Monday, November 11, 2013

Holiday Living

Colossians 3:16-17
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I’ve noticed a lot of friends devoting this month to “30 Days of Thanks”—an exercise directing heart and mind to gratitude, a special season of thankfulness set apart from the rest of the year. The whole Christian community does something similar in preparation for Christmas and Easter. For Advent and Lent, we have special songs, special services, special times of prayer and traditions within our own families that increase our eagerness to celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ—what God has done for his people through his Son. These things point us to Jesus in ways that are heart and life altering, exciting.

I often wish that I had the same sort of zeal for seeking Jesus on a daily basis that I do during these ‘build-ups’ to the holidays. It’s still early November, but I cannot wait to start advent with my little boy. It’s a good thing, but I want that eagerness every day. By the grace of God, he has given his Spirit who works to encourage, comfort and revitalize us. By that grace alone, we are capable of change—capable of desiring change. I want the gospel to be woven through the fabric of our family, and not be just the glitter we toss over our lives around the holidays. I want our day-to-day routine to remind us of the miracle of salvation—just like seasons of Thanksgiving, Lent and Advent remind us of God’s faithfulness, goodness and love in precious and unique ways.

I’m not sure exactly what this looks like yet it’s a new idea for me. One example would be to talk and pray and ‘get excited’ about each upcoming Sunday—eagerly anticipating worship with the church of Christ, like a mini advent every week. We could take time to discuss what a miracle it is to approach the Creator of the universe and call him, Father; all the while training our hearts to love and cherish and look forward to the Sabbath. I do know that weaving our lives through with “holiday living” will include getting into the word, bowing in prayer and talking about the Savior as Colossians directs: with the word of Christ, singing and thankfulness, “doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

This November we are going to write down one thing we are thankful for every day and put it in a jar. Weeks will pass, leaves and blessings pile higher, with the hope that the mindset of thanksgiving will stretch over into the rest of the year. Practicing reflection on God’s goodness and trusting the Spirit to work lasting gratitude on our hearts and minds.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

French Toast: Why didn't I think of this sooner?!

So, I'm not one to toot my own horn.

(Well...unless you count starting a blog and posting pics and descriptions of things that I've made...)

But I made something entirely delicious this morning.

The quickest French Toast ever with sloooow food flavor. Everybody has made or makes the typical, simple version that involves bread dipped in eggs that have been beaten with some milk or cream and cinnamon, cooked up in a frying pan. Good basic ingredients but not a ton of flavor, until you add butter and syrup. Then there are the uber fancy but delicious versions that are great for special occasions--lots of ingredients and large batches. See some HERE and HERE.

One day last week I opened the refrigerator to russle up some breakfast for the boys and discovered one egg, no milk, and the heels of a loaf of bread. French toast was in order, but no milk...what to do?

AHHHHH! (accompanied by loud major chord on the pipe organ)

International Delight, almond joy coffee creamer, like something from a dream.

I don't usually use this in my coffee, but my husband loves it. This particular brand does not contain hydrogenated oils, any artifical sweetener or corn syrup. It's pretty delicious. Add it to some French Toast...INCREDIBLE!

It transformed my French toast and I'm imagining all kinds of great variations. Vanilla? Hazelnut? That one that is flavored with Bailey's Irish Cream?! Holiday flavors?! Pumpkin Spice?! Peppermint mocha?! WHAAAT!? This idea truly belongs in Real Simple's "New Uses for Old Things" section, if I do say so myself...not to toot my own horn or anything.

Bread, leftover or stale is great too
eggs (I have found that one egg is plenty for about 3 pieces of French toast)
1/3 c. of coffee creamer per egg

Optional: cinnamon, nutmeg, etc...

Whisk together egg and creamer, sprinkle in any spices you might prefer (not really necessary, the creamer has plenty of flavor).

Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture, set aside.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet and cook French toast over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

You could pose them all pretty and drizzle them with syrup, like this, but let's be real. 

Real life = crookedly framed pictures, no natural light because the babes got up at the crack of dawn, black eyes, bedhead and food cut into unrecognizably small pieces.

Everybody loved it and the fact that it can be whipped up in 5-6 minutes is a big plus in my book! I'm always looking for ways to get the kiddos to eat whole grains and protein. 

By the way...I just searched this idea on Pinterest and there were tons of other recipes for the same thing. So glad I didn't 'toot my own horn.' Go check it out HERE.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mantel Musings

I'm working on changing up the mantel over our fireplace. I've collected a few mirrors of different shapes and sizes for some kind of 'mirror collage' on the wall and plants on the mantel itself. I love houseplants, am loving the whole terrarium trend and am completely obsessed with succulents--another pop trend right now. Problem is that with two little babes, houseplants within reach take a bit of abuse. My current succulent is missing the bottom row of leaves. I'm thinking that moving all my plants to the mantel is necessary for the survival of my plants and possibly my sanity. 

Here are some inspiration pics. All are pinned HERE so you can get more info and pin them yourself if you're interested!

Ahh, terrariums and cloches! Beautiful, whimsical and fresh. I like the idea of indoor plants in the winter when things get gray and cold. It would also be really fun and easy to change things up for the holidays. This blog lists some ideas of plants that grow well when covered, though, I like a mixture of covered and open. 

These frameless mirrors are from Pottery Barn, I love the distressed wood dresser with delicate glass.


I adore the eclectic mix of different shapes, sizes and finishes in this pic. I also like the idea of collecting mirrors on trips, a small one would be pretty easy to pack and transport.

I like the way these are hung so closely and the configuration isn't quite symmetrical.

I'll post some pics once I make progress!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Few Little Things...

A little time at the lake...

A little time at the pool...

A little time with my little sister who just moved to France...

A little trip to the beach during which both of our little children were too sick to sleep at night...we look deceptively rested here. Still, it was a treat to spend a little time with family and get the cousins together! They made some good memories.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bucket Bag...finally

I did make the bucket bag I posted about many moons ago. I've been carrying it all summer, as a matter of fact, and loving it! I lined it with a fun, floral print (Hancocks) and the neon laminate from Purl Bee is just as lovely as I'd imagined. It was easy to sew with (I put a piece of scotch tape on the bottom of my presser foot when I was stitching on the laminate side) and it was flexible enough for piping. I added some fat piping around the bottom.

I lined the whole inside with pockets--they're great for keeping drinks upright and holding toys. I like the single strap a lot--it's easier to keep on my shoulder than if I'm holding a baby or wearing the ergo. I'm also a fan of bags that stand upright when you set them down, the sturdy canvas and laminate, plus piping on the bottom give it a lot of stability.

I like it! Make one!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Family "Rules"

Am I the only mama who struggles with discipline, with keeping things at the heart of the matter instead of appearances (outward behavior, my feelings when my kiddo misbehaves in public)?? As the years pass, I am more and more struck by the truth that I may have good hopes and plans for my children, but the only one that really matters...the essential that they know Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no worldly success, education,  or relationship that will make my children happy. 

So it follows that I've been convicted about discipline--I want it to always be about the heart of things. Not that I or my discipline have the power to change a heart, but the Holy Spirit does and that's why I'm also trying accompany discipline with prayer for a soft heart, tender conscience and the work of the Lord in my child's life. I'm also trying to thoughtfully direct my boy to scripture--Hebrews says it is "living and active, sharper than any two edged sword." I can talk and lecture all day, but the Word of God is powerful and full of grace. 

I started looking for a good chart so that my husband and I could discipline consistently and have something to point to with scripture at its foundation. I hated seeing things with "no pinching" or "don't hit" or "no whining." You do need to teach your children those things, but the issue isn't the hitting or pinching. It's a selfish heart that isn't loving or kind. Whining isn't the problem, it's discontentment or lack of patience. So I decided to make my own chart, it speaks to the heart and tells about what we are going to DO, not a laundry list of "don'ts." It's about (and I'm sure I'll have to add things or change things in the future) putting on the fruit of the spirit, developing character and discernment so that hopefully my child will be able to make good choices and not just follow rules. I even purposely left out the word "Rules" from this list. I think there's a thin line between RULES and LEGALISM, I want my baby to know that being a Christian means Christ is your most precious treasure and that the purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. 

(You can click HERE for a link to the printable/downloadable PDF.) 

This Family Chooses to:

·     Love God and love each other
Deuteronomy 6:5, Galatians 5:14, 1 Cor.13:4-7

·     Listen and obey the first time
Deuteronomy 5:16, Proverbs 13:1, Philippians 2:14

·     Use KIND words in a kind voice, be respectful
Proverbs 15:1 and 16:24, Ephesians 4:29

·     Be considerate and have a servant’s heart
    {share cheerfully, look for opportunities to help, be attentive to
           the people around you, be compassionate, exercise self-control}
Galatians 5:13 and 22-23, Proverbs 3:27

·     Show GRACE to each other, be patient, overlook wrongs and be quick to forgive.
Colossians 3:12-14, 1 John 3:16-17,

·    Be grateful, content and choose JOY
Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Phil 4:11

·      When you fail to be like Christ, don’t despair. By God’s grace, you wear Jesus’ spotless robe of righteousness. Repent and start again, praising God for his great mercy that makes a way for second chances.

“It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  -Phil. 1:9-11

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Think it Through Thursday: Living in a Broken World

This was my contribution to Redemptive Pursuit on Monday.

Psalm 119:123 and 136

“My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your
righteous promise.

My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.”

Watching the news these past few months is almost too much for me to handle: tiny lives brutally extinguished, women kidnapped, parents bury children, bombs tear holes, leaders need wisdom. All these things together can start you thinking that the world is going to ‘you-know-where’ in a hand basket or that surely this must be the worst the world has ever looked. That isn’t what the Bible teaches.

Just as it has been since the garden of Eden, sin is still our main problem. We could have a lot of different responses to terrible things happening around us: we could post snarky, negative status updates on Facebook, we could get hopeless about how much our society accepts and embraces sin, we could literally or figuratively hide ourselves and our children from outside influences. Or…like the Psalmist, we can weep for them on our knees in prayer, remembering that before Jesus grabbed our hearts we were them and we still need grace ourselves every single day. Then we can set our eyes on the Father who has promised to redeem broken people and a broken world. He’s doing it now, even though we may not always see it. We can give thanks in all circumstances and remember that in God’s sovereignty, “the world’s beauty outweighs its burdens, it’s grace greater than its grime” (Ann Voskamp).

I’ve been praying for a heart like this Psalmist: a heart that cries ‘streams of tears’ over the evil in the world; a heart that jumps to compassion before anger, fear, despair or harsh criticism, a heart that longs for nothing more than it longs for the salvation of hurting people or evil people and for every voice to sing glory to God.

He has done all this for his glory: the cross, forgiveness, Jesus’ robe of righteousness, the promise to redeem the world, the expectation that he will return. This means we love and seek people, build relationships, keep telling them about Jesus and praying for God to change hearts. Salvation is the only remedy for sin, the only hope for a broken world.

Heavenly Father, help us not to lose hope when we look at this world that dishonors you and breaks our hearts. Help us to respond with gospel compassion, longing for change and realizing that it only comes from you. Let this knowledge give us peace, but also renewed energy to tell your story of salvation without ceasing. Thank you for relentlessly pursuing our souls, we weep for the lost and pray that you would grab them up and change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, all for the glory of your name. Amen