Pages

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ups and Downs

I have been very excited that we finished our school year recently because it gives me more time to work on things I don't typically get to in a day - i.e. my blog.  It is not that I don't want to blog, I think all the time that I should reappear on here, but at the end of the day it just gets moved to tomorrow's to do list.  Part of the reason for this is that life lately has been a series of ups and downs that I just don't know how to explain to you because I don't know how I feel about them.  I am not talking just little every day things, I am talking big, extreme ups and downs the kind that shake your world and leave you drained.  The kind of ups and downs that you can't just process in a day, a week, a month, or a year.  They have shaken me, but I cling to God because that is all I can do.  I'm not writing today so anyone  can feel sorry for me or say, "Wow, her life has been pretty hard."  I am writing today for me because I need to share what is on my heart and mind.  It is therapy for me so if it rambles or is not grammatically correct, please forgive me. 

I think the ups and downs truly started about a year ago, but I have just really started to feel the extreme ups and downs this year.  They started when my Mammaw got sick last year about this time.  She went from a simple infection that can be cured with antibiotics to being in a critical care unit in a matter of days.  Her illness went from me being able to talk to her on the phone about it to her having multiple strokes in what felt like a heartbeat.  I was one of the last family members she was able to physically talk to once she went into the hospital.  I was able to tell her I love her and that hubby and the kids love her and hear her tell me she loved me and to tell hubby and the kids she loved them.  Those words I spoke with her are so precious to me now.  After that she began having strokes, the infection spread through her whole body and got into her blood stream.  A few weeks later she was gone, she is healed and with Jesus in Heaven now which is a blessing, but I still miss her and her phone calls.  I would love to pick up the phone again and have her tell me that she was sitting there drinking a cup of tea and talking to me.  I went through the rest of last summer in a daze, a depression, and all I could do was lean on God to help me through.

Last fall was better.  We attended family camp at a Bible camp and God just spoke to me.  He spoke to us, He challenged us time and time again.  It was wonderful.  School started, life went on and flew by.  My best friend's daughter got married which was very exciting because Baby Bear was the flower girl.  It was a very exciting time helping out and watching two young people that we admire plan their life together. 

During this time another dear friend became ill.  She started feeling more and more sick.  Around Christmas/New Years she was finally diagnosed with Primary Amyloidosis.  She was not much older than I am has a daughter the same age as my son and a son just a couple of years older.  She and her husband decided that they had to do all they could to fight this disease for which there is no cure.  She went through rounds of chemo to help kill of the bad cells and stop her body from producing amyloids.  The ladies of our Bible study took turns taking her to her appointments and making meals for her and her family.  I will always cherish the time I got to spend with her during her chemo treatment.  They decided a stem cell transplant could possibly help slow down the disease and after much thought and prayer, my friend and her hubby decided that they had to try this route.  She wanted to be here for her kids.  Ultimately God healed this beautiful woman, but He didn't heal her here on Earth.  He took her home to Heaven in March of this year.  She is healed and whole now, she will never have to worry about this disease again.  Our hearts hurt because we miss her dearly.  This lady was a Proverbs 31 lady through and through.  Although I have only known her about 5 years, I feel like I have known her my whole life and she was truly one of my dearest friends.  Her death leaves a hole that has not yet begun to heal in my heart.  Again I just cling to God because there is nothing else I can do.  He did exactly what we prayed for and healed her and I can't be angry or upset at that.  While I don't understand why I get watch her children grow up when she doesn't, I know that God is good and He has a plan for all of this.

Then came the month of April.  Life was beginning to get back to normal.  We took a mini Spring Break and we were starting to plan out things for Spring as the weather was starting to get nice.  I came home on Friday, April 10 to the shock of a lifetime.  We got home from our homeschool group and I got on Facebook to check some things and I started seeing posts about a friend dying.  I thought it was the worst joke ever until I learned it was true.  My childhood best friend that I have known since we were 8 passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a blood clot.  I was shocked.  I had just been talking to her the night before she passed away.  It just felt like too much even though I know God doesn't give us more than we can handle, it certainly felt like it.  My world was shaken again.  There were so many questions and again a young mom died and left behind a young son.  I don't understand, I don't pretend to, I just cling.  I cling to God, His goodness, His promises, and His grace.  God knows my heart aches over these losses, but He also knows that I know He has a plan through all of it.  I miss my 2 friends desperately.  There are times I wake up missing them, wishing I could talk to them just one more time.  My heart aches and it is just heavy.

Currently we are dealing with two heavy situations that are unrelated that I do not want to talk about at this time, but it weighs on me.  I don't understand.  I don't know what to do during it other than pray.  I am clinging to God, His goodness, His promises, His word because that is all I can do.  While life has been very hard this year, it has also been good in many ways.  There are so many ways that God has provided for us and blessed us that I could write a post just about those and probably will.  God is teaching me to lean completely on Him.  He is teaching me that He wants my whole heart, all my attention and focus, and He LOVES me, truly LOVES me.  He is teaching me that I don't need to understand, I just need to trust and I can trust completely with absolutely no doubts.  I am in a growth phase and God is growing me, shaping me, molding me and I am at peace with that.  I am okay, I am good because God is at work.  I place my hope, trust, and life in God's hands and I know He is faithful, true, and just and has a perfect plan for me. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kale Pasta - A comfort food

It is cold here today, no really COLD, like blizzard cold.  Oh wait, yes we really are in the middle of a blizzard today.  There isn't tons and tons of snow here, but it is blowing, drifting, limited visibility, and extremely windy - the perfect conditions for a blizzard.  When it is cold we like comfort food.  The stuff that warms your soul and makes your belly happy.  While we did not have this specific meal for dinner, this one is a family favorite.  We love pasta and we make it a little better for you by adding veggies.  Here is the recipe:
 
Kale Pasta
1 box of pasta (we like to use whole wheat elbows or penne)
1 roll of sausage (mild or hot if you like it spicy)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
Parmesan Cheese
Seasoning to taste - we like Trader Joe's African Smoke or a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
 
 
1.  Brown the sausage in a large pan.
 
2.  When the sausage is almost completely browned, add in the garlic and chopped onion.
 
 
3.  While the sausage is cooking, boil the pasta according to package directions.
 
4.  Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid in case you need it for the sauce.
 
5.  Drain any grease off of the sausage and then add the chicken stock and keep on low.
 
6.  Add the kale to the pan with sausage and wilt down - 3-4 minutes.  If you don't have enough "sauce" to coat the pasta, add a little bit of the pasta water you reserved.
 
7.  Once the kale is wilted, add the pasta to the mixture and toss to coat. 
 
 
8.  Place in serving bowl and add Parmesan cheese.
 
 
9.  ENJOY!!!


 
Sometimes we add a can of cannellini beans to the mix.  I toss in the beans and the juice when I add the chicken stock to the meat.  The beans help stretch the meal a little and add a little extra fiber.  Let me know if you try this recipe and what you think of it. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Computer

I am back up and running with a new computer so I can finally start blogging again.  Now if I can just figure out what to say first.....hmmm...more blog posts coming soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Life

I would love to tell you that I haven't been blogging because I have been on some great worldwide adventure doing things I never dreamed I would do like going on a safari in the African Savannah or having high tea with the Queen, but the truth is I've just been very busy with life.  When I say busy, I mean B-U-S-Y and by the time I sit down at night and think I should blog, my brain is so fried I can not come up with anything to say.  So I have been saying nothing, pinning a lot, thinking about what I want to be working on, and making lists of things I actually do have to work on to make our daily life function.

We are knee deep in our home school year.  Teaching 1st grade and 6th grade every day still overwhelms me a little, but I think each day gets easier.  Sometimes I find myself reading Baby Bear's books to Buddy Bear and vice-versa, but it is all good.  They like to listen to each other's stories.  I love the curriculum we are using this year.  It is still Sonlight and it fits us well.  Buddy Bear is doing his first year of World History and we have been reading some fascinating books.  Baby Bear's curriculum is an Intro into the World and we have been reading some of my favorite childhood books.  I love reading which is why I think I love Sonlight so much.  We get to read so many books that just aren't in other curriculum packages.  We are also still involved in the Home School Group at our church.  Since I am teaching two completely different grades this year, I had to ask for a lot of help in running the group.  The ladies that have stepped up and become a planning committee for the group are AWESOME!!!  They have helped me so much and now I don't have to stress over our group.  I know things will get planned, taught, and done.  We are putting together a year long project for our group and I am super excited about it.  I will share more about it as it develops.

I have been busy, busy, busy with my Paparazzi job.  I promoted to Director earlier this year and I am LOVING it!  I love my job selling $5 jewelry and accessories.  It is a lot of fun and best of all, most of my work is done right from my home.  My team is growing, my business is growing, and I get to play with BLING a lot, what is not to love?  I love to get paid to party.

We've also been busy with our church.  We had a huge outreach opportunity at our church.  We got to host a Christian Illusionist and he was phenomenal.  David Corn has an amazing illusionist show and he also has an amazing story to share.  His testimony of what he and his wife have been through this summer blew me away and yet they were eager to come to our church and share the gospel with kids and parents in our area.  AMAZING!!!

We went to Family Camp at Camp Cobeac again this year.  It was AWESOME!!!  God really knew we needed to be there and there were so many times that I knew God was speaking to me through the evangelist and his wife.  It was a true blessing.  God really showed me that I could serve through the desert and that He would bring me through it in a very touching message by Bethlie Young.  She will never know how much her story and message touched me that day.  I knew then that I would be okay after a very hard summer.  I want to share that in a different blog post, but I haven't been able to put the right words together yet.  Some day I will be able to sit down and tell you about it, but I am not quite there yet.

We've had a few family adventures too.  Nothing like African Safaris or High Tea, but still we had a lot of fun as a family.  We camped, dirt biked, visited a wolf sanctuary, and much more this summer/fall.  We have been praying for God's direction in our lives and He has been blessing us more than we deserve.  God is good all the time!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Sad Goodbye

This summer I intended to start blogging regularly again.  This summer I intended to do many projects around my house and projects with my kids.  This summer I intended to have some super fun days with my kids doing summer activities and having a blast.  So far, my summer has not went as planned.  We finished our school year May 9 and then the next week I had a vendor event with my Paparazzi business.  The week after that was filled with appointments and camping.  Camping was a lot of fun this year.  Then we got home and I got the phone call from my Aunt that my Grandma was in the hospital.  Grandma was hospitalized for a severe infection from a different infection that the doctors were trying to treat.  After that her health started to deteriorate very quickly.  One infection led to another and then the infections caused strokes.  She had her days where it appeared that her health was improving, but ultimately my Mammaw was called home to be with her LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.  She is gone from this earth, but I know I will see her again in Heaven where she is completely healed and whole again.  She is with my Pappaw and all her loved ones that have passed before her.  At my Pappaw's funeral I couldn't get up and say the things I wanted to say, but at my Mammaw's I knew I had to speak.  Not only did I feel like she would have wanted me to, but God kept laying it on my heart to speak.  I was able to share the things I love about my Mammaw, the funny memories from my childhood with her, but most importantly I shared the thing that she wanted would have wanted me to share the most.  You see, you didn't know my Mammaw without her telling you about Jesus.  It didn't matter if you met just once or you were lifelong friends, she always made sure that she told you about Jesus and how you could get to Heaven.  So at my Mammaw's funeral I shared about how she taught me to love sweet tea, how she taught me to strongly dislike black licorice (okay maybe that was because I got in trouble about it one time, but it was still because of her), playing turn or burn when we got in trouble, how she lead me to the Lord when I was just a little girl, and how others could accept Jesus too because I couldn't think of a more fitting thing to do in her honor.  While I miss my Mammaw something fierce, I rejoice because I know she is complete, whole, healed, and with Jesus and my Papaw.  I know she is watching over me and my family every day.  My heart hurts when my phone rings and it isn't my Mammaw on the other end, but I know one day I will see her again because she is in Heaven.  Do you know for sure you are going to Heaven?  Do you believe in Jesus Christ and that he died on the cross for our sin, was buried, and rose again 3 days later?  You can have your sins forgiven and have Jesus Christ as your personal Savior if you believe that you are a sinner, Christ died for you and rose again 3 days later, and He is the Son of God who will return to claim His people.  Jesus loves you and wants to make you part of His family today.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Leap

Last year we went to church camp for our family vacation.  We had an absolute blast and our kids have been asking to go back since before we even left the camp.  We are ready to go back too.  I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing the camp was for our family.   We went not knowing what to really expect or what we would get out of the week at camp, but I can tell you the things we learned that week have really stuck with us.  The things we learned that week just keep popping back into our lives almost daily.  The lesson that keeps popping into my mind lately is about a leap, a promise, and obedience.

Buddy Bear is not really our adventurous child.  He is the one we refer to as our "black and white" child because there is not a large (if any) grey area with him.  He is very practical, follows the rules, and really weighs all aspects of a situation before taking action.  Don't get me wrong I am not complaining because these qualities have saved him a lot of skinned knees, bumps, and bruises over the years, but these same qualities have stopped Buddy Bear in his tracks too.  The practical, non-risk taking side of him has stopped him from trying new things because he starts thinking too hard and worries about the "what-ifs" of a situation rather than just being open to trying new things.  A prime example of this is the time we went on a cruise.  There was a water slide aboard the ship that featured a see-through slide that went over the edge of the ship.  It took almost the entire cruise to convince him the water slide was safe, the cruise line wouldn't put it on the ship if it wasn't safe, and he had to try it once.  He finally tried it the day before we got off the ship and he loved it like we knew he would.  As we left the ship he was really upset that he had not spent more time on the water slide.

Anyway at camp there was a zip line.  Kids from our church have told him all about it and how much fun it was.  We started talking about going down the zip line long before we got to camp.  Buddy Bear had decided he wanted to try it.  As we were driving into the camp, we spotted the zip line and someone was going on it.  We watched and asked Buddy Bear if he wanted to go on it.  The response he gave was "NO WAY!"  We calmly talked to him about it and reminded him that we had discussed this before camp.  There were going to be lots of opportunities to try new things and he couldn't dismiss them before we even got unpacked.  We just couldn't let his fears and worries stop him in his tracks.  If we let him live this way, he would never try anything.  So we usually sit down and talk through a situation and encourage him to think about them and then try them just once.  If he really doesn't like the experience he doesn't have to do it again, but most times we find that he ends up truly enjoying the experience and wants to do it again (i.e. - dirt biking).  It took us almost all week to convince him to just try the zip line once.  His worries/fears were that it wouldn't hold him, he would fall, what if he didn't like it.  We discussed each and every one - if it wouldn't hold him they wouldn't let him go on it, if it wasn't safe they wouldn't have even been allowed to have one at the camp, and you can't know if you will like something until you try it.  This still left him unsure.  So I did something drastic.  I made a deal with him.  I told Buddy Bear if you try the zip line at least once, I will zip line at least once too.  Now I have to take a moment to explain that I am much like Buddy Bear.  I am very practical, weigh all the options before making a decision, don't take a lot of risks, and I think about the things like what if it won't hold me.  I blame this character trait on my upbringing where we had to learn to be responsible at an early age.  Anyway the deal was if Buddy Bear would try the zip line, I would too.  So all week long I encouraged him to try it.  I was excited to try something new and I knew deep down that Buddy Bear would really like the zip line.

Finally one of our last days of camp, Buddy Bear decided that he would try the zip line just once.  I am sure he was feeling a little nervous because I was feeling a lot nervous.  The only thing that kept running through my head was I had made a promise to our son.  So he got all the gear on and so did our friends.  There was not enough harnesses for me to get all geared up on the first go of the zip line.  I told him to go ahead and go with his friends.  I would wait for a harness and then go with him.  He got all geared up, made the zip line worker check the harness, made us check the harness and headed up the hill.  I sat at the bottom while J took Buddy Bear and Baby Bear up the hill to get to the top of the zip line (Baby Bear had been wanting to zip line too, but she is the super duper adventurous child and not a lot scares her).  I watched and waited as the kids all started zip lining one by one.  I saw our friends come zipping by, I watched Baby Bear laugh and cheer as she went zipping by, and then it was Buddy Bear's turn.  He got up there, took a deep breath, and jumped off the platform.  I was worried the whole time because the look on his face said he was not having fun.  He got down and ran up to me and said, "Mom, it's awesome!"  I was shocked, I honestly thought he just wouldn't like it but he did and I was so glad I had encouraged him to step out and try the zip line.  Soon enough a harness was available and I got all geared up and headed up the hill.  I got to the top and it was very quickly my turn, I looked off the platform and I had to let some kids go in front of me.  I was struggling.  I truly thought I could not jump off of that platform.  Buddy Bear was sitting there watching me.  I was lost in a battle with my head and my heart.  I knew I had promised my son that I would zip line if he did, but my fears were very quickly winning and stopping me in my tracks.  It got down to just Buddy Bear and me on the platform.   I had to send him first because I was still having an internal debate...just jump/I can't jump.  I fought with myself and I started to convince myself that Buddy Bear would be disappointed that I didn't keep my promise, but I could make it up somehow.  I stood at the top of that hill and inside yelled at myself for thinking this way.  I had just started to walk to the hill to walk back down when I heard God tell me, "You promised."  What a time to hear God!  I thought, "Really?  Now, God?  I can't do this.  I can't jump!"  God just quietly told me, "You promised.  You said you want to live what you say and you promised your son you would jump if he did.  You need to jump.  I promise it will be okay.  Trust ME!"  With that conviction, I walked up to the platform got connected to the line and jumped.  I can't say it was a good jump or a far jump, but it did take my body off the platform and the only way down was the zip line.  I can tell you I did NOT like the zip line.  It was truly a leap of faith for me to jump off that platform.  The ride on the zip line was okay but I don't like heights and it was way too hard to take that first leap.

So I have been thinking about that leap off the platform and how hard it was a lot lately.  God keeps reminding me that I was obedient by taking that leap even though I did not like the ride overall.  Then I keep getting the thought about what other areas of my life am I refusing to take the leap for.  What areas am I missing out on because I refuse to leap?  I am standing on the platform and having a battle instead of trusting God and leaping.  I need to be more willing to leap and trust that God will take care of it all because He will.  His word tells us that He watches over us, protects us, and provides for us.  I just need to rest in that and know that when I leap, God will catch me.  He will not let me fall and He will take care of me.  I am the only one holding me back on the platform and I know that wonderful things await me when I leap, it is truly just getting over the fear of leaping.  I guess that is why as a Christian, I always have more growing to do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New Resolutions

I admit that at some point during 2013 our life just got beyond crazy busy with all the activities we were involved in and this blog got totally left behind.  I also admit that it has been on my mind nagging me that I have not been blogging.  I don't know if anyone reads this little ol' blog anymore, but I do know I like to put some thoughts, tips, ideas, and just plain goofiness out there just in case anyone is reading.  Seeing that the New Year is here I decided that now would be a great time to pick my blog back up, dust it off, and start blogging again.  Also because it is New Year I have been thinking about the things I want to change and with change comes resolutions.  I truly am resolved to make some changes this year and I am hoping that by blogging about it, I will be more accountable.  So here are my resolutions that I hope to stick to in no particular order (notice I said I hope to stick to because I am human and sometimes I fail)...

1.  Blog more often
2.  Lose weight
3.  Get organized
4.  Start using the ideas I pin on Pinterest (I might have a minor addiction to Pinterest and you can follow it by clicking the link in the side bar of my blog).
5.  Become a Director in my Paparazzi business (you can find out more by clicking the link or checking out my business Facebook fan page - Sparkle and Shine Boutique)
6.  Use the FlyLady system
7.  Study the Bible more
8.  Finish the projects I start
9.  Craft more
10.  Bake more

Did you make resolutions this year?  What are they?