friendship

God has a sense of humor. wanna know how i know this? well, i’ll tell you… He often puts a subject on my heart to write about, and, not long after i write it (or even during), i realize that i’m writing it for…me!

today is no exception. i sat down, and the words poured out about a subject that i really didn’t think twice about…until i read it back. you see, my heart is full of cracks and crevices full of hurts. some caused by others, some caused by my own self. healing is a journey, and here’s what it all comes down to…

friendship.

hearing that word can most likely do one of two things.

it can give you warm fuzzies inside and make your heart happy.

or

it can fill you with dread or even emotional pain.

sometimes it can be both…depending on the day or circumstance.

why are friendships hard? i have often asked myself “how hard is it for people to just be kind?” i have been hurt, betrayed, ignored..i could go on. i often wonder if i have ever unknowingly been the cause of any of those. it makes my heart sad to know that i probably have. we all have. ya know why? … it’s because we are not perfect. not one of us. i have also been encouraged, uplifted and overjoyed in friendships. bet you can’t guess which i’d rather! ha!

so here is the most important factor in friendship… ready?

be willing to hear and admit that you aren’t perfect.

sure, most of us would say that we aren’t perfect. but if someone comes to us and says, “hey, what you did hurt me” or “i’m feeling like you are treating me [insert negative action here]”, how do we react? are we defensive? do we shoot them down or get angry? or do we take a minute and digest what is being said?  do we take a step back and prayerfully examine our heart?

ouch! right?! ….been there!

some of us have stories that include others betraying us or spreading lies about us or someone we love. I’ve been there too!

what kind of friend are we? what kind of friend-material are we emulating for our kids so they, too, can have healthy friendships?

i have heard it said “to have a friend, you must be a friend”… and while that can be true in many cases, i have found it sometimes isn’t. in my opinion, it’s all about perspective. and all of us have a different one. imagine that! we may think someone isn’t a good friend… but that’s just OUR perspective because maybe from their perspective, they are being the best friend they can be!

and here, we insert GRACE. it’s grace that can only be a God-filled kind…because sometimes it’s definitely not felt. sometimes we just wanna turn all “mean girl”… and we’ve all made that poor choice at one time or another, unfortunately. it’s a daily choice (and prayer) for grace.

i know i write often about grace… i mean, c’mon, it IS my word for the year… but God is showing me so much about it. it seems like no matter what i write about, it all comes back to grace.

we have been given grace and mercy. so many times i wonder how in the world God could forgive me again. but He does! do we deserve it? …nope. yet, daily He pours it out on us. how could we possibly not do the same?

 

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valentine’s day (…and what i’d tell my 21 yr old self if i could go back)

valentine’s day is my favorite holiday.

i give no apologies for that fact. i am cheesily in love with everything cheesy about it. i love the heart décor, the heart shaped pancakes or sandwiches, the chocolate… ahh yes, the chocolate.

i love the romantic part of it… exchanging gifts with my husband and making an entire day about hearts. sure, we celebrate “love” but the holiday seems to focus on material love. ya know, the gifts, the food, the dates… it’s actually pretty superficial. that’s not real love.

as we mommas have learned, becoming an adult brings many lessons. one big one is love. love is not romance and getting carried away with another person. it is not the fluttering of your heart or wanting to be with someone every second of every day.

true love…the love that matters, the love that lasts… is not a feeling.

don’t get me wrong… again, i love valentine’s day… it is my favorite.

but we cannot get it confused with true love. as a young bride, if my husband didn’t live up to my ever-exceeding expectations of the romantic day i thought he should plan, i felt like he didn’t love me. it sounds so extremely silly to me now, but that is truly how i felt. poor guy!! the pressure he must’ve felt on that day. he probably dreaded it for the entire year leading up to it. who could possibly live up to that?! and then young girls wonder why they can’t find the “perfect guy”. oh my…

HE DOES NOT EXSIST. i mean, c’mon… sweetheart, we aren’t perfect either. if you’re anything like me, an early morning before my coffee is grounds for my over-the-top “unperfectness” (spell check just loves my invention of new words! ha!)

true love is so many things. if you want answers, just open your Bible. the Word of God has so much to say on this very topic. however, in a marriage relationship, here are a few things i have learned (and am still learning) love looks like.

love takes the garbage out.

love goes upstairs in the night when the baby cries so your spouse can sleep.

love makes coffee each and every morning (even though he doesn’t drink it)

love makes lunch for the other when they are running late for work.

love prays for the other, even though our own day is the “worst day ever”.

love does dishes.

love gives a hug or a listening ear.

love forgives. and forgives again. and forgives. did i mention it forgives?

love doesn’t take things personally.

love tries to look at situations from the other perspective.

love listens to hear…not just to respond.

love is worth sacrifice.

love is a gift.

 

what can you add to this list?

oh and….

  HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

 

 

mommyhood

let’s face it, when you have little ones, the days seem to feel like they last forever. and then longer than forever. trust me, i’ve been there. i AM there.

my story is a little different in that i have been “there” and then i wasn’t… and then, TA-DA! i am “there” again. my older two finally had hit the independent ages (pre teen) and i was able to breathe a sigh of relief. and God blessed us with another little one.

*disclaimer: i do not wish these precious years away.. in fact, i treasure each blessed moment.

**above disclaimer is for the people who aren’t parents {yet} or who think they can pretend to not be phased by the years without sleep or days where you can’t seem to even remember to look out the window to see that it has been… umm snowing all week and, wait, there’s a foot of snow out there?! … and, yes, that has happened to me.

we mommas tend to get lost in our bubble of mommyhood.. and it is a real word, ya’ll. (i am not from the south, but it felt like some sort of southern drawl needed to come out in there.)

so, while i am in the thick of mommyhood (yet again), let me tell you… this time around isn’t as daunting as it was the first time. it could be all the amounts of coffee i consume now (i was insane and didn’t think i needed coffee back in the day. i know…crazy) but i can tell you in a clear-minded manner (i had another pot cup of coffee today) that the years go by quickly.

let me be clear, i am in no way diminishing the way it feels to not see the light of the end of the tunnel… as fuzzy as it may seem. i absolutely adore being a mommy. more than anything else, actually. but mommyhood is tough, i tell you. it’s definitely a growing experience. while it is a beautiful experience, it is hard. did i mention it’s hard?

i am here to tell you that it will not be this way forever. as a matter of fact, the very thought of how quickly it happened in our house sends me to the tissue box. i kid you not. God has given me an opportunity to be thankful as i sit and watch my now 4 year old learn and grow and try to grow faster than i would like her to.

but it’s going to happen.

and these days? ya know, the ones that seem to never end because you’ve run out of ideas… or patience… or energy..?

they pass.

and then there will be a day where you realize that the cuddles come less often. the play times aren’t as long. they begin to spend more time in their rooms… or not home at all.

and you think to yourself… where is mommyhood? and all of those hours of wiping noses, breaking up fights and giving baths are a distant memory.

so…hang in there, momma. this {temporary} job that God has blessed you with is an important one. one that is noticed. one that is priceless.

and you are doing a great job!

i read this quote somewhere and use it often because i know it to be very true:

the days are long, but the years are short.

Mary’s Example

she was young and vulnerable. she loved God with all her heart. but most importantly, she was chosen.

chosen. hand-picked by God.

it’s hard for me to imagine or put myself in her place. she was likely 16 or so. while that age at that time doesn’t resemble that age now, i still have a tough time wrapping my head around what it must’ve felt like for her.

if it were me, i’d be a basket case. no, really, i’m sure that’s why God chose Mary to carry His SON. but i still can’t help but feel like she struggled with emotions that we’d struggle with, had WE been chosen. fear, loneliness, nervous, doubt, confusion… yet also, excitement, wonder, peace…

but God knew she could handle it. not because she was perfect, but because she trusted Him to give her what she needed, when she needed it.

do we do that?

or do we tend to feel called to something, only to dismiss it thinking we are incapable, unworthy, or inexperienced? Mary could’ve easily had that response.

but she didn’t.

in this world, we long for people to look up to… ones that can be an example of what a “Christ-like” woman looks like…here is one we can look to.

when God asks something of us that may seem to be a challenge, we can recall this story and know that He has bigger plans to glorify Himself through the calling… and He knows that we are able…through Him.. to do it. we just need to only trust Him.

i’m sitting here thinking of the times i missed His calling all because i didn’t feel capable. really?! yikes. my desire is to honor God and do what He wants me to do, yet, when that actually happens, do i trust in myself (or lack thereof) and decide not to do it? usually.

how sad. because… all i needed to do was trust in Him.

if He calls us to it, He will carry us through it.

 

but first…coffee. (a day in the life.)

so we homeschool.

okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, the rest of what I write will make sense to you.

a few have asked what a typical day looks like in our family, so this is me attempting to do that.

our day begins when our youngest calls from her room, letting the entire world know she’d like to come downstairs. this is usually around 6am. my husband, being the ever-so-kind husband (also probably trying to avoid me having to wake up quickly…not a pretty sight) gets her breakfast. he leaves for work and I try to get moving… but first

coffee.

of course, coffee is the essential ingredient for any homeschool mom. or any mom, for that matter.

and so it begins.

my oldest goes to her music courses (for 2 hrs), my middle-school aged daughter starts her school work and I do pre-K with my youngest. this involves a bit of hyped-up energy. on my part. but first

coffee.

do you notice a pattern? the struggle is real.

so we do our morning circle time… which is well, not really a circle… then we do phonics, bible time and our theme of the week. that is followed by a special “time” that her older sister does with her, and is usually a fun activity or a book that goes with the theme. after they are done, there is a small break in our day while I answer or help my older two if needed, then we continue with our lesson time. this is when I basically do the “teaching” part. but first..

coffee.

yes, it is needed. again. I mean, c’mon, it isn’t even lunch time and my energy is typically zapped by this time.

i have a “center activity” planned for her while i make lunch. this usually is math manipulatives, play dough, etc.

lunch is very simple… leftovers or pb&j. i make a full dinner each evening, so lunch isn’t usually spectacular. i choose my battles and challenges very carefully if i can. because, i’m pretty sure a FOURTH cup of coffee at this point would be needed, and i have to stop at some point. maybe. anyway, so i usually let my youngest watch a sesame street youtube clip on the letter or sound we are learning about while she eats. this is a treat for her, and she loves it. it also gives me some quiet to eat my lunch or throw laundry in or help another kiddo.

and then….. it happens…..

QUIET TIME!!

yes… we do a quiet time every day for an hour. we always have. naps are long gone in our house, but this momma needs a little breather and so do they. we all look forward to this time. we go to our rooms and do some quiet play or reading. it truly helps make a difference in the remainder of the day. if there’s ever a time it doesn’t happen, i can see the chaos and drama erupt pretty quickly. quiet time is a life-saver.

…because then it’s “craft” time. i am not a crafty person. like every ounce of craftiness had been used up by the time God created me. i’m pretty sure this is not an exaggeration. nonetheless, i am a good mother and allow the mess to ensue. (honestly, my older two had to go to Gramma’s house when they were younger if they wanted to use anything “messy” to be creative. progress, folks. progress.).

after this, it is usually time for me to begin making dinner.. and at least one of my older girls is done with their schoolwork for the day. typically, i use my powers of resistance and self-discipline to not make a new pot of coffee because… the evenings are made up of running someone somewhere, food shopping or planning for the next day (which i highly recommend.. the days just get off to a better start when the day is all planned and laid out the evening before).

so i won’t bore you with the evening details, because, i am sure yours looks very similar to mine. and hopefully we all find time to cherish the moments with our families, but also the quiet ones after they are in bed (i know you all are feeling that way… and i am here to tell you that IT’S ok! we all need a moment to breathe… so we can be a better momma for the next day. and the next day. and the next… you get the picture.).

well, there it is…

i’m skipping the crazy and  boring parts, and of course each day is different (well, except for the fact that momma is tired)… but this is basically our typical day. in the shortest version i could muster.

and since quiet time is over as i write this, i better figure out a clever way to wrap this up. but first

coffee.

 

holiday bake hop – christmas morning quiche

it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

i could write about all the reasons why that statement rings true.

or i could just show you… and by that, i mean with a mouth-watering photo of the yummiest breakfast ever (and a super sweet surprise at the end, so read on)…

or maybe it just seems that way because we eat it while relaxing around the Christmas tree, holiday music softly playing from Pandora and watching our daughters open their gifts.

as i thought about uploading the photo, i decided that i’d also share the recipe. you know, just in case you’d like to recreate the beautiful morning i described.

oh, and did i mention that  you can make this ahead of time? throw in the coffee pot that has a timer and your Christmas morning just got better…no hassle or baking! and may i suggest cute Christmassy (yes, that IS a word… maybe…) paper plates as well? because, really, who wants to do dishes on Christmas?!

quicheChristmas Morning Quiche

*1 prepared pie crust (didn’t i tell you it was super easy?!)

*10 eggs

*1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

*1/2 cup shredded motzerella cheese

*1 Tbsp minced onion

*4 oz chopped deli ham

*salt & pepper to taste

*unroll one pack of the prepared pie dough (or double the batch and make two since you already have the dough) and place it in pie plate, crimping sides, if desired. or you can just wing it and call it a “rustic” look like i do. no one will judge…and if they do, they will apologize profusely after digging in. i promise. in a bowl, crack eggs and wisk in onion, salt and pepper. mix in cheese and ham. pour into pie crust. bake 375 F for 25-30 min. Let cool and serve!

i make this Christmas Eve and after it’s cool, i stick it in the fridge (if we can keep from eating some…. it smells heavenly!) until morning… then i just slice it and reheat it in the microwave in the morning. usually, we take a bite, open a gift…take a bite, give a gift… and so on.

i assure you, it will make your Christmas morning less stressful! and it is embarrassingly easy! but…shhh… it’ll be our little secret, okay? okay.

but, wait!! there’s more… (I’ve always wanted to say that, by the way)

SURPRISE!! if you click on the gorgeous Holiday Bake Hop graphic below, it will take you to many more scrumptious Christmas recipes…all in one blessed place. clearly, a few of us bloggers have made this Christmas season a more joyous one for you… right? right.

ready, set… click!

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oh… and…

you’re welcome.

 

fall family fun

i love traditions.

they are heart-warming and fun… and full of… well…memories.

this year wasn’t any different.

each year i host a “fall family fun day” for my side of the family. it’s just a fun time for us to get together, eat, laugh and make memories. it has become a Halloween alternative for my family, so we make sure the candy is flowing. and that’s always fun. ya know, pump the kids full of sugar and hope the weather is nice so they can go outside to burn it all off before bedtime.

now that they kiddos are getting older, i think the adults eat more of the sugar (except what i hide in the cupboards… don’t judge).

i try to make the food fun as well. some years are simple and some I’ve gone all out. this year was fun to put together, so i thought i would share some snapshots.

fall fam fun 2.jpg

i chose a “chili bar” theme for the main meal… (chili, corn bread, baked potatoes, hot dogs and the extras that go with it). it was easy and could be made/purchased ahead of time.

fall fam fun 1.jpg

of course, the veggie dip had to go in a pumpkin. i saw it on pinterest… oh, it was a blast getting the dip container IN that pumpkin. my poor husband. he must love me… that’s all i will say about that. oh, and we don’t typically put candles in the brownies… clearly, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday as well on this particular day.

so while these parties take time and effort, the memories that come along with it are priceless. it was fun to find ideas, and my mom and sister graciously brought some of the yumminess to contribute. we ended the day with a huge bonfire outside… and hot chocolate. ahh autumn was in the air. totally worth it.

next year i think we’ll let the kids plan it…. hooray!

umm… maybe.