall leaves. He was seasoned with grace, full of character, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, love, grace, and strength. He had allowed the story God had written in his life to mold him into something so attractive that he just drew people to him by simply being in the room.

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The fall leaves in our woods around our house don’t say anything. They just quietly adorn the trees pointing us toward heaven and the God who made us. They are the crowning glory of those trees just as my Grandpa’s beautiful white hair topped his handsome head.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oh, Look at the Time!

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After school has been completed and the kids have had a snack, this is the scene in our home in the late afternoons.


There is usually somebody practicing piano while the rest of the kiddos have their home work spread out on the table. The little guys don't always have home work, but if they didn't finish up their seatwork during seatwork time, they will have a few things to complete in the afternoon. They love "home work" time and being together around the table, so if they don't have any work to catch up on, they will usually be found with their big brother and sisters drawing and coloring.


Yesterday during this hour, a little melancholy moment hit me. These are the moments to enjoy and embrace. With the piano playing in the background and the sounds of the kids' chatter, I was overwhelmed with the realization that time is fleeting. This busy household won't stay busy with their voices, and instrument practicing forever. Their childhoods have already flown by so quickly and we have two ninth graders, a seventh grader and two second graders.  No more babies. No more toddlers and boy did those years fade away quickly.


I know from experience just how fast they grow up, but somehow I thought maybe it would go more slowly with my younger kids.


We now have eight grandblessings to enjoy and even they are growing up so fast.


Even though it's loud and crazy and busy and some days it feels like I just can't keep up with it all and some days even deciding what to make for dinner feels overwhelming, so we just don't "do" dinner....but we have a "fend for yourself night" and on most days the laundry is piling up and the bathroom looks like a science project, it's all worth it.


They are worth it. All the time, effort, exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy in trying to keep up with it all.....it's all worth it.


Taking time to re-fuel and get my attitude right every day provides all of my needs as their mom.


Take heart moms. Live in the moment and trust God to help you on those especially draining days.


"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."


Philippians 4:13


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil."


Proverbs 3:5-7


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Deadly Words

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It was one of those days. 


Conflicting emotions and tumultuous thoughts rolled around in my mind. Unwanted tears streamed down my cheeks as they always do when I'm grappling with something difficult. I brushed them away in frustration, wishing I could deal with conflict without all the heavy emotion.


The day dawned beautiful. The sun was streaming through the windows as I sat down in my worn chair, and cracked open my Bible to attempt a re-group, first thing in the morning.


It had happened again. A close friend spoke to me with harsh, angry words and I had no idea why she didn't choose gentleness. I'm just not wired that way. I find it really hard to even confront someone in love if it's necessary, so I really do not "get" the whole "punch 'em in the face with  words or capitalized (yelling) words (if it's in writing)" mentality. The craziest thing about it, is that I apologized immediately. I went too far, though when I actually said I deserved her rebuke. Basically I communicated that the way she treated me was okay when it was not. She did not apologize to me for her harsh tone. I made a mistake. It wasn't intentional. In fact it was a small misunderstanding in light of friendship that spans over twenty years. She didn't stop to consider her friend and the possible thoughts and motives of that friend or the tenderness in my heart. She had a knee jerk reaction and gave it to me with both barrels "in your face" style.


As far as she knew, everything was fine. She shot me and I fell down dead. She moved on. I did not. In fact her actions over the next few days communicated clearly that our friendship is of little value to her and this is why my heart was so heavy. However, God values me and He is the only One who has the privilege of defining who I am. I will learn from this experience and develop character and discernment as a result, so in the end it is a gift. He is the only perfect friend and the only One that deserves my complete and total trust.


Obviously neither of us is perfect and over time, this too, will heal. I don't do friendship/relationships perfectly. I struggle with communication just like anyone else. I hold things in, agonize over it, and slowly process. I don't think "on my feet" in the moment so I don't say what needs to be said and that's probably why she didn't have any comprehension of the effects of her actions. In that moment, I activated my "big girl panties" and took responsibility for my own mistake in the matter.


Does this give me the right to hold her actions against her?  No.  She is just as imperfect as I am.  We are both messed up sinners in need of a Savior and as long as we live on this earth, we will hurt others and we will experience hurt from others.


If you are prone to speaking harsh words, please don't do it. Don't act on your emotions in the moment. Once those words are spoken, you cannot take them back. The greatest commandment is to "love one another" and I don't know about you, but I sure don't feel the love when someone is that blunt. If you are a slow processor, take the time to really work through it and process everything with God. When you are ready, revisit the moment and work through it with the person, if they are willing. Above all forgive......as you too, need forgiveness.


I didn't intend to hurt her, but I did hurt her. Even if you do not intend to hurt, take responsibility for the pain you have caused and own it. Whether you deserve the harsh words or not, try to understand where the person is coming from and ask God to help you see that person through His eyes. If you have assaulted someone with harsh words, please ask their forgiveness.  Harsh words communicate hatred. All the recipient will really hear is that they messed up and they are of no value to you. 


"Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them--this is the Law and the Prophets.."  Matthew 7:12


Would you like to be treated the way you treat others?  If not, it's time to assess your heart and ask God to help you grow in that area. I am glad He gently shows me the flaws that need work and guides me with love as I grow.


"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him."


James 1:5 ESV


"Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"


Romans 2:4 ESV


Monday, October 14, 2013

How Complicated Are You?

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People are complicated.


Is this good or bad?  It depends on your outlook, I suppose. I think it’s actually really amazing! Each of us is unique. We come into this world with our own set of footprints, hand prints, DNA, personality that may be similar to someone else’s, but never exactly like anyone else.  Physically no two people are exactly alike and although we may think very much like someone else, we do not think exactly like they do.


We each go through life collecting a history of experience that is unique to each of us as individuals. No two people will ever experience the exact same course in life. We may have similar experiences and our paths in this life may take us down roads, across mountains and into valleys that parallel the journey of others, but each journey is different and with each experience, something different is molded into our very nature. Even when two people experience the same exact moment together, what they take away from that experience may be quite different in the way they perceive it and learn from it.


I am fascinated by people and this has driven me to observe relationships over the years, study personality types and take various personality tests. I am fascinated by what makes people tick.


One observation that stands out to me is the fact that communication skills stem from not only our personalities, but from our experiences growing up, the family we were raised in, our position in our family and how we perceive ourselves in relation to what we have been taught, how we have been treated by others and most importantly by our view of God.


Despite our history, personality, family ties and life experiences, the most amazing thing about the way God created us is that we can learn to communicate differently. We can learn to view things from another person’s perspective and we can learn to balance out where we are off balance.  In fact, we are commanded to be kind to one another, to love one another, not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, to show ourselves friendly, to lay down our lives in service for others, to be gentle, forgiving, compassionate and self-controlled. The Bible is full of guidance and commands regarding how we are to treat others. Since our wiring, experiences and perceptions of things may be very different than someone else’s it is important that we bear this in mind when we communicate. I don’t think anyone “does” friendships or communication perfectly, but we do have a responsibility to love each other.


Five Ways to Provide a Safe Environment for Healthy Relationships




  1. Listen actively, don’t make assumptions. Ask questions, gently and with kindness, showing that you are seeking to understand them. Don’t interrupt. Repeat back what you hear to make sure you understand what they have communicated.

  2. Soften your body language. Create a safe place for others to be honest and relaxed.

  3. Be forthright and gentle “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.…” Proverbs 15:1,2

  4. Be a responder, not a reactor. A responder remains calm, even under attack. A reactor will interrupt, respond with anger, make assumptions and create an unsafe environment for effective communication.

  5. Celebrate each other’s differences and talents and realize there is no need to compete. Our talents and differences come from God, so even if the same gifts are shared, support and encourage each other’s gifts and do not be threatened by a talent they have that you may share.


Friendship is precious. Treat your friends well and don't be harsh with them. Be gracious with them and remember you are just as capable of messing up and hurting others as they are of hurting you. You are just as capable of being insensitive or unintentionally offensive as they are. Friendship is a gift to be cherished. Don't take it for granted or you may find that you have lost something very precious.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Good Grief

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Good Grief.
Have you ever really thought about that expression? It’s like an oxymoron, isn’t it? I mean, how can grief be good? And yet, it is good. Grief is meant to be faced and felt and embraced. It is intended to help us heal.
The first week-end in October is now behind us. It brought with it intense grief and pain as we mourned a profound loss with our dear friends who welcomed their first baby and grandson into the world. God had already taken him into His loving arms before he was even birthed. They had looked forward to this child. As is typical of expecting parents they had planned, prepared, had a baby shower, enjoyed feeling their little man’s movements in her growing belly. They had talked about names, prepared their home to welcome him and dreamed about what it would be like to meet him. He was to be their first child; a son and the first grandson for both sets of parents. The whole family is very dear to us on both sides and our hearts ache for them with an intensity that is indescribable.

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At the hospital we cried, hugged, prayed, processed the chain of events, trying to come up with an answer for the reason it happened and it just didn’t make sense. There simply are no obvious answers. For some reason, we as humans long to have an answer in moments like this. We want to know why. We think we have the right to know why. Sometimes the “why” of things just isn’t for us to know. Sometimes we simply have to be content with no answers, at least for a time and in this case, there are no answers. There just isn't an obvious reason for his sudden departure, except that he lived the number of days that were planned for him before the foundation of the world. Maybe there will eventually be a clear answer, but for right now, it is hidden from us. His young parents are content with that. They are amazing! Their faith, grief, joy in finally meeting him, pain in saying good-bye to him, labor and delivery were all met with such strength, beauty, maturity, and love. It was a beautiful thing to observe and be part of. The most amazing thing we all felt over the week-end is God’s grace and His obvious finger prints over every detail. His comfort was clearly felt. His direction, the peace that only He can give and joy in meeting their baby even after God had taken him home, was celebrated.
He was beautiful, precious and his life was so very special.
There were many special moments. Special bonds were formed as a result of grief and a depth was added to each of our lives that will change them forever. There is such a peace when we know who holds the future and we trust the Creator of life. The peace that passes all understanding…unexplainable, amazing, deep, profound peace……and grace.

Peace and Grace.



These are the two words that sum up His goodness in grief.
Isaiah 43:2
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.
Matthew 5:4
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Revelation 21:4
And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away
Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oh Brother!

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The morning was off to a picture perfect start. I woke up earlier than usual, feeling refreshed and energetic. My husband made me delicious organic bacon and eggs for breakfast. I had my hot, fresh cup of steamy organic coffee in my hand. Rich and I had time to enjoy a relaxed conversation before he headed out the door to work and the kids were right on track with their morning breakfast and chore routine. And then it happened.

We meet in the living room for a morning connect time at 9:00 a.m. and we read a scripture, chat about what each person’s perception of it is, talk about any struggles or victories each of the kids might be grappling with or excited about and we talk about how to apply the scripture we just read and discussed. After that we pray, giving our day to God, lifting our concerns and prayer requests to Him and asking Him to direct and order our day. This is the way things are supposed to go and we are supposed to meet at 9:00, but it’s rare that everything actually does go according to plan. In fact this was the first day in the four weeks since we kicked off the school year, that we actually were meeting on time.

Before we could even settle in, one of my boys got up to go get something and his little brother decided to claim his older brother’s spot on the couch. Before I could even comprehend what was happening, they were in a physical altercation, yelling at each other, calling names and rolling around on the floor out of control. What does a mom do?  I had four girls before my three boys arrived on the scene and I am accustomed to breaking up verbal wars, but these physical altercations? They freak me out! I am twelve years into this whole new world of raising boys and I was raised with three brothers. You would think by now I would have a clue about how to deal with male “bonding” on this level, but I still sit there in confusion and shock, trying to wrap my head around what in the world is happening in front of me.

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Proverbs 3:5,6 says

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths
.

Honestly, that verse didn’t pop into my mind in that moment….at least not right away. Instead, I reacted in indignation and anger. I was so frustrated with them for ruining my perfect morning and I let them know it.  After giving them a piece of my mind I couldn’t afford to lose, it was their turn to sit there in shock, trying to wrap their mind around who this crazy red-faced raving lunatic is that they call “mom.”  And then then they laughed. The shocked looks, turned to amused smiles and then laughter. They were laughing at their mother and how ridiculous I must have looked in all my red faced, tight fisted, freaking out glory. At least they weren’t huddled in a corner shaking in terror. I must not have been too scary. After all two year olds aren’t all that scary and I’m pretty sure that’s what I looked like. What do you do when your kids laugh at you?

Angry woman, enough is enough!


What do you do when you know you have behaved badly in front of the kids you are supposed to be an example to?  Get even angrier?  It suddenly struck me funny…. The irony of it and pretty soon we were all just cracking up. Somehow that time laughing with my kids changed everything. It was cleansing somehow, to lighten up and find some humor in the moment. Once we pulled ourselves together we read James 4:1-2 which says:

 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

 And James 1:19-21 which says:

19” Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

We went back over what happened from the beginning and talked about each person’s response and how it could have been handled differently. Each of us was able to be honest about our own fault in the matter and I think the laughter really was good medicine because it freed us up to be humble and honest with each other.

I found myself asking them to forgive me because I had reacted to their sin with my own sin…..I rose up in anger at them because my desire for a perfect morning was ruined as a result of their impulsive choices. I was completely humbled by their tenderness and immediate forgiveness. I had a couple of little boys in my lap, both crying because they felt genuinely bad about what they had done. I didn’t have to tell them to apologize. They did that on their own and they were hugging and apologizing to each other.

God showed me grace through my kids and I think sometimes we take life too seriously and we need to slow down, embrace the moments, even the tough moments and look for the lesson in it. Those tough moments catch me by surprise every time and I don’t automatically feel thankful for the opportunity to grow at that point, but I’m glad I serve a God who is gracious and patient with me and I’m asking Him to help me see the value in the tough moments while I am in that moment and not give into my knee jerk reactions, but stop….breathe deeply and realize it’s not a life or death thing. It’s a human thing and a divine appointment intended for growth.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anybody Want a Donut?

What do you do when you discover your family's dietary needs have to change?


It's not that we simply wanted to make a change.....but we really had to make some big changes for the health of our family.


Fortunately, these changes happened in increments, for the most part.  A couple of years ago we discovered that some of our kids had some serious digestive issues and we now know that gluten and dairy were the biggest culprits


The coolest part of our journey into a whole new nutrition lifestyle, though, is that I love to research and I am fascinated with nutrition, so I was already pretty aware of how to deal with a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle and had started experimenting with new recipes and converting old ones. As it turned out, I too, needed to live a gluten free, dairy free lifestyle for optimum health.


If you need to make some dietary changes and you feel overwhelmed, I am here to encourage you that although it may seem like a daunting task to change everything, at first, it really is doable and we have found many of the foods we enjoyed with gluten in them, actually are much better without it. 


We had some out of town friends over recently. We enjoy some great common interests with their family. They share our love for God and good nutrition and their family has similar dietary needs as ours, so when we get together we particularly enjoy planning and preparing food for our families. Tracy and I have taken a few of our favorite recipes from our pre-gluten free, dairy free, organic eating days and converted them. We've had a lot of fun in the process. I was really excited when she figured out how to convert our favorite holiday soup to a gluten free, dairy free version and even more excited when she made it for us during our recent visit. I converted my favorite chili recipe to fit our family's dietary needs and she found a cake donut recipe that is delicious!  We made them all that day.


The best part for us had to do with a holiday tradition. We had a long time Christmas Eve dinner tradition: Smoked Salmon Chowder, that we haven't been able to enjoy for the past few years, but Tracy converted it and it is amazing! You can see it pictured below and I will share the recipe for it along with the donut recipe.


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Gluten Free, Dairy Free Smoked Salmon Chowder


Smoked Salmon Chowder


½ cup of each – green pepper, celery, onion all chopped


1 garlic clove, minced (I add lots of garlic)


3 tbsp oil


14 oz chicken broth (use gluten-free, organic)


2 cups potatoes, diced (peeled or not peeled, according to your taste)


1 ½ cups carrots, chopped


1 tsp salt ½ tsp pepper


½ to ¾ tsp dill weed (I use more and use fresh dill when available)


1 can creamed corn (no sugar added)


2 cans coconut milk with about 2 tbsp honey OR, xylitol, coconut sugar or evaporated cane crystals


14 oz smoked salmon


Saute green pepper, celery and onions and garlic in oil until tender.  Add broth, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper and dill weed.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat – cover and simmer until nearly tender (20-25 minutes).  Stir in corn, milk, and salmon.  Simmer until heated through, yields 2 quarts.


 I like my chowder’s real chunky so I add more potatoes and a lot of salmon.


Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cake Donuts


2 cups g-free all-purpose flour, sifted


¾ cup granulated sugar (I use coconut sugar or organic sugar)


2 tsp. baking powder


¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (I use more, love the spice taste)


1 tsp. salt


¾ cup coconut milk)


2 eggs (I use Ener-G egg replacer)


2 tbsp. butter (I use 2 tbsp. coconut oil)


Preheat oven to 425


Spray Donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.


In large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Add milk, eggs and butter/oil.  Beat until just combined.  Fill each donut cup 2/3 full.


Bake 7-9 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched.  Let cool in pat for 4-5 minutes before removing.  Finish donuts with chocolate glaze, cinnamon sugar, or confectioners’ sugar.  Donuts are best served fresh.


Makes 12 donuts.


Variations:


Cinnamon sugar


2 tbsp. coconut sugar, xylitol OR evaporated cane crystals


1 tbsp. ground cinnamon


2 tbsp. butter, melted


In a shallow bowl or plate, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip the baked donut in melted butter and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.


 

Chocolate glaze


¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips (I like enjoy life brand)


1 tbsp. coconut oil


Add a little of milk (almond is good)


Double boil the chocolate, oil, and milk and drizzle over donut


 

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Leading By Example

About two and a half years ago, my husband and I decided it was time to do something about our health. We were both overweight and had medical issues as a result. We embarked on a journey into physical fitness and nutrition.  Daily workouts became a part of our routine. We challenged each other, laughed when we felt frustrated, encouraged each other and kept each other motivated. At the time, we didn't really think about the impact this change would have on our kids and yet it did.  It wasn't long before we needed to rearrange the living room furniture to create enough space for our children to join us. The other night while we were working out, doing a combination of cardio and strength training, I decided to take a little break and capture some photos of our youngest son. He was having a great time, grunting and groaning as he mimicked what he saw his Mom and Dad doing. He even got creative....building his own set of weights for strength training. Not all of our examples are good ones because we certainly are not perfect parents, and that's why this is such a big deal.  Children really do follow our examples. This caused me to really ponder what kind of example I provide for them not only with fitness, but with my words, actions, attitudes, daily routine, character, and most of all spiritually.  Parenting is a big job and it drives me to examine my heart and actions daily. I find I am constantly apologizing and re-grouping and learning.....realizing daily just how "messed up" I really am. Somehow when we know there are little ones following our example, it challenges growth. I am glad I have the best resource of all to tap into, because I sure need the wisdom that only God can give. I need that quiet time with Him daily and I need the strength and wisdom that comes from reading His Word and spending time processing it all with Him.

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