Monday, February 27, 2012

My favorite things Monday – quotes!

I don’t collect anything in my home.  I don’t care for little trinkets or collectibles around my home (that I have to dust), but I keep a notebook with quotes.  Tidy and personal.  That’s what I like about them.  Words inspire me - especially those so beautifully written that touch my heart like these: 
“To have a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”

“It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” ~ Mother Theresa

Or the quotes when I need a dose of inspiration like these:

“A ship in harbor is safe - but that’s not what ships are for.”

“You will always miss 100% of the shots you didn’t take.” ~ Wayne Gretzky

Any favorite quotes that you would like to share with me?  Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I feel like Jacob

About two weeks ago I developed this weird pain in my right hip than runs to the back of my knee.  At first I thought it was ITBS, but it's not the outside of my knee so I need to figure out what this is.  I like to self diagnose by researching like crazy although I may need to make a visit to my Orthopedic doctor very soon if this doesn't go away.

At the same time, I really feel God working on me in a way that has not yet been revealed to me.  I pray everyday for Him to burden my heart with the passion to serve Him in some way, or someone to share the gospel with, or some way to glorify Him.  "Please God, lay on my heart where you want me to testify for your glory."  It's still not clear right now, but when it is - He will reveal Himself.  He is working hard on me right now, and the Holy Spirit is closeby me.  I feel like a kid at Christmas when I am going through one of these times.  I am very excited to serve!

This morning, I got on my treadmill for the first time in a week.  (I've had a yucky cold for 2 weeks.)  My hip was hurting within the first minute of my run.  I started to think about Jacob in Genesis as he wrestled with God.  I don't feel like I am resisting God right now, but rather trying to understand where He is leading me.  Regardless, as I though about my hip hurting, I though about God and where He wants to take me.  I quit running at 1.86 miles because I might have an injury that I need to address, but nonetheless - God had my full attention.

For me, this means, "Be still."  I need to consciously shut down noise wherever possible to pray and pay attention.  It's not about hearing God, it's about listening to God.       

Do you ever experience intense callings from God - sometimes stronger than other times?  Please share with me! 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Not everyone reads the Bible, but they read you."

My big brother reminded me of this tonight.  I only have one sibling, but he’s more of a blessing than I could have in a million siblings.  He has a way of telling me things that go right to my heart like that. 

Yes, we all make mistakes, but shattering your testimony is hard to recover from (another big brotherism).  We are God’s hands and feet - we’re all He has on earth to grow the Kingdom.  We need to take our responsibility very seriously in our actions and in our words - when we are with non-believers and believers alike.  We are His witnesses.  What we say and do as Christians reflects Christ to those around us.

Do you ever wonder why God chose YOU?  Of everyone out there, He wants YOU to be one of His disciples.  WOW!!  Do you hear me?  That’s BIG!!

So, my challenge is - what do I need to start doing and what do I need to stop doing to be a better disciple? 


Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Things Monday - Whitesnake!

As I was thinking of what to write today, I thought to myself, “Self? When my kids think back someday about dear old mom, what will they most remember about me?”  There are certain things about me: what I do, what I wear, what I say, music that I listen to, what I eat, etc. that my kids will associate with me – and I hope that (for the most part) they are all good things.  I know without a doubt one thing they will know to be a favorite of mine – Whitesnake!  I love love love the 80’s hair band, Whitesnake, and have listened to them faithfully since 1985 (my junior year of high school).  My favorite song is “Here I Go Again” and it very well describes most of my life.  Over the past few years though, I’ve wanted to add a disclaimer that it applies to the mate part of my life – not the God part.  I know that “like a drifter I was born to walk alone” doesn’t mean God.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean a mate anymore either.  I just really like the song.  Those who know me well know that I am a Whitesnake freak.  My mom even has that song as my personal ringtone, so it plays when I call her.  (I have a cool mom like that!)  I went to see Whitesnake in concert the summer of 2005 at a Harley-Davidson parking lot party.  I was definitely the nerd of the bunch!  Anyways, that’s another one of my favorite things that I wanted to share with you.

I love hearing about your favorites too, so please share with me like Pam did last week!   

Rock on!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Energy Bars – made from home with love

Energy bars are expensive and don’t contain all of the healthy goodies that I like packed into one bar, but these have it all (in my opinion)!  I have combined a few recipes and like the results of this combination.  By making these myself, I get all of the the stuff that I like, and it saves me a little money along the way PLUS I just prefer things homemade because I can add a touch of love which just makes things taste better.  This recipe made 30 bars and the batch probably cost about $10 (give or take) to make.

Here are some of the healthy ingredients:

Here’s what you do:

In your food processor, combine:

1 c.dried fruit (I use half crannies and half raisins)

½ c. almonds (maybe a bit more)

½ c. flax seeds

2/3 c. sunflower seeds

See all the good stuff here?

Chop this to a course consistency, then add:

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

3 c. oatmeal (I use the old fashioned cook kind, not instant)

½ c. wheat germ

Give this another whirl to combine like this:

In a large bowl, mix together:

1&1/2 c. natural peanut butter

1 c. honey

(This picture turned out weird.  I mixed it in a big white bowl.)

Dump your dry ingredients into the peanut butter/honey mixture along with:

½ c. mini chocolate chips (of course, chocolate makes everything better!)

Mix all of this together with a wooden spoon or your (clean) hands.

Pack the mixture together, and shape into about 30 bars (depending on the size you prefer).  Do you notice that my energy bars look like my kitchen counter?  Trust me, they really tast better thatn my counter though. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  I bake everything on a Silpat baking sheet so that nothing ever sticks.  Without a Silpat, I would spray my baking sheet first.  These do not puff-up or expand so you can cram a bunch on your baking sheet.

Bake, cool, and package into individual little treats.  I put them in a freezer bag in my freezer for later.  YUM!!

Although these are made from “good fats,” they still contain about 275 calories and 17g fat each.  This translates to about 2.5 miles of running at a 10 minute mile pace to burn off, so eat accordingly.  They obviously contain a substantial amount of protein and carbohydrates as well, but I’ll let you figure that part out for yourself because I forgot to. :) Last summer, I ate one or two of these for my breakfast before my Sunday long runs.  They sat very well in my tummy and gave me sustained energy.  (FYI: I never tested these past a 10 mile run, so cannot make any claims beyond 10 miles.  On a side note, running 10 miles burns over 1,000 calories!  I think it’s fun seeing the calorie counter on my watch hit 4 digits; I’m a number geek like that.) 

Happy, healthy, and homeade eating!

Friday, February 3, 2012

“The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman

I love this book and have found that it applies so well to my kiddos.  In this book, Gary describes five specific love languages, and how understanding your and you loved one’s language help you to receive and express love in the language that each other understands.  According to Gary, we all fall into one of the five following categories: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.  There is a quiz in the back of the book that determines your love language.

As an example, my son loves for me to just be with him.  He is a quality time kind of guy in a big, big way.  He loves to watch ESPN, and he loves his momma – so to him the ultimate afternoon is for me to sit with him on the couch and watch sports.  He doesn’t care if I am reading a book, or blogging, or whatever – just so I am sitting with him.  My time with him makes him feel loved.  My daughter, on the other hand, is a huggy-lovey physical touch kind of girl.  Even as a baby, she loved to be held.  She still cuddles with me, likes to be hugged, pats my back, brushes my hair – anything that involves touching.  When we eat dinner at the kitchen counter on our respective stools, her knee is always touching my knee.  That physical touch is how she feels loved. 

I have this real passion for learning about people and understanding what makes them tick.  Maybe it’s the salesperson in me.  I’ve found that connecting with people in their unique way makes them feel noticed.  Appreciated.  Loved.  It’s really about paying attention to the other person’s needs more than your own.  Making it all about them.  It’s beautiful when, in return, the love then flows back and forth.  Love is the choice to support each other, to serve each other, and to work at a relationship together.  Even though I do not have a mate to love, I still have relationships that are very important to me.  I never want to take those relationships for granted, so work at making them the best that they can be.  Books like this help – and I think all of us could use a little help from time to time.

Above all else though, love the Lord and demonstrate the love of Christ in everyone you meet through genuine care, concern, and forgiveness.   

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:3-31

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Home repair tips & tricks

I like doing things around the house that make me feel independent and save money.  I’ve hung ceiling fans, replaced porch lights, and recently replaced a kitchen faucet.  I’ve refinished lots of furniture, painted rooms, and even ceramic-tiled a kitchen floor while pregnant with my daughter.  Girls, I actually know how to re-string my weed whacker – and those who know me well know how much I hate yard work and secretly wish for a yard boy who looks like John Travolta!

I love to go to Lowes!  Every time I go in there, I transform into this superhero fix-it-chick and buy stuff that I have no business buying, like hacksaws with extra blades, and propane torches - all on the same trip!  I have discovered a few super cool products that every single woman needs in her pretty little pink tool belt: Liquid Nails, JB Weld, Duck Tape (duh!), clamps, WD40, blue tarps, and a nice neighbor with lots of tools.  For the Liquid Nails you will also need a caulk gun to apply it.  Liquid Nails is good for replacing trim, re-gluing floor boards, fixing furniture, and other such repairs.  Now JB Weld is some really cool stuff!  It is for metal things that you would otherwise weld if you knew how to use the propane torch that you bought.  JB Weld is a 2-part epoxy type gooey concoction that dries silvery.  I used it to secure some brass couplings to the bottoms of silver trays that I used for birdbaths in my flower garden held up by 3 foot pieces of rebar.  (I’ll share that craft project this spring.)  Duck tape is handy for just about anything.  Clamps are like extra hands.  Get the kind that look like giant silver clothespins with rubber ends.   WD40 is great for squeaky door hinges, loosening things that you cannot unscrew, and to lubricate your garage door rollers.  FYI – the gunk on your garage door rollers can freeze in the winter, and it may prevent your garage door from going up and down.  WD40 will keep that gunk slippery so your door will function smoothly.  WD40 can also be used to remove dried-on bugs from your front bumper PLUS it smells really good.  Blue tarps are a must for yard work as they allow you to drag heavy things all over the yard like yard debris in the spring and leaves in the fall.  As for my nice neighbor, he loves my gingersnaps so I do try to keep him happy with those in exchange for borrowing his tools.

Wait… I hear her now… its Helen Reddy… let's sing altogether now…., “I am woman, hear me roar – in numbers too big to ignore…if I have to, I can do anything.  I am strong.  I am invincible.  I am woman.”
I'm diggin' on her halter top!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Friend Mary Ann

Last year, on the day before Easter, I spoke at my friend Mary Ann’s funeral.  I started with, “This is very difficult.  Mary Ann was my friend, and I loved her.”  The church was packed with friends and family who also loved her.

Mary Ann was 17 years older than me.  We met in 2005 when we were paired-up in a canoe for a fundraiser for our local village’s swimming pool.  I took the front of the canoe, and she parked her petite frame in the back.  We became instant friends as we sojourned down the Portage River.  She used to call us kindred spirits.  We had a very special connection from the moment we met.

Mary Ann dabbled in real estate in addition to her full-time job.  The next summer, when wasband and I separated, Mary Ann found the home that was perfect for me and my kids.  A few months after that, another friend of Mary Ann’s separated from her husband and Mary Ann found her a home too near me.  Mary Ann introduced us two new single ladies, and the three of us became friends.  I had them over for several dinners over the following years, but looking back – not often enough.

You see, Mary Ann was hurting on the inside more than anyone realized and took her own life.  The day after her funeral, on Easater, I went to the cemetary to grieve.  It was easy to find her grave because it was covered with fresh flowers.  I noticed another grave very close by also with fresh flowers that seemed to match, so I went to that grave site to find that it was the site of Mary Ann’s parents.  I glanced over and saw yet another small bunch of flowers near Mary Ann’s gravesite.  The flowers were place purposely on a tiny grave which Mary Ann never told me about.  The tiny grave belonged to her daughter, Jennifer, that died shortly after birth.  Jennifer was born 3 months after me, but only lived a few days. 

Two days ago I finally built up the courage to reach out to Mary Ann’s daughter, Stacey, who is several years younger than me.  Stacy responded so sweetly asking me to tell her stories about her mom so that she won’t be so sad that her mom is gone.  I never met Stacey when Mary Ann was alive. (Stacey lives a few hours away with her husband and two little boys.)  I’ve gathered some notes and recipes that Mary Ann wrote for me to give to Stacey.  Stacey wants to keep her mom’s spirit alive.  I wish I reached out to Stacey sooner, but just didn’t know what to say.  Maybe Stacey and I will become friends.

I think about my friend Mary Ann so often, and wonder how I missed that she was hurting so bad inside.  I think everyone does.  I never shared Christ with her, but do hope she knew Jesus before she took her last breath.  I know many people have strong opinions about suicide, but when it happens to some you love – it’s confusing.  I try to pay closer attention now to friends who share their hurts with me, but more importantly, I try to share Christ in some way.  I miss you, my friend Mary Ann.