Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Jesus is... Isaiah 9:6 & The Homemaking Party

Merry Christmas!

Welcome to the last Homemaking Party of 2018! (Ok, I also realize it's only like the fourth of 2018 also...I'll do better next year, I promise!)

This holiday season, our pastor preached on the different names for Jesus prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. I was asked to summarize these sermons for some special readings last Sunday. I thought I'd share that with you on this beautiful Christmas Day! 
I hope you are having a fun and relaxing holiday season with those you love!


No one could have imagined what a single birth could mean for all of humanity, but Jesus changed the world when He came to Earth one holy night. He is both God of the universe and personal Friend to each one of us.

Our Jesus is wonderful. He cares for us with a wonderful love that can be found in no one but Him. His wonderful miracles bring delight to all creation. His assurance of salvation causes us to wonder at His goodness. We stand in awe of you, Jesus, our wonderful Lord.

Our Jesus is Counselor. We can trust His wisdom because His truths never fail. He has faced every temptation and He knows the human heart, for He is the One who created it. He knows all things and He patiently leads us toward His better ways. We trust you, Jesus, our wise Counselor.

Our Jesus is Mighty God. His power is greater than anything. With Mighty God, nothing is impossible. He moves mountains and quiets seas. All of Creation must obey Him. It is our joy to serve you, Jesus, our Mighty God.

Our Jesus is Everlasting Father. He guides us with a loving hand. He calls us His children and his compassion toward us is eternal. He will never leave us. He will never hurt us. We can be vulnerable with Him and give Him our whole hearts. We surrender to you, Jesus, our Everlasting Father.

Our Jesus is Prince of Peace. He overcame all the world’s trouble and pain to bring us the hope of peace. He is our refuge. We run to Him when life becomes overwhelming and He comforts us. His peace is for all of us. We will be still in Your hope, Jesus, our Prince of Peace. 

Our Jesus is Emmanuel. This name for our Lord was prophesied when the angel appeared to His mother, Mary. It means, “God with us,” and He is! Jesus is here with us now. He is with us when we worship, and when we mourn. He is with us at our workplaces, at our schools, and in our homes. He is with us during our darkest  times and during our greatest joys. He came to us. He stayed with us. He will never leave us. Thank you for being right here with us, Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Vintage Tree Topper for a Pink Christmas and Vintage Stuff Saturday

Good Morning! Happy Pink Saturday!
It's the weekend before Christmas and I'm ready to stay home and chill out! Jamie's just started his vacation and won't be going back to work until after the new year. Parrrrrrtaaaaaay! 

It occurred to me that I've not shared any of my Christmas decorations here this year---and I've been wanting to start a weekly vintage link up---so here you go. My Pink Christmas and my first Vintage Stuff Saturday!

First up is this gorgeous, well-loved pink Christmas tree topper my son spotted at our favorite flea market, The Rose Antiques in Rogers. I've collected these for awhile but it's been years since I've added to my collection. This one is very thin plastic and very delicate. I love it!

Next is this little old woman doing some kind of needlework. The kids discovered her this morning and thought she was drumming...but then they decided she's sewing. Either way, she's quite worn and just the right style for my vintage ornaments tree!

Finally, I found these adorable little people and couldn't resist picking them up also. They're a little too big for my small library tree so I hung them from the lights on my craft shelf. My four little kids say these are them. So cute!

Being the first Vintage Stuff Saturday, I don't imagine we'll have too many join the linkup. But, please tell your friends and hopefully, within a few weeks, there will be lots of fun vintage blogs to visit!

Linking with:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Finding My Christmas Selah -- The Homemaking Party


The word Selah is a Hebraic praise term that means, "pause and reflect on God." I first chose that name for our second baby girl when I drove through the town of Selah, Washington one day on my way to Seattle. I remembered my mom telling me they bottled Tree Top Apple Juice there and, as a kid, I always imagined the town smelled like apples (even though it's in a not-so-forested part of the state and actually smells a little sulphuric to me now). Anyway, as I was telling Jamie all this one day and said the name out loud, I realized how pretty it was. In the Pacific Northwest we pronounce it, "see-luh". A pretty name for our new baby---Selah Elizabeth---as Elizabeth is my middle name, too.

Several years later, when we got our baby girl after three boys, I was preparing for her birth and looked into the meaning of her name, Selah Elizabeth. Together the name means, "to pause and reflect on the God of plenty."


I've spent the last few Christmases redirecting the expectations of my family---and myself. We no longer try to hit every party available, bringing along fancy treats that I skipped making meals to perfect. We no longer lavish each kid with tons of expensive presents that I had to skip paying utility bills to afford. I no longer feel the need to keep up with all the fun and excitement the world wants to inundate me with at Christmas time. All these things are great until they start interfering with my ability to run my home well, stay on budget, or stay sane.

As I've felt a draw to holiness in other areas of my life, I'm feeling a draw to holiness in Christmas. For us, that looks like simplicity. Calm. Thoughtfulness. Focusing on relationships. We want to let God show us who he is in this season, just as we do in every season.

God is not different during Christmas, but sometimes we are different toward him. We make such a big deal about "Keeping Christ in Christmas"---we try to balance that with all the other fun of the season. But if we had been keeping Christ in everything we did the entire year before, that same mindset would carry right into Christmas.

When we have been living in a place of simple calm all year long, it's not hard for that same spirit of peace to translate into our Christmas celebrations. You can't live an overwhelmed, too-busy life all year and expect Christmas time to magically calm down for you.

This morning I sat down in my library to look through yesterday's mail and prepare for today. I sat at my desk and began to get my thoughts together to ask God to direct my day. Before I could say a word, he said to me, "Selah."

Just stop. Just think of me. Pause and reflect. I am the God of Plenty. I have all you need for life and godliness. What do I require of you but to do justly, walk humbly, and love mercy? Just be still and remember me.

Noel, noel, come and see what God has done.
Noel, noel, the story of amazing love. 
The Light of the World, given for us.

Risen for us. We have all we need.

Thanks for linking up at The Homemaking Party. Have a beautiful week!

 Linking with:
Oh My Heartsie Girls

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Call to Mothers of Daughters

Kynthia (7) recently made us a delicious pie!
Ladies, today I want to talk to you about how you're training your daughters.

This post has been brewing in my heart for awhile, but I wanted to be careful about how I went about writing it because this topic hits a nerve with so many.

One day I was in the meat section at Aldi and a couple of women in their 20s were looking at all the different cuts of meat. They were trying to decide what to cook for a get together and one of them said, "Steak sounds so good right now!" The other said, "Yeah, I know. I wish I knew how to cook it." The first girl agreed that she, also, didn't know how to cook it. They then had the same conversation about fish and when I was finished picking out the meat I needed, they were still trying to decide on something to buy. Not because they weren't sure what sounded best, but because they weren't sure how to cook any of it.

So many moms are doing a huge disservice to their daughters without ever meaning to. We teach our daughters that they should focus more on their brains than their looks, we tell them they can be anything they want to be. Some moms encourage their daughters to pursue a college degree and a career. Many who are stay at home moms themselves set their daughters on a track for employment outside the home and think they will have a better life. I'm not here to debate the pros and cons of stay at home moms vs. employed career women. Not today, anyway.

Avalon (9) had an idea for individual meatloaf balls one day so she experimented in the kitchen and they were fantastic!
What I do want to talk to you about is homemaking skills. Here's where things can get kind of judgy judgy so please hear my heart---because some of the women I'm about to describe are some of you readers. This is not an admonition---just an encouragement and something to think and pray about.

In the pursuit to grow their daughters' academic brains, many moms are missing out on the opportunity to train them in basic household management. Whether or not your daughter goes on to be a career woman or a full time homemaker, she is going to need basic life skills. Does your daughter know how to prepare a meal, or even a portion of one, from scratch, with any combination of ingredients available to her? Can she shop for a week's worth of groceries on a budget? Does she know how to change a diaper, check a temperature, or recognize the signs of a baby in distress? Is she familiar with using a toilet plunger? Can she recognize mold and mildew growing on a shower curtain? Does she know when food is spoiled and can she recognize when a cut of meat is cooked enough to eat safely? Would she be able to tell if her house was infested with fleas from her dog or with cockroaches?

Here's a bigger question moms: do you know how to do these things?

These are all basic life skills that everyone will need---whether they work outside the home or decide to stay home. Many parents are concerned about preparing their daughters for a life without a man, should they be abandoned by their partner or not marry at all; however, they mistakenly focus on her education too heavily, at the expense of her life skills. I can't tell you how many women my age have their husbands change the flat tire, fix the leaky faucet, change the moldy shower curtain---I do too, honestly. But if the argument is that they're training daughters for a potential life of singleness, why are they not focusing on the things she'll actually need to know to get through life?

Guys need kitchen skills, too. Our 14 year old son, Cainan, makes fabulous dinner rolls!
Feminism has done such a massive disservice to women, to the home. Again, that's a post (or a nine volume saga) for another day. In pushing their girls out into, what many of us still call a "man's world", mothers have somehow thrown out the baby with the bath water. I don't want to call out specifics because we all have different lifestyles that necessitate certain conveniences at certain times. I just want to give you a general encouragement to pray about how you can be better training your children to do the basic life things that we all encounter day by day. If you feel inadequate, ask someone for help! If you are local, ask ME for help! There are many tutorials and videos online and on blogs for anything you'd ever want to learn.

Family traditions, cozy homes, simple life pleasures---these are not things of the past. They carry on from generation to generation through us women, working outside the home or full time homemakers---all of us who are the hearts of our homes.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Michael Turns 17 Today...

Michael turning 17 feels different than Lynzie turning 17. The older Lynzie gets, the closer she becomes my friend. The more she relates to me, the more she understands me. Our closeness grows, the older she gets.

The older Michael gets, the more independent he becomes. When he turned 16, that gave him the freedom to drive and to get a job. It took him away for several hours, several days a week. This summer, he began serving as the youth worship team leader at church and took on more responsibility on the adult worship team. Now he's gone more than he's home and school lessons feel more like a formality than the interactive, inventive explorations they once were.

Michael turns 17 today. Ever since I got on Facebook in 2009, I have posted a birthday collage of past photos and a message to the special person of the day. This morning I got up to do it and found that his sweet girlfriend, Emily---a Godsend to Michael and to me---had already hit Facebook and Instagram with fantastic photos and special words that are meaningful to them in the beautiful life they're beginning to make for themselves.

I was a little surprised to find that I wasn't a bit jealous---only thankful that she's just as sentimental as I am. I trust this Godly girl with his heart.

Michael turns 17 today and my year of letting go has begun.

In our family, we train our boys for manhood before they hit the "official" age. We want them to be ready to take on all the responsibilities of work, providing, leadership, and ministry that God has designed men to carry. Michael has been going after this dream of manhood since he was about eight years old. It couldn't come fast enough for him; and so I, too, am excited for him to fulfill his dreams.

Michael turns 17 today, but I know I'll still catch glimpses of my child that remind me of all our happy times of the past. He still leaves his clothes lying around---but now, instead of it being his blue bathrobe, it's his blue jacket and I charge him $5.00 for leaving it out...again. He still requests a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and Reese's on top---only now, me and Emily's stepmom look forward to eating it more than he does. And he still loves these birthday pancakes I'm making for him right now, and will continue to make whenever he brings his family to visit Grandma. I sure hope Emily likes chocolate chip pancakes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dear Christmas Mothers -- Inspiring Letters to Homemakers -- Book Review and a Giveaway!

Good Morning Ladies! Hope you're all having a happy week so far. I spent yesterday decorating for Christmas, reading, and just relaxing after a week of celebrating Thanksgiving with my family and my father. He started back to Oregon yesterday morning---please pray with me for his safe return home.

Last week I enjoyed reading through this new publication from The Legacy of Home Press, Dear Christmas Mothers by Mrs. Connie Hultquist. My dear friend, homemaking mentor, and fellow blogger, Mrs. Sharon White, let me know about the book and sent me a copy for review. 

In Dear Christmas Mothers, Mrs. Hultquist shares holiday letters she wrote in the early 2000s, encouraging homemakers to make a happy Thanksgiving and Christmas for their families. She gives  ideas to make one's home cozy on a very limited budget and offers a couple recipes for favorite treats.

The book is "written as spoken" and that's part of the charm. The very informal style of the letters allows the reader to imagine she's chatting at a cozy coffee table with a friend.

A favorite theme of the book is the call to Christian homemakers to create a sense of community and mentorship. The importance of mentorship has been revealed to me in so many ways this last year that I can't help believing God is leading me into a season of more opportunities to bless the lives of the women around me. I'm excited about that! Here is a favorite quote regarding our Titus 2 calling:

"We ain't supernatural. We can't make things happen. But we can stand with our arms raised up like Moses so that God can defeat the army against us. Just stand, dear saints, with arms lifted to Jesus, for in Him comes your help...and when your arms feel tired, let the saints come along and help you hold up your arms of faith." (Dear Christmas Mothers, pg. 67)

I hope you'll check out Dear Christmas Mothers on Amazon.com, as well as the other publications from The Legacy of Home Press. I've been blessed by each of the homemaking resources Mrs. White has offered the past few years. I know you will be, too!

The author is giving away one free copy of Dear Christmas Mothers to one of my readers. To win, simply leave a comment telling me something about your Christmas homemaking plans for this season. Giveaway ends Saturday December 8.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Golden Moments by Gail Golden --- An Encouraging Gift Idea -- Book Review

Hey ladies! Hope you're all having a fantastic week so far! We had a lovely visit with my Dad over Thanksgiving week. He drove all the way out from Oregon to visit for the week---what a blessing! 

I know it's been slow going around here as far as posts go. Years ago, I made a commitment to be a "no obligation blogger" and promised myself never to apologize to my readers for taking breaks from blogging. Still, I know things have been a bit inconsistent the last year or so but I'm hoping to get back in the game here because I miss the fellowship with you all!

One of my favorite things to blog about is books and I'm thrilled to share the dream come true book of one of my sweet readers, Gail Golden. 

Gail read and reviewed my own book, Now, a couple years ago and said it encouraged her to follow her own dreams of publishing. In August, she sent me a copy of her beautiful work, Golden Moments, and I've spent the last couple days reading through each inspiring chapter.

Golden Moments is a collection of encouraging short stories Gail calls, "aha moments"---times that God makes himself known to us as we're going about our every day lives. Does the Lord speak to you in little ways throughout your day? It's such a comfort to me to know He's right with me in every moment and I'm thankful for the way He pushes through the loudness and busyness of my days to speak to me.

You will be inspired and encouraged as you read through these testimonies of God's goodness. Each one is written in a way that is relatable. What a blessing to see Gail's dream come to fruition. I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself, as well as a few stocking stuffers for loved ones. You can find your copy at Amazon.com. Also, do visit Gail's blog, Gail-Friends, for more encouragement.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Welcome to The Homemaking Party! Today I'd like to share an old recipe for Pumpkin Bread that we use and love every year!  This is a great recipe for those larger cans of pumpkin as it makes 3 loaves.  It's a perfect big family recipe---but it freezes well for a small family too!

The weather here in NW Arkansas has definitely turned and we are enjoying the coming days of winter. This is my favorite time of year! So cozy and comfortable!

Autumn Pumpkin Bread
1 29oz. can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 c. oil
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350 and grease 3 loaf pans.  Mix the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs.  Combine the dry ingredients and then stir into the wet mixture.  Pour into pans and bake 45 min. or until done all the way through.

Thanks for stopping by The Homemaking Party! Have a beautiful week!

(Note: These photos are marked "Hope In Every Season". Rest assured---these are my photos...that's just the name of my old site!)

Linking with:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Keeping a Soft Heart After Child Loss

Yesterday I gave the news that we'd miscarried our baby. Today I want to talk a little more about that. My history in a nutshell: I became pregnant with my first child at 19 and my last child at 33. Before this recent baby, I birthed nine children in 13 years. To say the least, infertility was not a word I associated with.

After my 2012 baby, we figured it would be business as usual. We packed up the clothes and baby paraphernalia and waited. Waited. Still waited.

After a year, I began to panic. Wait a minute! I'm the girl who has a baby every. single. year. Where's the baby?

After two years, depression began to creep in. What is my purpose now???

After three years, anger and resentment. I can't handle baby showers. Baby dedications. Baby anything. It's not fair.

After four years, I stuck a toe out in the water. Perhaps God's actually in control of this?

And for the last year, I'd been working on being settled with this new me. I'd given away most of the baby stuff---I even held an eight month old, awkwardly, as a friend needed to make a phone call. I'd begun to think about my health more, the trim and strong figure that was lost long ago, the other directions God was taking me.

Then, out of nowhere, I was pregnant again.

Joy! Rapture! Total elation! That's what I showed on the outside. On the inside, I knew. My over 40 friends knew. I probably wasn't going to get to keep this baby. For me, it had little to do with statistics (I turned 39 last week). I just knew. The Lord gave. The Lord took away. Blessed be his name in all circumstances.

The decision to announce my high risk pregnancy so early was not made lightly. There are several risks for someone my age and weight. I wasn't blind to them. No, the decision to announce, knowing that I'd likely be logging back on to announce our disappointment later, was made with eyes wide open.

For two weeks, we celebrated God's miracle of life. For two weeks, our family made plans and dreamed about life with a new baby.

For two weeks, Brenna was a big sister and my teens imagined their new sibling playing toys with its future nieces and nephews.

For two weeks we had hope. Today we still have hope.

Jamie and I chose to announce this young life so early because it was a life. Its life has value and purpose and we are honored to have celebrated.

And we are honored to mourn.

Never be afraid to pick a flower, even though you know it will wither. My mom has said this to me my whole life. The older I get, the more I truly get this.

When we lose someone precious, when a dream and a prayer dies, our first reaction is often to pull away from everything good around us. To isolate---so we don't have to deal with the pain in public. That's what I did the first time I lost a child. It took me ten years to come out of that isolation. That's a long time, sister.

I'm fighting that urge to isolate with every inch of my being. Just like last time, I have a husband and kids who not only need me, but want me to be there for them...and they, in turn, want to help me heal. I have friends who want to be there for us during this time. I have work to do, ministry to give, encouragement to spread, hope to shine out. As much as I want to scream at the top of my lungs, break things, break people, break me---more of me wants to give, serve, love, be vulnerable, and let God use this.

This doesn't make the pain lessen so much as it redirects my motivation. God will use all things for his good purposes if we'll release them to him. I have to walk through the pain either way---might as well be a witness on the way.

When life stuff hits, I don't think the answer is to turn away, crouch low, and wait for it to blow over. That didn't work so well for me in the past. This time, I think I'll try grabbing God's hand, and turning to face it---head up, eyes wide, arms wide, heart open.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Our Heartbreak---and Something Fun, Too!

Good Morning, Friends! Hope everyone is enjoying some crisp, cool Fall weather!
We have some sad news---our baby has passed away. We are all pretty heartbroken here. Please pray for us---especially our other kids who were so excited at the thought of a new sibling after so long.

About a year and a half ago, I started The Victorian Letter Writers Guild. Since then, almost 200 women from all over the world have signed up for a custom-chosen pen friend. I've just opened the newest round of the pen friend exchange and would love to have you join! Just visit the blog for more information. 

Thanks for stopping by The Homemaking Party!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

From Fezzik to Buttercup: Starting My Second Week

Finally had the energy to cut up these vegetables I bought last week! This is literally the first time I've done this in 7 years. I always had my kids do it because I was too tired.
 Today starts the first day of the second week of my quest for better health! Other than our anniversary dinner and dessert yesterday (which was a planned "cheat"---ended up throwing away more than I ate!) I've stayed totally on my plan for one week. That is a miracle of epic proportions! (Remember when I said I didn't know if I could do it for even one day?) God has been so faithful to allow me to experience so many changes this week and I'm so encouraged! I had some trepidation when I decided to "go public" with this weight struggle, but I truly believe it was God-lead. 

Here are just some of the things I'm experiencing after my first week on Trim Healthy Mama:

  • A LOT of energy. I am a napper...or WAS a napper. I've not been able to take a nap in a week. I've tried. I've begged and pleaded---nuthin'. Can't sleep. But I'm getting great sleep at night! Instead, I'm getting housework done that I usually put off on one of the kids. I'm also making everyone crazy by dancing around the house and singing silly made up songs all. day. long.
  • Regular sleep schedule. I'm going to sleep about 11:00 pm and waking about 6:00. Much better than the 2am-7:30am schedule that exhausted me in the mornings and caused me to sleep three hours in the afternoons.
  • Looser fitting clothing. A lot of this is due to a huge decrease in inflammation, but I'm probably going to be tossing some shirts by next weekend!
  • Far less pain. I'm able to sit down, stand up, Fight! Fight! Fight! much easier. 
  • I waddle a little less. That's always nice.
  • NO SUGAR CRAVINGS! I didn't really even have much of a crazy sugar detox episode. There was one night when I was unexplainably sad for the evening....but, other than that, I've been only happy and headache-free! I think I can attribute this to eating mainly "S" meals. I've heard that helps with the sugar cravings and it seems to be true in my case!
  • Hope. I feel hopeful that I can conquer this giant. I feel God working in my life, I know he's anointed me to do this good thing. I'm excited!
I'm feeling good and happy and motivated and all that great stuff! Hope this blesses you, as well!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: Friendships, Mentors, and Cans of Worms

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-2

My Bible titles this passage, "The Value of a Friend."

Recently, I attended a women's event where the theme was mentoring. It reawakened some things in me that had been dormant for too long. I made some commitments to God regarding using more of my time on other people and I came away feeling energized in my calling to women's ministry. 

Shortly after, God tested me in those commitments---as is often his way! I was in a room with many women chatting and laughing and getting to know one another. I had visited with a few friends and was wandering around looking at decorations. (These kinds of events always make me feel awkward. I struggle with small talk---always want to get to the nitty-gritty!) I was just hanging out when God told me to start looking at the people more closely. 

I noticed a woman standing off to the side a bit, not talking with anyone. I'd only chatted with her briefly in the past and didn't know her well, so I went up to say hello again and see if I could bumble my way awkwardly through my normal kind of 50/50 introvert/extrovert conversation. 

I took her hand and said, "Hey (Friend), how's it goin' tonight?" 

She smiled and said, "Oh fine!" 

I could have stopped right there. I mean, right? That's the ultimate Sunday morning Christianese phrase: "I'm fine!" 

Sometimes it means, "I've got a lot of stuff going on but don't have the time/desire/interest/strength to discuss it with you." 

More often it means, "I'm struggling and I really do actually want to tell you but you're just making small talk and I don't sense I can trust you with my heart."

For a split second I thought about giving her the pat Christian response, "Oh great! I'm glad. Well, have a good night!" But, thank God, he spoke stronger to me than he had in a long time. So, I pulled out my can opener, looked her straight in the eye, and opened up that can of worms. 

"No really, Friend, how are you?"


When I read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 this morning, I thought about all the lonely people out there. There's a lot of them, you know. I read, "For if they fall, one will lift up his companion," and thought, "Who will lift up the one without a friend?"

I've had a saying for a long time that I once thought was clever---maybe it was, for its time. I used to say, "I've only got enough emotional energy to spend on a couple of friends."  Wifing/mothering/homeschooling 10 people is tough, y'all, and there was a brief time there when it was absolutely all I could handle. God allowed my outside-the-home ministry to go dormant for awhile so I could put my focus in the right place. I think I allowed it to go on a little longer than he would have liked, though. I got comfortable in my solitude. I also got selfish.

However, now I think of that phrase and know that time is over. I feel so driven to speak God's truth and encouragement to all those lonely women---cans of worms popping open all over the place! (Gummy worms, please. Preferably stevia-sweetened.)

I want to be that friend that sticks close enough to lift someone up when they fall and point them to help and healing in Christ. I'm praying God will help me become more and more usable in this way, and that he will bring just the right relationships along. Who has time for small talk? Not this girl. But I've got lots of time---all the time God's given me---for cans of worms. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

From Fezzik to Buttercup: Making This Work with My Lifestyle

One difficulty I've encountered with dieting in the past is the time and money it takes to do something different than the rest of my family. We are a homeschooling family of 11---I don't really have the time to make a separate meal for myself that fits the stringent rules of many of the fad diets out there; and on one income, I can't really justify special ingredients or program fees. That's why I like doing Trim Healthy Mama. I can make many of the things I would normally make my family, with a little tweak for myself to make them "on plan". That's what I did with Thursday night's taco casserole and it allowed me to warm up leftovers for a frugal Friday lunch.

I'm also practicing anticipating pitfalls and finding ways to overcome them. For instance, Thursday night some friends invited me to a restaurant for dinner. Initially, I said no because we were already planning on a family night at home. However, once I thought about it awhile, I realized that I didn't feel ready to navigate a restaurant menu and find things that would fit with my plan. I mean, it's doable...I think it's more that I didn't trust myself not to give in to the "off plan" things. I ended up being proud of myself for waiting and staying within the safe boundaries I'd set for myself---having already planned on my taco casserole dinner. There will be more opportunities to go out with friends in the future and, hopefully, I'll be stronger and better able to stay on plan at that time. Tonight I wanted to make a treat to celebrate the girls coming home from summer camp so I made brownies. I served everyone but me and there were three left in the pan. I "assigned" them to the older guys and said, "these had better be gone in the next hour or so." Ha! I'll have my own on-plan chocolate treat later tonight.

One thing that's important on THM is to make sure you are happily satisfied after every meal. You need to wait 3-4 hours in between meals; so you'll want to get full each time so you don't find yourself snacking and messing up your weight loss. On the menu below, you'll see that my lunch was kind of weird. That's because there wasn't enough taco casserole left to fill me up so I warmed up some seasoned chicken and melted pepper jack cheese on top. It seems weird to have two "main dishes" at a meal, but you gotta do what you gotta do! Always shoot for high protein in every meal, but only what makes sense for your own eating style. I don't actually eat a whole lot of food in one sitting---but I try to eat something every 3-4 hours.

This was my meal plan for Friday:

Breakfast: Muffin in a Mug topped with 1/2 container Oikos Triple Zero yogurt, bacon, strawberries, blueberries

Lunch: small bit of taco casserole leftovers, seasoned chicken topped with melted pepper jack cheese

Dinner: shredded zucchini "noodles" with sauteed tomatoes, seasoned chicken, pesto, and Parmesan cheese

Today I had the same breakfast but lunch was my first big temptation. This morning something really really really really really REALLY stressed me out. The discussion went on for two hours and, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking how this stressful situation was the perfect excuse to go to Taco Bell and splurge on the stuff I love. I even started hinting to Jamie, hoping he'd suggest it and sort of give me his approval or enabling or whatever. He didn't. So I went to my room to sulk for a minute, then I went to the kitchen and made this nice plate of  THM "S" foods. Big victory today---I can't let my emotions control my health!

Friday, July 13, 2018

From Fezzik to Buttercup: First Day Success!

Good Morning! Just wanted to post a little note of appreciation to everyone who has commented and sent me private messages about Wednesday's post. I heard from many of you privately and, while I knew I wasn't alone in my fat girl frustrations, it was encouraging to hear your stories. It showed me that this openness about my struggles is needed, so I will continue to do my best to share with you all!

I'm feeling a lot better about it all this morning after a time of prayer and completing one whole day of the THM eating plan yesterday. I didn't go out for a walk yesterday but I was out doing errands from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm so I figured all that running around would count for my daily get-up-and-go!

Some of you are wondering about THM. It stands for Trim Healthy Mama and it's become more than another fad way of eating. The "program" (lack of a better word) was written by a team of Christian sisters, daughters of the founder of the Above Rubies ministry. Thousands of women (men and kids, too!) have been healed of weight problems, diabetes, fertility issues, inflammation issues, and more by following this plan. I encourage you to join their Facebook group and purchase their books (buy used ones on eBay or check your library. Bentonville has them, for you locals.) and get the scoop on this gentle way of healing your body. The basic gist, though, is to separate your fuel sources at every meal. We are fueled by carbs and fats but when we eat them together, that's just too much fuel (for most of us). Instead, we divide up our fuel sources to make one meal a fat/protein meal (THM "S" meal) and one meal a low carb/protein meal (THM "E" meal). A couple other "on plan" practices are to wait 3-4 hours in between meals and to stay away from white flour, sugar, and fake stuff. It's a very doable thing and isn't really any different, cost wise, if you know how to cook for yourself and don't get pulled in to buying fad stuff.

I'm often inspired by others' menus. Here's a look at what I did yesterday. My breakfast was a THM "S" meal. I found that the yogurt and bacon weren't enough to get me through the 3 hours. I could have added some eggs and/or sauteed vegetables---both cooked in butter. My lunch was a THM "E" meal, but the serving of rice was quite a lot for an appropriate E meal so I left about half of the rice and beans in the bowl. Next time I think I'll order a salad rather than a burrito bowl because I found that I wanted more lettuce and less of the rice and beans. Still, it was awesome! Dinner was an "S" meal and filled me up for almost the whole 3 hours. I made my family a regular taco casserole with tortilla chips included and just made my own little (Ok BIG) chipless one in a separate bowl. About two hours after dinner, I started to feel hungry again but waited the three hours and then made a chocolate mug cake. Every time I make these, they're so rich that I can only eat half. This time I ate it with some yogurt and berries and that was doable. I'll keep tweaking the recipe and post it here when I get it sweet enough.

Breakfast: Oikos Triple Zero strawberry yogurt with 1/2 c. blackberries mixed in, bacon, water

Lunch: Chipotle Grill burrito bowl with cilantro lime brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, steak, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. (I was out doing errands so I picked up Jamie from work and we had lunch together! Wednesday is our 20 year anniversary! Woo Hoo!)

Dinner: Taco Casserole without chips: seasoned ground beef, cheese, olives, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce

Snack: 1/2 chocolate mug cake with 1/2 container Oikos Triple Zero Mixed Berry Yogurt and a handful of fresh blueberries

Today is another busy day but I'm gonna take a few minutes now and make my eating plan for the day. I plan and schedule out stuff for my family all the time---now I gotta get in the habit of doing it for myself, rather than saying "I'll just figure it out when it's time."

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

From Fezzik to Buttercup: Another Weight Loss "Journey"? Inconceivable!

I'm tired of feeling like Princess Buttercup trapped in the body of Fezzik the Giant.
Wanna know something that bugs the snot outta me? (I never realized how gross that saying was until I wrote it out there...sorry.) It makes me nuts when people use the term "journey" for something that's really not all that epic. (Actually, the term "epic" really burns me, too....) Frodo and Sam had a journey, Marco Polo---that was a journey. But when someone talks about their spiritual journey or their weight loss journey? I don't know. It just all seems so dramatic. Seemed. It seemed so dramatic. Until now.

I just got back from a doctor's visit in which I was made aware of the eleventybillion things wrong with my back. Degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, arthritis...I'm 38 years old. Much of this condition is hereditary, but it shouldn't be at nearly the level of degeneration that it is at only 38 years old. The problem is that I've carried 10 children and I am very heavy. Girls, I'm fat. 

One thing that "political correctness" has done to us is that it's niced everything over. We gotta put some sugar on top of that otherwise not-so-nice truth---otherwise we might offend someone. If you are reading this and you are also fat, I'm sorry if I've offended you. But here's my deal: I've been making excuses way too long and those excuses have kept me from doing hard stuff. They've kept me from THE JOURNEY. (Dun dun dunnnn!!)

Truth is, I'm not hiding this fatness from anyone. So, y'all might as well know: I'm 347 pounds. Last week I was 346. Dude, NO ONE---I don't care who you are---no one should be 347 pounds. (Ok, maybe Fezzik the Giant up there is 347 pounds. If you are as tall as Fezzik the Giant then I make an exception for you. You may be 347 pounds and quite healthy). But, as for me and my 5'6" frame, we should not be 347 pounds.

The biggest reason why I want to tell you that I'm 347 pounds is because many of you are also extremely overweight. Obese. Morbidly obese. You're scared. You feel hopeless. You've tried all the stuff and nothing is working. In many cases, it's not working because you stopped trying. That's what my problem is. I tried and then I didn't and here I am. Not gonna beat myself up, not trying to beat you up. Just saying that it's really hard to find a girl out there who will tell you she's 347 pounds---so here you go. 

The second reason I want to tell you I'm 347 pounds is that someday I want to be able to tell you I'm 247 pounds. Then 200. Then 170. Then I think I'll stop. I liked being 170 pounds---back when I was seventeen. Ha! Someday I want all this rambling blah blah to be the prequel to some awesome and inspiring stories about how I got healthy and strengthened my body. Today at the doctor, I refused the pain medications and the injections and even the weekly physical therapy. I don't have time for the PT and I'm not ready to be medicated. Someday I want to say I've decreased the pain by getting my body in shape. 

Today I'd love to say that I have a great plan for eating and fitness and all that. I wanna say I'm focused and motivated and ready for change. The truth is, I left the doctor's office and went to the gas station and bought two slices of pepperoni pizza, a huge Diet Pepsi, and a King Size candy bar. Someday I want the thought of that to make me barf. I do have a bit of a plan...I'll tell you in a minute.

But first I want to acknowledge that this post may seem very much out of character for me. Many of you have been reading this blog for almost 10 years and many of you are close friends I see on a weekly basis. I often pride myself on "being transparent" (another super trendy bloggy women's ministery phrase). But the truth is, there's a lot hiding out inside and I'm getting sick of trying to keep it all together. I love myself. I think I'm beautiful, funny, intelligent, and God's got an awesome purpose for my life. He's done great things in me and will continue to. But, there's also some wrecked stuff in me and I have been stuffing that stuff for far too long. If you prefer the milder me who shows you pretty vintage things, encourages you in your homemaking and homeschooling and Biblical womanhooding, and gives you fattening but cheap recipe ideas, there's 10 years worth of that on this blog. Knock yourself out. Not saying I won't continue with all that. However, whenever you see the image of Fezzik force-feeding a passive Princess Buttercup, you can expect something raw and uncensored. (I'm SO stinkin' trendy! Oh, I forgot "real". It will all be "real" too.) You can expect to read about some struggles and some breakthroughs. If you're fat and lazy like me, you might even get a little motivated! Yay!

So far, my plan is threefold. First, I'm gonna pray for God to anoint me with the strength, wisdom,  and conviction to get my act together. Second, I'm gonna do my best to stick with the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle that teaches me to separate my carbs and fats. Lots of people have had great weight loss and many other health successes on this plan. It's too much to eat these fuel sources together. Check out their book for more info. Thirdly, I'm gonna try to walk a little every day. This might not seem like some amazing, trendy, motivated journey to you...but for me, having ONE WHOLE DAY of doing those things without fail would be an amazing miracle.

{I would like to end this post with a public apology to my mother who prides herself on being poised and ladylike in public at all times. These stream of consciousness type of posts from me make her waffle between proud and panicked. Just watch---as soon as she reads this, she's gonna comment some sweet, motherly, encouraging thing down below. Inside she's gonna be praying, "Oh Lord! Why does she have to spill her business like this???!!!"}

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Challenging Myself to Be a Good Steward of Our Blessings -- Homemade Home

The littles visiting the sno-cone truck at the library summer reading program party!
Hi Friends!

Hope everyone is enjoying a happy and relaxing weekend. It's a bit overcast today and a lot cooler than normal and that always puts me in the mood for cozy living! Jamie and I are very close to being able to purchase our home and are super excited! We've been having a lot of money management talks lately, trying to figure out how to make the best use of our resources. We'll be married twenty years next month and it's interesting how things have changed.

As you can imagine, raising nine children is a challenge in many ways---no matter how deep one's pool of resources is. However, we've really struggled financially over the years---mainly because of our own poor decision making skills. What we're finding lately is that now that Jamie is bringing in more income than we actually need for survival, we're not being as careful as we once were about managing that income in a responsible way. We eat out a lot, purchase things on impulse--often without actually using them right away, and haven't increased our giving at church in a long time.

This past week, we've had some great talks about being better stewards of the blessings God's given us and one way we want to do that is by going back to keeping our kitchen stocked so we can cook and bake from scratch. I'm excited to go out shopping this week and fill up those cupboards and freezers again!

In the meantime, we've been busy in the kitchen! This morning I made banana bread and last night I made some molasses cookies for the freezer. Here's a look at some other fruits of our weekend labor:

Saturday morning I made these pretty blueberry muffins and received several sweet compliments.

Then I made some bread for the first time in several months. Isn't it gorgeous? I made more this morning. Everyone's loving the fresh homemade bread!

After that, Jamie made TWO lovely blackberry pies with berries the kids have been gathering from all over our hills.

Unfortunately, the kids have also been gathering ticks from our hills! Yikes! I mixed up a repellent spray using Young Living's Purification and Peppermint oils and tested it on Selah and Cainan. They had ticks on them when they came back from picking, but none had bitten. I read recently that Arkansas has the highest tick population. GAG! They are everywhere!

Friday night we picked up an order from Bountiful Baskets. Do you have that in your area? We are trying it out for a bit to see what we think. The prices are comparable to Aldi for what you get, but the quality is much fresher. I love Aldi but I often find that their produce goes bad too quickly. We got a good mix of nice fruits and vegetables---bok choy being something new to us! I made a simple stir fry at dinner, combining it with chicken, garlic, plenty of salt and pepper, and sesame oil. It was delicious!

I'm on the hunt for blogs with frugal tips and recipes. Let me know your favorites in the comments below!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sweet Vintage Books for Pink Saturday

Happy Pink Saturday! 
I finally got unpacked from my Seattle trip (got back a month ago...ha!) and wanted to show off all my fun pink book finds. These first two books are so special to me as they are ones I had as a little girl. My mom read them to me countless times---especially Me Too. I can't wait to share them with my little girls. I found these at our favorite Mount Vernon, Washington antique store, Red Door Antiques.

I found these two antique books at a shop I'd never been to: Curious Goods in Conway, Washington. Both books are undated but some internet sleuthing tells me they were published around 1904.

On the left is J.M. Barrie's The Little Minister (Barrie is the author of Peter Pan). On the right is Charles Kingsley's Greek Heroes. (Kingsley authored The Water Babies and several other stories for children, including a fun collection of Shakespeare retellings that we've enjoyed over the years in our homeschool).

I especially love it when books are inscribed. Both of these are. One is to this "Anna" and the other is from her to her mother. I love these sweet treasures!

Happy Pink Saturday! Be sure to visit Beverly for more Pink Saturday goodness!

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Pretty Teacup for Pink Saturday

It's a very special Pink Saturday today! Not only is it the day of the latest Royal Wedding, it's also the 16th birthday of my sweet friend, Emily! Happy Birthday Emily! 
Today I'm sharing this sweet cup and saucer set my son Michael gifted me for my birthday in October. I love it because it features all the things I love: pink, roses, a postage mark to represent my love for letter writing, a key to represent all the secret doors I plan to unlock, and a crown to represent England, my favorite place on Earth!

"Spring has sprung" is a saying we often quoted in the Pacific Northwest. However, now that we're in Arkansas, it seems a little silly to make such light of what is actually a total EXPLOSION!! Spring has definitely exploded in our neighborhood. With the inclusion of the street in front, this is our 360° view at our home. My son, Cainan, took this photo yesterday morning. He's a Hobbit fan and, I'll admit, it does look quite Middle Earthen!

This is our first spring in our new home and it's been fun to see what's popping up. There's a large flower bed in front of our bay window and these lovely things are filling it up fast. Who can tell me what sort of plants these are? The thing I'm loving most about our outside right now is the lovely perfume of honeysuckle. It's absolutely pervading our neighborhood and just makes me so happy!

How are you enjoying your Pink Saturday? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to visit Beverly for more Pink Saturday goodness!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Psalm 61: The Prayer of Kings and Housewives

Our six year old daughter, Kynthia Joy, is in the nightmare stage. It's so strange how some of my children have never once woke me, afraid of what's lurking in their darkened bedrooms, while others struggle with nighttime fear for years. I know better than to let a wiggly six year old into bed with me---once she finally gets settled, all hope of sleep for both of us is gone. After she'd wiggled for a good hour or so this morning, I sent her back to bed, telling her I'd turn on the living room lamp and sit in there reading so she didn't have to be afraid.

Exhausted as I was, quiet time is hard to find around here so I decided to read my Bible for a bit. I'm currently following what I call the "Blue's Clues" method of study. ("Present time, present time, open it up and see what's inside.") I read some of 2 Chronicles, and then flipped over to Psalm 61. Faithful God didn't disappoint.

Psalm 61
To the Chief Musician. On a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David.

"Hear my cry, O God, 
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You.
When my heart is overwhelmed; 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me, 
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

 For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those 
who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king's life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may 
preserve him!

So I will sing praise to Your name forever, 
That I may daily perform my vows."

Only God can take the prayer of an ancient Middle Eastern king and make it the prayer of a 21st century housewife. Matthew Henry* says, "the Psalm itself is very personal, and well adapted for the private devotion of a single individual." Yes. 

I've read this Psalm over and over this morning. The first part that struck me was the "vows":

"For You, O God, have heard my vows;"
"So I will sing praise to Your name forever, 
That I may daily perform my vows."

Henry says the vows he's speaking of are the vows he's made to God---to worship him, to sing praises. Reading it the first couple times, I thought of the other vows King David had made---to his family, his country, his people. I thought of the vows I've made: to my husband, my family, my friends. The commitments I've made to ministry. All of these are also vows to God. For a Christian, a vow made to man is also an implicit vow to God.

Oh, don't I need God's strength to daily perform my vows? It's in praising him that I find that strength. In worshipful obedience, I am empowered to fulfill all my commitments to him---and with joy, to boot!

The second part of the passage that blessed me was this:

"You have given me the heritage of those 
who fear Your name."

I don't have a super strong Godly heritage on all sides of my family tree---not in recent history, anyway. Yet, through Christ's sacrifice, He has made it possible for me to have the same inheritance of eternal life as all the other saints throughout history---the same inheritance given to Christ, himself! Henry says:

"Saints are described as fearing the name of God; they are reverent worshippers, they stand in awe of the Lord's authority; they are afraid of offending him, they feel their own nothingness in the sight of the Infinite One. To share with such men, to be treated by God with the same favour as he mete's out to them, is a matter for endless thanksgiving."

Amen. What a privilege it is to worship, serve, and obey the Lord.

*Matthew Henry was a 17th century minister who wrote an exhaustive commentary on most of the Bible. His notes and commentary are valuable to the Christian who would want to further understand the Bible, verse by verse. You can find his commentary online --- Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Modesty Problems are PARENTING Problems

You know when you read something and it really strikes you as, "yes! Right on!" Then you stew on it a while...and a while longer...and pretty soon you're totally fired up about the whole thing and ready to take on the world? Yeah. That's me today.

Early this morning, I read an article from my friend, Jacque at Deep Roots at Home, about modesty and raunchiness in our culture and it really struck a chord with me. Partly because the idea of requiring modesty of yourself and your daughters seems like a no brainer to me and I have a hard time understanding parents who don't. Partly because I was one of those girls who had no modesty requirements and got a lot of attention and advances, and a whole lot of other bad stuff happened because I flaunted myself like a flippin' floosie.

When Lynzie was a little girl (and the boys were young too), I felt very convicted to get rid of most of the Barbie dolls. She never owned a Bratz doll. We ditched Hannah Montana super fast. I got a lot of flak for that---lost friends over it---even family changed the way they treated us. In fact, I can't tell you the number of "friends" (and yeah, family too, actually...) who have decided to stop being "friends" because they couldn't handle my supposed "superior" attitude about the way I was raising my kids.

Of course, I wondered all the time if I was too harsh. Was my daughter going to turn out weird? Were my boys going to be nerdy---like the gross kind of nerdy? Was I going to be stuck with these kids for the rest of my life because I hadn't prepared them for the "real world"???

To sum it up, my fears were entirely unfounded and my sense of caution was from the Lord. Now that Lynzie is grown and is obviously choosing to be who she is, I don't feel so "braggy" talking about her good character. She values modesty and purity. She knows she was created to worship God and serve him, rather than to worship culture and serve herself. Her standards have always been higher than my own.

...and my boys? They're gentlemen. They are uncomfortable when the girls around them are dressed skimpy. They don't see it as sexy---they see it as someone's parent not doing a great job of protecting their daughter's innocence. They don't give attention to girls who flaunt themselves in words or in actions. ...and they're not even gross-nerdy. They're actually sort of babelicious, from what I hear.

In the early days, "well-meaning" (read: ignorant) people would warn us we were "sheltering" the kids. I started out thinking that was a bad thing. Then I got a swift kick into God's reality that showed me that's exactly the point of parenting. A shelter has windows, it has doors, it's not inescapable and it doesn't mean the rest of the world is inaccessible. A shelter merely provides a safe place of comfort from the garbage of the world. I shelter my husband, these days, way more than I do my kids, and it's come 20 years later than it should have.

If you have kids, parent them. Parent them according to God's standards---not according to the world's. If you're a Christian parent, you hear that all the time. This time, actually follow that hearing up with action. Require a change in your daughter who rebels against modesty. Don't ignore that voice in your head that tells you her clothes are too tight, too short, too revealing. Stop puffing up with pride when men ogle your underage daughter. You are not liberating her---you are setting her up for a life in bondage to what she can offer a man physically and with her outward appearance. ...and in case you're not one of the tiny minority of eternal Barbie dolls, you know outward appearances fade in time. Then what will she have to offer?

Focus on cultivating a heart of modesty, integrity, service, compassion, kindness. Yes, she might find herself at "Sweet 18 and never been kissed", but she'll also have such a full and creative life that finding a guy will be one goal out of many.

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