Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Squawking of Chicken Little

Before I dive into a post such as this, I would like to say two things. One, whenever I share a truth, it is something I am walking through and the Lord is illuminating to me new, or at least in new light. I don't just research a topic to have a teaching to post. I speak to myself as much as I am sharing with you. Second, I loathe being misunderstood. Perhaps it's the people-pleaser in me, but for whatever reason, I desire greatly to have my heart heard in the best way possible. That being said, I also strive to speak the truth plainly, not watered-down, and with love.

We all struggle with fear throughout our lives, perhaps with varying degrees of difficulty or weak areas, but it can root there, nonetheless. We live in an imperfect, fallen world, and with that comes all realms of horror. (And yet, we can't help but watch as it's presented to us entertainment by the media. Hmm.) There are fears every woman knows, and then there are the fears that can only be truly understood once you have children. Suddenly other fears seem manageable in that new light. Perhaps it's fear that we won't have enough (food, shelter, clothes, money) or fear of being alone and rejected. The list can go on and on. My point is, insert your fears -here-.

While our imaginations can come up with enough fears on its own, the world, media, friends and family can easily pile on more thoughts. Watching only a few moments of news is enough to make you think it's time to fall to our knees, beg and fast for our country. Everyday there is a crisis to be averted, a new law to fight, a terror to flee. It can seem as the whole world is 'going to hell in a hand-basket'. Well, perhaps it is. After all, did not Christ himself promise in John 16, "I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." We will have trouble! We will have difficulties! But is not the Bible full of those wonderful 'if-then' statements. We will have pain, but He has given us peace and has conquered the world.

God is mysterious, there is no doubt. His ways are beyond our comprehension. He tries His best to tell us, but there are some things we just don't understand. He promises us peace and protection, and yet bad things happen to good people. We've heard 'the prosperity gospel' and 'name it, claim it'. But what happens when we believe He's going to give to us, and nothing happens, or we 'claim it' but are not healed? Our faith weakens. Paul, of whom we have no doubt loved the Lord with all his heart and learned to trust Him and find abounding peace, yet he was imprisoned and beaten until nearly dead...multiple times. He was hungry and alone and abandoned, but that only pushed him nearer to God. We can allow hard times and the fear of living in this world to consume us, or we can choose to push on.

How do we live this out? Walking in faith isn't plastering a smile on your face and pretending everything's fine. Authentic faith is knowing when there is no healing, no provision, and even death, that God is still worthy of worship. Paul said in Philippians 4, "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Pray, he says, take your worries to God. God isn't surprised that you're afraid something horrible will befall you and those you love. You aren't admitting something He doesn't already know you think! Cry out to Him and lay down your anxieties.

Second, get in your Word and quiet the voice of the enemy. Psalm 1 says, "BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]." Make the Word of God louder in your life than the word of fear. Don't allow the voices that tell of every horrible thing wrong to rob you of your peace in Him. Don't listen to their counsel; delight in the law of the Lord.

 I'm not suggesting we pretend nothing is wrong in the world and to shut ourselves off from knowledge of what's around us. Christ prayed an amazing prayer in John 17 for us, asking God not to take us out of the world, but to protect us from the evil one. So third, be alert. For the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, waiting for someone to devour. Do what we can with the intelligence God has given us to protect ourselves. Lock our doors. Be aware of what's around us when we're at the store or in a parking lot. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit prompting you to do, or not do something. If you sense you perhaps shouldn't park there, don't. It's better to never know if you were right. Those are specific ways in which I protect myself from my fears, so seek God for direction for you personally. We should be open to God giving us direction for things within our earthly control. If He tells you to do something, be obedient. However, we aren't always supposed to do something about every fear or worry. Not all of us are called to fight a new 'law' that threatens our freedoms. Sometimes we're just supposed to trust God for His protection for us and our families. We already know things will get much, much worse before the return of Christ.

In dealing with fear in our lives, we first have to recognize it, and then lay it before God in petition, and, most importantly, leave it there.  Beyond that, we must trust that He loves us, and those we love, more than we can ever imagine. It is this love that changes us. 1 John 4 says, "Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love." If we make living out the love of God our main focus, that drives away fear.

We are called to be different, to be a light, and a hope. If we don't live differently, what is there to notice? Let us silence the voices of fear in our lives, press on towards that which He has called us, and trust that He works all things out for good in our lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Strech marks on our souls

*Edit: 12/21/2009 - Although the link I used below is also a wonderful blog and similar in subject, it was not the one I intended to use. This is. Hope you enjoy.

Even though I am often inspired by other blogs, I try not to get link-happy as I share how great I thought they were. However, this one over at Holy Experience really struck a chord with me (possibly because my stomache is replete with stretch marks.) It brought me to tears as I realized how much those marks could mean on our soul. Pretty to the world? Not really. But what do they represent? Sacrifice, maybe numerous times. And while our bodies will never again be the same, I know the gift far outweighs any disfigurement.

May our souls also be replete with stretch marks as God births His miracles through our lives, laid down as living sacrifices for Him.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Truth: Love One Another

My friend over at Thread by Thread posted a blog yesterday entitled "Liar, liar, pants on fire" and it really got me thinking. It brought to light so many lies I didn't refute in my own life. I thought hard on this and sought the Lord for what lies I allowed to fester in my heart. This is a reflection of my answer to such a poignant question. (You don't have to read her blog first, but it would probably help, because I'm not going to rephrase everything since she said it so well.)

I was reading the other day in Psalms and noticed once again a reference to how Satan works. (For another insight into the mind games he plays read The Screwtape Letters that she talks about on her blog too.) He imitates God. Christ is referred to as the Lion. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion. For those who do not have a strong walk with the Lord, simple distractions work. If we do have a strong walk, he has to be more subtle because blatant sins will not work for us. He will often imitate the things of God to guide us off-course. Just because something looks good, doesn't mean it is. Can blogging be a good thing? Absolutely. I am spurred on daily by the select blogs I read. However, there is an infinite number of blogs I would love to read that may indeed edify me, but that would distract me from my main goal and focus every day: motherhood. If I spend all my time reading wonderful blogs, my children are missing out on relationship with me. Therefore, I limit my bloggy activities to 10. If I want to add another, I prayerfully consider which to remove because 10 are about all I can reasonably read. (It helps that most of those are not daily postings!)

In my humble opinion, I believe Satan's favorite lie is "You're the only one." How many times have we kept a struggle to ourselves simply because we felt alone in our battle? Countless. Instead, we hide it away and either pretend it's not there or that we can handle it without help. I know there are many occasions that God simply has to work something in us, but I strongly believe He intends for us to strengthen and lift one another up in the body of Christ. We are all too often direlict in our duties to one another.

I have yet to hear a woman say she has never dealt with hurt and betrayal from other women. I also have yet to hear a woman say she has never inflicted the hurt and betrayal. How many painful memories have you buried? I am not saying this simply to dredge up the past, but to help us recognize the gift he has given us in our female relationships. All throughout biblical history, Satan has attacked with force things of great promise. When Moses was born, many of his generation were murdered in an attempt to thwart God's plan. The same thing happened again in the year of Christ's birth. (I often wonder what is to come of these 30+ years of missed birthings since Roe v. Wade.) The widespread hurt and pain among women has led me to believe there is something of great promise to be had.

I desire so much to bring the healing, love and acceptance of Christ to others. Sometimes loving that much opens you up to hurt yourself, but did not Christ do that very thing? Did He not love in the same self-sacrificing way? Who am I then, to withhold my love because I have just been hurt too much? It's easy to retreat into a self-protective bubble, but I think that's one more lie. It's a lie that it's okay to withhold the love and healing of God from others because we too, may become hurt. It's a lie that it makes no difference to anyone. It's a lie that people don't notice or care. We may not always receive the reaction our flesh hopes for, but does not Christ feel that pain every day when we reject His perfect love? Who are we to withhold? It may feel wonderfully rewarding when someone appreciates and reciprocates our love and unconditional friendship, and I believe that's what God hopes for. But that is not the condition of our outpouring of love. Mother Teresa says, "If you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love." Christ calls us to love one another as He loves us. What a high standard! Every loving thing we do matters, even if we don't see results. It is so easy to notice and remember the negative, therefore we should pour out without bounds the love and encouragement of Christ. One of my favorite quotes regarding ministry (and isn't that what love is?):

“Ministry is giving when you feel like keeping,

praying for others when you need to be prayed for,
feeding others when your own soul is hungry,
living truth before people even when you can’t see results,
hurting with other people even when your own hurt can’t be spoken,
keeping your word even when it is not convenient,
it is being faithful when your flesh wants to run away.”
John A. Holt

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
Mother Teresa

I hope you are as encouraged by I in this seeking of truth for our souls, to quiet the lies of the enemy in our life and listen more intently to the command of Christ: to love, without bounds or consideration of self.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How do you read?

I love books. Books, books, books. The more the merrier! I recently discovered the wonders of the online hold at my local library, and the ability to request transfers from lots of other libraries in north Georgia. Now my insatiable desire without monetary backing is being fulfilled. I do try and limit myself somewhat, because who can read 100 books in 2 weeks? I don't want to be selfish. I do however get several on a subject to see which I like best.

There is a regular routine for me when perusing a new book. I first take note of the title and author, and also what year it was written or updated. (This often will be my deciding factor to even check it out or not. Because, let's face it, a book about great websites to visit that is 10 years old is, well, rather antiquated.) Then, I survey the chapter titles and subtitles and skim through the book, looking at pictures (or the lack there of) just so I know the lay of the land. Now, my flaw to my online-hold system is that I will occasionally end up with books I never would have checked out had I seen them in person before. I try to survey my books as soon as I get them, because I don't want to keep others from reading books I have no intention of ever reading. I love recipes but really prefer lots and lots of pictures. I recently requested a book simply because someone said it was a great cookbook only to discover it had no pictures and few recipes. It was more a cooking journal. Although perhaps interesting, it wasn't what I really had in mind...

I like a wide variety in my selections and will often get things just out of curiosity. I may only peruse at surface level, or I may read 3 books cover-to-cover. It just depends on how interested I find myself. I know there are many things I can read about online, and I do, but sometimes books are easier. Here are my current 'active titles' as I like to think of them. These are personals and library books I am currently reading.

Mark of the Lion Trilogy - Francine Rivers (4th time reading through this, I'm on the last one.)
The color encyclopedia of hostas - Grenfell, Diana
A Greener Christmas - Goldsmith, Sheherazade. (This one is sooo good, going on my amazon wish list.)
The backyard homestead - Madigan, Carleen.
VeggieTales Holiday pack - Big Idea Productions
The complete illustrated book of herbs - Reader's Digest Association (Also great)
The tale of three trees : a traditional folktale - Hunt, Angela Elwell
The birth order book : why you are the way you are - Leman, Kevin.
Grace-based parenting - Kimmel, Tim.
Elmo's world Opposites - Clash, Kevin. (Had no idea they would love this so much.)
Don't make me count to three! a Mom's look at heart-oriented discipline - Plowman, Ginger. (AWESOME)
Photoshop CS3 for dummies - Bauer, Peter J.
Boys should be boys : 7 secrets to raising healthy sons - Meeker, Margaret J.
Green design : a healthy home handbook - Berman, Alan (Alan J.)
Walking with God : talk to him, hear from him, really - Eldredge, John
Home made, best made : hundreds of ways to make all kinds of useful things - Reader's Digest Association
The Georgia fruit and vegetable book - Reeves, Walter.
Trade secrets from Use What You Have decorating - Ward, Lauri.
The everything canning & preserving book - Telesco, Patricia
New herb bible growing and knowing your herbs - Foley, Caroline.
Birth order blues : how parents can help their children meet the challenges of their birth order - Wallace, Meri. (Very interesting - had no idea twins develop an older/younger status usually.)
The complete idiot's guide to preserving food - Brees, Karen K. (great, simple)

(I'm not bothering with my 'on hold' list. It's even longer and constantly changing. When books come from other libraries, it can take days, weeks, or even months if there's a waiting list.)

I am a huge fan of the 'for dummies' series. I've discovered I like it better than 'idiot's guide' and 'everything' series. They just aren't quite as cleanly organized.

To keep up with my selections for future reference, and perhaps, my own personal amusement, I keep a book journal. I created an excel spreadsheet including vital information, how I read the book (all, in parts, skim) and my notes about it. It's not as beautiful as say, a handwritten journal, but the sheer multitude would make that impractical. I want to be able to easily reference this so it serves its purpose for me. Perhaps one day I could fancy it up and print it for a notebook.

So my question is, how do you read? Are you like me with a multitude that you select from reflecting your current mood? Or do you prefer to finish one at a time? I used to do that, no compromise. One day I may wander back to that philosophy. For this season of my life, the book buffet is working quite nicely.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I repent, little Gingersnaps

For many, Christmas is the season for baking. For moi, it lasts all year long! I need no excuse to try a new cookie recipe. However, come the holidays, I am ecstatic to peruse the new baking mags. Numerous times. Wanting every single one. I have only purchased one this year (shock, awe) and it's the Better Homes & Gardens Best Loved Cookies. Lots of fun recipes in there! The one I'm all excited about discovering is the, you guessed it, gingersnap recipe. I hadn't found a really great, "drop what you're doing, they're outta the oven!" one yet. But now, I believe I have.

When I was first making them and attempting to put them on the sheets, I decided right then and there I would never make them again. They were gooey and annoying, even after they 'chilled for 2 hours' just as the recipe 'suggested'. Then they came out of the oven all beautiful...and I tasted one. Oh. My. Yum. Yum. Yum. I was so wrong. They would have been worth twice the effort! Hence, my repentance to the humble little recipe.

My one command suggestion would be to chill the dough in the freezer, not the fridge. Molasses has a very low freezing point, and just doesn't get un-gooey enough in a fridge, in my opinion. It doesn't seem to matter how much is in a recipe, it always means you have a high goo-factor to contend with. (I know, there's lots of highfalutin jargon.) Ok, so I actually have 2 suggestions. I wouldn't even consider making these without my favorite gadget, the cookie scoop. I'm sure other companies make these, but I have 3 sizes from the Pampered Chef. I have used these for 8 years and if I haven't worn them out, they're definately quality! If you currently use a plain old spoon for your drop cookies, trust me, you would never go back. Seriously. And now, without further ado, here is the lovely recipe herself:

1/2 C butter, margarine or oil
1/4 C shortening
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 C mild-flavored molasses
2 C flour
(1/4 C colored sugar or coarse sugar for decorating)

*Beat butter and shortening for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add egg and beat for a 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients minus the flour and mix well. Add flour slowly. Chill (ahem, freeze) until not sticky and easy to work with. (1-2 hours) Using cookie scoop or hands, shape 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 3 inches apart to allow spreading. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (Using the scoop, I didn't even shape them, but they came out just fine.)

I hope you enjoy this holiday treat as much as I did. Twice. I find it really helps the flavor if a nice Christmas cd is playing while I bake. You know, something really classic, like the Muppets and John Denver. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy birthday, boys!

A whole year has come and gone; the boys are one year old. People told me time really flies, and to be truthful, I believed them. I just didn't realize how it would feel! Often over the last year I would catch myself impatiently waiting for the next 'season' in their maturity. The older they get, the more independent they are, the longer they sleep, the less they would cry. I tried to remind myself to try to enjoy their dependency, and the tiny-ness of their clothes and their lack of choice in being cuddled. The other day my friend came by, and she has a 1-month old little boy. He was so tiny! And yet, I couldn't help but think how tiny they were the night they were born, for he was easily twice their newborn size. Weighing in at 5 1/2 and 4 1/2 pounds, nearly 2 months early, they felt like cuddling air. I was so afraid to hurt them because they seemed so delicate. You can see how big the preemie clothes were on them. This was when they were close to a month old too, because they didn't come home for 2 (Caleb) and 3 (Jacob) weeks.

As they play rough with one another in their playard, those days seem very far away. They eat well, they crawl and climb, and it won't be long before they're walking. It's so easy to miss all the subtle changes and the daily blessings of their baby giggles. When we're up in the middle of the night rocking one, or they're devastated that I left the room, I pray I remember how short these days are, and remember to stop, and not get caught up in 'keeping up the house'. It's so easy to have a 'Martha' heart and be so busy trying to get everything 'important' done. Maybe it's because that's easier for people to see. We imagine success as having a kept-up house that smells and looks wonderful. Anything other than that might make us appear as though we've failed. But who can tell the hours spent reading and playing with our children? After all, that is what has the eternal significance. That's what Mary knew. While there is certainly a time for the work, and we don't want to be lazy, finding that balance is important to me. (Because, after all, I have Martha inclinations.) I don't want to have a pristine house only to look at my children in 5, 10 or 20 years and realized I missed the investment of time that really mattered in shaping who they become.

But, I digress. Saturday was their first birthday and we had a family party. They were wonderful! They happily ate their caterpillar cakes...

I made 3, because we have so much family...they were a lot of fun to decorate. I got the cake pan for a great deal at the Williams Sonoma outlet. (Gotta love that place...) The boys also happily sat at their new wooden table set from Gamma and Papa. I was totally impressed! I expected them to just crawl all over it, but they sat in the chairs the whole time we opened presents. Who knew they had it in them?

On to their second year...and all that God has in store for our little family!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You could make that, Lee

*edited 7/21/2010:
After using the following recipe for awhile, I have fiddled around and improved it. I found the ivory left a residue, so I switched to fels naptha laundry soap. I LOVE it! It rinses so clean, I noticed an immediate difference. Here is my new adjusted recipe. All directions are still the same, and I now use this as my pre-spot spray too.

1/2 bar fels naptha
1 C borax
1 C washing soda
HOT water

My Grandmother lived with me until I was 9, which I consider a wonderful privilege. She taught me many things, one of which was that there are many things I can do myself and it's not sensible to always be paying for them. Sometimes my mother and I have found this humorous however, because we draw the line in some areas. (While we very well may be able to do that, it's hard to beat buying something for $5 that would have taken us 5 hours to make and probably wouldn't have looked as nice.) That being said, what her generation knew is that it pays to be frugal, self-sustaining and to live with some just plain common sense. Such as, if I can make laundry soap myself, in 20 minutes, and it costs me less than 1 cent a load, why would I pay over 50 cents a load at the store? That one is definitely on my side of the line. And, quite frankly, I think my homemade baked goods and my mother-in-law's bread are better than anything I can buy in the store. Plus, they're so much cheaper!

I was making a new batch of laundry soap for my dad this morning and I was thinking how grateful I am for this small blessing in my life. Sometimes the daily rhythm of chores is very comforting to me, and this was one of those times. The following is the recipe I use for laundry detergent (courtesy of my wonderful MIL). I really love this stuff and feel it is every bit as good as the store bought, with the exception that it actually has less chemicals and my nose doesn't run because it's not filled with perfumes. Oh, and I use it as a concentrated presoak too and it hasn't met a stain it couldn't best.

1 bar of ivory soap, shaved
1 cup of washing soda (not baking)
1/2 cup of borax

  1. Bring a pot of water (2-3 quarts) to boil.
  2. Reduce to medium heat. (Boiling makes the soap foam.)
  3. Slowly sprinkle shaved ivory soap until completely melted. Take your time. Dumping the whole pile of shavings will actually take you longer.
  4. Add about 4 gallons of HOT water to a 5 gallon bucket.
  5. Pour pot of soapy water in the 5 gallon bucket too and stir well.
  6. Add washing soda and borax to hot water mixture and stir well.
  7. Put lid back on bucket and let sit overnight.
  8. Stir well the next day.
*Use 1 cup for regular washers, 1/4 cup for high efficiency front loaders.

Also, you can pour the soap in half gallon jugs if it's easier to measure and handle. However, if you have enough room in your laundry room, I recommend just keeping the bucket right beside your washer. I keep a 1 cup measuring scoop sitting right on top of the lid. Whenever I'm washing I use the scoop to swish the soap around, scoop it out, and rinse it off in the running washer water and set it right back on top of my bucket. This works best for me and I haven't noticed it ever separating badly. If your water is hot enough when you make it, your soap should be pretty even, but kinda goopy. So, if it's goopy, you did it right. Just make sure it's evenly goopy and there's not a lot of water sitting at the bottom or top of your bucket.

I plan in the near future as I run out of my soap stock to try some other money-saving recipes I've researched. Dish washing detergent, dish soap, hand soap, shampoo and body wash reviews will hopefully be appearing soon...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Addicted to Tutorials

Ok, so I have been spending a lot of the time on the computer - but, obviously not blogging. I go on these tutorial 'binges' and just can't seem to do other things on the internet for awhile. I have the Adobe creative master suite and I just don't know the programs well enough! If you don't know, a couple years ago I started work at the Tabernacle in Decatur and fell in love with graphic design. (Like I needed another hobby.) However, I really enjoy this other creative outlet! There are so many things I can do. Last year, or well, maybe longer because it was before I was pregnant, I watched every single tuturial on InDesign from (Oh, Lynda, my life is not the same...) Well, I really miss my subscription. Sure, there are free ones, but it always cuts you off when you're getting to the good stuff. There's stuff on youtube, but really, it's so hodge-podge, and they end up leading you back to their site anyway, and Lynda is just so great of a detailed overview of the programs.

I feel I'm getting ahead of myself and making no sense. My point is, I'm hoping to sign up for a subscription soon so I can stop limping helplessly around photoshop. I mean, I've worked in there for awhile now, and I know some stuff, but I know there's soooo much more... I really want to be a better photo editor, and I think I have reached my cap on my own. I have a lot more experience in design and effects than I do with the finer details of professional photography. Now would be an excellent time to insert some of my work, but alas, I am not at home so that will just have to wait until another post.

We (the Webster clan) all went to the Vines botanical gardens Sunday and I'm really looking forward to getting my paws on those photos. They're going to be great! Now, off to indulge in more tutorials.

Wait! One more thing. I baked this wonderful chocolate peanut butter cake that my newfound old friend mentioned in her blog awhile back. Wow, rave reviews! I love to bake, and there's nothing like having people oogle and drool over your baked goods. It gives you a warm, gooey feeling inside.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From Where I Received a Creative Heart

This is something that burns deep within me and is very personal to my being. Creativity. This is not to be boxed up in the Michael's-Hobby Lobby-Joann's sense, although I can certainly lose myself for hours in those havens. I mean in the everyday, living, breathing, 'somehow I've got to make it through this day and get what I need done' way. Oh, and I'd really like some time with you, Lord.

The closer you get to the Creator, the more creative you become. I honestly have no idea when this concept came to me, if I heard it somewhere, or if God quietly spoke it to me until I finally heard and understood him. God, the Creator has made some amazing things. Most of which we have yet to understand, even when we think we do. Anyone with children will testify to experiencing this when they know something is best and the child can't fathom why on earth you might prohibit that. A helpful reminder of how we must look to God sometimes: arms crossed, pouting with our lip stuck out, hurt tears running down our chubby cheeks. We'll understand one day. Some things maybe even on this side of heaven.

I have so many things I want to do, need to do, and sometimes just can't get all the worms in the can. I try and try to do it in my own flesh, limited by my humanity. I forget that I was made in His image. His image. The Creator of everything mirrored Himself in me. I posess His creativity and that doesn't just mean 'crafts'. Creativity is a way of seeing the world, and seeing problems, seeing relationships, seeing our purpose. We have the ability to 'see beyond' the natural in how we live our lives and to do really amazing things. If I think God is calling me to do something and I think I can handle it, maybe it's not from Him. His track record is doing big things from unexpected places. Why? Because then He gets the glory - not me. Can I be creative enough to do all the things He's called me to do? Not in my own strength and imagination. Can He sustain me and give me ideas and solutions? Absolutely.

I love the Message bible. I don't memorize scripture from it because it translates a general idea rather than directly, but I enjoy reading the way it phrases things sometimes.

This is Romans 12:1-3: "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

This is so good. I don't want to be limited in my thinking. I want to see things the way He does - big picture. I don't want to be forced into how the world says things should be done, I want to do them the best way - the way He intended. The way He's telling me. Whether it's how I'm a mom, or how I'm a wife, a best friend, a sister, daughter or fellow shopper at the grocery store. My worth and abilities are not limited by what I think I can handle. They're only limited by how much I'm willing to listen to His creative heart.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chocolate in the IV, Please

For those of you who are die-hard chocolate lovers, (Patrick) I'm going to up the ante. This following recipe is best served with cold milk. It is super rich; the chocolate chips are melted right in the batter! Enjoy. I love, love, love these cookies.

Triple Chocolate Cookies (From Nestle Best Loved Cookies book from Avon)

1 ¾ Cups Flour
½ Cup Baking Cocoa
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 Cups (12 oz package) Semi-Sweet Chips
1/3 Cup Butter/Margarine
1 ¼ Cups (14oz can) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
½ Cup nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk flour, cocoa and baking soda in medium bowl. Melt only 1 cup of the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave; stir every 30 seconds. Stir in sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour mixture. Stir in nuts and remaining chocolate chips (dough will be soft). Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still slightly soft. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 3 ½ dozen cookies.

Just for Fun

Lauren tagged me on this, and it sounds fun. Plus, the boys are happily playing together...for the moment... So here's the scoop on my and my hero.

♥ What are your middle names?
Barbara and Curtis. You can really tell those are namesakes ... we sound like an older couple...

♥How long have you been together?
About 2 1/2 years

♥ How long did you know each other before you started dating?
Oh gosh, over 7 years I think...

♥ Who asked who out?
He asked me out, sort of. We were hanging out as friends and then it just, changed.

♥ How old are each of you?
I'm 27, he's 24.
♥ Did you go to the same school?
lol, no - he was homeschooled

♥ Are you from the same home town?
Well, technically, yes. But we moved from Decatur while I was still a baby.

♥ Who is the smartest?
We both have things we're better at.

♥ Who majored in what?
Well, I was majoring in English when the boys came along. 5 more classes to go... He went straight to work full-time at a wholesale jewelry company. That's right...he brings me home pretty things...

♥ Who is the most sensitive?
HAHA, me.

♥ Where do you eat out most as a couple?
Eat out?

♥ Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?
Charleston, back when we thought we had no free time.

♥ Who has the worst temper?
Oh, me, definately.

♥ How many children do you want?
All of them.

♥ Who does the cooking?
Generally me because I'm home. But he enjoys it so much more. I'm in charge of the baking!

♥ Who is more social?
Um, I'm not sure either of us are. Probably him. I'm a homebody.

♥ Who is the neat-freak?
Me, hands down. Borderline OCD.

♥ Who is the most stubborn?
Wow, we're both pretty stubborn. That just might be a tie.

♥ Who wakes up earlier?
Him. And if the boys wake up before he leaves (which they usually do) he gets up with them so he can see them before work and I can sleep a little longer. :)

♥ Where was your first date?
I know it was Valentine's, but I can't remember where for the life of me.

♥ Who has the bigger family?
Lol, so many of these make me laugh. He is the 3rd of 8. So I'm gonna go with him and the Webster clan.

♥ Do you get flowers often?
Not really, because he knows that even though I enjoy them, there are things I'd rather he spend money on, like plants I can put in my garden :)

♥ How do you spend the holidays?
We try to do our own stuff and then visit all the families.

♥ Who is more jealous?
Gosh, I don't think we've ever had a 'jealousy' argument. We're both pretty secure in our love and respect for each other. We both make a strong effort to guard our hearts, probably to the extent some people might think is ridiculous. But you can't be too careful.

♥ How long did it take to get serious?
Well, like I said before, we knew each other over 7 years before that first date, so...

♥ Who eats more?
Him, by a little bit. When I was prego and nursing though, it was definately me!

♥ What do you do for a living?
For a living? Live. :) He's in the jewelry biz, and I love being a mom at home and keeping up the place, trying to do things for people in my spare time, baking, etc.

♥ Who does the laundry?

♥ Who’s better with the computer?
Probably me, but that's because I used it at work for years and he doesn't. Plus, I love training vids.

♥ Who drives when you are together?
Usually me, unless I'm tired. He drives all week commuting to work and I don't get to because I don't have a car, so I like to.

♥ What is "your" song?
Love Somebody, by Keith Urban

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's Gettin' to be That Time of Year Again...

...and I am super excited. I'm really a warm weather kind of girl, but I try and find things to get me through the cold months. I love fall and winter because I really enjoy a cozy home. The fire crackling, hot cider or cocoa, warm cookies, the smell of cinnamon and Christmas trees, pumpkins and gourds, all the leaves changing color, the cool, crisp air outside...sigh. Oh, and it's so fun when all the family gets together during these upcoming holidays. We pretty much missed them last year because the boys were born November 21, just before Thanksgiving. They didn't get out of the hospital until December though and we couldn't take them anywhere and had to limit their exposure to people.

So now they're big and strong and I am excited about the coming season. I really love baking, but my kitchen gets soooo hot during the summer that I really try to limit my activity. But now it's getting cool and it just serves to warm up that end of the house :) Plus, I love the smells! I wanted to share two of my favorite recipes that I use every year. One is a cider drink that is delicious and smells great. Plus, if you have any left over it reheats in the microwave wonderfully. The second is my go-to cookie recipe that never fails to get rave reviews. It's a double chocolate cookie with chocolate chips, but I'll occasionally substitute with crushed Andes candies. Peanut butter or white chocolate chips work well too.

Teton Tea (From Better, Homes & Gardens Christmas Cookie magazine, 2005)
4 Cups Cranberry Juice
2 Cups Orange Juice
3 Cinnamon Sticks (or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon)
¼ Cup Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Clove

Bring Cranberry Juice to a simmer, add Cinnamon and Clove, cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Add Lemon Juice and Orange Juice, let simmer until warm.

Double Chocolate Dream Cookies (From Nestle Best Loved Cookies book from Avon)
2 ¼ Cups Flour
½ Cup Baking Cocoa
1 tsp Baking soda
½ tsp Salt
1 Cup Butter/Margarine (2 sticks)
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
2 Cups (12 oz package) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs about 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until puffed. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 4 ½ dozen cookies.

I would like to make an additional note about how much I love my baking stones. They are available from The Pampered Chef, although imitations are available. They are slightly cumbersome to work with, but are infinitely better in baking quality, especially when pre-warmed. These are two of them; the one on top is brand new, and underneath is one of my well-loved cookie stones. You can see how it darkens as it becomes more seasoned.

Happy baking! Hope you enjoy these recipes as much I have :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

I wouldn't say I've lived a posh lifestyle with complete disregard to the environment, throwing endless things away for convenience, but I definately could do better. Mostly I would attribute it to a lack of knowledge, not lack of caring. However, in the last 6 months or so my eyes have been opened to some things that I hadn't noticed. It started with my homemade laundry soap (courtesy of the Webster clan) and a daily awareness of wastefulness and reliance on manufacturing. Then, I found the book Green Housekeeping. Wow! So wonderful! Now, I will say there's some things in there that are a little over the top for me, but it has educated me greatly.

Now, I need to make a disclaimer: I am in no way saying I live the ultimate green life. But I am trying a little bit at a time to transform my way of thinking and living to better my children's future. Notice I did not say 'save the planet'. To be frank, this statement irks me because I think it's ridiculous. George Carlin may be crass, but he's not so far off to say we are egotistical to think the planet needs our saving - it doesn't. Now, before you get defensive thinking I'm saying eco living is hogwash, I'm not saying that at all. The planet will go on fine for many years until it's swallowed up by the sun. We as a race, however, will be in a mess of trouble. That's my point - live with a conservative mindset to better our futures and make ourselves more self-reliant. That's the mental direction I'm heading, one step at a time.

My mom told me about an article she read (I have no idea where) in which a man saved all his trash for a year. Yowza! He realized a vast majority of it was product packaging and food waste. I would love to compost but at the moment I am too cheap to spend money on a compost bin. Shame on me. Christmas gift anyone? It really made me contemplate how I purchase things and what I do with the packaging. I have begun to change my purchasing choices based on this fact. I have also started saving a lot of packaging and creatively repurposing it throughout my home. I love to organize, so I can't complain about my lovely assortment of boxes, bins, jars and bottles. Something very fun I have begun to do is use these in drawers as custom organizers. I love all the little plastic ones you can buy, (oh, the Container Store...) but they are expensive and I just can't rationalize it when I can do this for free. Plus, there's a greater variety of sizes. It may not look as 'pretty' but I'm much more satisfied reusing these boxes than throwing them away and buying more plastic. It could use some fine tuning, but here's what I did with my kitchen junk drawer:

I don't have a before picture, but I'm very pleased with the results. I mean, what does your junk drawer look like? If it's like something out the Container Store catalogue, I don't want to hear about it. On second thought, go ahead and post a pic, I'll live vicariously through your pretty drawer...

Now, I make a lot of my own baby food, but I don't make all of it. Therefore, I have quite the collection of baby food jars. These are wonderful for so many things! One of my recent repurposes for these were some homemade decorative pumpkins. I have been oogling the ones in stores, especially the ones made out of grapevine. But I don't have any grapevine. I do have lots of kudzu I just might try drying out though... Anyway, I had also seen some cute fabric ones that I like but once again, I'm just too cheap to spend money on something I really don't need. So, the other day when the boys were particularly happy, I rummaged through my stash and came up with these:

They weren't really the fabric I wanted, but I didn't purchase anything to make these. I took 3 baby food jars of different sizes, stuffed a square of fall colored fabric around and in to the center. Then I took a torn piece of cardboard and rolled it up for a stem. The leaves are from a silk fern I had left over from a floral project. The bows are rafia and for a finishing touch I wound some gold wire around a pencil to use as a curly vine. Overall, I was pretty happy with my makeshift pumpkins.

I'm really enjoying this transition in my life and I'm looking forward to new creative ideas for a self-sustaining lifestyle. I only have 1 1/3 acres, so I won't be buying a dairy cow or chickens anytime soon, but I hope to start a garden next year. I'm definately doing an herb garden - I want lots of lavender. What are some of your favorite ways that you try to live green? Thanks for sharing!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Without running out the door screaming?

Sometimes people say to me things to the effect of, "I don't know how you do it with twins." Well, to be perfectly honest, there are some days where I wonder how too. Especially those first months...phew! (I do need to give credit where credit is due, however, to a wonderful husband and amazing family who gave me much needed reprieves and sleep.) Well as I was feeding the boys their lunch today, which is a very interactive time, I had to laugh again at this thought. Most days we make it through without me having a melt down, but there are definately times having sweet potatoes spit in your face invokes a little craziness. I fend off food spit irritation by just putting on an apron. I try to streamline meals with side to side high chairs and alternating bites. Finger foods are a nice anti-screaming item while I spend a whole 30 seconds warming up food. Today I had to actually laugh at the antics and decided to share them with you.

The older they are getting, the more they like to help. I was say about one in three meals they end up with food in their hair and eyes. I spend a lot of time cleaning up because I hate bugs. This brings me to another necessity:

The jumperoo and exersaucer. These things have been worth their weight in gold! The boys spend about 15 minutes in them after each meal because they have reflux. I usually put on a Baby Einstein because they're not big fans of me leaving the room to clean up after the meal-tastrophe. I know you're not supposed to let babies watch tv. However, I don't think a crying baby is any better off than a happy baby watching tv. Sometimes, you have to wipe up bananas off the floor, take a 3 minute missions trip shower, or just go pee (shock). And if your children are anything like my children, they think the sheer gall of my desire to do these things equals abandoment. So I distract them with a little Baby Eistein. And I think I'm a better mom for choosing that over a heartbroken child. Just like when I'm having a losing-my-mind meltdown and I choose to put a Baby Einstein in so I can go in the other room for a half an hour and read an unimportant book so I can gather up what's left of me, I think I'm a better mommy for it. Crazy mommy with the babies who are crying...or...happy reading mommy while babies watch tv. It's just reality.

Right now, the boys are napping. Here's naptime for this season of their life.

I give them a bottle until they're sleepy (I sit between them) and plug in a paci. This happens around 10 or 11 am for about 1-2 hours, and then again around 3 adding up to about 3 hours of napping a day. The first half hour of their nap they're pretty conked out so I sneak off the couch to the computer, which is right by the couch. Sometimes I just stay there and read or watch a little tv. I think it's very important to allow myself this bit of downtime during their naps even if I'm not napping because I'm more ready to be a mommy again when they wake up. This supermom ideal that we're supposed to adore being a mommy 24/7 with no desire for anything else is an impossible goal and only leaves us feeling beaten down and like a failure. So I'm here to tell you, don't feel guilty for allowing yourself some mental rejuvenation throughout the day. We need it.

Oh, the point of this was to sing the praises of the boppy. Hands down the best invention ever. When they were little I used it to nurse them, and they also slept in them because they were so teeny tiny. I still use one under my arms when I rock them because it takes the pressure off my elbow.

This was how they slept for awhile.

This is how we fed them with a bottle. I did the same thing when I nursed, with a little rearranging :) I did actually nurse for 6 months, which was very very hard. I wear no badge of honor and don't declare it a heavenly experience. There were some days I wanted to just quit, but I felt guilty because I knew it was what was best for them, especially being 7 weeks early and I didn't want to be selfish. Along about 6 months though, they got very difficult to control at the same time and I knew I couldn't just leave one alone every 3 hours, so, I weaned. They are doing great however, and never lost an oz since the day they were born. You can tell from the pictures how chunky they are :) They stand and crawl and play now, so I am extremely grateful for the play yard.

We cornered off an entire section of our living room, which was a big sacrifice, but totally worth it. We spent around $130 on a new heavy-duty gate (after researching) because I just had this feeling a used plastic gate wouldn't last 2 years with twin boys and I'd end up having to buy another one (or two) anyway. This is great because it gives them a totally safe zone that's fairly large and free of hanging stuff on the walls, trashcans, bookshelves and electrical cords. I can usually cook dinner (when I'm feeling like it) around the corner without too much trouble.

This certainly was not every wonderful thing we came up with for survival, but just a glimpse into our 'double' world. Thanks for all the times you've complemented me for raising twins. I know God never gives you more than you can handle, but sometimes I wish He didn't have so much faith in me :) He's had to give me quite a large share of grace...and I suppose I've grown in a lot of ways through this amazing experience.

Proverbs 31 - Selling my wares

The one thing about art that always holds true is that it's subjective. I come from a creative family and have spent many years finding new projects. Even if they end up finding a home cleverly organized with their counterparts I don't have time for, I always want a new one. It's kind of like wandering into a bookstore. It's irrelevant that I have 17 books and 32 magazines waiting to be read, the smell of fresh, new books never loses it's allure.

I have found many wonderful creative outlets over the years, some that I was enthralled with for a season, others that repeatedly find their way to the top of my 'want to do list'. I fell in love with scrapbooking about 11 years ago and that has proven very rewarding. My maternal grandmother taught me crotchet, punch rugging and freehand embroidery, which took me a few years to really get the hang of. If only my carpel tunnel would let me crochet more. I tried my hand at knitting, which I found rather annoying. Beadwork of all kinds has wound it's way through my past, starting with indian beadwork, then miscellaneous jewlery and most recently bookmarks. I'm a sucker for bead sales like they're new books... I have the beginnings of quilting, yet haven't really finished one of those projects. My mom taught me to sew years ago, a trade which I became comfortable with only in my adult years. (If I really am an adult.) Of course random crafts fill half my drawers and bins to keep my big, consistent projects company.

My one conundrum over the years has been that I couldn't make money with my creativity. I tried a craft mall, ebay and the mart with little success. I have pretty much resigned myself to enjoy them for the value they have to me, and those that I choose to give them as gifts to. But then I found out about I am super excited! A site just for the peddling of handmade goods? Fantastic! Everyone who wanders there for purchases is expecting unique, quality handmade items. Perhaps I have found my outlet. I'll keep you updated when my page is ready...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One bite at a time

Well, here we go! I say that as though it were a new beginning, when in all actuality this is the same blog I've had for, what, a year now? I suppose it is a new beginning, however, because my attitude has changed. There is purpose now where before I simply felt I was to catalog my days. I do need to give credit where credit is due to my friend Lauren, who I have lost touch with for the most part since highschool. I was up rocking Jacob starting around 3 this morning (I am not a proponant of the "cry-it-out" method) and wandered to her blogs. I lost myself! I had no idea how much we had in common these days...

I was inspired and "spurred on" as the scriptures tell us to do to for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm not entirely sure how to describe it except to say it made me spend the next few hours (hey, I was up anyway...) seeking God for guidance toward the purposes He has in my life. I mean, I love God, and I try to live for God, but sometimes I feel so scattered in how to live for Him. There are so many things I feel passionate about, on varying levels, and yet I feel as though I fail miserably at nearly all of them. What I really felt like the Lord was speaking to me this morning was that I was waiting to get everything 'just so' before I really used anything. I'm a perfectionist in many areas of my life and sometimes that's a good thing. However, life, and living for God for that matter, is not a static location. It is a direction, perspective, and ever-refining way of living.

So, with that said, I will no longer wait until I have 'completed my research', become well-versed in a subject, or mastered an art before using it to God's glory. The actual posting of this blog is a step in that direction because I love editing yet feel there is much I have to learn. So therefore I fear posting anything I've written because I know many out there have more English skills than me (ahem, Ashley...) and will wonder what in the world I'm doing thinking I can edit. I will let go, missed mistakes and all. No one is perfect, and I might as well share what I've learned when I just plain miss God. I hope you enjoy this because it just might be humiliating for me, but I can't remember the last time I felt so excited to run and fall flat on my face. Because, quite frankly, at least I'm running. Toward Him. And I know He's thrilled to see me coming.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yeah, it's the school's fault

Ok, so I know this is a random post, but it's the middle of the night and I'm trying to find the end of the internet while I rock Jacob.

BTW, warning ... so hard to not keep hitting next ...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Similac coupons?

So it's been a million years since I posted a blog. I've known for a while now, but then I felt like it needed to be about something important rather than everyday jazz because it had been so long. I'm giving up on that however and just writing... because I can.

We've settled into a nice little routine with the boys. They usually sleep straight through the night now, so that alone makes me feel more human. They're also waaaay more interactive now too, so it's fun to play with them. They really love being startled, which I think is hilarious because I loathe it. I read them stories and they think that's great. We also do a choreographed alphabet song that is apparently fun :) They're rolling all over the place now too, including into and on each other. They sometimes talk to and look at one another and I try to get it on video. However, when I get the camera out they freeze and just stare at me. Little turkeys.

I've been able to start scrapbooking their one-year albums and I'm having soooo much fun! I'm doing one for each of them with 2 pages for every month. Then I will make a yearly family album too. This way I figure one day they can each have an album to keep without having to split everything. Plus, it's easy to lump all their stuff together and I think they need something to make them individual :)

Oh, I've also weaned since about 6 months which has given me mixed feelings. I was really hoping to nurse at least a year, but it got really hard with 2. I had enough milk, but they were very difficult to control at the same time! And it's not like I could just leave one alone while I nurse the other... So, I decided it was better for everyone to just go to bottles. (Oh my word formula is expensive!!!) But, God provides.

Monday is Isaac's birthday, and next week is father's day. I'm taking him to our first Gwinnett Braves game this Sunday (minus the dufflepuds) so that should be fun. Hooray for hot dogs and soda!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fat turkeys

So I know I'm supposed to be happy the boys are gaining weight really well and getting healthier, but I can't help but lament they are no longer in their teeny tiny preemie clothes! Of course, I say they are chunky, but are just now only newborn size... Today at the dr Caleb is up to 8 lbs 9 oz! Jacob is 6 lbs 14 oz, so that's 2 1/2 lbs in almost 2 months for him and 3 lbs for Caleb. Yeah for chubby thighs :) They also have dimples now with the extra weight...I love my my chunky turkeys :)

Sleep continues to allude us for the most part, but this is only a season and we're trying to relish this cuddly time where they fall asleep on your chest and don't try to crawl away...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Full-time job - sitting

So I figured out that if I'm only nursing every 3 hours for one hour I sit in this chair 8 hours a day...minimum. You'd think I would post more blogs. Mostly I watch netflix. And sometimes if I catch them watching the screen, I switch to veggietales. I tried to find some books online, but it's mostly classics and Poe seems a little heavy to read out loud to them. And quite frankly, it's not like I read it for pleasure! Heavy on the macabre, light on the SNL references.

Does anyone own Alias seasons? I'd like to watch through that again without waiting for it on netflix :)

The boys are getting fat, which makes me happy. It's kind of bittersweet though, because they are growing out of their teeny tiny clothes. Of course, I realize they're still teeny tiny, but you know...