Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

Mmmmm.... sourdough cinnamon rolls is what we had for breakfast this morning!! Delectable (that's Ellen's new word)!

After trying and failing on my own sourdough starter, Beth Anne gave me a start off of hers. She has had her starter since 1990!! I am having so much fun playing with this!! So far, there have been no complaints in my home over my experiments.

Last night, I found a great recipe to try. I'm not sure of blogging etiquette, so I'm not going to post the recipe on my blog but I will give you the link to Abby's Sweets. She has tons of recipes and I feel like I've just touched the tip of the ice berg. Can't way to explore some more!

In the mean time, I'll tell you these cinnamon rolls are incredible!! Here's the link


A year later...

Last January, I started a blog and posted the children's, teen's and family's Bible studies that I feel God gave me to write. I felt like the LORD was asking me to put these studies out in cyberspace for people to use free of charge. I've been blown out of the water at emails that people have sent me telling me how God has used a study in their child's life. I even had a missionary in China ask for permission to translate one of the studies into Mandarin. After a year, my host site showed over 30,000 hits on the studies. I get so excited when I see what God does!

As is typical in every area of life, I have had a lot of advice concerning these Bible studies and what I should or should not be doing. For me this is slightly reminiscent of having a baby. When each of my three children were born, everyone had advice... most of which was unsolicited. I have received a lot of advice concerning these Bible studies as well. Because I tend to be a person who wants to please everyone, it is hard for me to acknowledge someone's idea without feeling guilty if I don't incorporate their idea. I want to only follow God in this and sometimes it's hard to know if I am following Him or following men.

One of the greatest lessons I've learned is that God really doesn't need me. Often I trip over myself and if I would get out of His way, He could do great and mighty things! I don't want to be in His way with these Bible studies and yet I want to be obedient to anything He wants me to do. So, I continue to pray.

I'm not sure where these Bible studies need to go and I don't know what my role in this is. All I do know is that He knows and He has it under control. I'm so glad Someone does!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I want to be a Jesus fanatic!

Been thinking a lot lately of being a Jesus fanatic. I want to be one. I want to be known as one. But I don't want the emphasis to be on the fanatic part of that definition...instead I want it to be all about Him.

As I've thought through this, I realized I want to be a Jesus fanatic the way Jesus was a fanatic... not in the way I've seen others. I've seen enough people who claim to be Jesus Freaks, Jesus Fanatics, etc who seem to be about everything except Jesus. It seems as if by claiming to be a Jesus Fanatic, these people are giving themselves a platform on which to preach against everything from abortion to professional wrestling. Sometimes the platform becomes much more about these people getting attention for themselves and a lot less about Jesus.

I don't want to be that way. I want to be like Him! He was neither dramatic nor was He out to impress people. He didn't do things to draw attention to Himself, rather everything He did was to draw attention to God. His very presence was what some found offensive, because His presence was God's presence. The words Jesus spoke were not to bring glory to Himself in any way, instead those words taught people about His Father, God Almighty. Everything Jesus did was purposeful. He knew His time was limited and He made the most of every opportunity. He was fanatic about living His life to please His Father!

I will never be Jesus because He was God incarnate. However, I want to be known as a woman who sought to be like Christ. I want my life to draw attention to Him and my words to bring Him glory. I want everything I do to be purposeful and I want to make the most of every opportunity.

Because I am human, I fail every single day at this goal. However, I don't want to give up striving to be a Jesus fanatic. I want to be fanatic in such a way that people don't remember me as being Chick and Sally's daughter or Chad's wife. I want to live a life that is more than being Eric, Emily and Ellen's mom. I don't want to be known as an Indianapolis Colts fan. I want to be recognized, known and remembered as being a Jesus fanatic. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a few funnies...

After my last post on the overwhelming opulence at the Colts/Jets game on Sunday, I just have to share a few funnies with you. Hope this brings a smile or two...maybe even a chuckle!

@}~ Remember going to events as a teenager and being appalled at the entertainment that was reminiscent of your parents' teen years? Well... the halftime show at the AFC Championship game was.... FOREIGNER! I laughed so hard..."feels like the first time, feels like the very first time..." Honestly, do they even remember? "I'm hot blooded, can't you a fever of 103..." loses something 25 years and a lot of gray hair later! The best part was that that lead singer, Kelly Hansen, forgot the first words to "Feels Like the First Time" and the sound system was horrible, so the mike kept cutting out. I'm not sure I've ever laughed so hard through a halftime show!

@}~ Fans will do almost anything to get noticed... a Jets fan showed up with his chest, back, arms and face all painted green... not Jets green... Incredible Hulk green! He came up the stairs and Chad said, "look it's the Hulk!" Everyone around us was laughing! Then we all noticed the white "J" painted over the green stomach...even funnier! I'm wondering if he had the guts to walk outside the stadium like that after the game?

@}~ I'm still coughing from my bout with bronchitis in December. I'm not sick in any other way, I just have this nagging cough. I especially cough when I laugh or when I start yelling for my team. So, between a close first half and a hilarious halftime show, I was coughing a lot. Every time I would cough, the man in front of me would look over his shoulder and frown at me. After this happened a hundred or so times, I finally figured it out. I told Chad "he thinks I have swine flu, too bad I didn't bring a mask" which made me giggle and cough more. I think this man was so afraid of getting my "germs" that he left at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Poor guy probably ran to his nearest pharmacy for a vaccine. I know H1N1 is a serious matter and that we all have to be careful but I just so wanted to say to this man "relax and enjoy the game!"

Monday, January 25, 2010

overwhelming opulence

Yesterday, Chad and I went to Indy to see our beloved Colts win the AFC Championship. I love watching football, especially NFL.

As Chad and I drove the 2 1/2 hours to Indy, I was so excited! The closer we got to the city, the more blue and white we saw. I was hyped for a great game and a great day for just the two of us (you know, like the olden days...). We had a great lunch at Bucca di Beppa's and sat next to other Colts fans and talked about the game (mmmm....bread, Bucca's pizza, fettucine alfredo...all incredibly fattening and oh so tasty!).

I love that my God is never not working on my heart. Even days like yesterday, when my mind is enjoying a day with my husband and a day to watch football, God is ever-present, ever working, ever changing me.

As we walked to the stadium, we passed hawkers selling their wares, street musicians playing for donations and homeless looking for help or a handout (I seriously think I saw both types...). God gave me a chance to see the sea of blue and white through their eyes. These people were purposely on the streets that lead into the stadium. They were not there on accident. To them, thousands of rich people would walk right past them and hopefully toss a dollar or two or buy a shirt or two. I looked around and saw opulence that was overwhelming.

After walking around different floors of the stadium, we found our seats. It was incredible to sit in this facility an hour before the game and watch people find their seats. The overwhelming opulence theme carried over to the stadium...a thousand fold! This was my first time in the Lucas Oil Stadium. Last year, Indianapolis built a brand new stadium a block away from the old RCA Dome. Lucas Oil, the city of Indianapolis and the Colts organization spent a whopping $720,000,000 on this new stadium that seats approximately 70,000 screaming fans. Apparently this stadium was designed after the Cowboys stadium. However, we all know you can't keep up with the Jones' and Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, built a new bigger and better stadium that opened for the Cowboys this year.

It's that kind of opulence that blew me away yesterday. I sat in this incredible stadium that was built mainly as a home for the Indianapolis Colts. I sat quietly in a noisy facility and let my mind wander.... Here are my thoughts and guesses...
*I was still full from my high carb lunch at Bucca's. Chad and I shared a side of fettucine alfredo and a pizza. We probably ate more in that one meal that a child in Haiti eats all week.
*I guess that this new home for the Colt's (one the locals refer to as Peyton's Place) cost more to build than it will cost to rebuild Port-Au-Prince.
*I figure there are more flushing toilets in Lucas Oil Stadium than in all of Port-Au-Prince right now.
*To go with all of the flushing toilets, there is more clean water to flush toilets, wash hands, mop floors and clean up at Peyton's Place than in all of Port-Au-Prince.
*Chad and I guess that the vendors average one drink per person (there were many like us that didn't buy any food or drinks but equally many that had more than 2 drinks). The average cost of a drink is $5. If 70,000 people spend only $5 on food or drinks...that is $350,000 in 2 1/2 hours! Wouldn't the Red Cross love a donation of $350,000 for food, clothing and medical supplies?
*I saw most everyone in the stadium was wearing either Colts or Jets apparel. Speaking from experience, that apparel is not cheap (unless you can find a cast-off at Goodwill). My guess is the total money spent on jerseys, shirts, sweatshirts, beads, scarves, hats, wigs, makeup, etc is more than Haiti's Gross National Product.
*As we exited, we saw overflowing trash cans. I would guess that there was enough wasted food to feed thousands of Haitian refugees at least one meal... as long as they would be willing to eat nachos, hot dogs, steak sandwiches, popcorn or fries.
*My mind wondered what would happen if everyone in that stadium dropped $10 in a bucket on their way out the door... $700,000 or more could be raised to help Haitians, AIDS victims in Africa, starving children in Asia, homeless in Indianapolis or any other quality charitable organization.
*The biggest thing that hit me was this...a very small percentage of those in attendance yesterday spent cash. The amount of money that was charged on credit cards is what is attributing to financial mess that the US is in. The credit card companies make it so easy to add to your debt while enjoying a game.

Driving home, my heart was sickened at the overwhelming opulence in America... even the $100+ that Chad and I spent on tickets, fuel, food and parking for a day away. My heart was troubled because I saw myself in the midst of that opulence...a player in that game, a statistic... rather than one who gave $100+ to the Red Cross and consequently chose to stay home and watch the game with my kids on tv.

Chad and I love to convince ourselves that we are generous. To a certain degree, I think we are. However, yesterday was a wake up call to me. There is so much more we can give and do to reach out to others in need.

Please hear me say, I don't think there was anything wrong in going to yesterday's game and I am so thankful that Chad and I had the opportunity. We had a great time together! I am equally thankful that God was working on me in the midst of an NFL championship game. I just want to be more generous, more giving, more conscious of those around me...instead of being conscious of my own place in a stadium full of overwhelming opulence.

Friday, January 22, 2010

answers to my cry for help

Thank you to all who chimed in on my cry for help on Tuesday. I so appreciate the words of wisdom that I received.

My cousin asked that I post the helpful advice that I received for anyone else who is struggling with a child who is a pack rat. Here are a few of the answers I received. I hope they help others!

This first answer is an email that I received from my friend, Liann. She gave me great advice and a lot of hope!


I read your notes today on facebook on your hoarding war. I am so sorry that you had a bad day at your house.

Since I am a closet hoarder (no pun intended) - I thought that maybe some reasons for wanting to keep everything and some solutions that work for me may be of help. For me - and I am sure this is not the reason for emme- keeping stuff is a form of security and control. When I didn't feel that I had any control over my life I always knew that I had control over my stuff. I also like to keep things that remind me of good times. I am afraid that I will forget the good things that happen. This can spiral into keeping everything around including that scrap of paper that still has some space on it and the broken barbie that I may be able to fix some day. Although there are many reasons for wanting to keep stuff, at least for me it is mostly an unhealthy habit. So... how to control it.

As was suggested, I feel that since Emme is older, just going in and throwing stuff away when she isn't home isn't the best solution. One, she doesn't stop keeping the stuff, she just has you clean it all up for her. Second, if she is like me, she will notice that things are gone and it will create a feeling of insecurity and loss of control. I feel it is really bestfor her to learn to not keep everything that crosses her path. These are solutions that have worked for me.

1. I make journals. Not fancy scrapbooks that I want to show anyone, just spiral notebooks where I journal about my day and maybe tape in something that reminds me of a good day or something fun. Knowing that I have a place to put my memories helps me to let go of things that I don't really need. If I can't put it in a scrapbook I may take a picture of it and put that in - then get rid of the item. sometimes, just being able to journal about my day and how I feel can help me get rid of the "stuff" that I think I need to remember.

2. Make sure that everything has a place. If it doesn't fit - get rid of it. For example; pencils. I have a place in the drawer for them. I can only keep a certain amount. If a get a new pencil that is really cool, I have to get rid of another one to make room. this, of course, takes a certain amount of maturity and discipline, but if it is practiced regularly, it starts to sink in.

3. clean and organize your space once a week. Put it on the schedule for weekly chores. Be specific about what has to be cleaned. Tell her that she can keep a certain number of games, or books then let her decide which ones she keeps. If things are cleaned and organized on a regular basis, it is easier to keep on top of it. A half-hour or an hour that she can do herself once a week, instead of a battle every few months is a much happier way to run things.

4. Only have a certain number of clothes items. It is harder to do when you are a growing child, but knowing that you have to get rid of a clothing item if you are getting something else, makes you really think about whether you want it or not.

5. Try not to make it a fight. sometimes being forced to get rid of your stuff makes it harder to part with that pink paper clip

I don't know if these suggestions will help, but maybe they will make it a bit easier.

happy organizing


This second answer is actually the comment that my friend, Anastasia, left on my blog request for help. I saw her today and was able to say that so far (granted we are only a few days into this) her advice is helping! Thanks Anastasia!

My son Cade(7) is like that. Once I have his room clean, I try to have him pick it up every night before bed. I have made specific places for certain things and I have to be there to supervise and help almost every time. I did give him a space where he can be "pack raty" as much as he wants - his bed. He loves blankets and stuffed animals. Currently he has 7 to 10 blankets and too many animals to count. Once a week we "tackle" the bed but it is his to enjoy (mess up) during the week. I have been doing this about two months and it is working so much better. I do have to stay on him and really supervise and do one task at a time, but we get through it and we can see the floor and his desk. It is not easy and really a daily task for him(us) but it only takes a few minutes a day compared to an all day battle. He is beginning to take pride in his room. Oh, and he can't have friends over if it is messy or out of control. That seems to help, too. Let me know if this helps.

This third answer is one I got on facebook. Thanks to Kfor reminding me of what is really important, and that is Emily, not her bedroom. I so appreciate how candid K was!!

Listen Heidi... No one understands this subject like me!!!!! Looking back, I have wasted so much time yelling and being angry at A when the hard truth is that at her age, it was my fault as a mom not hers as a child. It is hard. So hard. It's better now because she can to take responsibilty for it but she still needs guidence. I only wish I was as organized as I expect my children to be. Take a deep breath, Heidi. Appologize to her if you need to and commit to giving both of you a break by working on it together.
And thank you for helping me think back on something that reminds me of why I changed the way I think if mothering. It's the hardest job in the world and yet it's fleeting... No regrets.
Saying a prayer for you as I send this...

Thanks friends for offering me advice and hope! Let me know if this helps you too!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a mental health day

Today was my mental health day. Occasionally, I take a mental health day. Essentially this is a day when I "check out" and usually "check in" to my bed. I climb into bed, pull the covers over my head and hide. While it isn't a popular option if you have a day with much to do, it is very effective!

Yesterday was one of those days that is better forgotten forever. However, when I awoke this morning, a HUGE black cloud was looming over my head...residual from yesterday. Wednesday mornings I have a standing breakfast date with friends and so I dutifully got out of bed (20 minutes before I had to leave the house) and went. It was pleasant. I enjoyed the oatmeal and bagel that my friend, Amanda, bought for me. However, by the time I got home, I was done in. Seriously, I was so tired that I slipped on the floor inside of our front door, fell down and knocked over the end table and broke the lamp shade and light bulb. That was it.... my bed beckoned.

I climbed into bed as Chad was climbing out. He tucked me in and let me check out for a while. I pulled the covers over my head and hid for 1 1/2 hours. As I've said before... I am married to an incredible man! Over the years, he has learned to recognize the signs of my mental health days and if he doesn't have to work, he will allow me time to run and hide.

I highly recommend mental health days to anyone who needs them. Sometimes, especially as moms and wives, we need permission to allow ourselves a mental health day now and then. So, I am giving you permission to take a mental health day occasionally. Take a day to recharge your battery, however you need to do it. For some, a mental health day is a day at the gym, for others it is a day of window shopping, and if you are like me, it's a day to hide under the covers.

Take a mental health day. Do whatever you need to do to recharge! If your family is like mine, they will thank you for it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a cry for help!!

Some days parenting is more than a's a full-blown war. Today was one of those days. I'm exhausted!

At 10:30 this morning, the 10 year old made a somewhat innocent comment "Mom, I don't have any long sleeve shirts". Hmmm.... seems to me I remember purchasing several just a few weeks ago...where did they go? I wonder if all of those shirts were lost in the same abyss that the glasses disappeared to last week. Definitely time for an investigation....

In short time the investigation became a war. A battle of wills that escalated. Had I been wise, I would have sent for the reserves but no...I simply decided that today we would battle until there was no more war. The battle raged all day! I kid you not, it was an 8 1/2 hour battle!!! However, I am pleased to announce that we found the glasses, enough long-sleeve shirts to last the winter, missing Nintendo DS games, missing school books, and enough pens and pencils to outfit the military (we also found the floor to her room!).

Here is my cry for help! I need to hear from moms who battle this war in their homes. I have 3 children. Two of these are more like me and are not pack rats. When I send them to clean their rooms, they usually can accomplish the task. When I send them to find things in their rooms, they often can find the object quickly. It is with the other child, my 10 year old daughter that I need help. She is so much like her father (whom I love dearly). She saves EVERYTHING and puts NOTHING away (just today, we took 6 large trash bags of trash out of her room and 4 large trash bags of donations out). If this were a once-in-a-life time battle, I would chalk it up to parental experience and move on. However, this battle rages 2-3 and sometimes 4 times a year!!

If there is anyone out there who has experienced this war zone and has advice, I would love to hear it. When I've asked for advice, before, I usually get "You need to be firm." (yeah-one can only spank so many times), "Make her stay in her room until it's clean" (ok-today took 8 1/2 hours and a missed art lesson), or "Take away everything in her room and make her earn it back" (lovely idea-where exactly do I put this bed, dresser, desk, etc?). Most of those willing to dish out such thought provoking advice have never had this particular battle with their kids.

So, I am appealing to those who have been in this war... what do you do?

Monday, January 18, 2010

sick or not, that is the question....

Choices. Life is full of choices and I feel like I make the wrong choice the majority of time! I know that I made the best choice ever when I was at summer camp as a 9 year old and asked Jesus to be my Savior. I know I made the second best choice on April 23, 1994 when I became Chad's wife. Other than that... I feel like I bomb out often!

I especially hate choices that have to do with my children's health. For instance, are they sick enough to stay home? A simple question with two choices...yes, they are sick or no, they are not sick. Hmmm... if only it were so simple!

My mind goes back to when Ellen, who is now 6, was 2 years old. We were at our homeschool cooperative and she had a runny nose. Really, how many 2 year olds don't have runny noses? So, I took her to her class and did my class and didn't worry about it. At lunch time, Ellen was wandering around the gym eating out of every lunch box that was open and sitting on the floor until another mom said, "ummm... Ellen is eating everyone's lunches!" Oops! Slight embarrassment but not a big deal, right? Wrong! After a nap at home, she woke with a 102.5 fever and a trip to the clinic revealed strep throat!!! Major embarrassment I as I sent an email stating "I'm sorry... perhaps Ellen ate out of your child's lunch box and she has strep. Just thought I'd let you know..." Obviously, the right choice on that day would have been to stay home that morning rather than expose all the children who left their lunch boxes open on the floor!

Here we are in 2010 and I've now been a mom for almost 13 years. Surely I have learned a thing or two and gotten better at knowing if my children are sick or not... maybe not.... Ellen complained on Saturday night of a sore throat. Yep... one side was swollen with a few blisters. Sunday morning both sides were swollen and more blisters but no sore throat. So, I made the choice to stay home from church with her... no pain, no fever, no loss of appetite, nothing that would indicate that she was sick. Chad called from church to check on her and we made the decision to not go to Ohio to see friends as we were planning but to keep her home "just in case". It's now Monday evening and though her throat is still ugly, she says "I AM NOT SICK!"

So, is my child sick or not? That is the million dollar question and I think I once again made the wrong choice.

I have hope!

After 25 years, there is very little that I can remember about my high school classes. I remember friends (though sometimes not their names...) and I remember some of my teachers but most of what went on day to day in class has been lost forever in the abyss, especially anything I learned in any of my math classes!

I remember my high school speech class a lot. I loved that class. I wasn't too crazy about my teacher, but I loved the class!

I hope I never forget the day my teacher played a record (YES...a record, not an 8-track, not a cassette, not a CD!) of a very famous speech and we were supposed to "critique" it. Sounds like a great exercise for high school students, huh? I often have wondered what the objective was because we were too young, too inexperienced... essentially too stupid to know a good speech from a poor speech but there we were in a high school class listening to this LP.

When the speaker began, I was enthralled. He had a commanding voice and spoke with conviction and hope. If I had ever heard this speech before, I had forgotten it. This is the time I first remember hearing "I have a dream... I have a dream.... I have a dream.... I have a dream today! Let freedom ring... Let freedom ring... Let freedom ring!"

I remember thinking "there is NO way I can critique this!" If my memory serves me well, most of the class sat dazed while our teacher critiqued for us and waxed poetically on the merits of this speech above all others.

Today, the United States, honors the memory of that speaker, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There will be those who will argue that he was the greatest man who ever lived. There will be others who will argue that he was a hypocrite and there will be many who will fall somewhere between in their personal beliefs of MLK Jr.

Honestly, I really don't care how people feel about MLK Jr. He was mortal, just as I am. He was a sinner, just as I am. He had hope for his people, though and that is what I want to have. I don't want to give into the doomsday reports that world is going to end in 2012, or that the tribulation is beginning, or that armies are preparing for Armageddon, or that Christians will soon loose their freedoms in America. Instead, I want to have hope...hope like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had in the midst of riots, beatings, lynchings, arrests, threats, fear, and anger.

I don't know about MLK Jr's personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, it seems to me that his hope rested with God. He had hope that God would some day set things right.

I know where I stand with Jesus Christ and I know that someday He will come back and set this world straight. I can't wait! Until then, I will cling to hope because I know that greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Friday, January 15, 2010

humbled to be his wife!

Often my husband totally amazes me. Actually, he would probably amaze me more if I would take the time to notice more of the incredibly amazing things that he does. This is one of my greatest regrets in life... I wish that it wouldn't have taken me 14 years to realize that the man who snores in my bed is an absolutely amazing man!

Part of my quest to be a better wife includes recognizing and acknowledging all that Chad does for me, for us and for our kids. Yesterday, he blew me away! I just have to share the story. This will be the abbreviated internet version....

February marks 11 years in the Emergency Room of our local hospital for Chad. He has enjoyed his time there and he is really good at what he does but for the past couple of years he has been thinking of improving his nursing skills by learning another avenue of patient care. Each time he would pursue transferring to a different department, the door would close. Sometimes the door would close quietly and other times there would be a loud BANG. Either way, we knew it wasn't God's timing yet for Chad to move on. Chad is one of the most patient people I know and he would remind me, "God has me in the ER for now and I'll just wait to see what He wants me to do."

Last month, Chad applied for a job in another department. He had an interview with the supervisor and got called back for a "peer interview". After he completed that, the department asked him to come in and shadow for a day to see if he liked it. He really enjoyed it and was thinking he wanted the job. Yesterday, Chad found out that another nurse that he has known for 12 or 13 years was also in the running for the job. The department head called both Chad and the other nurse into her office at different times and asked them to answer one question~ "Why should we hire you?" When it was Chad's turn, he told them to hire the other nurse and though the department head and the immediate supervisor were shocked at Chad's answer, they did just that. Chad's friend has the job.

He blew me away. We've talked about this position. We've prayed about this position. And then, we talked and prayed some more. I just have to tell any who read this, I am so proud of my man! He really would have liked that job. He knew, though, that the other nurse really wanted the job and so he gave it up for her.

Some day, maybe soon, I will have to read this post again to remind myself of how incredible my man is. However, for tonight I am humbled to be his wife. He teaches me much by his steadfast, patient and compassionate example. He totally amazes me!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

cold nights and hot chai

One of my all-time favorite "comfort foods" is a big mug of hot chai. I love it!!

A few years ago, Chad and I decided to work our way out of debt. While he worked as much overtime at the hospital as he could, I worked on changing habits and learning how to make things myself . I learned to indulge myself for less or not indulge at all. Trips to the coffee shop fell under the category of "not indulge at all."

One such thing that I learned to make was chai. I actually prayed that God would show me how to make some sort of facsimile of Big Train Chai (the brand that I fell in love with at our local coffee shop) that wouldn't cost much. The greatest lesson I learned during the two years of getting out of debt wasn't how to make chai. Rather I learned that God wants to be God of our everything. He wants to teach us things and bless us beyond our expectations.

He did that, for me, with this recipe for chai. This is recipe that is always evolving, always improving and always perfect on a cold winter's night.

2 c. powdered milk
2. c. plain non-dairy coffee creamer
3 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. instant tea (I use instant green tea)
1-15 oz vanilla non-dairy coffee creamer
2-3 T. cinnamon (more or less depending on taste)
1-2 T. pumpkin pie spice (more or less depending on taste)
Mix together well. Pour dry mix into either a blender or food processor to make into a fine powder (this also combines the flavors better)
Stir into hot water and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

what's with all the bread lately?

Eric asked me what I was doing today, and I said, "trying a new bread recipe.". His response... "what's with all the bread lately?" How do you try to explain to an almost-13 year old boy that I'm learning simply for the sake of learning?

So far in my quest to learn how to bake artisan breads, I've failed miserably with my sourdough starter. I thought, for sure, it was alive and well until I made bread with it and got a brick instead. So, after looking at photos online and realizing that mine looked nothing like the expert's photos did, I pitched my mess and begged a starter off of my friend, Beth Anne, and pursued another avenue.

My cousin, Susan, sent me a link to a Mother Earth News article on making artisan bread. The title is Five Minutes A Day for Fresh Baked Bread. After reading the article, I was more than a little skeptical. I've made bread for a long time and consider myself to be relatively good at it and any bread I've ever made takes more than 5 minutes a day. But, curiosity finally won out and today I tried it.

I have to say...this bread is amazing and amazingly easy! When I pulled the loaf out of the oven, it looked like it had been purchased at a French boulangerie! Who knew?!

So, I'm passing this link on to anyone who is interested! It's definitely worth reading and trying for anyone who is interesting in learning just for the sake of learning....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

my neighbor

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine? It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood, a neighborly day for a beauty, would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted to have a neighbor--just like you! I have always wanted to live in a neighborhood--with you! So, let's make the most of this beautiful day, since we're together we might as well say, won't you be my neighbor? Won't you, please? Won't you, please? Please won't you be--my neighbor!

On this beautiful winter day, the sun is shining bright. As I was thinking of what a beautiful day it was, this song came to mind.

Of course, how can one even think of this song without remembering Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (or as my brother called it "Mr. Neighbor Rogershood")? You can't remember this show without remembering Fred Rogers and his cardigan sweaters and sneakers (an interesting factoid for you...did you know that one of Mr. Rogers' cardigans is hanging in the Smithsonian?)? Let's face it, if Stacy London and Clinton Kelly got ahold of Mr. Rogers, he would probably have ended up on the Celebrity Edition of What Not to Wear.

Though he would never be considered political or "pop culture", Fred Rogers influenced A LOT of people through his humble children's television show. For instance, Mr Rogers' Neighborhood is PBS' second longest running syndicate (2nd only to Sesame Street). His show has spanned generations and cultural barriers. Through gentleness and simplicity, Mr. Rogers' spoke directly to the camera, making us all believe we were his neighbor in this wonderful little neighborhood that had friends like Mr. McFeely, Lady Aberlin, Neighbor Aber and Handyman Negri. He addressed tough issues like death, bullying, and divorce. He even came out of retirement to address 9/11 in a way that children could relate.

Why am I waxing poetic about Fred Rogers on this very cold January morning? Because I want to be a Fred Rogers. I want to influence people with gentleness and simplicity not with a political agenda or pop cultural gimmicks. I want to worry less about what I wear and more about what people are struggling with. I want to be a person who looks others directly in the eye and sees them as neighbors. I want to address the tough issues with a child-like faith. I want to share that faith with all that I see.

Most of all, I want to do all of this being true to myself. You see, the most impressive thing about Fred Rogers is that he never changed. He always wore cardigans and sneakers. He didn't change his look to attract more viewers. He didn't compromise his simplicity to impress others. He didn't avoid offending others by avoiding hard issues. He just did what he knew how to do and he did it well.

I hope Fred Rogers is in heaven. I'd like to thank him, someday, for being a great neighbor!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just have to say~I'm sorry! I forget I have blog readers when I spend days changing my blog template, background, header, etc. It's kind of like going clothes takes me a while to find "me". This time it has taken me days to find a blogger look that looks like me, fits me and one that I like. I have it now! Love this winter scene and I promise I won't change it until it warms up outside. ; ) Thanks for putting up with all of the "trying on" of various blog looks and thanks for coming back and reading all of my scribbles! Happy Winter!! ~Heidi

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Matthew's Story

For some time, I've been thinking of posting the story of our still-born son, Matthew, on this blog. I've watched a friend struggle this year with repeat miscarriages. Her pain tears at my heart. Though time is the greatest healer, the hurt is still there. I still miss my babies who I never met face to face.

It took years after my last miscarriage and the later birth of Ellen for me to completely let go of Matthew and the other babies I had lost. I clung to them in my heart and punished myself (sometimes multiple times in a day) for sins that I had committed. My only explanation of losing four unborn babies was that I had committed grievous crimes against my Savior and He had to take them as a punishment to me...essentially as a precious sacrifice for my sins.

The Truth, though, is that Jesus died for every one of my sins on the Cross. He didn't leave one or two "grievous crimes" that I would later have to pay for myself. By clinging to Matthew's memory, in order to "punish" myself, I put myself in the place of God. Essentially I was telling Him that His sacrifice wasn't enough and I needed to offer my own, more precious sacrifice. Trying to be God is a very dangerous place to be! Instead of redeeming myself, I only alienated myself. Instead of peace and freedom, I had heart ache and sorrow. I didn't find complete healing until I let go of trying to punish myself and accept God's forgiveness for ALL of my sins.

Though I still miss Matthew and the others, I no longer feel heart ache and sorrow. The pain now is one of "homesickness". There are days that I can hardly wait to see my children face to face in heaven. As my kids remind me, "Mom, you must have a HUGE mansion in heaven to hold all of us!" I pray this freedom for my friend who is struggling. I hope she isn't punishing herself the way I did for years. I hope she can find peace and freedom in God's love and forgiveness for her.

Every woman's miscarriage experience is differently. I don't post this story as the answer to anyone's struggle. Rather, it is simply my story and I hope it provides hope for someone who is hurting.

Why do we judge and judge so harshly?

I've heard it said, "Christians shoot their own wounded". I used to think that this statement was a bit harsh. I mean, Christians are full of Christ's love. We reach out to others all in the name of Jesus Christ, don't we? We are honoring God by confronting those among us who are in sin, because we know better, right? We've dealt with people enough to know who is worthy of our Christ's love and who isn't...those who are "good people" and those who are "people like that", aren't we glad we know the difference? We've studied God's Word in depth and we KNOW that our understanding of Scriptures is exactly what God wants and everyone else is wrong, we're so spiritual aren't we? In our own self-righteousness, we tend to get so wrapped up in how spiritual we are and how wrong someone else is that we either demean them or judge them to the point of actually shooting them in the very core of their belief~their faith.

In His graciousness, God has taken me on another field trip (I can't wait until I learn all the lessons I need to learn in the classroom, instead of on another side trip....). No two field trips have ever been the same for me. My God is incredible and uses many different means to get my attention. This field trip has been as much blessing as lesson for me. God has allowed me to fall deeper in love with Him and to have a glimpse of people through His eyes. He's allowed me friendships that are rich and deep even though these friendships are relatively new. When I see people the way He does, they become special. Relationships become sweet and the goal of the friendship becomes to cause both friends to know God more. The friendship becomes the field trip.

As I am learning to see people the way He does, I am learning to judge less and listen more. I'm learning to offer love and friendship and not offering a "fix" that will make that person more spiritual. I am learning to pray for people and wait upon God to work His good work in their life, rather than trying to fix their life. I'm learning that love and friendship is the best way that I can offer Jesus' love....for my Jesus came to show the world God's love.

The amazing part of this field trip is that I'm learning that it's not "people like that", the wounded ones, that I'm having a hard time loving. Instead, it is the "good people" who I'm struggling to love. My field trip lesson seems to also include learning to offer friendship and love to the Christians who are so bent on shooting the wounded...those who judging them and judging them harshly rather than loving and listening.

The hardest lesson, God is showing me that the reason I'm having such a hard time loving and befriending the harsh Christians is because I am one. I can't tell you how much it hurts to admit that allowed. I don't want to be one. I don't want to stand before my Maker and be responsible for times that I walked away from a wounded soul and consequently, they stopped pursing the Faith. I don't want Him to tell me I was responsible for shooting a wounded heart. I don't want to hear anything but "well done, good and faithful servant" from my God. However, unless I continue to change and be changed, I won't hear those words.

So, I stay on this field trip. I thank Him for the people He has put in my life. People to teach me how to love and to offer Jesus' love and friendship, And, I thank Him for the people who are teaching me that I don't want to be one who judges and judges harshly. I also am thankful for the lesson that it is harder to love the self-righteous than the wounded. While He is teaching me that it is harder to love those, He is also teaching me how to love them. Therein lies the blessing....a field trip where I am blessed with friendships that teach me more than I could ever offer them. Thank you LORD!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'll take that as a compliment!

My 11-year old friend, Kenyan, walked into my home today for pizza and sledding. I've known Kenyan since he and Emily were in preschool together. I've known Kenyan's mom since high school and yet today was the first time Kenyan and his family have ever been in our home.

Kenyan looked around as his younger brother, Brody, said "what's that say?" pointing to a sign I have by my tv. Kenyan said "PRAY" and then he said, "Boy! You have all kinds of Bible signs around your house, don't you?"

Yes, Kenyan, I do. You see, a few years ago, you could have entered my house and walked all the way through it without seeing anything that would tell you that I love my God! I wanted to be a witness for Jesus and yet my own home, the place where people see me for who I am, had nothing to say about my Savior. While reading God's Word one day, this is what He showed me...

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

I made a commitment that day that I would begin displaying God's Word in my home...His commands and His promises. I decided to be sure that no one would ever enter my home again and not know where I stood with God. I wanted my home to be place of peace and rest that reflected God's Word to all who entered.

Now, lest anyone be confused, I have not gone to see Hank, the tattoo guy, to have God's Word tied on my hands and bound on my forehead. Instead, I am committing this year to hiding God's Word in my heart. So, while Kenyan and others see God's Word in my home, I am hoping that they will also see God's commands and His promises spilling from my heart over into my life.

Yes, Kenyan, I do have Bible signs all over my house. Thanks for noticing! I'll take that as a compliment!

Friday, January 08, 2010

scribbles, sunshine & snow cream

Last night, my friend, John, told me through facebook that he has enjoyed my "scribbles". I have laughed in my heart all day about that description. It works. It fits. So much of this blog is simply just that~scribbles. Scribbles from this thankful heart that is trying so hard to live a life that glorifies God. This blog is nothing more than my simple struggles or victories in day to day living seasoned with my opinion on various topics. I have no further aspirations for this blog. It is an avenue for me to journal all of the noise in my head and to have fun doing it. I'm not writing to impress, just scribbling my thoughts. Much like a little kid who can't get over the joy of her new crayons and uses them to scribble on everything, I can't get over the joy of being able to sit down with my computer and spend a few minutes each day writing out the thoughts that are in my heart. Scribbles indeed!

Today, the sun is shining! It's only about 20 degrees outside but the sun is bright (I may have to go out and lift my face to the sun for a little vitamin D)! I love winter. I love snow. I love icicles. I hate dark! I often think it would be so incredible to live in the UP of Michigan or in Alaska, or anywhere else that gets A LOT of snow but I know I could not cope with the darkness. Too many long nights and grey days seriously affect my mood. Today, though, I woke up to the sun and have been basking in it all day. I'm am grateful for a God who is creative in the seasons and in the individual days of each season. Just as I thanked Him for the beautiful snow fall yesterday, I am equally astonished at the snow glare today from such a bright sun. Thank you Jesus!!

We just had snow cream for a treat! This is a favorite winter treat around here. With the fresh snow fall yesterday, it was a perfect day for snow cream. Here's the recipe:

1 pint whipping cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. vanilla extract
Beat together until thick. Bring in a large mixing bowl of fresh snow and slowly add snow to cream mixture until it is thick and blended well. Eat quickly.... it melts fast!
**we have experimented with chocolate syrup instead of vanilla extract and it is good too!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

wordless winter wonderland....

a winter wonderland gift

It's snowing. Again! My view is so beautiful...made more beautiful because I have no where to go and no place to be and no need to drive. I can just enjoy...bliss!

My sister has challenged me to consciously look for God in the details of my life. This has been such a good exercise for me. So often, I get so busy just trying get everything done that I don't slow down enough to even see where God is blessing me. God's blessings are gifts designed specifically for me. When I slow to recognize His blessings, I become more thankful. When I become more thankful, my heart becomes more joyful and I slow down more to see more blessings from God. It's a wonderful cycle....I just don't allow myself to be caught in this whirlpool very often.

Today is a winter wonderland gift for me. Another day given by Him to enjoy Him, to enjoy His Creation, to view His art work and to slow down to enjoy His gifts named Eric, Emily and Ellen. A day of choosing to cancel plans and stay home, choosing joy instead of frustration at plans that have gone awry, choosing to slow down. A day of completing school without issues. A day of laughing while Ellen "swims" in the tub (swimsuit and
all) and smiling at Emily playing in the snow with the dogs. A day for Eric to catch up on some class reading. A day to just be and to just be together.

Thank You LORD for this unexpected gift of another slow day, a gift on this beautiful winter wonderland you are painting outside my window! Thank You for your specific gifts of blessings in my life. Thank You for Your constant faithfulness in my life. Thank You for slowing me down enough to see You, to see Your blessings and to thank You for Your faithfulness in my life.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

not even close to being Wonder Woman! this morning I'm laughing out loud as I read the 13 comments on my facebook wall. Though I find it all quite humorous (and if Chad were home to read it, he would probably roll on the floor laughing), I feel compelled to set the record straight. So, here's the gut-level, honest, naked truth...I am not even close to being Wonder Woman!

Here's the status I posted last night that got such rave reviews....

if one stays home~4 loaves of homemade bread, 5 beds w/clean bedding, 11 loads of laundry, 1 sourdough starter, 15 homemade tortillas, 2 hot brunches at the table-all 5 of us in attendance, 2 blogs started as school projects, 1 batch of laundry soap made, 2 school days completed, 1 large feather mess by 2 dogs cleaned, 2 posts on my own blog written, and 2 days with no time restraints to enjoy my kids....PRICELESS!

Though all of this is true, I even scaled it down from my original writing to meet the 400 word maximum for a status line on facebook. I didn't post this for any other reason that to remind myself of what I can do if I choose to stay home more.

There is a misnomer floating around that home school families never leave home. I've done a bit of my own research on this and have found out that my family is not much different than a lot of home school families...we get more done with less stress when we are home but we struggle in keeping ourselves limited to staying home. There are so many good things outside of these walls to offer my kids. Opportunities and lessons that are better done on a field trip. Music lessons, art lessons, library time, home school co-op, community service, clubs (4H & Girl Scouts) all take us away from our home. While there is nothing wrong with those things and they are all good things to do, are they the best things for my family? This road is a well-worn path for me as I try to find the balance of offering my kids a great education while maintaining a HOME school.

So, my status on facebook was simply a reminder to me to keep my priorities straight. To include my kids in house work and cooking and to enjoy the days with them. I looked out of the corner of my eye on Sunday and stopped breathing. Standing near me was a teen boy with long hair, hands in his pockets, and nose growing faster than his face who was looking at me as if he knew me. I know breathing is supposed to be involuntary but I know that my breath caught in my chest as I realized that I have 5 years with Eric before he is 18. 5? Isn't he just 5 years old playing Rescue Heroes and Thomas the Train? I need not-so-subtle reminders and God gave me one on Sunday....enjoy the days for the days are short. These days are PRICELESS for there is no way that I will ever be able to purchase them back.

So, I'm sorry for anyone who sees me as Wonder Woman because of my facebook status. I am not even close! First of all, I'm not sure, even 20 years ago, if I have ever looked like Linda Carter looked in her costume and boots (actually, I'm quite sure I haven't ever looked like that!). Secondly, if you have read any of this blog, you know that I struggle daily in managing my home, my school, my marriage, my life. For instance, I mentioned that all 5 beds had clean's the naked truth....I change the sheets on my bed often but I got tired of fighting the kids over their sheets, so I let it go. They actually asked if they could have clean sheets! Seriously, I can not remember the last time I washed their sheets!

Wonder Woman...not even close!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

artisan bread...I'm doing it!!

I can't believe it! I am actually making artisan breads, nothing fancy yet but yummy with thick chewy crusts and soft chewy insides, nonetheless! My first step in my list of 10 things to do in 2010.

I actually have my own starter (I found out the French call it a chef). So, I started my chef with freshly ground whole grain flour and water on Friday. I decided to try catching some natural yeast in the air first and if that didn't work, I would start over by adding a little yeast to get it going. My first experiment worked! The little chef was quiet Saturday and Sunday I fed it fresh water and flour and Monday it started bubbling! I can't believe it! Today it finally has a sour aroma and I even used some of it in the bread I made today!!

My favorite librarian (not many people can say they have their own favorite librarian and I have 2!!), also referred to as the Liberry Lady, recommended a couple of books to me before the holidays. It is a fictional series but has great recipes in bread baking tips written right into the story line. I loved them! So, yesterday I tried the Country French Bread recipe and it was amazing! Today, I actually tried it with my own chef and with whole grain flour instead of white. Once again, amazing!

I do have to say that my family isn't a whole wheat family. I have tried numerous times over the past few years to incorporate whole wheat much to my family's chagrin. Often the response I get is something akin to "it's quite similar to cardboard, how'd you do it?" I found out that freshly milled whole grain is much, MUCH different than whole wheat flour you purchase from a store. It's kind of like comparing the really cheap chocolate (like the kind of "chocolate" Easter Bunnies are made from) to Godiva... there really is no comparison!

Chad found a grain mill for me at a garage sale this past summer. For a while, it remained in the box because though I had prayed for one and had asked for one, I really wasn't sure what to do with it. My friend, Diane, came to my rescue and blessed me with a huge bucket of wheat and some simple instruction. Now, all 5 of us are enjoying bread that actually has fiber in it.

Here's the recipe for Country French Bread. I think I'm going to use what I made this afternoon into French Toast.

Pain de Campagne (Country French Bread):

Poolish (or sponge)
1/2 t. yeast
1/2 c. water
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
Dissolve yeast in water, then stir in flour until mixture forms a thick batter. Beat about 100 strokes to develop long strands of gluten. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit for at least 2 hours at room temperature. Longer is better, up to 8 hours. Or let poolish ripen in refrigerator for 12 to 15 hours, keeping in mind that it must come to room temperature before you make bread, so allow 2 extra hours.

all of poolish
2 1/2 c. water
1/2 t. yeast
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 c. white bread flour (I used whole grain too and it worked well)
1 T. salt
When poolish is ready it will be bubbly and loose, with a definite smell of fermentation. Scrape it into large bowl, add water and yeast and stir until poolish is broken up and mixture is frothy. Add flour one cup at a time until dough becomes too difficult to stir, then turn our onto well-floured board and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, adding flour as necessary (I used my mixer with dough hook for all of this). Sprinkle salt over the dough and knead an additional 5 to 7 minutes. At first dough will be quite sticky, but don't add more flour than is absolutely necessary to keep it from sticking to the work surface. A moist dough yields a wonderful, chewy texture.
When you press your finger into the dough and it springs right back, it's ready. Shape into a ball and cover with a damp cloth while you clean and oil a bowl. Place dough in the bowl, turning it to cover the whole surface with oil. This keeps it from forming a dry crust, which will inhibit rising. Cover with the damp towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours. When you press your finger about half an inch into the dough and the indentation remains, it's risen enough.
Deflate the dough gently and let it "rest", covered, for about 30 minutes to relax the gluten. Then cut it into 2 pieces, and shape for baguettes or round loaves and place on a heavily floured dish towel with folds between each loaf for support. Dust tops with flour, cover with damp towels, and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until they increase in size about 1 1/2 times.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. When the bread has risen, place loaves on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or dusted with cornmeal. Make several diagonal slashes with a single-edged razor or serrated knife. Adjust the oven rack to the center and place a heavy pan on the lowest shelf or on oven floor. Pour boiling water (from your teakettle, if you have one) into heavy pan and then slide your baking pan with the loaves of bread into your oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when bottom crust is tapped. Turn off the oven and prop the door open slightly and let bread sit for 5 minutes. Then remove and cool on racks.

grace & a few feathers from my nest

Grace. At one point in my life, that word was simply a name....the name we gave our daughter, Emily Grace, in honor of Grandma Grace. Grandma Grace is Chad's paternal step-grandmother (it may take you a little while to sort that one out...). She is an amazing lady! She is spunky and lively and yet, is the most gracious person I know.

It's when I began to think of how gracious Grandma Grace is that I realized something I had missed for too many years.... "grace" is an action. It is a choice more than a feeling. It is verb as much as it is an adjective. Grace is what we choose to give to others whether they deserve it or not...whether we feel like it or not. The Bible commands grace even to those who disagree with us.

Grace is not something that is natural to my essential being. In fact, over the years, my parents have reminded me (on more than one occasion) that I am not graceful. They are not saying this to hurt my feelings, they are speaking the truth (in love, I hope). I have had broken bones because of ungraceful falls (I'll save the embarrassing stories of those for another time....). Not only am I not graceful, I am not naturally a gracious person. I've mentioned before that I tend to think that my way is the right way every single time. Giving grace to someone who disagrees with me is foreign to my nature. However, I serve a God who loves to change people from the inside out.

I hadn't realized that God was developing grace in my heart and life until this week. Sometimes changes come so slowly that it takes me awhile to recognize them for what they are. That was the case with grace this week. I'm currently reading a book that was recommended by two different friends. They are my two closest friends but they have never met. One lives in Ohio, one here in Indiana. Since they both recommended this book, I took their recommendation to heart.

So, I'm reading this recommended book and while there are many great points in this book, I have put it down feeling empty. Typically I devour books. This one, though, I'm going slow because I'm afraid I am missing something, something that would fill me rather than cause me to feel empty. Last night I realized what was missing....grace. This author has some incredible points on the woman's role in marriage. However, in her dogma, she extends very little grace. As I read this book, I'm saddened that she is SO sure her way is the only right way that she extends little or no grace to those who would disagree. She often remarks that her way is THE Biblical way to a better marriage.

God used this to remind me that all of us are sinners saved by grace. Since none of us are God, not one of us can interrupt the Scriptures without error. We try. We attempt to understand what it is God is asking us to do but we are all constantly falling short. To assume that we have the answers that everyone else needs is a dangerous place to be. In my limited understanding, it seems to be a similar to the lie that Satan gave Eve in the Garden of Eden when he told her she could know good and evil by disobeying God's command.

I often say how thankful I am that God hasn't just given up on me. So thankful that he is willing to complete His work in me! I can not wait until the day that He completes me! He is gracious in giving me glimpses from time to time of the work that He is doing in me. One glimpse came yesterday....

My sister posted another raw look into her heart and home on her blog. She honestly said that it is hard to be a public-school mom. She shared how much she misses her children and how much she prays for them. She unashamedly admits that she is doing what she and her husband feel God is calling them to do, even though it is hard. When I read her post, my heart hurt for her. My heart hurt because she hurts.

For the first time, I realized what grace feels like on the inside. I had no feelings of "if you would just pull your kids from school, you could be with them" or "how could the same God call you to put your kids in school while I am SURE He is calling me to keep them home? You must be wrong". Instead, I just prayed for her.

God did the work in my heart to bring about at least a little measure of grace. I am asking Him for more. It feels good. It fills my heart rather than leaving it feel empty and it is freeing to not spend my day dwelling on solving someone else's issues.

Grace. I have to say... it's an amazing action to have your heart take!


On a much lighter note (literally!), I have to tell you about my morning. I hope this will bring a chuckle or two to an otherwise cold day.

We have two dogs. I've mentioned our 10 month old puppy, Ebony, before. We also have an 11 year old Golden named Fred. Fred weighs somewhere around 90 pounds and Ebony weighs around 50, so neither would qualify in the "small dog category".

This morning, I made a brunch of homemade breakfast burritos, complete with homemade tortillas, bacon, eggs, cheese and salsa. I did this so that we could sit down with Chad for a meal before he left for his 12 hour shift at the hospital. When I said grace this morning, I asked for a good day for him. After I was finished I thought "why didn't I ask for a good day for me?"

Of course, the kitchen was a mess and so while I commenced cleaning, I had the kids start on their school work. Chad came out of our room dressed for work singing "oh naughty, naughty doggies!" I looked at Ebony and thought maybe she had snuck out the back door because she looked as if she were covered in snow. Chad laughed..."that's not snow, it's feathers! They were wrestling on our bed." Ohh! Two big naughty, naughty doggies wrestling on my bed!!

I walked into our room and saw a few snowflakes (aka feathers) but when I walked around by our bed it looked like a blizzard had just happened! Feathers everywhere!! Thankfully, I've also been praying about having a "merry heart" lately and I just smiled. Amazingly, no yelling, no screaming, no stomping around. Just a smile, a garbage bag, a vacuum and a puppy sent to her kennel.

I'm not sure what, if anything, I will do with the remaining feathers.... maybe frame one to remind me that a smile makes the messes easier to clean!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

ridiculously fond of him!

I am not a movie fan. I guess it's probably because I love to read. I would much rather read anything than sit down and watch a movie. Occasionally I will sit down to watch a movie and enjoy myself immensely but I would lose every time at Scene It. Other than being able to quote the entire script of The Princess Bride, I know very few movie quotes.

This year, Eric chose the movie Faith Like Potatoes for Chad's Christmas gift. It's a very inspiring movie and even caused a few tears. During the movie, there was a tender scene between Angus Buchanan and his wife Jill. He held her, looked her in the eye and said, "I am ridiculously fond of you!" I loved it! It's my new favorite quote!

I feel like there are many times that I pick at my dearly Beloved for little incidentals. I'm not always nice to him and often I remember the negative things that he has done long after I have forgotten his positive actions. I take advantage of him much more than I take the opportunity to thank him for all that he does.

I made a list of 10 things I wanted to accomplish in 2010. I've thought of another thing....I want to purposely tell Chad why I am ridiculously fond of him. However, I don't want this thing to only be something I do in 2010. I want to do this for the rest of my life. I don't want another day to go by without telling him that the smile I fell in love with still makes my heart race. I want him to know that he is my rock, my safe place. I need to remind him that no one makes me laugh the way he does and he is who I run to when I can't take it anymore. He needs to know that I need him, I need his touch, I need his arms around me. I must remember to thank him for providing for us and working hard to supply our needs. While I am thanking him, I'll mention how incredibly safe it feels to know that there has never been anyone but me. I will remind him that he is my one and only. I need to tell him that he is the world's greatest dad and that he has taught me much about parenting just by his example. I'll thank him for all of the times he purposely spends time with each of our children one on one. I need to mention that I appreciate his gentleness and compassion and tell him yet another story of someone who told me how great he was as their nurse in the ER. I will thank him for putting up with me for 16 years and how I know that a lot of those years loving me was a choice not a feeling. I will thank him for his gentleness and compassion with me. I can't forget to remember to tell him that I have noticed how much he does to serve at our church and how valuable he is to the Leadership Team. I must tell him that he is my best friend, my heart's desire, my only lover, my greatest treasure.

While I am remembering to tell him these things and more throughout this year, I will borrow Angus Buchanan's quote and tell him that I am ridiculously fond of him!

Friday, January 01, 2010

but you're so defensive!

I'm going to start out the New Year on my home school soap box. Sorry for anyone hoping for a cheery "Happy New Year...hear's hoping for the best!" from me today. I'm irritated and it's only been 2010 for 11 1/2 hours!

Before I start venting about a newspaper article I read this morning, I need to say... I really don't care how other people educate their children. I am not out to convince the world that home school is the best option for everyone. I have friends whose children attend local public schools and I have friends whose children attend our local private schools. All of my nieces and nephews all go to public school. I am not anti-traditional school... I am pro-parent choice. Though I don't care how other people educate their children, I do care when others want to tell me how to educate my own kids.

I feel like that parents should be allowed to make the best choice for each of their children. When I say that to others, most of them nod their head and agree with me. I hear "oh yes! We are the parents after all!" However, when I say that I home school our three children, the nodding tends to cease. Instead, often, I hear "Is that legal?" or "You can't be serious! What about your children? They won't be SOCIALIZED!" One of my favorite quotes (seriously, this was said to me!)... "You are doing irreparable damage to your kids! You're not EDUCATED to do this! You are making a huge mistake!" More often than not, those statements are followed by a long dissertation of a story that this person once heard about an abused child who was allegedly home schooled and because of that, all home schooling is wrong.

So, after almost 8 years of home schooling, I tend to be a bit defensive. Hence, the reason for this post this morning. I just read an article that appeared the end of November in a local newspaper. Apparently 2 mothers were arrested for a Class D Felony of education neglect. My beef, today, isn't about these mothers' arrest. If the article only focused on this arrest, I would have read it and wondered if the allegations were true but probably would have forgotten the entire thing in a few days.

Instead, the author of the article apparently decided that it was in the reader's best interest to dredge up an old home school case where neglect did indeed happen. After quoting this case, the rest of the article was skewed that home schooling is wrong because one child at one time was neglected. Arrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!! Therein lies my issue!!!! I can't do anything about the abusive parent or the neglecting parent. I can only take responsibility for my own actions with my children and yet I am judged based on what someone else reads in the newspaper.

Yes, I am defensive. I used to think that eventually my children's education would speak for itself and I wouldn't have to defend myself anymore. I hope it does but I think the issue is much greater than that. So, for 2010, I would like to propose the idea of educating the general populace on educational choices and allow each parent to make the best choice for each of their own children without judgment or without dredging up the ancient cases of abuse, neglect or poor socialization (what is that exactly, anyway...).

On a lighter note...after about 5 years of home schooling my kids and hearing people say, "but you aren't trained as an educator, you aren't trained to educate children and prepare them for the real world", I finally came up with an answer for them....

You see, I do have a college degree from a pretty impressive private college. My degree is in criminal justice. So, I ask you...who is better trained to discipline your children and keep them out of trouble, you or me?

If that answer doesn't work, I can always pull out Chad's nursing degree.... who is better trained to medicate your child and keep them healthy? hmmmmm.... maybe I'll use that one next!