Saturday, December 22, 2012

today is my favorite day

Anyone who knows me, knows that I live for summer. I love the heat, the sun, the colors, the smells and the activities. So you may be wondering why today, the day after the first day of winter, not the first day of summer is my favorite day.

Winter solstice - According to the farmers almanac, the word solstice comes from the Latin words for "sun" and "to stand still". That's what the sun does this time of year.  The last three days have had the same amount of day light. The sun has stopped falling southward in the sky and is taking a breath before it's long climb back north.

Starting today, the day is one minute longer. It's a long, slow process getting our daylight back. For example, by New Years day we will have only gained four more minutes of day light, but it's four minutes more than we have today!

It's the hope of what's to come that keeps me looking forward and excited about the future. The knowledge that under the dull slumber of nature, there is vibrant life just waiting to come bursting forth. It's interesting to see the comparison of the seasons to how I feel lately and the excitement that I'm feeling for the future, largely due to the the book study I'm involved in right now. I know Ann Voskamp's book won't cure all the spiritual dullness I'm feeling but I see God already using it in my life to bring forth the first sprouts of gratefulness, like those first crocus that peek through the frozen ground in early spring.  I believe I'm heading into a new spring in my life and God calling me to changes always excites me.

So today, the day after the sun stands still, I look forward to the coming spring, the freshness of life both outside and in my heart.




Wednesday, December 19, 2012

thoughts for today


FOR TODAY

Outside my window...a very long fall rages on. I don't normally like winter but I desire some winter, instead of these short, cold days of drab brown, that drag on with no end in sight.

I am thinking...how I'm in a season of growing and changing. I feel that excited, charged air feeling, that is right before an exciting storm in the summer. It thrills me because I always come out a new and better person after such a season.

I am thankful...that my husband listens to the voice of God

In the kitchen...we are still slowly remodeling and I'm still exploring meals that can be from scratch and be healthy for us without blowing the food budget

I am creating... a little bit of everything at once. I need to concentrate on one craft project at a time.

I am reading...One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

I am praying for...my hubby and the project he's working on at work

I am looking forward to...Christmas with both side of our families

I am struggling with...fear and worry....

I am learning...to be grateful 

Around the house...there is the joyous mess of Christmas everywhere 


In the classroom...we are not doing me, especially this week. 


I am pondering...the ticking of the clock in my kitchen and how it always reminds me of the ticking away of the minutes of our day. Helps me to focus sometimes and get things done or push it all aside and spend time with the kids. 


A favorite quote for today..."Danger is very real but fear is a choice." from an upcoming movie


One of my favorite things...Classic Christmas songs about Christ


A few plans for the rest of the week: visit this afternoon with family, shopping and cleaning tomorrow and a friend and her kids over on Friday


A piece of my past....



This has been a part of every Christmas for as long as I can remember. 










Sunday, December 16, 2012

happy God anniversary

Eight years ago on December 16th, I helped move a couch, it changed my life.
Six years ago I married my best friend.
Last year we re-newed our vows.

When we eloped six years ago we had said "someday" we'll have a wedding. That someday became a reality last year. It was an honor to be married by our Pastor, in our church, for God, with friends and family as witnesses.  This past April, we acknowledged our legal wedding date but today, December 16, we celebrated our very 1st God anniversary.

Someday, I'll get a video put together of all the pictures from this blessed day but for now, here, again, is our wedding video we played as part of our testimony.




Thursday, December 6, 2012

crafty idea

So for me this is an original idea. If anyone else has come up with it already, no stepping on toes intended.  Normally I don't come up with ideas but this was borne out of fighting with chalkboard paint yesterday.  Have you see the site Pintrosity? Yeah, my 1st painted jar could have gone on that site, easy. I posted to facebook for suggestions, got a few good ones, but they didn't work.

Finally I decided to try painting the labels that come with my little mason jars. I won't use them on the jars because what's in them changes all the time, well most of the time they are filled with yogurt.

Anyway, here's how it turned out.  I think it came out pretty good. Better then the jar that I painted directly on. I lost count how many coats I used. I just did it till it looked nice and smooth and the paper didn't peek through anymore.

Please don't except too many brilliant ideas and if it wasn't for a friend suggesting I pin it, I wouldn't have even thought to put it here.






Tuesday, December 4, 2012

homemade yogurt ***Update***


*** UPDATE*** Here are some links that I've used to create my own method for making yogurt.  

Her's is the closest to what I do, except I do not use the microwave. I had good success with the crockpot but mine has hot spots so until I break down and buy a new one, I heat mine on the stove, very slowly.  She also uses an $80 strainer. I'd LOVE to have this, it's on my wish-list so that maybe someday it will show up in my cupboard for for now, very fine cheese cloth has worked perfectly for me and I just rinse it and throw it in the washer with the towels I use for my bread.   http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/skinny-secrets/healthy-homemade-greek-yogurt

This is the one that I got the crockpot idea from. http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/04/crockpot-greek-yogurt.html

What to do with that whey if you strain your yogurt?? I use it in smoothies, in my soups, to boil pasta in, in my breads, and I use it to feed my plants too (cut with water or it will burn your plants) I try to remember to put what I don't use in the freezer for future use.  I don't have a single comprehensive site to refer you to, so if you find some, please add it to the comments. I've just done lots of google searches to find out uses for it.  


Since my last post about being sick I've been looking for ways to try to feel better.  Claritin helps sometimes but it's not fully allergies making me feel so horrible. Now that it's fall and I spend more time inside, I'm really trying to cook more whole foods, oh and do it on a budget. One of the things I was spending a lot of money on was Greek yogurt. More than I am willing to admit! 

I then went on a mission to figure out how to make it. It goes against all I know of dairy to leave milk sitting out all night but I figured I'd give it a try. I ended up taking a combination of a few different sites (will include links later) and have created my own method. 

 I began using the crockpot method but I didn't like making it in the crock since I have hot spots. Turns out, in my experience, that making it on the stove produces a better yogurt.  I heat the milk on the stove over very low heat. To kill the boredom I usually watch a movie on the iPad.  Takes about 30 -45 minutes to heat 2qts to 180 degrees. Don't scorch milk or let it boil.  Then cool to around 105-110 and stir in 2 teaspoons of yogurt. I use a little of the last batch or you can use plain store bought yogurt as starter.  Wrap the whole thing up in a towel and put in an oven overnight. I give it about 12 hours. Leave the oven light on so the environment stays around 100 degrees. Then check it in AM and if it's thick, its done. (hope to add some pictures next time I make it) I strain mine through a strainer lined with very fine cheesecloth. Eventually I will get a chinois but the cost is preventing me for now. After I strain the yogurt for 30 minutes or so I put it in a large bowl, whip it with a whisk till nice and smooth and refrigerate it. My hubby won't eat it till it's cooled down but I actually like before it's cooled down. Try all sorts of different toppings. I have found that I can eat the homemade yogurt even plain, which I used to hate. My favorite is with some raw honey. 

 I like to save the whey and use it in my bread. Soon I'll also try to make ricotta cheese from the whey. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

what is LOVE?

A few weeks ago, I woke struggling with my reaction to a recent event in our lives. The details I can't get into but my response I can. I responded wholly in the flesh. There was no grace in my heart. The worst part is I knew it and even vocalized it in the moment. No, the worst part is that it was in front of my precious six year old. I didn't want to respond in a Christ like manner to this issue, but I felt the weight of my behavior staring at me through innocent eyes. As a parent, I feel I have the responsibility to behave in a calm, mature manner but that doesn't always happen. As a child of Christ, I feel the weight of responding in a manner that is honoring to Christ.  Not just in what I say or do but in my heart also. And that, unfortunately, doesn't always happen. My brokenness drives my responses at times. I really hate when that happens but I also recognize its a symptom to a bigger issue. The issue that He's walking me through right now is love.

I know how to love but the Holy Spirit is gently showing me that I'm not doing it well. It's easy to love those that please you but how in the world do you love those that have hurt you, hurt your loved ones, someone who is just mean, uses you or less dramatic, someone who is just annoying to be around?  We all know people like this but what does it look like to love someone like this?  That's easy to answer but hard to live out.  I LOVE how God works. This has been part of the sermons lately at church and was brought up in my small group.

So the answer to this is in scripture:  Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your sound and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." matthew 22:37-40   We also see in 1 Corinthians 13. That scripture talks about some selfless things you can do for others but then says "...but have not love, it profits me nothing."  1 Corinthians goes on to say "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails...And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

I've been spending a lot of time marinating over these scriptures the last couple weeks. This has been a hard post to write because I wanted to study the scriptures and hear what God was saying to me in these verses. Like I said, I LOVE how God works. These same scriptures have been preached at church. It has felt like Pastor Garry preached these sermons just for me. He gave the example of the Good Samaritan from Luke and how the definition of a neighbor is helping anyone that you can, not just those that live next door. I see my kids live that out more than I ever could. I've watched my kids reach out and try to help people that I wouldn't even take notice of in my introverted me centered daily living. I've seen my kids extend grace and kindness to other kids that were being mean to them. I look at that and I wonder where I lost that love and what I can do to first, recapture it and second, how can I help protect my kids from losing it. I'm not sure where I lost it, somewhere in my journey of life before Christ, when I was angry and bitter about what I perceived as the injustices of this world. Somewhere in the back of my mind I do know how to recapture it. Live my life for Christ. Which I do, I've come a long way but I struggle with looking at those deep dark corners of my being, knowing that when I do open those doors they will cause pain. I know the flip side of that too though, that after walking through the pain, there is great joy and freedom. I've experienced God's healing in many broken areas of my life. So the answer to recapturing that type of love and protecting my kids from losing it, is the same; live my life for Christ. Sounds easy, as easy as just loving someone. However, I'm finding it's a daily, sometimes minute by minute decision to love, to keep my thoughts captive, my tongue behind my teeth and to allow Jesus to speak through me. I know the more I allow Jesus to live through me, the more it just becomes who I am. 

In this day and age of "Five Easy Steps to..." there really are no five easy steps to learning to love. It's a daily submission to Christ, it's a daily dying to self and the instant gratification of responding in the flesh, it's putting aside hurts and extending grace to those who do you wrong. I look at the things I've done in my life and God still loves me, still extends grace and mercy. Who am I to withhold that from others? I'm grateful for the opportunity to practice Christ's love that was recently placed before me and I look forward to experiencing ways to live out God's love as I continually learn and grow in Christ. 

Dear Lord, 
Thank you for the family you've given me. For placing a loving, grace-filled husband in my life that sets a daily example of Christ's love towards others, for kids who just live out Your love in a natural selfless way. Thank you for opening my heart in this season to teach me how to love better and for giving me opportunities to practice Your love. Ephesians 4:2 says Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. I look forward to the day I'll stand by Your side and truly understand what Love mean.
Amen



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

thoughts for today


today....

Outside my window...it's gray and cold but not yet quite winter out there. 


I am thinking...about getting the Christmas tree up

I am thankful...for my hubby's job even when it pulls him hours away from home

In the kitchen...I'm loving my new present and excited about the pending remodeling we'll be working on

I am creating...ornaments for the tree, a video album for a family member, various crochet projects

I am hoping...for a white December

I am looking forward to...our Christmas celebrations with family

I am struggling with...learning to love as Christ

I am learning...to recognize when I'm not loving like Christ


In the classroom...we are doing a light load of classes for December

A favorite quote for today...Open your mouth only if what you're going to say is more beautiful than silence

One of my favorite things...the sound of our kids

A few plans for the rest of the week: get the Christmas tree up, try a new bread recipe, bible study and a play date

A picture I've shared before but means so much to me:






Saturday, November 24, 2012

so much to be thankful for

Thanksgiving.

It's my favorite day of the year. A day of family, friends and looking back on all God has blessed us with over the previous year. This also includes the trials He allows us to walk through. The trials, more than anything, help to mold my heart of thankfulness. I love the week leading to Thanksgiving because as I'm preparing a meal that pulls our family together, I really get to reflect on all I have to be thankful for.

I've been making a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 years now. Some years I attended one at my parents house or helped my Mema make dinner and most years I also cooked my own the day after, at my house. My Mema has taught, encouraged and walked me though many dinners. There were times when she'd be in California for the winter and I'd still have to call her to get tips or suggestions. She really helped to shape what Thanksgiving became for me and passed on the tradition to me, to make the big dinner that brings most of the family together.

Here are the past Thanksgiving that Randy and I have shared together...(our 2005 pictures seem to be missing...)

Mema and Esther ~ 2006

2006 

2007









Mema, helping me with gravy. I always needed her help with gravy...I still do.
This turned out to be her last Thanksgiving diner with us.  2008.

2008

2009 - We have very few pictures of this Thanksgiving. Mema was in the hospital and it was a more somber dinner.

2009 ~ My 30 lb free range turkey. I was a bit overwhelmed by the size of this bird.


2010


















Did you notice the theme of changing kitchens/dining rooms? In the spring of 2011, through much trial and testing, we were able to purchase our first home together and the last two Thanksgivings have been celebrated here.  The last two have been an extra blessing because some of Randy's family have begun joining us.


2011 ~ this is about the only picture we have. Not sure why we didn't get more of them.
Randy's mom, sister and brothers joined us for the 1st time this year.


2012


This year was quite different from other years because we had so many coming and some of the kids were able to make it this year. We wanted to do something different...Randy and I did not want a bunch of individual tables set up and when we figured out how to make one big table we were thrilled. Both sides of the family would sit together at one big table, as one family. 

making a wheat stalk bread centerpiece

Michael testing out the comfort of the table 
some things never change!


Grammy's reaction to Cody's surprise visit for Thanksgiving


we had 22 family members all together for dinner 

My mom, sister-in-law and I






I think they were all trying to avoid the camera!



finally an opportunity to sit

my wheat stalk 




Thank you Lord for all that you have provided us with this year, for all the trials you've been faithful through and for all the grace you've pour on us. 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His faithfulness continues through all generations.
~ psalm 100: 4-5 (NKJV, NIV)








Sunday, November 11, 2012

thoughts for today

today....


Outside my window...it's partly sunny and a bit warm!

I am thinking...about all I need to accomplish this week

I am thankful...that our house has the space to hold all that will be here this Thanksgiving


I am going...as few places as possible this week

I am wondering...why God forgives the ugliness within me

I am reading...Silas Marner

I am hoping...in the Promise of eternity with our Father

I am looking forward to...no lessons tomorrow

I am struggling with...self control over my time usage 

I am learning...a better way to interact with my daughter

In the kitchen...making a pumpkin pie today to taste test a new crust I'm trying

Around the house...trying to finish and organize putting our books on my new bookshelves 

In the classroom...we are putting all of our efforts into getting Tink to read independently 


I am pondering...disabling facebook over thanksgiving week.

One of my favorite things...quiet time alone

A peek into my life....


Loving the birds out our window. These little guys will right out of our hands. 















Friday, October 19, 2012

Homemade yogurt


Since my last post about being sick I've been looking for ways to try to feel better.  Claritin helps sometimes but it's not fully allergies making me feel so horrible. Now that it's fall and I spend more time inside, I'm really trying to cook more whole foods,  oh and do it on a budget. One of the things I was spending a lot of money on was Greek yogurt. More than I am willing to admit! 

I then went on a mission to figure out how to make it. It goes against all I know of dairy to leave milk sitting out all night but I figured I'd give it a try. I ended up taking a combination of a few different sites (will include links later) and have created my own method. 

 I began using the crockpot method but I didn't like making it in the crock since I have hot spots. Turns out, in my experience, that making it on the stove produces a better yogurt.  I heat the milk on the stove over very low heat. To kill the boredom I usually watch a movie on the iPad.  Takes about 30 -45 minutes to heat 2qts to 180 degrees. Don't scorch milk or let it boil.  Then cool to around 105-110 and stir in 2 teaspoons of yogurt. I use a little of the last batch or you can use plain store bought yogurt as starter.  Wrap the whole thing up in a towel and put in an oven overnight. I give it about 12 hours. Leave the oven light on so the environment stays around 100 degrees. Then check it in AM and if it's thick, its done. (hope to add some pictures next time I make it) I strain mine through a strainer lined with very fine cheesecloth. Eventually I will get a chinois but the cost is preventing me for now. After I strain the yogurt for 30 minutes or so I put it in a large bowl, whip it with a whisk till nice and smooth and refrigerate it. My hubby won't eat it till it's cooled down but I actually like before it's cooled down. Try all sorts of different toppings. I have found that I can eat the homemade yogurt even plain, which I used to hate. My favorite is with some raw honey. 

 I like to save the whey and use it in my bread. Soon I'll also try to make ricotta cheese from the whey. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hear My Cry O Lord

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. 
~psalm 10:17 niv

2009 was a busy year. It was that winter that I turned my marriage over to Christ and learned to submit. It was the year I began to face my abortion. It was the year I began running. It was the year I ran my first 5k. It was the year my first born graduated. We moved that year. The second move of what became 4 moves in 2 years, 10 months and 8 days. That was also the year the fatigue started. 

This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life. ~psalm 119:50 nkjv

Since then I ran a marathon, we traveled, lived life, moved again, lived more life, faced and overcame a financial crisis and then bought a house and moved yet again. Through all this, I've had times of feeling good and times of just wanting to crawl in bed and not get out. I have a hard time defining just what I'm feeling. It happens mostly in the spring/summer months but I do experience it to lesser degrees in the fall/winter. I'm tired. Not the kind of tire that a cup of coffee can help but the kind of tired that taking a 4 hour nap doesn't touch. My muscles hurt and are weak. I feel like I'm walking through very thick molasses and every movement is an effort that uses what little energy I do have.

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. ~ psalm 6:2 

We've prayed. I've prayed. I've cried. I've gotten angry. Yelled at God. Felt sorry for myself.  I can't understand what is going on. The dr's don't know. All my blood work comes back good, so they blame it on the fact that I'm 40. I can deal with the pain. I can't deal with the fatigue. It have a hard time even putting one sentence together sometimes because my brain is in a fog. Last summer I gave into it. Spent the summer sleeping and hiding. This summer I refused to let it get to me and have been the busiest I've been in years. It's not so bad when I keep moving but if I stop, I'm done. Can't keep moving. However, after three years of this, I'm reaching the end of my tolerance. 

I am weary with my groaning. ~psalm 6:6 nkjv

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  ~romans 5:3-4 niv

The other night while I was dosing off I had my first sense of HOPE. I heard the sweet whisperings of the Holy Spirit. I was laying there mentally whining because I was in pain and couldn't get comfortable. Then it was there...that peace that surpasses all understand and I had hope. I was able to understand for the first time that I should be embracing the fatigue and pain; to lift it up to Jesus, to draw closer to Him and surrender it to Him. That doesn't mean I stop looking for answers, just that I change my heart in how I view it and cope with it.

I sincerely look forward to what may come out of this now. I have hope that I will again live without the pain. I have hope in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9; that His grace will be sufficient.








Saturday, June 30, 2012

reynolds photo round-up ~ spring 2012

Part one of...I'm not sure how many. More to come, very soon I do hope!




Spring Where You're Planted
Father/Daughter Dance 2012
Esther and Daddy dancing

Doctor Who cake

I made him Fish Finger and Custard
(from Doctor Who)



I think she's a chicken whisperer. She's the only one who can catch them easily. 

Last MOPS meeting (ever for me)




May 2012.  Esther was the 1st one in the pool! 

the start of my garden. It looks really different now. 

the start of a tantrum...

oh there she goes, getting a good whine going

that's my girl....2 seconds later, she's laughing.


now hamming it up

drying off after a dip in the pool.
the weather in May was beautiful

no words....

always the comedian and hard worker...
helping daddy haul garbage cans up from the road 

another member of our "family"


I love the joy in her eyes

Michael helping to clear shrubs

the dog and the chickens following her through the front yard

pre-deck