Monday, November 24, 2014

let's combat the anxieties that start to creep up this season

It's now officially the holiday season! You wanna know how I know this? Oh, it's not just the calendar, silly! I'll tell ya, if we lived in a hole, we would have we discovered that Thanksgiving is a few days away when the littlest littles and I went to the grocery store today and EVERYONE in Memphis was there! Holy moly! I was thinking people might not be crowding the stores until tomorrow or at least Wednesday! I was wrong.

A little disclosure. . . I'm praying that I can savor this week. This week of being thankful. Not that every week can't be a week of giving thanks, but I'm praying to push back the anxieties that pop up once the Christmas season really starts. The ones that come along when people ask if you've finished your shopping (I haven't even started mine) and if you've ordered your Christmas cards (we haven't even taken our photo). Or the anxieties that arise when you take a look at the December calendar and don't see a lot of white space or you peruse Pinterest and see all these beautiful holiday decorations but it's December 14th and you feel like the season is too far in to attempt them. You know the ones?

I've not really felt the anxiety of Christmas until we started having children, and even more so the past few years. There's so much to do now to fill up the holiday season with memories for your family. And honestly, lots of them are good things.

But I'm tired of feeling the way I have, this that I've brought on myself. Because really, what is this season all about? This last week of November I want to be full of thanks and contentment! I want to prepare my heart for the Advent season. The coming of Christ!

The magic of Christmas is coming soon, but this week I want to look for joy and hope and love . . . all while giving thanks to the Lord and being content in Him! Are we all in agreement?! 
Here's to being thanks-filled!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

a boy's best friend

Everyone knows that a dog is man's best friend. But before a man becomes well, a man, he's a boy. And I think we can safely say our new addition, Glory, is our little boy's newest best friend!

Meet Glory. . .

It's been 1.5 years since our first doggy has been gone. Mocha was born on our wedding day and we scooped her up 8 weeks later and brought her home. She was ours for 13 years. Although Hubby and I miss her, our boys never really knew her the way we did. Luke was 7, Charlie was barely 5, Miles was 2 and Way was not even 1 when she died.

We knew we were a dog family, but for me, it just hasn't seemed like the right time to bring home a new addition. It's pretty crazy around here keeping up with our 4 boys, much less a new puppy. So, even though Hubby and my boys kept giving me those puppy eyes, I kept saying not yet (and feeling like the bad guy).

And then my sweet friend posted a photo of her doggy's sister that needed to be adopted. In a matter of an hour, after talking to my friend, showing the pic to Chad, and calling the foster mom, we had an appt. to meet this new doggy. All 6 of us went and the 4 little ones seems thrilled! They were ready to take her home. But something inside Hubby and me, just didn't feel the same. This puppy didn't seem like the right fit for our family. So we passed.

But not even a week went by, and something inside me clicked. It was time for a doggy (like it was time for another hole in my head) (but seriously, when is there a perfect time for anything)! I began scouring our doggy rescue groups and Hubby and I began sending texts and emails about different ones we were finding. We inquired about a few, but Chad found her initially and said she'd be a perfect fit. Well, somehow, we kept landing back on her! Finally, after a couple of days, we went to meet her on adoption Saturday. We fell in love! And the rest they say. . .is history!

Glory has found her new home and we've found our new addition! She's a 4 month old rescue puppy! Past the new puppy stage, but still needing to be house-trained some. Glory is a Golden Retriever mix--they think with a Shelty. She's playful, and cuddly and soooo sweet! Our vet told us he thinks we hit the jackpot with her! All of the boys seem to love her, though Miles is still warming up (he's a smidge skittish with dogs). He runs away when she follows him, but is quick to assure us that he loves her! Charlie is having fun playing chase in the backyard with her! Way just laughs whenever she's around and signs "doggy" non-stop! And Luke, well he was smitten from the moment he saw her (and us too--just sayin)!

Some of my friends post photos of their child's journal. Mine doesn't write like that. But he was determined to come home and see to it that Glory was taken care of. . .Glory knows she has a friend in Luke!

Welcome home, Glory! You had us at hello!

Monday, November 10, 2014

sharing what's good!

So much of our parenting is focused on sharing. We have 4 children. Not every single person is going to get an individual snack, toy, book, etc. on every single occasion. It just cannot happen. So we work on it. A lot. Lemme just say that sharing comes easier to some than it does to others.

I, personally, love to share and typically think I do a good job. Well, unless we are talking about chocolate. Then I get a little stingy. Ahem. But actually, I've seen my heart recently over some little things and bigger things, and I've actually been bummed out. Convicted. Nothing we have is really ours. Not our house, not our money, not our children. The Lord owns it all! Why do I want to keep my things or people to myself? Why would I not want to share all that is good??

None of the below are things I've been trying to keep to myself, but I just wanted to share a little about the sharing talks we've been having in our home and in my heart!

I plan to have my 4th or 5th or whatever it is Things I'm Loving Now post soon, so I can share some of my favorite tangible items, but these posts and links are to a few articles that I have really enjoyed lately. If you like to read goodness, then take a few minutes, when you get a few minutes and read away! And I couldn't not include a new quinoa recipe. Gotta share the good!

It's Okay to Stop Trying to Fix Those Kids by Lori Harris via Lisa Jo Baker
--I just discovered Lori Harris and am struck by her keeping it real (something I truly admire) writing and her church plant struggles as she and her family walk with the Lord.

When Strangers Become Your People by Allison Hendrix via Ann Voskamp's Only the Good Stuff
--This was incredibly touching and I just sat crying while I was reading it. In the best way! My favorite read over the past week for sure!

Turning Back Darkness with Gratitude by Steve Nash, founder of Advance Memphis
--I've read the excerpt from Ann Voskamp before, but I love Steve's new found view on gratitude and the story leading up to it. Love his heart for inner-city Memphis and the Lord!

And now for our newest quinoa recipe. . .
Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad. . .
which I have renamed (gotta change it to something my kiddos remember). . .

Sweet Pepper and Black Bean Quinoa 

The dressing
5 Tbsps fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, finely minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
⅓ cup olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
The salad
1 cup red quinoa (though you can use regular--just for appearance)
1 can (14oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cup corn kernels, fresh (or I used frozen, it's what I had)
1 cup finely chopped colored bell peppers (think red, orange and yellow)
1 whole jalapeƱo pepper, seeded, minced (I didn't use)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup finely chopped green onions

Prepare quinoa according to package. Let cool. Combine in a large mixing bowl the beans, corn, remaining vegetables, herbs, and cooled quinoa. Toss gently with the dressing. Can be prepared a day ahead for flavors to combine or served immediately. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 6 (or 3 of my 4 children once and Hubby and me twice). Because quinoa has so much protein in it, I don't add meat to it. We have meatless Mondays with a quinoa dish every week. No need for meat with this meal either!

And how did my family rate it? Our oldest 2 (9 and 6 years old) gave it a 2 thumbs up, I think Miles gave it a 1 thumb up and Hubby loved it! I'd say it's in my top 5 favorites and in the boys' top 3 favorites! Thanks to the Tasty Kitchen for the recipe!

Friday, October 31, 2014

FYI Friday--the light will shine on | Day 31

By now, we've carved and scooped out our pumpkin! We've talked about how the seeds and goop are like our sin. We put a candle in our jack o' lantern and talked all about God's light shining in us! I will forever love this pumpkin metaphor! We have our costumes ready (and even right now, one of ours has a new costume he doesn't even know about yet--sure to thrill him--because as he walked out the door he just wasn't sure what he was going to dress as and didn't make a fuss) and our 4 year old couldn't be more excited to be Batman and tell everyone Trick or Treat! He's been talking about this day for a good month!

Yes, October 31st is here! You know what else that means? It means, it's time to put some flannel sheets on our beds! Earlier this week, we were playing outside in 80+ degree weather, record warm temps, but tonight we have a freeze warning out as it's supposed to be in the lower 30's! I love it!!!!! Bring on the flannel sheets and the fire in the fireplace, a couple of blankets and some warm tea. I am in heaven!

Oh, October, you bring such inner warmth and happiness! But before, we move on to November, one other thing marks the end of October. Today is the end of my #write31days series! Is that the end of blogging? Of course not! This light will shine on! I've been doing this for years now! That was actually part of the reason I decided to jump aboard the Write 31 Days series--I've been blogging for years. I was just feeling a smidge stuck and I was in a writing rut. I thought writing for 31 days would be a way to awaken my writing.

I'll tell ya, it was challenging for sure. I think by Day 3, I was ready to quit. How could I write for 31 days about light? But Hubby spurred me on. He usually does. Anyway, I was really inspired by writing for the series and I'm so glad I did it! I did miss 5 days, I think. Some of that was due to travel and some was just due to life. I knew it wasn't the end of the world if I missed a day, but I tried hard not to skip. I also followed some other bloggers who did the same and enjoyed several series. If you write and have ever even thought about joining the #write31days series, I think you should try it next year! If you missed any days in my series on light, just click here to find the links to each day! Check out Day 3, FYI Friday spotlight on Down syndrome, Day 10, Lighten (and Brighten) it up, Day 14, A light shining halfway around the world and Day 16, We are lightweights, they were some of my favorites!

Thanks for reading through 31 Days of Light! 
I'm still writing, so stick around for a while and join me!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If you don't know where you are going | Day 28

My dad likes to find every opportunity to use the saying, "When you don't know where you are going, any road will get ya there!" It's become a thing in our bigger family to predict when he's going to use it in conversation and to join right in!

And it's so true. We are always moving through life. There is no stopping. Just because we don't know what's ahead, doesn't mean we aren't going to get to what's ahead.

People are always talking about their 5 or 10 year plans. Or those big dreams they have for the future. I tend to struggle with those questions. I really don't know what I want life to look like in 5 or 10 years.

But I can tell you this, though I may not know exactly where I'm going, or what I will be doing, I want to be on a road with the Lord. I want Him lighting my path. He will get me where I am going and He already knows where that will be.

Monday, October 27, 2014

what your breakfast needs | Day 27

Breakfast, especially on school mornings tends to be the easiest and quickest things we can get on a plate. Think cereal bar/yogurt, waffles and peanut butter, or raisin bread and peanut butter. Which in turn means, we have only a few items that we rotate through our week. Which in turn means, sometimes, breakfast gets boring. There's not a lot of time for bacon and eggs and my littles can be a smidge picky, so they aren't huge fans of smoothies or oatmeal or whatever it is the rest of the world eats.

But then comes Fall! I love being able to throw different items into our mix and Fall brings muffins! Like these chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! My sweet friend shared them with me years ago and they do not disappoint! Soooo delish! Maybe not technically light as in cooking light, but they certainly lighten our breakfast experience! My boys start asking about them as soon as they see the first pumpkin! Here's a little happy--a must have muffin--for your breakfast rotation!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

1 and 2/3 c. flour
1  c. sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. melted butter
1 c. chocolate chips (I used a smidge less--shockingly)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spices, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, and butter. Add this to the large bowl of dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into greased muffin pan or use paper cups. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!


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