Thursday, December 13, 2012


This past weekend I had just walked into a busy store when a flashing red light caught my eye.

Only 17 days until Christmas!
I stopped for a moment and stared at the sign.  Instantly my mind went to my to-do list, all the gifts I planned to make, all the money I don't have yet to spend, all the dozens of cookies I have to bake...and then the panic set in.

I dodged the other shoppers' carts as I made my way to the craft section.  I was here to buy fabric to make stockings.  Some how when I unpacked our Christmas decorations, our family of 8 only had 4.  Every year I say I will make more, but I never get to it. 

I touched every shade of felt and flannel trying to find the perfect one.  My husband looked overwhelmed. 

"Why don't we just buy stockings?"

"No." I protested, "They are going to be family heirlooms.  I can just make them.  Look I'll make matching ones for everyone...I can embroider our names on them...and what if I applique felt shapes on angels for the girls and shepherds for the boys, and ours could have Mary and Joseph and....."

"I'm going to look in the Christmas section", and he walked away from me.

He found stockings for $6 and each kid picked out a color.  Done.

I wrinkled my nose.  They weren't perfect, but I gave in.  I had too many other things to do anyway.


Earlier this season I had promised myself that I wasn't going to stress out this year.  I wanted to enjoy Christmas.  I have spent so many Decembers trying to do it all that I have missed the joy.

How did I let this happen again?  I let myself get caught up in my to-do list. 

I shook it off.  No.  This year I will keep it simple.

I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about this:
"I don't want to bake you cookies", I confessed.

"I promise I won't bake you any cookies either!"  We laughed at our ridiculous deal, but I think we both breathed a sigh of relief.  Freedom.

I realized that I don't have to do anything.  My overachieving is not helping anyone.

What did the angels sing?
"Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth PEACE to men on whom His favor rests"  Luke 2:14

Peace.  When was the last time someone described the Christmas season as peaceful?

Christmas is not an emergency.  Christmas is a gift.

This year I am craving a gentle and quiet spirit.  I am choosing to rest in His peace and share in His joy.  I still have a to-do list, but it's not a "have to-do list", it's what I choose to do.

I am going to bake cookies with my children, and let them eat all the pretty ones.

I am going to give freely without worry if it's enough.

I am going to focus on the moments that make Christmas so special and leave out the things that distract me. 

Am I worried that people might be offended by this?  A little, but I think that if I am feeling this way, then they probably are too.  Maybe we all need to just be honest with each other, take a deep breath, and just calm down. 

I want to look towards Christmas with child-like anticipation, not overwhelming worries and stress.  Keeping it simple doesn't mean it will be empty.  We can still have a very full Christmas, just one that is full of the things that really matter.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Promise

We celebrated our 10th anniversary at home, caring for a sick baby who cried until midnight.  It was hard for me to let go of that date night with my husband.  It is such a rare thing.  But we needed to be there for our little one. 

We stayed up late, taking turns in the rocking chair.  We talked in between his screams and breathing treatments.  It wasn't the romantic evening we had planned...but maybe this was what we needed more. 

I'll be honest.  I cried a lot.  It didn't seem fair.  The one day a year that is just for us...and our 10th, it was supposed to be special.  I had a huge pity party for myself, even this morning I still found myself in tears. 

Then my husband lovingly put me in my place.  He has a way of speaking the honest truth that cuts right through me.  I needed that.  I needed to remember what our marriage is all about.

Our anniversary was a celebration of our life.  Our whole life.  This big, loud, messy life is ours. 

10 years ago we promised to choose love in the good times and bad...through the sickness and health. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

In honor of our 10th anniversary...

...I tried on my wedding dress.

Digging through my hope chest brought back so many memories.  There under the baby books and photo albums, was the dress I wore on my wedding day.  It's simple and white, but it was perfect.  It made his eyes light up. 

I slipped it on, not sure what I was expecting.  It was 10 years and 6 babies ago since I had last worn it.  I zipped it up and smiled in the mirror.  It fit.  Granted it was much tighter than I remember...but still, it fit.  I did a little twirl, because I just couldn't help myself and walked out to show my husband.

His eyes still light up.

I spun around for him and we danced in the living room.  We added more beautiful memories to that dress.

Our daughter woke up and walked into the room.  Her eyes grew wide and her smile grew wider.  "Mommy, you look like a princess!"

 I felt like a princess.  We all deserve that once in a while.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In the Shadow of the Cross

It was late and I was tired.  Another day of filling needs, calming tantrums and cleaning up messes that I didn't make.

I made my rounds through the house; turning off lights behind me.  I touched the last lamp.  The glow of the moon filled the darkness.  I had forgotten to close the curtains to the double window.  Moonlight against the window panes cast the perfect shadow of a cross on my living room floor.

It stopped me in my steps.  The image was so large and so perfect, I couldn't pull myself from it.

I had to share it with someone.  I called for my husband to come see.  He was already in bed; wondering why his crazy wife was staring at shadows on the floor.  He wouldn't humor me.

I stood there overwhelmed by the shadow.  A cross in the center of our home.

By sunrise the shadow was gone, but it will stick with me forever.  What if we really lived in the shadow of the cross?

Would we be more loving in the presence of the greatest love?

Would we forgive more freely, being reminded of how much we have been forgiven of?

Would we speak with more grace in the shadow if His amazing grace?

Would we allow the same things in our home?  Would we just have to share it with someone?

Because, the truth is, if we truly believe in His love and have accepted His gift of grace...if we stand up and say, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord"; then our lives are lived in the shadow of the cross.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our Frugal Summer

Early in the Summer I was having a bit of a pity party for myself.  Money is tight and we couldn't give our kids a lavish family vacation (or any vacation at all).  There weren't going to be trips to the amusement or water parks.  We committed to the bare necessities and I worried that my kids would resent me for it.  We were just weeks into summer and already they were singing the "I'm bored!" blues.

They didn't want to be home...when their friends had swimming pools.  I felt like I was always filling their requests with "No" or "Not right now...", and it all didn't seem fair.

I was frustrated.  Frustrated with all that I couldn't give them, and with all that they were asking for.  Wasn't I raising my children to be grateful?  Weren't we striving for a simple life full of love and laughter and not just things?

How had we lost our focus?  We were not being thankful for all we had and allowed things to control our happiness.

I had had enough.  I didn't like who I was becoming and if I wanted my children to change, it had to start with me first.

I started a Summer Bucket List:

I filled it with simple things we loved that we could enjoy as a family for free or almost free.

Waiting for the fireworks to start
Eating watermelon outside

Taking a walk on the beach

Backyard campfires and lots of S'mores!

Blueberry picking

Growing sunflowers

Our Summer was full.  As we learned to enjoy the simple things again, we became even more creative.  We made so many beautiful memories.

One hot afternoon we set up a $5 slip and slide and borrowed a kiddie pool.  When the kids were exhausted from playing we handed out ice cream sandwiches and ate them under my willow tree.  I overheard my daughter exclaim, "A water park in our yard and ice cream?!  This is the best day ever!"

I looked at my husband and smiled.  Our water park looked rather pathetic, but to our children it was glorious.

As our summer is winding down we crossed one more memory off our list.  We set up our tent in the front yard and slept under the stars.

I laid there in the stillness of midnight, listening to the crickets and even catching a shooting star.  I looked over at my sleeping family, all 8 of us crammed in a tent on our lawn.  I just had to smile.  It was ridiculous, but it was beautiful.

It was in this moment that I remembered how blessed we truly are.  I thought of all the families who live like this everyday because it is all they have, and the families who just wish for a roof over their heads. 

This morning I am tired and sore from sleeping on a lawn that is more dirt than grass.  But I think it was one of the best night's sleeps I have ever had.  My body may not feel refreshed, but my heart is renewed.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Join me at Smalltown Simplicity!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Morning Moments

It's 5:30 am.  The sun is just starting to brighten the sky.  I can see the color of morning peeking through my bedroom curtains as I pull myself out of bed.

It is a rare moment when my house is quiet.  I tie on my sneakers, kiss my sleeping husband goodbye and head out the front door.

I'm not a runner, but I pretend to be.

I don't know what sparked me to take this up now.  I was the girl who tried to hide in the bathroom on Mile Run Day in gym class.  But here I am, a 30 year old mother of 6, getting up with the run.

I hop off the last step, breathe in the clean morning air and try to keep up a good pace.  I'm not impressed with myself.  The road feels so much longer than it looks.  But it feels good to sweat, to feel alive.

I drag myself back up the steps and sneak into that still sleeping house.  No one even noticed I was gone.  No one waiting to cheer me on.  My legs are weak and I'm out of breath, but it's a beautiful pain.

I shower and dress and start my coffee.  I wrap my hands around my mug and take a seat on the front step.  I soak in the moment.  The birdsongs are filling the air.  Dew drops are sparkling on the grass and lining a spider's web.  My Bible lays open on my knees and I pray for strength for the day.

This moment is pure peace.

I take a walk around my yard.  I look for new blooms on my plants and pull a few weeds.  I say good morning to the chickens.

My coffee mug is empty and I walk back inside just as the children are starting to stir.

Within minutes this quiet house erupts with energy.  6 little ones are recharged and calling for me.  My husband's alarm clock is screaming.  I'm making breakfast and filling bellies.

My moment is gone...but I carry the peace with me.

Linking up with Lydia!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pulling Weeds

I was inspired by reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts to start my own list of simple blessings.  As I was reading over my list I found that I had written a particular blessing 3 separate times.

In this list full of beautiful things and treasured moments, there 3 times I had been so moved that I wrote "pulling weeds" in my thanksgiving journal.

I'm sure most gardener's would not count their weeds as a blessing.  My flowerbed is cluttered with them and they grow more abundant that anything else in my yard.

Pulling the weeds has been a huge job, but it is a gift.

I love those moments where I stand bent over my garden, face flushed and dripping in sweat from the Summer sun.  Dirt under my fingernails and between my toes.  My hands are busy picking and choosing which plants will stay and which must go.

I take out my frustrations on those weeds.  It gives me time to think, or maybe not think, if that's what I really need.

By pulling out what's not necessary I'm leaving behind only the beauty.

And there is the blessing.

My little garden is so bare.  I don't know what I am doing.
I am a complete beginner and maybe that's why I find so much joy in each new feels like a little victory, a plant that I didn't kill.

When I pull the weeds I can see all my little victories in full bloom.

Now if only I could pull all the weeds in my life.  All the ugliness that is hiding the beauty.  All the clutter that keeps me from growing.  All the lies and hurts that hide the sunshine...

God is the perfect gardener.  He doesn't get tired.  He doesn't forget to water.  He is there ever watching and waiting  to nurture me.  He has a beautiful plan for me and knows what I need to grow.  Sometimes it means pulling some weeds.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stolen Moments

It is hard to find quiet time with God in the midst of my crazy days.  I live for stolen moments...those quiet times when I can sneak away to read my Bible or pray.  It's these moments that recharge me and calm my heart. 

I wrote this song in a stolen moment...and as I tried to record it you can hear the kids playing in the background and my toddler walking into the room...but that made it even more special.  I hope this song inspires you to find joy in your stolen moments.

Friday, June 1, 2012

God knows my favorite color

Our kitchen truly is the center of our home.  It is where we cook and eat, homeschool and make crafts.  The walls are lined with little fingerprints, spills and crayon art.

I have been wanting to paint for the last year and a half that we have lived here but it was never within our budget.  Every time I tried to save up for it, something else always came up.

It was hard to be patient and I tried to be content, but this is where I spend most of my day, every day and the stained walls were really getting to me.

A few weeks ago I was going through the stack of paint samples that I had been collecting.  I finally decided on one, "Sanctuary" by Behr, and stuck it on my fridge.  I was determined to save up for it this time, even if only with my change jar.

One morning over coffee, my sister-in-law's eyes began to sparkle, "Do you want to paint your kitchen?"  She ran up to her attic, pulled out the cans of leftover paint she had and marched over to my house. (She recently moved in next door!)

The next thing I know, she is brushing dark green color on my kitchen wall.

Her home is beautiful with rich, warm colors, but I know they are too dark for my husband's taste.  I really liked it but she suggested that we add a little white to it.  She poured her whole gallon of green paint into a bucket of white and when she stirred it, it became this beautiful and soft green; the color of rosemary.

I grabbed the paint chip off of my fridge and held it up to where she had brushed it on the wall.  It was a perfect match!  We could not have made it any closer if we had tried.

I started to cry.  Here were 3 gallons of paint, in my favorite color, just handed to me.

God gave me "Sanctuary" just to make me smile.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Our NICU story

I didn't fully grasp the depth of a mother's love until I stood over my sick child in his hospital bed.

Our firstborn was a perfectly healthy 7 lb, 6 oz baby boy.  We brought him home from the hospital two days later.  The next morning we received a phone call from our pediatrician.  His blood test had come back abnormal, and we were told to rush him to Children's Hospital.

My head was spinning.  I just couldn't understand.  He looked fine, but over the next 12 hours as we sat in the ER, he became lethargic and refused to eat.  He was admitted to the hospital for observation and IV fluids.

During the night his monitors started beeping frantically and nurses rushed into our room.  They swept him away, leaving my husband and I alone and completely in shock.

We had so many questions and no one had answers.

I locked myself in the bathroom and just sobbed.  Was our baby gone forever?  I felt completely helpless.

We prayed through the night, but our words felt so empty.  I watched the sun rise and hoped that it had all been a bad dream.

We were brought in to see him.  His tiny frame covered in tubes and wires.  His body was shutting down.  His heart rate had dropped and he had moments when he stopped breathing.

He was then admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The NICU is a scary place.  It is the reality of life and death on the most innocent little ones.  It is a place where nothing seems fair.  But it is also a place of miracles.  A place you can be so thankful for and yet never want to see ever again.

Our baby boy was healed.  He is now 8 years old and stands nearly as tall as me. 

I don't know why the NICU was part of his story, our story, but he is a walking miracle.  My heart goes out to all the mamas that are there and that is why I am so excited to share a new project with you. 

NICU Daze written by my friend Elizabeth Norton and Megan Crume is a 30 day devotional for NICU families.  It is written by two mothers who have been there and want to share their story in order to breathe a little peace and hope into the most hopeless of moments.

It also features my artwork on the cover!  It is a drawing that I made during my first pregnancy and then had it sitting by our baby's bed in the NICU.  

It is currently available for Kindle only and debuts on Mother's day.  All proceeds made on Sunday, May 13th, 2012 will go to the Ronald McDonald house; a home away from home for many NICU families.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sunshine in my kitchen

I love beautiful things.  I am guilty of ripping pictures out of magazines and cutting up junk mail advertisements, just for the beauty I see in it.  I save greeting cards and scraps of pretty wrapping paper to use in other projects. 

I love to make cards for friends and I've even used these pictures to make a pretty cover for my Bible and journals. 

Here is my latest project:

I have been saving this picture of a sunflower for something special...and then I saw my ugly knife butcher block and decided it needed a makeover. 

I grabbed my bottle of ModPodge and set to work.  I applied a thin coat to the block, smoothed out the picture and then added another coat to seal.  Once that was dry, I added a few more coats to protect the image.  Super simple...but it added a little sunshine to my kitchen!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Beauty is Grace

It's been a season of minor injuries.  Bumps, bruises, scrapped knees and stitches.  I've lost count of how many boxes of band-aids we have gone through.

Today we added another to the list.  Our daughter, the little girl who tries to keep up with her 3 older brothers, fell off one of our kitchen stools and landed on her face.

I watched it happen in what seemed like slow motion, then a scream and blood poured from her mouth.  I swooped her up into my lap and tried to calm her tears.  When the bleeding finally stopped I could see that she had bitten her now-swollen lip.  Then I checked her teeth. 

Our baby girl with the most adorable smile, is now missing half her front tooth.

I called the dentist and was told that there was really nothing they could do.  She's not even 2 years old and it's just a baby tooth.

When my heart finally stopped pounding I looked at our little girl and just cried.

She is no less beautiful to me.

I just never wanted my daughters to go through what I did.  Classmates made fun of my teeth (and everything else) and it caused a deep insecurity in me that I still feel today.  I stopped smiling.  I tried to hide.  My insecurities shaped my personality.

My baby girl is so full of joy.  I don't want her to ever stop smiling.

How do we teach our daughters that they are beautiful?  That true beauty comes from the light in their eyes and the joy in their hearts. 

Today I became painfully aware of how insecure I really am.  So many memories and hurtful words resurfaced along with the imperfections of a body that has birthed 6 children.

But the mirror is full of lies.

What is beauty? 

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment...instead let it be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God's sight."  1 Peter 3:3-4

Beauty is not the perfect smile, the perfect skin, the perfect weight.  Beauty is not the airbrushed magazine covers.

Beauty is grace.  Beauty is dignity and gentleness.

How do we train our eyes to see past the do we let go of the words that have hurt our hearts and cling to God's words? 

"All beautiful you are, my darling, there is no flaw in you."  Song of Solomon 4:7

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Day in the Life...

This morning I awoke to my oldest daughter a few inches from my face.  "Mommy!", I rubbed my eyes as I tried to focus.  "He ripped open a bag of chocolate chips and now they are all over the floor and he's eating them!" 

I sigh.  I really don't want to wake up to this.  I just got back to sleep after a night of nursing the baby.  I mumble something about telling him to clean it up and drag myself to the bathroom.  I throw my hair into a ponytail and splash water on my face.  As I stare into the mirror at the dark circles under my eyes, I wonder what I am in for today.

I walk out to the kitchen to check the damage.  Chocolate chips are scattered all over the floor, the bag torn in half and thrown to the side.

"Where is he?"
"Sitting in his room eating chocolate."

And then he appears.  My 3 year old.  Mr. Independent  who likes to take matters into his own hands.  He thought chocolate chips made a perfectly acceptable breakfast and helped himself to it.  His ornery brown eyes only showed a slight look of guilt.  Mostly he seemed proud of himself.

He was holding a bowl full of chocolate chips and as he walked down the hall, his little sister followed behind with her own bowl and melted chocolate all over her face.

Well, at least he shared.

Coffee.  I need to refuel before I tackle this day.  The baby has found his way into my arms again as I fill my coffee maker with water and press start.  The sound of my morning energy brewing is interrupted by my husband walking past me to the laundry room.

"Do I have any clean T shirts?", he asks me sheepishly as he digs through the hamper of yesterday's unfolded and forgotten laundry.

He's gentle with me...always.   He knows the morning I am having.  I hand him the baby and peek into the washing machine.  Oh. I forgot to dry his work uniforms.  I toss the damp and twisted clothes into the dryer and search again for my coffee.

As I take a sip I try to shake off the insecurities and thoughts that I am not doing enough, that I am failing everyone.

I serve breakfast, wipe some runny noses, change countless diapers and sit to feed the baby again.  In this rocking chair I can see the cobwebs by the ceiling and the toys hiding under the couch.  I should really get to that today...someday.

My toddler serves me a cup of invisible tea, and I can hear a princess, firefighter and superhero playing dress up down the hall.  I'm thankful for this moment.  These innocent giggles.  I remind myself to slow down and savor every second, every sip of imaginary tea.

I glance at the clock.  It's 10 am already?

I set the sleeping baby in his bassinet and go to my room to get dressed.  The smell of baby vomit still lingering on my shoulder, but there's no hope of a shower this morning.  I throw on some fresh clothes, try to make this mess of hair look intentional and sweep some color across my cheeks.  A dab of lip gloss makes me feel more put together, though my life really does not.

The baby calls for me.  His nap lasted 5 minutes.  As I reach for him I hear a splash and my toddler is standing next to a puddle of milk.  I throw a kitchen towel over the spill and as I mop it with my foot, I realize that I have yet to sweep up the chocolate chips that are still scattered under the kitchen table.

I struggled out the back door with an overfilled trash bag.  I disciplined children and defused a temper tantrum.  I attempted to teach 3 math lessons and cleaned up the bag of cat food that someone had left on the floor....all before lunch.

I never did bake the cookies I had planned to.  The cobwebs are still in the corners and yesterday's laundry is still sitting unfolded.

But today, I decided to choose joy.

Today wasn't anything special and I certainly didn't wake up with the best attitude, but this is my life.  It is full of messy chaos, but it's a beautiful mess.  I am learning that a little laughter can calm a heart.  Seeking joy in the simple moments can overcome the stress of all of life's little emergencies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Life

It was the perfect Spring day.  Sunshine covering our skin like a warm blanket.  A fresh breeze running it's fingers through my hair.  I wore my white skirt today; the flowing peasant one that twirls around me as I walk and makes me feel beautiful. 

My children are covered in dirt.  This beautiful mess the remains of a day full of play.

My tulips are starting to bloom.  Green new growth bursting through the dry ground with pops of color just to make me smile.

New life.

Spring brings beauty and refreshment.  There is an excitement in the air that only comes this time of year.  There is new life growing in my heart as well.  This new season feels like a fresh start.  A new day bringing hope.

Friday, March 2, 2012

All I Need

My first day home alone with all 6 children felt like a bit of a disaster.  Everyone needed me and there was never enough.

I wasn't trying to do it all, but with even the bare necessities of life I felt like a failure.  I hadn't showered or eaten.  I yelled...a lot.  I even burned the kids' lunch while I was nursing the baby.

Then my husband walked in the door and I burst into tears.  He had stopped by during his lunch break to check on me and just seeing him brought so much relief, but I was also embarrassed.  I felt like I should be better at this.

Maybe I cried out of exhaustion or my hormones, or maybe it was the fear that maybe I just can't do this.

The next day my mother came over to help me.  She brought me a list titled "10 Real Helps for Really Busy Moms"  by Ann Voskamp of One Thousand Gifts.

I placed it on my refrigerator and have been reading it throughout my busy, overwhelming days. They are all encouraging, but here are two of my favorite quotes:

Homemaking is about making a home, not about making perfection.  A perfect home is an authentic, creative, animated space where Peace and Christ and Beauty are embraced. (Perfect does not equate to immaculate.)

Believe it:  I have all I need for today.  The needs of our day are great, but God is greater and we call him Providence because we believe: He always provides. (And when God provides, He should be praised, and if God always provides, shouldn't praise always be on the lips?)

My days are still crazy.  The laundry is piled up and there are dirty dishes in my sink.  But I'm taking it slow.  There is a sweet baby in my arms and love and laughter in our home.  This moment won't last forever and soon life will feel normal again...our new normal.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Worth the Wait

10 days overdue and 29 hours of labor later...our sweet baby boy is finally here!  Weighing 8 lbs 2 oz and 20 3/4 inches long.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Still Waiting...

Our baby is now a week overdue.  I've never gone this late before and it's wearing me out.  Waiting just feels like such a useless place.  This week I have to make some decisions about being induced or just continuing to wait.  I have a lot of fear and nervousness, but also a just isn't time yet.

My husband handed me his Bible earlier this week.  I opened it to the bookmark and read the verses he had underlined for me.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.   ~Isaiah 41:10, 13

Tears filled my eyes.  This was what I needed to hear.  All this time I have been saying that I've trusted God, and I have, but as a God at a distance.  He is the creator of the universe, I know He has a plan and I know that nothing is impossible for Him.  Obviously, this baby is His plan and He has perfect timing, even if I don't understand it.

 But then to read it in a more personal way...He will take me by the hand and help me through this, through the tough days, through the tears, through this birth how ever it happens.  That brought me so much comfort.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


On the eve of my due date I am sitting here feeling much like a mother hen patiently waiting on her nest.  I have a peace that this baby will come at the right time.  I'm not in a hurry to put myself into labor, I know that every day of my child's life is planned in God's heart, especially his birthday. 

But I also feel like a bit of a ticking time could be any day now and it makes me scared to leave the house.  I've been getting phone calls every day from friends and family waiting for the news...only for me to disappoint them with the reality that nothing is happening...yet.

And so we wait...

I did finish my baby blanket...and then a hat and pair of booties. 

Today I have been obsessively nesting, so maybe that's a good sign.  I just don't know what else to do with myself.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Perfect Pie Crust

It's true.  I think I've finally found it.  You can read more about my pie crust struggles over the years  here.

I found this recipe online (I had just copied it down by hand, sorry I can't remember the original source) and tried it for the first time on Thanksgiving.

My sister-in-law was so excited about my apple pie she took a picture of it. :)

It bakes up buttery, flaky and tender.  It has worked well with sweet fruit pies and savory chicken pot pie.  This recipe also makes a generous size that fills my deep dish pie pan with plenty of room to work with.

It's perfect and I'm so excited because making pie crust was one of those annoying challenges in my homemaking that I just couldn't conquer.

I realize this isn't the healthiest recipe, but if you aren't eating the whole pie by should be forgivable.

The Perfect Pie Crust
(makes a top and bottom crust)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup stick butter, chilled and diced
1/2 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter, using a pastry blender or by criss-crossing two butter knives, until mixture is crumbly.
Stir in water gradually until dough forms into a ball.  Wrap up dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

*Use a large bowl.  You really need room to work with and it will save a lot of mess from flying flour.

*To gradually add the water I use a sippy cup without the stopper.  I fill it up and add a few ice cubes (it really does help) and you can pour in just the right amount of water while stirring the dough.

*Keep the dough cold.  I usually divide it into two pieces before chilling so I can roll out the bottom crust and keep the rest in the fridge until I am ready.  It makes it much easier to work with.

*I roll my pie crust out between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper.  I've found that they release much easier than with using wax paper.  The sheets are larger so you have more room and it keeps your counter clean.

*Before baking the pie, I brush the top crust gently with egg yolk.  It helps it bake up golden brown.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Preparing for Baby

With only 3 weeks until my due date...I just started crocheting a baby blanket.  My hospital bag isn't packed.  There is no bedding on the crib.  The baby clothes need to be washed and tucked into their drawers.

Maybe it's because this is my 6th baby and I've learned that babies really don't need as much as we are told.  They come whether we are ready or not and so many things can just fall into place in time.

What I have felt the most urgency about during this time is not just preparing our home, but preparing my heart.

The reality is setting in that this baby is going to come out.  Having done this 5 times before is bringing little comfort.  Each labor and delivery was so different, I really don't know what to expect this time around.  I am very aware of the risks involved in giving birth for the sixth time.

My fears are bringing me to tears nearly every day.

How do I prepare myself for what is ahead?

During my last labor, I had contractions through the night.  I laid in that hospital bed and watched the sun rise through the window.  As the daylight unveiled the city, in the distance I saw a church steeple peeking out above the rooftops.  At the top of that steeple was a cross.

I focused on that cross many times as the hours of labor went on.  As I prayed and cried out to God to give me strength, He gently reminded me of what Jesus had endured...for me.

The night before Jesus was to be crucified he found a quiet place and cried out to God.  He prayed to his Father.

I am using the next few weeks to fill my heart with scriptures and songs that I can cling to in my most broken moment.

I'm not praying for an easy labor, but praying for a peaceful heart.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Life Goes On...

It has been a hard week for our family.  A lot of hard memories have been stirred up.  A lot of questions that may never have answers.  I felt led to share this song with you.  This is not easy for me, and maybe it is only meant for me...but I do hope it brings a blessing of hope to someone else who might be feeling the same way right now. 

I wrote this song 3 years ago.  It was the first Christmas since my brother's death and our new baby was born 2 weeks early.  Christmas morning my father held my newborn and while holding back tears he said, "This baby is helping us see that life goes on...".  God had perfect timing.  He knew we needed that reminder just in time for Christmas.

There are some days where I still need that reminder...

Life Goes On

Springtime flowers only bloom after the rain

Winter's grey skies always make room for the sun to shine

Life goes on, and life goes on

When it feels like I can't get off this floor

Still life goes on

Sweet new baby, comes through labor pains

Happy endings come when you've lived through a story to tell

Life goes on, and life goes on

When it feels like I can't get off this floor

Still life goes on

You gave us a hope

Death could not take away

You gave us hope

When you made a way

So now, my life goes on

and life goes on

When it feels like I can't get off this floor

Still life goes on...and on

Springtime flowers always bloom after the rain...
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