So Long For Now……

  A portion of this post from the archives, the rest……

From my Heart.

  As couple after couple, call us, write us or email, pleading with us to help them put together the shattered pieces of their lives and marriage.  To merely be used as a vessel by the Lord, to pour clean water over them and help point them in the right direction, I once again realized we are in a battle…..

A CONSTANT battle to keep our eyes on Jesus.  With satan working overtime throwing things at us left, right, left, right, chucking things under our feet to make us stumble.  Shrieking with glee when he succeeds.

Because BUSY means Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke.

We MUST keep our eyes on Jesus.

We MUST not break our focus for a mere moment.

We MUST not let anything divide our families, our homes, our marriages.

  Our packed calendars rob us of family time, devotion time, prayer time, alone time….

Clear ‘em!!!!

Clear those calendars.

Make date night with your spouse a priority. Don’t just say it, make it happen.

Make family dinner a non-negotiable.

Family dinner

Nothing is more important than family.

No job more important then pointing your kids towards Jesus.

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  We MUST not let Social Media rob us of conversations during home time….

Leave the cell phone on the charger in the laundry room when you walk in the door; the texts can wait, Facebook can wait.  We MUST not let TV and Computer, iPhones and ipads steal precious playtime moments…leave them off until nap/bedtime if you have young children. 

  Don’t answer the phone during dinner, if its important, they’ll leave you a message and you can call them afterwards. Show your kids with your actions, just how important dinner time is.  Spend that time VISITING about the day, not staring at the TV.  Our family loves to do “Good, Bad and Blessing” going around the table and each family member shares their good, bad and blessing from the day….try it! You may just love it.

  Help your kids make good choices about how many “extra” activities they can be a part of.  What happened to the days of letting kids be KIDS?
Just playing. Imagining. Exploring. Sending them out to play and ride bikes until porch lights came on and our moms called us home for dinner.

  Remember, for EVERY activity you chose to enroll your kids in, you are taking from the “Family Pie” of time together time.  There are only so many pieces to go around before you are left with crumbs.

   Sacrifices are made each and every time we say YES to something else.  We are raising a generation of busy kids, who in turn will become adults that need to be “busy” because they’ve never learned to just relax, stay home and be still.  

    And let’s not forget the love of our life, and the time we must spend with them.  Sit with your husband or wife for at minimum of THIRTY MINUTES of face to face time each evening.  Face to face, not staring at the tv together, looking at each other.  Surely your favorite show, or email inbox can wait?! 

Who is to be our number one human priority as directed by God’s word? 

Our spouse. 

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Show them!  Use that face to face time to learn something about them that you didn’t know 24 hours ago.  Look them in the eyes and remember all the reasons you fell in love with them.  Do this and watch your marriage blossom and grow.  Set a stinkin’ timer if you have to. 

JUST DO IT.

  Wherever you are, be ALL there.  I am not preaching to you, I am preaching to ME! We all need to evaluate how our time is being spent!!!!!!!

Cause guess what satan says?

Every time you are not talking to your kids…..

I AM.

 Every time you are not working towards growing with your spouse,

I AM MAKING SURE YOU ARE BACKSLIDING.

When you are too busy?

I AM NOT.

I seek to destroy your marriage and family. I hate it and I hate you.  It would be my pleasure to use your lack of time together for harm, for evil, as a tool to ultimately destroy your lives.

When we don’t chose God every moment of every day, we automatically default to satan.

Think about that for a moment……pretty tough to swallow, isn’t it? 

  I don’t want to default to satan ever.   I seem to spend a lot of my time fighting off his attacks on my home and marriage, while balancing a really full calendar full of photography appointments, upcoming blogs I need to write, projects I said I’d be a part of, things I need to get accomplished around my home.  It all just feels like too much.  Like I have been doing a balancing act for too long, unsuccessfully.

Friends, I need a break. 

  Somewhere along the last year of fighting for my marriage and maintaining “regular life”, I have lost my focus.  I feel as if I have missed an entire year with my family while I was hurting, healing, seeking, sharing and forgiving.  The last year can not be viewed as a loss, it’s can’t…..

For it SAVED us. Praise His name!

  I am not sure what to say except, I need to cut back somewhere, and one of the places is the blog.  It takes my last piece of the “Family Pie” and I only have crumbs to offer the ones I love most. I am also cutting back in other areas, including how many photography appointments I take every week, as the editing process takes much time from family, too.

  As an overly busy summer draws to a close, I need time to be Mommy, playing on the floor in the living room or out jumping on the trampoline. I need time to be Wife, relaxing on the couch next to her husband, unwinding after a long day. I need time to do something for me, like curl up with a Christian novel during nap time, on a couch I haven’t sat on regularly in MONTHS. 

Mostly, I just need to BE STILL.

That’s what it really all boils down to, isn’t it?

Being still. 

Tylan came up to my desk the other day during nap time:

“Mommy’s are busy, aren’t they?”

Yes buddy, Mommy’s have a lot of jobs to do!

“You’re a mommy that takes pictures now too, aren’t you?”

Yup.

“You write your blog……”

I do!  {Now, I am wondering now, where he is going with this…….}

“Mommy?”

Yes, buddy.

“I miss when you were just my mom.”

Oh honey bear, I am so so very sorry.

  I am taking 3 weeks off of blogging to think, pray, evaluate how my time can be best spent, and mostly……

To be still. 

I will miss you, friends, but I’ll be back soon, check back with me around Labor Day. 
It’s time this Momma shows her family where her priorities are…….

  ~T

 

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Watermelon Cupcakes & Weekend Potluck #30

  I have a BRAND NEW recipe to share…..

The Watermelon Cupcakes from Avery’s Birthday party that I talked about yesterday!!!!!  

  I found these Cupcakes at one of our past Weekend Potlucks. This delicious recipe comes from food genius, Aimee from Shugary Sweets!

  Watermelon Cupcakes

from Shugary Sweets

For the Cupcake:

  • 1 box (18.25oz) white cake mix
  • 1 box (3oz) lime Jello (not sugar free)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cup water

For the Topping:

  • 8oz white chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Koolaid powdered mix (watermelon flavor)
  • 3-4 Tbsp watermelon puree (see note below) OR milk
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  For the cake, add cake mix, jello, egg whites, oil and water in a mixing bowl. Beat 2 minutes until blended. Fill cupcake liners 1/2 full and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes. Do not overbake. Allow to cool completely.
 When cooled, spread melted white chocolate over top of each cupcake. While that sets, begin your frosting.
  To make watermelon puree, blend about 1/2 cup of fresh watermelon in a blender until smooth. If you want to substitute milk, that will work too, but fresh watermelon makes is AMAAAZING!
In mixer, beat butter with powdered sugar, Koolaid mix and watermelon puree (or milk). Beat for about 3-5 minutes until fluffy and smooth. Pipe frosting on each cupcake and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips.
ENJOY!
 Hugs, T

Avery’s “Birthday Pouty”

    Today’s post is all about Avery’s Birthday Party! Or Birthday Pouty as she calls it in her cute little 4-year-old talk.

  The theme was inspired by some darling plates I found at Aldi’s for a dollar:

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  WATERMELON!

  In going with the theme, we made Watermelon Cupcakes (recipe coming tomorrow) and Watermelon Lemonade!!!!  Both delicious!

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My family brought in lots of yummy appetizers to share for Sunday Night Snack Supper.

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7 Layer Salad Dip (3)

  We had a special guest come over, and she got to join the party fun too!  🙂

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Mrs. Baker from The Better Baker! What a blessing to get to meet her and spend some time with her.  She fit right in! 🙂

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Party time!

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Watermelon Salt Water Taffy

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  Sweet Destiny, wrapped Avery’s gift up in a GIANT leaf from a tree out front! Clever!

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  Avery’s birthday celebration with family was a few days after her birthday.  She got to open her 3 presents from us, and a few Papa & Drea left, on her official day.  These next few photos, are from that day.

  Close your eyes for a big surprise……

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“Me too, Momma?”

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A Jeep for your dolls to ride in! Thanks, Papa & Drea!

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Pax thinks it’s for him to ride in…..

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Avery can’t bear to watch!

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  What a blessing to have family and friends nearby to celebrate with!

Happy Birthday, sweet 4-year-old!

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The Best Lemonade On The Block

   It’s pretty hard to beat real lemonade, but for a mix, this ones pretty great!  We didn’t care for the sweetness of the original recipe, so I doctored it up a bit, I will post my changes at the end and you can decide if you want to change it or not.

  The Best Lemonade On The Block

from Pinterest

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Ingredients:

1 cup Countrytime Lemonade mix

2 cups cold water

1 can of chilled pineapple juice {46 oz}

2 cans chilled Sprite

  Mix and serve COLD!

  We found it too sweet to be refreshing, so we added more lemonade powder and water until we liked how it tasted, I think I added about 8 cups of water with the lemonade powder measured in the lid to the 2 qt. line, THEN it was the best lemonade on the block!  Because I added so much water and lemonade powder, it made a LARGE batch, but it was perfect for our BBQ!

~T

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The Birds & The Bees

Birds and bees

It’s that time at our house.

You know, time for “The Birds & The Bees” talk. 

  A few days before Destiny turned 9, she asked if maybe it was time for us to have a talk. 

“A talk?” I asked

“Ya, you know, about sex and babies and stuff.  I am ready to know how it all works.”

  We talked a bit more, and she asked some good questions.  I told her intelligent questions would be met with intelligent answers.  So I talked to Dale and we planned a little time with Destiny after the kids went to bed to explain things to her.

Here are some of the highlights: 

We used correct and simple terms. 

We showed her diagrams of male and female genitalia.  We told her girls have 3 holes: one for pee, one for poop and the one in the middle is for babies.  That babies are made inside the same hole they come out of.

  We showed a video of sperm racing to find the egg.  She thought it was super cool that the egg only lets one in {sometimes 2}, before closing up and going on a journey!  We talked about how God picks which sperm meets which egg, and they determine whether you have brown hair or blonde, are good at piano, are a night owl…..all things already planned out when the two meet.  

 

  This video is incredible!  It shows the miracle of life from conception without going into too much detail. 

“That happened when God made me? Neat!”

We told her sex was a beautiful gift for married couples to enjoy.  We told her it was fun, and it was perfect because the man and women parts fit together like a puzzle.

She said, Ew a few times, and Cool a few times.    

We told her that was normal.  🙂

   We pray every night over our children that they’d save themselves for marriage, and that they would hang on to their purity for the treasure it is.  Even almost 4-year-old Avery can tell you she doesn’t want a “Swiss Cheese heart” full of holes. She wants to save her whole heart and all her kisses for her husband.    Tylan prays that he would be a Godly man, and he prays for his future wife, that she’d be a Proverbs 31 wife and that she’d save herself for him. PRECIOUS.  We pray for Tylan and Paxton to have a covenant with their eyes not to look upon anything impure, that they will save themselves for marriage, heart, body and mind.

Guys, they are LISTENING! They are parroting back prayers that have been spoken over them all their lives.  If you haven’t already started praying for this, it’s not too late!  The power of prayer is incredible!  And what a great teaching tool.

  My response to Destiny was calm. 

Purposeful.

  I encourage you to take a similar approach. When mom or dad, stutter, stammer, avoid the subject, or act disgusted, you are telling them sex is dirty.  It is embarressing.  That they did something wrong, by even asking.   

This could not be further than the truth. 

Do you want them to someday take that unhealthy view of sex into their own marriage bed? Because they really will.

Sex is a beautiful gift from God, intended for married couples to enjoy as they become one body, one spirit, one flesh.  I want our children to understand how beautiful, amazing, and special it is.  God designed it to be mind-blowing.  It was intended for more than reproduction, it was intended for…PLEASURE.

    In a Sex-at-9 society, if we aren’t talking to our kids about sex, the world is. It’s being sold on TV and in just about every movie out there.  It’s being whispered on the bus ride home, it’s being tried out at boy-girl parties. Yes, as early as age 9. THAT, my friends, is highly disturbing.

  You have a choice:

YOU teach them about sex.

Or

The WORLD will.

  “Seize the opportunity while your children are young to start having conversations that will forever shape their sexual character.”    Mary Flo Riley, author of Simple Truths. 

Making It Meaningful

  The sex talk is obviously happening at age 9 at our house, but at age 13, we will take things a step further.  We plan to take each child on a special birthday date, talk more about purity, eyes, thoughts, flesh; all of it. We will help them write out some boundaries, review some verses about sex and God’s design for it.

  We will present them with a purity ring, just as my parents gave me when I was 13, and encourage them to write a birthday love letter to their future spouse each and every birthday. The girls love to read through my box of love letters to Dale, to try on my purity ring, which will one day be Destiny’s.

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  This ring is to remind them that purity is a beautiful gift, only given ONCE. 

  It’s never to late to start talking to your kids about saving themselves for marriage. Telling them about a little boy or little girl our there, RIGHT NOW, being prepared to one day meet them. To one day fall in love with them at the perfect moment in time, all ordained by the Great Author of LOVE Himself!

We Are Giving Our Kids An Incomplete Message!!!!

by Joy of Simply Bloom

  “The Bible speaks out so plainly against adultery and the misuse of sex, that it’s easy for a young Christian to misinterpret that to mean that sex as a whole is sinful.

In Christian circles we tend to spurt out the “sex is bad before marriage” anthem, without following it up with the “but sex after marriage will rock your socks off!” part.

So on their wedding day, a couple is expected to flip that switch to ‘sex is allowed…we now have a license’, and they spend the first few years of marriage floundering and silently struggling with what they’ve always been lead to believe: “God doesn’t want you to have sex…and He especially doesn’t want you to enjoy it!”. Resentment grows as they try and reconcile what they deeply desire in each other, and what they believe God expects of them.

“The marriage ceremony is simply insufficient to reorient one’s attitude from ‘Thou shalt not’ to ‘Thou shalt—regularly and with great passion!'” – Dr. James Dobson”

  Joy has a whole blog post written about this!  Go read it!!!!  Here are a few of my favorite points:

  • Start early:
    • Be purposeful & prepared.
      • Vital: When they do ask “those” questions, make a point of smiling and responding with I’m so glad you asked, sweetheart!. Don’t allow your response or body language to communicate that this is a taboo topic to talk about.
      • Children are unabashedly curious about their bodies and the differences between boys and girls, if you don’t answer their questions – eagerlythey’ll find someone else who will.
      • Help them recognize that their sexuality is a beautiful part of who they arefor later in life.
      • If we wait until our kids are older, we’ve lost a tremendous part of the battle: teenagers are naturally inclined to doubt and wrestle with everything we say. Do you really want to initiate the conversation then?
  • Define your message:
    • “This is what I want them to know/believe/value about sex”
    • Make the message your own – what is important and valued in your family – boil it down to a few overarching statements about sex.
    • Don’t make it sensual for little ones, just basic biology. The “dangers and pleasures” of the sex talk come later.
  • Examine your own sexual baggage – we don’t want to pass off our pain and baggage to our kids. Set it aside {or better yet, work/pray through it} and present the most positive picture.
  • Explain Reproduction:
    • Use everyday examples to teach them that “by God’s design…protected deep inside every living creature is the potential for new life
  • Explain Conception –Start painting the picture of sexual intimacy now…allowing them to first see only a hazy view of it…add detail and depth as they get older and more mature.
  • Continuing the Conversation:
    • When billboards or ads depict intimate moments between a couple, teach them that sexuality is very private and “no one should ever watch”…helps them know how to handle unexpected pornography exposure {which can show up astonishingly early}.
    • Show them how important the decisions they make are. Their teenage years are so short in relation to the rest of their lives, and yet the decisions they make during that time have huge consequences.

  Remember, give simple TRUTH in real terms, never undermining the beautiful, smokin’ hot gift from God, sex really is.

  ~T

Are you struggling with a healthy image of sex in your own marriage?  Then read this blog about Re-discovering RED HOT Manogomy by Joy of Simply Bloom.  It’ll make your toes curl.

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Unveiled Wife

Blackberry Cobbler

  We have a great big Blackberry Patch on our property, but doggone it, if it hasn’t been sooo hot the past 2 summers, that they have dried before they fully came on. 😦  

  I barely got enough for 1 cobbler this year.  Actually, it wasn’t quite 6 cups, so I had to hide some Blueberries in there, but you couldn’t tell.

  This recipe is from Pioneer Woman, and was one of the first ones we tried of hers.  It’s a keeper and we make one every summer!

Blackberry Cobbler

from Pioneer Woman

Blackberry Cobbler

  • 6 cups Fresh Or Frozen Blackberries
  • 1/2 cup Plus 4 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 whole Zest Of Lemon
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1/2 cup Milk
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine blackberries, ½ cup sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Stir and spread out in a buttered pyrex dish.

In a separate bowl pour flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Add shortening and butter and work mixture together with a pastry blender (or your fingers) until the mixture is coarse. Measure ½ cup milk, add an egg, and mix together. Pour into flour mixture, stirring as you go. Mixture should be smooth and not dry, but not over sticky.

Take clumps of dough and place them on top of the blackberries. Lightly flatten dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar and bake until golden for 30 minutes. Berry juice will be slightly thin, but don’t be afraid. It will gradually soak into the biscuity topping and make your life complete.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Summer traditions taste GOOOOD!

~T

Ribbon Flip Flops

I mentioned last week, that for Women’s Encounter, I made Kasey and I matching flip-flops.  She and I were servers together in a room full of wonderful, awesome women of God. It was AMAAAAZING!

On to less Spiritual things, but we wanted our shoes to match the Encounter colors.

Well, we DID! God loves us and our fashion forwardness, right?! 🙂

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  Here is how I made our flip-flops:

  Select a variety of ribbon.  Anywhere from 4-6  patterns and textures.  Make sure you grab at least one unique ribbon with strings, or tassels, it makes it super cute!

  You will not want wider than 7/8 inch.  See that pink and white stripe ribbon? Smack in the middle?  IMG_3269

I cut it down the middle as it was too large to tie nicely.

Using a scissors and a ruler, cut each ribbon into 6 inch pieces.

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  With my variety of ribbon sizes, I did between 35-40 for EACH shoe, meaning 70-80 total strips. 

I bought 11 rolls of ribbon between our two sets of flip flops, but that will vary for you since some rolls have 9 yards of ribbon, others more.

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  I started tying from left to right up one side and down the other.  I did not have enough ribbon to tie an actual knot, which I was bummed about, but just the first part of a knot. {Like doing only the first step in tying your shoes.}

  Tug VERY VERY hard, to ensure they will not come untied. 

Or maybe cut your ribbon to 7 or 8 inches so you can knot it?!  I am going to try that next time.

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Be sure to keep the ribbons very very close to each other, sliding close to the other ribbons after you tie, to ensure you are not leaving any gaps.

  Here are Kasey’s flip flops:

 Her shirt has hot pink, so we did different ribbons.

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  Here is the end result.

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Fun, right?

~T

P.S.  I bought back Kasey’s extra ribbon and made my girls some, too.

And one more pair each,  just because it was fun! 🙂 

Savory Garden Spaghetti Sauce

  Straight from the garden to your stock pot, bet you’ll never want to eat jarred spaghetti sauce again!

  A big thank you to Connie for inspiring this dish by posting photos of hers simmering on the stove on Facebook! I don’t know why I haven’t thought to try this before.  I took careful notes while I made our sauce, but you change the proportions per your families taste buds!

Savory Garden Spaghetti Sauce

{click title to print}

Garden Spaghetti Sauce text

Ingredients

  • 30 whole Medium Tomatoes (more Or Less Depending On The Size)
  • 2 whole Peppers, Any Color
  • 8 ounces, weight Mushrooms (optional)
  • 3 whole Onions, White Or Yellow
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 24 cloves Of Peeled Garlic
  • 2+ T. each total, divided use, of Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley (fresh If You Have It, Dried If You Don’t!)
  • 2 pinches of Thyme
  • Kosher Salt & Cracked Pepper, to taste
  • 20 leaves Of Fresh Basil (more To Taste)

Wash and rough chop all veggies. Saute onion pieces in butter in the bottom of a large stock pot, add in garlic cloves and mushrooms, saute a few minutes more. Add in all veggies. Season WELL with all listed seasonings, per your taste buds. Simmer on the stove, covered, for 45 minutes.
Stir and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 hours. {Your house is going to smell AMAAAAZING!!!}
Right before serving, throw in fresh basil, and blend with an immersion blender.  You will want to taste and check seasonings. I was surprised how much I needed to add again at this point.
{The tomatoes really bland everything down}
Serve hot and fresh over pasta or place in jars, 3/4 full, cool and freeze.

Enjoy with a salad and bread sticks!

~T

 

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Happy Birthday, Avery!

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  Today is Avery’s Birthday, and guess what, it’s mine too!  She was the very best Birthday present I could ever ask for!

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10 pounds 3 1/2 oz. 

3 days old in this photo!

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Hard to believe this is our lil’ bitty Peanut, isn’t it!?

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  Avery has always been sunshiney with the occasional storm clouds.

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  She has such a heart for the Lord, loves to raise her hands in worship, and asks Him almost nightly to help her future husband be a Godly man and a Mr. Fix It like her daddy.

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She beams when praised, and gets tearful when she can’t get it done the way she has imagined it should be accomplished.  But she has drive and stubborness that we are asking God to use for HIS glory!

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She’ll being going to Preschool 3 days a week this year!  I will miss her terribly!

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Oh my little one, you are growing up so so fast, you make Mommy’s heart ache to keep you a baby, but I know my job is to give you wings and prepare you for the day you will use them.

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Happy 4th Birthday, sweet Avery!

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You’ll always be my baby girl!

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I love you to the moon and back!

~Mommy                      xoxo

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