Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Put your stuff down so I can change you

Put your stuff down so I can change you.

This is what I told to my toddler. He’s always got something he’s carrying around. This week it’s either his cars or a couple of flashlights. Or both. From the moment he wakes up, pretty much until we put him to bed at night, he’s got something in his hands.

This morning was no different. Before breakfast, when I was changing his diaper and preparing to get him dressed, he’d found some treasures to hold.

When it came time for me to change his shirt, however, the items were too big to fit through the arm-holes, and this is what I said,
“Put your stuff down so I can change you.”

And it stopped me cold.

Yesterday at our church, we started the Bible study Breaking Free by Beth Moore. I haven’t even tapped into the homework yet, but I know it’s going to be a life-changer. I have also been going through So Long, Insecurity, also by Beth Moore, and it is already changing my life, and changing how I look at things.

Put your stuff down…

Don’t we all have our ‘stuff’? Our treasures, yes. Our hurts too? Most certainly. And we’ve been called to lay it down. Just let go of it.

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” NKJV emphasis mine

Repeat after me:
“It’s not worth it!”

If it’s going to keep us from being changed, it’s not worth it. If it’s going to keep us from growing in Christ, it’s not worth it. If it’s going to keep us from living abundant life, the life that He gave His very life to ensure that we could live, it’s not worth it!

Put your stuff down so I can change you.

Ephesians 4:22-24 “22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”



The parallel deepened for me, as I pulled his little chubby arms through the sleeves, and gave him a clean shirt to wear. Clean. New. And it was even the one with the firecrackers on it; the one I bought for him because it was representative of his surprise (quite early!) July birth. “Little Firecracker” it says on the front. And he wears it today.
What are we wearing today? No, I don’t mean which cute shirt are you wearing, or whether you’re in slacks or sweatpants. I mean what is the image – whose image – are we representing?

Are we wearing our hurts?
I am abused.
I am neglected.
I am forgotten.
I am not good enough.
I am ______________?

Or are we wearing Christ?
We are not only called to put off our old self, but also to put on our new nature. Live as one created in righteousness and truth.

Friends, let’s be changed. And let’s let God do the changing.


Put your stuff down so I can change you.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thankful

I'm not gonna lie. Life is hard. SO hard. But I'm remembering to be thankful. I'm remembering to savor. Because even if life is hard, it is my life. My only life. These day-to-days even when I accomplish nothing other than keeping my little boys alive and fed, these are my life. We're in the thick of it. We're smack in the middle (and at the beginning, depending on perspective) of doing the thing, and we get one shot at it.



I'm extraordinarily hard on myself. I am realizing more and more how many people are hard on themselves and I am no exception. I didn't really think of myself as a perfectionist, but perhaps there is a bit of that in me. It could just be plain ol' insecurity. It could be a lot of things. (By the way, I'm going through Beth Moore's So Long Insecurity with four precious daughters of God, and it is like a fresh glass of iced tea in July. Every person on the planet could benefit from that book and I strongly recommend you get a copy!)

But I'm easing up a bit.



I am a week behind on my scripture memory. Or a year plus a week, depending how you look at it. I started the Romans Project last year and drifted away from the habit around the end of July or August. Life happens, and I allowed it to get in the way. So I started back with it this year in the middle of July, and am behind.
I was beating myself up about this. This and a host of other 'started but unfinished' projects... like the laundry for example.

But there is grace. God offers grace abundant, and we've only but to receive it.



And I am behind on my scripture memory, but, God graciously reminded me, at least I'm doing it. God's precious words, while maybe not in the quantity or at the pace I would have liked, are still being trained into my heart. Little is better than none at all; praise Jesus.

We took a walk yesterday. The dinner dishes weren't washed. My son may have still had a bit of pizza sauce on his face.
But we laughed together.

My hair is graying and I'm not even 30.
But I have hair.

My best girlfriend is states away.
But I have a precious friend.

The sink is full of dishes and the diapers need washed.
But I have a family to clean up after.

My back aches and my arms and neck are sore.
But these are all likely from caring for and carrying my kids.

These are hard eucharisteo and gifts only from God.
Every good and perfect gift comes from God. Our father.
I have a Father.
I have gifts from that Good Father.
I am thankful.




Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Some Do's and Don'ts with Ink Effects

Hello!
I have a quick little do's and don't list for you. A while back I won a giveaway from DecoArt, and got these super neat Ink Effects things in 4 colors plus the base coat. They have been waiting for just the right project.
I've had several ideas and finally got around to using them.

I had some fabric left over from the body pillow pillowcase I made, and am still swooning over the color, and we've been needing a bigger summer-weight swaddle bag for 'Baby Ty' (as his big brother calls him). It's so very different this time around not having a preemie. 5 lb 11 oz at birth and slow to grow/gain weight (staying in about the 1st percentile for weight until probably a year old) compared to 9 lb 1 oz at birth and in the 99th percentile for height and 75th percentile for weight this time around... SO different.

We borrowed some summer swaddlers from my sister, but big boy was getting too broad shouldered and too long for them. I decided to make one using the same pattern I'd used for our fleece lined one, except lining it with a regular woven cotton this time.
Here is where I got the awesome free swaddler pattern. I did lengthen it about 2 1/2 inches.
To lengthen yours, after your print and piece together the pattern, find the spot that's the least tapered. If you need help I'd be happy to help you- just holler at me!

And so on with the Ink Effects.
I just read the packaging and followed the directions. Pretty straightforward (mostly. I'll explain in a minute). Paint on paper, and iron onto fabric. Easy Peasy!





 


The ink went on beautifully and washes up really well. It has a soft texture, unlike fabric paint or iron-on transfers. It's even softer than silk-screen printing. It's like it becomes a part of the fabric. I just love it.


I did, however, have a bit of confusion with the base coat. One instruction said to use it before transfer if the fabric contained more than 60% cotton, and another place it said to use it with 30% or more. Mine was in the middle, with 35% cotton.

Hm. Now what?

I decided that since this item was going to be washed a lot, and probably on hot, that I ought to go ahead and use it. I wish I hadn't.



Since my fabric was a delicious teal (and not white) it showed up a lot. If you're going to use it on your fabric, you probably ought to saturate the whole piece- just because it will show splattery spots otherwise. It doesn't wash out- I tried.

The piece air-drying after its third unsuccessful washing
 
It goes on looking like watered down glue, (oh, use it in a ventilated area. It's stinky!) and so I figured it'd dry clear. It didn't. I didn't try washing it out before ironing, so if you have better luck with that, please let me know. Unfortunately I didn't think of that before I ironed it. I think washing it may have helped a little, and on mine it's not terribly obvious, because it's in the baby bed, wrapped around an adorable baby- so I went ahead and proceeded. If it were on a garment, though, it'd be basically ruined in my opinion. Just heads up. Test in a small area first.



The first ink transfer I had done (the words) on the piece of fabric before I'd sewn anything together just in case it messed up. I finished the swaddler and, feeling comfortable enough with the ink effects I decided to add a second ink transfer (the mountains) on the completed product.

I did.

Now, in the process of doodling the mountains I used at the top, my two-year-old decided to color with me. I just loved it! Unfortunately (yes, I know, too many 'unfortunately's in this story for my liking!) the mountains I ended up being the happiest with had colored pencil scribbles under them.
I did not realize this until too late.

Incidentally, colored pencil also heat-transfers to fabric. While this is useful information, it about made me cry. Yesterday (the day I was finally finishing the swaddler. I'd worked on it bit by bit over the last week. Toddler mom, you know) was a Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. (If you've never read the children's book, you should. Whether or not you have children.)



And that was the icing on the proverbial awful cake.
I ended up having to rip out everything to do with the piece that got colored pencil on it, cutting a new one, and sewing it all back together.

But I am happy with it now, and my boy didn't wake up sweaty from being in a too-hot swaddler.
Why are boys so sweaty?

So I'll sum up my short list of Do's/Don'ts for the awesome ink effects and basecoat.

DO: Test a patch of fabric first before using the basecoat.
        Use a light colored material.
        Remember to put your design in a mirror image.
        Use a CLEAN piece of paper for your transfer
DON'T: Use for the first time on something that you can't replace/do over.
              Use the basecoat unless you absolutely have to. It does change the texture of your fabric a little
              Use a paper that has colored pencil scribbles on it

That's all I can think of at the moment. It was really fun! I hope my experience helps you rather than scares you. Without the basecoat, the process was easy and fun and I couldn't be more pleased! I'm going to put a design on our fleece-lined swaddler once I think of what design I want to use.
Let me know what projects you're thinking of using them for!



This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission for any purchases made via the link on my post. Thank you for supporting this blog, and I hope the information I've provided has been entertaining and helpful.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Toddler Sorting Games

Hello!
And another 'Hello' for good measure. I have been absent from blogging for what seems forever. I do have a good excuse, however. A very cute excuse. One that likes to snuggle. One that wears baby clothes and will one day call me Mom.




He's sleeping, so here I am with just a short post about something easy you can do with your toddler with stuff you have around the house.

Best kind of post, yes? One that requires no shopping. Just a touch of creativity and you can be on your way to doing it too!

The first part is actually from a few months ago.


I had been trying to think of more activities to stimulate my little guy's mind. He is so busy, and so very smart. (I know. All moms must say that about their children. But it's so true.)

So after a bit of Googling and a bit of Pinterest I came up with some ideas I wanted to try, but most of them from Pinterest required a trip to the store. We have no construction paper, for example.

So I looked around at what we had. I found these two baskets I'd purchased for a party game at some of my Arbonne parties, and gathered up the ever-present Megabloks. I took away all the other colors except what I had baskets for (until I make it over to the Dollar Tree to see if they have more), and gathered up my one-year-old. It did not take a lot of explaining- I just showed him the colors, and put them in the right basket. Toddlers are great mimickers. He picked it up right away, and sorted them all, and dumped them out to start again. 







This kept him busy for a half-hour. No lie. Anything that keeps a 21 month old busy for that long and is not only a safe (for my house!) activity but also helps build his brain, I'm all for it!



Try it with other things too! Today we played this same game, but instead of just blocks, I grabbed all the red and blue toys I could find in his toy basket and added them to the game. Ironically it did take a minute for him to catch on, but he got it.



We also played another version of sorting today. This time it involved number recognition and matching. This is a skill I wanted him to learn for pre-piano skills- recognizing groups by number.

I took some scrap paper and a fat marker, and doodled some blocks on them- a side view, showing 1, 2, and 4 bumps on the blocks. (If there were any of the 3-blocks handy I'd have done 3 too.) and I went ahead and wrote the numerals on the papers too. He's been announcing numbers when he sees them. Today he surprised me with "Mom! Mom! Nine!" and showed me a 9. He'll tell us what speed limit signs say too... "Three. O." I told you he was smart. 

He picked up the concept right away on this one too. (Win!)
 Do excuse his toy-mess.


Make it as simple as possible! Toddlers do not care.
I'd love to hear what variations of these you have tried with your kids!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sabbath

This Sabbath carries little rest
My heart cannot be still
It's breaking full of unbelief
Could this have been His will?

I stare at spices sweet prepared
For the body of my Lord.
His body! Dead. Alive no more
I long for Living Word

How could my Jesus, Son of God
Be gone away from me?
How did this happen? O my soul!
I writhe in agony.

Was it I who sent Him there
To the cruel cross?
Why would He love me - me - so?
All I am is loss.

He wasn't recognizable
His face and body torn
But those eyes, yet filled with blood
Met my gaze alone

They did not cease to love me
E'en in the midst of pain
One look from Jesus and I knew
My guilt and all my shame

I wait, for now, to go to Him
His lifeless body there
One last thing I'll do for Him
One way to show my care

It should be me there in that tomb,
Mangled. Torn apart.
I wait this Sabbath, grieving sore
I cannot feel my heart.

O Sabbath, pass. O sun, please set.
Let me try to sleep
Up before the morning sun
His body I will treat.



But lo, someone has been here
The stone is rolled away
Who are these shining men?
What is that they say?

I cry. I still cannot believe.
This is a cruel trick.
Not understanding, I weep the more
My heart is sinking, sick.

Afraid and bowed, I process words
They said "He is not here",
"Why seek the living with the dead?"
I scarce believe for fear.

"He is risen!" - I hear them now
My Christ, alive, is it true?
My heart dares hope. My Lord's alive?
O Lord, I must see you!

"Why do you weep?" the gardener asks.
"Who are you looking for?"
"His body" is my sad reply.
"The body of my Lord."

Then I heard Him speak my name.
He knows me? my heart cries
I turn, my Jesus standing there!
He reaches, dries my eyes.



I weep for joy, remembering now
His words about third day.
"Go. Don't stay here; tell my friends."
With joy I do obey!

-NR 4/19/14


Friday, April 4, 2014

Thai Asparagus

I told you I bought a bunch of asparagus. And by a bunch, I didn't mean 'one bunch'. I bought twice as much as usual. I told you it was calling my name.

It is ever so good.
And, ever so versatile.

I love asparagus.


I usually just eat it as a side, cooked with a little olive oil and garlic, and usually crushed red peppers. But this time I wanted to make it less Italian and more Asian. I do love me some Asian food!


So this easy recipe was born. Still probably a side dish, since there's no protein really, but it would be excellent with added shrimp, thin-sliced beef or pork, or even chicken (think beef and broccoli Chinese takeout).
I didn't measure really as I cooked, so feel free to adjust as necessary.


Thai Asparagus
1 tsp. olive oil
Dash ginger
Dash soy sauce
Dash crushed red peppers
1 1/2 cups fresh asparagus, broken into  1-2 inch pieces
1-2 Tbsp. diced onions
1-2 Tbsp chopped red bell peppers

Heat oil in small skillet. Add ginger, soy sauce and crushed red peppers. When hot, add onions and bell peppers. Sauté until onions are tender (few minutes). Add asparagus pieces and cook 5-7 min, until tender, adding water to skillet if necessary to prevent sticking or burning.

Serve over brown rice.




Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Asparagus Chicken

The asparagus was calling my name.
So was the spaghetti squash.
And I heard something about garlic.

I like to make these kinds of meals when my husband isn't going to be able to join me for lunch, because I know he's not a big fan of asparagus.

I was going to eat the entire pan.
I almost did.
The only thing that stopped me (I'm not kidding) is the fact that I wanted some for lunch the next day. It's really good as leftovers too.


Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Asparagus Chicken
2 C. Spaghetti squash, cooked and drained.
Italian seasoning
1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Cup fresh asparagus, broken into 1-inch pieces
1-2 Tbsp. sour cream or cream cheese
1 Tbsp. flour
Shredded mozzarella
Grated Parmesan

Stir a few shakes of Italian seasoning into cooked spaghetti squash. Place in small baking dish.
Cook chicken in olive oil. When chicken is almost done, add garlic and 1/4 c. water. Cook until pink is gone.
Add asparagus, cook until tender, 1-2 minutes.
Add sour cream, few shakes of Italian seasoning, and flour. Stir in until flour is blended in and you have a thick sauce.
In prepared baking dish, layer over squash, mozzarella, chicken mixture, Parmesan, mozzarella.
Bake uncovered at 350ºF 15 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.



By the way, when I had it the next day for lunch, my husband tried some from my plate. He took several bites before he had to stop himself from stealing my lunch. And he doesn't even like asparagus.


I bought a bunch of asparagus, so there'll be another yummy asparagus recipe coming soon!


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Friday, March 14, 2014

Choosing Pearls

Today, I’m drawing strength from my Jesus. The journey I’m on right now is learning to trust Him, and love Him, no matter what is going on right now. 

No matter if He’s waiting to answer my prayer.

No matter if I’m hurting.

No matter if I, secretly, deep down, blame Him for my pain.

Gasp. Yes. You read that right. No, you may not be as surprised as I was to realize it. But I did. He helped me realize it. In an ever-so-loving way, He helped me realize that a seeming unanswered prayer that has seemed to go from bad to worse has been standing in the way of my faith. Standing in the way of my love for Him.

I was guarded against my Jesus. I still am, I think, a little. It’s going to be a whole healing process, and we’re just beginning. But Jesus is up for the challenge, and so I will be too. I’m learning a few things along the way.

He does ache for the situation to be better. Not just better – resolved. Healed. Perfect. He aches for it more than I do. More than I can even comprehend.

He aches to reach in and fix it. He has to really restrain Himself from doing just that.

He can fix it. He holds the power to fix it all.

Why is He restraining Himself, then? Why, when He has the power, and wants to fix it, does He not? This was exactly my struggle.

Because He knows better. He knows that the pain is an unfortunate part of the process; of His better plan.

“Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Mark 14:36

Not my will but Thine, Father. Abba. Daddy. You know best.

Because He knows that to take it away now, to fix it all without due process, in this situation, is not the best way. It would not foster greater faith in me. There are numerous other effects this might have on the outcome that I could never even realize, none of them best.

Because my Daddy wants the best for me. My Jesus wants nothing less for His Princess. The daughter of the King.

So I wear my pearls today. The pearl is for me a reminder – because God knows I need visuals – that the suffering is worth the wait. That pearls come from discomfort, time, patience, more discomfort, that itch you can’t scratch, pressure, more discomfort and more waiting. The longer you wait, the more valuable your pearl will become. Bigger, more visible and more precious.

I used to not like pearls. And today I realized why. And also why I like them now.

When I didn’t like pearls, I was a little girl, and the only pearls I was acquainted with were on my costume jewelry. I didn’t like them, because the shiny coating would chip off, and I’d be left with a string of ugly off-white plastic beads – and not always even the same color as each other.

Those were false pearls.
Those were not made with the same discomfort as my grown-up pearls.
Real ones.
Real pearls made from real pressure and patience. From pain.

And so many times we look at false pearls and think they’re the real thing, and then wonder why our faith isn’t stronger. Wonder why it seems as if satan worked a little better in a situation than our Jesus did. Wonder why we’re left hurting.

Satan makes false pearls.

But those false pearls may be the very ones that leave us guarding our hearts from the very One who wants to heal it. Protecting our hearts from our Abba. Our Daddy. Our Healer and Protector and Provider.

And then one day the shiny paint chips away and the pearls are ugly and the beads don’t match. And it makes us despair.

But our Abba makes real pearls. They’re irregular and each one is unique, but the paint doesn’t chip away, and they’re worth a whole lot more. They’re stronger than plastic.

Dear Jesus, help me wait for the real pearls. Thank you for making real pearls with my life.


Not my will, but Yours. The pain will one day be worth it.
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Easy Cranberry Cinnamon Bagels



Confession. I procrastinate.

There. Now that that’s out there- I will say this. I have been planning on making these bagels since cranberries were in season, and I had a coupon for them. This was back in, say, November? Maybe October? Cranberries freeze really well. It was probably dangerous to know this. I bought a couple bags back then, and they have been decorating my freezer shelf. They’re so pretty and make my freezer look festive…. Something like that.

No, really, I had just heard that bagels are a pain to make. And that was all it took to make me procrastinate trying. Oh, I was on Pinterest multiple times pinning recipes, and trying to decide on one, and then I would read the directions and then procrastinate even longer.

But I finally did it.

And they were so not a pain. And I will probably make more very very soon. It will keep my dear husband and I from buying expensive Panera bagels.



I did use the breadmaker. This helped tremendously! I just dumped ingredients in, and walked away. Then when it was done, I formed the bagels, boiled them for a minute like you’re supposed to, and baked them. That was it. Easy. And really pretty fast.

The recipe I finally decided on came from here, and I adapted it to incorporate my freezer-decorations (cranberries) and make them less sandwich-bagels and more indulgence-bagels. Because those are the best kind.

Here is my adaptation:


1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2-3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 to 3/4 cup cranberries, chopped small

3 quarts boiling water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white

Dump water, salt, sugar, cinnamon, flour, yeast and cranberries into bread maker. Preferably in that order. Select Dough Setting, and let it process.

When cycle is complete, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a small ball and flatten it a little. Poke a hole in the center with your finger and twirl around on your finger just a little to widen the hole.

Cover bagels with a clean cloth and let rise 10-20 minutes.

Nicole’s Note: I did 20 minutes because I did not have enough yeast. I probably only had about half the yeast it calls for, and they turned out fine.

While those are rising, start a pot of water boiling. Use about 3 quarts. I didn’t measure and it was fine. When it’s boiling, add the sugar.
Dust a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Flour would probably work fine too.

Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water. Boil for 1 minute.

It will probably be a little cozy, but that’s fine. They’ll float, so turn them or dunk them somewhere during the minute.



Arrange boiled bagels on prepared cookie sheet, and glaze tops with the egg white.



Feel free to customize with your favorite toppings prior to baking. Some that would be really yummy on the cranberry cinnamon would be chopped pecans or sliced almonds. I left mine alone and they are delightful.

Bake at preheated 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until well browned.

TIP: Store in an airtight container. If they feel too hard to use, stick a slice of bread in the container with them. (Save your unwanted bread heels. They are great for rehydrating bagels, cookies, and the like.)

 
I just love morning light, don't you?





Condensed recipe

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2-3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 to 3/4 cup cranberries, chopped small

3 quarts boiling water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white

1. Dump water, salt, sugar, cinnamon, flour, yeast and cranberries into bread maker.
2. When cycle is complete, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a small ball and flatten slightly. Poke a hole in the center with your finger and gently twirl around on your finger.
3. Cover bagels with a clean cloth and let rise 10-20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, boil 3 Qts water. When boiling, add 3 T sugar.
5. Dust a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, turning after 30 sec or so.
6. Arrange boiled bagels on prepared cookie sheet, and glaze tops with the egg white. If toppings are desired, add now, prior to baking.
7. Bake at preheated 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until well browned. Store in airtight container

This is the bread machine that we use, and love!

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