Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Security of "The Swing of Things"

It's bright and early as me and my little family are making our way back to California. Christmas has been so wonderful and time with both sides of our family was priceless! All of the presents and parties, late nights and candy, traditions and festivities have just about worn us all down and we are anxious to get back to the swing of things.

As much as we enjoy taking a break, getting away, and tossing the consistent routine we all have every once in a while, we are all yearning for the predictable once again. I actually miss meal prepping and dish washing, reading time and early bedtimes! Organizing, grocery shopping, baby bathing, house cleaning and child-rearing are calling my name and I can't WAIT to get back to it. 

Oh how there is security in a bit of predictability! There is a peace of mind and a steadfastness of spirit that comes over us when we, as a family, can plow ahead stewarding the things God has sovereignly allowed us to control while maintaining faith and trust in Him as we face the unknown. 

We don't know all of the ends and outs of 2016, but we know our God and we know his plans are always good. I'm thankful that he has given us the ability and the responsibility to do what we can each day with mundane faithfulness if that's what it takes. 

I'm just grateful for the swing of things. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hope for Homemaking

This past Christmas was BY FAR the best one yet with our little girls. Both of them seemed to really grasp and understand the Spirit of Christmas as well as the meaning. The month of December was filled with endless story time accounts of Jesus' birth, daily advent activities and scripture readings, cookies, cider, chai tea and just about anything and everything that makes the holiday season feel like... The holiday season.

But what really blessed my heart as a mother this year was watching my girls' imaginations embrace something very near and dear to my heart: homemaking. We decided that homemaking would be the "theme" of our Christmas presents this year for our daughters. We were extremely fortunate and found a gently used three piece kitchen set along with all the bells and whistles on Craigslist and also purchased their first "official" baby dolls and all of the fun accessories. I will never forget the looks on their faces when they came around the corner to discover the new imaginative world of play! Nothing warmed my heart more.

These gifts were intentional on my and my husband's part. We didn't just choose these items so that our kids could have more "stuff" or more things to keep them busy while we fulfill other obligations. In a lot of ways, these purchases were an act of faith and a display of hope. We hope our daughters will develop a love for homemaking. We hope they learn to value the art of making a home fun, safe and inviting. In a society where homemaking is not esteemed and is viewed as a secondary responsibility and a "lesser than" calling, we wish to inspire and empower them in that endeavor. No, homemakers will not be WHO they are nor be ALL that they do, but my prayer is that it will be something they love, value and cherish. Wives/mommies really are the heartbeat of the home life. I have faith that with each moment they spend making me pretend dinners and changing play diapers, their hearts will be shaped, molded and prepared to joyously assume the position of homemaker even in the face of its breakdown and demise. I have great hope for them. I have great hope for the art of homemaking. It may be lost in some respects, but all it takes are willing vessels and intentional esteeming of it to breath new life into the calling.  Revolutions and reformations of thought and practice where almost always birthed from the heart of one individual throughout history. Change doesn't always require an army of likeminded people. It can start with one mother, one daughter, one father, one son choosing to unashamedly recommit to the HOME. It takes one family choosing to view themselves as a potential powerful force in the world, just as God intended it to be.  It calls for one parental unit being resolute in its efforts to truly see their children as "arrows" and dedicating their lives to aiming them in the right direction before they let go and allow those children to reach their God-given targets.

So by faith and with great joy we are starting within our own home. By God's grace we will raise daughters (and Lord-willing, sons) who will allow God's Spirit to birth a passion and zeal for one of the very first communities ever established on earth: the family. 

Ah do I have hope. Great hope, indeed.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Power of Believing God with Your Husband

To say that my and my husband's faith has been stretched over the last several months would be an understatement! We've had to really buckle down, stick together, pray together and trust God together. But several circumstances in our lives drove us to sheer desperation a few weeks ago. Without getting into too much personal detail, I will just say that we needed MIRACLES.  We needed God to come through in mighty and powerful ways.  After weeks of spending more time in prayer, receiving godly council and doing everything on our part to rectify the problems to no avail, we knew it was time to cry out even louder. We needed to bang on the door of heaven harder. We needed to press into new and unfamiliar realms and allow our faith to sail us out upon the waters, into the great unknown. So we started a fast.

To be honest, I hate fasting with a passion. It is by far my weakest spiritual discipline. So much so that I have trouble viewing fasting as a "pathway of grace" but rather see it as a "duty". When my husband approached me about doing it, I was less than thrilled but my inner being wanted so desperately to see God do the impossible, that I obliged. So we embarked upon a 10 day version of the Daniel fast. We were completely depleted from a physical, emotional and spiritual standpoint, but still had a small flame of faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we were able to help fan in one another. We committed each day to more intentional and focused prayer and Bible study. As each day passed, we were living in the tension of steadily increasing faith and expectation along with the mounting pressure of deadlines. We both felt an unusual ability to hear from God clearly which was invigorating, exhilarating and frightening all at the same time, while still wrestling with the frustration of seemingly unanswered prayers. We were more real and raw with God and each other than we had been in some time. It's amazing how when you deprive your body of food to one degree or another, you realize just how "loud" it always is in your life.  Fasting turned the noise down enabling us to hear the still small voice of God.  We were two people invading heaven together...Two hearts holding on for one another when one of us felt like giving up... Two souls fighting to keep each other warm by the fire of our faith. Then, what our hearts had been anxiously anticipating for months, was answered in the span of less than 24 hours. We got a miracle! Heaven opened up and rained down. Of course the miracle was remarkable but more than anything, my husband and I tapped into a power source that we have failed to tap into more regularly as a married couple! I truly believe that the enemy of our souls shudders when a husband and a wife dare to believe God for the impossible. I believe he cringes when he sees us as a united force, bound by a holy covenant, standing on Jesus as our Rock. Don't allow the wind and the waves to blow you over, even if everything in your flesh literally, in every sense of the phrase, would rather be "gone with the wind" instead of braving the storm.

I don't know what you and your spouse may be believing Jesus for.  It could be healing in your marriage, a new baby, breakthrough in your finances, healing in your bodies, etc.  Or maybe you are simply in need of greater faith. Perhaps you and your husband have been in a season of doubt, unsure of who Jesus really is, what he has done and what he is calling you to.  I challenge you to believe! I'm convinced that there are few things on earth more lethal to the schemes of the enemy than a husband and a wife who boldly approach the Father, through the finished work of the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remember that Jesus is FOR marriage. He is FOR unwavering faith. After all, he is the author and finisher of it. Our God specializes in the impossible! I dare you to believe God with your husband. I dare you to grab his hand and (respectfully) say, "Honey, we are going to approach the Throne together, even if we have to drag each other the whole way." Our King awaits us. Ready to listen, and resolved to manifest his satisfying presence wherein there is fullness of joy and pleasures forever more. He is ready to respond. Only believe. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Give Them Jesus

Aren’t we all in the hustle and bustle of this holiday season? The aroma of yummy baked treats is filling the air of our homes. Christmas decor has taken over the mantle, coffee table, baker’s rack etc. In the midst of it all, we mommas are just trying to create at least some sort of Christmas nostalgia for our kids to remember when the child-like excitement over presents, Santa and cookies begins to dissipate. Oh, the mental stress that this task can bring! Will we have enough money? Is this season full of enough fun? Do my kids feel cheated that their home doesn’t look like the North Pole? Did we do all of the advent daily crafts I found on Pinterest? Are my chosen crafts as cool as my friends’? …It’s just too easy to get caught up in the things that don’t really matter when it’s all said and done. Am I saying that we shouldn’t decorate and do crafts and bake and do all of the things that add warmth and fun to the Christmas season? No! But I am saying that we need not let it bury us or discourage us. More than anything, our kids need to see Jesus this Christmas. They need to behold the little baby that would one day grow up and die for their sins. They need to see that the greatest gift of all was our God incarnate, bridging the chasm that stood between God and us. Santa is fun. Presents are awesome. Christmas trees are beautiful. But they NEED Jesus. I pray my kids behold their loving Savior this Christmas. I hope that with each gift that they open with their precious little hands, their hearts will simultaneously be opening to the the ever-powerful, life-changing message of the Gospel. One day their little feet won’t be pitter-pattering across the hall to open their presents. The thrill of sending a wish-list to Santa will be gone. Decorating the house will become less appealing overtime. But the message of the virgin birth of a sinless Savior who has reconciled us to God will increasingly grip and carry their hearts with each passing year! So give them Jesus. That’s what Christmas is all about.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower

-Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower-


2 Heads Cauliflower
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar


Cut cauliflower into small slices or chunks, lay on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, drizzle with desired amount of vinegar, and salt and pepper generously.  Then roast at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, tossing cauliflower half way through.

Quick. Easy. Healthy. And YUMMY!



Finish the Course...

"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may FINISH THE COURSE and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24

Let me FINISH MY COURSE. That's my hearts prayer tonight for myself and for every believer.  Whatever course has been laid out for you in whatever season you are in, pray to finish strong! Preach and live the gospel in the mission field entrusted to you! Nothing we do will have any eternal value or weight if it's not birthed, fueled, sustained, and brought to completion by the finished work of Jesus.  My heart is encouraged and challenged tonight to not hold too tightly or esteem as valuable anything that does not have the "course" and the ministry that God has given me directly attached to it.  Thanking God tonight that He continually works in me and on me, patiently refining me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Homemade Apple Cider

Homemade Apple Cider

10 apples (a variety: granny smith, gala, red etc.)
2 whole oranges
6 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 Teaspoon ground ginger
12 whole cloves
3/4 gallon of water
Any sweetener to taste (the sweeter the apples used, the less sweetener will be needed)

All I can say is that I LOVE this stuff.  My house smells heavenly and holidayey (like that made up word?) and I'm getting more and more excited for Christmas.  MAKE THIS.  You will thank me.  All you need to do is slice up your fruit, add some spices and let the crockpot do ALL the work.

How gorgeous are those colors?

Can't you just smell it now?

Once all of the flavors are happily wed (after about 8-9 hours cooked on low), use a fine mesh strainer to remove apples, cinnamon sticks and cloves, and add your choice of sweetener to taste.  Pour in a festive Christmas mug and drink a little sip of heaven. You can make it even more delightful by serving it up with additional orange and/or apple slices and extra cinnamon sticks!

Enjoy, my friend. Enjoy.

Monday, December 7, 2015

~DIY Country Rustic Advent Calendar~

I've wanted to make an Advent Calendar for my girls for the longest time and feel that this Christmas they were finally old enough to start enjoying it's meaning and the fun activities! WORD OF WARNING: this takes a good chunk of time and requires lots of little components, steps etc. so waiting until the kids are napping or down for the night would prob be best!

I'm really loving how it turned out! I got a lot of inspiration from Pinterest that gave me my general idea, and then spent the day at Hobby Lobby filling in the details of what I wanted! The neat thing about DYI Advent Calendars is you could practically do anything and everything style-wise and make them gender specific.  Since I have girls, I wanted something that wasn't to fufu-frilly, but charming and elegant! Let's get to makin' it.

Here is everything you will need (all items purchased at Hobby Lobby):

First you want to roll out your burlap and lay your 24 brown baggies down to get an idea of how much burlap you will need.  I used the smaller brown baggies and did 6 rows of 4.

Next, you want to select 12 papers of your choice from whatever paper book you purchased, fold them and cut them in half so you will have 24 pieces to glue on your baggies.

Pick a pattern and start glueing (side note: do NOT glue brown baggies to burlap, you will ONLY be glueing the clothes pins to burlap which I will demonstrate in a bit)!

Next, you want to take the assortment of doilies and lay them out in a pattern on each baggy and glue them on.

CAREFULLY number the baggies 1-24.

The next step is to prepare and assemble your notecards that will have the scripture passage of the day and the activity of the day.  I did two separate cards in each baggy. (There are MILLIONS of lists for Advent scriptures on Pinterest as well as daily activities, which you can come up with on your own and personalize them to your family)

After the cards are completed, stuff them in their corresponding baggy.  Then you want to take your strip of thinner burlap and form a big bow.

Wrap your burlap over your wooden beam, sealing it with hot glue as you roll as pictured below.  Then take a piece of twine or any other "string-like" material and feed it through the BACK part of your bows knot, and tie dangling pieces on either side of the beam.  You can add some holly or any other decor to spruce up the top.  I hot glued mine on and it was easy as pie:). Once that is completed you want to glue the BACK of the laundry pins in their selected spots so that you can take the brown baggies off and on each day as needed for the kids to look inside!

Then just find a decent size wall space and put your creation on display!! My kids have been LOVING looking in their baggies each day, reading the passages, and completing the daily activity! 

Merry Christmas!