Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Woodshed

This morning as I tried to get some extra sleep, my mind began to drift into worries large and small.  I prayed, but still mind kept returning to the little foxes stealing from my peace.  As I slipped into that half awake and half asleep place where fairies dwell, my dad came to visit me....Uh, oh!

My father was always a great and powerful force with which to be reckoned.  He never minced words when it came to those he loved because he knew that too much was at stake for wasted time, and he always seemed to go immediately to the heart of our sin rather than dance around the edges.  For that I miss him and wish I had not hid from him so much, because he loved each of us passionately....we just didn't always see it. 

In my dream state, my father saw me there wallowing in despair, trying to fix the problems of the world and my family in Christ.  He said to me,
"What difference does it make?! I'm talking about YOU and your walk before God.  Get up off your butt and walk with God."   
 My father was always reminding me that it doesn't matter what other people said or thought, my concern was to be my walk with God and to keep my eyes on Him. He had his eyes fixed on eternity and not the here and now.  Our problems and trials seem huge, but they pale in comparison to God and His power.  Are you weighed down with worry?  Keep your eyes heavenward, imagine how small these problems are in light of all eternity.  Get off your duff and walk with God.  Do what is right and what He has called you to do.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Church in Ruins

The walls of Jerusalem are in ruins.  Who will be strong and with me rebuild?

The state of the Church in America is quickly crumbling.  It is true that it has been morally declining for generations, but today I feel that its very foundations have been shaken because many of  those who are called to shepherd the sheep have themselves become as lost sheep.  In the church today, we are statistically no different from those outside the fold.  We are living as practical atheists, naming the name of Christ and yet serving our base desires.  We have taken on a form of godliness but denied its power.  It is truly a disheartening, frightening, and lonely time for the Christian who desires to serve God, particularly if our eyes are not on Him.  I realize these statements seem vague, but that is intentional as I believe this to a nearly universal situation.  I believe some of the solutions to be somewhat universal as well.

The first thing we need is compassion.  See past your fellow parishioner or pastor's sin and see the pain they must certainly be feeling.  I can tell you honestly, that if a person is a child of God and sinning, they are at war with themselves and with God and are in spiritual and perhaps emotional pain, sometimes to the point of physical pain no matter how hard they try to conceal it.  We must realize as well that it is ONLY the grace of God that keeps us from that self inflicted pain; apart from Christ we are dead.  We must be very careful to not sit in judgment; instead, we need to seek to rebuild.

We must also have courage.  If you  are seeing the state of the Church in America as crumbling, no doubt you feel isolated and have self doubts that plague you.  It is during these times that we need to take our eyes off our situation or fellow Christians and fix them on Christ, listening to His voice.  We are called to follow Christ, not other Christians. These feelings are not new to this age; many prophets and men/women of God felt completely alone in their pursuit of God.  That is one reason I love the Old Testament narratives, because I am encouraged by how God worked through those situations and saw the faithful safely through to the other side.  Know you are not alone; stand with me and rebuild.

We need continuity.  We must remain faithful in a faithless generation.  There must be someone who will stand and point the way so that others might live as well.  It will not be easy though.  Realize you will fall at various times and fall often.  If you find that you have fallen or strayed, no matter how far, fix your eyes on Jesus and run home, run hard.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins.  We must, however, press on in our faith. The only way we can do this is to take our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and fix them on the author and finisher of our faith.  He is always faithful.  He never changes.  He is able to do all things.  It is time to rebuild.  Who will stand with me?

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Wrestling with God

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. ~Gen. 32:24

Jacob had truly wrestled with God all of his life up until this point, trying force God to give him the life of his own choosing.  It was only when Jacob, physically exhausted and alone in the desert, surrendered to Him that God blessed him and changed his life forever. 

Each of us wrestles with God.  Each of us goes through desert times.  It is my prayer that I be yielded to God and never attempt to squeeze Him into my own neat little box of how things should be.  Watch and pray....

Friday, June 05, 2015

Taking Flight in New Directions

January 18, 1993....
Two nights ago Erin found an old pacifier and was truly heart broken because we didn't let her keep it.  I had to hold her the rest of the evening, but she went to sleep fine.  You could see on her face that she knew she wasn't supposed to have it.  There was a real inner struggle going on for her.  She wants to grow up but occasionally looks back.

In looking for a good photo for a Fathers' Day blog, I came across a journal we used to keep on your early years.  When I came across this entry, I must admit that it made me cry.  We saw your struggles and felt your pain then, just as we do now.  We know that you have difficult decisions ahead of you and that your desire is ultimately to please God and to grow in Him.  We also know that very often that growth comes with sacrifice and pain.  Just as we did throughout your childhood, we are praying for you, cheering you on, and are here whenever you just need an ear for listening or a shoulder for crying  It is a time for more growth and richer blessings than any of us can imagine. It's time for you to spread your wings and fly.  Don't worry about falling; God's got you.  Soar and see His beauty.  We love you and are so proud of you!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Fathers Day

Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. ~Exodus 20:12

Did you ever notice how there are no conditions tagged on to this, such as "if they deserve it."  Fathers' Day is difficult for a lot of people (as is Mothers' Day for some) because they feel their parent did not measure up in some way or abused them.  Bad parenting and abuse existed when the Israelites were roaming the desert and it still exists today.  It is sad, but it is true.  God was aware of it when he decided to making honoring our parents a commandment then, and He is aware of it today.  God is not asleep, nor is He on vacation. Honoring someone who has mistreated you or harmed you (or someone you love) is difficult at best, but harboring feelings of ill will towards a parent throughout your life is even harder.  God doesn't ask us to whitewash our problems or lie about our parents, acting as if everything is wonderful.  He wants us to bring the things that weigh heavily upon us to Him and seek His counsel in order to be free.

I loved my father, but I didn't always like him.  I hesitate to post anything about my dad because I do not wish to dishonor him, but I don't want my readers to think that my dad was perfect because he was not.  Below is an excerpt from a journal of mine as an adult:

Oct. 11, 2000....The main thing on my mind is my dad.  He has terminal liver cancer.  My feelings have been very confused.  At times I have even been angry with him for choices he has made that may have led to this (my father drank....a lot)  I have also had a great sense of loss of childhood almost.  I wish that my dad and I had been close.  I wish we had done fun things together.  I wish he hadn't yelled so much or called me names.  I wish he would have allowed me to be an individual with a mind of my own.  I wish he had been more godly - a strong, but gentle spiritual leader.  I wish he had been man enough to tell me that he loved me.  I wish he had treated me like a lady.  I wish he had respected my privacy.  I wish he had protected me from certain young men.  I wish he had practiced what he preached.  I wish I didn't feel like hiding from him.  I wish I weren't so much like him.... 

We all, from time to time, have at best very ambiguous feelings towards a parent, but our obedience to God is never contingent upon someone else's behavior.  We are responsible before God for our behavior and no one else's.  So how would honoring someone who doesn't deserve it look? 

First, realize that most parents really didn't want to make a mess of the live of their children.  We can only build with the tools we are given and some of us are better equipped than others.  My father, for example, was treated very cruelly as a child.  Those patterns, in small ways, were carried over into his own parenting style because those were the tools he had been given by his parents.  Did my father love & respect his parents?  You better believe it!  They were most likely doing the best they knew how as well.  While bad parenting that you received doesn't excuse the bad parenting you are now modeling, it does shed light on it so that you can know better where and how to correct it in your own life. 

Second, realize that God is not asking you to make that parent your new best pal or to blindly follow any advice or instruction that clearly goes against God's Word.  He asks us to respect their position and to honor them.  For some of us, honoring our parents will simply mean that we stop bashing him or her all over social matter how much we feel they deserve it.  That never solves anything.   Seek to understand and work through ill or ambiguous feelings towards your parent so that you both can move forward instead of stewing in your juices of anger or resentment.  As much as it lies within you, extend to them the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness that you desire.

Third, if you are able to only honor your parent in this one way, do this: pray for them!  Pray for their spiritual state and pray for your attitude toward them. Pray for healing.  We all need it. 

My dad was taken from us in 2006 and I miss him terribly at times.  Fortunately, I worked through my feelings before he died and I was able to let go.  For those who are still harboring resentment or ambiguity towards a parent, work through it before it's too late.  Carrying that baggage only weighs more heavily with the passing of time....

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Aspire to Live Quietly

...and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. ~I Thes. 4:11-12

I have loved these two verses for many years and it has often kept me from butting in where I do not belong.  Lately, I have wondered how well I have lived by these verses after all.  I have thought long and hard about shutting down and deleting my blog. What keeps me from pulling the plug on this blog is that fact that so very few people read it.  My blog is largely for my benefit; it always has been.  I have used these pages as blogs were originally web logs.  Knowing that others can read it, however, has kept me from allowing it to morph into a diary of sorts for the whole world to see into my private battles.

But I wonder about Facebook.  My newsfeed is filled with people (self included) giving their opinion (sometimes quite forcefully and/or angrily), offering unsolicited advice, gossiping, bragging, and tons of negativity.  Don't get me wrong....I am NOT a Pollyanna, but I do wonder about my involvement in Facebook.  I have been a huge fan of the phrase, "Not my monkey; not my circus." since I first heard it, but it seems to me that I keep showing up at said circus as a spectator, gorging myself on other people's dramatic performances and clever tricks. 

Does this mean that I plan on leaving Facebook? No, I tried that, but social media seems the only way that I can keep in touch with family members and I do enjoy seeing old friends who live far away.  Frankly, I'm not sure what it means, apart from muting some of my negative newsfeed and "un-liking" some pages and leaning towards more substance & quality sites as opposed to ones that mirror bad reality TV shows. I also plan on more real social contact, so if you're free for lunch or coffee (tea) sometime and would like to chat, fire a message my way.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

For Our Daughter's Friends

I have not always been well liked by our daughter's friends.  In fact, there have been times that I have been both feared and hated.  For the most part, I'm okay with that.  You see, my job has never been to be their friend.  My job has always been to look out for the emotional, physical, and spiritual welfare of our daughter and that, in the past, has included her friends when they have been in our home or in our care.  I have been a parent first and a friend second.   I always told her friends that I would be the first to come their aid in a just fight (figuratively, of course)  and that I would also be the first to give them a swift kick in the pants when they needed it....again, figuratively.  Any wounds they received from me, I hope that now, as adults, they can begin to see that it was done in love.  You see, I don't care whether or not a child likes or loves me; I care that they are safe and on the right path.  I would rather someone be happy long term because they have chosen well than to have a fleeting, temporal pseudo happiness from wrong choices.  So, if you are reading this and you have been or are our daughter's friend, I loved you, cheered for you, cried over you (yes, I'm not the toughie you think), and prayed passionately for you....particularly the ones I fussed at.  I still pray for many of you....daily.  I watch from a distance, often only hearing news of you from you moms.  I hope you can see that I loved each of you, and while I would have enjoyed being your friend first, that's not what was needed.  Maybe you can't see that yet, but I hope that one you can and that there will be those who will watch out for and protect your children as well. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

There but for the Grace of God...

Years ago I regularly met with a small group of women to pray for our collective children.  We called that time Hannah's Hour, and often we grieved and cried over our children as much as Hannah lamented before God that she had no child.  We could see vividly the spiritual, emotional, and physical dangers that lay before our little ones and we prayed a hedge about them.  Now, that the years are past, I find myself praying with other women over our children via the internet.  Not all, but many, in one way or another are bearing the burden of a prodigal child and my heart breaks with them as I watch these teen or adult children spiral downward, making painfully harmful life decisions that can bring death and destruction. 
As a young parent, it can be easy to believe that if we bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord that they will not stray.  It is also all too easy to believe that parents of wayward teens have in some way spoiled or neglected their children.  Through the years, God has repeatedly shown me that this is not necessarily true.  Time and again I have seen that the parents of prodigals, more often than not, have indeed sought to raise their children right before God.  These are families that were not only strong in their faith, but they also deeply loved and nurtured their children, teaching them gently from God's Word at every turn.  So what happened?  What about God's promise?
Proverbs 22:6 is a general principle that holds true, but it is not an all inclusive promise with which to box in God.  Look at the Garden of Eden....God was the perfect "parent" and yet we not only disobeyed, but we also tried to blame God for our disobedience.  Was God at fault? No!  Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for churning out perfect kids, even if we are faithful and follow God's Word.  God is the only one who can break the power of reigning sin.
The good news is that this season for our lives is not the end of the story.  Again, God is both the author and the finisher of our faith and theirs.  Jesus will not lose any that the Father has given to Him.  From our earthly perspective, it may seem as though all is lost, but when we view all of eternity and keep our eyes of God rather than our present circumstances we are better able to see God's hand on us every step of the way.
If you know the parent of a prodigal, please do not be hasty to judge them.  There but for the grace of God, go I.  Pray for them as this is most likely the hardest, darkest season of their lives.  Do not ask them "why" questions or probe for any details that have not been freely offered.  Listen and pray...a LOT.
If you know the prodigal, pray for them as well.  Be loving without being enabling.  Teach with your life more than your words.  Be available and be ready for very tough and real questions. Point them to God without trying to be the Holy Spirit.
If you are the parent of a prodigal, again...pray.  Never, never quit praying.  Be prepared to receive your child with love when they do return, realizing that it may be a long way off or may come in small steps.  Remember the parable of the prodigal son?  The father saw his son a long way off and ran to him.  Again, be loving but not enabling; this is a tough tightrope at times.  Seek prayer from older Christians who are strong in the Lord.  You might be surprised just how many of them have navigated this same road in years gone by.  If you encounter criticism and condemnation rather than support, move on until you find the help you need. 
If you are the prodigal, run home and run hard after God. Even if you fear your family will not embrace you as the father in the parable of the prodigal, remember that your Heavenly Father is faithful to forgive you when you confess your sins. It is not too late and you are not too far gone for hope or God's love.  Pray and ask others to pray.  If you can find no one to pray or fear confiding in others, I am here; feel free to message me.  Run home and run hard after God.  You ARE loved.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lord, Make Me Like the Little Clematis Vine

By our mailbox, we have a Clematis vine that we planted years ago.  That first year that we planted it, the vine grew to the top of our little light post mail box and bloomed beautifully.  I was thrilled the following year when it sprang back and bloomed again without any effort on my part.  Some years, my health was very poor and I was unable to feed or water the vine or even pull the weeds from around the base....and then....the weed eater ate it...several years in a row, actually.  Still, every year it has come back and grown and bloomed no matter how much we neglected it or seemingly tried to kill it.  Oh, how I long to be like that Clematis vine.  Life knocks us down, the cares of life choke out our very life, and we ourselves neglect our own spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.  Sometimes, like with our little vine, circumstances make it seem as though we will never bloom again.  Oh, that we had the faith of the little blossoming vine and that we would rise up and praise our heavenly Father who loves us!  We only need to turn our face towards the Son, waiting patiently for the refreshing rains which will certainly come.  God is faithful!

Psalm 30:11-12
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

(Note: this is NOT our vine.  I do not have any photos of our little faithful plant, but you can bet I will this year!)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Birds Sing in Hope While it is Yet Dark

I have always hated waking up while it is still dark outside; nothing seems as cold, lonely, and empty as the darkness of that time of day for me.  Adulthood, however, commands that I need to be both awake and up in those early hours.  This morning as I awoke in the shadows before the dawn of this stormy day, I opened the back door for the dogs to go out and was immediately taken aback by the loud chorus of birds singing merrily while it was still very dark.  I was immediately humbled at the thought that these simple birds had more faith than I.  Birds, having no real concept of time to my knowledge or any cognitive understanding, still praise God in the darkness in anticipation of the light to come.  What about you?  Is your way dark?  Do you find yourself in a situation that seems hopeless?  If you belong to Christ but your current circumstances seem bleak, take comfort in this:
 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)
There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that you or I or anyone else can do that can separate us from the love of God. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Joy in the Lord

Jesus is both the author and finisher of our faith.  Sometimes we lose sight of that; we can easily remember that He is the author of our faith, but sometimes we are so consumed with the problems in our lives that we do not see Him as the finisher of our faith.

Each and every one of us has been through or will yet go through a very dark time in our life.  It is called a dark time because it is like being in a miry pit from which we see no means of escape.  Nothing brings us comfort; no one can rescue us.  We are like a drowning victim, struggling against those who would save us.

No one wants to be in that pit of despair; we all long to feel again the warm kiss of sunshine on our cheek and bathe in the knowledge that we are loved and safe.  For those of us who know Christ, we are always loved and always in His care....always.  The problem arises when we are so busy looking at the mud on our clothes and face that we are unable to see God in his mercy and love who has already given us robes of righteousness.  No matter how dark our night or how hopeless it all seems, God is not finished with us yet.  He loves us better than anyone ever can and He can do all things.  Is anything to difficult for God?  He who began a good work in you WILL bring it to completion.

But this I call to mind,
and ktherefore I have hope:

22  lThe steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;2
lhis mercies never come to an end;
23  they are new mevery morning;
ngreat is your faithfulness.
24  o“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
k“therefore I will hope in him.”

25  The Lord is good to those who pwait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26  qIt is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. ~ Lamentations 3:21-26
We must keep our eyes on Christ and cling to His promises.  Our hope is in Him and not on our efforts.  We must, in our prayers, cling to that hope and reflect on His faithfulness to us.  We must remember that His love is not conditional; He loved us when we were still enemies and will love us still now.  We will live again; we will laugh again and our joy will be in the Lord.

Friday, February 20, 2015

New Directions

Sometimes, you just need to throw out your sourdough starter and begin again.  Two weeks ago I accidently killed my sourdough starter by putting a tight lid on it and had to begin the whole process again.  It's just one of those things in life that should not be more than a small nuisance to us.  Life events can be that way as well.  How we handle those bumps in the road or course corrections on our life path can make a big difference in our physical and emotional health.

In 2007, I went back to school for pharmacy technician certification so that I could help put our daughter through school so that she would not be saddled with student debt.  (Now, I know parents have very strong opinions as to whether or not students should take out loans and whether or not parents should pay for their college students education, but this is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.  This was our decision.)  Since that time, I have been working on my feet as a certified pharmacy technician, sometimes full-time, sometimes part-time.  In the beginning, pharmacy was a manageable occupation.  It is true that it consisted of long hours on my feet and lines of sometimes rude customers, but it was manageable. 

As time went on and changes in government regulations and corporate demands multiplied, pharmacy became increasingly more difficult.  My physical health and stress levels were hit hard during the past few years, and I began looking for a new direction.  In the Fall of 2014, my life was threatened by a drug seeker and I knew in that moment, it was time to begin again with a change in direction. 

I am now happily in the beginning stages of a new business, Seven Barrels of Chattanooga, LLC.  I will be selling some of the finest flavor infused olive oils and aged Italian balsamic vinegars throughout the southeastern US at shows and festivals and online.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE food and I love to cook!  I strive for excellence in all things, and that is what drew me to this company; the flavors are exquisite!  I am excited about this new direction on my life path and hope to see some of you at a show or two.  I will be blogging about my experiences and giving everyone updates at Seven Barrels of Chattanooga including information about online ordering.  See you there!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sourdough Bread #TryItTuesday

This easy recipe is from my mother-in-law.  It is a very versatile recipe as you can use it for loaves, rolls, cinnamon bread and it can handle many add-ins.  I like it because I can control the balance of whole wheat four for a happy digestive track.  I like to add in wheat germ to most of my bread recipes for extra fiber.  Feel free to follow the recipe exactly or get creative. I posted pictures for novices: most of my recipes won't have so many pics.  Enjoy!


1 cup of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 package yeast
3 Tablespoons of instant potato flakes

Mix starter ingredients and let ferment on the counter for two days.  If you have a cool/cold house, wrap the sides of the container in a towel or tea cozy.

  *my house is typical 65' degrees at night, so I must wrap mine


1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of potato flakes

Combine ingredients and add to the starter.  Let stand on the counter for eight hours,  Refrigerate for three to five days.

 *I label my jar with dates, so in all my busyness, I don't forget


6 cups of bread flour
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup of warm water
1 cup of starter

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  In a separate bowl combine 1 cup of starter, water and oil.  Add to dry ingredients and mix well.  Knead (either by hand on floured surface or with dough hooks) until dough is springy or about five to ten minutes.  Place dough in a oiled bowl, brush top of dough with a little oil, and cover with a wet dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 12 hours.


  *I distribute the oil with a paper towel or pastry brush




Punch dough down and knead out any air bubbles.  Spray or oil two to three loaf pans (depending on how tall you like your loaf) and divide dough evenly between the pans.  Brush tops of bread with a little oil.   Cover loosely and let rise six to eight hours in a warm place. 

Bake at 350' for 25 to 30 minutes or golden brown on top.


The knife pictured above can be purchased here:

*After using starter for bread, only save 1 cup of starter in the refrigerator, discarding excess.  Starter can be fed in another 3-5 days.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Super Bowl? How Clean is Your Toilet?

Think your toilet is fresh and clean?  Get down on your knees and take a peak.  Now, how clean is it?  You may not realize just how dirty your toilet bowl is until that awful moment when you have a stomach bug or food poisoning and your face is close enough to if you weren't sick enough!  Brushing out a toilet bowl with a typical brush, or using one of those bleach discs in your tank just isn't going to cut it, especially if you have hard water.  If you love your family, you're going to have to get on your knees, put on some gloves and scrub.  I am embarrassed to post this, but here's a before picture of our bowl rim.

So, today, I mustered my courage and put on the gloves and spent a few minutes scrubbing with my hands.  I tried using the little brush pictured here in hopes that I wouldn't have to actually stick my hand in the toilet, but it just wouldn't cut it.

After five minutes, my toilet was MUCH cleaner.  Why did I put this off for so many years?  It wasn't that bad at all.  How clean is your toilet?  I hope it's cleaner than mine!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Practically Perfect Parenting

Over 20 years ago, when our daughter was small, I felt a lot of pressure (whether real or perceived) to live by a certain set of standards in order to be a good parent.  I pretty much failed miserably at every bullet point of the Practically Perfect in Everyway Christian Parents' Manifesto.  Do not go looking for this piece of literature propaganda, because not only does it not exist, but each generation develops and attempts to enforce a new, improved creed.  As I look back on my feeble attempts to fit into the mold, not created by God but by fellow sisters in Christ and myself, I chuckle at my failures, grieve over the heartbreak that I allowed myself to feel, and wonder in what ways I have pressured my fellow sisters rather than build them up.  Maybe this is not your story and you have no idea what I'm talking about, or perhaps it is your story and you don't realize it yet.  Let's look at some of the crazy values I believed were necessary to be a good Christian parent.

  • You must breastfeed your child.  This is indeed a good value, but not breastfeeding your little one does not make you a bad parent.  For some women, it's just not possible.  For me, I had Strep B at delivery and I am highly allergic to almost all antibiotics.  By the time I finally was cleared of the infection that nearly claimed both our lives and finished with the antibiotics, it was too late.  Did that make me a bad mom? No, but nonetheless I still felt guilt and remorse because I had failed before I had even begun.
  • You must use cloth diapers.  Again, it is a good value, but not doing so does not mean you hope the environment, your budget, and your baby's bum go to Hell perdition in a hand basket.  Yes, it is more economical, environmentally friendly, and healthful, but circumstances do not always allow this to happen.  It had been my goal to use only cloth diapers, but real life happened.
  • You must homeschool your child.  Nailed this one!  After all, I was one of the pioneer homeschool kids in the late 70's and early 80's.  Oh, wait! You have to be a "relaxed" homeschooler and let them learn naturally.  No, wait! You have to use a twaddle-free classical approach and study logic and Latin.  Oh, no!  You have to focus on only homemaking skills.  Stop the madness!!!! Each child is different and there is no one size fits all approach to education, home or government schooled.  While homeschooling is great and I loved every minute of it, I do not believe it is for everyone.
  • You must sew your & your child's clothing.  I am a LOUSY seamstress!  Don't believe me?  Ask our daughter about a few of the homemade dresses she was forced to wear.  I do believe everyone should know how to sew on a button and hem a pair of pants because you never know when an "emergency" will pop up, but in all honesty, the ability to sew beautifully does not make you a good parent.
I could make a list a mile long and I could apply this concept to all of life....including being a good wife and what constitutes a healthy diet, but don't EVEN get me started...these little tick points are not evil things, but they are not what constitutes "good." 

When our daughter was an infant, a well-meaning woman in our congregation politely informed me that if I kept shoes and socks on our baby (who was only in socks at the time) at all times, she would never suffer an ear infection.  She also let me know that by making our daughter's baby food instead of using jarred commercially produced food, that I was depriving our baby of important nutrients.  Ummmm, no?  My husband reassured me that those little things are not what makes a good parent, but rather my relationship with Christ and who I am as a person is what makes a good parent.  What about you?  Are you unknowingly pressuring yourself or others to fit into a mold that, while good, is not spelled out in Scripture?  Let us be careful to never add to or take away from God's Word.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Garlic Roasted Fingerling Potatoes #TryitTuesday

2 pounds of fingerling potatoes
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil or rosemary infused oil
2 Tablespoons of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon of Himalayan pink sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon of pepper
Preheat oven to 375'  and line baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Wash potatoes and half or quarter, depending on the size of the potato.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl and add the potatoes, tossing to coat.  Spread the potatoes onto the lined baking sheet and bake for one hour (a little longer if potatoes pieces are larger), turning several times during cooking time. 
I made these potatoes with fresh green beans over Christmas and they were marvelous!  They don't hold up as well as I would like reheating later, but they still have that wonderful flavor.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Pinterest Panic, Fakebook, and Twiddling

I've been thinking a lot lately about the pressures on people today and how we interact with each other.  Before the internet (which sounds like the dawn of time but was really not too long ago), our pressure group  peer group came from our neighborhoods, churches, schools, and/or workplaces.   Within in those groups there was usually a good deal of commonality.  We generally were from the same socio-economic backgrounds, held the same beliefs, and in many cases, the same friends.  It wasn't so hard to keep up with the Jones' 50 years ago, because the Jones' were experiencing similar circumstances.  We could also see people a little more clearly, their dirty laundry literally being hung out on the other side of our fences.  Air conditioning was a bit of a luxury, so often our windows were open for outsiders to peer in or listen (sometimes it was difficult to not listen).  There were no video games or cable TV, enabling (not forcing, enabling) us to play with our friends.  No cell phones or texting made genuine communication commonplace.

The same technological advances designed to make life easier, to be used as tools rather than objects of devotion, have become a source of peer pressure and stress that is impossible to live up to or quench. In May 2013, TODAY Parents stated that close to half of moms are stressed by sites such as Pinterest. The same holds true, I'm sure, for single and childless women as well.  Oh, the stresses caused by friends updating their relationship statuses!  Social media sites often only share successes and celebrate accomplishments.  What you don't see is how many failures occurred before those crowning achievements so proudly snapped and posted.  Granted, there are those of us who are at the other end of the spectrum, always whining and complaining about how miserable their lives are, not realizing that their situation is more common than they realize....but let's not get off topic.

Most of us have experienced Pinterest fail, trying to duplicate a craft or recipe or rehab and failing hopelessly.  The same is true for the idealistic lives most of us portray on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  Most of us show only what we would want others to know about us.  I'm not suggesting that we tell all our dirty secrets and use social media as a confessional.  I'm not even suggesting that we all post photos of our dust bunnies or dirty cookie sheets.  I'm also not suggesting that we stop using these sites.  They each hold a certain amount of value and usefulness for this generation.

I love Pinterest in particular.  It's like tearing out magazine pages with recipes and ideas, but you can actually find them when you need them because they are neatly organized without taking up extra room in my already crowded house.  It would be easy for me to develop an inferior complex looking at some of these pins, but I know that I am not particularly gifted with my hands and I know that my worth is based in Christ and not in anything I can do or say.  I also know that most of my friends who have tried what they have seen on Pinterest have frequently found their end results to pale in comparison.  So, while I love the site and visit it often, I realize that what I see there ain't necessarily so...

I also am friends with Facebook.  It is a great way to keep up with family on the other side of the country and reconnect with friends from grade school.  I am not aware of a single person, however, that has been able to escape being hurt or felt slighted in some way as a result of what someone else said on the site.  I also both celebrate and cringe when I see people update their relationship status, knowing that each time it brings joy, heartache, and gossip simultaneously.  Be careful just how much you share of your relationships, not just because of the stress it causes others, but also because there are some things people just don't need to know.  I also know of people who use Facebook purely for stalking information gathering, this too, is inappropriate. 

As far as my Facebook is concerned, I do my best to avoid political statements, not because I do not have or am ashamed of my positions, but in deference to my friends who do not hold similar positions.  Remember the day when it was impolite to discuss politics and religion in public?  Imagine you're in a room with all your friends.  Most of your friends in the room love Neil Diamond, but a few of them can't stand him.  You're still friends with those people because you have other shared interests.  Now imagine that you get up in front of all those said friends in the room, some of which you cannot see or forgot they were there, and you state that anyone who doesn't like Neil Diamond is just dumb.  I realize this is a silly comparison, but you get the point.  Facebook really should be a more "polite society."  We have to be careful about potentially inflammatory statements, and about sharing too much of ourselves. 

So what's my point?  These sites are great as long as we realize they are not "real" and often not even ideal.  If you find yourself being stressed by these social sites, take a short technology sabbatical and open your eyes to the real world.  Sit on a park bench or a bench in the mall .... or even Wal-Mart....and take a good look at people.  Those are real people.  See them for who they really are.  Look into their eyes (figuratively, or you could wind up with a black eye) and see the pain in their lives and their brokenness.  Take time to actually talk with a friend over coffee.  Yes, I know this is difficult.  Do it anyway.  Look past all the glitz and phoniness of internet sites, and see and relate to people on a deeper level.  You'll be much happier if you do.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Last night, I tried Kevin and Amanda's Spicy Sausage Pasta, and I was NOT disappointed!   The original recipe link can be found HERE.  I tweaked the recipe a little because I'm not a huge fan of onions and I was too lazy to broil it at the end, but the results were still a two thumbs up!  I'm posting the tweaked version here along with photos because: 1. I'm not a photographer (these were taken with my phone) and things I try never look like they do on Pinterest.  2. I'm not a fabulous chef; and if I can do it, so can you! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
1/2 cups diced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 oz  pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

 1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in cheese.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Granola #TryitTuesday

In the years before I worked outside of our home, I frequently made granola during the Winter months.  It has long been one of my husband's favorites, and he will be excited to see it's return.  It's easy to make, tastes better than store bought versions, and is cheaper than the store bought versions.

3/4  Cup of brown sugar
1/2  Cup of honey (I always try to purchase raw, local honey, but this can get pricey)
1/3  Cup oil (I used a canola/olive blend)
5     Cups of oats, preferably old fashioned as opposed to quick, but either will do
1/2  Cup of powdered milk
2   Tablespoons of wheat germ (optional)
3/4  teaspoon of cinnamon
pinch of salt (I used Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, but table salt works)
cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit to be added after baking

Preheat oven to 375'
In a saucepan, combine the honey, oil and brown sugar and heat until the sugars are dissolved.

In a large cake pan, combine and mix the dry ingredients (except for the dried fruit!)
Pour the dissolved sugars over the dry ingredients and mix well.
Bake at 375' for 10 minutes.  Add the dried fruit of your choice and let cool.