Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's been a hard day

What do hard days look like for you? For me, it's usually kids fighting, me snapping, to-do lists being ignored. It's being too busy, or not busy enough. It's everything and nothing and ALL.THE.THINGS. But it usually comes down to one thing. My attitude, my perspective, my response. (see even when I don't want it to be all about me, it is)

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And on one of those particularly hard days, this book showed up in my mailbox... What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by Holley Gerth.

And I wanted to just ignore the dish pile in the sink, ignore the kids and the dear husband, ignore the laundry that was washed four days ago and still isn't folded, and lock myself in my room with Holley's encouraging words, my gratitude journal, and the Psalms, and not come out for a week.

Well it didn't happen quite like that, but it was close. I've been spending lots of my quiet time in the Psalms these days, so I was delighted to crack open this book and find that each devotional was based on a Psalm. I love the way she describes the Psalms, "The book of Psalms is like a table covered with God's goodness." It's true, and He has set the table for me... and His goodness can satisfy, will satisfy, does satisfy.

And after a day of stuffing myself with unhealthy, unnecessary foods and reading these words in the introduction, "We need to find a way to quiet the hunger pains in our hearts." I knew that this was going to reach my heart. Holley gives us 52 encouraging truths... and man, there are some good ones in there!

God wants to lift you up when life lets you down
God says you're a delight, not a disappointment
God doesn't want you to try so hard
God is your protector
God will ease your anxiety
God's ways are best for you
God will use you to help others

and so many more that spoke to my heart before I even began reading the devotional. Each truth is paired with a verse from Psalms, along with a reading of 3 Psalms a day (or week, or however you choose to break it up).

We all have hard days and sometimes on the hard days, it is difficult to remember truth, to focus on truth, to meditate on what is true, and right, and pure. But a few days in the Psalms, along with these encouraging words that Holley shares with us, and your perspective can change, just like mine does! Psalms is my lifeline and this devotional book has added a strand of strength to that lifeline!

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Pick one up today!  

PS... she's doing a little book club on her website right now... Check it out, go like her facebook page and sign up for the updates! You won't be disappointed!

(also, I attempted Amazon affiliate links, so if you purchase the book through the links on this page, I get a percentage or something like that... I really don't know how it all works) :) thanks

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Words are Needed

Sometimes, no words are needed and sometimes words are all you need. Community can be both.

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It can be a hug with no words, it can be a fun picture text between friends, it can be a shared table at the coffee shop, or a kick in the pants to meet for needed exercise.

It can be a long telephone call filled with encouraging words, it can be a short voxer message with a thinking of you, praying for you message, and it can be a short note card or a long letter sent via snail mail.

It can be the truth of God's Word spoken into your life, prayed over you.

I have found community in all those things, but still every day I have to fight for community. I have to make the effort to respond to the voxer message. I have to get off my lazy butt and write the snail mail cards. I have to say "yes" to meeting for coffee (or much needed exercise). I have to force myself to answer the phone.

I'm not trying to say that it's all about me, but without effort, there is no community. It takes risk of being rejected, risk of being misunderstood, risk of being ignored or hurt.

This pile of cards shows that words are the start of community, strangers becoming pen pals, friends!

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Scripture is full of encouraging words on building unity and community and encouraging and edifying one another...  Here are just a few:

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

and all of Philippians 2.

Community Conversation: What is one of your favorite Scriptures on community? When is the last time you sent snail mail?

joining my dear bloggy friend, Jenn with a new link up called No Words Needed.
also linking up with Kaitlyn and the #fmfpartysnailmail community

and because a good note in the mail is just like coffee for your heart, I am joining in with Holley Gerth as she encourages so many with her words!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Change

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It was 20 years ago that I walked into this building for the first time as a naive, scared-to-death, 17 year old college freshman. A lot has changed since then... except for the scared to death part. Why is it that I can be 20 years older, but the thought of papers, and quizzes, and presentations, and interactions with kids half my age SCARES ME TO DEATH.

Twenty years ago, I was looking for a quick degree... just an AA, no big deal. Just enough of an education to get a job being a secretary. (Yes, back then we were still called secretaries instead of administrative assistants). I loved typing, numbers, and organization, but I hated the phone.

Life has brought about a lot of change in the last 20 years. I graduated, I got married... and then I had 4 kids in 4 and a half years... and somewhere in there I started blogging and discovered writing as a way to express myself, as a way to think, as a way to process life.

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And I decided I wanted to be a writer and my husband encouraged me to go back to school and get a communications degree... what was he thinking? What was I thinking?

I've taken a few classes here and there, but this semester it's TWO classes (come on, I'm a wife and mom... can't put too much on my plate) and for some reason, I get an unbelievable fit of nerves at the beginning of each semester. Nevertheless it's back to school time and back to campus, even though I feel old and wonder how I can do it with all those young'ns on a college campus.

Rules have changed, campus has changed, I have changed! And that is where I need to focus. I'm not 17 anymore. Life has given me a lot of experience, something that I can share with these young whippersnappers. Life will change for them over the next 20 years and I can go to campus knowing that I have something to offer them and to remember that they have something to offer me.

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Change is not something I look forward to, but I know that it can be good for me. So this fall, I enter this building with anticipation, not trepidation and I go in confidence that this is what God wants for me and I will do the best that I can, not for the approval of man, but for God's glory. Change is what gets me out of my comfort zone and that's what I need right now.

What does change look like for you?  

Join me and the other writers at Five Minute Friday and share your five minutes on change!

photos credit: my awesome husband

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Tell

I wanna be a writer... really, I do! But somewhere along the way I have to find my reason, my drive, my passion.  Until I do, I will just continue to attempt Five Minute Friday in the hopes that someday, some where, somehow, the writing will improve and I will find my voice and my vision for the future...

This week, I'm not going to wait until the last possible moment. I will MAKE myself sit down and write, and I will share it here... (for real, I wrote this on Sunday... I just procrastinated until now to get it on my blog...aaarrgghh)

How can I not with a prompt like Tell:

Would it shock you to know that I've been blogging on and off for over 10 years?!?!?  It was shortly after my firstborn son turned one that my husband opened me to the world of blogging. It was an outlet, a way to inform family on the antics of our baby and growing family, etc. Over the years, I've wondered what my purpose is in blogging... what am I trying to tell the world? I tried my hand at photography, counting the one thousand gifts, sharing recipes and craft projects, and the dear to my heart handmade cards. But it also became the birthing place for my desire to be a writer.

Lately, I've been struggling with that desire because I've been unmotivated to put that desire into action... and just Friday morning I read the following on the Allume blog...

What’s your end game in blogging? What is the ultimate goal you hope to accomplish with this?

And I will ponder that and think through my goals and purpose. The other struggle I've had is with all the verses in the Bible that show the wisdom in keeping your mouth shut... "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." ... and "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" and I think, does the world really need to hear what I have to say? Or should I just keep my mouth shut and my pen silent?

And then God brings to mind the verses where He commands us to tell the generations to come (Joshua 22:27-28) His mighty works, His goodness, His miracles. And while I haven't figured out the how, the why, the when; I do know that I can use this blog to tell of the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes it will be sloppy and choppy and maybe, hopefully, someday it will be eloquent and life changing to some one... even just one reader.

So, I will tell of the wonders of my God and pray that you will join me in sharing testimony to the great things He has done!

Psalm 145:4 “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.”
Psalm 79:13 “ Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.”
Psalm 71:15-16 “My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. 


Now get thee over to Kate Motaung's place and read some more great five minutes and tell them what their words mean to you!

And take a moment in the comments to share what great things God has done for you this week!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Berry Crumb Bars

It's been ages since I posted a recipe on the blog here... and considering that those posts are some of my most visited posts, I decided to share another one. Baking is my love language and I did a little baking this weekend at the request of my dear husband who was craving something sweet and fruity... and I had some strawberries that needed to be eaten and some blueberries from the picking I did last week, so I whipped up this old recipe here and I'm wondering why it's been six years since I made this last (I posted this recipe to my old xanga blog back in the day... that's how I know).

Well, after I shared a picture on instagram/facebook, I had more than one person ask for the recipe, so here it is!!

 for later and Enjoy!

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The original recipe is pretty simple and you can find it on allrecipes, Blueberry Crumb Bars. But after I read some of the comments/suggestions I tweaked the recipe a little.  Here is my recipe.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
a shake or two of salt
a couple shakes of cinnamon

1 cup shortening
1 egg
a capful of vanilla
a capful of lime (or lemon) juice
and a little bit of water
1/2-3/4 cup of oatmeal (for use later)

a pint fresh blueberries
1 bag frozen raspberries
(or any combination of berries equalling 4 cups)
1/2 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, and baking powder.  Mix in salt and cinnamon.  Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the shortening and egg. Dough will be crumbly.  Add vanilla, lime juice, and water to help it stick together a little bit and press half the dough into prepared pan.
3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch.  Gently mix in the blueberries and raspberries.  Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust.
4. Add 1/2 cup or so of oatmeal to remaining dough and crumble over the berry layer.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until top is slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.
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It's definitely one I will make again!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Fill

I've always been a procrastinator, but this is getting ridiculous. I have loved Five Minute Friday from the start. It's what taught me to sit down and write without worrying whether it's right or not, but I still struggle with it. And now we've transitioned to a new host for Five Minute Friday and a new journey and I so want to be a part of it and I've almost missed the first week entirely.

When I saw the prompt last Friday, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about, but I had no idea what it was going to look like and then I refused to sit down and write... phooey on me!!

so here goes my feeble attempt in the eleventh hour!!


A blueberry in the bucket, a blueberry in the mouth, a blueberry in the bucket, a blueberry in the mouth... Which will get filled first, the bucket or his tummy? That's the way it goes with my nephew. My girls on the other hand filled their buckets pretty quickly because for some reason, I can't get them to like blueberries, unless it's the dehydrated ones that come in muffin mixes. :)

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I spent last Friday picking blueberries with my girls, my sisters, and my mom. It's been a while since I've done it, but I'm looking forward to some blueberry treats this fall, winter, or even spring... because now my freezer has a shelf of frozen blueberries all ready for baking.

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Truth be told, it's the baking I love, I don't care if it's blueberries, cheesecake, brownies or Christmas cookies. I love baking! It fills my heart with joy and gives me more cushioning than I need, baking makes me happy.  Almost as happy as writing... actually baking makes me happier than writing because I can see the immediate positive results and feedback from my baking... maybe I should make this a baking blog (and maybe I should stop writing as my brain seems to have gone away with me and taken any chance of a complete thought with it).

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Baking, blueberry picking, spending time with family like I did last week... all things that fill my heart (well maybe not the work of blueberry picking, but that's where this blog post started).

What fills your heart?  or what fills your freezer?  :)

So like I said it's the eleventh hour and I'm going to try to link up with the other fine writers at Five Minute Friday... before we all join for a new week and a new prompt tonight at #fmfparty on twitter!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Written Word: Snail Mail

I've never been a huge fan of my handwriting. For one thing, I'm left handed and it took many childhood years of struggle to figure out how to write without smearing the ink with my hand... and I don't hold my hand at that crazy awkward angle like my father does (have I mentioned that I love my father and all the quirks he has gifted to me?)

bunny trails, bunny trails... where was I?

Writing, the struggling theme of my smattering of blogposts lately.

More specifically, handwriting.

I know the power of the written word, especially the Word of God.

I also know the power of a handwritten recipe from a dear grandma, mom, or aunt.
I know the power of a scrapbook page with captions written from the heart.
I know the power of a hand-written journal entry
(Ooh, another bunny trail--my parents found my high-school diaries in their basement last month. I'm looking forward to picking them up on our next visit).
And I know the power of a hand-written encouragement note, thank you note, or birthday card (I'm partial to handmade).

It's rare to see a handwritten envelope in the mailbox these days, but thanks to #fmfpartysnailmail there are days when buried in the bills, catalogs and credit card offers, a small and beautiful breath of fresh air appears.  A personal envelope, handwritten. Those little notes mean the world to me--encouragement, verses, reminders that God is good and He sees me. A refocus that brings renewal and refreshment. Sometimes a handwritten note that pushes me to be a better me.

Like my mom and my oldest sister, they send handwritten notes regularly, little newsy updates, a connection in this fast-paced, so easy to drift apart world... I wanna be like them.

Even in my writing/blogging endeavors, I find that the ideas come and the words flow more easily with paper and ink instead of a keyboard and screen.
Writing helps me sort my thoughts, writing is an encouragement to others, writing is a way of telling generations to come the wonderful works of our amazing God. Writing is a way to give thanks to friend, to family, to God.

Have you seen the power of the written word in your life?

I'm joining my #fmfpartysnailmail friends over at Kaitlyn's place as we share about the written word, Go check them out!!
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