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Monday, March 31, 2014

Young Marriage and Role Models

Zeke and I have been married for almost two years. I think I've learned a lot in in these two short years, and I know that I've changed for the better.

One of the biggest blessings in our marriage thus far has been the wonderful marriages we've been able to see around us. Both Zeke's parents and my parents are still married, and I know that isn't the case for many. We've also witnessed the lasting love between our grandparents (the hands on the right of the picture above are my grandparents, who have been married for sixty-eight years). We each have had great examples of strong and faithful marriages in our own families.

We've also been incredibly, incredibly blessed to have other, non-related couples pour into our lives and become role models to us.

Couples like Dennis and Sarah.

When Zeke started his job at Camp, the Director of Maintenance, and thus Zeke's boss, was a guy named Dennis. Dennis and his wife Sarah actually lived in the house where we're currently living.

Zeke started at Camp the month before we got married, so I wasn't really around, but for that first month, I heard so many stories about Dennis. About how Dennis planned this project, how he remodeled that cabin, about how he plotted the layout of bathrooms. Zeke talked about him with such admiration- and that was one of the ways I knew Camp was a good fit for us. Dennis was a great role model for Zeke, and Zeke was learning a lot from him.

After we got married and got settled in to our new little home, Dennis and Sarah threw us a dinner party and invited all the other Camp staff families. The one thing that struck me, right from the moment I met her, was that Sarah was so loved. She practically glowed with love, confidence, and joy. And it didn't take long for me to find out why.

Dennis cherished her so deeply, and she respected him unquestioningly. They were best friends. They were sappy together- Dennis only calls Sarah four things: "Cutie," "Sweetie," "My Love," and "My Bride." They hold hands while praying, every single time.

After a couple of months of living at Camp and working with Zeke, Dennis made the decision that it was time for his family to move on. We later found out that he had told the executive director that he felt he could retire now, because he knew Zeke would take good care of Camp- I could see Zeke stand taller after hearing that incredible compliment- what an honor.

About a month ago now, Sarah called me to tell me that they'd be coming for the marriage retreat that Camp hosts. I was so excited! Sarah is so much fun, and I was looking forward to seeing her again and catching up.

I told Zeke that they were coming, and after saying that he needed to "clean the shop so it looks nice for Dennis," we started talking about Dennis and Sarah's marriage. And Zeke said something I won't soon forget:

"The way Dennis treats Sarah has really impacted how I treat you." 
And as I thought about it, I realized that the way Sarah responds to Dennis has made a difference in my actions, too. I watched as she greeted him at lunch time- full of love, obviously glad to see him- and I try to do the same thing when Zeke gets home from work. Her trust in him, even in a time of transitioning to a new home and new time of life, is something I (rather unsuccessfully so far) am trying to emulate as well.

Zeke and I were thinking, a while back, about joining a Life Group with all young couples- couples married five years or less, most without children. I'm sure that group is great, but I'm kind of glad that we chose a different one, with a mix of young marriages and more mature marriages. Having those role models, people who have been there before and came through it, is really important for my marriage right now.

I hope that some day, my marriage will be an example to a young couple. I know that our young marriage has really been impacted, changed, and bettered, because of role models like Dennis and Sarah.

Friday, March 28, 2014

... And the Burger Jumped Over the Moon...

I'm just getting back from getting a bunch of campers checked in for the weekend. I like doing check-ins... but I don't like doing check-ins late at night. I get all amped up and then have trouble sleeping. So, in an effort to slow down my brains... I give you... a story you didn't really want to know! I warn you.

In high school, I worked at Hardee's. It was quite an experience. It's actually where I was working when Zeke and I met. Anyway, Hardees was on this "low carb" kick for a while (are they still? I don't even know anymore...) where you could buy a burger with no bun. Just the extremely fatty beef patty, onions, pickles, ketchup, mustard, mayo, wrapped in lettuce. Healthy.

A lot of people who choose this option didn't realize at first that there was, in fact, no bun. Even though it said it on the sign. To keep people from getting mad, if somebody ordered the Low Carb burger, the cashiers had to explain exactly what the customer was getting themselves into.

One day, a middle-aged guy came into the store and ordered a Low Carb burger. I was working the far right hand register. I remember this vividly. Now, he didn't really seem like the low-carb type. He seemed like the "I've worked a hard physical job all day and just wanna eat" type. So I, of course, explained that there is no bun, just lettuce. He nodded, I explained again, and he stuck with his Low Carb order.

When the burger was finished, he took his to-go bag and walked away. And then walked back into the store about three seconds later, all red in the face and frowny, demanding to speak with my shift manager. I watched (more like eavesdropped) from the sidelines. The customer was pissed. Apparently he didn't realize that there was no bun. Um, duh, sir, duh. My manager tried to diffuse the situation, but the customer got more and more worked up until finally...

He threw the burger.

At my manager. The customer had pretty good aim, too. It bounced off the manager's shoulder, smearing ketchup and mustard and mayo, and hit the floor, still lovingly wrapped in it's lettuce. No bun.

And that was the only time I've ever seen a grown man throw a burger at another human being.

You can't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real


Well, I may not be thrilled about the fact that it started snowing again today, but I have to admit, it is kind of pretty....


Early this week, Zeke and I took a couple days "off" to go up to northern Minnesota and pick up some mattresses for Camp and drop off a piano.

I'm not sure when we got the most looks- when we were driving though a snowstorm with a piano strapped on the back, or driving home with the leaning tower of mattresses.

{Happy, and Pretty, too}

When Zeke's wonderful grandmother passed away, we inherited many of her paintings. I've been storing many of them, but I dug a few of them out the other day and started finding new places for them.

They make me smile.


Honestly, this has been a rough week. A rough week that's led me to find far too few moments of contentment. I'm dealing with some of this, while also struggling with a lot of this.

Yesterday was especially hard.

See, some circumstances beyond my control led me to a dark place where the enemy pelts me with lies.

"Zeke would be better off if he'd never met you."

"Your life is meaningless and hopeless."

"You deserve this more than she does and it's not fair - you're better than her."

 "God doesn't care about you." 

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:11-12
Those lies are just that- lies. Lies told to me by the evil one. I need to cling to the Truth, hear once again of God's amazing love for me through Christ. I need the belt of truth that Paul talks about later in this passage, to center me and ground me and keep me together.

And you know what? This whole thing hurts, and I am allowed to feel that. But the way I deal with it, in light of the hope to which God has called me- that has to change. 

Linking up today with Clan Donaldson and Like Mother Like Daughter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ten Minute Tuesday: Clean that Sink

One of my favorite rooms in my house is the kitchen. There are lots of windows to let natural light in, the appliances are all white... it's just a nice, cheerful, inviting room. And I barely spend any time there. The biggest reason for that is because, well, I avoid it.

See, my kitchen is bright and cheerful, but it also has these pesky dishes that never seem to be put away, the garbage that's always half-full and sorta smelly, and the sink is usually either full of dirty dishes that all seem to be staring at me, or it's layered with dried on pieces of spaghetti and what may have been gravy at one time.

In short, my sink is pretty yucky most of the time.

So for today's Ten Minute Tuesday task, let's spend a ten minutes loving on that your kitchen sink.

The first step is actually getting everything out of the sink. For me, that meant washing the five forlorn dishes that were dirty, putting away the clean ones that were sitting in my drainboard, and then looking at the drainboard more closely and saying, "Ewww," and then sticking it in the dishwasher. I also made new homes for all the assortment of dish-washing devices (sponges, brushes, a pipecleaner for smoothie cup straws) under the sink in an open tupperware container.

Then, I did a quick wipe down with some warm soapy water to get the gunk off.

Next, I took some Comet with Bleach and scrubbed out both sides, using some good elbow grease to get out the weird black scratch-looking stains that my white sink seems to collect. Now, I use natural cleaners as much as I can for the most part, but nothing has seemed to work as well on my white sinks as Comet with Bleach. I welcome suggestions on this, by the way.

I rinsed everything off, then used a little more Comet on a rag and a butter knife to get into the cracks on the edges. I rinsed everything off again, then used a new rag with my all-purpose vinegar cleaning stuff to clean the fixtures.

Ta da! Nice clean sink!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Helping Your Child to Get the Most Out of Camp

Camp is a powerful experience for a kid- it fosters new friendships, inspires independence, and in many cases, deepens faith. It can also be a scary experience, especially if a child hasn't ever been away from home.

I really believe that Camp makes a huge difference in the lives of kids. I've seen it happen. But for some kids, it's a bit of a struggle! So, how do you help your camper to get the most out of the Camp experience?

1. Security and Comfort
 The number one reason kids leave Camp early or don't have a good time? They're nervous or homesick. It's really common, among all ages of campers. There are a couple ways to prevent that before your camper shows up for Camp, sleeping bag in hand.

-Get to know the Camp
See if the Camp has any events or programs that take place during the school year. Some Camps do things like game nights or weekend retreats, and those opportunities can be a great way for your child to become more familiar and comfortable with the Camp. Of course, this isn't always possible, so another way to familiarize your camper is to visit Camp- just walk around and get to know the physical space.

-Get to know the Staff
Many Camps make visits to churches and youth events. Contact them to see if they'll be coming to visit your area. Getting to know the staff is a great way for a camper to already have a "friend" when they arrive at Camp.

-Get to know the other Campers
One of the best ways to ensure a less-nervous time at Camp? Invite a friend! Campers who are already friends have a support system built in when they arrive- they're not worried about who to sit next to or who to hang out with- they've already got a buddy.

-Consider a More Comfortable Program
Many Camps offer several summer programs, usually of different lengths. If your camper is nervous, young, or is leaving home for the first time, it's worth looking into a shorter program (three days instead of an entire week, for example). Another option could be day camps- many kids who do day camps one summer feel more comfortable with a longer stay the next summer.  

2. Enthusiasm and Excitement
Remember when your kid was a toddler and fell down? If you made it seem like no big deal, there were less tears. The same thing is true with your child today- your attitude toward Camp makes all the difference! Help your camper get excited for Camp.

-Check out Facebook
You'd be surprised how many Camps have Facebook pages these days! Search for your Camp's Facebook page and check out pictures from previous programs, themes, comments from campers...

-Look on YouTube
Some Camps also have YouTube channels with promotional materials, past program videos, and more. I'd suggest calling the Camp to ask about a YouTube channel. If they don't have a channel, many Camps do have promotional videos, and chances are they'd be more than happy to send you a copy.

-Talk to Experienced Campers
The best way to get kids excited for Camp is through other kids. Ask around your church or community to find out which kids have been to Camp before, and have your child talk with them. Most of the time, the enthusiasm will rub off on your kid pretty quickly! 

3. Encourage Rule Following and Participation
Camps have rules. These rules are put into place (by people who have been running Camps for years) to ensure that your camper has the best time possible. Encourage your child to follow those rules, and to join in the fun!

Most Camps have a list of what to bring and what not to bring. And most Camps put cell phones on the "not to bring" list. Parents, I'm looking at you, here. Leave.The.Cell.Phones.Home. Kids who bring cell phones to Camp risk losing them, having them fall in the lake (three at my Camp last summer...) and, most importantly, they risk missing out on Camp. Not having a cell phone at Camp helps kids to stay present- to focus on what's going on at Camp. And honestly, you'll be hearing all the Camp songs and stories for weeks after you pick your child up... do you really want to start that sooner?

I have had parents call the Camp where I work, concerned that, without a cell phone, their child won't be able to contact them. Trust me on this, parents. The Camp staff have your child's best interest on our hearts- if anything happens, we will contact you. You can generally send letters (and at some Camps, even e-mails!) to your camper. Homesickness is actually worse when campers have lots of access to their parents- when campers focus on having fun instead of missing their folks, they're more successful at Camp.

-Snacks Stay Home, Too
Many Camps also have snacks on the the "not to bring" list. There are lots of reasons for this- one being cleanliness in housing locations  (aka preventing bugs and other wildlife from swarming the cabins. Seriously, it happens. One year, a skunk found his hungry way into a cabin full of little campers... and they got veeerrry lucky when it wandered away...).

Other reasons include issues with sharing, campers getting all hyped up on sugar and caffeine and not sleeping, and most importantly, the prevalence of food allergies. Your camper will be very well fed at Camp- they will be just fine without a trunk full of snacks!

-Participation Makes Perfect (er, Fun, anyway)
Your camper may very well be introduced to something new during his time at Camp (like ropes courses, rock climbing, speed boat tubing...). Those new things can be kind of scary! Encourage your camper to try something new while he's at Camp! That's what it's all about!  It's also important for your camper to realize that Camp is more fun when you participate! Sitting out during a game or not singing along seem "cooler" to some campers, but really, Camp isn't very much fun if you're not joining in. Campers should step out of their comfort zone a bit while at Camp- it's part of the growing process and your child will have memories that last a lifetime!

All this being said, it's worth it to note that Camp just isn't for some kids. I like to say that I'll try just about anything once- and that's my opinion of Camp, too. I think kids should try Camp at least once. Some will love it, and some won't. My husband was one of the second group- Camp just wasn't for him (of course, that's really changed now that he's an adult!) Make sure that your camper knows that if they didn't have a good time at Camp or they decided to leave early, that's okay. It doesn't mean they're a baby or a whimp, and it doesn't mean that they're weird or a scaredy-cat. They did something super brave by trying it out!

Camp is an awesome opportunity for growth in so many kids- growth in faith, in maturity, in independence, and in friendships. You can really help make the experience a great one for your child! If you haven't already, consider getting your child signed up for Camp!

Friday, March 21, 2014

{Five Faves/7QT} Peace- Second Floor Edition

Zeke and I have lived in our current home for almost a year now. Our other place was much smaller, but I did take like, 90 million pictures of it because I'm sentimental and it was our first home as a married couple. (Awwww).

And then we moved into this home, literally across the parking lot from the other, and I've taken, like, no pictures... which is a total shame because I.Love.Our.House. And a fun thing about living at Camp? Our home has a name. Peace. My home is called Peace.

Here are six (I compromised) things I love about the second floor of Peace.

The second floor of my home was actually the first floor of a lake house about 60 years ago or so. It was donated to Camp, and Camp built a bottom floor and put the lake house on top. Crazy, right? Anyway. The second floor is over a hundred years old (whereas our first floor is only 60 years old).

And we have a (not-up-to-code-so-we-can't-use-it-yet) fireplace! With a real live mantle! Love.

The upstairs bathroom is huge. It has a built-in cupboard (on the left there) a shower (out of the picture, on the right). See the door in the bathroom? Yeah. Because it was a lake house. It's handy to have a door to the outside when you're right on a lake. And Zeke's swim trunks on the hamper? I don't even know.

The door handles on the second floor all look like this. Someday I'd like to change the pulls on the kitchen cabinets to match- they are expensive! But I love these.

Updated window treatments! They're so fancy. You just pull them down or push them up- no annoying pull strings involved. I hate those pull strings on blinds. I always get them horribly tangled.

The walls in the living/dining room have several of these cut outs- so cute. And perfect for displaying all my rocks. (Zeke would be rolling his eyes right about now).

And the newest addition to this hundred-year old part of my home? DISH.WASHER. That's right, ladies and gentlemen- I have a DISH.WASHER.  It's revolutionized my life, ladies. Mostly because I now hide dirty dishes in there when I have people coming over, all willy-nilly.

I didn't know how to take a picture of this, but the whole top floor of my house is so bright- the white kitchen, the mostly white bathroom, lots of windows- it's really lovely. I wish I could get out of bed earlier every morning so I could enjoy the sunshine longer... but I like sleep. And, well, flannel sheets.

Happy Friday, all!

Linking up with Jen and Hallie! Now go check out some more Takes and Favorites!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Hope to Which He Has Called You {Ephesians 1:18}

I pray also that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." -Ephesians 1:18

When you think about hope, what comes to mind? Honestly, I haven't had a lot of patience for hope, lately. If you've ever tried to conceive a baby without success, you know what hope feels like, and you also know how it feels when that hope comes to nothing, month after month.

I went to a retreat recently, and I've been working through a lot of the things that I learned. You know how sometimes, God just sort of whaps you over the head with something? That was this retreat for me. This is some stuff I'm working through- it's not perfect, and I'm definitely not living it out as well as I should. This post is really a reminder for me.

-   -   -

We're surrounded by the word "hope."

Campaigns have used it as a promise, a theme, a catch phrase. It's commonly used to be encouraging- "There is always hope" is one of those phrases that's used a ton on social media and memes and all kinds of things. "I Hope..." is the title of many songs.  In fact, that's one of the ways we use it most.

"I hope he calls." "I hope I make the basketball team." "I hope I pass my LSAT." "I hope her chemo shrinks the tumor." "I hope this wrinkle cream works." "I hope this is the month I get those two pink lines."

From the big things to the little things, we hope. 

In Ephesians, Paul tells us that God has called us to hope. What does that even mean?

Well, I think an important distinction needs to be made here. 

See, there are two different definitions for the word, "hope." 

The first is the way the word defines hope.
           : the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen : a feeling that something good will happen or be true, the chance that something good will happen

While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with "worldly" hope, it does present us with some problems.

It's not certain. There's a chance, but no guarantee.

If I'm hoping to get that check in the mail and I don't, I'm disappointed.

If I hope that a loved one will beat cancer and she doesn't, it's more than disappointment. I'm being beaten against the rocks of my hope, crushed, torn apart.

Worldly hope has the very real possibility of letting us down, and when it does, we can be devastated. 

This type of hope also makes us hope in something fleeting or out of our control. Putting my hope in this particular wrinkle cream may very well be misguided. I might have hope that my husband brings me flowers, but he's human- and humans mess up and disappoint us. I might study very hard for a test, hoping that I pass, but my trust is really in my own intellect, or maybe even my flash cards!

Trusting in something fallible makes us vulnerable to disappointment, as well.

Surely, that's not the hope Paul is talking about here. God wouldn't call us to to be let down and devastated, or to put our trust in the wavering things of this world. Why would He want us to know that kind of hope?

The Bible defines hope very differently. 
          :to expect with confidence, expectation of fulfillment or success, to place trust in the promise of a future event, to anticipate with certainty

As Christians, we hope in something we know. As the saying goes, "We've read the end of the story, and we know who wins."

We have a future in heaven, through the blood of Christ. We trust in that, we put our hope in that. We know that the God who loves us works all things for our good. That's hope. That's our focus.

But oh, my goodness, that is hard.  

How do we go about living a life filled with Biblical hope? Honestly, I am truly struggling with this. These are the two things I've been focusing on recently.

Remember and Remind

"This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, 
For his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; 
Great is your faithfulness. 
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; 
Therefore, I will wait for him.' " -Lamentations 3:21-24

It may be an event in our own life- an answered prayer, an event (that seemed like a total mess at the time) where you can see God's leading now, a miracle...

It may be a Biblical event, the life of a founder of the Church, or even reflecting on the cross.

Remember God's faithfulness to you, and remind yourself that God is your portion.

"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." - Romans 5:2-7

Rejoicing in suffering seems totally counter intuitive, doesn't it? Trusting that God will produce good things in our lives through suffering will provide hope for the future. And isn't it amazing what it says here? Hope does not disappoint us- because God has poured his love into our hearts! God obviously knows what's best for me- He made me, after all. And I know that God loves me. I have to trust in that. I have my hope in that.

That's the hope to which He's called me- to the hope of my salvation through the death of Christ, to the assurance that what He's promised will be fulfilled, the trust in His goodness and mercy towards a sinner like me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

{Ten Minute Tuesday} Ten Minute Act of Kindess

Today's Ten Minute Tuesday challenge is all about doing a nice thing for someone special in your life! For me, that would be my dear sweet Zeke.

Zeke sleeps with a fan by his side of the bed, and has for years. In one of those lovely twists of fate, I now can't sleep unless the fan is running... and can't sleep if it's blowing on me. Yeah.

Anyway, the other day, Zeke mentioned that his fan was dusty. I think his exact words were, "I really need to clean the dust off this fan sometime."

So today, I did it for him!

Ah, so clean.

That's the challenge for today. Take a minute and think- what nice thing could you do for someone in your life? Sew the eye back on a teddy bear? Mend a pair of pants (man, I do that a lot)? File some paperwork? Spend ten extra minutes making a special meal? You get the idea.

I had fun with this one- I was sneaky and did it while Zeke was still at work, and he was so happy when he went to turn on the fan this evening! Tee hee! I'm such a trickster! Have some fun doing a ten minute act of kindness today!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Time Tucker Escaped (The First Time, Anyway)

It was about three years ago, and I was right in the throes of student teaching. I got home from a long, not-so-great day. My lessons all went pretty well, but there was a tripping-down-three-steps-in-front-of-25-students incident (whoops) that wasn't so terribly pleasant, and my kids were chatty that day, no surprise.

In college, one of the very first things I did after I get home from student teaching was feed Tucker Turtle. 

Anyways, my plan for the day was to get home, feed Mr. Tuck, then work on my lesson plans, my homework, and then make something for myself to eat (namely, Ramen Noodles) before heading to my 6:00 class.

But when I went to feed the little guy, I couldn't find him! Now, this is unusual. RES (Red-Eared Sliders) are notorious for being a lot like dogs in their eating habits... they're always hungry. Always. Usually as soon as I walked in the door, Tucker was swimming around like a madman, er, madturtle, following my every move and practicing his "I'm STARVING!" act. He still does this, but in the morning now. On this particular day, he was nowhere to be found.

So I looked behind his sunning rock, thinking maybe he was sleeping and hadn't noticed me coming in yet. Nothing. Hiding in the rocks? Nothing.

Now I started thinking that maybe my roommate was playing some kind of sick joke on me and had taken Tucker out to mess with me. Or show her to friends. But that wasn't like her. She was messy, but not mean.

Right about then, I started freaking out. I'm super busy this week! I have way too much going on! Searching for a missing turtle in my (dump of an) apartment is not on my to-do list!

I called Zeke. He "reassured" me that Tucker would be fine for a week if he had gotten out of the tank and was roving around my apartment somewhere. I freaked out more. My little Tucky Turtle, out there on the mean streets of Chicago? Never! And besides, how could he have possibly gotten out of the tank? For some reason, I felt like the possibility of him simply disappearing into thin air was greater than him getting out of his tank.

It would not be an easy feat for him, for sure. See how far the walls are from his sunning rock? At that time, he was in a ten gallon tank- he couldn't just crawl along the bottom and hop out. He would have had to jump from the sunning rock to the side of the tank, then pull himself out. And he was super tiny then!


Well, apparently not. I found him, wedged between my dresser (the turtle tank was sitting on top of it) and the wall. There was fabric underneath his tank to protect my dresser, and the extra was hung off the back of the dresser, between the dresser and the wall. He had gotten caught up in the extra fabric, and when I pulled it back so I could shine the flashlight down the back of the dresser, out he fell.

And I freaked out even more.

He was fully tucked into his shell, and didn't move when I picked him up. He is pretty comfortable with us, so he never really tucks his head all the way into his shell anymore, and didn't even then. I hadn't seen his head tucked in so far in a very long time. I was so worried he was dead! I put him on his sunning rock, his back half in the water, to see if that helped anything. I called Zeke again to tell him that I had found our little prodigal... and to cry...

But I never got to the crying part. Tucker untucked his head from his shell and was looking around. When I walked toward him, he lept into the water and swam like mad. Like nothing had even happened.

I added something to the top of my to-do list that evening: Rearrange Tucker's tank. Have a stern talking-to with him about appropriate tank behavior.

It's happened only once more since that first escape, but with his new tank set up, he hasn't been a run-away in a while. Silly turtle.

Friday, March 14, 2014

{TT- Late!} Answer

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. -1 Peter 3:15

I have hope...

Because I know that the One who made me is good
Because He loves me so much more than I can even understand
And because He gave it all
                  to give me a second chance;
                         to wash me clean.

How amazing. What overwhelming Grace.

A little musical snibbet (yes, I said snibbet) along the same lines:

Linking up late with Clan Donaldson

Signs of Spring

After a long, cold, and snowy winter, it seems like those signs of spring are more noticeable. Probably because we're desperately watching for them.

There are the typical signs, like robins. But even robins get it wrong every now and then...

"Gosh darnit, Carl! I told you we shoulda waited another month to migrate!"
Poor robins.

And then there are the more... unusual signs of spring.

Like Zeke taking the motorcycles out of the garage and running them.

And then there's the giant puddle in the driveway.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Planning Binder Updates!

Because I get bored and need to mix things up, and because a functioning planning binder has to work for you!

Here are a couple updates I've made to ye olde planning binder recently...

New tabs! I decided I needed to organize my stuff better- so I included a Meals section to help with meal planning and to hold menus and recipes, and a Cleaning section for my Confident Mom household tasks pages. I also added a Blogging section for all my blog post brain dumps, and an Emergency Info section for prescription information, allergies, and our health insurance information. More tabs, for me, means better organization!

The Cleaning section has my Confident Mom pages, printed two to a page and cut in half.

Colorful Daily Do's pages. I'm working on eating healthier, so I added a food log section, and changed the sections to have rounded edges, cuz that's how I roll.

Finally, I decided I needed to prettify a bit more, so I took my plain binder divider pages and covered them with scrapbook paper.

Ah, updated binder!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

{TMT} Plan Those Spring Projects

After a beautiful, sunny day yesterday, it seems like Spring may actually get here. Eventually. Of course, now it's cold and there's a chance of snow today, but we'll ignore that, mmkay?

In my home, Spring unusually starts off productively- we've got Stuff we want to get done. We've got gardens to plant, house projects to start, organizing to do.

And somehow, when June starts, none of those things are done. None are even started.

I'm determined to make this year different. Determined!

Today, Zeke and I sat down and talked about what we want to get done before summer. Then we got into the nitty gritty of each of those Spring Projects. What are the steps we'll need to take before we can accomplish each of them?

For example, one of our plans is to move the office/craft room from an upstairs bedroom into one of the downstairs bedrooms. To do that, we need to ...

-Organize the stuff in the downstairs bedroom, decide what to toss/donate 
-Fix the downstairs closet door
-Organize the stuff in the office/craft room- especially paperwork (we've been bad at that lately)
-Shampoo the carpet in the downstairs bedroom
-Plan how to set up the new office/craft room downstairs

... you get the idea. By breaking each task down into smaller chunks, we're more realistic about how much work has to actually get done, and can figure out when to do it!

Got a bunch of stuff in the works this Spring? Take ten minutes to make a plan and hash out the details!


Friday, March 7, 2014

{7QT} Watermellon Shampoo, Facebook, Pants and Some Random Links

My husband (the Hunkiest of Husbands, truly) likes those 3-in-1 shampoo-conditioner-body wash concoctions.

He justifies this because most of his body is covered in hair, anyway. (It's true.) I don't share the same 3-in-1 passion.

Well, he ran out of the previous giant bottle, so we had to run into town after church on Sunday to get a new giant bottle... but they were all out! No 3-in-1 goodness to be found! 

HH searched high and low (while I looked at nail polish) and found....


Yes, my very large, very manly husband is using children's shampoo that smells like watermelon. Ponder that with me.

Also, I bit the bullet and got mah'self a Facebook page. It's a lonely, lonely place at the moment. "Like" me, really "Like" me!

Sometimes, you'll see an amateur musician on a YouTube video and go, "Man. That was terrible."

This is not one of those times. 

For some reason, the video won't embed, so follow this link. Trust me.  

Reading: The Truth About Church No One is Talking About by We Are That Family

My women's retreat last weekend took place in a big city. A city with a mall that contains a Starbucks. It was a big deal. 

During a couple of hours of free time on Saturday, I rode along with some of the other ladies to said mall and said Starbucks. And we stopped at Old Navy. And they were having a sale with jeans for $15.00! 

I am stingy when it comes to, well, everything. But especially clothes. I haven't bought new clothes (like, not from Goodwill) in over a year. All of my jeans were purchased in college. And I've gained about 15 pounds since college. I've been squeezing myself into those same jeans and feeling terrible about myself. 

Anyway. Old Navy. $15.00 jeans. I bought two (two!) pairs of jeans that are actually.my.size. What!? I love them. 

There they are... in all their unfolded glory. Excuse the unmade bed.
Having a pair of pants that fits me well has done wonders to my self-esteem. I didn't know they could do that. 

Of course, I need to hem them a little... because I'm short. 

Not bad, though, huh?

Please ignore all the stuff on my floor. And the unmade bed. And the scuff on the wall. And why is there a sponge behind my foot?

I need some suggestions. I've been cutting down on coffee by drinking more tea...

So I've really been switching one vice for another....

I've been dabbling with lots of teas but I don't think I've found a favorite. And I need advice. Tea drinkers- what's your favorite?

Okay, so I've run out of takes.   Six isn't bad, right? 

Happy Friday, all! 

I'm linking up today with Conversion Diary.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

{Theme Thursday} Dirt

About a year ago now, Zeke and I decided to undertake an exciting project.

We made ourselves a bed.

Because buying one at a store would be too easy. And because we're pretty cheap.

We also wanted a nice tall bed so we could stick storage units underneath it- because at the time we had too much stuff and not enough space for it all. The having too much stuff part hasn't really changed... we just now have more room! It's still super handy to have storage right there. I keep my off-season clothes in a tub under my side of the bed.


I helped make the bed. With my vast construction experience. In short, I used a belt sander for the first time and ended up looking like, well, like that ^

See? I helped!

Dusty dirty yucky.

And now I use a step stool to get into bed.

Linking up with Clan Donaldson and the rest of the dirty, dirty ladies today!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

{Ten Minute Tuesday} Tackle That Container Cupboard!

You've made supper, gotten everyone fed, taken care of seventy million mini-crises, and now you're running late. But the leftovers are still on the stove...

At this point, do you sense impending doom?

I know I do.

Putting leftovers away means going into that dreaded cupboard where the leftover containers overfloweth.

Today, because it's Ten Minute Tuesday, after all- let's tackle it!

Pull out the containers, sort them, and match them with lids. Are there any that are cracked? Any that don't have lids? Any that you maaaay have melted to a misshapen mess? Toss 'em. Are there any that you can't remember using? Put them in the donate bin.

Now, decide how you want to organize. Do you want to put lids with their containers? Have a box for all the lids? Make the containers you use the most frequently easily accessible.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Linking up with Growing Homemakers today! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sorting and Sore Throats...

You know it's been a long weekend when it's 7:45 on Monday evening and we're in bed.

I had a wonderful retreat this weekend. Truly. It was so wonderful. I'll have to tell you all about it sometime, but for now, I'm still processing everything. Do you do that? I've got to sit down with all this that I've learned over the weekend and sort through it and put all the thoughts where they belong.

Anyway. Zeke went to Colorado this past weekend to visit family. He left with a cold, and he came back with a COLD. Sore throat, voice is gone, congestion, the whole shebang. He headed to the doctor today because strep throat is going around, and he came home with no strep diagnosis and a scrip for antibiotics.

Adrie was not happy.

They didn't even do a throat culture! He said (and by "said," I mean "whispered to me because he doesn't have a voice") that they told him that he has, in medical terms, "an upper respiratory thing." And he has antibiotics! Silly, if you ask me. So he's not taking them yet, because why take medicine for something you don't have, right? and we're drinking tea and essential-oiling his feet and are in bed at 7:30.

And I am hoping that I don't get it. I just don't have time! I'll be working every weekend, except for Easter, until the end of April... and then summer season will be starting (and then I'll be working every moment)! No time to be sick.

Hope your Monday was less germ-ridden than ours was!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Adventures in FAM

My "check your basal body temp" alarm goes off at 5:30 every morning. You would think that after like, 8 months, I'd be used to this by now.

Surprises me every morning.

Today, my alarm went off at 5:30. I was shocked! I turned off the buzzing, reached for my thermometer, and... pressed the on button? I think? Did I?

I wasn't sure, so I grabbed my cell phone so I could use it like a flashlight to see if the display was on....and dropped the phone on the ground and heard the unmistakable sound of plastic pieces flying everywhere.

I caved and turned on the lamp, then took my temp as usual.

Now, after the BBT thing was taken care of, I had to deal with the issue of the cell phone.

Normal people would get out of bed and gather the scattered parts from the recesses of under the nightstand and on top of that pair of socks on the floor...

But I have flannel sheets... so getting out of bed was sooo not an option. Warm and cozy, you know.

So I did one of these...

Bear with me, I'm no Mama H.

And upon my foot grazing his face (read, *smacking*), my husband, still mostly asleep, instinctively pushed my leg away... which apparently was just the right movement to enact the laws of motion and gravity, and result in me... all of me.. sliding onto the floor. Head first.

I think a picture of this should be featured in Taking Charge of Your Fertility, don't you think?

Linking up with Messy Marriage and To Love, Honor, and Vacuum today, because marriage is all about loving the person who smacks you in the face with her foot.

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