Monday, November 28, 2011


We come to the end of it all, and our hearts are full.  Grateful and blessed.  Determined that this will not be the end of our thanks-giving.  That it would be more than a day to list all that brings us joy. But a life that bends its knee to the joy-Giver.  Looking up from the gift to the Giver and growing in adoration for all that He is by noticing, and giving-thanks for all that He gives. 

The holiday came and went.  Friends gathered.  House filled with laughter and joy.  Turkey carved.  Dishes washed.  All tucked in with smiles on our faces, gratitude in our hearts.  Recalling the words exclaimed by our boys: “this is the best day of my life!”  

Thanksgiving Round 2.  Family gathered.  House filled with hugs and sentiment.  Turkey re-heated.  Dishwasher loaded.  Puzzles and airplanes put together with grandpa and grandma.  Memories made.  Bey-blades ripped.  Walks to work off the seconds of pumpkin pie {and flourless nutella cake – oh my!}

Pictures from the weekend faded from doilies and leaves to bows and pine, as we prepare for celebrating the ultimate Gift.  And this is just a continuation of thanks-living…

Always be full of joy in the Lord.
I say it again - Rejoice!
philippians 4.4 {NLT}

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

counting on...

Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, 
so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.  Let your lives overflow for all He has done.  
Colossians 2.7

Just last night, I was knelt by his bed, working through "life stuff" with our eldest.  He was asking me how to leave a hurt in the past and not let it get to him anymore.  Such big stuff for an 8 year old to work through, especially when his 33 year old mama asks the same thing.  Praying for words, I told him that when it comes to mind, to ask God to help you let it go and focus on all we have to be thankful for.  That when we choose to stew over past hurts, that which brings us down, the life is sucked right out of us.  But when we turn to count the ways He has provided and blessed, we can rise above.  
As the praises overflow, we are overwhelmed by His care.
I don't know if it's this simple, but it can't hurt to take a few lessons from stevia.  The plant I thought was done.  Put it in the basement for the winter.  Only to see sweetness springing from its roots.  It cannot shut up!  Rain or shine, dark basement or summer day, past abandonment or present victory, it's gonna sing the sweet praises of its Creator.  And shouldn't we do the same...
Counting on because we know Who we can count on. 
- Ann Voskamp

603. our thankful tree filling with leaves, hearts overflowing with thanks
604. "our worm warm hous" {makes me smile everytime}

605. inside picnic lunches
606. getting to be with my boys!
607. after-school checkers
608. trail mix cookies {recipe next week, promise!} for all who gather here after school
609. sharing a pomegranate on a Sunday afternoon
610. a life group that laughs until it hurts :), bears one another's burdens, peers into our souls and speaks truth into our lives
611. cards in the mail full of blessings and sweet words
612. boys writing "thank you's" for those blessings
613. hot date with a brazilian guy
614. how he loves
615. biaggi's and their gluten-free menu
616. a saint offering to watch our boys for us
617. 9 kids gathered in our living room on a Saturday morning for a "worshiping God club" led by a 7 year old
618. that 7 year old on the couch, explaining to our neighbor Who is King
619. the joy of giving gifts of compassion {because God so loved the world, He gave...}
620. coffee with a dear friend on a rainy afternoon
621. His constant care and provision
622. calls to my mom for recipe questions {my kitchen-help hotline}
623. gluten-free pumpkin pie {half canned pumpkin, half pureed butternut squash, and it's delicious!}
624. late-night thanksgiving cooking to the electric guitar jam session in our living room
625. For Thyself, best Gift Divine,
        to the world so freely given,
        for that great, great love of Thine,
        peace on earth, and joy in heaven: 
        Lord of all, to Thee we raise
        this our hymn of grateful praise.

Wishing you all a wonder-full thanks-giving!!
We are truly blessed.
May our lives overflow!

Monday, November 21, 2011

preparing for a

Well, would you look at that.  
Thanksgiving is *this* week.  Just like that.  Bam!  
This year, a phrase keeps coming to mind that I want to describe our holiday. Less is more. 
Less is more:
.The notion that simplicity and clarity lead to good design. 

The less the day is designed around preparing food, the more I can savor time with loved ones.  The less mama is in the kitchen, the more mama is with them.  The less stress about the details, the more joy in the moment.  Less focus on the food, more attention on the now.  

The phrase comes from a poem Robert Browning wrote in 1855, but the idea reminds me of a story of 2 ladies... As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”  But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!  There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10.38-42 {NLT}

So, what am I making?  Here’s the list: 
Appetizer Tray: crackers, cheese, olives, carrots, grapes
Roasted Turkey {I'm attempting a brine this year!}
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy 
Broccoli Casserole {recipe below}
Bread and Homemade Rhubarb-Cherry Jam
Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Walnuts, Celery and Blue Cheese
Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Our guests can bring a side or a dessert of their choosing.  It's certainly not anywhere close to Annie's thanksgiving and her 12 side dishes!  But, I can prepare all but the turkey and potatoes ahead of time.  So that the less I have to do that day, the more time we can spend together.
Pinned Image
photo: source
This is one of our family's favorite, easiest side dishes to prepare.  It can be made ahead of time, then baked on the day.  Our kids barely know they're eating all those veggies under the cheese and buttery crumbs.  
Broccoli Casserole
1 large head {or 2 small heads} of broccoli
1/2 head of cauliflower
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks
sliced american or shredded cheddar cheese {american melts better}
1 cup crushed Ritz cracker crumbs {I use GF bread crumbs}
1/4 cup melted butter {if using Ritz crackers. 1/2 cup if using GF crumbs}
Break the broccoli and cauliflower into small florets.  Steam the vegetables until tender.  Place vegetables in a 9x13 baking dish.  Cover the veggies with cheese slices.  Mix the melted butter and cracker crumbs together, and spread on top of the cheese slices.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crumbs look golden.  
broc cass Fresh Broccoli Casserole
photo: source  (I don't have a pic of this recipe, but will be sure to take lots of our thanksgiving to share with you :)

Oh yes...and our 3rd annual "Thankful Tree" is getting decked out with leaves this week.  
The food may not turn out as planned, not all the interactions may be as positive as you had hoped {hopefully it's not like this: "I'm not thankful for. I'm thankful five, which is just a little more thankful than everyone else, so..."}, your 4 year old may be running around the house yelling "it smells like poop in here!"  (not like that has ever happened to us ;), or you may have the flu (not like that has ever happened to us either ;)  
I love Ann's thoughts on this:
Keep calm and count on...
A sacrifice of thanks lays down our perspective and 
raises our hands in praise anyways - always.  
We give thanks to God not because of how we feel - 
but because of Who He is. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

recovering chairs

We bought these chairs 6 years ago, when we had a 2 yr. old and a 1 yr. old.  The pictures don't do them justice as to their nastiness from the years of spilled milk, juice, chai, coffee, you name it... {Sorry to those who have sat in them.} 
So, I bought clearance fabric from JoAnn's {4 yards @ $4/yard).  It's been draped over the chairs for some months now, while I've been working up the courage.  This week, my parents brought the confidence and know-how, and we went to it.  

I'm so pleased with how they came out!  And am happy to share what we did.  I just don't know that I can write a tutorial right now.
Truth is, our chairs aren't the only things over here recovering.  
I haven't known what to say on here.  Between our middle one waking up at 6 all last week, crying all morning because he missed his dad...our 3 year old telling me you ruined my life {because we didn't make it to the library}...or the stories our eldest shares from school...oh the's enough to keep this mama inside for awhile.  Last night, I was leaving {for the first time in a few weeks} for zumba, and a child calls after me "Sorry for how mean we've been to you."  As guilty as I can feel for getting away, it was such a sweet reminder we all need it.  Just 1 hour to dance my heart out and let them miss me a little.  Did us all some good.  
We're gonna pull through.  Not by any strength of my own, but by the prayers of our dear family and friends, some even sensing a burden and asking to come over to pray with us.  By my dear husband's persistent love and care. By the power of God's Word and His Spirit that reminds us where to cling.  
For the Word of God is full of living power.  It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep  into our innermost thoughts and desires.  It exposes us for what we really are.  Nothing in all creation can hide from Him.  Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes.  THIS is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.  THAT IS WHY we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God.  
Let us CLING TO HIM and never stop trusting Him.  
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faces all of the same temptations we do, yet He did not sin.  
SO LET US COME BOLDLY to the throne of our GRACIOUS GOD.  
There we will receive His mercy
and we will find grace to help us when we need it.  
Hebrews 4.12-16 {NLT}

Monday, November 7, 2011

into the woods

I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, 
 to front only the essential facts of life, 
 and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, 
 and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
- Henry David Thoreau

Christ is the one through whom God created everything...
Everything has been created through Him and for Him.
He existed before everything else began, and He holds all creation together.
Colossians 1.16-17

62 degrees yesterday was a blessing from above, and we took full advantage of it with a Sunday afternoon stroll.  Wandering through the woods, stomping in rivers (well, that would be Jack), crossing any tree we came across (some of us more cautiously than others), sipping on tea, pondering the deeper issues of life (mainly me).  All of us leaving the forest with much more than muddy shoes and lungs filled with fresh air…but with a song in our hearts and a meaning to our steps. 

We spent some time today, laying aside the ongoing list of to-do’s to deliberately sit, and laugh, and visit with “soy sauce, the friendly ostrich.”  The kids and I are linking arms, to make the most of our week: to gather with friends, watch Cars 2, basement-bike-rides and soccer, to eat this and these and maybe these (GF, of course)..or order pizza, depending on how the day goes :)  And, I have a few evening sewing projects planned...or will stare at a blank wall, depending on how the day goes :)