Nourish Part 2 (Soul Food)

Verses from Grandma: Romans 10:13, Psalm 19: 7-11, 1 Timothy 2:4

Not only did my Grandma make a delicious pot roast for her Sunday family dinners, but she also loved to make her grandchildren homemade popcorn balls. It wasn’t until my now-grown cousin decided to make the popcorn balls that we realized how much love went into them.

The grandkids enjoyed these treats for years. And we raved about them too. But it was our cousin Stephanie who revealed to us that to make the popcorn into balls you have to mold them while they are extremely hot, therefore burning your hands in the process.

We will never forget that kind of love. But there is another kind of love that my grandmother passed down. And it’s in the pages of a journal that I snagged up after she passed.

My Grandma Pat not only left us with the memories of her cooking, baking, and the countless holidays at her home, she left us with some soul food. And I want to share some of her life recipes with you.

She writes on “The Purpose of Pain.” Saying that “God does use suffering as a means for our spiritual advancement. God does heal, but not always. Sometimes the pain will cause people to turn away from God because they wonder why God would let them suffer this way. But others become closer to God than ever before.”

She also writes on love, that “Jesus says to love your enemies, to bless them that curse you, and to do good to them that hate you. We must be willing to forgive others if we want God to forgive us. God knows our weaknesses.”

Later, she goes on to explain that “when we pray the Lord’s prayer, we also make a statement of our faith. We declare that we believe this is a name above all other names. That this kingdom is eternal and that there is a will that is divine.”

“We say that we believe God gives us the things that we need each day, that he forgives us our sins, that he gives us strength to face temptation and courage to overcome evil. And when we say ‘amen,’ we believe in fellowship with God and are sure it shall be so.”

I wish I could share all of my grandmother’s words because they are so beautiful and encouraging to me. As a fourth-generation Christian on my mom’s side, a mother, seeking to pass on faith in God and hope for tomorrow, to the next generation, the scriptures she writes out and convictions she had of her own faith, spur me on in mine.

If you don’t have your grandmother’s words to encourage you, feel free to borrow mine, I don’t think she would mind one bit. If I could, I would call her and ask her all sorts of things and get advice from her. She was so loving and a great listener. But her journal lays in my nightstand so that anytime I need to, I can open it up and once again remember who she was and the faith she had.


Hopeful Heart

In our church service today, we learned more about the walls of Jericho tumbling down, in Joshua 6. I’ve been in church since the age of two, so this isn’t my first time hearing this Bible story. But today, it was my first time HEARING this, if you know what I mean. Like so many other passages in the Bible. I can read and re-read a passage or chapter. But in the appointed time, when I need to understand it and absorb it the most, is when it comes alive. God’s timing is always right on time.

I’m going back in time, my brother left for college, my only sibling and best friend. We had recently changed churches. And now, my mom and I were in a new home, I was in a new school, my parents were getting divorced. I couldn’t even really process my own life, so much was changing so quickly, that I couldn’t keep up with my own life. All of it, was outside of my control. I had no say and could do nothing about it.

I was really hurting. Family and church was everything to me. I knew we had our ups and downs. I knew my parents marriage wasn’t perfect. But having my brother move away, and then roughly six months later, my dad too, was unbearable to me.

I put on a brave face though. And I had to. I had to make new friends, get used to a new school, get a job, learn to drive, and oh yeah, throw some prom dates in there somewhere. I don’t think it was until years later, that I could comprehend how really tough that time was on me.

That Summer though, after my sophomore year, I would get a large candle and light it. Sit under the stars, and lay on a blanket for hours, and read through the four gospels almost every night. I read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This was where I finally began to understand God’s love for me. I can’t remember why I started doing this. But I just did.

When I read about Jesus dying a such a horrible death on the cross for me, and my sins. I was amazed, and I still am. I was really sad and brokenhearted and having a hard time forgiving because of the intense pain I felt. But I understood that if God could forgive my sins, I wanted to forgive and love and I didn’t want my pain to be in the way of that anymore. I didn’t want to feel hopeless, powerless, and really like the walking dead, alive, but not living.

I have been saved for over twenty years now, and every single day, no matter what circumstances come my way, God infuses me with hope. When, like the very tall, and very thick Jericho walls, my circumstances seem impassable, God makes my way clear, gives me what I need for my battles, and loves my faithfully through them.

This last year, we have universally felt pain, loss, division, and fear. We have all lost parts of life and people we love due to circumstances outside of our control. We are still mourning what we may never get back. Matt.5:4 says, “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And I have found this to be true, not just this year, but in every hard time.

Hope… when you have God on your side, you are guided in love, given strength for the battle. And whatever is meant for your harm, He turns for your good. You can ask for wisdom, ask for love, and He gives it. He forgives all our sins and remembers them no more. He breaks chains of addiction. And even if God chooses not to physically heal, He uses that suffering for good. And gives us peace like we have never known.

So I want to let you know friends, that in the Bible… in the four gospels, is an account of what Jesus did. And if you put your trust in God, He is faithful. He is a loving Father, and He is a promise Keeper. Of that we can be sure.

We are human, we will endure pain, suffering, and loss. We will loose loved ones, our health, homes, dreams, marriages, relationships, money, status, etc. But when we have a relationship with God, we will live this life with hope and love and peace in the toughest of battles. And when our earthly body fails, will live on in eternal peace.

Summer Dreamin’ (Part 2)

I know how difficult it is to think about keeping the kids busy and productive coming off of the last year and a half. Didn’t we already just get done doing just that? Why, yes we did. And you mean, we have to do it all over again.

Shall I first congratulate all of us out there for getting through one of the most unpredictable and all-around frustrating years in history? Accepting such limitations for all that our kids were not allowed to do, felt too hard. But we did it.

Now what? Things are opening up again and the mask mandate is going away, but it doesn’t mean that our kids are getting back what was lost. My kids don’t get to be in the play that they were a week away from performing. They will never get that back. But… we all have to keep taking baby steps to rebuild a new life.

So while I am racking my brain, thinking of what my kids can do this Summer to stay purposeful, I thought I would bring some ideas to you. These are things that I have done in the past, that I want to be better about this year, and ideas I have learned from others.

Get the kids involved in VBS. There are Vacation Bible Schools all over this town. The Bridge Bible Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church are two that my kids have personally attended for years and now serve.

They greatly enjoy this time. VBS’s usually offer singing and dancing, great Bible lessons, crafts, and snacks. They are typically free. Your kids will make new friends, and who knows, you might want to plug into that church if you are looking for a church connection.

There are day camps, swimming lessons, and sports offered in the fall at N.O.R. You can also purchase season passes for pools in the area. Spray parks in the area are free. When the kids were younger, we’d go almost daily.

Around the house, make a master list of deep cleaning chores and home projects the kids can do. Cleaning out their closets, making donation piles, cleaning ceiling fans are just a start. They can help you go through the whole house in preparations for fall.

Crafts are such a great way for the kids to stay busy at any age. The Dollar Tree has so many great crafts supplies that crafting doesn’t have to cost much at all. They can create their way to all kinds of new little hobbies.

Have the kids create a reading list. They keep track of all the books they read and reward them after. The library does this for younger kids. But gift cards for the teens will go a long way. Crosswords and other brain teasers are also a must for Summer to keep their minds active and challenged.

And lastly, let’s not forget the power of playdates. Even teens can use some extra in-person quality time with friends this Summer after the anti-social year they got to have. Board games, lawn games, swimming, and ice cream can go a long way to break away from boredom.

I hope this is as helpful for you as this has been for me. There are countless ideas online, and I find Pinterest is often a wealth of information as well. Happy Summer days to you all. May it be wonderful, relaxing, fun and blessed.

Happy Home (part 2)

Here are some tips for anyone out there looking to add peace to their lives and hours to their days. These are all tricks that I use in my life. They have come professionals, blogs, family, and friends. After using them daily weekly, I have enjoyed the benefits in my life. That is why i’d like to share them. I am not a professional, just a doer.

To begin, identify the areas of your home that cause you the most anxiety, make you feel the most overwhelmed, or steal the most time from you. This will help you know where to focus. This of it as editing your home. Make a list and pick a finish date.

Secondly, ask yourself if you need to let go of some control. You might even want to consider getting a house keeper. But consider helping yourself get back some of your time by getting help from your loved ones. Can you letting your floors be swept and mopped, by a child, even if they aren’t up to your standards. You will save yourself an hour a week by having your capable kids sweep the main floors daily. Also, taking the mop to your baseboards as you mop the floors will save you time later on as well.

Do you need to invest in a new vacuum or mop? Do harsh chemical cleaners need to be swapped out for natural cleaners? I have found white vinegar and essential oils to be useful for mirrors, counter tops, sinks, toilets, and the shower.

I also learned that no matter how late it gets, cleaning the kitchen, and running the load of dishes every night, sets a better tone for the morning. The nights I have forgotten to do this routine have taught me that the extra ten minutes would have been worth it.

We wash sheets every other week. But now with teenagers, I have them wash pillow cases once a week. Speaking of washing, my kids were taught to start doing their own laundry and make their own beds around age eight and nine. They load their clothes, start the washer, switch them over to dry, fold them, and put them away. Kids are so capable.

My kids have also been cleaning their own bathroom since about age ten or so. Their bathroom is fully cleaned once a week as it is the quest bathroom as well. My teens have to tidy rooms every day before they get cell phones and video games. They also get the mail, take out the trash and recycling. Sometimes they break down boxes and help tidy the garage.

When my kids were young, they had to help tidy their toys and books in their rooms as well as take into their rooms the toys that came out into the living room. I never allowed their toys to take over our main areas. But that was just easier for me to keep things straight.

Our garage gets cleaned once a month. At which time it gets swept out. Because we park the car in our garage, I find it bothers me if it is out of sorts. I like to drive into a clean and tidy garage. I might be more picky about this than anyone else in the home.

We do not mow our own lawns. This is the one service we have hired out. Although I did this and enjoyed it as a kid and teen in my childhood home, I don’t want to spend the time on this as an adult, nor do I want to fuss with the lawn tools. Someday I might like to pay to have a house cleaner, but I would be surprised by it because I really love to clean my own home.

Because I try to work out multiple times a week, we do have a bit more laundry to do. So I prefer to do our laundry once a day. I don’t want wet towels or sweaty workout clothes to get mildew. I love to do this as the end of my day, while I watch a show in the evening.

On Mondays, I water all my indoor plants and put them in the sun. Tuesday I clean the main areas, by dusting furniture, and cleaning floors, and also the master bathroom, as well as the kitchen. But because we are home all the time and eat almost all our meals at home, I clean the kitchen daily. We put dishes away after meal and I wipe counters after every meal. I also wipe down our stove top in the evening.

Meal prep and crock pot meals are a time saver. Not only in prep time, but also in clean up time. So I try to meal prep on Mondays and have at least one crock pot meal per week. I love to cook a batch of chicken in the crock pot. And use it in many ways for the next few days. When I cook or bake, I clean up as I go, so that I don’t have an overwhelming mess at the end.

Having certain days of the week that I do housework helps me to have a plan and conquer it. But of course, everyone has to do what works for them. I love to clean my home and have a clean home, but I don’t want to be a slave to it. So, I am always looking for ways to cut down on the time it takes.

That is why I started to research and understand minimalism. I began to understand how having less things, means having less things to care for. Which offers us the gift of time. And that was very appealing to me. I will always want to keep a lovely home, but don’t want to sacrifice other worthy pursuits in the process.

After borrowing a stack of books on the topic from the local library, I decided to go through absolutely everything that we owned. And while I don’t get to hold my kids and husband to my standard of letting go of things, I can practice the discipline of enjoying limited amounts of things. And making sure that over the years that I only keep what I love and use.

To this day, when I bring in my five new articles of clothing, it can be painful to get into my closet and pull out five things that I am not using. But it is so good for me to do this. And, so I do. Our home isn’t a museum, storage unit, or store. I try to keep that in mind as I buy and acquire things.

I like the idea of less. And I like the freedom that less gives me. I have found less to be one of my biggest blessings in life. American culture is often about more. And I used to buy into that way of life. But over the years, I just have not seen more of anything else but loving God and others add anything to my life.

I tidy up my home a little bit everyday, putting everything right back in it’s spot. If something doesn’t have a spot, it gets one, or it’s gone. Pretty simple, right? I think so. And while I do also have a junk drawer, and a hall closet that accumulates odd things, they are all things we use. And I try to keep them tidy as possible.

You can add changing the air filter, cleaning the ceiling fans, and cleaning out closets to your calendar, as these are season tasks.

At one time about six years ago, I felt like I just couldn’t keep on top of things, keep things tidy. It was after my Grandmother passed away and I accumulated some of her stuff. She was a collector. I didn’t realize that by taking in so much of her stuff, I was loosing important parts of my life. So, I let go of a lot of it, only keeping the most meaningful things that I use regularly. Keeping her goods, didn’t keep her here on earth or make her more meaningful to me. It was important to keep that straight.

If you want to learn a lot more, then I suggest you too check out the experts. The Minimalists are on Youtube. The Magic of Tidying Up, is a wonderful book. I also still love to find new tips on others blogs. Youtube is great for meal prep as well. If your library is open, you can probably find a pile of quick reads on the topic, like I did.

It will require your attention, organizations, planning, lists, and goal dates… oh yeah time and work. But it will be worth it. Just be patient with yourself while you develop new habits. Keep trying to get the kind of tidy home that you want and run the tidying up and cleaning of your home like a business. Work before pleasure. At least that has worked very well for me. This way, work doesn’t pile up totally out of control and become overwhelming. This way, an hour or two a day of house work is what it takes to keep it clean and tidy. Not a whole weekend.

Happy Cleaning!!!

Hitting Walls I Can’t Ignore

After my grand plans of starting off 2021 with a more consistent workout routine, and getting back on track with my eating, came to a screeching halt, due to a new injury, I became pretty discouraged.

In late December, I decided to treat myself to a two-week no-workout break. My body loved it, to be honest. And as our holidays are probably no different than yours, busy, so did my mind. It was one less thing to think about and cram in. Not in any way did I regret this move.

However, weeks into the New Year, I was in a side plank in yoga, and I overextended my wrist and injured it. I have never sprained anything. Not realizing that sprains can be harder to heal than fractures, I didn’t let it completely heal. As soon as it would start to feel better, I would be right back on the spin bike, lifting weights, thus reinjuring it.

My husband and doctor told me what to do. Ice it, splint it, and rest it. Well…hmmm… I am a mom, so there’s that. And let’s say I learned a few valuable lessons in the process. My body needed to rest and heal in its own time, not mine. It didn’t take a week, it took a month.

I am also learning what it is like to be patient with my body. Because I lost a month’s worth of stamina in my bike workouts, and I lost flexibility in my yoga practice. This is all the stuff of work and progress that needs to be rebuilt through new work and the baby steps of progress.

I can’t believe how out of shape I am now on the bike. I even had to quit with five minutes left, about to puke. My muscles are as sore as if I am working out for the first time. My muscles are tight, with stored tension from all the times I didn’t release them in yoga.

I am a mess. And I am having to learn to start over and let myself grow day by day. I have to learn to push through my lack and insufficiency. I am having to take deeper breaths and feel more pain in the release of my deep, long yin yoga holds.

All of this is to say, that there is so much good in the pain of progress in any area of our life. I would love to say that I like discomfort, but I can’t. Because when something gets uncomfortable, the truth is, I have to stop dead in my tracks and decide then and there if I am doing to push through or quit.

I am learning to push through growing pains more than quit. Because too many times in my life, I have seen the reaping of not giving in to the pain and giving up. The growth and blessings always seem to outway the discomfort and fear that I experienced.

New Year’s Eve 2020

It is New Year’s Eve. We all woke up late, maybe it was the rain, or the holidays catching up to us. But after pancakes, tea, coffee, and our New Year’s Eve greetings, the gloomy sky called for a fire in the middle of the day. Now the sun is out. So I’ll finish writing, then turn off the fire and take my walk.

There isn’t a walk I like quite as well as after a good, hearty rain walk. Which, to a very pleasant surprise, has now happened three times this week. The air is fresh, the smell of neighbors fire places lingers and the birds are extra chirpy. I really love them.

I will walk in my flip flops today, so I don’t feel the painful blister and it will be a quick 20 minute walk. I will feel like a slacker, but will feel more refreshed and come home motivated to get to work in the kitchen. The plan is to go through every single drawer and cupboard, tidying and getting rid of anything I don’t use. All this will be done of course, with some relaxing Joni Mitchell in the background.

This simple act will make me feel more ready to ring in a new year. I know we are all looking forward to an easier, brighter, more beautiful year. But none of us have that crystal ball., that tells the future.

I am one of those people, who make resolutions, maybe you can call them goals. I am a huge believer in new beginnings. I find having them sets a tone in my life and gives me eyes for new opportunities in life. no matter how great or small they are.

Some opportunities are handed to us and others are the ones we make for ourselves. Some are inward, regarding the soul, others are physical goals like loosing some of that holiday weight. Some will be simple, like buying less nail polish, some life-altering, and others will feel meaningless by this time next year.

But I love New Year’s Eve day so much, because of that powerful feeling of a brand new start coming our way, so every year at this time, I get alone with my thoughts, and search the purposes of my heart.

It means so much to me, it is like a ritual. It is extremely personal. And it is the way that makes room in my life to look back at what was and be thankful for it, release it, and move on to recieve whatever new is about to come my way.

So a very Happy New Year’s Eve and goodbye 2020. With God, I l have learned to feel more and mourn what was. When I was tired and discouraged, I dug deep and I fought to not loose heart. I prayed, then prayed some more, and through it all I found peace. I hope you too will find whatever peace you are looking for.