"I will live with a heart of integrity in my house." Psalm 101:2b

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tradition (or lack thereof...)- Third Thursday Thoughts

Happy Thursday, sweet ones! We are one week out from Thanksgiving, and I have a lot less done in preparation that I would like... I desperately need to make a list! Last weekend I was blessed to be in Rochester, MN with the Hearts at Home team and several thousand momma friends, and it was amazing! I am so thankful every day that I have the opportunity to work with and serve some of the most amazing women! And today is no different~ It's the Third Thursday, and so we're blogging together.

Today's topic is (surprise, surprise) Thanksgiving. What makes Thanksgiving special to our family? Do we have certain traditions that we try to keep going? Recipes that are a must-have every year?

Truthfully, this question makes me kind of sad because neither Trace or I are very 'traditional' people. You might laugh if you are reading this and know us... traditional is not a word that has probably ever been spoken about these two hippies! But as my wee ones get a bit older, I find myself really craving some special things that might be repeated year after year... I just don't know what they should be!

This year we are staying home. And I am so thankful! Last year the holidays were a whirlwind of wonderful visits to Indiana and Florida, so this year we are keeping our little family firmly planted in Illinois. With this plan in place, I am trying to wrap my brain about what traditions we want to establish. Remy and Halle are at such fun ages, 6 and 4, that I love seeing things through their eyes and love that they are old enough to participate in and remember things.

All this being said, I'm just not sure... I find myself thinking about the menu and what to include. I'm certain that turkey and pecan pie will be on the list. (So original, aren't I?) But beyond that I draw a blank... And we are going to be doing a thankfulness tree (much like Ann's here... scouring the yard for acceptable sticks is on tomorrow's list for me and my curly girly). I struggle with it all being too much, when I really just want to help my family bring their eyes to point to Him. To being thankful for our Savior and for our abundance.

So what are your traditions? I'd love for you to click over to Jill's blog to see what she has in mind, and to see the thoughts of the other amazing mommas that are hopping along!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Everything: a book review

Happy Tuesday, lovelies! I wanted to share with y'all today about a book that I had the privlege of reading before it was published. You are going to love it! Mary DeMuth is an author that I have loved from books and her blog. Her style is great, like talking with your best girl over coffee... I love reading and feeling a closeness with the writer. So when she put out the word that she was looking for a launch team to review her newest book, I jumped at the chance. And Everything arrived in my inbox.

Now calling a book Everything may seem a little pretentious, but the subtitle perfectly rounds it out: What you give and what you gain to become like Jesus. Start to finish, this book challenged me to look at how I live in light of the gospel... and I must admit at some points I didn't like what I saw.

I think I was most challenged by what Mary calls the 'AYDI gospel'. AYDI stands for 'all you do is' and she was talking about our Christian campaigns to 'save' people by luring them into making some sort of decision... 'All you do is pray this prayer and you are done'. But we neglect to tell them the hard parts~ that living the gospel message means laying down your life and dying to yourself. I think this is what Bonhoeffer was speaking of when he coined the term 'Cheap Grace'. We are selling something that doesn't cost anything. And we then have a lot of 'converts' who don't want to or know what it is to become disciples of Jesus. This chapter and others forced me to look at my life, what I'm living and what I'm preaching, to see if they line up with this message of cheap grace, or if I'm truly willing to lay it all on the line to follow Him.

I was also sort of smacked in the face by a chapter about control. I like control. I like to be in charge of my own life (and the others in my life may or may not tell you that I like to be in control of their lives too... ahem...). In the last year, I have really embraced letting Jesus and His Spirit, His Word control me. I have found such freedom in living a life transformed by Him, but I must admit there are areas that I still cling to. And I'm not sure why... control. Mary says this: "We need an exchanged life where Christ woos and changes us. Christianity is not a self-improvement program! It is resurrection! It is a new life! And it is expressed in a total exchange of identity!" Reading this was a lightbulb moment for me~ I can't be a new person if I'm hanging on to some parts of the old. It reminds me of Jesus' example to the Pharisees about the outside of the vessel being clean but being filthy on the inside. It's all or nothing.

I seriously could go on and on and expound upon many other things in this book. It's a great one for whatever point in your journey you may be at, and I feel so thankful for being part of Mary's launch team. She is a woman of tremendous character and ministry! By the way, if you're interested in getting your hands on a copy, you can find it here or here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Money Matters

Happy Thursday, sweet friends! This month has already been a whirlwind, and it doesn't look like it will be slowing down any time soon. Such is life, no?! My littles have been sick this week, so I'm trying to catch up with the usual stuff on top of the demands of wee ones who don't feel so hot. Argh...

This month the topic for the Hearts at Home Blog Hop is Money. How do you teach your kids about money, stewardship, tithe, etc. Do you assign chores? Give allowances?

This is an area that I'm eager to read about from others. With our littles just being 6 & 4, we are just starting to enter into discussions about what to do here. We have always taught them about giving, whether it be tithing on money that they get or offerings of extra in response to God's gifts to them. But we have been feeling lately like it's time, particularly in Remy's case as he's older, to start teaching more the responsibility end of having money.

Trace and I have discussed chores a little but haven't yet gotten down to the nitty gritty details. We both agree that certain things need to be done (and with a good attitude!) just because they are part of the family and not for money. But we would like to get a short list on paper of things that can be done to earn extra. It's just so hard to decide what's appropriate at this point.

So what are your thoughts here? I am definitely excited to be on the learning end of this month's posts. You can click on over to Jill's blog to see her thoughts and the links of other moms!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Third Thursday Recipe!

Happy Thursday! It has cooled down here in Illinois, and I am thrilled... makes me want to stay inside and bake breads and cook soups and snuggle by the roaring fireplace.

Today is the Third Thursday of the month (eek, can't believe it!), and I'm again jumping in line with the Hearts at Home Bloggers. This month we are linking up our favorite fall recipes or traditions. We Pfeiffers are admittedly bad about tradition~ we are a sporadic bunch that rarely do the same thing twice. Some days I feel remiss about that, wishing we had more things on our list of traditions, but on the other hand, life is always new and entertaining.

We do, however, have lots of recipes that come back around. When it gets to be fall, I am in heaven. You start talking pumpkin, ginger, or apple, and this girl is drooling!! Unfortunately for me, Tracey isn't quite so in love with all the warm flavors that fall brings. How on earth did I marry a guy who doesn't like soup or pumpkin?! (Add that to the list of things where we fall on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. It's a LONG list...) I am discovering that my Remy loves all of these flavors, so there is some progress. And just because I'm the only one enjoying it by no means means that I won't be making them. I just eat them all. (Therein lies the trouble, I guess.)

The recipe I thought I would share is one that I could quite possible live on. Are you familiar with the wonder that is the  Gingersnap cookie?!  This recipe comes from my sweet friend Karen, who happens to be best friends with my momma. These are really simple to whip up and make the house smell as good as they taste... perfect with a cup of strong coffee and good conversation, which always happens at Karen's house.


1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup shortening
1 egg, slightly beaten

Combine sugar, flour, salt, soda & spices; stir lightly to mix. Cut in shortening to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in molasses and egg. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in sugar. Place on ungreased baking sheet; bake at 350* for about 10 minutes. Remove from sheet immediately. See, so easy!!

I hope you will try this recipe and also 'hop' over to Jill's blog to see who else from the Hearts team links up today~ I can't wait to see what other goodies they come up with!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

God Who Sees

To the God Who Sees
I am thankful in times when I can't see any further than my own hand...
That You are a God who sees each face.
"The eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him-
those who depend on His faithful love
to deliver them from death
and to keep them alive in famine."
Psalm 33:18-19
I am thankful that you see Nthiani in Kenya.
And that through Compassion
You reach out to touch each life that You see.
That Your hand goes further through those who are
Obedient to extend it.
Your love reaches further.
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky.
I am thankful that You see when I can't,
That You 'look down from heaven'.
Beautiful God Who saw fit to see me...
Thank you for loving each child.

Join the Compassion Blogger Network
Won't you join me in praying for each Compassion Child today?
There are still so many that need sponsors!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Monday! I just dropped Halle off for preschool and am home relishing just a few hours of alone time. What do you do when it's so quiet? First thing I brewed a strong cup of coffee (my third for the morning, if we're counting, but it's just part of the routine!), and now I'm sitting down to spend a few minutes with y'all. I really do love the fall, getting back into a routine and to reconnect with some of you more regularly. Summer was a blur!

Over the summer I started working at a bakery a couple of days every week. It is crazy fun, and I don't think it really counts as work because I love it so much. But in order to continue working two afternoons during the school year, it means that Trace has the littles and much of the dinner prep two days a week.

To make it easier on him, one habit I'm getting more into is meal planning. I love having everything planned out for the week, but especially on Thursdays and Fridays when I'm at the bakery until 5 and Tracey needs to get dinner rolling. Plus I kind of feel like the Proverbs 31 woman, 'rising while it is still night and providing food for her household'... seems like great stewardship of time and resources to have a plan in place!

My plan of attack involves making a detailed plan in my planner (Have I told y'all before how much I love my Erin Condren Life Planner?!) and then making a grocery list. I usually do this on Sundays, so that the week is mapped out. It is such a good feeling to see it on the page!

While I am definitely inclined to be in the kitchen, what I'm finding as I talk with friends is that menu planning is an intimidating task for some. Please know that it doesn't have to be! I cook and bake almost every day, just because I like to, but I am all about simple and meals that a)use regular ingredients that everyone will actually eat, b)don't cost a lot, and c)are quick and painless to throw together. I have started using my crock pot and freezer meals a lot, and it is so nice to have everything ready to go in the evenings!

So I thought that I would share with you a simple meal that I made last week. I really try to make things that use up stuff I already have, and the ingredients for this Pizza Soup were all here just waiting to be used!

Pizza Soup~

1 large jar Pasta Sauce
2 jars water (just refill the pasta jar)
Italian Seasoning, to taste
Sausage, cooked
2 cups pasta (I used penne, but whatever you have on hand)
1 cup green pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms
any other pizza veggies you like!
shredded mozzarella

Directions: Put the pasta sauce, water, seasoning, and meats into the crock pot. Set on low for 4-6 hours.  One hour before serving, add the pasta and any veggies that you want. Put into bowls and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Easy Breezy!

I also made these breadsticks that I found on pinterest from Grateful Belly. They come together pretty quickly, but because I was working in the afternoon, Halle and I made them in the morning. I just had Trace warm them up in the oven right before dinner.  They were really simple, and Halle had a great time with the twisting and dipping them in butter.

So how do you stay on top of the weekly menu? Do you have a system in place? There are lots of great printables that I've seen on pinterest and other places to keep things organized... I'd love to know what works for you! I'm also planning on posting some more simple recipes in the days to come.

I hope you have a blessed start to your week~ see you soon, sweet friends!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Be Changed

Happy September, sweet things! Life around here is (finally!) getting into a rhythym... Halle starts school tomorrow morning, and that is the last piece of the puzzle as far as things getting back to normal. I am a girl who loves a good schedule!
Join the Compassion Blogger Network 
I wanted to post tonight something that I think is super important~ September is Blog Month for Compassion International, and they are trying to set a record for number of children sponsored in September by using bloggers to get the word out. I know that I have talked about Compassion before, and I cannot say enough how much I love what they do!!

Our family has sponsored a little boy named Nthiani in Kenya for the last six years. We made the decision to sponsor when Remy was first born- we loved the idea of Remy growing up with a 'brother'. Nthiani is truly a part of our family, and we cherish each photo and letter that he sends. Remy and Halle both love praying for him and his family, and they love making pictures and sending notes and stickers. It is such a privilege to be a part of his life and to work with Compassion to share Jesus in this way!

So I'm going to ask a favor of you today~ Would you go to the 'Sponsor a Child' page on Compassion's site today? Would you pray for the child featured there? Pray that they would be sponsored... that they would meet Jesus in a real way... that they would have their physical and spiritual needs met in a profound way today? Perhaps even pray that God would lead you to a child to sponsor?

You can see from the link what a difference $38 per month can make in the life of a child. And I guarantee that it will make a difference in your life too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hearts at Home~ Third Thursday Thoughts

Hello, lovelies! Life has been nuts here this summer... recovering from sun and travel and crazy family gatherings! I'm thankful that life is getting back to (what we loosely call) normal!

This month's Hearts at Home topic plays directly off of that sentiment~ now that things are getting back into a routine for the fall, how do you make connecting with your family a priority? What are challenges that you face in trying to stay close?

For us, this is something we are just starting to address. In fact, Trace and I went on a dinner date Tuesday night, and I had sort of an outline of what our weeks were going to be looking like schedule-wise so that we could get a little organized. I can't believe how much we will be out and about during the week, and I don't want to let busyness get in the way of our family life.

Something that we are making a huge effort to guard is family Sabbath time. Especially because of the ministries that we are a part of, our weekends end up just as jam-packed as every other day. So this year we have made the decision that Saturday afternoons and evenings (we have worship practice and Remy's breakdancing in the mornings) are going to be fiercely protected family time. We know that things will come up randomly, but we know that if we don't say it out loud, it will just end up getting looked over. I believe we really need to take God's commandment to rest together seriously, and I look forward to this intentional family time. We don't necessarily know what it will look like, but it will be together time...

We are also going to be tweaking our morning routine. We are early birds in this house, so usually the littles are up by 7 and no one has to be out of the house until 8:30. Breakfast has always been something that we just grab and go, and we've decided that we are going to sit at the table and use the 'Jesus Calling for Kids' devotional in the mornings. Jesus Calling is something that I already use daily and love, and the children's version is just as wonderful and corresponds with the adult one for each day. I'm excited about this time in the mornings to get our day started off right, filled with thoughts of how we can experience Jesus throughout our day!

So how do you stay connected? My kids are still small enough that they don't do any running around on their own, so I think I have an easier task at this point of being able to reign them in. I'd love for you to link up with us! All you have to do is click over to Jill Savage's blog, where you can link up and then see who else is sharing with us today!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

He Sees

"Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why does my  heart feel lonely, and hope for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."

There were many moments on my trip to East Africa this summer that were altering. But the one that cut deeply was during our first few days in Uganda when we ventured into a remote village to visit with a pastor and group of young teachers who run a school for village children that travel miles just to get there.

They welcomed us warmly, and the children sang several beautiful songs and played drums. I was taken by the beauty around us... Such a stark contrast, knowing the poverty among the people, the spiritual warfar they daily face and the hardships of their simple lives. But also a great reminder of a Holy God's Presence. But what struck me most was when the Pastor stood up and began to tell us about his school. He simply said 'We don't need to tell you about our need. You can see that. We simply want you to know that we are here. We are here.'

To be seen. I think of the Israelites crying out to God, thinking that He had stopped watching them. And I think of my own desperate times when I feel like He has abandoned me. Each of us has a longing to be known by those around us and by an Intimate Creator who knows everything about us. It is so important for our security to know that His love never fails. His faithfulness endures. And He sees.

The Redeemed Outdoor Collection from Dayspring is about remembering that He sees us. Where we are. In all our mess or surrounded by His beauty.  I love seeing this sweet birdhouse and remembering that! He watches the birds with great care, why would He not watch us?! And for a limited time you can get 25% off your entire purchase with the code: JOY2012!

The fine print: Dayspring sent me products free of charge to review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Third Thursday~ Beat the Boredom!

Well, I am certainly no expert when it comes to this month's Hearts at Home Blog Hop topic, which is 'How do you beat summer boredom with your kids?' My life is filled daily with laments of 'I'm bored' and 'There's nothing to do'... When does this happen?! It never ceases to amaze me when the cry turns from boredom into dissatisfaction- how suddenly they 'have nothing to play with'. Especially after coming home from Africa, these attitudes make me cringe!

But I do try my best at keeping things interesting, and I love the challenge of figuring out what we can do at little or no cost. Here are just a few of the things on our regular agenda that keep up rolling:

~Cooking: It's no secret that I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, and the moments when I invite the littles to help me out are some of the best time we spend. I find that they eat better too, when they have a hand in preparing. So anytime I am looking at a recipe, I make mental note of the tasks that they can accomplish. Remy loves measuring (which is a great way to sneak in math!), cracking eggs and grating, and Halle takes the lead when it comes to stirring. The hardest part for me is to remind myself that it's worth the extra time and mess that it takes... God has hammered this into my OCD brain!

~Homework: This may sound terrible, but I find that the littles love doing schoolwork. We only do this once or twice a week, but I think the discipline keeps them ready for when school starts, and is a great way to break up the day. Remy can earn video game time by completing sheets, and Halle loves stickers for a page accomplished. We have several simple workbooks on phonics, handwriting, math and science, and I work hard to make it seem like it isn't work!

~Rotating toys: We don't do this as well as we could, but I'm amazed at a) how many toys they accumulate and b) how excited they get seeing something they haven't seen in a while. So we make a point to regularly sort through toy boxes and deep dark places in their closets to 'rescue' lost toys.

~Playdates at the park: This is a no-brainer, but the park never seems to get old. When it's super hot, I am thankful for their early-bird nature, and we try to hit the playground before the day gets too warm. We invite friends to join us, and spending only an hour or two there wears them out. An added bonus is that I get to have some quality mom-to-mom time while the kids play. Everyone wins!

~Macaroni Kid: Have you heard of this site?! I'm fortunate enough to know the owner of my local Peoria site, and this is a great resource for any parent! She highlights area goings-on, and many times I have discovered great hidden spots and deals to take advantage of.(My link is to my local, Peoria site, but there are tons around the country!)

So now I'm interested to hear your ideas! You can also head over to Jill Savage's blog to hear her tips & tricks and to connect with other mommas who are sharing today.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Uneasy Home

Hi, sweet friends. Fresh home from my trip to Africa... still trying to get my mind wrapped around time and space and all these eyes have seen. No apologies, just living life and trying to capture bits and pieces. But I thought I'd offer a few thoughts as they come.

I met Jesus last week. And he was eating injera with his hands. He spoke amharic. He wasn't the sterilized, blue-eyed face we paint. He was real. And I sang 'Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary' as I handed him a meal... likely the only one he'd have today. It surprised me because I seriously haven't thought of that song in a decade. But God had an idea to mold me and it fit. So I prayed. and sang. and smiled. Because the least of these has greater heart than this heart of stone I carry around in an insulated chest. Singing 'Emmanuel, our God is with us. Emmanuel, our God is here'.

I have seen him. And he crawls in worn jeans. He plays marbles on rough cement. He picks food from the sky high dump pile at Korah. He's a leper, being fed by someone else's hands and singing praise to the Father God who never leaves him. He lives in a mud hut, covered in red dirt, smiling toothless smiles. He waves and plays and knows joy that this girl has never found for being so protected by my stuff.

Jesus walks among us on holy ground covered in manure and red clay. He promised never to abandon us, so doesn't it apply that He is with us among the smells, the filthy, the wretched affluent like me?!

Friday, May 18, 2012


Hey, y'all!! We made it to the weekend... this week has been a crazy one in our house! I'm jumping in with the Gypsy Mama again this week for 5 Minute Friday. By now, you probably know the rules: Write for 5 minutes on the topic, no editing, no back tracking, just write...

Today's topic: Perspective


Yesterday, I wrote with Hearts at Home answering the question 'How has being a mom changed you?'. I thought of various things, but my perspective could have easily made the list. Have you noticed how things look different through your child's eyes than they do through your own? I remember when I taught preschool several years ago, we were always encouraged to get down to the child's eye level... to speak with them face-to-face and to also view the room from their lower point-of-view. This changes things.

And it's not just in the literal ways, but things also look different through their figurative eyes. Blankets can quickly become capes. Daddy suddenly is a villainous monster. Piles of wet sand, a nasty mess in my sight, are delicious mud pies. God has taught me to ask more questions. To hear their perspective before jumping to a conclusion. And I must admit that I don't always do the best at this... I tend to 'jump' first and then ask questions second. But what I've learned with this is that many times things made sense through their eyes. Naughtiness wasn't exactly intended, when the little person in question thought that her process was logical.

I'm also learning that this doesn't just apply to children. There are so many misunderstandings that could be avoided simply by my asking the right questions and getting to the 'level' of the other person... My view isn't always the right one or the only one (gasp, can you believe this?!).

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I am finishing up a graduation cake for a party tomorrow and then leading worship on Sunday~ so excited about both! See you soon!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Happy Thursday!! We've almost made it through the week... I'm blogging with Hearts at Home again this month, and the topic for May is "How has being a mom changed you?" It's crazy to me that before having kids, nearly everyone I know, myself included, has said things like 'Oh, we'll still go climbing mountains'...'we'll just take the kids with us when we go to weekend-long concerts'... 'having kids won't change how often we go out on dates'... and then BAM! along come these teeny-tiny little humans and life is never the same.

Atleast mine wasn't. I think the biggest change for me came in what kinds of messes I'm willing to live with. Pre-babies my obsessive-compulsive side came out every morning in the form of manic kitchen cleaning and house straightening. These days I am thankful to have a path cleared in the legos to walk through. I still can't tolerate actual messes (i.e. dirt or food), but I have learned to live with less than perfection. I clear those sweet piles of Strawberry Shortcakes or Batman legos in the mornings before my quiet time so that I have a place to sit my Bible and count them as blessed evidence of my littles who live here. I have much to be thankful for, and the wee ones who play with those toys are at the top of the list!

I think another way that I've changed is that I've come to realize how little I can actually do in my own strength. On Sunday I was talking with a friend after our service, and Remy & Halle come blazing through the aisle screaming like little monsters towards their dad, who was up front clearing the stage. My friend laughed, and at first I said 'whose wild children were those?!'... but then as our conversation shifted, I remarked at how I'd never survive without Jesus. I seriously would never be able to handle the crazy moments, the wild, screaming-banshee times when they act in ways that I don't understand. I'm so thankful that in being entrusted to mold and shape these little hearts, He has drawn me closer to Him. I could never lead Remy & Halle if I wasn't learning to be more like my Master myself! I reflect often on Deuteronomy 6:5-9.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart."
I love that the first command here is that I need to love the Lord and put His principles in my heart before I can ever be an example for them. I constantly pray that I am being changed by Him and His word and that I will be a model of this for my littles... That I am becoming more loving, patient, and kind. That I am gentler and peace-full. That list goes on and on.

How has being a mom changed you? You can click on the links below to read from other Hearts at Home bloggers. You're also welcome to enter your own post on the topic, we'd love to have you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Catching Up

Hello, lovelies!! It's crazy, but suddenly I look at the calendar and realize that more than a week has gone by and there has been scarcely so much as a hello from me to you sweet things. I'm here, life is grand, and we are happily wrapping up the school year. I adore each and every one of you and your comments and clicks to this page!
I have been keeping busy with cake and cookie orders that are funding my trip to Africa this summer. (About $350 from my goal, for those of you who've been keeping up!) Last week I tackled this Nemo cake, which was my first foray into 3D cakes. We watch a ton of Cake Boss, so I used about every skill that I've gleaned from Buddy... the stacking, carving, and fondant layering about did my nerves in, but I was pretty happy with the end result. And it was much loved by the person who ordered it, so all ended well.
I also made these sweet Avenger cookies. If you know me and my family at all, you know that we are more than a little hero obsessed in our house. (I'm pretty sure once you name a child after an X-Men character you've gone way beyond crazy!) So once Trace & I saw the new movie and declared it the BEST. MOVIE. EVER., I had Avengers on the brain. I started with some Captain America cookies and posted a picture on Facebook, which generated an order for a whole collection of cookies. I have never had as much fun making cookies, I don't think! This bunch was shipped off to Indiana and well received by the guy who ordered them.

Well, there's what I've been up to~ what's been keeping your attention in the last week? Are you finding like me that things get crazy at the end of the school year? We have field trips, awards, programs, graduations... I'm looking forward to breathing deep and relaxing once the littles get to stay home!  I'll be back tomorrow with a Hearts at Home post. Have a great day!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Five Minute Friday~ Real

It's Friday!! And I'm blogging along with The Gypsy Mama again this week. I have found that I love doing these posts... no pressure, just writing for five minutes on the topic given... no editing or backtracking. After a crazy week, it's nice just to dump thoughts on the page. 'Hope you've had a blessed week!


Lots of things come to mind when I think of real. The very first thing I thought of was butter. I know, I'm a little more like Paula Deen than a girl should be, but I adore real butter. I won't cook with anything else. And along those lines, I really prefer to serve my family things that are real vs. processed or full of preservatives. We do have a few vices~ I know that neon cheese does not exist in the natural world, but we do love our from-the-blue-box mac & cheese and Cheetos!

The other thing I thought of when I read the word 'real' was how nice it has been in the last year or two that I've let my real self show through. I finally gave up the notion that I had to appear to be someone else... perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect homemaker... Lord knows I'm not perfect in any of these areas, and it was exhausting trying to make things look like it. And that was just it~ I was trying so hard to make the outside of things look perfect that I was neglecting what was really on my insides. My heart was wearing out from all the striving. And finally I took to heart when I read 'Be Still.'. When I listened to this command (it's not a suggestion!) and told God I would listen to His truths about me, it was so much easier to grow on the inside and my life on the outside suddenly started to become something with meaning. Something true. And something that could be honoring to God, even in it's lack of perfection.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

the good dishes

Did you grow up in a home that had 'good dishes'? You know, you have a set of dishes that were used every day, the unbreakable work horses of the family kitchen. And then there were the good dishes, the ones that only came out on special occasions. I have heard of couples that register for beautiful china and then never use them for fear of breaking them, of knives scarring their delicate surfaces.

But dishes are made to serve, to hold things, to present an offering to the one who sits at their place. What good is having dishes if they aren't used?

I am thankful that my mom was an awesome example in this department. We had a set of every day dishes and good dishes, but my mom found many reasons to celebrate. The pretty flowered set wasn't just reserved for 'special' days or visitors, but rather ordinary days were made extraordinary by the feasts prepared and served on those delicate plates for even our small family of four. I can remember coming home to elaborate teas prepared for me and a friend and served on those pink plates. All of living could be an occasion to bring out the special.

So I've been thinking about this concept in my own life & home. How much of myself, my serving, do I reserve like those 'good dishes'? Am I saving them for some occasion that may never arise and missing the moments that have the potential to be grand right in front of me? What good is having these dishes, these gifts, if they aren't serving the ones I'm called to serve? If I'm called to do everything in life to God's Glory, am I glorifying Him by keeping some things locked away?

1 Peter 4: 10-11 "Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God's words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything."

So how will you be a good manager of the gifts God has given you? I don't want to hide them away, waiting, while my ministry is here and now!! I'm looking at my family today in light of these verses and thinking of ways that I can celebrate them and serve them, even today, in ways that will glorify God. By expressing my gratitude to Him and using what He's placed in my life, I can lift Him up, even in the moments when life just seems to be so daily.

And just for the record, we only have one set of dishes. (And I love them!)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


"For who has despised the day of small beginnings?" Zechariah 4:10

Sometimes I feel like everything is a small thing... with no grand finale waiting. But these baby steps, these small beginnings, add up to a life.

Job 8:7 says "Then, even if your beginnings were modest, your final days will be full of prosperity.", and I've been building on these words. Because sometimes in doing this job, I get tired. I can't always do the math, and it doesn't add up. But today I'm counting it as joy... thankfulness overflows and the numbers roll in as offering.
~bunches of sweet snuggles before breakfast
~4 dishes in the sink... a family fed
~24 crayons left on the table, pictures drawn as gifts
~3 loads of laundry I'll do today... a family clothed (mismatched, perhaps, but covered!)
~countless number of books read and silly songs sung
~1 hour spent waiting while tiny dancer taps

I began Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare, numbering gifts, in January, and today I journaled number 920... amazing what He brings to mind as I'm conscious of His blessings. It's all a gift, a marvelous collection of a life to be offered back as praise. These small beginnings... reap dividends.

What are you counting?

Monday, April 30, 2012


Happy Monday, lovelies! I hope y'all had a great weekend. I was actually down most of it with a sinus headache... no fun, but I'll survive. Thankfully I have an amazing husband who allowed me to be extremely lazy and rest while he managed (and by managed, I mean wrestled!) the little ones.

Before the headache hit, Friday night we had a Girl's Craft night at our church. This is the second time we've done it, and we just get together to make a few different crafty projects, hang out, and of course eat. And I have to tell you about the snack that just might change your life... (drumroll...) Cake Batter Puppy Chow. This stuff is amazing, and I seriously ate so much that I was nearly sick. So good and easy! I ran into the recipe on pinterest, and threw it together in just a few minutes.
Photo courtesy sixsistersstuff.com
My brain is already thinking of different cake mixes, cereals, and whatever else I could throw into a mix like this... a whole new world.

We also made some homemade laundry detergent, which is something I've been wanting to try for a while now. I have been using it (in my HE, front-loading washer!) for the last several days, and it's working great! I am excited about saving money in this area of the budget, as we know the laundry won't slow down any time soon.

Looks like we're in for a rainy week here... But at least it's looking a little less hectic than the last few, for which I'm extremely grateful. I'm looking forward to spending this rainy day inside playing Strawberry Shortcake with my curly girl. We have some macaroons in the oven and tea brewing~ sounds like a great little tea party is on the horizon for me! Have a great day!

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

Friday, April 27, 2012

On Community

Happy Friday! Joining up with the Gypsy Mama... Five minutes on the topic, no editing or rethinking... just write. You know the drill~ click over and link up!

Today's word: Community

I never thought I needed it. In my darkest moments, the ones where I struggled with the voices in my head, the minutes that clicked by as I sobbed in the tub after putting two tiny people in their beds... those alone seconds that ticked past... I thought that those were the times I least needed people. I thought that my imperfections made it so important for me to hide. Because I couldn't mask it anymore, and I was so afraid someone would see.

Then we moved to Illinois. Our path changed direction, and we were thrown into this wonderful mix of people who weren't willing to let me sit on the sidelines. God wasn't willing to let me sit back and blend in any more, but rather He kept using other people to draw me out. And suddenly I had family. I'm not sure the exact moment that it happened, but one day after a few months I looked around and realized that in letting these wildly imperfect people into my life and my heart, I had grown.

And I still have faults, we all do. But in recognizing that God loves me in spite of them, and in being embraced just as I am by this crazy family, I realized that community was just the thing I needed. Jesus knew this. And I needed to know it too. Life isn't meant to be lived alone because we can walk through so much when we do it hand in hand.
I hope you have a great weekend! And don't forget to enter my Hearts at Home Book Pack Giveaway!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hearts at Home Book Pack Giveaway!

Hey, y'all~ Happy Thursday! In honor of my first week here in this space, I thought I would host a little giveaway. Some of you know from my last space that Hearts at Home is a ministry that holds a special place in my heart and my life. If you aren't familiar with Hearts, they are an organization that seeks to encourage and equip moms at every stage. I actually am blessed to be part of the marketing team.
So just in time for Mother's Day, I have two great Hearts at Home books to giveaway to one lucky winner. The first is 'Real Moms... Real Jesus' by Jill Savage and the second is 'Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God' by Mary DeMuth. Two great books that will help you to embrace your calling as mom, remember Whose you are, and help a tired momma find encouragement, especially on the days when you feel like 'just a mom'... there's no such thing!

From the website:

What does Jesus know about the peanut-butter-and-jelly life of a mom? Plenty! Jill Savage, founder and director of Hearts at Home, introduces the real Jesus to real moms. In chapters that examine key behaviors and decisions Jesus made during His life on earth, Jill brings those lessons right down to the laundry-filled, sticky-fingered days every mother knows.

You may feel like an ordinary, everyday woman, but you're not. You're a woman with an extra ordinary call on your life - motherhood - and you have an extraordinary God to run to when you need emotional, mental, and spiritual renewal. Sixty of Mary Demuth's wise, funny, and Scripture-filled devotions will lighten your spirit and encourage your heart even when laundry threatens, kids are clamoring, and you don't know what to do for dinner.

You have two chances to enter, and the giveaway will end on Sunday night, with the winner announced Monday. (I'm trying out Rafflecopter for the first time... hopefully it works!) The mandatory entry is to leave a comment on this post. You can also like this shared life on facebook for a second entry.  Good luck!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On being face to face

"A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure." Proverbs 24:3

"Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands." Proverbs 14:1

I have been studying a lot in Proverbs, and have been really digging in on verse about building a home. God has been showing me so many ways that I have the ability & influence in my home to either build it up or tear it down. It's remarkable, isn't it?!

I've got to tell you that this morning I'm missing my family. I'm sitting here at Panera, trying to enjoy two child-free hours, and I find myself thinking that although I have lived near Trace and the littles this last week, I haven't really seen them. And what I'm learning is that sharing life together does not mean just being in close physical proximity to each other. It means spending time, spending yourself. It means looking into each others eyes and really seeing each other.

Jesus knew this. There are so many stories in the Gospels where He touched sick people. He looked into their eyes, He healed their eyes so that they could see. I think of the woman who had suffered for 12 years with bleeding in Matthew 9:20-22. She touched His robe to be cured. And while that touched would have been enough, 'Jesus turned and saw her'. (verse 22, emphasis mine). Often Jesus withdrew from the crowds to be with and teach His disciples. He wanted to connect with this small group on a deeper level.

Life is busy, no? We had some amazing guests come to our church this weekend. And them being here meant that we spent time and shared meals at the church and had evening meetings filling our time. The time spent was wonderful, in a sense, because we were able to connect with them. But then this morning, as my family went out from our home to school and work, I realized that we hadn't really been at our table, just the four of us, since last week.

So if it was important to Him, it has to be important to me. I'm so excited for dinner tonight. The food doesn't matter (okay, well maybe it does a little...), but what I'm most ready for is the coming face-to-face with these sweet people who deserve my complete attention. It's so hard to balance some days because busyness just has a way to creeping in, and the hardest part is that all of the busyness consists of 'good things', of ministry even! But His calling to me as wife and mom is that these three people are who I'm called to do life with first. This is my ministry!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Welcome to this shared life! A few months ago I wrote this post on my original blog about a sort of 'lightbulb moment' I had from God about the ministry to which He's calling me. Since then, I've been in the thick of an intense time of prayer and listening. He's allowed a deep awakening in my soul about how He wants me to live and serve my family, friends, and others. It was about three months ago that this shared life was 'born' in my journal.

God is calling me at home, literally, and here online, virtually, to share life around my table. The verse you see above has become especially important to me in the last few months, as I've been listening. He's encouraged me to encourage other moms and homemakers (and aspiring ones!) with the gifts He's given me of hospitality and teaching His Word. I hope that this place is one where you might 'pull up a chair' and find rest, encouragement, peace, hope and much more as He guides & equips us to share life together with our families first and then with those He brings into our lives.

Have a lovely Monday, I'll be back soon!