Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A million little ways

My oldest daughter is well on her way to reading 100 books this year. She's on book number 16 , and it's only February. Me? My goal this year was 12. And I'm still on book number one. Okay, and book number two. I tend to start more than one at a time....ahem. She flies through them like I used to, like a thirsty dog on a summer day lapping up as much water at a time as it can. Okay, bad analogy. Let's just say she reads a lot of books, really fast! 

My reading time these days is more in snatches.....a page or two here, a page or two there. I grab my kindle during a quiet moment and read a few more pages......

She comes downstairs and marks her next book on the chart. "That's 15 for me, mom? How far are you?" *Gulp* Um....still on book number one.

But what a book it is! I read it in snatches and then spend hours trying to process the ideas I just read. A friend on Facebook suggested it. I have several more on my reading list for this year, this just happened to be the first one I dove into. 

A million little ways, by Emily P. Freeman. Uncover the art you were made to live. The art of your life....living it for your Creator. Every little thing you do.....making it beautiful. Making everything matter. Are you a business man? Do your work for the glory of God. Are you a musician? Play your music for the praise of your Savior. Are you a nurse or a doctor? Love those patients and let them see the beauty of Christ shining through. 

Maybe, you're *just* a stay at home mom. 

You stay up late making lesson plans and gathering art supplies. But your kids finished work is beautiful, and you realize that even the mundane lesson planning can end in beauty.....

Know that birthday cake that you took time out of your day to make? Look at the smiles on your children's faces as they eat it, and the fun of being together as a family to celebrate another year together with a loved one. Many people are missing a loved one this year, and there is beauty in just being together.......

Took your kids shopping for a present for Daddy? Oh the beauty of seeing them learn the joy of giving.

The drip, drip, drip in your ceiling, brought about by a mischievious toddler and an over-flowing bathroom sink. You place buckets and mop floors, wondering where the 'art' can possibly be in this. Did you handle it with dignity? Did you show patience? Did you do your work with a cheerful spirit? Your kids will see the beauty of art even in this. The art of your life, lived to glorify Jesus, even in the mopping of floors.

Did you tuck a child in, singing songs and saying prayers, even though you  felt like you needed some tucking in yourself? Did you smooth their hairs back from their sweet face and kiss their soft little cheeks? The art of mothering.....

Is your kitchen full of five year old and three year old art work? Do you praise them and tell them what an awesome job they did? Do you help them discover the artist in themselves, even as you are still discovering the art that God wants YOU to do?

Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
If not joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight

May the words I say

And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to You
         ~Casting Crowns

I come to the close of another day and read just a few more pages. The art of my life. How was it lived today? Did I see the beauty in the mundane, dirty and smelly things today? Did even just one little person look at their Mama and catch a glimpse of Jesus? And when I fail....as we all do, every day......do they see me falling on my knees before Him, asking HIM to make beauty in the art of my life? I can only pray that they do. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

More meal ideas

I want to blog about more than recipes and food. I really do. I miss the days of several years ago where I could do a blog post...or two or three each week. I know everybody is busy, so I won't bore you with my 'list of things to do each day'---suffice it to say that, I think I had more time when I only had one baby than now when I have five kids. Imagine that, haha!! ;)

In the mean time, here's another meal plan for the week. At least I get THIS on here :)

1. Crock pot vegetable beef soup, Bread

2. Pizza rolls, green beans, apple sauce. You could be healthy and make your own whole wheat pizza dough for this----I'm planning on saving some time and using the store bought stuff :)

3. Black beans over rice. I don't have a link, so here's what I do: I put several cans of black beans, mostly drained but not quite, in a greased skillet, and add some garlic, cumin, parsley and sea salt. Simmer until warm and it smells nice :) Next, thinly slice some zucchini and onion, sprinkle with seasoned salt and broil until soft. Serve the black beans over rice with the zucchini and onion on top. You can also add tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and cheese. One of our favorite quick meals!

4. Tuscan Pasta, roasted broccoli, homemade bread sticks.

5. Sandwich Bar. Just what it sounds like. I'm gonna sit out bread, mayo, green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, meat and deli pickles and let everybody make their own sandwich. Should be fun AND messy ;)  I'll probably also serve some fruit with these.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Menu Plan

Just got back from the grocery store and put away my food, so I figured it was time to share the menu plan for this week.

By the way----before I proceed with that----a little healthy eating challenge for you :) I LOVE to feed my family good, whole, REAL food----and I love taking little baby steps toward making our eating healthier. Lately, I've been working on cutting down on some of our sugar intake. Now, we don't let the kids consume a LOT of sugar anyway, but I've realized that there are even more ways we could cut back a little. For instance----take your favorite brownie recipe. How much sugar does it call for? A cup? Chances are, they'll turn out fine and you'll like them just as well with 3/4 cup, or even less! Same with cakes, cookies, quick breads, etc. Does your family eat a lot of cereal? Try to find a kind with 6 grams of sugar or less (the less the better!) How about coffee or tea? Can you get by with 1/2 t of sugar instead of a whole teaspoon? How about yogurt? Can you buy plain instead of flavored and top it with fruit and a drizzle of honey? You'll save a LOT of sugar that way! There are ooodles of ways to cut back on sugar intake once you start looking. Our culture is used to eating highly sweetened foods, and if we train ourselves to enjoy desserts and treats with much less sugar, you'll be surprised at how quickly you get used to it, and your body will say thank you! So that's your healthy eating challenge for the week. Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes!

Now, onto the menu plan:

1. Easy baked chicken and veggies, cranberry sauce (Yes, the cranberry sauce AGAIN! I love the stuff! ;)

2. Hummus melts, garden salad, cottage cheese and grapes. Ohhhh...these things are SO good! They're one of our favorites! If you try ONE thing on my list this week, try these!!

3. Meatball sub casserole, Roasted veggies. I chop up whatever veggies I want (this week we're using broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchini), drizzle on some olive oil, a shake of sea salt and pepper, and sometimes a little garlic powder. Roast them at 375 till tender. They're also good topped with feta cheese.

4. Chicken Gyros and Rainbow veggies salad. Both new recipes for us, so I'm not sure what we think of them yet ;)

5. Fried eggs on toast, crock pot green beans, fruit.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This week in the kitchen :)

My menu plan is a little late this week. We usually do our planning/grocery shopping on Saturday, but we were out of town. Better late than never, I suppose! I'm hoping that the cold and snow doesn't keep me from getting out tomorrow to get the groceries---I guess if it does, Joel will have to stop and get them for me. He's done that several times already this winter----he's awesome :)

1. Easy noodle stir fry ---This meal was Cosette's request, she really likes it. You can add chicken if you don't want it to be vegetarian, but we like it both ways.

2. Chicken and Black bean Enchilada casserole--We use flour tortillas for this, but just because none of us really care for corn tortillas. We'll have some kind of frozen veggie with this.

3. Omelette's and Rye Bread and fresh fruit. I don't have a link, sorry. One of the elders made this for us at the elder's retreat this past weekend, and I wanted to try to recreate it. I'll probably fail miserably, haha :) I DO know it was a bunch of veggies--peppers, onions, mushrooms, potatos, garlic---all stir-fryed, and then worked into the omelette. I'm probably missing some spices and stuff---I'll have to find out for sure some time :)

4. Lentils and Rice.  Yep, this again :) We loved it so much last week I decided to make it again. We'll have a garden salad and rolls with apple butter with this meal.

5. Salmon cakes, roasted ranch potatoes, creamed peas.

What are YOU eating this week? Leave me a comment---I always welcome new ideas!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My thoughts on Social Media :)

I have an incredibly busy end of the week coming up and probably won't have another chance to post, so since my younger kids are all still sleeping, I thought I'd take this quick opportunity to post a few things that have been on my mind about.......Facebook! :)

The other night, at a family dinner, we were all sitting around talking about Facebook--privacy settings, common courtesy, etc. It got me to thinking about several things that have been on my mind lately about Facebook!

Now, several years ago, I did not have a facebook account. My mom was constantly warning me about 'the evils of facebook', and to 'stay away from it', haha :) I did, for a long time.....but then, I was pregnant with Noah......and on bed rest......for weeks on end........and OH, so terribly bored! I read endless books, I tried to learn how to knit (complete failure!!!), I directed my household from my bed....and finally, one day, out of sheer boredom, I broke down and opened up a facebook account.

That was six years ago. Since then, I have been mostly glad that I did.....mostly ;) Facebook has it's benefits....but also it's negative sides!

On the positive side of Facebook?

1. Being able to keep up with relatives and friends.....far and near! My dad and his wife live....well, a very far way away! It's nice to be able to post pictures and videos of the kids for them to see. It makes us feel more a 'part' of each others lives. Even for relatives and loved ones who live close by that we don't get to see as often as we'd like, it's a great way to keep in touch!

2. The comic relief of it! Let's face it----life can get stressful! A whole day of not seeing another adult human being, teaching school to three kids, caring for FIVE kids, working through adoption applications and paper work, budgets to balance, bills to pay, laundry to do.......facebook can just be a welcome source of 'fun' :) I love posting hilarious things my kids have said or done, reading other peoples funny posts....seeing other peoples ways of finding beauty in their day......it can be a real source of encouragement and fun.

3. The convenience of it. I really, really, really hate talking on the phone. I always have. I think I've probably mentioned that before ;)  It's probably mostly due to my ears----hearing aids work best in real life, NOT on the phone! It's hard for me to hear on the phone, and the aids whistle in my ear......so facebook is just a really great way of getting messages to people quickly and communicating in more 'comfortable' ways for me.

HOWEVER, even with those positive, there are a few things that concern me about facebook. Will you hear me out on them?

1. Inappropriate material. From pictures to 'facebook posters' to links to quotes to posts......it can all get pretty ugly out there folks! I made the mistake of leaving facebook open on my laptop the other day, and came back into the room to see Eli standing in front of the computer staring at a completely inappapropriate picture one of my friends had posted. *sigh* I generally use a simple rule of thumb when posting something. I ask myself this-----Would I be 'okay' with my Pastor seeing this? What about if my mom could still it? What about Joel's sweet Mennonite grandparents who I so loved and respected? Would I feel comfortable with these people seeing this? If the answer is NO......then I don't post it!!! Get some people whom you highly respect....and then use them as your 'rule of thumb' in deciding whether or not to post or not. I cringe when I see a fellow believer who just yesterday posted a 'Glory, Hallelujah' kind of post putting up something today about how much they hate their fellow man and really wish they would just bug off. REALLY?? Is that the best you can do to 'reflect Christ'? Use some common sense, folks, and remember that even on Facebook, your light is shining!! I'm not saying that we can't share concerns, prayer requests, or even just 'I had a really bad day' venting kind of things on Facebook. I'm just trying to encourage you to use discretion and care about what you post.

2. Young kids on facebook. I'm not talking about teenagers who have facebook accounts. I'm talking about younger children who are allowed to sit around and scroll through their parents facebook accounts on their phones or other devices. Even if all the material on Facebook WERE 'adult appropriate' and acceptable (which it is not!) ....it stands to reason that even some things fine for adult eyes are NOT fine for children's eyes. I DO occassionally show my kids things on facebook....pictures that I post of them, pictures of people I know they would appreciate seeing, etc.....but as a general rule, none of my kids are allowed to 'be on' facebook or look at things on there, and especially not without my supervision.....and probably won't be for several more years. Please use care how much you allow your younger children to be on this social media!

3. My third concern? Just the general time waster that it can be! And I am guilty of this one myself. You hop on facebook for 'just ten minutes' to check a few things, and before you know it, much more time has floated by! LIFE is happening, folks.........all around you! Nothing bugs me more than sitting at a table with someone having a conversation, and they pull out their phone to check Facebook. Really? Right now? Seriously? Be in the moment, folks....the REAL moment......and let Facebook wait until later :)

And that's my morning thoughts about Facebook! It can be a great tool----a tool of encouragement, ministry, outreach.......let's remember to use it as such! "Let your light so shine before men......." :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

For the love of food :)

Here is this week's menu plan. It's a bit more simple than I sometimes put together. We have more than usual going on next week, and we won't be home a couple of evenings, so I needed fewer and easier meals than usual. But I try to still keep things healthy, even with a hot dog meal ;)

1. Oven baked lentils and brown rice. This was actually lunch for today. I added some cooked spinach and sliced baby carrots before baking, and then added  some cheese to the top of it at the end of baking time and it was nice and gooey. I would suggest a 350 oven temp. This was delicious! 

2. Crock pot turkey bolognese over whole wheat pasta, Olive Garden style salad, homemade garlic bread.

3. Cereal with fresh fruit. Yes, this is a DINNER for this week :) Joel and I have to be out the door a little after five one evening to go do a three hour foster/adopt class, so he suggested this quick and easy 'meal',  and I loved the idea. We got a big box of cheerios  and a big box of cinnamon crunch oat squares---we're gonna top it with strawberries, blueberries and bananas and call it dinner ;)

4. Loaded sweet potatoes---essentially, it's baked sweet potatoes topped with seasoned black beans, tomatoes, and cheese. It's quick and easy, and my family loves it. I'll probably serve some grapes and yogurt along with these.

5. Hot dogs (the nitrate free kind served on whole wheat rolls), creamed peas and cranberry sauce. I grew up in a house where cranberry sauce was a common side item; however, Joel usually only had it around Thanksgiving, so it's taken him a while to adjust to the idea of having it with meals like hot dogs ;)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ode to the Sandwich

Oh sandwich, sandwich, what a friend art thou,
As a tired mother sighs and wipes her brow
"There's no left-overs, no soup, no burritos to serve up"
So she turns to a sandwich, fruit, and milk in a cup

Two slices of bread filled with endless ways to please,
Will it be PB&J, turkey, hummus or cheese?

Slap on some Mayo and put it on a plate,
Add some veggies and dip and your lunch is just great!

But Wait! you may say, as the thought turns to dread,
What is the proper way to eat this lunch upon bread?

Well, you may pick it up and take bites, that is clear
But that is most boring and plain, I do fear

For a change one day, IF you're feeling brave,
Eat your crust FIRST, and the best part do save.

This next way of eating is popular among the small---
Take your sandwich apart, but don't smear it on the wall!
Instead, eat the insides and THEN eat the bread,
You'll look most intelligent and very well read :)

So next time you find a sandwich is packed in your lunch,
Eat the meat and cheese first---you'll like it a bunch! ;)

(Hey, a girl needs to let out her creativity SOME how ;)


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