Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Let me tell you about Laura.  She's my sweet cousin (our dads are brothers).  She has the biggest, brightest smile you'll probably ever see.  A soft-spoken spirit that radiates kindness.  She gets as brown as a bean in 5 minutes on the beach (which totally cramps my style on family beach trips because it takes hours for me to nix the pastiness.) She's a marathon runner. A fluent Spanish speaker.  My freshman roomie.  A music lover (she can sing and play the piano, too. oh and she can dance, too...I wish we had video of all the times waltzed and tangoed around Grandmama's living room to her old records).  And a born teacher, especially gifted with those little ones.  

A little blast from the past--tailgating, sophomore year.
She's probably going to kill me for writing this post.  But she'll just have to be embarrassed and mad at me later.  :)  I just have to say how proud of her I am.  Laura has responded in obedience to the Lord in a huge way.  On June 28, she will leave to spend the next year of her life in Ecuador teaching English.  As I think about this huge step of obedience she is taking, I am reminded that it is in all the little ways she has been obedient that have led her to this place.  It is so amazing to see how God has been working in her life these past few years, all the little ways he has prepared her for this, His mission.

Laura will be working with Emmanuel Christian School in Macas, Ecuador.  (Macas is the capital of Morona Santiago province which is located in the eastern part of the country.)
While it is a Christian school, about 70% of the students come from non-Christian families.  So, more important than her role of teaching English, she will have the opportunity to share with her students the great love the Father has for us and His desire for an intimate relationship with us.  She has said that she knows "wholeheartedly" that this is exactly what she is supposed to be doing.   What joy and peace we can experience when we follow God's leading.  I am so thankful for her example of obedience, and I am so SO excited for her in this next year of her life!  I canNOT wait to see how God continues to work through her to draw people to Himself.  

Check out these two posts to hear about all this straight from the horse's mouth... :)

{If you have a moment, will you join me in praying for Laura as she gets everything in place for her journey in June and for her life in Ecuador this next year?  Pray for strength, peace, financial provision, and the sensitivity to see and then boldness to respond to the opportunities she will have to share Christ with her students.  If God leads you to financially support His work through Laura, you can learn more about ways to do that here.}             

I'm so excited for you Laurla! Now I've just **got to get a webcam** for this ancient computer of mine so that I can actually see/talk to you while you're gone!  I can't imagine not seeing you for a whole year!         

Monday, March 28, 2011

One More Grace

I just got off the phone with a sweet friend.  I asked if her week was off to a good start and she said, you know, I got up with a bit of the "Monday morning blues" but then I saw a post on facebook that reminded me I needed to stop complaining and be thankful...I got to wake up today.  This totally resonated with me and what I've been reading and thinking about lately.

A few weeks ago, I told you I started reading One Thousand Gifts. {I can't tell you how good it is.  God has truly anointed Ann Voskamp and her writing.}  Her whole premise is "All is grace."  Did you get that? (Am I getting that?)  

{ALL is grace.} every breath. every waking up. every day that is brimming over. brimming over with the "good". the "bad".  the busyness.  the tiredness. the joy. the frustrations. all of it. All is grace. 

She included the following quote in one of her chapters. Hit me like an arrow. 

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world 'round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?

Why am I allowed two?

What am I doing with that allowance?

Later in the chapter she goes on to say, "If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything?"

Can't I?  Can't I trust Him--the One who gave up all of heaven for me--that much?  Can't I trust--and live like I trust--that if He gives me the one more grace of today, He has a grander purpose.  A grander purpose than my comfort, my plans, or my wants. 

Oh, for the grace to live like today is a grace rather than a drudgery.

And by the way, I'm on my third listen of this today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A House Guest & Success

Meet Izzy.

We've been keeping this big baby all week for my mom while she and my sister are in Springfield, MO at basketball nationals.  Caroline's team is actually playing for the championship right now.  So wish I was there!! Anyway, Reggie has had a friend this week.  They are so funny to watch.  Izzy doesn't realize that she is about 10 times bigger than Reggie, and plays with him like she would any other huge dog.  Reggie apparently has trouble remembering his size as well because when they start playing, he gets scared, lays down stiff as a board (playing dead I guess), and then as soon as Izzy walks off, he runs up to taunt her again.  He's a peewee instigator, and Izzy is a rambunctious giant.

Instigating from his perch on top of the couch...

"Mom, why do you always let her win?!"

Our house guest will depart tomorrow.  Reggie is going to be bored out of his mind.

In other news, I have SPROUTS!!

I'm still waiting on the sweet pea flowers to peek up.

String Beans
Happy Saturday to you!

Friday, March 18, 2011

a magnifying glass

"Our attention is like a magnifying glass--whatever we place it on becomes 
larger and more consuming of our time and energy."

How easy it is for me to divert my attention, my focus from the only One who is worthy.  One of my very favorite songs needs to be my desperate prayer to the Lord each day.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do You Lilac It?

i LOVE. love. this color. on my toes now, and it makes me happy.
so glad it's spring. painted toes and flip flops are two of my most favorite things.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Just a few snippets from this past weekend...I love slow, easy Saturdays...

{making apple butter}
two words: YUM-O. :) I may or may not have eaten with a spoon what wouldn't fit into the jars...
recipe adapted from here. I halved the recipe and yielded a little over 2 pints.  
First, I peeled and quartered 7 granny smith apples and put them in the crockpot. (You can cook them with the skin on so you get all the good nutrients and then just pick it out later.)

Next I drizzled 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla over the apples.  Then just covered and cooked on low for 2-3 hours.  The original recipe said to cook for 8 hours, but my crockpot always cooks everything faster so my apples were definitely done in 2 to 3.  Also, the original recipe said you would have to mash the apples with a fork after they finished cooking, but mine were completely mushy--I just stirred them with a spoon.  Then stir in 3/4 cup white sugar, 6 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves.

Cook on low for another 30 minutes to an hour.  Then spoon into jars!
 {Tie a pretty ribbon on, and I'm thinking these would make lovely happies.}

Note: I didn't boil the jars to properly seal and preserve the butter so I'm not sure how long it will keep in the fridge.  But I have a feeling it won't need to keep long because I finding plenty of excuses to eat it! :) 

{attempting to start a garden}
I'm planning to build a small raised bed in the backyard soon.  Let's just hope these seeds sprout. I have my doubts.  And so does Paul.  But he won't be too disappointed if these plants flop...it's not like he eats vegetables anyway. I mean really, who doesn't love a fresh tomato or squash from the garden?  I could totally be a vegetarian.
And now we wait...wish me luck!
{replenishing my supply of laundry detergent}
I've been making our own laundry detergent for about 4 months now...works just as well as store-bought, super easy to make, and a huge $ saver!  My sister-in-law has been making hers for probably a year now, and I know several other people who do it too.  If you'd like to give it a try, here's the recipe which I adapted from the one on this super cute blog
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar of soap, grated (such as Dial or Ivory)
1-2 drops essential oil (optional for added fragrance)

Just mix this all together and then put in a blender or food processor to get it to a smooth consistency.  Note: If you have a mediocre (at best) blender like I do, you will want to blend only small portions at a time so that your blender won't get clogged.

You only have to use 2 tablespoons per load...at first, you may feel like you're not using enough because you are so used to using a large scoop of the store-bought, but trust me, 2 tablespoons will do the job!  One recipe is enough to wash 32 loads.  
So how much does this DIY actually save you? Well, it depends on which store-bought brand you currently buy.  I did some calculations and bottom line is: with this recipe, your cost is 4 cents per load!  Liquid Tide can run as much as 35 cents per load--almost 9x the cost of the DIY.  And even if you buy the cheap stuff like we used to (i.e. powdered Arm & Hammer which is 9 cents per load) it is still a huge cost savings--less than half the price.  Yes, I'm a nerd.  I like to find ways to save money!
Hope you enjoyed your weekend, and your week is off to a wonderful start!  

Monday, March 14, 2011


I've been home today playing catch up on laundry, etc. and have had the news on.  [sidenote: I rarely watch the news on TV or even keep up with snippets online.  I hate that I do that.  I need to stay more informed.  And I've been convicted lately about my excuse to not watch because "it's only always bad news."  Shouldn't that just be one more reason for me to be praying, really praying, for our world?] This is the first time I've seen images of all the devastation from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  

Image via

Image via
Heartbreaking.  A friend had this video posted on her Facebook.  As I was watching it, I was struck by the reality of people.  Of the souls who have lost everyone and everything dear to them.  It is so easy for me to see just another far away natural disaster and think "Oh, how horrible."  But it's real.  People--people God loves--are hurting.  But I know He's in control, and that He orchestrates all things for His glory.  Praying today that through all the loss, hurt, and chaos, the people of Japan will be drawn to the heart of The One Sovereign and Compassionate God. 

Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. 10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

*Post Edit: We can be the hands and feet of Jesus here. And more pics so that I can't ignore them...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Abundance of His House

Your steadfast love, O lord, extends to the heavens,
     Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
     Your judgments are like the great deep;
     man and beast you save, O lord.
How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!
     The children of mankind take refuge in
     the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the abundance of Your house,
     and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
     in Your light do we see light.

                Psalm 36:5-9

I've been reading through Psalms lately, and my reading of this passage earlier this week couldn't have been timed more perfectly. God is just good like that, isn't he?

This week I experienced the immeasurable, unexplainable, overwhelming {abundance of His house}.  I was given the opportunity to be the 6th grade English teacher at a wonderful school starting in the fall.  Everything, from the way the interview happened to their compensation offer, can only be attributed to the Lord's goodness and grace.  

Here's the story...You can skip this part if you're not interested in details. :)

I've been substitute teaching usually at least three days a week at this school all year.  Several months ago, the principal told me that they were adding a 7th grade writing class next year, and I would definitely have an interview when they began the process.  While I was grateful for this possibility, I didn't want to "put all my eggs in one basket," so I continued to put out applications at other schools. Fast forward to this past Monday...I'm scheduled to sub, and as I'm showering and getting dressed I'm praying that God will open a door somewhere soon for me to able to teach full-time.  I never expected that "somewhere soon" would happen by 9:30 that morning.  During "activity period" (the kid's 30 minute morning break) the principal comes to my room with a smile and says, "Today is a good day!"  I start to squirm, my mind beginning to race.  She continues by asking me if I'd be okay with 6th grade--I'm thinking, "okay? I'd be thrilled to be teaching alien children at this point!"-- and if I would like to come talk with her during my free period later in the afternoon.  Of course I would.  I was in shock to say the least, but oddly enough, I wasn't freaking out nervous.  God knew what he was doing by allowing the interview to be so spur of the moment--He didn't give me time to get self-absorbed in worry, over-analyzing, or preparing.  He gave me time to just start praying for calmness and the right words to say.  And the meeting couldn't have gone any better--totally low stress.  After about thirty minutes, she said the only thing left for me to do was to meet with the headmaster over at the high school so he could "sign off" on her decision.  Fast forward to the next day, Tuesday, and here we go again with those spur of the moment things.  I was subbing again that day, and the principal tells me around 2pm that the headmaster wants to meet with me at 2:15. Hello, that's in 15 minutes!  Once again, the Lord was showing me that He was in control.  So I book it over to the high school building, and that meeting goes swimmingly as well.  Then on Thursday afternoon as soon as I get home from subbing, I get a call from the principal.  My contract had just arrived from the business office, and their offer was significantly more than what I had originally been told it would be.  More of His abundance. 

I am blessed beyond measure and reminded once again of this truth:

image via
So, lots of planning to do this summer.  Then new teacher orientation the last week of July.  Then in-service.  And then I'll welcome about 120 6th graders into the brave new world of middle school!  I'm so so excited.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DIY baking mixes

I've been wanting to make some of my own baking mixes for a while now and finally got around to it this past weekend. Super easy and a $ saver, too! 

Biscuit Mix {via allrecipes.com}
You'll Need...
10 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Directions: Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add oil and mix with a fork or pastry blender; you should have small lumps throughout the mixture. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months.

To make Buttermilk Biscuits: 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line the sheets with parchment paper. Combine 2 1/2 cups biscuit mix, 2/3 cup buttermilk**, and a pinch of salt. Stir together to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly, about 10 times. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces and place on prepared baking sheets. Brush tops of biscuits with milk or egg wash, if desired. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.

**The first time I made this recipe, I was less than impressed...the biscuits seemed dry and tough. Betting that the problem was with the baker rather than the mix, I tried making them a second time, and they turned out much, much better.  The key: add a bit more buttermilk than it calls for (but be sure not to get the dough too sticky!) and do NOT over-knead, 10x is plenty!

Pancake Mix {via Taste of Home} (yay! for whole wheat flour)
You'll Need...
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.  
Yield: 6-7 batches of pancakes (about 6-3/4 cups total).

To make Pancakes...
You'll Need:
1 egg & 3/4 cup milk
Directions:In a small bowl, whisk egg and milk. Whisk in 1 cup pancake mix. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown. Yield: about 6 pancakes per batch.

I have yet to try the following two recipes, but they got rave reviews.  I plan to try them once my current supply runs out.  Let me know how it turns out if you give either a go! 

Whole Wheat Biscuit Mix {via Grocery Shrink}
You'll need:
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached flour
6 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of cold butter
Directions: Mix all the dry ingredients together well and cut in the butter until it is in pea sized amounts.  For lighter, more layered style biscuits, it’s best not to cut the butter too small.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*If you want to skip kneading and rolling out your dough...
Homemade Bisquick Mix {via Kitchen Simplicity}
You'll Need:
5 cups flour
1/4 cup baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
Directions: Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks or in the freezer for longer storage.
Yield: 6 cups

To Make Biscuits:
Mix together 1/3 cup of milk for every 1 cup of mix. Drop onto an un-greased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degree for 10-12 min.
*Add any additional ingredients you wish such as cheese or herbs before adding the milk.
*1 cup of mix yields about 6 biscuits.

To Make Pancakes:
Mix 2 cups of mix with 1 cup of milk and 2 eggs. Cook on hot griddle.

happy biscuit and pancake making :)
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