Many Thanks.

Tomorrow’s goodies are prepped and I am tired in a good way.  The aroma of pumpkin spice and hot yeast rolls wafts throughout the house.  My kitchen is a wreck, but that’s okay for now.  

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I find myself taking a break, sipping a cozy cup of hot peppermint tea and counting the multitude of blessings in my life (none of which I  deserve).

There are far too many to list, but in particular, here are a few things I am thankful for:

1.  Restoration.  Nothing is ever truly set in stone.  Situations that at one time seemed impossible can irrevocably be changed.  I am blessed to see broken relationships mended and to experience true peace.  Stories are still being written…

2.  Good health.  After two major health scares in our little family this past spring, all seems to be well.  I could never put a price on the peace of mind that comes with health.  

3.  Family.  Immediate and extended.  Cliche, but pertinent.  I could not have asked for a more loving husband or sweeter daughters.  I am blessed to have two incredible parents who love and support me.  I have two beloved sisters whom I count as my dearest of friends.  I can’t imagine it to be any better (except that maybe we all lived just a little bit closer to each other).

And tomorrow we will all gather around a large, roasted bird, delighting in sweet fellowship, and carrying on as if hardly any time had passed since we last chanced to meet.  

And it will be beautiful.  
And inevitably too short.  
But good.  

Psalm 100 (The Message)

A Thanksgiving Psalm
 1-2 On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
      sing yourselves into his presence.
 3 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
      He made us; we didn’t make him.
      We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
 4 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
      Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
      Thank him. Worship him.
 5 For God is sheer beauty,
      all-generous in love,
      loyal always and ever. 
This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.

While they were sleeping…

After my beloved coffee machine is empty.  After my most cherished mug is freshly washed and resting in the cupboard.  After the lights are turned low and the house is finally hushed. 

The stillness of this October evening is welcome as I try to unwind from another bustling day.  But I just can’t keep myself from sneaking back in to peek at my little angels nestled warmly in their beds. 

One with a fever (so sorry you caught mommy’s cold, but its ever-so-hard to not kiss your sweet little face), one with an injury (wish I could have been there to rescue your little finger from that heavy door), and one just oh-so-snuggly cute (can hardly tear myself away from you)

My little peanut, how is it that you are seven already?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that you asked me to read to you about “Christmas-ter” Robin and his little Pooh bear?  And didn’t we just dance the night away to “John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt” about a thousand times?

My sweet ladybug, how can it be that you are in kindergarten this year?  Are you sure you have outgrown your trademark red glitter shoes?

My loveable bear, is it true that you can now mostly button your own sweater?  And say your ABCs?  And count to ten? 

Can. It. Be?

I love you forever and always.

“When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain.”

John 16.21 (The Message)

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My daughter has one of those nifty play kitchens in her room.  Honestly, it’s been some of the best money we have ever been spent because this kitchen is one of those things that has actually been played with like crazy and it’s now been handed down to kid #3. 

And when seen through the eyes of a child, it has become much more than a kitchen.  My girls have showed me that if you remove the sink, it can be used as a washing machine, stuffing the laundry down inside what should be the refrigerator.  If you pull it out from the wall and someone stands behind it, the kitchen is transformed to a drive-up bank window.  The stove also doubles as a school desk.  Who knew???

Did I yet mention it is a “Dora the Explorer” talking kitchen?  Not my first choice, but we got an amazing deal on it at the time.  There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Dora except for the fact that she YELLS ALL THE TIME!!!  (Just like that.)  Clearly, someone has not properly taught that child how to use her “inside voice.”

And the batteries are dying.  So Dora has been behaving especially erratically.  And I never think about changing her batteries until around 2:30 am, because that’s when Dora delivers an impromptu cooking lesson… “LET’S MAKE BANAAAAANA NUT CAAAAAKE!  YOU NEED BUUUUUTTTEEEEER!  MAAAANTEQUIIIIILLLLA!… and so on and so forth.  I have it memorized by now and quite frankly, I don’t think her recipe would make a very good banana nut cake. 

However, dead-battery Dora has taught me a thing or two.  Sometimes, I just need to take some time to recharge my batteries.  When my juice is low, my behavior can be just as erratic and off-the-wall. 

Recipe for Recharge.

1.  Grab a cup of coffee. 

2.  Go here:  The Prayer Garden.  (Take some time and click on everything.  Every page holds hidden treasures… and make sure your sound is turned up.  You won’t want to leave…)

(For future reference, The Prayer Garden link can also be found on the left-hand side of this page under “Happy Places.”)

“God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired, 

they walk and don’t lag behind.

Isaiah 40.29-31 (The Message)

This post is a part of Simple Lives Thursday.

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Treasured Moments.

Autumn has truly arrived in style this morning (never mind the calendar).  I love the chill that runs through me as my bare feet hit the cold hardwood floor, awakening my senses. I welcome summer’s end on this rainy fall day.  On a brisk morning such as this, I sincerely hope there will be time to curl up with a well-loved book in my window seat.  My coffee, all the while, is never far away.  Positively idyllic. 

My three precious girls will soon awaken and come running to find me and my dear husband, showering us with giggles and kisses.  I treasure every morning moment, when we are reunited from our slumber and reminded of the deep love we share before parting for the day. 

Life is just so darn good.

Song for a rainy day…

 “I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
I’m celebrating your rescue.
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers.”
Psalms 13.5-6 (The Message)

Finding Fall.

Fall.  I love everything about it.  Everything.  The colors.  The crisp air.  The football.  I know that for all technical purposes fall has not yet arrived, but given the brisk morning temps so far this week, who could tell?

I love the palpable sense of change in the air of a cool autumn morning.  Pregnant with hope. Knowing that all things will soon grind to a halt, lying dormant for the duration of the chill, with the security of springing to life in due season. 

I love wrapping myself in a warm sweater and frolicking with my girls in the legions of leaves lowered by my beloved trees.  I love coming home to the aroma of a simmering crock pot and relishing every warm, inviting bite.  I love settling in with my sweetheart on a cool, dark night and reading a book together by the soft light of the living room lamp. 

I.  Adore.  Fall.

These autumnal conditions have also left me craving one of my mother’s most enduring confectionary creations:  Harvest Bars.

Harvest Bars
4 eggs
2 c. pumpkin
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
½ c. chopped English walnuts (optional)
1 c. oil
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (heaping)

1. Beat eggs slightly. Add all remaining ingredients. Beat until well-mixed.

2. Spread in 13 x 9 cake pan (greased). Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes. Let cool. Ice with vanilla butter cream frosting. Top with nuts.

So go ahead.  Pour another cup of coffee and enjoy a warm slice of heaven, reveling in the changes to come.

“O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.”

Psalm 104.1-3 (The Message)

Check out my “Recipes” page where you can find this recipe along with others in a downloadable .pdf format. I am adding something new everyday so check back often for more good stuff!

Nice Things.

Someday, I will have nice things again.  Someday when the kids are grown and gone away.  Someday.

My husband and I lament almost daily over our dilapidated (yet still wildly comfy) couch and loveseat set.

We were young newlyweds, blinded by love and the freshness of new life together.  Not a bad thing I suppose, but nary a child was on the horizon and to be brutally honest, I wasn’t even sure I wanted any.  (My, how things change.)

So we settled on a huge furniture set (and by huge, I mean so entirely gargantuan that we didn’t realize we would have to partially disassemble the couch to get it through our apartment door).  But it was such a beautiful sage green that I didn’t care how or what had to be done as long as it was in my living room that evening.

9 years later.  One of our couch cushions has a large smiley face in hot pink Sharpie.  No problem.  Flipped it over.  Another cushion has hot pink nail polish dripped all over.  No problem.  Flip!  Then, there was the incident with the red popsicle.  Well, it really wasn’t anything that a strategically placed pillow couldn’t fix.  And then more nail polish in… you guessed it… hot pink.  And that’s when we introduced the strategically placed afghan.

I think its been about two years since we began the discussion of slipcovers.  Choosing the names of our children was easier than deciding on a slipcover.  And there they sit, imperfect as they may be (and honestly, there is no better place for a Sunday afternoon nap).

If I could do it all over again… two words:  Black.  Leather.

So someday…
when my sweet girls are beautiful women with families of their own,
and my house is hauntingly empty,
and every room in my house is clean at the same time,
and The Man and I have nothing to do but to stare at each other’s wonderfully time-worn faces,
I will have nice things….
that will stay nice.

And I will miss my girls.

Don’t you see that children are God‘s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.”

Psalms 127.3-5 (The Message)

In the quiet.

As a busy mom of 3, these moments do not present themselves very often, but here I am.  Five minutes of quiet solitude. 

This verse really made me smile today:

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.”

Psalm 19.10 (The Message)

Better than red, ripe strawberries.  Mmmm… chewing on that thought. 

I see the bottom of my beloved coffee cup and I hear little feet on the stairs.  Its go time!  Off on a grocery adventure with 3 little ones on a blistering 115 degree afternoon.  Thankful for this pocket-sized oasis in my day.