Friday, July 26, 2013

It's F.R.I.D.A.Y.!!!

Welcome to Friday! It seems like the days of each week are dragging on and flying by all at the same time. You ever feel that way?

This week started out special with my 32nd Birthday. Yes, I just admitted to my age. Although if you ask my kids I'm working at training them that I am forever 26. It was a fantastic day spent with our church family (it was Sunday), followed by a delicious lunch at Rosati's pizza (the only place I know of to get Chicago style deep dish pizza around here), and a relaxing afternoon at home. My sister made me the pound cake we used to make as kids. It's a true pound cake.... a pound of butter, 6 eggs, a pound of powdered sugar, a pound of flour, etc. And let me tell you, it's gloriousness in my mouth, with strawberries and whipped cream. Just as my family started to sing me Happy Birthday it started to rain outside. It was perfection and after a hard week kind of like God smiling down on me. Cheesy thought perhaps, but I needed a little pick me up and that rainfall hit the spot for me. It's the little blessings. So I'm 32 now, and I'm not sure how I feel about it :) But I'm blessed with the 2 cutest kids, and an incredible husband. I couldn't ask for more.
The kids found a mini tornado in the corner of this stopping strip on Saturday.  They thought the leaves swirling in circles were pretty cool.

Happy Birthday to me with my fave little girl! 

She loves pizza about as much as I do. Girl after my own heart. 

The rain.... glorious rain! 

My brother in law thought it'd be funny to add 10 years to my age and get me candles that said '42.' I put a quick stop to that and turned them around! 

And one with my boy! 

Random rainbow later in the week. I can't remember which day, but it wasn't even raining. 

I'm I'm hooking up with The Lauren Elizabeth today for High Five for Friday and Darci of the Good life for Five on Friday

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

things I've been reading and love

1. We've been talking a bit about spiritual warfare at church as we finish out the book of Ephesians. It's something I don't dwell on often. This article got me thinking even through my own life about what these evil minions see in my life that they use to tempt me to sin.

2. This brave young girl managed to escape an arranged marriage. I can't even imagine growing up in that kind of a situation, or the courage it would require to take the drastic measures she has done. Not ever girl has her options.

Source Unknown

3. Jesus is Better. I've really, really needed that reminder lately. Thank you for reminding me.

4. We have a few friends who counsel and work with the military personnel, several of whom struggle with PTSD. I found this to be a helpful article both for that issue, as well as just for the struggles of life. I for one, want to come out stronger on the other side of whatever gets thrown at us, and pray it's to God's glory.

5. This is a beautiful tribute to his wife by Tim Challies.

6. There is not much more that gets to me in my flesh than a whiny kid. And I often have 2 of them! (They are toddlers after all!) This article really encouraged me to step back. I loved her #1 rule of the house and the way she reinforced it with her littles. I plan to put it into practice.

7. Someday I'd love a house with a little hideaway like this for my kids, complete with gold polka dots!

8. I have both of these items in my house. I'll come back with the results soon!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Things I've been reading and loving.

1. Daddy issues. I have them. You have them. Lots of girls have them, because we all have imperfect fathers. Here is a beautiful response to them.

2. "Why I keep saying no" to sex before marriage. Sometimes it just takes putting your foot down. And this girl has done that. Bravvo.

3. Have you been susceptible to any of these Lies American Christians Believe? If I'm not careful I believe the lie far too easily.

4. I love 'then and now' photos like this and this one is fun because it's my college town.

5. I've been wrestling with my faith lately and the Mahaney girls keep posting some scriptures and thoughts that have encouraged me this week. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:7-8, ESV)

 6. 'It is wrong and uncharitable to think of God as a Person who finds twisted pleasure in watching you squirm. He is not like this at all. He is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-loving.' 

When life puts you in a cycle of things just. going. wrong. Seeing God as one who finds pleasure in watching you squirm can become something easy. It's a perspective that we know God's Word doesn't teach, but in our flesh, we find comforting temptation in. This article encouraged me to think Biblically.

Friday, July 12, 2013

High Five for Friday!

It's Friday! I'm I'm hooking up with The Lauren Elizabeth today for High Five for Friday and Darci of the Good life for Five on FridayAs I shared yesterday, this week has been tense. And I feel like I haven't seen the kids much due to #5 below, but, even despite some of the situations that have been going on, it's been a tremendous week of growth for me in grace and faith and that alone has made it a good week. Here's a few other reasons why..... :)

1. Big kid class for the little lady! 

1. Chris and I are in the rotation to teach the 3-5 year old class at church. I was only willing to do this because it got me out of working in the nursery. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Little kids aren't my forte. I can do it, but my hubs does the brunt of the work in this class. And fortunately I don't have to help them in the bathroom very often! Ha! The little lady isn't quite 3 yet, but by the time we rotate out she'll be having her birthday, so we thought it would make a nice transition for her to start coming in just for Sunday School with us and learn how to sit through a short lesson. She was ecstatic to join the big kids! She's got some learning to do as far as sitting still and not bothering her neighbors, but overall I think it will be a nice transition for her.

2. Sunday night church roller skating party! 
2. Sunday night we had our first ever Sonrise Baptist Church family night roller skating party. I was totally out of my element and terrified when I realized the place had NO WALLS, but I made it without falling a single time and my kids had the time of their lives! The little lady was fearless and spent almost the whole night on the skating rink floor making her rounds. A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E. 
3. Orange Leaf!
3. After all that skating we had worked up an appetite and the whole crew of us headed to Orange Leaf for some frozen Yogurt. We took the place over. For real I think our church crew were the only ones in there for much of the time we were there and the kids enjoyed their yogurt with random candy on it like the gummy worms my daughter is eating above. (BTW... for all my Illini fan friends, my daughter insisted on wearing that shirt that day :) 

4. Swimming and waiting for lunch.....
 4. The kids spent Monday at the pool with their Aunt Brittany and she made them wait a little longer than they wanted to for lunch (Um.... it's only 10:30 kids!) and this was the little lady's reaction. Isn't she a stinker?!

5. Painting, lots of painting! 

5. This has been my evenings this week. Painting, lots and lots of painting at my sisters new place. Exciting stuff that I'm sure I'll show more of soon!

How has your week been? How has God been growing you?

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

God is love, but I don't feel it.

I've worked with several young women over the years who've shared with me their difficulty in believing that God loves them. It seemed, to them, that life was continually hard and that their circumstances could never have come from the hand of a loving God. Things were ugly and seemed dark and they'd say to me, 'if this is God's love, I don't want anything to do with it'. I worked with these girls over weeks and months and showed them from the Scriptures the truth of God's love and over time most of them started to believe it and grow in sanctification. Their faces changed during this time . Their eyes went from darkness to light and tear stained faces came back full of grace and of peace. It's this part of counseling that I love. Watching the transformation.

But sometimes I need that counsel. And this season of life has been one of them. Someone who didn't know me very well might not notice anything, but wowsers. My spirit has struggled this time. I've gone through hardship before.... family struggles, financial struggles, health struggles. But the last 7 months or so have started taking their toll on my husband and myself and I've found myself for the first time really fighting for my faith, struggling to make myself believe that God is for me. Because it feels like everything is going wrong. I touched a bit on that here. And my husbands situation with his vision in his right eye has most certainly been a part of this equation, but not the whole story. God has allowed certain parts of our lives to become very difficult over the last 6 months and as we look forward at the next few weeks things might completely collide and well.... just blow up. A week ago my stomach was in knots all day every day and had been for a few weeks. So I've been having to do some incredible self counsel... counseling myself if you will. And the best way to do that is to study the Scriptures and examine my own heart. So I've been camping out in the Psalms lately re learning how to pour my heart out to God, begging him for mercy and grace and protection and provision, much like David did in some of the early Psalms (I've been in 18-26 most recently). I haven't had to do this in awhile. Not like this at least. Sitting on my couch after the kids have gone to bed and just letting my heart soak in God's Word and praying it out back to Him.

It has done me so much good. As I've walked through these chapters noting how David asks questions, how he reasons with God at some level, how he even points out all the good he's done asking God if he really deserves the difficulty he's going through. Have you ever felt that way? I most certainly have. As I've watched friends stumble through serious sin, but still have great success in other areas of their life, sometimes I'm dumbfounded as I (sinfully) compare myself, or other friends who have walked in purity in virtually all areas of their life, but still getting knocked down by life. David asked those hard questions and even pointed out how 'good' he'd been (somehow without seeming self-righteous)! But in all of his frustration and doubt his faith doesn't seem to waver. At least not in these songs he's written. And that's where I'm striving to be in this season of life.

And as I've meditated on God's Word and tried to look into every nook and cranny of my heart God has taken me from a place of utter fear and a heart that was starting to grow bitter toward Him, to peace and faith that His plan really is good. And I'm still in the thick of it. Don't think it's over and I'm looking back on the hardship and now things are rosy. Nope. I've got a few more weeks (possibly longer) of wondering and waiting for the inevitable to take it's shape and for life to move onto whatever it is that God has for it to move onto and this waiting is ridiculously hard for me. But I can't do anything about it. So I just wait and trust. And pray a lot. Praying back the very words that God has written and trusting with all my being that He won't fail me. My requests might be selfish. Things might not go my way. But in the end it will be for His glory and my good and I'll have a heart that looks more like His. And I couldn't ask for anything better.

A Prayer of David.

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right!
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings, (Psalm 17:1-8, ESV)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fish and Chips!

Fish and Chips (or fish sticks and french fries) is one of my family's favorite meals. My kids eat it well. It's pretty healthy. And it's budget friendly. My recipe is a variation of Rachel Ray's found here.

Basic Ingredients


-3-4 pieces of tilapia cut into strips (we love the Market Pantry brand from Target) 
-1/2 c. flour
-1 egg, beaten
-salt and pepper
-4-6 pieces of whole wheat bread
-2 tbsp of olive oil

-1/3 c. mayonnaise
-1 tbsp. mustard (dijon or regular)
-1 tbsp lemon juice
-2 tbsp pickle relish

-We love Alexia Sweet Potato Fries

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. I start with regular whole wheat toast. Spread the slices out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Blend the toasted bread in a food processor pulsing until you have bread crumbs. Spread the crumbs back on the same baking sheet. Pour olive oil over crumbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to coat. Bake the bread crumbs for 2-3 minutes, until crispy. Keep a close eye on them. It doesn't take long before they'll start to burn!

2. Put your fries in the oven and set the timer for 12 minutes. I like to cook my fries on the bottom rack to help them get a little crispier.

3. Cut each piece of tilapia into 3 pieces. Coat each piece with flour. Then dip in beaten egg. Then dip in bread crumbs and place on a baking sheet sprayed with oil.

4. After your timer goes off for the fries, flip them over and put them back in the oven. Also place your fish in the oven. Cook for 12 minutes.

5. Mix the ingredients for the dip.

6. Pull everything out of the oven and give them a few minutes to cool before serving. Enjoy!! 

We enjoyed ours outside last week! 

Dipping Sauce

Even the kids eat this one up! I hope yours do too! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's Friday!

1. Haircuts for the girls!
2. Matchy Matchy! 

1. Haircuts for the girls! I'm a firm believer in a good haircut. I don't do anything over the top with my hair and I'm not saying that it looks great all the time (I'm a girl in progress here!), but a good haircut is a great starting point. Some of my favorite days are the ones where I get to take the little lady to get hers done with me. I think she feels kind of special, and a professional cutting her hair is way better than me trying. Thank you Kristi Jo at Studio 417 for great cuts!

2. Somehow my hubs and I ended up with matching sunglasses last weekend. My previous pair had broken a few weeks ago and I've literally been wearing them broken since. The lens would constantly fall out and drive me crazy. I stumbled on a good sale Friday night at LOFT and liked this pair the best. We've also been talking about how Chris needed a pair of sunglasses. With all his eye trouble his eyes need to be protected and they've told us to hold off on getting anything new with a prescription until his eyes heal more and settle down, but a regular pair is great to wear with contacts. We came across these at a little store downtown near the salon on Saturday and realized we'd match, but hey we're cute like that and they just looked good on him. So we went with it. Don't make fun.

3. Kids at Work
3. Kids at Work

3. The kids each got to join me for a day at work this week. How can you not want to hang out with those faces. I mean for real! As a mom, and a woman who strives to live according to God's Word, I recognize that my family always needs to be in a place of high priority in my life. I am a wife and mom before I am a... whatever I am at work. So these days of getting to bring them with me are really special for me. And I hope that they remember them with fond memories.

4. S'mores!

4. We are having the most amazing summer as far as weather goes this year. I can't remember EVER in southwest Missouri enjoying temps like these in the low 80's at the beginning of July. And the evenings actually get cool. It's seriously glorious for a girl like me who much prefers to be chilly over being hot. So on the 3rd we enjoyed our fire pit and roasted some S'mores. Apparently we weren't the only ones with that idea as when I went to our local Wal-mart to grab marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. Everything was almost out!

5. Fireworks downtown

5. We enjoyed the 4th at the pool, grilling out with friends, and watching the fireworks downtown. I love a good fireworks show! And I love enjoying it with our family!

What's been going on in your life? How is God stretching and growing you?

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What I'm reading and loving this week.

1. Great memorization idea for kids (Slightly older than mine!) Great to keep in my back pocket for someday.....  

2. We've been toying around with the idea of having the kids share a room. This is some inspiration for me.


3. Some great tips for teaching your children about their sexual developement from a young age on The Resurgence.

4. Are you pregnant with a little girl and will need a bathing suit before she's 3 months old? Get this suit! It's so adorable in person. I kept putting off purchasing it for my little lady and now her size is gone. But YOU can still get it!

5. Does the gospel influence the way you tip? This got me thinking....

6. My husband and I have recently started working with the singles group at our church. Couple that with the single girls I've been counseling recently and my heart is really getting passionate about discipling them (more on that later). This article got me thinking about all the recent changes for same sex marriage in our country and the singles that I interact with.

7. Our church is going through this book by Jerry Bridges for our small groups right now. This last week's chapter hit home well for me. Check it out!

8. Loved, this personal testimony from a woman who was changed by God, through the gospel, through a church and who was empowered to help other women grow. It's just fun hearing about what God is doing in His people.

What are you reading that's challenging and inspiring you?