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.

Pumpkin! Pumpkin Roll Recipe and Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

img_0179

 

Tis the season for pumpkin! This year especially, I have been enjoying all things pumpkin!
I wanted to share my two favorite pumpkin recipes! Pumpkin Rolls(as pictured above) and the recipe for making a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Pumpkin Rolls have now become my favorite fall dessert. But I can’t take the credit for this recipe. My very good friend Andrea started making these delicious rolls. Where she got the recipe?!… I’m not even sure at this point! But I’m going to share it with you!

Pumpkin Rolls

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Separate 3 eggs. Then beat the egg whites until foamy and stiff, slowly add 1/2 Cup of white sugar to egg whites. Beat until stiff glossy peaks form. (pictured below, top/left)
In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks until they thicken and lighten in color a bit. Gradually add 1/2 Cup of white sugar and 2/3 Cup pumpkin to egg yolks. (pictured bottom right)
Fold pumpkin/egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture.
In another bowl combine 3/4 Cup Flour, 1 teaspoon Baking Soda, 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon Salt.

Fold flour mixture into egg/pumpkin mixture

SMLXL

Line jelly roll pan with parchment paper and grease parchment paper.
Then spread egg/pumpkin batter into pan(pictured below, top)

Bake in the oven for 12-15 min.(pictured below, bottom) Until cake springs back when pressed.

SMLXL

Let cool 5 min.

Turn cake onto powdered sugar dusted kitchen towel. Then roll cake in dusted towel(pictured below).

SMLXL

Cool completely in fridge.

While that is cooling, it’s time to make the filling.

Beat 1 8oz package cream cheese(softened), 2 Tablespoons butter(softened), 1 Cup powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon Vanilla together.

After cake is completely cooled, unroll on towel. Spread filling over cake. And then roll up cake.(pictured below) Roll cake back into towel and then chill for another hour.

 

Cut into thin slices and serve! (They will look like the very top picture)

 

SMLXL

Pumpkin Rolls Ingredients

Cake batter

3 Eggs separated               1 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup Pumpkin               3/4 Cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda   1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Salt

 

Filling
1 8oz package Cream Cheese     2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Powdered Sugar                1 teaspoon Vanilla

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I currently live an hour from Starbucks and I thought “This fall I need to figure out how to make one of these in my kitchen!” It has taken a few tries, and I have tweaked a few different recipes to get it to the point I’m really happy with. Now they have been turning out delicious!

 

This recipe makes about two latte’s. You can put the pumpkin mixture in the fridge and make up more later as well.

SMLXL

 

In a small sauce pan add 1/4 Cup Pumpkin and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice.  Stir and heat(medium low) until warm. Add 1/4 cup sugar.(you can add less, but if you want it closer to Starbucks sweet, stick with the 1/4 cup!) Heat(medium heat), stirring constantly, until it gels and becomes glossy(pictured below).

 

Make your espresso shots, as many as you like. I like to have two shots in mine.

 

Froth 1 Cup milk

 

Add espesso to your mug, then add two Tablespoons of the pumpkin glaze mixture and mix until dissolved, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Then add milk and stir.
If you really want it like Starbucks, top with whip cream and sprinkle a little more pumpkin spice on top. Enjoy!

 

SMLXL

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ingredients

1/4 Cup Pumpkin  1 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
1/4 Cup Sugar       1 teaspoon Vanilla
I Cup Milk                Espresso Shots

 


 

This is a Story All About How…

img_0168

Typically I will be writing on this blog, but every once in a while my husband, Daniel, will join me. Since this blog post is really about both of us, and our recent ‘health’ journey, I thought it would be a good time for him to join in. I’m the pink voice, and Daniel is the blue voice.

 

So you want me to go first? OK. Cool. Yeah, so about a decade ago I realized that I struggle with hypoglycemia. Basically, if I don’t get food, especially sugar, in me on a regular basis then I fall apart. My ability to reason goes out the window, I get cranky and volatile, and as I consume food I can literally feel my brain begin to function better. It’s not all mental though. There are times when my body just won’t function the way that it’s supposed to due to a lack of sugar. This is especially true after physical activity. I found out it was something I struggled with when I had finished playing a show with my band, but hadn’t eaten anything for dinner. After playing the show I was feeling light headed. Walking to the van I get hit by vertigo and just fell down, and almost went into a seizure. That was pretty scary. The Doctor told me that I had hypoglycemia. I’ve been trying to manage it ever since.

 

For me, I have felt generally healthy, more tired than I would like to be. But I always just figured that’s part of being a mom now.  I must accept the role of a zombie until my kids are older. Or drink lots of coffee, so mostly I have opted for drinking lots of coffee! But when I was pregnant, oh man, I felt so terrible (and I have spent a few years being pregnant at this juncture in life).
For one, I can’t drink coffee all day long when I’m pregnant, so there goes that energy, plus I’m just extra tried because I’m pregnant. On top of that I would get so sick. I would get sicker with every pregnancy. Everyone kept saying, “Wow, you have gotten so much more sick this time! It must be a girl!” Nope! Every time it was a boy, and by the time I was sick for the first 20 weeks with my fourth boy, I knew that I was just getting progressively sicker with each baby. I felt like such a terrible mom, most of the time, I was crashed on the couch or by shear force of will doing activities with the kids and trying to get food on the table. Seriously I don’t think I cleaned the bathroom for months…

 

It was a little gross. But we still love her. And, hey, I wasn’t about to clean it…

 

After I had Silas, we didn’t feel like we were done having children. But to be honest, I didn’t know how I was going to keep up with my busy schedule here in Fergus and go through another pregnancy.

 

Another thing that I was struggling with, and really what began to put us on this road, was eczema. I’ve had sensitive skin since I was younger, but there was a time when I was working a pretty rough, dirty job and finances were tight, and the dirt mixed with the stress caused me to develop a case of eczema. The dermatologist told me that since I had developed it after the age of twenty it was most likely something I would be dealing with the rest of my life. Yay me. I’ve tried many different creams and solutions, but it all seemed to be treating the symptoms and not the cause. Nothing really seemed to help long term and it was pretty depressing. I would wake up with cuts down my chest and neck from scratching myself in my sleep. Taking showers was horrible because my skin would freak out when it got wet. But hey, it was life. Didn’t know how else to deal with it, since nothing we tried worked, so I figured I would just be settling in to this being life as I knew it.

 

Also he is no longer in his twenty’s and rocking out in a band all the time and as a result, the 6 pack he once rocked is now a thing of the past. So extra weight has been a frustration as well.

 

She’s not wrong.

 

So, this past spring I had been watching Daniel’s Aunt post about getting your body, and gut, healthy and balanced. She has been very conscious of eating the right things for all the time I have known her, but for years we had been praying for her because she was struggling with health problems. Some of these had been things she had dealt with all her life and others that had sprung up later on. A friend let her know about Plexus and she started it. She felt like a new person. Because she felt so good, she started sharing about it.

 

I wasn’t sure about it, I had kinda given up, but Karen decided to look into it a bit deeper.

 

The more I looked into Plexus; I saw that it could potentially be really good, for Daniel in particular. Eventually I decided that he just had to try it, and after some convincing, he got on board. His skin had flared up and was driving him nuts again, and he was up for trying something that would get to the root of the problem, and help him get to the pants size he wanted to be at.

 

Pants size…obviously the more important of the two. Haha.

 

So he started it, and about a week later, we both noticed he had way more energy. I remember he had been playing in a basketball tournament on a Friday night. After he was done playing, and we were driving home, he was really hungry. A week before this we would have just swung through McDonalds because he would have been fast approaching the point of being unable to function. But he didn’t feel like having the fast food and he was still feeling ok. So we swung by the grocery store picked up some ground beef, went home and he cooked us up some great burgers while I put the boys to bed. That’s when I realized something was working!

 

So there ya have it, Plexus will help you cook dinner. Sign up all the men!

 

About two months later his skin started clearing up a lot. And the itchiness was gone. Also (sorry if this is TMI), but his IBS issues have cleared up.

 

I would have to make a trip to the bathroom after every evening meal. This was a great excuse for me to take some time and check twitter while I hid from the kids. Plexus has robbed me of this excuse. I hold it solely responsible for allowing me to poop normally again.

 

Another month or so after that he was down a pants size, and at this point he is about down two pants sizes. Also his low blood sugar issues are gone. He still has flare ups with his skin every once in a while, though those seem to be stress induced. But even with the flare ups its so much better overall. It’s pretty incredible.

 

I know I’m pretty thankful.

 

As for me, I started taking a few of the supplements a few months after he did. I noticed that my sugar cravings were much less (I love sugar, I knew I was addicted to if for a long time and just didn’t care.) It was really nice to feel like I didn’t need it throughout the day. I could just have it when I wanted to. I was also starting to have a bit more energy. Then I found out we were expecting our 5th baby, I was excited and was feeling good. I hoped that this would keep me feeling good and the “morning sickness (all day sickness)” away. To be honest I just kept waiting for the hammer to fall. For the unbelievable exhaustion, and the morning sickness to hit. Week after week went by though and I still felt good. A little more tired but good, I was enjoying my summer! By week 12 of pregnancy I knew, and was finally able to admit to myself “This is completely awesome, I still feel great, I should be so sick right now. I am enjoying my pregnancy!! What?!?” I am so very thankful, the Lord brought this into my life when He did!! I am now 23 weeks pregnant, and everything with this baby boy is looking great. I have been able to keep up with this crazy schedule here and my kids.

 

All these health things have been such a big struggle for us, so we really wanted to open up and let people know, in case they are looking for something to help them. Deciding to give Plexus a shot has really made a huge impact on our lives for the better.

 

So now I want to share Plexus with other’s, and would love to hear from you.

A Little Story About Pain and Provision

img_0177

 

I just had the opportunity to attend the Sweet Retreat. This is a retreat for the seminary women (wives of seminary students or ladies attending seminary themselves) that is put on every fall. It’s a quick weekend but a good one.  The senior students, or wives of the senior students, are asked to share. And to my disbelief I was one of them this year. How fast these two years have flown!

 

One of the things I shared was about coming here and God’s provision in that. I tell you, as I revisited this story and wrote it down, the tears were streaming down my face.

 

I figured if I could share it with close friends, why not the Internet as well…right? So here is it.

 

When we started making plans to come Fergus Falls, MN, so that my husband could attend serminary, I did what I like to do and that is to try to have as much as possible figured out and planned. Shortly after we decided to come here we found out that I was pregnant, and my due date was July 19th. That due date did not seem very reassuring in light of the fact that Daniel would be starting seminary about a month later. I have moved very shortly after having a baby a few times before, and while I knew it could be done, I also remembered the exhaustion, the hardship in trying to recover from birth and nursing a baby around the clock in the midst of moving. But I knew God had called us here. I knew that He could and would sustain us, and that even though this would be hard, it would all work out.

 

I also was worried about the financial side of things. How would we find jobs? When would we have time to work a job with husband in seminary and four children under the age of 5? How long would the process of getting settled take? We were able to tuck away a decent amount in saving’s though. And, well, I was feeling pretty good about that.

 

As the spring approached we were able to figure out where we were going to live, that was a huge blessing. But figuring out the income side of things was still totally up in the air. I was feeling fairly comfortable that at least we would have cushion through the fall to figure that part out. But God had another growing experience for me in mind.

 

In that start to the summer, we had a child completely kill our TV, along with flushing a deodorant stick down the toilet, which required a plumber to rip our toilet out to fix. We had a tire on our car get slashed, a tooth fell apart that would require a root canal and crown, and a few other difficulties along the way.

 

After all that, we started our road trip to Minnesota, and less than three hours into it, our van was obviously not doing well. By the grace of God we limped along into the next town. Daniel the boys and I anxiously waited for the verdict.  Finally the mechanic came in and told us that our transmission had gone out, he wasn’t even sure how it was still driving.  The mechanic said they would either have to rebuild a new one for us, or we could by a new car. So we walked to the McDonalds next door, let the kids run loose on the play place and discussed our options. It was evident that the new car was not an option. But we did have enough to have the transmission rebuilt. So that is what we decided on. Replacing the transmission about wiped us out financially. There goes the cushion we had been counting on.

 

It sounds cliché, but it’s really not cliché. God really was so good.

 

So, backing the story up a little bit, on July 5th I gave birth to the baby, who we now know as Silas.  He came two weeks early, giving me much more time to recover and so then I felt better when it came time to move. Everything went so well with that birth. I went home from the hospital with him that day, which was wonderful.

 

Now back to the car, and God’s goodness and provision there. We handed over the keys to the mechanic. And the wife of the mechanic drove us over to a hotel, where we were supposed to spend two days, since that’s how long the mechanic figured it would take to fix the van. Somehow word got out of our story, and the next day we were told that someone had paid for our hotel room. Earlier that morning, while having the continental breakfast at the hotel, the manager stuffed some brown paper bags into my diaper bag. They were full of baked goods, crackers and fruit. Later that morning she came to our room and dropped off all sorts of fun things for the kids to put together and play with in the hotel room. For lunch Perkins donated food, two adult meals and a few kids meals. It was crazy.

 

I felt so blessed that crazy day in that hotel. God’s hand of provision was so evident. It was another reminder that, yes, God is here, He is going to take care of us. And I need to put my confidence in Him.

 

Our van was eventually fixed, and the mechanic charges us five dollars less than his quoted price (for real, how often does that happen?), and we were able to make it here. It wasn’t long before we were blessed with unexpected checks in the mail, and later that month food appeared on our doorstep along with some other provisions as well.

 

Things were not easy for us, especially that first year. But God always provided, He always carried us through. And I wouldn’t trade this experience. It has grown me so much, it has taken me to a new level of trust in the Lord, whether I wanted to get there or not! It’s helped further my belief that God is capable of the impossible, not just in the Bible, or someone else’s life, but in MY own life as well.

Psalm 18:30-32

As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.

 

My Go To Smoothies

img_0176

 

So I make a lot of smoothies. I’m kind of a big fan of drinking my fruits and veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I do love, fruit, and veggies (especially when dipped in things, like hummus. yum), all that jazz. But one way I can consistently get in some of those fruits and veggies, even when I’m busy… or lazy… Is to put them in smoothies.  It’s so handy to have it all on hand and throw it together in the morning or as an afternoon snack. I also like drinking them while I”m waiting with the boys for the bus, (until the snow sets in.. It that scenario I will wait until I’m back in my cozy warm house).
I have quite a few friends that have asked about what I put in my smoothies, so I thought I would share a few to them. Here are my favorite go to smoothies.

Berry Green smoothie

SMLXL

3/4 Cup Frozen Berries
1 banana
1 Cup Greens (spinach, or kale, or red and green chard or a mix of it all. I don’t like using lettuce as it will compromise the texture.)
1 Cup Kefir (I like using the blueberry or strawberry kind)
1/4 Coconut water or water
2 Tablespoons Chia seeds or hemp harts, or BetterBody Foods Organic LIVfit Superfood Blend with Protein (I found this recently, and it has all sorts of nutrients packed in it.)
This can be a breakfast replacement smoothie, it has protein packed in it with the Kefir and adding one of these, Chia seeds or hemp harts, or BetterBody Foods Organic LIVfit Superfood Blend with Protein. Also the color of this smoothie will vary depending on what berries you use.

Chocolate Peanut Butter  Smoothie

SMLXL

1 Ripe Banana
3/4 Cup Almond Milk
2 Tablespoons peanut butter powder
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Ice
I love having this as a guilt free sweet snack.

 

The Start of School and My Inner Control Freak

img_0174

 

It’s been a long summer.

 

A great summer, but a long summer.  In fact this summer has lasted over three months! I have been totally loving it.  It’s just seemed like it would never come to an end. But here I am packing backpacks, filling out final paperwork, double checking bus schedules and telling(…yelling at) the younger ones “You will get your pick of tv shows tomorrow!! Just let the big boys pick today!” I’m coming to grips with the reality that schedules and early mornings start tomorrow. I’m really hoping I survive the early mornings this week! I think I might need some prayer…

 

I brush their teeth, Dad reads the story, we say prayers and tuck these boy’s in for the night. As I kiss their cheeks and head down the hall I start reflecting on this up coming week… the up coming year. And I am reminded of one of those things I hate to be reminded of… I cannot control everything.

 

I’m fairly easy going, I love to have a good time, but man there are things I like to control. There are so many things I can “control” especially when the kids are little and at home with me.  But now they are growing older and going to school, I put them on the bus and have to start letting go. I know it’s the first of many “letting go’s”. (Please, I don’t even want to think about when they are all teenagers! I might start uncontrollably crying!)

 

My mind wanders and I start to think about the school bus transfer they have to make to get to the right school, their new teachers, the new friends they will make and the things that will inevitably be hard on them, like the reality that they will probably get their feelings hurt multiple times. I can no longer keep them in my shelter as they grow. I know in my heart this is a good thing. But I still have to relinquish control.

 

What’s really good about this is it brings some of those subconscious thoughts to the forefront. It makes me reflect on what I’m worrying about and why I’m worrying about it. And when I start tracing it back, and really go all the way back, I can clearly see where my problem has sprouted.

 

It’s this thought that I know best.

 

That I know when to shelter. I know when to push. I know when to discipline, and how. The thought that I know how to love my children best. But the problem with all this is all those “I”s. I’m focusing on me, and what I want, and how I want it. Then I start worrying. And when I worry, I hang on tight. I don’t want to surrender control.

 

My worry and fear have me focusing on all the wrong things, starting with myself.

The one I should be focusing on is the One who can give me peace. The one who can overcome my worry. My hope and peace lies in my Heavenly Father.

 

I can trust Him. I can trust Him with my children. I can trust that my children are part of His family. His ways are higher than my ways. Ultimately God being in control of my family’s life is so much better. For real. It’s just not even a comparison to me being in control. He is God, He is good, and I can trust Him.

 

I know that this doesn’t mean things will be perfect and it doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen. We still have to live in a world dealing with the consequences of sin. Terrible things happen in this broken world. But, even when I follow that train of thought all the way to the end and think about the possible loss of my beautiful babies, I know that they will be in the arms of the Father. I pray that won’t happen too early. I can’t even imagine it. But I know that I have to let go and trust my God.  And do the one thing I can do:

 

 Wear through the knees of my jeans praying.

 

So I send them out and (try to) begin this process in peace and excitement, because I am not in control. Praise be to God that He cares about my children even more than I do!

1 John 3:1

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 

My Growing Family and God’s Grace

We started summer off with a bit of a bang! We headed out to the Pacific Northwest to see family and also for work for the hubby. On our road trip down we found out for sure we were pregnant with our fifth child! Yes… I took a pregnancy test in a sketch gas station in Idaho… Then we had the next 7 hours to let it sink in that we were going from a large family to a “large family”. There is just something about that jump from 4 kids to 5 kids that in today’s society seems to take you from “wow, you are busy” to “wow, you are crazy!!”. I mean really what are we going to drive!?! Looking in the back of our packed (I mean ‘every nook and cranny is absolutely stuffed’ packed)  mini van, it’s obvious this good old dodge caravan is not going to cut it much longer!

 

Already when we go out in public people notice, and sometimes I catch them, just staring… Some are encouraging, some are discouraging and judgmental… yes, I do mean vocally judgmental, not just scowls! Sometimes we catch ourselves looking at a picture of another family and thinking “Wow, they have a lot of kids!” Then it hits me, we have that many kids… It sure doesn’t seem like as many when its your own family!

 

And if I’m being honest with myself at times I am still working through this jump myself. Raising this many kids feels scary. It’s expensive, inconvenient, and exhausting. It brings out my selfishness, and my flaws like nothing else ever has. I don’t know if I have ever dealt with feeling so guilty about, well… everything, since having children. Guilty about what they eat, how they act, what they watch. Am I reading to them enough? Am I disciplining them enough? Am I showing them enough grace? Am I giving them enough Bible teaching, and what about the Gospel? Am I living out an active, loving faith with my Savior that they can see?

 

I can let myself be plagued with questions and guilt. And here we are adding another one to the brood. Sometimes the pounding thought of “you are not enough” can blare so loudly in my mind. Sometimes I can let it seep in and run amuck, while stealing my joy. I measure myself against the impossible, the unrealistic standard and I never measure up. Deep down I know I will never measure up. I have known this since I was a child. So why am I still trying to measure up??  Why do I let my self get tangled in the whispered lies that turn into blaring loud lies, and then become hard to tune out and turn off. I step back and look into the trap that I can so easily fall into again and again. And I know these are lies from the enemy.

 

My heavenly Father tells me I am enough, not because of me, but because of Christ who lives in me. His mercies are new for me every day, every hour. I am covered in His grace, in His love. His yoke is light. And when I remember that Christ is enough, how light this yoke, and this burden becomes. There are going to be many times I fail, many times I will have to ask my children, others, and God for forgiveness. But I know that my heavenly Father has already covered these things in His shed blood, by His grace. I am beyond thankful and in awe of His grace. I know that He is sufficient where I fall short. I fix my eyes on the Father, and place my family, my children, and my fears, in His hands. Here, with Him, I find peace and joy again, here I can rest.

 

Life is crazy, and will be getting crazier. And that’s OK. The laundry can pile, the books go unread, the screen time go unchecked for too long… Will it all fall apart?!? No, of course not. I can’t place my value, my worth, in holding it all together. When I place my value in Christ, I am enough, because He is enough. And I want my kids to know that truth. Sometimes when I feel like everything is falling apart, that’s where we get to see God’s hand and grace the most, these moments can turn into the most amazing teachable moments.

 

I say all this because adding another one can feel daunting, if I’m being honest. And will everything go perfect adding another one? As much as my control freak wants it to be… The answer is NO!! It will be one big beautiful mess!!! I will be exhausted. The older kids will have to step up and help more. And sometimes when people come to my house it will be a disaster and smell like poopy diapers. But I am thrilled!! My children are such a gift, and I take so much joy in our imperfect life. This child that I carry, strange as it may look to the world’s eyes, this big family that I have, are just huge blessings from the Lord.  The truth is I struggle, but I love this life that God has given me. I don’t know what we will drive or how we will be able to help our kids through college. But God does. And once again I surrender. And joy shines through.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

2 Corinthians 12:9

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.