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Changes

A few months ago, I sat in our van crying and hopeless. I was completely broken and disgusted with myself. Not only with how physically unhealthy I was, but emotionally as well. (That's me, on the far right...around this time)



Right then, I made a decision to join Weight Watchers. I had no idea when there was a meeting but I drove straight there and joined.

Since then, I've lost 87 pounds.

I can run...really run for the first time in I don't even know how long....and I have run, repeatedly.

I'm not saying that all of my problems are solved, but I do have hope. Not because I've somehow, miraculously, gained self control...I've tried a million times to lose weight...and I haven't...so I know it isn't me.  God has blessed me tremendously. There is not one ounce of credit that I can take for that 87 pounds...the glory is all His. I pray he continues to bless me.


Being lighter physically is not the only way I've been blessed. I'm finding it easier to step…

Free Indeed...at last.

Here I am. Scars and all. And for the first time in my life I can sincerely say...I do what I do because I believe it's right, although I fall short on a pretty constant basis...my relationship with God is between me and Him...and others opinions of the state of my salvation doesn't affect it. God knows me, He knows my heart. He said that if I seek, I'll find. So here I am, trusting Him. Really believing Him.I appreciate admonishment and provocation from anyone who will love me enough to give it...but my relationship with Jesus and my heavenly Father is not defined by what you think of me and I won't live in fear any longer. And it feels awesome.

Like Mother Like Daughter

So after a 7 year hiatus, and in an effort to NOT be confused with the local bag lady...I've been sprucing up my appearance...losing weight, actually combing my hair--instead of the perpetual, and very literal (not carefully crafted) messy bun--and...drum roll...wearing make up.

I love makeup, doing my hair and dressing nice but, for some weird and completely alien reason, I stopped doing all of those things...and the local bag lady became my fashion role model.


Well, Elisabeth decided she needs a change too...and the nearest black marker did just the trick!

Surprise! Surprise!

So on Monday and Tuesday I suffered horribly from a cold.  By Wednesday it had developed into an all out sinus infection.

But do I go to the doctor? Of course not! It's more fun to try out all the quirky ways of healing myself than to do something as easy as take a pill.

So I hit the 'net in search of natural remedies.

The one I kept coming across was 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of water.  Ugh. 

But I decided to give it a try. Mostly to prove it wrong and set all these quacks straight...

But I drank it. I admit it wasn't as bad as most liquid medicines I've had. And it made my tummy feel all warm and settled.

In less than five minutes, the imaginary SOS pad that had been scrubbing my sinuses magically disappeared, the faucet stopped running and I could hear and breath again. A miracle I tell you!

Natural Cure All

Apparently, BandAids even cure runny noses...and I don't bother to wash my children's faces before I take their picture!

Learning to Be Wise: A Work in Progess

So there's good news and there's bad news.

I'll share the good news first.

Mornings at our house, since the kids started school, have been hectic. I didn't think adding a kiddo to the morning send off would be such a big deal. but it is.  So far, they haven't been late...but my goal is to walk them to school everyday and that's only happened once so far. 

This morning marked the beginning of the second week of school...and it was by far the most pleasant morning so far.  Wanna know why?

I made breakfast last night!  I had Applesauce Bread and boiled eggs on the menu, and since I'm much more of a night person than a morning person, I boiled the eggs and made the bread last night! 

And for the first time this year, I didn't feel like chicken running around with it's head cut off all morning.

I'm sure in these little 'realizations' of mine, you all are thinking how silly I am to have not thought of them before...but apparently I'm a slow le…

How to Get Your Four Year Old to Go To Bed

Are you having trouble getting your four year old to go to bed when it's time?

Is there whining and complaining and lots of excuses to get out of bed?

Well, since I'm a parenting expert and all, let me tell you how to solve that problem. Listen really well, because with all of my experience and perfectly angelic kids, I'm definitely qualified to give you advice...

You'll need some rope...and knot tying know-how...and if that doesn't work...there's always NyQuil...

JUST KIDDING!

No, but really, I went to tell Elisabeth to get ready for bed last night...and she was already tucked tightly in her bed, sound asleep. 

Here's how I did it...

I have no idea.  But it sure was nice!

I Dunno

Motherhood is complicated.  It's extremely eye opening. It illuminates every fault (like...I need to clean my camera lens)...and places an urgency on fixing them.

Seeing my kids struggle brings out the mother bear in me.  I want to fix whatever the problem is. And when I can't fix the problem or I don't understand the problem, I get frustrated and sometimes that comes out as anger.

The last thing my sweet babies need when they have a problem, is to feel like I'm angry at them.


My oldest son has been facing some problems at school.  Last year was very hard on him.  We're still seeing the effects.

The thing is, I feel so helpless to fix it. Or to even help him. 

I'm really struggling with knowing what to do and being patient with him, understanding that he's not being difficult on purpose.

Please pray.  We need wisdom, and patience.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to hi…

Healthier All American Meal

I've been on a journey to provide my family with natural, healthy food for a few years now.  It started when I realized how negatively Caleb, my oldest, was affected by sugar. And then I developed a severe thyroid problem.

One of the first foods that I changed, was our peanut butter (btw, out of the peanut butters I searched for, Jif was the only one that offered their complete list of ingredients).  I always thought that peanut butter was healthy  but when I started trying to cut out sugar from our diet...lo and behold...the second ingredient in peanut butter was...drum roll...SUGAR! In our house, we paired peanut butter with jelly, and since jelly is mostly sugar...I was basically feeding my kids a sugar sandwich.

And then I started learning about oils...fully and partially hydrogenated oils and mono and di-glycerides (all of which are ingredients in most peanut butters...to make them more spreadable). Yuck! (For more information on these go here, and here.)

So I had a problem...I…

Billy Joe McGuffrey and Green Eggs and Ham

Traditional, first day of school, green eggs and ham, cooked, delighted in and gulped down by three eager to get to school kiddos and two disappointed that they have to wait until next year.

This years holds a lot of firsts for us...Caleb was VERY nervous this year and he's never been that way before...I spent a lot of time praying last night. I hope this year is better for him!

Nathaniel forgot his glasses (that isn't one of the firsts)...

And for the first time since I've had kids in school...I don't have any kindergarten-ers.

And can I just mention...it takes Lilla twice as much time to get ready for school as it does the boys. She's only 5, y'all. It's the hair. And the fact that getting her dressed is more complicated than the boys.  The boys are good with a pair of jeans, tshirt, socks and shoes.  Lilla, on the other hand, has to have AN OUTFIT.  She starts with finding the perfect shirt...and then she has to find the perfect pants/skirt to go with it...a…

Learning to Say No and Just Trust

Sometimes it's difficult to discern between needs and wants.

And when you have a limited budget that won't even allow for some of the needs, let alone the wants, it's tempting to throw the budget out the window and live beyond our means.

And believe me, we've done our share of that.

Sure, it's annoying to not have all of the perks that your friends have, but it's even more annoying and sooo stressful to not be able to pay our bills because we wasted it at Target.

So learning to tell myself no has been a big necessity.  But let me tell ya, it feels so good. Saying no takes a weight off of my shoulders, in the way that spending and having "things" puts it on.

Sometimes it's hard to decide when we should just spring for something, and trust that God has us covered or when we should tell ourselves no and wait for Him to provide it.

I found a really cheap version of one of the books I mentioned earlier on Amazon and I have been so tempted to just get it.  I …

Portion control

Sometimes being a parent is hard.  Ah...who am I kidding? It's mostly hard. But a good kind of hard.
 I have become a portion Nazi.  Meaning, I've become a tyrant about the portions my kids, and myself, eat.  I decide before a meal how much each person will get and that's what they get...and not a drop more.  Well, I'm a little looser with veggies...but for the most part...each person gets their share and that's it. No seconds, no exceptions.

You see, I am overweight...er...obese.  That's really hard to say.  But you know what? I don't ever want to have to use that word in regard to my children.  And that is largely up to me.  Did you know that if you are overweight there's an 80% chance that your children will be? It's true.

I don't typically think of it this way, but I am setting my kids up for failure.  Who wants to do that? I certainly don't.

Lately I had started noticing growing bellies on my babies...and I knew that I had to do something. …

Pride

Pride hinders growth.

It tells us that we are a victim. It takes the responsibility off of our shoulders, hands us someone else's burden to bear and a loud voice to complain about it all with.

It produces denial.  Denial that we are the problem...and convinces us that it isn't just our unwillingness to get up off of our rumps and change...it's someone else, or our environment. 

It puts us on the defensive when we receive advice and helps us ignore the advice or tear it down.

I think this is something that young people have to really work on.

Looking back over the past few years...especially since I started having kids...I have recognized this in myself so much.  It was pointless to give me advice.  I'm not sure what it is about becoming a mother that totally brings out the pride claws...but it does.  But with each baby, God has cut me down to size and given me an insatiable desire for growth...so the pride had to go. Not saying it doesn't rear it's ugly head on ple…

I Learned Something New: Fresh Ginger

I'm extremely self conscious of my cooking.  I love to do it but I just don't have a lot of confidence.  So I love trying a new recipe that requires me to learn something in the process.

This past weekend I tried this Chicken Curry recipe.  It was not mind blowing for us but everyone ate it. And in a house full of crazies, that's quite an accomplishment.

A few months ago I got some fresh ginger, all excited to use it. I used it once with unmemorable results and never got the motivation to try to navigate the gnarly little sucker again! And then it got all shriveled up.

So, I threw the shriveled up ginger away and bought fresh.

Ginger is a root and very much looks like one.  It is extremely fragrant when you peel it. It has more than 12 antioxidants and relieves gas (the smelly kind your body produces).  There are a ton of other benefits as well.
You can typically find it, in a supermarket, near the fresh garlic.

I keep mine in the crisper drawer of my refrigerator either in a …

A Little Bit of Heaven on Earth

Sometimes it's hard to imagine. I suppose my weak human mind is incapable of comprehending how amazing it will be.

But there are moments when it feels like time stops...and for a moment I get a glimpse of something so wonderfully beyond anything I can fathom...the sweet smile of a little freckle covered face or the completely delirious giggles of my children...it can only be described as a teeny tiny glimpse of Heaven. And I find it overwhelming that those moments, those little morsels of the divine, will be magnified a bazillion times in the presence of our Father.

And I am thankful for those moments...for the reminder that "I was made for another world".

Our Little Tortilla Factory

So me and my monkeys made tortillas today.  I think we managed to go completely booger free this time.  And they did wash their hands, although Lilla didn't get the soap completely rinsed off and one tortilla was suspiciously sudsy.  I guess now that we've got the booger thing down, we'll move on to the soap thing. 

The UNsoapy tortillas were awesome! I substituted whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour...I'm always a little nervous about doing that but so far everything I've made with wheat flour has been even better!

Five Little Monkey's Mama Teaches Manners

So since I've decided that we're going to have dinner guests, and since meal times at our house resemble a barnyard feed troph, maybe I should teach these wild monkeys some table manners.

Because we actually want our guests to enjoy our company, and to be able to have a conversation without being hit in the face with mashed potatoes. I think that's reasonable, don't you?

So day one of table manners boot camp went fairly well.  Nobody was injured, and nobody quit.  And there was a surprising lack of barnyard activity at our table this evening. 

Who'da thunk it?!



The Me I Used to Be

Part of my mission is to love others.  Michael, my kids, church family and pretty much everyone I come across.

But here's the thing, I'm bad at relationships. I avoid people chronically, and when I fail to completely avoid them I'm so awkward that they avoid me. 

I can't love people through the Berlin Wall.

It's time, after ten years, for the wall to come down.

Fear is my biggest barrier.  I'm afraid for others to know who I really am.  Because, I really believe that if you knew me, really knew me, you wouldn't like me.  I've done so many horrible things, who could like me?

And that is where my faith needs to grow.  Because I'm sure that Abraham was afraid when God told him to take Isaac to Mount Moriah...but he did it anyway because he trusted God.

I can't understand how God works or why He works...but he does. My human mind doesn't have to understand for me to trust that he is who he says he is and that he'll do what he says he'll do. …

Back to School

I love back to school time! Not the part where my kiddos are gone for a big chunk of the day, that part I dread. But the new beginning, the chance to start fresh, THAT I love!

I like to take some time, this time of year, to rethink our families goals, assess where we are, what we've let go, what we need to improve on and new things that I would like to implement. 

I've been realizing lately how much of my kids lives revolve around food.  They're always hungry.  And when they say they're hungry, they must be fed, right?! Apparently NOT right. This is one of those things that really makes it clear that my faults bear themselves out in my children.

I'm a third generation yo-yo dieter. I've struggled with my weight for my entire adult life.  And did you know that if you're overweight, there's an 80% likelihood that your kids will be too?

I don't want that for them. I want them to be healthy and unencumbered by the stigmas and limitations of being overweigh…

A Prodigal Brother and His Redeemer

In the world of motherhood, it's like there's some grand scheme of how to keep us in line.  A majority of the time the scheme involves guilt. After all, if you want to feel guilty, as a mom, there's an unending supply of things to feel guilty about...and quite nicely, the voices in our heads have made out a very diverse schedule of such things.

But just when you think you've had enough...they throw us a bone.  They give us a moment that makes up for all of the other moments. For just a minute, they allow us to sit back and say "I think I'm getting the hang of this!" and then swiftly we're brought back to reality by the food fight in the backseat.

 It's fun though, it really is.

Today, I got one of those moments. The one where I sit back in complete awe and utter a prayer of thanksgiving for making something beautiful out of the mess that I am.

Today, I took my kids to a quaint little mining town in the foothills.  We made candles, drank sasparilla, …

Outfit of the day By Elisabeth

Elisabeth  utilized the unappreciated aspects of this skirt by wearing the bloomers as a blouse, notice the very creative and boldly chic embellishment, typically worn as a garment tag!

Proverbs 31

I am completely baffled by the Proverbs 31 woman.  I wonder what her mother was like. I wonder what she felt like as a young bride...if she felt as overwhelmed as I do on a regular basis.

Wouldn't it be awesome if she wrote a book, did a book tour and then did a round of talk shows so we could all get a little glimpse into who she is and how on earth she does all that stuff?!

My husband is really awesome...he is constantly helping me. Whether it's dishes, laundry, dealing with the kids, etc.

A while back it occurred to me...Moses wouldn't have attained greatness if he were at home changing diapers when the bush was on fire.  My husband would never have made it to the mountain with one of our kids, like Abraham did with Isaac, because he would have been at home folding laundry.

I realized that my dependence on my husbands help around the house is holding him back.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with husbands helping...I'm just saying that one of the comp…

Excuses

There are so many things that I want to do for Christ...but I always seem to find an excuse for putting it off. I don't have enough money, my house isn't nice enough, my kids aren't well behaved enough, I'm not a good enough cook...the list could go on and on and on.

Recently, in my daily bible reading, I came across the story of Moses. I began to ponder how utterly ridiculous it was for Moses to tell God that he was slow of speech and therefore could not do as God wished. I mean, really, Moses was speaking to the creator of the universe...the one who formed his tongue and made speech possible in the first place. Didn't he realize that "with God all things are possible"?

And yet, as ridiculous as that seems to me, I still become paralyzed at the thought of having someone over for dinner. My house isn't nice enough, or big enough, and I am a very amateur cook.

The thing is, I don't have to have a fancy schmancy house to make people feel loved. A ho…

My Mission

I was thinking about Job the other day. Can you imagine God being so confident in you that he would be willing to make a wager upon your unwaveringness? I certainly can't.

I'm a waiverer. Mostly, I think because I have all of these goals for myself but no concrete plan to achieve any of them.

When you head out on a journey, at least most of the people I know, have set a destination, a map or directions for how to get there, and any accomodations they'll need along the way.

That is what my journey has been missing. I know where I want to be but I don't have a set route for getting there. I've made no plans.

So, after being inspired by InspiredtoAction, I decided to write a mission statement...

To place all of my faith in God, and to prepare my heart, mind, body and soul to be fully utilized by Him.
To make Michael feel loved, and to take care of his needs and those of our household leaving him free to attain greatness.
To fill my childrens lives with love and joy, leading…

Paying for Help

I've always been a sucker for manly men. Seriously. Not just muscles...the whole honor code...fighting for what's right...dragon slayer...who does what's right when nobody is looking...you get the idea.

I am an extremely blessed woman. I know that. I have a husband who helps in just about every area of domestic life. When I can't get something done, I always think "well I'll get it done when Michael is here to help me". And let me tell you, I can count on him to help me. He folds laundry, washes dishes, changes beds...you name, he does it. In fact, I can't think of a woman more blessed than I, whose husband helps them as much as mine does.

When Michael and I were dating someone told me, after witnessing us together, that Michael would do anything for me, that he was wrapped around my finger. I have to tell you that I didn't really believe them. I knew that he loved me...well, in my own psychotic way I did...which means I didn't believe that the…

Conditional Respect

One of the pitfalls that I've discovered, is the expectation that Michael has to earn my respect. He does this, this and this, and therefore doesn't deserve my respect.

This thinking is wrong on several accounts.

1. My respect toward him will encourage him to stop sinning. So by being disrespectful to him, I am discouraging him from making the changes that I want him to make. So, in essence, I am defeating the very purpose I lament.

2. When this is my mindset, it is impossible for my standards to be met. He will always have things he needs to work on, there will always be areas where he falls short. There will always be some reason why he doesn't deserve my respect. That's why respect should be unconditional. If it's not, there would never be a circumstance that would merit my respect.

3. Also, this mindset steals any ability to see the things he does that are wonderful. It blinds me and makes it next to impossible to see what he does well, and causes me to focus…

How to Train Your Dragon

Last week I took Caleb to see How to Train Your Dragon. He enjoyed it immensely.

How to Train Your Dragon is about a young Viking named Hiccup. He doesn't really fit in with his peers, because unlike all the other Vikings, he is small and bookish instead of large and boorish. He is brushed aside by his father for being different. Hiccup eventually forges a friendship with a dragon, from whom he learns about all dragons. He discovers that the dragons are misunderstood, and if treated differently, become gentle instead of the fearsome creatures the Vikings perceive them to be.

As I watched the movie, I got to thinking. It has kind of become a common plot characteristic for the parents of the main character to be either deadbeats, or just plain ignorant. Movies such as How to Train Your Dragon, The Little Mermaid, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Chicken Little all portray story lines where the parents are ignorant and overprotective, or ignorant and indifferent, and need to be …

Proof that I married the best man ever!

Here is proof that we actually DID get something done on our date week. Between sleeping, going to movies and generally lazing about...we refinished the hardwood floor in our living room. We absolutely love it! Here's what we did.
Step One:  Marry an awesome guy. You won't regret it! (This step is optional, you can do it without being married or being married to an awesome guy, it'll just take more work)
Step Two: Pull up the carpet. This is probably the most disgusting part. I wore a nose and mouth guard to avoid the dust and particles that flew about as we SCRAPED PADDING OFF THE FLOOR. Seriously, carpet is so gross! This just solidified my abhorrence of it!
Step Three:  Scrape the thick paint off. Make sure you wear gloves!!! I actually deadened some nerves in my hand because I didn't wear gloves. And paint stripper is potent stuff!
Step Four:  Clean up scrapings and materials left behind. Step Five:  Sanding. We rented a sander from Home Depot. The sandpaper was more ex…

Keep Your Tongue From Evil, Keep Your Tongue

Tonight, as I stood in line at Target my eyes wondered to the magazine rack. As I read the various headlines, I was saddened by some news of a 'celebrity breakup'. But then I have to wonder, why does anyone read these? One issue they are declaring how in love a couple is and the next they are calling one of them a monster and relating his ongoing fidelity problems. Obviously these people don't really have the scoop, so why do people keep buying and reading that stuff? Why are we so obsessed with 'celebrity gossip', after all, IT IS gossip, right?

Can we really focus our eyes on Christ while dwelling on the lives of people who have no such conviction?

I am particularly prone to gossip, and I have to admit that for a long time I bought into celebrity gossip. But in an effort to remove the encumbrances that weigh me down, I've made a commitment to remove this temptation from my life.

Celebrity gossip isn't the only area where I struggle though. It seems that any …