Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Boy, do I have a lot to write about!

My brain has just been twirling with ideas these last couple of weeks, but I've been so busy with Christmas gatherings, baking and preparations for traveling, I just haven't been able to sit down and share like I've wanted!  I'm so sorry, but trust me...it hurts me a lot more than it hurts you!!=)

I will admit to you though that we never got decorations (including our Christmas tree) up this year.  I sort of feel like a bad parent in some respects.  I would have loved for Emma to have had the halls of our home decked in Christmas fun.  There was just no time.  And fortunately, she's still young enough that none of that really matters anyway!

Which got me thinking....

This is the first year that I haven't had a tree up.  That tree has symbolized so much for me at Christmastime all my life, yet this year...the year we didn't have one...I've truly "gotten" what Christmas is really all about.

Now don't get me wrong, I know and love that Christmas isn't about trees and Santa and presents and carols and cheesy claymation movies...it's about the birth of Christ.  This I have known all my life.  But this year, because we didn't decorate and because we've attended Christ-centered events (concerts, small-group parties, and Bible studies) and were placed amongst certain people our focus, instead of on the worldly side of Christmas, was on the whole story of Jesus.  Not just His birth, which is an amazing event to celebrate, but His entire story from the Old Testament to the New.  And let me tell you...it is magnificant!

He is all over the very first verse of Scripture in Genesis all the way to the very last in Revelation.  Jesus...Beginning and End...Alpha and Omega.  And He is what we truly celebrated this year!

It's like the age old debate of the Day of Sabbath...seventh day of rest...Saturday or Sunday?  If you look in Scripture at the seventh day of creation, there was no statement of ending like with the previous six ("there was evening and there was morning, the first day...").  Genesis 2:2 says, "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."  No mention of an evening and a day. 

I've said it once and I'll say it again, I'm not claiming to know the mind of God, but I do know He's chucked the Bible full of little idiosyncrasies that require pretty in depth examining....just like this.. Having said that, I'm of the thought that though there is probably a literal day of rest we are to take (I don't know which one) the point I think we all too often miss is that we are to rest and delight in the Lord EVERYDAY.  The seventh (never-ending) day encompasses that idea for me. 

So too, Christ's birth, life and death aren't meant to just be celebrated on Christmas or any other man made Holiday.  We are meant to rest, delight, worship, praise and celebrate our Savior's life story (in it's entirety) every day of the year and of our existence.  It's why we were made.

That's not to say we won't ever have a Christmas tree again.  I assure you we will.  And we'll even be curling up to watch Frosty the Snowman for years to come, but being reminded of the simple truth of Christ and what we should be celebrating each and everyday was nice.  I think it's a good note to end 2009 on.

With that in mind, I'm taking the next couple of weeks off from blogging.  We'll be traveling for Christmas and then it's the New Year.  In that time I'd like to focus on what I've mentioned above, but also my family and prayer about where God wants me to go with my blog in 2010.  He has given me many great insights already about things to share, but I know there is more so I need to spend some time just listening to His direction.  In the mean time, I will miss you all, I'll miss writing and I can't wait to gear right back up starting Janunary 1st.


From our family to yours, we wish you a beautiful Christmas.
We pray that you have many blessings this Holiday Season.  May the love and joy that is Christ Jesus be with you now and always.
Jon, Kelli and Miss Emma   

 (photo by Amber Davis @ ClassiclyAmber Photography)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Conversation with a 20-month old...

Emma wanted to watch her Thomas movie for the forty trillionth time today.  I had to distract.  It worked for a little while at least.

Emma: Where Thomas, toot too, mommy.

Mommy: Upstairs

Emma: Oh

Emma: Mommy, Eiiidy (Lady the train) Thomas, toot toot?

Mommy: In your bed (she has a stuffed Thomas)

Emma: Oh

Emma: Mi na mi na na Thomas, toot too? (Sorry, I only made out the last part)

Mommy: In your room (again, referring to the stuffed Thomas)

Emma: Oh

Emma: Thomas toot toot

Mommy: He's not down here, he's upstairs.

Emma: Oh

Emma: Offin mommy boots, Thomas toot toot.  (Mommy take your boots off, Thomas toot toot~ I have no clue)

Mommy: Taking my boots off....

Emma: starts screaming crying

Welcome to our life!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Love...taking it a step further

I was thinking the other night about the Great Commission.

Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

I think that’s an interesting command.  One that I know I very often fail at.  To go out into the world, making disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is no easy task.  It takes not only a heart for God, but a mind, hands, and feet set on Jesus as well.  After all the church (as a whole) and Christians are here on this earth to represent Christ.

So how do we do this? 

The first thing that comes to mind for me is missionaries out in the field.  They are the epitome of “making disciples of all the nations” for they are going to lands far and wide, where danger and adversity like we can’t even imagine face them.  They present the Gospel to ears and hearts that have never once heard about or felt the love of Jesus.  Missionaries are the classic example of the Great Commission.

Who else?

How about pastors?  Both here and abroad, men and women are out there shepherding flocks of believers and unbelievers alike in communities of faith so that more hearts are won for the Kingdom of God

Mind you these are but brief descriptions.

But what about you and me; the garbage men, the housewives/ stay-at-home moms, the bank executives the guy at the dry cleaners and so on and so on?  What is our role in the Great Commission?  Seeing as most of us don’t have Masters of Divinities, how are we to go out into the world impacting lives with the love of God?

I’m reminded of my last post concerning loving your enemies and the tough time I had and still have with doing that.  In the comments following that particular writing a certain Scripture was shared.  Here’s what it says.
Romans 2:1-4 : “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Or better still, how about Matthew 7: 1-5, which states, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

This tells me that before I can go out and make disciples I have to stop judging.  It’s not my job to judge, it’s my job as a Christ follower to spread the Gospel.  But judging is the very thing that gets in the way so often and people…souls…are lost in the process because we have no concept of what it means not to judge.

I have to note before I go any further that Jesus says at the end of His great commission that He is surely with us always, until the end of age.  This means that regardless of the beefs we have with this person or that person, we have the Holy Spirit leading us in loving behavior…if we allow Him to.  There is so reason, if we let Jesus do in us what He wants, that we should be segregating who we think is deserving of redemption and who isn’t.

But, if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s what we do isn’t it?

We have these rouge congregations out there that quote Scripture for spreading hate instead of love.  We have communities of faith unwelcoming to outsiders.  We have hell, fire and brimstone spewing from the pulpits instead of grace.  We have denominations fighting over this and that in Scripture.  We are a divided church and because of this we have people all over the world left with the impression that Christians are hypocritical, unloving, intolerant, and well…judgmental.  Imagine that.

For every wrong doing, it takes multiple rights to make up for it.  For every extremist Christian group or even just one judging eye, multiple hearts run fleeing for something other than Jesus because we humans have royally messed up the simple message of Christ.

And simple it is…God loved us so much, He came to this world as a mere baby, to live a short life, then die the most gruesome of deaths, only to rise again so that we may have eternal life with Him in heaven. 

How sad that we can’t get that right.

When we speak to a person, believer or not, our every word, action and attitude (know it or not and like it or not) affects that individual for a lifetime.  So it is imperative that we let the Holy Spirit do the talking or else we’ll miss opportunities left and right to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God

We have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  We have to be the same people everyday, not just the ones we are on Sundays.  We have to live our lives like an open book everywhere we go and not just in buildings we call church.  We must look at people, not as just people, but as souls searching for a place in this life and beyond.  We have to look past sin and stains that mar them and find the part of them that longs to be and can be loved…redeemed.  We have to unabashedly proclaim the name of Jesus.  We have to strive to live Christ-like lives so that what non-believers see isn’t someone out to judge or condemn them, but to wrap their arms around them and love them, just as God would.  People are hurting and if we could set aside our pride and self-righteousness for one second, we might change lives...even our own. 

That’s our role, everyone’s role in fulfilling the Great Commission.

And it starts with less judging. 

Dear Jesus, I judge.  I take the love and grace that you have blessed me with and I’m stingy with it.  May you have mercy on me when it is in my time to sit at your feet and be judged.  I ask that you give me a heart of love and not one of condemnation, Lord and that you convict me in those times that I think I know all too well who is deserving of your grace and who isn’t.  Dear God, I pray that through your Holy Spirit I can look past all people’s indiscretions and simply speak truth into their lives for the sake of their salvation.  Lord, I love you and thank you and praise you that I am your child, along with all my junk.  You are an awesome God.  Amen.

So I leave you with this…

Ephesians 3:16-19
“And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge~ that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Be blessed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another PW Post...


I've heard people are writing on post-it notes how they want their cookbooks signed.  And leaving little notes along the path straight to the table of Ree Drummond.


As fate would have it, I'm four hours away with a promise of a hotel room that fell through and a hubby that doesn't see the need in driving all that way to stand in line (for hours) for PW to sign my cookbook and smile a warm hello...NEXT IN LINE!

Jon, I know you're reading this and all I have to say is...

No more Cowboy food for you!


If I were one of the privileged ones heading to see Ree this is what my post-it would read:

(Mall cop: "Ma'am, move along please. Ma'am, there are a lot of people waiting. Ma'am...NEXT!)

I'm only kidding!

I'd settle for...

So to those that get to have your cookbook signed...I envy you.  But have a wonderful time.  I'm really not bitter.  And I'll still read your blogs recounting all of your wonderful experiences.

But give me a couple days...

Again, kidding!

Blessings friends!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I have a Confession...

I've been contemplating this post for a couple of weeks now.  It's a tough one, but one I feel it necessary to write about.  I'm not going to candy coat anything.  And even though I'm pretty certain, I'm supposed to share this lesson, I'm not entirely sure how well it's going to be received.  I'm not hoping to start a debate, I'm simply logging what God has taught my heart through this experience.  Please be respectful in your comments, even if you don't agree.

So here it goes....

I don't often watch Oprah, but a few weeks ago when it came on I was busy in the kitchen so I left it on for background noise.  That particular day Oprah briefly discussed the recent tragedy of Shaniya Davis, the five-year-old little girl who was sold into sex slavery by her mother and was then later found murdered on the side of a North Carolina highway.

Immediately I was brought to tears.  As I sat there crying I clung to my own daughter.  Feelings of sadness dissipated and before long I was just plain angry.  I was angry at Antoinette Davis (the mother).  I can't even begin to understand a mother doing that to her daughter.  I was angry at Mario Andrettie McNeill (Shaniya's accused kidnapper, rapist and murderer).  I was infuriated that men like him even exist.  How any grown man with half a heart could commit the crimes he committed is beyond me.  I was angry that this type of evil exists in the world.  I was angry that this is the world I have to protect my daughter from.  I was angry that at the end of the segment I was left almost thankful that though this little girl was put through pure hell for the amount of time she was with McNeill, that he didn't kill her in a more brutal way.  I was actually thankful that she was "just" strangled and not beaten to a pulp and left for dead or worse, tortured and mutilated.  I was enraged...what kind of sick world do we live in that I'm thankful for a strangling death as opposed to something more horrific?

I was angry that the only fragment of understanding I could come up with for why this happened was that Satan is running rampant in this world and his army and evil are invading hearts day in and day out.

When I talked with my mother later that night, I was still mad.  It resonated in my tone.  And my mother told me I needed to let this go; that I shouldn't let this type of anger get to me.  But I couldn't let it go.  My mind just kept swirling and twirling.  And then I was faced with a question.  One that literally brought me to my knees.

How was I as a Christ follower supposed to love these people?  How was I as a Christian supposed to love these enemies?

I'll be perfectly honest...it's just not in my human heart to do it.  I've lived by the "love the person, hate the sin" for as long as I can remember, but loving "these" people and people like them was too much.  I mean, I can handle the easy sins.  A liar?...sure I can love them.  Even an adulterer?...I can love them too.  How about a thief?...my heart is wide open!  But a person/people who rape and/or murder innocent children?  No way!  Not in my power.

That's why Jesus had to work on me a little bit.

That Oprah episode aired on a Friday.  The next day, Saturday, we ended up watching CBN (Christian Broadcast Network) because no good cartoons were on yet and they had these cheesy circa-1983 puppets singing songs on.  It was that or Japanese anime, so we went with the puppets.  Anyway, Emma was intrigued and that's all that matters.  After about twenty minutes the show cut to a verse of the day~ remember this is a children's show.  Here was the verse:
 Jesus says in Luke 6:27~ But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you"

Though compelling enough (I mean the God of the universe commands us to love our enemies) I wasn't entirely convinced (or convicted) until I read farther down.  The next several verses go into what good is it to just love and pray for those who are like us (Christians) because even sinners do that.  And then to not only love your enemies, but to not expect anything in return either.

Here's what really got me though...again straight from the mouth of Jesus....
Luke 6:35-36~ But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

(I have to note here that God convicted me through some really old scraggly puppets.)

It's one thing to think you know and understand something, but it's something more powerful to read the actual words of Jesus...He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Now, I by no means set out to understand God.  That is a task I think should be saved for the likes of heaven, if then, but certainly not on this earth, in my lifetime.  Therefore, I still can't really wrap my brain around being kind to the ungrateful and wicked~ that's the nature my flesh and the limit of my human logic.  Then to throw in there that Jesus, the Creator of all things good, hater of sin, Almighty, Perfect, still loves the ungrateful and the wicked...


That Sunday we had a guest pastor preaching at church and at the very beginning of his message he urged the congregation to think of one person (while he's preaching) that we feel is unworthy of God's love.

Hmmm....I didn't have a hard time doing that, but I knew God was really going to bring this lesson home for me.  I braced myself.

Then the pastor began to teach about Ruth.  In the book of Ruth we are told (long story short) about a Moabite widow (Ruth) who accompanies her mother-in-law (Naomi who hailed from Judah) back to her home in Bethlehem.  Now the historical and cultural setting tells us that two women, with no man to lead (provide) them, they were going to be presented with some pretty dior circumstances.  Couple that with the fact that Moabites were not a liked people among the Israelites and they were going to have even more major issues because of Ruth's heritage.  To us, this may seem silly.  But Ruth for all intensive purposes, was unworthy.

Ruth and Naomi arrived in Bethlehem just in time for harvest and (again long story short) they were shown favor by Boaz, according to his own goodness and kindness.  He made sure they were provided for and taken care of when society would have totally discarded them.  He didn't HAVE to be nice to them.  He didn't even have to give them a second glance.  But Boaz even married Ruth, not only redeeming her, but elevating her status to one of pretty lofty importance alongside himself.

This is a condensed version...please read Ruth in it's entirety...it's a short book and you'll be glad you did.

Anyway, the significance of all of this is it totally foreshadows the love and grace of Jesus.  And the answer to the initial question of "who is unworthy of God's love" is....

Me.  I am unworthy.

Yet Jesus, because he is a good and gracious God, redeemed me and elevated my status to lofty importance as one of His children even though I didn't and still don't deserve it.  I am a sinner and because a sin is a sin is a sin in the eyes of God, that means I rank right up there with the ungrateful and wicked as well.  But God loves me.  And He loves those I find it hard to love as well.  So too am I supposed to do the same.

What a tough pill to swallow.  And a conviction that I am still prayerfully seeking God's wisdom on.  But He made it abundantly clear to me not once, but twice that if I am to follow Him, this is one of the things I must do.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not, but I'm sure it wasn't easy for Jesus to hang by nails on a cross for the world's sins, feeling forsaken by His Father either.

We were never promised living Christ-centered lives would be easy.

So I encourage you, if there is someone in your life (family member, friend, acquaintance, or even someone in the news) that you need too forgive or open your heart to despite them maybe not deserving it, ask God for guidance in doing so.  Harboring any anger or hate is just allowing Satan to have his way and that'll eat away at you eventually.  But the joy that is Jesus shown through your love and kindness may change hearts.  Your's included.

Dear Lord, thank you for speaking to my heart both when it is open to hearing your wisdom and even at times when it isn't, Jesus.  Thank you for convicting me and lovingly rebuking me through  Your Word as well as through ways that are totally unexpected.  Dear God, thank you for loving me despite me being unlovable and Lord I ask for strength in having a heart like Yours.  I pray for the family of Shaniya Davis and I thank you that she is resting in Your arms now.  Please be with her loved ones as well as with her mother and the man involved in her death.  May, through these terrible events, they be lead to your loving embrace as well.  Your forgiveness is incomprehensible, but Dear Lord, I praise you that I serve a God capable of such mercy should a heart truly repent.
I love you.

Be blessed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dear Jesus...

 I've mentioned that Emma was pretty sick over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It all started last Monday with her running a really high fever.  She had me and her daddy pretty worried.  So for the duration of the week she slept with us...partly because she wouldn't have it any other way, but also so we could keep a close eye on her as well.

There was one particular night that I lay awake watching her intently, touching her skin every so often to see if she was any cooler and just to feel her breathe.

On this night I finally placed both my hands on her chest and began to pray.  At first the prayer was our usual nightly prayer of, "Dear Jesus thank you for Mommy and Daddy and ...." on down the line of all her grandparents and even our dog Reesie.  Then it evolved into a more heated request for God to heal her little body.  Begging was more like it.  I begged God to take Emma's fever away and to give me the wisdom in helping make her more comfortable in the process.

My prayer went on forever.  And when I was done, it was all I could do to keep from sobbing.

It was then that my sleeping child rolled over and placed her little hands on my chest and in a whisper said, "Mommy, Daddy, CeeCee, PawPaw, MawMaw, Eesie".

I think she was asleep the whole time because she never once opened her eyes, but I believe with all my heart that she heard  my prayer and wanted to pray alongside of me for all those that she holds dear.  I was awe struck.  And though I prayed for her healing, it was my heart that truly got worked on.  I heard Jesus in my daughter's sweet voice...in her innocence.

"Everything is going to be ok, dear child.  My love surrounds you and your little girl.  No fever or fear is beyond my power.  I'll take care of you both...your whole family.  I love you."

It was definitely one of those moments when you know God has done something really remarkable.  A sick, seemingly asleep, praying 19-month-old is pretty amazing in my book.  Then to hear the voice of God in my daughter's words.... I just had to write it down so as to remember this through the ages!

Dear Jesus, 
Thank you for all that you have blessed me with.  Thank you for my Emma, and for your love that I learn about through her every day.  Thank you for indeed healing her and healing me in the process too.  I love you and praise you for you are a good and awesome God.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So thankful...

Well, after a whirlwind Thanksgiving tour to my home town, with a sick child no less, we are finally home.  We get to sleep in our own beds (mine complete with heating pad and extra pillows).  Emma gets to sleep in her own bed instead of with Mommy and Daddy.  We get to resume our regular routine (for at least a couple more weeks until we make the three hour drive back to VA for Christmas).  Work is to be done, decorating to be completed, grocery shopping to be tackled, small group Bible studies to be rekindled, girls nights to be enjoyed, Christmas gifts to be made, schedules to be harried, but I couldn't be more thankful for all of it.

I did a lot of thinking over the Thanksgiving Holiday, a natural time of year to reflect on what you're thankful for.  But this year was different for me for some reason.  Though I was thankful for the surface level stuff too, it went a little deeper.

Emma was pretty sick and that left me thankful for each passing day.  When she was finally well, I was left thankful for her healing and then thankful to be her mother.  Time with family left me thankful for love and it's dizzying effect on the human spirit.  Quiet observation of those around me left me thankful for my relatively problem-free marriage (even with it's few kinks and quirks).  Time away from friends reminded me of how thankful I am of all my dear friendships.  The cold wind made me thankful for my warm home.  Good holiday food left my tummy thankful that we don't eat like that on a regular basis, but joyful that we always have food on our table.  The lessons in each one of these little details leaves me thankful for wisdom gleaned.

I'm thankful for this blog and I'm glad to be back writing again after a week of no internet, as trivial as that sounds.  But at the same time, I'm thankful we didn't have internet for a week!

Though I'm glad to be back, it was a nice little mini-vacation and for that I'm thankful as well.

Most of all, I'm thankful to God...
I'm thankful for all He's given me to be thankful for.  For without Him, I'd have nothing to be thankful for at all.  What wonderful blessings He bestows us with day in and day out.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  I look forward to catching up with all my bloggy pals and catch you up on several things I've got in mind to post about as well!  I've got a lot to talk about!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A little note....

Hey All!
Well, I have a ton of posts to catch up on...Heart of the Problems, faith,  awards to accept and send out, and cute Emma stories.  However, I have to apologize, it will all have to wait until next week.  Not only are we due in VA for the Holiday, but now Emma is sick as well, so this here blog is going to have to take a backseat for a few days.
My etsy shop is also closed down during this time, but we'll be back up and running on Monday, November 30th.
I pray you all have beautiful Thanksgivings!  We have much to be thankful for in this life...for life itself is such a blessing.  God is so good!
I'll miss you friends!  See you soon!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Award?? My Gracious!!

I have been honored with winning another award ya'll!  And I am just absolutely beside myself with joy!

Jenn over at Rook No.17 gave me this!  What a super cool award!  Jenn and I just recently met through blogging!  What a wonderful group of friends writing introduces you to, huh!?!  Make sure you check out her blog (and her cakes!) HERE! Jenn not only writes, but she crafts and cooks, too!  She's a regular ol' Renaissance woman!  Oh!! AND she just opened up her very own Etsy shop, The Cute Little Shop on the Corner! Check our her whimsical creations HERE.

Thanks Jenn for loving my blog enough to give me an award!  I really appreciate it!!

The rule with this award is I have to pass it on to ten other lovely bloggers as well; notifying and prompting them to do the same!  So here's my list of nominees (with brief descriptions, but these blogs are so great there really aren't enough words to decribe them at all):

1) Angela at Angela's Peony Patch ~ thoughtful and decorative
2) Jackie at The Sweetest Petunia ~ elegant and artistic
3) Amber at Classicly Amber ~ heart and hearth
4) Jamie at A Forest Frolic ~ whimsical and creative
5) Jessie at Made Cunningly ~ faithful and crafty
6)Glenna at Your Fabric Place ~ crafty and tutorials
7) Melissa at My So Called Crazy Life ~ soulful and raw
8) Lisa at Hospitable Pursuits ~ warm and welcoming
9) Angie at Nana's Box ~ generous and good cause
10) Lana at I Love My 5 Kids ~ a momma's pride

Congratulations Ladies!  I love you guys and your blogs!!

Have a wonderful day ya'll!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: My New Bread Pan

For this Tasty Tuesday I want to share with ya'll my new obsession...

I'm in Love.

I just purchased a terracotta bread pan.

And it's beautiful.

My inspiration was my friend Amber, who in all of her rustic-ness uses a stoneware bread pan to bake her breads.  We'll talk more about Amber and her bread in a minute.  But all I've ever been used to is the tin metal non-stick loaf pans.  Which work fine, but...

They don't work like terracotta.

I will never go back to those metal pans.

Mine actually comes from Henry Watson's Pottery in England as part of the Original Suffolk Collection.  As if the bread baker (as it's called) isn't enough, there's a whole kit and kaboodle set, from flour canisters to milk pitchers.  Check them all out here.

Here's my little beauty...

So, I buy a bread pan, I need to make bread right?  Well fortunately the pan came with a recipe, one that  I attempted to make three times, all of which ended in disaster.  I don't know if it was me or what, but it seemed I was destined to never put my new pan to use.  I followed the instructions explicitly, but all I got was sludge.  I moved on....

Now, here is where I tell you about Amber and her honey wheat bread.

In one word...It's AMAZING.  I've had it on multiple occasions and the flavor, texture, color, even the smoothness is all DIVINE!  Amber's blushing now!

But Amber, unlike myself, is patient enough to make her bread from scratch.  Like with all the mixing and activating and proofing and such.  She does it all!  It makes me tired just writing about it.  Make sure you read all about her bread here over at ClassiclyAmber if you're the do it from scratch kind of gal.  She's got a great picture tutorial of the whole process.

Me...I'm not that girl!  I love those girls, but it's not me.  So I set out to find an in between.  A recipe that combined all the good ingredients, produced an excellent final product, but without all the elbow grease!  And what I came up with is a combo of various recipes, thrown into the bread machine, then baked (in my beloved bread pan) in the oven.

Here it is:
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey ( I only use local raw honey)
  • ½ Tablespoons Salt
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Crisco or butter ( I prefer butter)
  • 1-½ cup Whole Wheat Flour ( I use King Arthur's unbleached Whole Wheat)
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour (also KA's unbleached All Purpose)
  • 1 cup Warm Water
First you put all your dry ingredients in the bread machine, then the honey and butter, and lastly the water.  The water should be warm to the touch, but not hot.  Turn the bread machine to the dough setting and let it go.  Mine was about a two hour gig from start to finish.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Finally, once it's done in the bread machine, transfer it to your greased loaf pan and bake it for roughly 45 minutes.

Now, I did not knead or shape it out of the bread machine.  Next time I will just so it'll look prettier, but it's not necessary to do so.  Hey~ it's all going straight to your belly right!?!  And watch your time...apparently terracotta pans heat a little better so you don't need to bake it as long.  45 minutes is probably a good judge for metal pans, but the bread will be brown and crusty on the top...it'll look done.  Just eye it.

And that's it!

Delicious homemade bread!

For now, this is the way for my kitchen, but maybe one day I'll graduate to the Amber way of things!  In the meantime, I can enjoy her bread at her house!

For more on Tasty Tuesday, make sure you head on over to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam to get the scoop on a ton of other scrumptious recipes!

Enjoy ya'll!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I won an Award, Ya'll!

Today blessed me with the sweetest of surprises!

Holly from over at 504 Main gave me The Heartfelt Award!

Isn't that just too precious!?!

Holly and I just recently met through blogging!  I think that it is so neat that total strangers can come together with writing as their common ground and strike up a friendship!  And I am just thrilled that she loved my blog enough to give me an award!  Thanks Holly!!

Now make sure you check her out over at 504 Main!  She has one spiffy gig going on over there!!

And with that, I'd like to pass this lovely accolade on to another blogger/friend of mine who truly has a beautiful Heartfelt blog and that's Michelle over at A Mom's Musings.  She's forever sharing her love for Jesus and her family with others. She is such a wonderful person.  I'm blessed by knowing her...I hope you'll be blessed by her words.
Love ya, girl!  Congratulations and keep up the great blogging work!

Have a great night, ya'll!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kids Say the Darnedest Things...

I've been terrible at video recording Emma.  I'm pretty good at taking pictures, but I never think to charge the video camera to record her hitting all these milestones.
I take that back...
We did get her first laugh, her first rice cereal meal, her dedication at church and her first steps, but those are givens.  Now, she's learning to talk and she hits a milestone everyday!  If not more!  I feel like I'd have to permanently attach the camera to my hip in an effort to document the development of my child's language.  It's happening that fast.
I'm going to plug that thing in right now.
But for the sake of having a written log for remembrance purposes (and because I haven't started her baby book yet~ never mind I said that!) I'm going to share some of the things she's saying right here and right now.
Emma's words make me smile day in and day out.  I feel certain you'll get a chuckle out of them too.
I hope you enjoy!

Mommy: Emma what would you like to eat?
Emma: {with squinted eyes and a huge grin}Fwyes and dink (translation~ fries and drink)

Mommy: I love you, Emma
Emma: Doo Boo (translation~ Love you)

Mommy: Emma, who do you love most in the whole wide world?
Emma: Nomis, Elro, Abby, Gorg, Beebee, Eesie (translation~ Thomas the train, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Curious George, Baby doll, and Reesie, our dog) 

Emma to Mommy: Moorr {signing} tiken, peas {signing} (translation~ More chicken please)

Emma to Daddy:{while bringing him his shoes} Side, Soos, Walt (translation~ Outside, Shoes, Walk)

Emma to Daddy: Nigh Nigh, Doo Boo, Bye Bye (translation~ Night night, Love you, Bye Bye)

Emma to Mommy, Daddy & Reesie: Momma, Dada, Eesie! DINCE!  (translation~ Everybody DANCE!)

Emma when she's sorry: Thorry

Emma when she sees the Golden Arches: FWYES!

Emma when she sees Chick-Fil-A: Moooo

Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Apron Giveaway Winner!!

CONGRATULATIONS to Angie from Nana's Box!

I'm actually quite honored to be sending an apron to this wonderful lady!  She has come up with a beautiful blog, tribute and service for those battling cancer all over the nation.

She is also expecting a little bundle of joy very soon!  WooHoo!  Congrats again, Angie!

Here is a short introduction to her site Nana's Box, but please check it for more information.

Nana’s Box is a nonprofit service committed to providing a photo box to cancer patients who are undergoing treatment. Nana's Box offers this service to the individual patient with the help and support of families, and those volunteers interested in the emotional support of cancer patients.

Thank you again to everyone who entered by leaving comments!  You guys made my week with all that you are thankful for!

Blessings to you all!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tasty Tuesday: PW Cooks and a Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who commented and shared what you are thankful for.  It was truly a blessing to read them all!

Well, it's been a while since I've done a Tasty Tuesday...oh how I have missed you.  What better to place to gather and bond over luscious culinary creations?  Miss Jen has created the perfect haven for such a thing and I can't wait to see what everyone has come up with this week.  I'm sure Thanksgiving menus are in for a tweaking after today!  So if you like the sounds of it, hop on over to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam to feast on the mother load of recipes!  Welcome to Tasty Tuesday!

However, having said all that, there will be no recipe here today.


Instead I want to go into some detail about what arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon.  I had been anxiously awaiting it's arrival, but because I was cheap and chose free standard shipping, it took several days too many to arrive in my opinion.  My heart did somersaults when I saw it on our stoop and I immediately unloaded the baby and briefcase, threw the chicken in the oven and then ripped into the box.

There it sat in all it's colorful wonder.  A gem of all gems.  A staple in any girl's collection of cookbooks.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl
by Ree Drummond

And if you don't know who Ree Drummond is: 1) where have you been living? & 2) stop reading this blog right now and head on over to The Pioneer Woman this second!

I have been reading PW's blog for some time now, so it was never a doubt in my mind that I would own her cookbook.  Seeing as I have already attempted  several of the recipes from her site I was ready for more.  Yet, I wondered how she could take the charm of her site and put it into a book that not only captured the readers attention, but kept it.  Now before you all start booing from that last comment....what I mean is, I've read about Ree and her life on the ranch for a long time.  I felt certain, cookbook or no, I had read all there is to know about this woman, her family and her cooking.  But such was not the case.

PW really delivered in this fun collection of not only mouthwatering creations, but also in the colors, the pictures, and the overall layout of the book.  It was captivating.

I have to admit...I do all my reading in the tub.  This was the first time I took a cookbook to the bath with me.  But really, when you're not examining the extremely detailed picture tutorials accompanying the recipes, you're reading little tid bits here and there, anecdotes and family stories sprinkled all throughout the pages.

Some things I had read before, but even those few stories or recipes I had found on her website once before, were retold and shared with a new spunk in Drummond's book.  This was her baby for the longest time and though I don't know what it takes to produce a book of any kind, I can only imagine it was a labor of love for her.  So new life was breathed into even the familiar things.  Her passion for this project was obvious as I flipped from page to page.

Consider this a picture book.  All photos are from Drummon's own camera (she's a brilliant photographer as well) and though you'll find shots of Charlie and a few Herefords here and there, the real spice of life is the detail Drummond put into literally teaching us to cook this cowboy food.  It almost feels like she's in the kitchen with you...almost.  PW took what she has done on her blog with the step by step pictorial instructions, thrown in some new recipes along with even some funny wine sipping shots and created the cookbook women have been dreaming of since the Betty Crocker Cookbook Binder.  Let's face it girls, it just makes things easier if we have pictures to refer to and there is no shortage of that in this book.  

An by the way, an hour long bath allowed me to go from cover to cover several times, dog-earring pages along the way, re-reading and laughing hysterically.

Ree Drummond is no doubt a Renaissance Woman what will all she manages to accomplish and I hold her in the highest regard, as I'm sure most blogger/fans do.  I don't know her, but I feel like her cookbook is the perfect expression of her personality and were I ever to meet her, I'd feel like we were old friends.  That's pretty special when you as an author have captured the essence of that relationship for your readers.  And though she's been building this relationship for years on her blog, the cookbook, opens up a whole different side of her character.

Bravo, Ree!

If you haven't gotten The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I highly encourage you to do so.  Seriously, why are you still reading!?!  =)

I, of course, recommend it to any and everyone so that more people can enjoy the beauty, wit and sheer genius that is this book and it's author.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks is available at most major book retailers and also on Amazon.


With that, I'd like to host a giveaway.  And though I'm not giving away a copy of PW Cooks (hey, get your own) I am giving away something that will make the perfect companion.

In light of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday I'm giving away one of my handmade aprons.  This one in particular will be just the ticket in cooking to your heart's content over Thanksgiving and everyday as well.
Retailed at $22, all of my aprons feature an attached towel and side pocket for your convenience.  You can find even more in My Etsy Shop or the link on my right sidebar.

TO ENTER: Just tell me in a comment, "What are you Thankful for?"

I'm thankful for God's grace and love most importantly.  I'm thankful for my family and all the many blessings, big and small, that we experience day in and day out.  I'm thankful for PW's cookbook!  I'm thankful for this blog and how it allows me to share freely.  And last but certainly not least, I'm thankful for all my readers be it many or few~ Thank you all for your love and support.

I'll be accepting entries until Friday @ 9:00 pm EST, then a winner will be picked at random and announced on Saturday morning.  Good luck and I look forward to hearing what you're thankful for.

Again, for more on Tasty Tuesday, head over to Jen's and pitch in!!  See you there!

Be blessed friends, be blessed.



Friday, November 6, 2009


I watched my daughter and her little buddy play full force today.  It wore me out just being in their midst. 

Their energy was so fun and their laughter was good for my soul.

At one point they were running circles around one another and then dropping to the floor in a spat of giggles. 

This continued for several minutes, me laughing with them, enjoying their innocence and pure playfulness. 

Their cheeks were pink and sweat was forming on their brow.  Emma even got the hiccups from all the jostling around.  But they were having so much fun together.

Finally, without any prompting, one dropped to the floor and proceeded to lay down.  The other followed suit.  Both of these young wild banshees lay looking up to the ceiling in silence, their little chests heaving trying to catch their breath.  They were still and quiet.  Resting.  This too lasted a few minutes, far longer than one would expect from a one and two-year-old.

And  then back up they were hopping and playing once again.

As I watched them I was astounded at how smart they both were.  At such young ages they both knew when they were tired.  So they took a break, calmed themselves and then their bodies were ready for another round of play.

I was reminded how too often we as adults aren't even that aware of when we need to rest and take breaks as well. 

We go and we go, we worry to wits end, we ponder the what-ifs, the whens and the whys, never once allowing ourselves to be calm and renewed.  This world has conditioned us that we must be the best, be first and be all in every aspect of our lives.  However, despite this mentality, we more often end up tired, apathetic and spent physically, emotionally and spiritually out of the deal.

I'm also reminded what good it would do us if we dropped to the floor and looked up every once in a while. 

Just as Emma and her friend found rest in the simple, so too would we find rest there as well.

 Psalm 91:1 says, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."

All it takes is for us to drop to our knees and look to our Heavenly Father then we will find rest.  For He knows our hearts, our every need, concern and prayer.  No matter what burdens us, we can find peace in Him.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28- 30, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for my I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Find rest in the simple.

There is nothing complicated about the message of Jesus.  He came to this world to die the most gruesome of deaths for you and for me, so that we may have life eternal with Him.  All this despite our junk and our sin and our worries and our woes.  That's how much we are loved by our God.

That's good news, yes?


With that simple yet astounding truth, my prayer is that you may find in Him the rest you've been looking for.

My Color Profile....

Here's a fun little quiz you can take to find your color profile! It's by Pratt & Lambert paints! You can find the link on Angela's Peony Patch!

I must say, my results are spot on. I lean towards traditional with a touch of the exotic and Raffia perfectly exemplifies that.

I love that there are tools out there like this, because I'm a total ditz when it comes to actually picking out paints. In fact, I'm reminded of the "gold" color my husband and I picked out for our home office. It turned out more of a #2 pencil yellow. It was hideous and is now slated for our laundry room (because every laundry room needs a ray of sunshine to make the chore enjoyable). Our office promptly got re-painted a grey-ish blue that suits the calm we were looking for.

I have no idea what we were thinking with the gold.... But it does give me a good indication why we haven't painted any other walls in our house, minus the baby's room.
Have fun!

Your Personal Color Profile
 18-27 Northern Green
13-29 Pebblestone
9-32 Balsa
12-20 Sudan
8-21 Sturdy Table
17-32 Bay
16-27 Muted Lime
13-27 Tripoli Sand
8-18 Sicilian Umber
14-22 Yucca Green
17-26 Sea Oat
16-27 Mossy Shadow
Raffia is a collection of neutrals and interesting greens that signify a timeless appreciation of diversity. A person drawn to this palette appreciates texture and the importance of tactility in all surfaces. They wish for a sophisticated environment that is also casual. They seek a balance with nature and time.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I was going to blog more about my "Heart of the Problem" journey tonight, but I decided not to.  It's really got me grappling with some things right now.  Stuff that I need to chew on before I spit it out here for the world to see.  But I will write again about what I'm learning and the things God is teaching me through this book.  There is certainly more to come on this topic, I assure you.

Having said that....

Though I'm not going to write about my heart of the problem, I am going to stay along the same lines and write about lessons.  As I'm in the midst of learning several lessons of my own right now.

I think it's safe to say that the lessons we learn in life shape who we are as individuals.  Whether they have brought joy or pain, we always walk away with a tad more wisdom then we did before the lesson was learned.  And because of my faith, I can also safely say that these lessons, in shaping who we are with wisdom for future opportunities, both joyful and painful are just another example of how God works in our lives.  It shows just how good God is to involve Himself in the details of our lives.

I'm fascinated almost daily, hourly at what He is teaching me through my daughter.  To watch and interact with her connects me to my Lord in ways that I can't even describe.  It's cyclical in ways~ being with her teaches me about motherhood as Christ would have me mother and in turn it brings me closer in worship with my Father out of shear joy that He has blessed me with the opportunity to be her parent.  Emma and I shared a tomato today.  We just sat in the floor and took turns taking bites.  I know that special moment was a lesson.  I can say now that the lesson is to always cherish the small things, but in time I think even greater wisdom can be gleaned from such a simple opportunity.

Every person I come into contact with, both old friends and new, are divinely placed so that I may learn something or share something to be learned or both.  You just never know how God is going to use the people around us or even use ourselves for the good of others.  I can look around me and know from the bottom of my heart that God has placed the people in my life for a reason.  And that is a refreshing feeling.

Lessons come in the form of smiles, helpful strangers, insightful words, and even a song that we've heard millions of times, but touches us right at the exact moment we need it.  That's God meeting us where we are.

And then...

Sometimes bad things happen.  Things that break our hearts and leave us wondering if we will ever recover, but Jesus knows.  He knows us to our depths and He knows what will come of it all as well.  In the midst of these uncertainties, we can be certain of Him and His love.  If we rely on Him then He will bring the peace to our hearts that we so long for.  We may not understand or even learn immediately, but Jesus is patient and we can find hope in knowing that even in trying times, God will use it for His glory.  That is a difficult lesson, but a beautiful one as well.

And I could go on and on and on....

In writing this I'm realizing even more lessons God is teaching me through calling me to express these thoughts.  Lessons lie within lessons. It's an ongoing and ever evolving process. 

But my point is I believe there is a reason, a divinely orchestrated plan for why and how everything happens.  God loves our details and He is a full-on participant in trying to help us be better at who we are.  Despite how big and mighty and Holy He is, because of Jesus we can confidently go before our God and soak in all He has for us as His children if we look around and pay attention.

That's a pretty remarkable lesson if you ask me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Dream and Homemade Ketchup...

I had a dream last night.  And though I don't remember it in it's entirety, nor the exact details, I do know that I woke up knowing I had to find a recipe for homemade ketchup.

Weird, I know.

I have no idea where it came from.  But it kind of makes sense in that we consume vast quantities of ketchup in this household (I have an 18-month-old...enough said).  Couple that with the recent discussion Hubby and I had on the quality (or lack thereof) in our food and it's production; I guess my subconscious figured on starting with the obvious.

So I turned to Google.

And I found the motherload on articles and blogs about making your own ketchup!  Not just that, I journeyed to our own fridge to look at the ingredients on our brand name ketchup.

In this order:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn Syrup
Onion Powder
Spice and "Natural" flavoring

I don't know about you, but seeing the word syrup just makes my stomach turn.  Not just in the case of ketchup, but in general.  I think it's a gross word and I think of thick, nastiness glopping it's way through my intestines.  YUCK.  Also, Dr. Oz says that if High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is in the first five ingredients of anything, you shouldn't be eating it.  Not only is HFCS linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes, but it is highly processed, as are the foods it is usually in.  This means any nutritional value it may have once had, it is almost totally stripped of due to processing and this is never a good thing.

Now, I say all this and there are brands out there that offer organic ketchup that contains cane sugar instead of HFCS, but how fun would it be to make this a family affair in creating a favorite condiment!?!

So after some reading and researching, I came up with several blogs and sites that all recommended the same recipe!  I haven't tried it yet, but plan to do so ASAP!  Have fun in your own adventures and please share your experiences if you try it out!! Here it is as found in Saveur Magazine!


Photo: Andre Baranowski

4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. celery seeds
1⁄4 tsp. chile flakes
1⁄4 tsp. whole allspice
2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄2 cup white vinegar
5 tbsp. brown sugar
1 onion, chopped
1 anaheim chile, chopped
1 clove garlic

1. Wrap cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, celery seeds, chile flakes, and allspice in a layer of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle and put into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat along with tomatoes, salt, vinegar, sugar, onion, and anaheim chiles; smash and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until onions and chiles are very soft, 40 minutes.
2. Remove spice bundle; purée sauce in a blender until smooth. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30 minutes. Add more salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.
3. Transfer ketchup to a glass jar. Set aside; let cool. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

This recipe was first published in Saveur in Issue #117