Cinnamon Buns

I have made it to 37 weeks! Woo Hoo! I have started craving comfort food. One of those comfort foods for me is Cinnamon Buns (or Cinnamon Rolls).

Also as I anticipate the arrival of this baby. I toggle between being terribly uncomfortable(this just hit me this past weekend) which comes with the feeling of not ever wanting to get off the couch, to having bursts of energy and wanting to keep busy to pass the time. I haven’t had much of an in between speed the past few days… So of course in my burst of energy yesterday, making cinnamon buns that chilly afternoon sounded perfect.

In our house when , I don’t just make them as breakfast or a dessert. I make them for dinner, with bacon… So good… And since they are dinner there is no guilt in having as many as you want. 😉

I make the bun dough in my Bosch mixer, which is just the best for kneading bread. This recipe makes about two 9×13 inch pans. It’s quite a lot of dough, so if you are using a mixer with a smaller bowl it might not fit…

Cinnamon Buns

First add 3 Cups warm water, this is what you will be activating your yeast in. So you want to temp to be between 95 and 115 F. (I try to gage it by how hot I would make my bath water when checking the temp of the water.)

Then add 1/3 Cup Sugar, 1/3 Cup Canola oil and 2 Tablespoons yeast. Let sit for about 5 min.

Then add 3 Cups flour and 1 Tablespoon Salt. Mix together. It will be a watery dough consistency.

Add 2 eggs to the dough and mix with fork. (pic below)


Mix together.

Then you will slowly start adding flour. It will be about another 4 1/2 Cups. The dough should be coming clean off the sides once there is enough flour. (Pic below)

Knead in mixer for another 4 to 5 min. Then pull out of mixer and form into a ball.

Add about 2 Tablespoons of Canola oil to a bowl large enough for the dough to raise in. Place dough in bowl. Coat your dough in the oil, so that it would still as much to the sides of the bowl.


Let raise for an hour to an hour and a half, until it has doubled in size.

Lightly cover the surface that you will be rolling out your dough in oil. Roll out dough, fairly thin.


Soften half a cup of butter and spread all over rolled out dough.  I eyeball the brown sugar and cinnamon. I spread the brown sugar so it is evenly coated all over the dough, and then I sprinkle the cinnamon all over it.



Roll up and pinch the seam of the dough together. Then I pinch them apart with dental floss or string. And place them in 2 greased 9×13 inch pans.


Let rise another half an hour. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 min.

The reason there is only one pan in this last picture. Is because I got so excited when they came out of the oven, I immediately started serving them up and forgot all about taking the picture!

I serve them with frosting.

 Cinnamon Bun Dough

3 Cups water   1/3 Cup Sugar

1/3 Cups Canola Oil   2 Tablespoons Yeast

3 Cups Flour  1 Tablespoon Salt

2 Eggs    4 1/2 Cups additional Flour

Filling

1/2 Cup Butter

Brown sugar to cover dough and cinnamon to sprinkle on dough (eyeball it)

Vanilla Butter Frosting

1/3 Cup softened Butter

3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

About 1/4 Cup Milk

Mix butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk together. You can use more or less milk depending on how thick you like your frosting.

When you put it over the hot cinnamon buns it will start melting in!

Intentionality in the New Year

 

It’s a new year! We have just landed in one of my least favorite months. Christmas is over and the reality of how much winter we have left to go sets in. This winter has been a bit brutal so far. It’s been going from bearable temps, to below zero temps, blizzards, and there was even an ice storm on Christmas Day thrown in there. We have not had much of the picturesque 20 degrees with light snow falling. However I really can’t complain. I’m used to driving in the snow at this juncture in life and I don’t usually have to leave the house when it’s blizzarding, unless of course, I’m picking the boy’s up from school. And really Fergus is so small that this is not a big deal. Also (don’t hate me) but the kid in me loves watching storms. There is just something beautiful and captivating in them.

Starting the New Year, for a lot of people comes new years resolutions. Now traditionally I’m not a huge fan of new years resolutions, for myself. Not that I am against them, in fact I think they can be great and a good kick in areas we know need attention. But for myself I really gravitate toward the law side of them. In the past I have made these detailed resolutions, and then I drive myself crazy, because I want to stick to the letter of the law in them… I mean after all I made it! I love extending grace to others, but when it comes to myself I tend to have more of an issue. My type-A personality comes out in spades…at myself! So I have shied away from doing this the last few years.

But this year I have been pondering the “New Years Resolution” again. Not because I want to make some strict guidelines for myself like, -drink 64oz of water –workout 5 times a week –read to the kids at least 20 min everyday –meal plan on the weekend for the week. These are all great things, but I realize that right now in life this stuff is not going to happen every week. Especially the ‘workout 5 times a week’! Ha!

However I do want to be more intentional. I have a few things that I’m really excited about that I believe God has placed on my heart, which I will share with you all.

One of them is this blog. Believe it or not, starting this blog has been a huge stretch for me. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and grown me. Mainly in writing about life and being honest and open in that. But also in technology! It took me forever to figure out how to get my site set up the way I wanted it! Thankfully I had my techie hubby around to help me trouble shoot! I want to be intentional in getting organized going into the New Year. This will also be a really useful device in helping me keep on top of things, and not letting this slip to the back burner as life gets busy.

Another thing that I’m excited about being more intentional in is Plexus. Not only is it a great company that makes top of the line health products, but all of the women (and a few men) who are ambassadors that I have worked with are so great and very encouraging. Their primary focus is to help people. I love that. I have talked a bit about how much it has impacted my life and Daniel’s. So I won’t go into the long details of that. (I will link below the blog post that goes into those details.) I have read and heard so many testimonies of how it is helping others as well. It helps with things like, Diabetes (types1 and 2), it provides energy, influences mood, helps in losing weight, and also gaining weight, skin issues, allergy issues, hormone imbalance and many more things. I’m not saying it will fix all these things for everyone. But because it gets to the root of the problem that a lot of these things stem from, it can have a big impact. And because of that I want to be more intentional with sharing about it, and in bringing some hope, tools and better health to others. One of the best parts is the routine is super simple! I mean, Daniel has no problem keeping up with it!

The last thing (but certainly not least) I plan on being more intentional in is relationships. This is a funny one for me to think about being more intentional in, because I crave relationship. I crave having deep friendships and conversation. It energizes and fills me up. But I get busy and forget to make it happen. I can tell when it’s not happening. I feel it. I start getting a bit stir crazy and won’t stop talking Daniel’s ear off. Poor guy… I need to be more intentional in setting up things like play dates, coffee dates, and having people over for dinner. The hope is that after Daniel graduates Seminary we will be taking a call at a church. And I really need to remember this one during that time. When I’m getting to know new people and a new area. I enjoy getting to know people and new areas, but it also puts me out of my comfort zone and I can let shyness and insecurities get the best of me in these situations, if I’m not being intentional.

As we start the New Year, I have been approaching these things in prayer. And I have only gotten more excited. However as I contemplate this, and start writing things down in my planner I realize I will have to write them down in pencil. And continue to commit my agenda and plans to the Lord. I believe that the Lord has given me these passions and hopes in my heart. But I also go into them realizing that I want to continue to seek His guidance in all the aspects of life. I want to be in a place where I’m sensitive and willing to change and adapt.

I don’t want to live them out through the law, but through God’s grace.

Blessings in the New Year!

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Link to our Health Story- This is a Story All About How…

Expectations and the Guilt that Accompanies 

 

The second Christmas challenge…

Another big challenge that I have been thinking about, is the expectations that come with this time of year. I think that the expectations look different depending on the person and family. But there are cookie exchanges, gift exchanges, Christmas cards to write and mail. There are family gatherings, and gatherings with friends. And then of course you have to add all of this on top of your normal week/work/school schedule.

How do we do it all?

We can’t. Or at least I can’t!

Something somewhere has to give. And then if you are like me, you feel guilty about it.

I was listening to a woman tell this story on a podcast the other day, about how she grew up in a very unconventional family, she then ended up going to college in a completely different area of the country than what she was used to, and married a nice man from the south. In her early-married years, she signed up for the cookie exchange at church. And on the flier it said to bring your favorite cookie to exchange. So she showed up with her favorite cookie… Oreos. The other women were so confused as to why she would show up with Oreos, a store-bought cookie. She soon realized her mistake as she looked around at all the home made baked goods, and got the “oh honey, that’s ok” from multiple women. She had never really liked baking, and in her previous community of friends this wouldn’t have been a big deal. But obviously that was a different story here. The next few years she continued to sign up for the cookie exchange and this time bake her own cookies. But at some point along the line realized she still did not like baking. It did not bring her any joy. So she made the decision that she was not going to participate in things like cookie exchanges anymore, instead she was going to spend more time at Christmas doing the things she loved.

I really like the concept of spending more time doing what you love at Christmas and letting go of those things that you really don’t enjoy. This idea is really a freeing concept to me. Focusing more on my giftings and less on the checklist.

My mom loves writing Christmas cards. In fact she is just great at remembering and writing cards to people throughout the year. I love that about her. This is a gift that she enjoys, and through it she loves on others. I on the other hand really, really struggle with writing Christmas cards. It is not something that comes naturally to me, I struggle to remember to do it, and I don’t really enjoy the process. My poor mother really worked hard getting me to remember to write cards and thank you cards. But even with the repetition of doing it when I was younger, with her prodding, it is still a huge struggle for me today. So when it comes to the big task of Christmas cards…. Well I have pretty much given up on those.

And in previous years I have felt really guilty about this. But this year I have decided to let it go. I’m figuratively waving goodbye to that guilt! Maybe I will do it someday. But for right now I’m letting it go. I will grab on to some newfound freedom in changing my expectations. I will wish everyone a Merry Christmas from social media. And I will cheer on and be thankful for those that do love to send cards!

It’s usually pretty much impossible to get away from every difficult situation or time at Christmas (or life). But I have realized I can have boundaries and change my own expectations of myself.

This is a great season to love on people or let others love on you! Let your gifts and abilities shine. And don’t get bogged down by unrealistic expectations.

Our traditions and Christmas’ have looked pretty different throughout the years. Some years we have been close to family, and in the more recent years we have been away. But in all that, we have found some traditions that we love to do together as a family. So I will share a few with you!

We love to make “hot”(warm) cocoa, put it in the boys water bottles, load up in the van and drive around and look at (hunt for) Christmas lights.

Another one is making krumkake with Daniel. This is Daniel’s favorite Christmas cookie. It’s a Norwegian cookie that looks a lot like a mini ice cream cone, highlighted with the delicious spice, cardamom. You can fill them with cream, but for the most part, we just eat them plain.

On Christmas Eve we love going to the candlelight service at church. We are still in the process of figuring a favorite main course for Christmas Eve dinner. So if you have any favorites feel free to let me know!

We have been carrying on this tradition from Daniel’s side of the family. On Christmas Eve we eat dinner by candlelight, and then we serve rice pudding with a nut hidden in it, and whoever finds the nut gets a prize. The kids love this. Then we read the Christmas story and Daniel gets out his guitar and we sing a few Christmas carols.

Christmas morning, there is a lot of opening presents, playing, coffee and then cinnamon buns (In fact I will have to share my cinnamon bun recipe, it is so delicious!). Christmas day has been pretty low key for us, just enjoying each other’s company. Until the meltdowns start with the kids. For all the fun extreme highs of the day, it seems that they cannot go without the extreme meltdowns later on! But it’s all worth it!

For now I will stick to what I love and what works for this season of life, baking for others, baking with my kids. Parties, Christmas movies and curling up on the couch with a book while it dumps snow (which is actually what my day looked like today).

And to all of you, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Filled with hope, and peace in the Lord.

 

Romans 15:12-13

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,

one who will arise to rule over the nations;

in him the Gentiles will hope.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Why is it so Hard??

 

It’s that time of the year again! You know as the song goes, “The most wonderful time of the year!” Sort of… I do love this time of year though. I enjoy all the get-togethers and parties. I can be a bit shy but I have realized that I’m more of an extrovert than an introvert. So I really feed off of all of the business and activities. I also love baking cookies with the kids. Currently I am trying to get them each to think of their favorite Christmas cookie, that we can put on the ‘to bake’ list. So far this plan of mine is not working out to well… it’s hard for them to narrow it down to just one cookie, and then there is the issue that one of them thinks his favorite cookie is ginger bread men, and I know it’s not…I’m not even sure he’s had a ginger bread cookie. But he likes the story with the ginger bread boy in it; therefore his favorite cookie is gingerbread men. I’m thinking I will have to either rethink my plan a bit, or make more types of cookies than I currently want to. I also enjoy shopping, picking out the gifts, and brainstorming gift ideas for the boys with Daniel, as we get excited for what Christmas morning will look like.

But lets face it. Christmas is not without it’s challenges. Oh so many challenges… I have been pondering them this past week. I know that there are many, many different challenges for each different person at Christmas. I want to just write about a few of them that I have been working through this year. I am just going to start with the first one here. I started to write this all in one post, and it was getting long, so I will break it into two and put up the second next week. I think short and simple works a bit better during this season. So you’re welcome! 😉

Christmas is a time when we should be so filled with hope, joy and thankfulness. We look back and can be thankful for the birth of Jesus and his coming. In the present we can be thankful for all that He has done for us that leads to our salvation and forgiveness. And we look to the future where we can be thankful that He is coming again and that our eternity is sound and secure in Christ.

I personally have so much to be thankful for in my own life right now.

And yet, it’s this time of year that can also make it so hard to be thankful.

Our family started making Christmas lists for each other the past few years. Takes a little bit of the guess work out of Christmas shopping, and for those of us who will not make it home for Christmas, it also helps if those things are on amazon and can be easily shipped! At first it’s hard for me to think of what I want to put on my list… (Besides a new van! And that is not really a Christmas list item, ha!) But once I get the ball rolling and coming up with a few things, I realize, there are a whole lot of things I could put on this list. My kid’s start adding to their Christmas lists as soon as Christmas is over! All these toys ‘conveniently’ come with adds that show all the other toys they don’t have in a particular set. And the kids show us what they ‘need’ to get next from these little add booklets. Well played Lego… Well played…

It’s so easy to fall into discontentment during this time of year. It’s so easy to see all the things we don’t have. It’s so easy to compare our lives with others. Most of the time it creeps in without me even realizing it.

This year I have been more actively aware of this mental battle. For me just being more aware of it has helped, recognizing the lies before they can take root. It helps me actively redirect those thoughts, to where they should be.

Also it can be hard for me to set aside time to spend with God this time of year. I know it should be #1 priority right! Well, it sure can get hard when there is so much going on this time of year! But it has really helped me to keep this a priority. It does not look the same everyday. And that is one thing I love about the freedom we have as we rest in Gods grace. There are no set rules for when to do devotions, or what that should look like! Just seek the Lord. Do what He puts on your heart and what works for you.

I recently got an advent devotional from an app called “She Reads Truth”. It has been really good. Currently the devos have been tying the Old Testament prophecy about Jesus’ coming to the New Testament scripture where Jesus has come and fulfilled that prophecy. I have been enjoying it! It’s also right there on my phone, so if I miss out on my morning devotions, I have it right there when I have time later in the day.

As far as getting my kids to focus on the true reason for the season, we talk about it a lot. In our nightly prayers, we make a point to talk about it, to thank God for the birth of Jesus, for sending His Son. We do have some advent things to do with the kids as well. But it’s a work in progress (I mean who am I kidding! I just wrote about how I am still a work in progress!). I don’t have it all figured out. I just keep praying that God will give us wisdom and guidance. And of course the continued prayer for my boys and their relationships with Jesus…and it wouldn’t hurt if they could settle on a favorite Christmas cookie either…

So here are a few verses on why we celebrate Christmas!

 

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Don’t Move That Couch!

 

Over the past two months I have been working on one of my least favorite things. Once it is accomplished, it also happens to be one of the most rewarding things to my psyche. But that means I have to actually do it. Ugh.

And No it’s not running, I actually love doing that. Except for right now, while I’m 28 weeks pregnant. I will be forgoing the running until after baby, and stick with other forms of working out, preferably ones that don’t make me feel like I have to pee the entire time! Things just aren’t the same after a few pregnancies…

No. What I’m talking about is cleaning out my house. Getting rid of the stuff I don’t use and need. I have been going room by room and sorting. Ufda.. makes me feel worn out just thinking about it!!

I started this task in September. Not just because there were certain cupboards and rooms that were driving me crazy. Not just because of how hard it was to find things, or how messy parts of the house were starting to look. Sure, that all plays a part in it. But what really pushed me to do it is the fact that I’m really on the clock right now. And it’s coming to crunch time. I have less that 12 weeks till my due date, and in those 12 weeks are Thanksgiving, Christmas(with all the joy’s…mostly joy’s… that this holiday comes with) and Daniel and the boys’ Christmas break. And then, after the baby comes, it’s only a few short months before we will mostly likely be moving.

Once the boy’s started school I decided to take action. I have made a huge dent since then. I shouldn’t say dent. I really am almost done. The last thing holding me up is the little boy clothes… Just one more reason I was hoping for a girl, so I wouldn’t have to deal with sorting through these bags! I wanted to just say goodbye to those suckers, and start over!! They are the last thing on the list to sort through, and they are staring me in the face every time I walk into my spare bedroom. Once I get started it won’t be so bad. But I will need to dedicate a day to getting this project done.

What a long process this has felt like though. And as I work through each room and space, I find more that needs to be sorted and organized, along with some things that I didn’t even realize were there. It seems that I always find more that I should clean up and organize.

And some times I just want to shut the door and pretend that I didn’t see it.

As I have been going through this process, it has reminded me of times in my spiritual life. Sometimes God brings to light things I need to deal with, clean up, or grow in. And I think, “Ok, Do your work, deal with me here, I want to grow closer to You and I know this is something You need to take care of.” Sometimes I am quick to this response.

Sometimes I am not.

It seems that He starts rooting out, or pruning away in one area of my life. Then once that area is dealt with there is a sense of relief. But so often His working and cleaning in one area reveals other areas that He needs to clean, other areas that need His attention. More and more is revealed by the Light of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God being active in my life. And there is always more to clean up. There is always more mess that needs to be dealt with. Sometimes I just want to hide, simply because all that dirt and mess is just so embarrassing.

It’s so much like cleaning my house!

For instance, when I’m cleaning and for some crazy reason I decide to move my couch and I see all sorts of surprises… um… awful surprises! And I want to just put that couch right back where it was and forget that there is all that grossness under there. (Oh and some times I do!) As God convicts me and grows me in some of these difficult times, I might be ok with it for a while, but man have there been times where I feel like “Ok God, that is far enough! I’m done! Do not lift up that couch!!!” But does that stop him? Of course not. And deep down, I don’t want it to. Because I know I need to let Him continue to keep going through those deep places I didn’t even know I had to deal with.

Some times God cleans gently, and some times He does not. But I know God loves me, and is working for my benefit through these hard and exhausting times. And the feeling on the other side is sweet.

It’s so nice to open my closet and find what I’m looking for. To know that I’m not going to move things that I won’t even use at my next house. To just have it done!

The feeling is even sweeter when you come out of these refining times with God. Maybe it’s major growth, maybe it’s finally letting go of a sin you have been hanging onto, or didn’t even know was there. Maybe it’s letting go of a fear, or worry, and knowing that even if the worst happens God’s still got you. It can be so many different things. This process with the Lord will never be complete, until we see Him in Heaven. But there are definite seasons in our walk with the Lord where this process is more intense. And when He brings you through, growing closer with God is always worth it.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

The Difficulty of Open Hands

 

At the end of the past summer the reality of shifting season’s really hit me. As surely and as quickly as this past summer had come, so would the next. I found my self in a place of struggling and wrestling. There is a strange uncertainty and certainty that comes with the next season in life for us.

Daniel started his third and final year of seminary this past fall. There is an excitement in that. There is also that feeling of seeing the home stretch, but there is still a ways to go. There is also a bit of sadness that comes as well, we have enjoyed our time here, we have both grown, and made some really deep rooted friendships that will be hard to say good-bye to. The kids have made some friendships that will be hard for them to say good-bye to as well. There is a lot of unknown about what next year will look like.

We are not strangers to big moves, we have uprooted and moved a large distance a few times. We haven’t always known the details of how everything would work out. Like what we would do for work, or what friendships and daily life might look like. But all of these big life changes did have one thing in common… We knew where we would be moving. This time we know Daniel will be done with school come this May, and we most likely will not be staying in Fergus Falls, but where will we be moving to?

Literally, only God knows.

I found myself working through this quite a bit at the end of the summer. It really hit me, how fast these past two years have gone by, and in turn how fast the up coming year would go. And the big question started coming up quite a bit “So where are you headed after Seminary?” I don’t blame anyone for asking. I was (am!) wondering myself. My kids started asking “Where will we be going to school next year? Will we still live by any of our friends?” And when the kids start asking, it really hits home. I really want to give them some firm answers. To comfort any fears they might have, to instill excitement in them, for a big transition. The problem here is, I don’t have any answers.

I do have the “right” answer.

“God knows where we will be going, we are trusting in Him, He will take care of us, and it will be good.” Thankfully my children are trusting in me and in God. This answer does bring them a lot of comfort.

And yet for me, (in my adult, and very human mind), with all of the questions and the up coming year, the wrestling was still there. I knew I had to bring it before God and start praying through it.

I have been happy to leave and follow where God has been leading us. Happy to say that I would truly go anywhere God is calling us. He lead us to Buffalo, NY, back to Olympia, WA, then to Calgary AB, and now here to Fergus Falls, MN. I have been happy and excited to go to all of these places. Knowing that, where God calls, there is peace and joy in that calling.

As I prayed and started working through it, I began to understand my unrest and struggle in this particular ‘unknown’. And that came to light when I realized, deep down, I had been longing that God would call us back to the Pacific Northwest. Back close to family, friends, familiar territory.

And mountains.

In the past few years there had been other close family members that were living far away. They have now moved back and are close to the family again. All of my boys’ cousins are back again and living, at most, a few hours from each other. I am not frustrated by this at all, I’m really happy for them. But I found deep down in myself that I had been wondering, “Is it our turn now?” We will have lived away for 6 and a half years when Daniel finishes school.

“Isn’t that long enough God? Can’t we be called back, even if it’s just for a short time, while the kids are still little?”

I finally stopped ignoring these questions I had stuffed down deep, and admitted to myself, and to God, these things. There was a part of me that did feel justified with these questions and desires. But another part of me that knew I was letting my wants and desires get in the way of peace. Peace for my now, and for our future.

As I worked through this, there was a sadness in it. Because I knew God was asking me to let go, to open my hands to Him again and surrender. I was also frustrated with myself, that something that previously hadn’t been such a struggle, was hard this time.

Why can’t I just have moved past this? Why is this resurfacing in a new and unexpected way?

So I prayed, struggled, wrestled, cried, and then again prayed, struggled, wrestled and cried. As many times as I needed to that month. I dug deep in God’s word and spent many times (with a cup of coffee in hand) praying through these struggles and emotions. I’m so thankful that I can come to God with my anger and fear, that I can be candid and real with Him.

I’m thankful for the Psalms and the raw emotion there.

By the end of that month, I had worked through this hard and emotional process, and slowly released that struggle, and my wants to God. So that I stand with open hands again.

I have found rest in this situation. I can truly say that I want to go where God calls again. No matter where that is. Because it will be good. Because God is with me, and because He always knows better than I do. Because ultimately I want what is best for the furtherance of His kingdom and His ministry. That He is able to use my family, my broken self included, to be a part of His ministry here on earth, is amazing, and I am blessed by it.

We are in the middle of November now, and I am nowhere closer to knowing God’s plan for us this next year. But I am at rest, with open hands. Excited to see where He will lead us, and to see what He has in store for us. I am so thankful that we can draw near to God, and admit all of our deepest struggles to Him. And to know that all of this will not change how He sees me, it will not change the amount of love He has for me. I am still His perfect creation in Christ.

He is listening to our prayers, and we can find truth and comfort in His word. I’m thankful for my God who will work through my struggles with me, that I can cast my cares on Him and He will lift my burden. And set me resting in Him again.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Almond Cookies

 

image

 

I love almond flavor. And I seem to be liking it more and more as I get older. It’s like dark chocolate. You’re not a huge fan as a kid, but the older you get the more it grows on you until you think it’s amazing! That has been almond baked goods and desserts for me. As a kid I would think “Why would I ever get the thing with nuts in it!?!” Now it’s one of the first things I go for… well along with chocolate…

I really just started making these cookies the last few years. They are delicious and they are naturally gluten free. This also makes them my go to dessert for events, where there will be a crowd of people.

This recipe is really similar to  Kransekake (Norwegian wedding cake). I change it a little and make it into cookies. These cookies have a bit of a harder shell on the outside with a soft middle. I have to add, that these are totally inspired by my in-laws, who are Norwegian themselves, and make many amazing Norwegian desserts!


Almond Cookies

Heat oven to 300 degrees

Measure 4 Cups Almond flour and 4 Cups Powdered sugar into a large pot.

img_6694

 

Heat the almonds and powdered sugar on medium heat until it’s warm all the way through, and the powder becomes less fine.

img_6695

 

Remove from heat.

Separate three egg whites into a separate bowl.

Pour them into your almond flour/powdered sugar mixture.

img_6696

 

Quickly stir them, until the mixture is moist throughout, and starting to form your dough.

 

img_6697

 

Cover your cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Then form your dough into about 1 to 1 1/2 in. balls and place on cookie sheet.

img_6698

 

Bake for about 17 min. Until the cookies are a bit hard on the outside, they can have a little give to them in the middle. (You don’t want them to be brown, they will be very hard once they cool, if they start to brown.)

And that is it! They are pretty simple!

 

img_6699

 

Almond Cookie Ingredients

4 Cups Almond Flour

4 Cups Powdered Sugar

3 Egg Whites


 

 

Pick More Daisies

 

image

I’m really excited to announce my new site! After dipping my toe in the blogging world a bit. I have realized, that I wanted my site to be a bit more legit. An easier site to navigate and follow, for those of you who come to visit. Also an easier site for me to customize and make how I would like it to be. Little known fact about my husband and I, my husband is the techie of our family. I have been trying to get up to speed lately! But I’m a bit technologically challenged. This has been a growing experience, and a good one. But a growing experience none the less. I have gotten frustrated and laughed at myself a lot through all this!

My blog’s name is ‘Pick More Daisies’. I chose that name, thinking about the importance of slowing down, and taking time for things. Taking time for the Lord, His word, and praising Him for the big and little things. Taking time for the people in your life, and slowing down to enjoy life’s beauty.

I often have to remind myself of all of these things. As life can get chaotic and let’s be real, I get distracted with a lot of things. And those distractions, take away time too.

So I hope to slow myself down here. Be myself, encourage my readers in the Lord. And also be a place to let you all know, what I’m excited about, what I’m loving, and a little about what is happening in our lives through adding baby’s, ministry and the inevitable life changes that are coming when Daniel finish’s seminary.

I went with karenstenberg.com. As the web address, so that it would be easy to find. And keeps things more open, as this blog may evolve a bit as time goes.

So thank you for stopping by, and checking my site out! It’s been a challenge and a joy to start this little adventure of mine!

Coffee Pot Gospel

img_0083

This weekend was really busy. We had a fun time driving to the Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul). Taking the boys to their first baseball game and a good visit with friends. We also had a lot of work to get done once we got back home. Daniel had a sermon to finish for Sunday and I had the Seminary and Synod office building to clean. By the time Saturday was over we were pretty worn out.

 

Often when I’m cleaning it gives me time to reflect and think (If I’m not jamming out to tunes!). This past Saturday I was scrubbing this coffee pot that had been left on for at least a day, the bottom was gunky, black and charred. That got me reflecting, thinking about life before children and about myself.

 

One thing specifically is that I like to have things clean, especially on the surface (don’t look too closely at my closets!!). So when I sit down to drink coffee and read a book, everything is in its place and I don’t have this nagging feeling that I still have things that need to be done or finished. This was a whole lot easier to keep on top of when it was just Daniel and I making the messes.

 

By the time we had three boys under three, this mindset had to go, or I would never sit down and rest! When I had a baby and a toddler I could still kind of get all the toys picked up by the end of the night and keep on top of the dishes and the laundry (sort of). But once I had a baby and two toddlers, forget it! Toys everywhere, endless diaper changes, endless dishes, endless meals to figure out and prepare. No longer could I fit it all in. So yes, my neat freak, clean surfaces, checklist personality had some major adjustments. It makes me laugh now; here I am trying to check off my lists and being swamped with the reality of toddlers and babies! So much cleaning after everyone else!

 

I still function a bit better when things are semi picked up and I have space on the counter tops when I start cooking. I have found my “groove” for the most part that allows lots of grace and messiness, but also a space that I can function in better mentally.

 

As I was cleaning out that blackened coffee pot, I was feeling a bit annoyed, I knew it was just an absent minded mistake, that I had also been guilty of in my own home a number of times (which is why I now have a coffee pot that turns itself off after two hours…). But it was still another mess I didn’t make, yes sometimes I still get annoyed more often than I would like, as I pick up after others. But as I was scrubbing that pot and the black was coming off and the bottom was starting to look silver again, it dawned on me how much I am like this burnt coffee pot. I am black and charred without Jesus. That coffee pot was never going to get clean on its own, there was nothing it could do for itself. Someone would need to come along and wash and scrub all of the charred, black, gunk off.

 

Just like that pot I can do nothing to wash myself and make myself clean, there is nothing I can do to be rid of the mark of sin and death. Jesus had to come down and sacrifice everything, to sacrifice His life and die on that cross, to take away my sin and shame. To rise again and conquer sin and death. So that I can believe in Him and be washed white as snow. Now I can have that right relationship with my God and Savior. When God looks at me He no longer sees the charred blackness of sin. He sees me through Jesus, and I am clean. Praise be to God, that He would do that for me, for everyone who will believes in Him.

 

So black coffee pot, I will smile at you and lift up a prayer of thanksgiving to God that He sacrificed all for me. This is another reminder of the huge blessings behind all that mess. Another reminder of a chance to give a prayer of thanks to God, instead of giving in to annoyance and frustration. Thank You Jesus for the reason behind all the chaos and mess in my life, Thank You Jesus for cleaning up my mess.

Isaiah 64:6

We are all infected and impure with sin.
    When we display our righteous deeds,
    they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
    and our sins sweep us away like the wind

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Sunday Morning Struggle

img_0170

 

Church… Church and Kids… Church, Kids, and Your Husband being the one up front…

 

These things are all good things, and yet they are hard things.

 

There is a line from the movie Forest Gump, that goes “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
This is starting to ring true of Sunday morning with my kids…

 

To illustrate this further I would like to paint a picture for you of a recent Sunday morning. The boys were in rare form this particular Sunday…

 

One of my two year old’s favorite things in the morning recently, is when my alarm goes off on my phone, I personally love the snooze button! But Silas wants to make that a thing of the past, he has currently started crawling into bed once the alarm goes off and yells in my face with shear delight “Mommy phone, beeep! Mommy phone, beeep! Mommy phone, beeep!” you get the picture… Oh such joys…

 

I manage to get myself out of bed, and Daniel and I get the kids and ourselves ready. During these rushed mornings I’m thankful that I’m getting boys ready, they are pretty easy, if I forget to do their hair it’s not a big deal and seriously, dress shoes? What are those?! Sneakers are for every occasion with boys!!
I ran out of time to feed them breakfast at home. So yep folks… my answer to this… doughnuts! Sure, those might have aided in helping set up the morning for failure… but it’s Sunday morning, we are in survival mode!

 

And at this point in life I’m not sure if waking up earlier would help me, I think there is just some evil time suck vortex that happens on Sunday before church, you wake up, you start out directing and helping, then yelling and demanding, and all of a sudden it’s time to get in the car.

 

Once we get to church and it’s time for the service to begin, I settle into the pew with the boys. They make faces and smile at people and begin to do some nice playing. Then service starts, we start singing. Today two of them decided they would rather sing in the row in front of us, that would be fine if they stayed there but of course they didn’t (Mommy’s mean she doesn’t allow them to do laps around the pew). Thankfully, after the singing we walk around and have a greeting time, so this is all good, they can get a little more energy out and be social. We get back to our seats, they are generally more restless for some reason, but I pass out some of the activities and they start looking at those. Daniel starts to preach his sermon. Not 5 minutes into the sermon, two year old Silas stands up next to me in the pew, (thankfully he is short so him standing on the pew doesn’t look to awkward yet.) leans over and says “Mommy poopy… Mommy poopy!” Then he gets the “poop face” clenches his fists and audibly starts pooping in his diaper. By audibly I mean, Daniel heard it while he was preaching. Then Silas stood there awkwardly, just waiting for me to change him.

 

Now I should also add, that we sit basically in the very front of the sanctuary. It’s just one of those churches where people like to sit in the back. That leaves plenty of room in the front, so that is where we sit.

 

I turn to the older boys and tell them “I have to change Silas, you better behave while I do this or you will get it when we get home!” They look scared and nod their heads, so I figured I got my point across. I walk down the middle isle to take Silas to the back of the church to change him.

 

Later Daniel informed me that Judah and Caleb started wrestling, not to quietly either, about as soon as I was gone. Shortly after Caleb lost his wrestling match he decided to run to the back to find me. Then once Silas was good to go, Silas got a good look at the “great outdoors” through the glass doors at the front of the church, and decided that he wanted to be apart of them, so he started yelling unintelligible words at me and trying to get outside. I kind of shushed and bribed him with the snacks that I had waiting for him in the pew, but I still basically dragged him and Caleb back. We finally got back to our seats and “settled”, I passed out the snacks, and then was about to break out my secret weapon for Caleb and Silas. That’s right! The i-phone! I have a movie and a couple videos on it, they watch it on silent but they don’t care, they know it’s a privilege and most of the time it allows me to pay attention to the sermons.
However this phone has seen better days and it promptly died after two minutes of use. ;( More sadness and frustration ensued from Silas.

 

Caleb and Judah saw this morning as their opening to see how much attention they could get. I don’t even remember all the details of what they were doing, beyond they just kept racking up more loss of time on “screen time” for later in the day/week. We made it through though!

 

The people at the church are always encouraging, especially when it’s a “bad” Sunday for the kids and I. (Remember, we are in the front, so they get a good view of the crazy.) A few of them made it a point to encourage me, and then even tell me they can’t wait until our littlest has arrived!

 

Most of them have been there, it may have been many years, but they talk about having the kids in church like it is still fresh in their minds. And they know the importance of having our kids in church, even though they are young and not understanding most of the sermon or the importance of fellowship. Because they are watching us, watching us live out our faith, watching how important our walk with God is, and hearing His word, and getting the chance to watch their daddy, bring God’s word to others. And there is something so beautiful about that.

 

I want to encourage you mama’s out there who wonder why you are there on Sunday morning. Who may not get to hear the sermon because baby decides he needs to nurse during the sermon every Sunday. Or you are way too distracted with your little’s during that time to hear and enjoy the service. To those of you who have to stay in the nursery because sitting through the service right now is just to hard and the toddler refuses to be anywhere but your side, and especially to you who are busy taking care of special needs kids because they need lots of attention.

 

You are being faithful.

 

This is another way you can bring your children to Jesus’s feet. They are watching. They will remember. We pray that during these times seeds are being planted and are growing deep roots.

 

Often we do have good Sunday mornings at church, and for the most part it is getting easier. (Until February, when we add a fifth, and to be real and honest here, I’M SCARED!)
But sometimes, Sundays (or life in general) still goes haywire. And I want you all to know you are not alone!! It’s hard!! So keep shining the light of Christ, keep serving and loving on those kids.

Mark 10:13-16

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.