Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I just want to "be"

A few days ago we took a little trek to meet with a few dear friends that we haven't seen in a while.

It was bittersweet.

The people we shared lunch with have always been a balm for my soul. They are the people who have walked with me since I was a new believer, that didn't know the Old Testament from the New Testament. They are the people who have helped me grow up in my walk. They are the ones who I followed, as they followed Christ. We sacrificed together, we cried together, we loved together. They are people who always bring out the best in me. When we are together I am the truest self I can be. When we are together I feel safe. When we are together I feel loved. When we are together I belong. When we are together it feels so great to just "be".

I doubt that I will ever experience the friendship and community that we shared together, when we lived so close, again.

It is difficult to go on with "normal" relationships after experiencing what we lived, together. I find myself saddened sometimes that I can't seem to connect the same way with another group. I love the new friends I have made, but sometimes still feel like a square peg trying to fit into the round hole.

Perhaps, it is because I am a little under the weather and the year is coming to a close, but I find myself feeling a little melancholy.

I think it is a good thing.

I think that as I met with these sweet friends, I began to realize how much of "me" I have lost.

I was forced to look in the mirror and see who I have become since the last time we were all together. Frankly, it isn't that pretty.

I have become complacent in so many areas. I have put God on the back burner and it has taken it's toll. I have let the miraculous become the mundane by failing to see the hand of God in the daily "work" of raising my son and loving my husband. I have replaced the joys in my life with garbage that neither edifies or builds up. I have become lazy. I have become (more) selfish. I have forgotten that each day I must "lay down my life" so He can live through me.

I am hopeful, that starting today (or maybe when I quit sneezing) that I can "be" myself again. I think that "being" with Him, is gonna make all the difference.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Birthday's Never Reached

Today was your birthday, Dad. It is hard to believe you have been gone over 9 years now. You've missed a lot. We've missed you. I'm a mom, to a boy who is arriving on the two year mark rapidly. I still live in Montana. It's late and I'm tired, but I can't quit thinking of you. The memories come at unexpected times. As I scroll through the old pictures Debbe scanned for me, the ache is there. The longing for the times that we never got to have together - the times robbed by either our individual stubbornness or the times stolen because the cancer took you too soon. But, for now I will be thankful for the times we did have, the laughs we shared, the stories we read together. I can shed a few tears as I remember you, my dad, and try my best to enjoy each day I have because we both know, this life ends too quickly.

















I miss you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The little things...

There are days when this stay at home life is a little bit, blah. That is why I am thankful for little notes sent my way - just like this one:

"Hey sweetheart,

I hope that your day is going awesome. I love you so much! Thank you for all of your hard work. I can't wait to hang out with you tonight. Give that kid a hug for me.

Love,
Norse"

He makes my heart happy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Project 2009 - #2, #3, and #4 (complete with bad photos and vague tutorials)

#2 In the grand tradition of making things you can put in a jar...

I made bath salts and sugar scrubs for some of the special people in my life.

This is SUPER easy and you can find 3,123,458* recipes by "Googling" for them.
*that is only a slight exaggeration

And, instead of buying jars, I have been saving the glass jars that our pickles, sauces and sauerkraut have come in, through the year, just knowing I can find a use for them. If you have some lying around, spray paint the lids (unless you are jarring a food product - that just doesn't seem safe) and reuse them!

Here are the salts...



Here are the scrubs. I slapped a spoon on, a tag with directions and ... TADA - a great simple gift.




#3 This is technically not a gift, but I am pretty proud of myself. You see, I found this super cute tree topper at Target, but instead of buying I thought "Hey, I can make that. It isn't like I am hosting Christmas dinner, making gifts and chasing my 19 month old son around."

So, I went outside when the weather rose all the way into the double digits and chopped down a whole bunch of maple branches. I resurrected the glue gun,  printed out a star to use as a template and let 'er rip! Throw on a dash of gold glitter that was falling off old ornaments, a few cranberry looking things from an old wreath and a broken star garland and I made myself a tree topper. It really has two stars back to back that are glued to a stick cylinder I made by hot glueing the twigs to a rolled up piece of cardstock. I tell you, I was using all my ingenuity with this bad boy!


 I like it and it fits my family and although being a little heavy for our tree, it seems to work (and it is okay that it looks nothing like the Target model).

#4 This final project, was born out of total selfishness and a need for some late night alone time and therapeutic organizing. 

I made my self the cutest little folder/file/ organizer thingamajig! (Not that you will be able to tell from the horrible pictures my archaic digital camera coupled with my wobbly hands, have taken.)

I found the tutorial here.







Mine is labeled for "Domestic Engineering".





It includes pockets for my "To Do, Today" list, grocery list, Target list, and the "Other Stuff" list. I fastened my two ends with little brads so it will keep things a little more sturdy. I think it is super cute and I feel better than ever now that I have finished it (And because I have the majority of my Christmas meal lists and recipes compiled) 




 Find more of our homespun craftiness here, here, and here!

DIY Day @ ASPTL

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt

MckMama does something called "Not Me Monday" . Usually I like to just wallow in my parenting mistakes all by myself, but since I have photo documentation of our recent Christmas Tree harvest, I thought I would join the fun. Really, if we can't laugh at ourselves, why did we become parents in the first place?

You know me...
I would not choose to go hunt for a Christmas tree, when temperatures were hovering in the teens. It couldn't have been me that dressed my son in mittens that were too big and certainly not waterproof.
When he took a little tumble because of the uneven terrain, I did not whip out the camera to catch a picture before I helped him.


And I would NEVER EVER let my child play with a saw (in the sheath) to distract him from the freezing cold.



It wasn't me who forgot to bring a scarf to wrap around his little cheeks.

I definitely didn't lose my cool and tell my sweet, jolly husband "To just PICK A TREE, any tree!" while thinking something much worse in my head.


And you know it wasn't my child who was so cold and cranky that he cried and yelled "NO" everytime I tried to comfort him.


You are right, it was certainly some other family.


Fortunately noone lost any digits to frost bite and we happily warmed up on the way down the mountain.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas Project 2009 - #1

Well, since we are trying to buy less, make more, give more this year I thought I would try to replicate those super cute holiday canvases that I am seeing on etsy and our local holiday bazaars.

We don't have art canvases at our house, but we DO have an abundance of scrap lumber from Norse's scavenging at work, the dump and from our own improvement projects. He was kind enough to square a few small pieces for me.

I don't have a picture, but if you have really rough wood, you are going to want to sand it smooth before you start. Most of mine was already varnished, but where Norse made the cuts it was a little ragged and I made the mistake of not sanding it.

Next I gathered my tools -


Cheap foam paintbrush
Some wrapping paper scraps
Decoupage stuff (I used "Collagepodge" but I am sure that Mod Podge would work, too)
Paintbrushes
Paint

First, you are gonna want to decoupage your wood with the wrapping paper scraps. This was my first attempt at this and it worked pretty well by "painting" the podge on the face of the wood and then smoothing on the paper. I did have a few bubbles that I didn't quite get out, but since I am not a pro, I am not too worried about them. (It's the thought that counts right?) Slowly work your way around the edges "wrapping" your board and gluing it down. Let it dry

Then I printed out what I wanted it to say ("Let it Snow!") in a fun font and stenciled it onto my dry board. (Here is a great stenciling tutorial)

Then I painted it green with some old crusty paints. It looked really bad and was hard to read, so I went back over it with black and think it turned out okay. At least it is readable.

Here is the finished product -

I put this one up so you can see the imperfections... the wrinkled paper - my bad. Hopefully the next one will be better.

(It looks better from a distance :) ) 

Cute? or Lame? You decide.


I added this to the DIY party, check out other great ideas by stopping over at:

DIY Day @ ASPTL

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas, Christ and Kids...

Now that B is getting older I have been thinking a lot about how to help him see the real meaning of Christmas. I have heard of the Jesse Tree and of course we will read the real Christmas story together, but how do you make Jesus a part of the day?

Part of my struggle is that holiday gatherings mean people of different beliefs get together. I haven't seen faith in action, at Christmas time, growing up and it seems that Norse's family isn't real great at bringing Christ into the celebration either. (They do attend a Christmas eve service, and I hope to carry on that tradition.)

This Christmas we are hosting dinner at our home for the crew and I wish I knew how to balance being a gracious host, acknowledging the true reason for the season, all while making sure everyone has fun and no one is offended.

Have any of you sucessfully navigated the holiday season with a family of both believers and non-beliers? If so, I would love to hear your ideas and encouragement.


Also, share your ideas for making Jesus number one in your home as you celebrate Him during the season.

It would be much appreciated!


P.S. - Do any of you make a breakfast birthday "cake" for Jesus Christmas morning? If so I would love a recipe.

There are some great ideas about gift giving here and here, that we have adopted. In hopes that we don't lose our focus in consumerism. Check them out if you have time!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just a Little Advertising.

I recently added a link/advertisement for Dayspring. I have become part of their affiliate program. I want you to know that I LOVE Dayspring products. When I worked at the Christian Book Supply, we clamored over their catalog - especially the Christmas issue. I currently have ornaments, cards, a nativity set, frames and other gift items in my home from the days when my paychecks went back to the bookstore instead of to my bank account! I was more than willing to help spread the word about this company when they emailed me!

You should know that I don't recieve free products (but I sure wouldn't mind if they sent me some! *hint, hint*) I do want you to know (and so I am following the FTC guidlines) that if you are checking out Dayspring for the first time, got there from my page (by clicking the link on the side bar), and buy something - I am eligible for commision.

Don't worry I won't be adding advertisers all over my page just to make a buck. However,I am willing to add Dayspring, because I buy their products and I believe in their message. That's my story and I am sticking to it. Of course I would love it, if you were gonna buy from Dayspring that you would head to their site from my page (actually I would rather you go to your local independant Christian retailer and buy it from them) and do your shopping.

Shop Christmas Gifts and Decor at DaySpring

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weight and Words...

The blogs have been a buzz with all sorts of weight related news...

Kate Moss got roasted because she said that "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" which apparently is the slogan for pro-anorexia sites.(Who even knew that there were such a thing...so sad!) I am pretty sure that chocolate chip cookie dough actually DOES taste better than skinny feels!

Then there was the Ralph Lauren campaign with the photoshoppers nightmare...


Then Demi Moore had a slice of her hip sliced out on a magazine cover (probably because she is sooooooo gigantic. Puh-leez! ) **This just in ..she is claiming that there was no touch up and that she just doesn't have hips... don't you feel sorry for her, how does she survive?


Then Heidi Klum drags her 5 week post-partum booty onto the catwalk and makes almost every mother in America feel a twinge of guilt for having skim milk, when they should have just had water.

No wonder women have such issues with what "normal" looks like.

To add to that, there are shows like "The Biggest Loser". WAIT, before you get mad at me (Lori)... I think the concept is great! It is wonderful to see people lose weight and reclaim active lives, but it sure makes me depressed when in two weeks I barely lose ONE pound and they have lost 14! Our expectations are warped. Instead of feeling great that we are losing weight (which at that rate would have me losing 25 pounds in a year) we are discouraged that we aren't losing fast enough.

Guess what? If I had a personal trainer, a nanny, a chef, a make-up artist and a publicist to make sure every picture of me was Photoshopped to perfection, I may be a little less stressed about why I have to wear my "fat pants" every so often.

All that to say that I commend each of you for the things you are doing to be a HEALTHY person.

Healthy comes in all different sizes and beauty comes in all different shapes. It does us no good to try to achieve a certain look, because beauty standards change. Frankly, it amazes me that the current look is okay from the front, but I am pretty sure that if that Victoria's Secret model was walking away from me, I could easily mistake her for a Jr. High boy. Curves have become the enemy, that is unless they were surgically enhanced.

I say, forget it.

Celebrate the small victories if you are trying to lose a little weight for your hearts sake. If you are trying to be fit, say hooray for the extra 10 minutes on the treadmill or for refusing another cookie. Don't, however, lose sight of the fact that skinny does NOT equal happy. Happiness only comes from the internal, not the external. The true source of joy came "that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)

(And as a general rule, it is best not to celebrate weight loss by eating ice cream- I am learning from experience here!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ruth, Redemption, and Me

Recently the B.S. (Bible Study) Chickas and I recently finished the book of Ruth. We read it, we talked about it, and I was blessed by it. It is only 4 chapters long and you can read the whole thing right here.

In summary, here is why it has meant so much to me...

1. Ruth was a Moabite girl, her life marked with devastation. I am Jesica. A girl who did not grow up in a home that was a Christ centered home (My home had a lot of love, but not a lot of Jesus). My life was not perfect. My dad died when I was 20. I have seen the effects of abusive relationships, abortion, alcoholism, and other realities of life in my personal experiences and through my family and friends.

2. Ruth met God. I met Jesus - when I was 19 and throwing my life away. He found me.

3. Ruth met Boaz. A man that was noble, loved God, protected and loved her. I met Norse, who introduced me to Jesus and has spent the last 10 years of our lives protecting me, providing for me, and loving me.

4. Ruth married and God blessed her with a son. A son who would carry on the legacy of a godly home and become the grandfather of David - the man after God's own heart. I was blessed with a son, a son that I hope God will use to carry on a legacy of grace and love in the name of Jesus, for generations to come. Hopefully, by the grace of God, people will look back and say that my Redeemer lives!

Ruth is such an encouragement for the times when life just plain stinks. It is refreshing to see a girl from the wrong side of the tracks beat the odds and have a life that is pretty close to perfect, for those days. It is a message of hope as we navigate all the bumps and dead ends that come our way. How amazing it is to know that God meets us where we are and takes us further than we ever believed possible.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Free Audio Download of John Piper Book

I'm not sure if you have heard, but for the month of November you can go here
and download Desiring God, by John Piper, for FREE!

Put it in your cart and when you checkout enter the code: NOV2009

How cool is that? I have had the book sitting on my self for almost two years and haven't been able to get into it, though I have several friends who feel it has changed their lives! I can't wait to pop in the ipod and multitask through the chapters!

Enjoy and thanks christianaudio.com!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Little Sweat is Better than Nothing...

I fell off the wagon with my lifestyle change.

i can make some excuses if you would like.

I also GAINED weight.

So, it is my great fortune that I have some wonderfully motivated pals who have begun weighing in every Saturday, as we compete to lose the most weight.

My realistic goal is to lose 10 pounds. That will put me at my pre-preggo weight. My radical goal would be to lose 30-40 pounds so I would be the same weight I was when I graduated high school and the same weight I was on my wedding day.

Monday I had a good long walk with Boden on my back. Probably 3-4 miles. It was made easier because Shannah went with me and everything is more fun with Shannah!

Yesterday nothing.

Today - TOTALLY UNMOTIVATED!

I am waiting for a new DVD in the mail to kick my butt into shape on days when I can't get outside because of inclement weather and the elliptical seems boring.

Today, good ole YouTube saved the day. My goal is to do at least one active thing a day. I ran across this SHORT and simple video that had me sweating in no time.

If you only have a few minutes (which is usually the case - since I try to do EVERYTHING that needs to be done during B's nap) try this 10 minute video.

It is free and fun. Plus, the lady is neither scantily clad or annoying.



Get your workout on peeps!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Girls and Boys


I told you I would post something about feminism.
I really want to change my mind.
Here goes nothing...

I think women are tough enough, smart enough, strong enough and capable enough to do anything. I believe women should have equal opportunities in all things.

I think men are tough enough, smart enough, strong enough and capable enough to do anything. I believe men should have equal opportunities in all things.

I think as a general rule, men and women excel at different things.

I think that women can speak their minds without being called sexist or chauvinistic (they may however be called something that rhymes with witch). I don't think men have that luxury.

I think a time has come when women can dominate without consequence and men are being forced into silence. I think, perhaps, someone should start fighting for the rights of men, so we don't end up with a bunch of emasculated sissies for husbands and fathers.

I think that the majority of women like to be treated as ladies. They are not insulted by the way a gentleman protects and cares for them. They are not angry when a door is opened for them or when they are given preferential treatment because of their sex.

Frankly, if the time comes when I am just one of the guys - it will break my heart, because I think the tender, beautiful, nurturing power of a lady will have been loss in the name of "equality".

I will fight for women's rights, but I will not let the rights of my son be ignored because of feminism.

If being a feminist means wanting the best for women - I am in. If feminism has become just one more religion or political party - count me out.

I like being a girl.

I like boys who treat me like a girl.

I am thankful for a husband who respects me because I am strong willed, out spoken, fiery and intelligent. I am thankful that he also appreciates that I am emotional, tender, motherly and beautiful. I am thankful that he gets out of bed each morning because of his desire to care and provide for his family. I am proud that he was glad that I could stay home and be a "domestic engineer", but he did not demand it. I am thankful that he wants to spoil me. I am thankful that he encourages me in my goals. I am thankful that he is not an idiot and is better at math, science and grammar than I. I don't like that he is a better athlete, but I am chocking that up to genetics. I am thankful that he is mine.

I would be so bold to say that it boils down to respect. If men respected women and women respected men, the issue of feminism really wouldn't even be an issue.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Feminism

What do you think of when you read that word?

We all have the stereotype in our minds, don't we?

Well recently I was contacted for a survey that I would love for you to participate in. It is for purely selfish reasons - I want to see the results.

Here is part of the message I got, with the link. If it something you have time to do, complete the survey. I don't want to taint your answers so I won't comment more on this subject for a few days.

Here is the info:
"Hi, my name is Mindy, merchull@umw.edu, and I am a teacher and researcher at the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I am researching attitudes about mothering with my colleague Miriam Liss.

We are collecting data from women over the age of 18. We are looking for feminists, non-feminists, mothers, and non-mothers. "


To participate in the study follow this link:

http://ff5umw.com/motherconsent.html



"Feel free to share this information and link with your friends! You can post it in other online venues you feel might be appropriate as well.

Thanks for your help.

-Mindy (and Miriam) "


Oh.. and here is a quick Halloween pic that has nothing to do with feminism (or does it since I had to persuade my husband to wear a costume and I am dressed up like a 12 year old girl and my son kind of has long shaggy hair. :)



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Talk Radio Makes Me Want to Vomit.

Can I just say that I know I am a hypocrite. That will be my disclaimer for the rant that is about to ensue.


Have you noticed how angry people are these days? How angry Christian people have become? Honestly, I feel like they are acting like spoiled little brats who didn't get their way during the last election. We have friends, who we love and respect, who are slowly driving others away because of their continued negativity and conspiracy theory driven antics. Frankly, I am sick of the pity party. I am sick of the ridiculous way politics has become the new religion. I am sad to see the Gospel minimized so that Republicans and Democrats can push their respective agendas. It is my personal opinion that if you really believe what Jesus taught, then you wouldn't have gotten your way for the last few decades of elections. So, move on and live in the hope of Christ and in the light of eternity. AND stop listening to talk radio - SERIOUSLY.

May I just say that I did not vote for President Obama - my decision was based primarily on my differing opinion on the big issues of health care reform, immigration, governmental spending, renewable resource legislation and where he stands on family issues. Other than that I think he seems like an okay guy having never personally met him.

Here are the reasons why I think it is okay that Obama is the president:

1. I serve a Sovereign Lord. A Lord who knows the beginning to the end.
2. How can a Christian spout venom and still praise?
3. Jesus lived under the rule of "ungodly" leaders.
4. Without balances of ideas there is dictatorship.
5. Obama isn't my enemy.

You may not agree with me. You may now label me as a heretic, apostate, and maybe even democrat. You may tell all those you know to pray for me that I would not be led astray. My suggestion to you...reread the Gospels. Turn off the talk radio. Start living as Jesus has called you to live in the land he has placed you to live. Continue to fight for issues that you are passionate about, but don't fight for the sake of fighting for an issue, fight for the people that the issue affects. Get over your bitterness.

And NEVER, EVER, EVER ask me to sign some political petition while I am visiting with friends in the church foyer, especially if you don't even know my name. It really ticks me off. Set it on the table. Put an announcement in the bulletin, but believe me - your piece of paper will never be more important to me than the person standing beside me.

Rant completed. Thank you for your time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Resurrecting Autumn...

I have heard other bloggers referring to their hometown as cold, frigid, or even the frozen tundra. It reminds me that most things are relative since last week we had snow and lows in the single digits. So to all you other bloggers who are still posting pictures of your children outside without snowboots, hats and winter jackets...you've got it pretty darn good! Thankfully the snow melted and was replaced with rain. I took the opportunity to head outside and gather some fall foliage before it all blew away or it was covered with the white stuff again!

I brought it inside (just like our pumpkins - at night so they don't freeze and rot) and stuffed it in an old metal can we found while meander through the fields at an old ranch a few years ago.


And...




I resurrected autumn in our home! I refuse to skip directly to winter. I like fall. It is my transition time and without it - I get grouchy!

You can call me Martha if you would like.

Oh and by the way I am headed out of town for a girls ONLY weekend! Thanks for the encouragement ladies. Pray that my farewell to the little man isn't too weepy (and of course I am talking about me. He will do great with Papa)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Torn

I am bursting with excitement to go see my great pal, Rachel. We are meeting for a girls weekend. It will be the first time we have spent 24 hours together in over a year! She is a gem.

I am torn, because there is this sweet boy.


And he makes my heart explode with love. I have never left him for more than a few hours at a time. He also fills every. single. moment. of every. single. day. with me (most of the time). He is almost 18 months. He makes me laugh and he exasperates me. He makes me tear up because he brings so much joy to my life, but sometimes he makes me tear up because I am exhausted, frustrated and don't understand what he needs. But, I love him. I love him more than I thought possible.

Then there is this guy.


Who deals with his wife in an amazing, understanding way. He wants nothing more than to make me smile. He even puts up with me when my hormones are all whacked out, I feel like a heifer and my hair is out of control. He even offers to keep B with him for the weekend so i can have an honest to goodness girls only weekend. He offers even though he has a project that he needs to finish. A project that people keep asking him when he is going to finish. That is how much he loves me.

Don't I have it made? Blessing upon blessing is mine! (Remind me of this when I start whining!)

Here is my problem. I kinda want to leave the little man with dad, but it really wouldn't be a big deal to take him with me. Plus, I feel bad because when I planned to take the trip - I intended it to be a break for Norse so he could concentrate on finishing his project. Do I really NEED a kid free weekend or am I being selfish? I do get breaks and Norse watches him so I can go out with the gals every now and then. I am rambling, but I need your advice. Am I having legitimate guilt because I should take him or am I just playing the martyr mommy? Sock it to me sista's (and brotha's)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Save the Ta-Ta's

Today is a special day. It is a day when we celebrate those special ladies who have overcome breast cancer. It is also a day where we can help others become aware of what a sucky disease it is and how we need to find a cure ASAP! It is a day to wear PINK!

Did you know that:
"Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women." (statistic found at cdc.gov) ?

Scary.

The cool thing is that with early diagnosis it is often treatable! Just ask my friend, Lori, whose mom is a survivor! WOO HOO!

The sad thing is that we often don't expect it, watch for it, or believe it will return. My step-mom is walking with her mother along a heartbreaking path. The cancer came back and this time it looks like the cancer is going to win.

Stupid cancer.

But, we are not without hope. Every year research is developing new treatments and early detection devices. Maybe some day we won't even have to think about breast cancer.

Today, take the time to do that self exam or schedule your mammogram. Celebrate those who have overcome and shoot up a prayer for those who are battling. Put on a pink shirt or ribbon and help save the ta-ta's!

Head over to The Domestic Fringe and join the party*** as we fight for our right to wear pretty bra's, nourish our babies, and make our husbands grin - all because we have beautiful boobies!





***Sooo... I just realized that the party isn't until the 7th! Oops... I am posting today - because today is when we "Paint the Flathead Pink" in my neck of the woods, but I will link to the party next week. And...since you have the advanced notification you can be certain to have your post ready to link up by the 7th too!

Gotta love free stuff!

I am sorry if you missed it, but the Nester just had 24 hours of giveaways. She has a wonderful blog about all things involving the nest, but I bet you already figured out it was wonderful since she has enough fans and supporters to allow her 24 giveaways! If you haven't visited her - go check it out.

It was my great fortune that I had the time (while my husband slept in his recliner) to enter a bunch of the contests. It was my even better fortune that I WON one of them (and it really was one of my favorites!). I won this -




It is from a great store called the White Flower Farmhouse. I had never heard of this place before - probably because I live in Montana and they are in New York. However, they have an online store filled with the most wonderful country, beachy, antiquey items! I cannot stop perusing their things! So since you are seething with jealousy over my super awesome win - go check out their stuff and treat yourself (or start saving up to treat yourself) to a new treasure.

Thanks White Flower Farmhouse and The Nesting Place.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Refreshing


I haven't had much to say lately. I haven't even had much to say to anyone. It wasn't that I didn't have time to write it down, I didn't know what to say. I haven't known how to feel. I feel empty. Like my everything has run out of fuel. I have been snotty to my husband, impatient with my son (and the dog, too), and even somewhat distant from my friends. I am realizing now that I have also been distant from my God.

I have been reading good books and listening to good teachers, but I haven't been spending real time with Him. I hadn't had a good talk with my Father in a long while.

Today, that ended.

I sat outside - mostly trying to avoid the whining coming from my son's room as he protested a nap - and worked on a new Bible study I have started. After finishing the "homework" for the day, I took a look around. The lake looked so glassy and serene from my porch. I started to cry. I have felt so stirred up about EVERYTHING lately, but on the surface I have seemed peaceful. (Why do we do that? Does anyone really believe we are perfect? Then maybe we should just stop trying to convince them.) I realized that I need refreshed. I need renewed. I need restored. I need my God.

Why have I been trying to figure everything out on my own? Why have I spent all this time tucking things into my clenched fists, when I should have been offering them up to the only One who can do anything about them? Why have I insisted on building up my walls, when my hearts desire is to be closer to Him?

I opened up my trusty Word and searched for verses with the word "refreshment"... After the million times I have heard the following passage, why have I never noticed verse 8?


Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.


Pro 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.


Pro 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.


Pro 3:8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.


So, Lord, take it all from me. The family issues, my failings as a wife and a mother, the uncertainty about prosepective jobs, the insecurity about what I am supposed to be doing. Lord, take it. Lead me. Straighten my paths. Give me Your wisdom. Heal my body and most of all, refresh my weary bones.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Soberversary...

Guess what?

God transforms people and changes their lives.

Want to know how I know this?

I use to date a guy who had some issues. One of them was that he was in bondage to alcoholism.

Know what happened?

Jesus gave him a new heart and one day he asked me to marry him.

Last Friday was Norse's Soberversary. It has been 10 years since he chose to live a life without the influence of alcohol.

He gave up this:



And got this:





Pretty good trade, don't you think?

I am so proud of you sweetheart! Way to go. You continue to amaze me every single day. I love you!

Wordle created here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

At a Loss for Words

Sorry I haven't been posting much. I am tired. We've been really busy and I just haven't had much energy to sit and write about what has been happening.

I did celebrate my ninth wedding anniversary. That was pretty wonderful. We even spent almost 8 hours, just US, when my step mom was here last week! Here is a recent pic from our shoot with Alicia.





All this time and we still adore one another. Praise to Him, our heavenly Father.

P.S. That picture is the ownership of Alicia Brown Photography... NO STEALING. Even though we do look sexy enough to be supermodels :) hehehe

Monday, September 14, 2009

If you are joining me on my quest for a healthier life...

then jump over to Muthering Heights and read her recent post. Honestly when it comes to motivations I am not sure how to make mine the right kind. I wish I could say that every day I try to make healthy choices so I can honor God, but mostly I just want to look REALLY good in a pair of jeans and a bikini. Ok, maybe not even that good, but at least not embarassed at the size of my muffin top and rear end. So, all you ladies with the proper motivations... can you inspire me?

As an update on myself I am toying with the idea of doing a end of summer detox to subdue some of my cravings for yummy, unhealthy foods. I have yet to lose any real weight and am certain that after the last week and a half of company and weddings, I have gained weight. Press on and I will try to do the same.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What Did You Expect?

"Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation." - Charlotte Bronte


I have often been disappointed because of unmet expectations. I have often been overjoyed by exceeded ones.

Is there a way to see the best in someone, see their potential and yet not burden them with unrealistic expectations? Is their a way to desire the best from someone, yet assure them that when they don't deliver perfection, you are still happy with them?

I always expect the best, but will always love you at your worst. End of story.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chick Flicks

The hubby is camping. The boy is asleep.

I figured this was the perfect time for me to watch a movie that:
a) Norse wouldn't like
b) Had received good reviews
c) I thought would be thought provoking

I picked - Rachel Getting Married featuring Anne Hathaway as the lead character, Kym.

After watching it I felt the following emotions:
a) disappointment that I spent my free chick flick night on a movie that was boring, depressing, and had no real conclusion. (I should have just watched Pretty in Pink for the millionth time)
b) worried that I am indeed not cool enough to understand and appreciate movies that the cool people seem to enjoy. (I am sure just by using the word cool, you have already realized that I am indeed not in the know.)
c) wishing I could belly dance, sing or play any type of musical instrument. (There were some talented performers in the film)

Thankfully after Googling "What is so great about the movie Rachel Getting Married?" I found out that I am NOT the only person who thought the movie was a little lame. Maybe I am not as socially defunct as I thought. However, if you did think the movie was worth the two hours spent watching, please enlighten me. What is so great about that movie?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Issues and Ages

I worked in youth ministry almost immediately following my conversion to Christianity almost 10 years ago. I LOVED it, especially the High Schoolers. I remember most the times when we would take prayer requests. There were the everyday issues of tests, homework, annoying classmates and school teachers. There were the more difficult issues of parents divorcing, peers who were self destructing, and deaths of loved ones. I remember the earnest prayers of those young people. I remember the ones that were embarrassed to pray out loud or even say they had a need. I remember the kids that already knew what it meant to be loved by God and those that were unsure what it really meant. I remember the ones whose light burned so bright you almost needed sunglasses. I remember the ones that barely had a flicker of belief. Each one is forever imprinted on my heart. I remember that when I prayed for them I was always filled with such hope for what might happen as they matured and entered into "real life".

Since becoming a mom I have found that I am making new friends. In some ways I am finding a new ministry. I have to say that this one is more difficult. As I age and the people I socialize with turn another year older I find that it is harder for me to know what to say. The problems seem more real, more heartbreaking, and more life altering. I can no longer assure them that there is a whole world of possibilities, because they are living the reality. What do I say to the friend whose husband is out of work? What do I do for the wife whose marriage is deteriorating? How do I console a friend who found out, that barring a miracle, she will never have a newborn in her arms? How do I give hope to the friend whose house is being foreclosed? How do I befriend the one whose smile is hiding the loneliness inside?

I don't want to minimize the issues that we dealt with during our years with the teenagers. Their problems were very real and very difficult. I just seemed better equipped. I find that I am growing ever more thankful that while I do not have the answers or the ability to dispense hope, there is One who does.

Father, my heart breaks daily for those I know. You know each one by name. You know each need. You know your plans for them. Help me, Lord, to help carry their burdens and ease some of their sorrow. Help me, Lord, to be a daughter of encouragement and not take the beauty of each day for granted. Keep me close to You that I may show each one Your love and sustaining grace. Give them hope.


In light of all this my quest for a slimmer waistline seems petty, but none the less, how can I be fully used by God if I am unhealthy and exhausted. With that said, I've lost half a pound, but that may be short lived since I just ate a chocolate chip cookie and it isn't even 9:30 AM. (Let's just say it was a long night with a teething and/or sick son) I hadn't really thought of a challenge for you this week, but how about this: the next time you reach for an unhealthy snack, put it back, grab a glass of water, and spend a few minutes in prayer for a person you know who is going through a tough situation.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I heart Alicia Brown Photography

My 9 year anniversary is coming up, this week! For "our" present we decided to take advantage of a wonderful offer from a great photographer - Alicia Brown!

I can't wait to see how the pics turn out. She makes EVERYONE look gorgeous. I think it is because she is beautiful and has an amazing gift for capturing the beauty in other people.

I do have a question though. Is it appropriate to wear shorts or are jeans a better choice?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Polly Want a Circle? - A Toy Review

When the toy website, Ebeanstalk, contacted me about letting B try out one of their recommended toys I was ecstatic! They are known to be very dedicated in selecting good, safe toys and baby gifts. I was doubly stoked when I found out we were getting a Tiny Love product! We received the Developmental Gym by Tiny Love (from my sweet stepmother) when B was just a little guy and he LOVED it. Tiny Love really seems to know how to make great developmental toys .


The toy they sent is the Sort n' Learn Pelican. As soon as B saw what was in the box I had to race to get it unpacked. He was VERY eager to play with it.







It does take batteries - 3 AAA's. Thankfully Tiny Love knows that not all of us have the battery drawer stocked and provided the toy - batteries included!



The Pelican has three sound settings and three language settings (English, French and Spanish). It will recognize the color or shape or give a fun sound whenever one of the shapes is pushed through its proper slot.

Here is what we liked about the toy:

  1. It is bright and colorful.
  2. It is nearly indestructible as far as we can tell. Bode has tried to sit IN it and everything seems to hold up to his rowdy ways.
  3. It is versatile. When B gets frustrated with the shape sorter he can simply lift that section up and fill and dump the beak as often as he likes.
  4. The sounds are not annoying or horribly loud. You will not have to count down the minutes until the batteries die. Plus, it has volume control, so you can simply lower the volume or turn the sounds completely off.
  5. It doesn't have a bazillion bells and whistles. It encourages development without being obnoxious. I am a firm believer in simpler toys, but sometimes they are unable to keep B's attention. This toy draws him back over and over again.
  6. The spoken shape and color settings reinforce words we are teaching.



A few flaws.
  1. The top of the pelican head detaches pretty easily. Well, it seems like my son rips it off it's hinges a lot. It really is no big deal since it snaps on and off simply. This is not a huge drawback and if your little one is a little less maniacal when it comes to playing with toys you will probably not have the same problem.
  2. When the pelican's head is off and the shape sorter is lifted up, my husband thinks it looks like a urinal. (It kind of does) Not really a flaw, just the fact of the matter. Norse thought it could double as a potty chair if B decides he doesn't want it anymore. (Now I am reasonably sure that no one will EVER send me anything to try out again because of that last comment, but you the consumer have to know the truth!)

All in all I give the Learn n' Fun Sorter an A.

Boden enjoys playing with it. He has already started figuring out how the shapes fit in the sorter. He is content to play independently with the toy. It has remained at the top of the toy bin for an entire week. This one is a keeper! Thanks Ebeanstalk!



Please forgive my poor quality pictures and messy house. I am neither a photographer or a maid.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Self Control

I have none...
self control that is.

This week did not go so well.

My true confession is summed up here:

No exercise
Huckleberry Cheesecake
PMS
Fudgesicles

On a more positive note, I did have devotions for the last three days in a row! MUCH BETTER than previous weeks (ok... months)

I celebrate the victory in one area and recognize that self control is not one of my strengths. I know this, but sometimes I think that I am stronger than I really am.

How about you?

Is there something in your house that you could quit bringing home from the grocery store? I now know that Fudgebars need to be added to my list of only buy once a year items (they will join Double Stuffed Oreos and Old Fashioned Glazed Donuts).

This week make it a point to leave that item OUT of your shopping cart. If you have more than one weakness, work on cutting them out of the grocery list one week at a time. We all know cold turkey may lead to binging.

Weight check: The two pounds from last week must have been water retention because I am holding steady at my start weight.

How are you ladies doing?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wanna Go Out and Play?

I live in a beautiful place.

It is a wonderful area surrounded by endless recreation possibilities during any season of the year.

I do, however, remember growing up in AZ.

I remember it being so sweltering outside that the metal slides would get so hot that they would sizzle your legs. I remember that we never had grass, only rocks and these horrible sharp sticker things we called goat-heads. I know what it was like to sit in front of the television because there were no other options.

That is why I am so excited to tell you about a friend of a friend who is making a difference in her community. This Illinois momma is working, well, running, to help upgrade the neighborhood park in her area and the park is in DESPERATE need.

Guess what? You can help!

How can you help you ask?

1. Stop by her blog dedicated to this project and pray!
2. Blog and link to her site! The more hits she gets, the more likely it is that she could get sponsors to help fund this project.
3. Donate! Every little bit of dinero helps!


Every parent knows how important a fun play place is, for their children. Every parent knows that to help avoid the increase of childhood obesity and diabetes, we need to be able to play with our kiddos! Hop on board and send ALL your friends over to help buy playground equipment for the kids of Thomosboro.

P.S. I just found out that Mama is expecting a new sweet baby! HOORAY! So, while she may not be able to run the soles off her shoes, the cause is still a worthy one, so don't forget to stop by her site and get the scoop.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Memory Lane

Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires
.


Today I am setting out on my trial run at a healthier lifestyle. I have even persuaded a few other lovely ladies to join me in my little adventure.

My desire is two fold.

1.To lose a little weight, exercise more, and be a physically healthier person.

BUT - this cannot happen without being spiritually healthy too. Thus, my second desire...

2. To make a conscious effort to be in fellowship with my Heavenly Father on a DAILY basis and to search His wisdom that will enable me to make better choices.

I really don’t want to focus on what I eat or how much time I spend not being active. I would rather focus on a deeper walk with Jesus, because living in light of His desire for me is much better than meeting the usually unrealistic and vain goals that I set for myself.

I also believe that when I am most in tune with Him I will be a more loving person that is exhibiting the aforementioned “fruit(s) of the Spirit”.

As I began preparing for this little change in my life, I began pondering John 15:1-13

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.


When I am abiding in His perfect plan, it is then that I am most satisfied. He comes right out and says it.

When I am close to him, I am bearing fruit and bringing honor to the name of Jesus. When I am close to him, my joy is FULL! When I am close to him, it is then that I can love others the way He has loved me.

I am reminded that I AM His.

My heart is complete because of the grace He bestowed upon me. I need His grace because I fail - often. But He always loves me - when I succeed and when I fail, when I look like an idiot and when the world adores me. I need his grace and my heart rejoices that He has shown me there is victory because of His sacrifice. I am willing to make some sacrifices because I love him, not because I HAVE to. His love is unconditional.

Sooooo...

I think we should start this little journey by remember the things that God has already pulled us out of and given us victory over. I believe that when we look at how much He has already enabled us to do, then we will realize that going for a walk is really a gift not a burden and that passing on the third piece of pie is really no sacrifice at all - especially when He has called us to give up much BIGGER things, that we, really, no longer miss.

Here is a small list from my trip down memory lane:

1. I had to give up MY life plan to follow His. It seemed so hard, but I cannot really remember what I sacrificed. I can only recall what I have gained - Hope for whatever comes next, a true gentleman of a husband, a son who is more wonderful than I could have ever imagined and friends that love me not just for what I can do/give them.

2. I had to give up smoking and drinking for a season. I had to do this because it was an escape for me. It was an unhealthy escape that instead of bringing me joy only fed my desire to ignore my problems and halt my growth as a person. This is not something everyone must give up, but for me, it was necessary. I truly believe that I have the freedom to engage in these activities now - because they are no longer a stumbling block in my relationship with God (though it would be unwise for me to smoke since we all know it can cause cancer) I have chosen, however, to continue to abstain because of my family history and to keep the promise I made to my husband. I will however enjoy dinner at a brewery or good conversation with friends over a glass of water while they enjoy a bottle of wine.

3. I gave up on mainstream music for a time. This was another of those things that isn’t a big deal for most people, but for me when I would hear a song on the radio it took me straight back to the time of loss, pain and heartache that I was experiencing when that song first snuck into my brain. I needed a break so those wounds could heal and God knew that. Now, it is no big deal to sing along to a song that made it on the soundtrack of my life, because those wounds no longer bleed, but remind me of the mighty power of God to bring joy and hope to my life. Plus, what would road tripping be without music you can sing REALLY loudly to?

Ok... that is enough for me.

Can you name one thing that God “took” from you, that in hindsight is really no big deal?

As you reflect on those victories, may it be the way God enables you to go for a few more minutes on the treadmill or just say no to a second helping, because it really isn’t a big deal, is it?


P.S. I totally gained two pounds in the last week. I ate less crap (except for two packs of pop tarts in the last two days -- they aren't even that good. What am I thinking?) But I didn't get much exercise. Hopefully I am just retaining water (which means I should be drinking MORE water) or wearing heavier clothes. Seriously, this was NOT the result I was expecting. Arghhhh! I hope you are doing better than I am. Press on friends! Maybe I will weigh again in the AM and get better results :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can I just say...

I really like this song.



I know that it gets played WAY too much on the local Christian stations. Fortunately for me it isn't ruined because I don't listen to the local Christian stations that much. I hope the message hasn't been ruined for you by too much air time.

Tenth Avenue North - By Your Side
From the album Over And Underneath

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love?
Why are you still searching?
As if I'm not enough?
To where will you go child,
Tell me where will you run?
To where will you run?

Chorus:
Cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands, at my side
They swallowed the grave, on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life

Chorus:

Here at my side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
And I, I love you
And I want you to know
That I, I'll love you

Chorus:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wide Load

Next year I turn twenty-ten (some people would call that thirty, but I am not one of those people)

It will also be my ten year wedding anniversary.

It will also be a time when we might want to add another small one to our family.

And on a more depressing note - if I maintain the same weight I will have gained 30 pounds since the day I was married.

I have officially crossed the barrier (with this 8 pounds of fat that I didn't shed after B was born) to the "overweight" category according to my BMI.

I struggle to write that I desire to lose weight because I have several friends that would LOVE to be the size I am, instead of their current weight. I also worry that because I am not obese it merely seems shallow or vain that I would even struggle with weight issues - because I am not THAT big.

Nonetheless, it has really been bothering me lately.

I find that being at home I have become slothful and undisciplined. Mind you, I don't want rigid structure and law. I am all for letting loose every now and again, but since I no longer have to go to work or be "presentable" on a daily basis - it is easy to whip up a batch of frosting and devour the whole thing. I also don't get nearly enough exercise. I really have no excuses. I have the means, just not the motivation.

I am hoping that if I publicly announce a goal and publicly admit when I TOTALLY blow it that I would be motivated.

I know my story is not new. I know that this is a little lame, but I need to make some changes. If I want to rock a bikini on my 10th wedding anniversary or carry another precious baby in my womb, I NEED to be healthier.

So here are my goals -

Very doable goal:
Lose 5 pounds and have a normal BMI
Can probably do it if I make a REAL effort:
Lose 10 pounds and be thinner than before I got pregnant.
Probably gonna have to work my hinee off to achieve goal:
Lose 25 pounds and feel better than I have in YEARS (and bonus - probably have to buy new clothes.

Things I need to do to achieve any of the goals?
No more frosting or cookie dough binges
Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.
Find a friend to help me along on this process that I can be completely honest with.

Maybe you are in a similar situation that I am. If you would like to be accountable to me (and I to you). Let me know. I really need someone to wage this little battle with me. I have tried numerous times to get my sweet husband to help me out, but he doesn't really understand. The man is so in love with me that he always says, when I bring it up, " I like you the way you are. I think you look good!" (I know - SWOON) However, my desire is to be GREAT for him and a little more healthy for me.

I will try to post an update on my progress weekly. If you have any pointers, resources or want to join me on my first ever healthy living plan (because I don't do diets and really I have never made a true attempt to curb any of my bad habits regarding food) leave a comment with your email and we'll connect!

And as embarrassing as this is - my start weight is 170.5

Hopefully I will never see that number again!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Missing

I have been following the tragic disappearance of 4 young boys from the streets of Uganda, at my friend, B's, blog.

A dear friend of hers serves the street kids in that region and it seems that 4 boys were kidnapped a few nights ago.

Get more of the details here and here.

Please pray for these boys and for, Abby, and the others, that are giving all they have to love these precious children.

My heart breaks that these little guys are alone and probably afraid - or worse. I know that my Father sees them and my hearts cry is that HE will do the seemingly impossible, by rescuing them from the darkness they now face.

Thanks for taking the time to say a prayer for them.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cozy Doesn't Have a Color

A few days ago we received a Cabela's flyer in the mail. Of course my manly husband had to check out all the bargains.

Soon, he was chuckling to himself. The kind of laugh that is kind of quiet, but your shoulders move up and down.

I had to know what was sooooo funny.




Pretty soon we were both rolling at the thought of these two guys, snuggled in to their PINK sleeping bags, at huntin' camp.

Not that there is anything wrong with pink sleeping bags - if you are a pre-teen GIRL!

Perhaps they thought that having the "CAM-O-COT" would distract the guys from noticing the unfortunate color of their sleeping bags. They are relaxing and trying to look VERY nonchalant.




No, really, maybe you're MAN enough to wear...er...sleep pink, but I bet you would get tired of the ribbing you would receive if you took this on a trip with any of the guys I know.

Obviously it was a printing error, but it sure made our night.

Man, we really need to get out more.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Pictures from GNP - 2009

Here are a few more pictures from GNP.

I am totally in a cleaning mood (and that doesn't strike very often). So, I don't want to get my blogger butt stuck at this computer.

Hopefully more thought provoking inspiration will hit soon. For now you will just have to look at my amazing family and the beautiful scenery that surrounds me. :) Oooh - and I can use this for WW!