Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sock Issues

Last week I introduced you to my friend, Christan.

This week, I want you to meet her childhood friend, Rie at Home & Harmony. I've never met Rie myself, but I've been a secret admirer from afar. She has a beautiful home. She is a gifted writer. But most of all, I love her tagline: "simple style. peaceful living"

I had to chuckle a bit when I read her recent post on socks. I've almost had a nervous breakdown when it comes to socks in our home. It's no joke that they raise my blood pressure and make my blood boil. They are never clean, matched or without holes around here. And for some silly reason, I just sleep better knowing my kiddos have a decent, matching pair of socks. Call me crazy.

So I've kind of given up on matching socks. It's the kids' job now. It's just better that way.

But I like Rie's system even better.

I went out to Target to buy some Gold Toe brand socks as soon as I read her post. Maybe this is answer to my sock issues. Maybe?

So...what drives you nutty around your house? And what systems work for you?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Blessings All Mine

Love, joy, peace, patience and all kind of yummy good fruits grow when I plant myself like a tree next to the water of God's word. I dwell in the dry desert land when I trust in my own resources rather than trusting an all-wise and powerful God. Life-giving water nourishes my soul, fears dissolve, and anxiety flees. So I'm either camping out by the healing water, or I'm dying in barren wasteland. Plain and simple. {Reflections on Jeremiah 17:5-8}

114. Sunshine, blue sky, and fresh air
115. Remembering sacrifices
116. Brave men and women who serve our country
117. Brunchy, yummy food & company
118. A weekend to rest, think, & pray
119. Digging in the dirt
120. Slowing down, learning to rest
121. All is light and momentary
122. Heroes, help & hope in Joplin
123. The beginning of summer
124. Planning glorious beach days
125. Freedom in Christ
126. Great is Thy faithfulness (despite my unfaithfulness)
127. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth...
128. Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friendships with Women

There have been many times in life when I have met someone and thought, "Wow! I wish she was my next door neighbor--or at least lived in my same town. I'd love for this friendship to grow!"

But because of distance, time, and commitments--and whatever other excuses I'd come up with--I've had to say goodbye to a new friend and to hopes of continued friendship.

Is that just me, or is it you, too?

And there are others times I reflect on friendships in my life, and I think, "I've got this great friend over here, and that sweet friend over there, and I just wish they all lived on my block, and they all knew each other. Like college!"

But that's hard when they are scattered all over. All. Over.

Is that just me, too, or is that also you sometimes?

And then there are times I reflect on past friendships, and I wonder why a particular one has fizzled. Did I not put enough time into the friendship? Did I not care and tend and nourish our good relationship? Or did God just have different roads for us to follow, and while He brings together, He also grows us apart, too?

Is that just me, or have you experienced this, too?

Growing friendships as an adult is different, I'm discovering. I'm also learning that while I need and love my dear husband, he'll never want to go to the spa with me, linger over coffee, give great advice on fashion, or truly understand how my female mind works. And that's okay. That's actually the way it's supposed to be. But I desperately need someone who does.

And then there are many more times that I have to remember that no one person is designed to fill my needs. No husband, no girlfriend. My heart is shaped for God alone, and he is the truest of all friends who indeed sticks closer than a brother. {Proverbs 18:24}

This past year I read a great book that helped me to process through some of these thoughts. Friendships for Grown-Ups:What I Missed and Learned Along the Way was written by Lisa Whelchel. Remember her as Blair from the famous Facts of Life sitcom from the '80s? She has actually been a favorite author of mine, and I even got the chance to meet her a few years back. It's kind of a funny story, and I'll spare you the sappy details, but it was still special to see her.

My college friend, Michelle, and I had a blast meeting her face to face. And yes, she is much shorter in person than I expected!

Reading her books is like sitting across the table from her sipping a cup of sweet tea while listening to her incredible stories and learning from her profound wisdom. More importantly, she's a woman who loves God, and she inspires you to, as well.

So, how do you tend and grow friendships as an adult? And how has that changed over the years? And do you think that technology has really helped us as women who long to connect, or has it just hindered our real connection? And who would like to start a quilting bee with me this summer because I'm not so sure I was born in the right century...

These are just a few of the things I think about when I think about friendships with women.

Is that just me, or is it you, too?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning My Heart

I'm no Martha Stewart or Fly Lady, and in the push to finish our school year at home, I've kind of just let routine cleaning or organization fall by the wayside. So this week I've been picking up the pieces and dwelling on peace as I do some much needed housework.

And it's amazing to me how good it feels to deep clean a bathroom or reorganize a closet.

So good in fact, that I finally realized the simple secret to reorganizing my cabinets. Completely empty them out. Sort, throw away, limit, and carefully replace only what is necessary. Voila!

And I'm also realizing how vital this is to my peace journey.

Stop the treadmill. Empty the schedule. Sort through what's important. Set better limits. Prioritize what truly is necessary. Pray about everything. Everything. But most of all, trust God. For trusting Him is the pathway to perfect peace.

So while my home does not have to be squeaky clean or picture perfect to be peaceful, I am realizing that when I let the chaos of my home {and heart} collect, clutter, and overwhelm me, it is often true that I have also neglected to keep my mind stayed on Jesus, my Prince of Peace. I've made things more important than people. And I've allowed worry or fear to replace my trust in God.

Isaiah 26:3 says it simply: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

It's kind of like spring cleaning in the summer. Spring cleaning my home. Spring cleaning my heart.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Today my dear friend and cheerleader in the faith, Christan, is the Daily Guest on Dayspring's (in)courage home for the hearts of woman site. Yippee! She is a gifted writer, but even more than that, she has a heart for God and encouraging women. You can visit her at Repurposed Heart and get to know her a bit. Please do...you'll be blessed a thousand times over!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thank You, Lord

If I had to be a cow, I'd be a grass-fed "Nebraska" Longhorn.

I'm listening to some oldies but goodies to kick off the summer. I remember first hearing Cindy Morgan's song, How Could I Ask For More, at Bible camp years ago. It reminds me to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Simple gifts from a good God.

How Could I Ask For More
There's nothing like the warmth of a summer afternoon
Waking to the sunlight, and being cradled by the moon
Catching fireflies at night
Building castles in the sand
Kissing Mama's face goodnight
Holding Daddy's hand
Thank you Lord, how could I ask for more...

So if there's anything I've learned
From this journey I am on
Simple truths will keep you going
Simple love will keep you strong
Cause there are questions without answers
Flames that never die
Heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise
So thank you Lord, oh thank you Lord
How could I ask for more.

Thank you Lord, for these good gifts...
102. The soil of sanctification
103. Celebrating milestones with family
104. Commencing
105. Grandma's hugs (and her Special K bars, too)
106. Ambrosia fruit salad
107. Brothers coming to my rescue
108. Melody of chirping birds
109. Sky shining blue and wispy cotton candy clouds
110. Grazing cows in Nebraska fields
111. Children exploring nature
112. Sunday afternoon in the country
113. A week alone with my boy-man

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Seeds of Peace

Multitasking is a myth.

I cannot do many things well.
I cannot do many things.
I can do one thing.

This summer I'm focusing on one thing. Peace

I'm planting peace.
I'm tilling and hoeing and preparing my rows.
I'm sowing seeds of truth.

Care to see what my garden looks like?

Row 1
Psalms 119:165
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Row 2
Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Row 3

Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Row 4
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Friday, May 20, 2011


The lovely gift from DaySpring and the women of {in}courage. Thank you!

I've been thinking a lot about encouragement lately. How desperately I need it. How it's the life blood of my soul. And how it's linked to courage. And courage? I need me some courage. Courage, according to wise Webster, is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk and uncertainty. Small fears have mushroomed and snowballed overnight (over years?) leaving me practically paralyzed some days and wondering how to trust again with the faith of a child.

And God knew. And He met me.

This week, encouragement came wrapped up in a box delivered by the postman. A gift. For me? Oh yes...I remember. I had recently applied for a scholarship to a blogging conference sponsored by the wonderful women at {in}courage and DaySpring. And I didn't get it. Oh, I really wasn't surprised. I had actually expected that. And to tell the truth, I was a bit relieved. But I was absolutely overwhelmed when they wanted to send me a gift, just for trying. A gift to thank me, little 'ole me, for trying. For risking my heart and sharing my story. And suddenly my childlike faith is growing.

Later in the week I received a sweet email message of courage from a new friend. Words like honey that, little did she know, gently calmed underlying fears and uncertainty I'd been wrestling with time and again. Encouragement builds courage to take more risks and battle with these crazy fears in my heart. My courage is inflating like a big, beautiful balloon, and I'm giddy with childish delight. These foolish fears start to melt away, and my faith is strengthened once more.

Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." For me this week, it's an email and the gift of a necklace. Encouragement. Gold.

(I'm over the moon about this necklace! It's so, so lovely. Really! A little courage clasped around my neck. Now to get it back from my little girl who loves it, too...)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Syttende Mai!

Happy May 17th!

Happy Norwegian Constitution Day!

To celebrate, we made a dala horse cookie cake (which I guess is traditionally Swedish, which is a little ironic). But I found these sweet dala horse cake pans at Ikea this past summer, so I had to have an occasion to use them.

They are Scandinavian, though, and that's good enough for me.

Aren't they cute?

I love this yummy cookie recipe I found at allrecipes.com, but I'm not sure we'll be using baking it in the dala horse pans again. Next year we'll just try a regular cake recipes. {There's reasons why I'm not posting pictures of our dala horse cookie cake...maybe it'll still taste okay, though?}

It's the perfect day to remember back to 3 years ago when my children had Norwegian Heritage classes with my very Norwegian grandmother. She even made bunads for them to wear during our visit to their home in Lake Mills, Iowa. It was a special time.

Both of my grandmothers (and one of my grandfathers) are wonderfully Norwegian, and I'm thankful. I have fond memories of growing up with lefse and meatballs, and yes, even lutefisk. They have preserved the traditions and stories of our ancestors well. I love them, and I love my heritage.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings

The internet can either be a glorious gold mine or a dangerous mud pit. Here's a little piece of gold I found this past week: I just discovered an online book club with recent posts from the all-inspiring book, One Thousand Gifts. Check out this amazing series with the author herself, Ann Voskamp. The sweet gals at (in)courage are truly top notch. Have you visited them before? You must! Go, and be encouraged today...

And I'm still counting...
89. Water droplets on green leaves
90. Chocolate brownies & lemon cupcakes with old friends
91. "God is so good"
92. Choir concerts
93. Miss Potter
94. Snuggling up on a rainy afternoon
95. Umbrellas
96. Snappy, happy boy
97. Planting peace
98. Encouragement from (in)courage
99. Cereal Night with Gospel Community Group
100. Remembering truth
101. Tuning my heart to sing His praise

Friday, May 13, 2011

Planting Peace

This summer I'm living by one word: Peace.

One word to rule my thoughts. One word to govern my decisions. One pursuit to do the kind of heart work that only the Great Gardener can do. Grow peace.

For far too long, I've lived by striving. Worry grows deep, deep roots. Stress shoots up, and its fruit is anxiety, choking out life-giving joy.

So this summer I'm pulling weeds of worry. I'm watering my soul, and resting in the light of the Son. I'm praying for tendrils of trust to climb the dry, barren places of my heart and germinate new growth. New roots. New fruit.

I'm planting peace.

Parenting the Generations

I stumbled upon these wise words recently in a post by Ann Voskamp entitled, "How Every Parent Actually Parents Thousands of Children." They challenge me. Big time.

"Inside the frames, the bodies, the souls of our children, reside the children still to come. And the children then still to come. Like nestled dolls, future generations dwell within the child whose eyes I now look into, whose hands I now touch. Every day we parent not one child, or even a few children, but every day we parent innumerable, countless children. When I raise my voice, frustrated with a child, I speak to generations of children. When I wipe away a tear, comfort, listen, I honor centuries of children. When we meet our children, children we will not live to meet on this earth, are met, shaped, formed. Parented."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rethinking Parenting

Rethinking the whole parenting thing these days. Oh, we've decided to keep the kids {*wink*}, we're just trying to figure out how to keep our sanity. And lead them to Jesus. And get some sleep at night. And...well, you get the picture.

So I can't wait to read the rest of this post by Kevin DeYoung I stumbled across at the Gospel Coalition today. I've skimmed through the beginning, but in the middle of spelling, math, laundry, and birthday parties, I'll have to wait to read the rest until I have a moment to myself. Or until I lock myself in my bathroom for privacy.

In the meantime...check it out, and let me know what you think!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Counting My Blessings (instead of sheep)

81. Double rainbows, reminders of faithful promises kept
82. Our patio...a little vacation in the backyard
83. Cardinals baseball, hot dogs, cotton candy & autographs!
84. Field Day, friends & fun
85. Klondike Park, Katy Trail & ice cream
86. Mother's Day with my family
87. Two weeks left until summer vacation
88. Counting down days to beach paradise

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day Thoughts

This past week the mama bird who built her mansion of a nest in our front door wreath, so big in fact that it fell out of our wreath, lost all of her eggs. All five eggs.

My heart sank at the sight, and I really did shed a tear for those baby birds that died and their mourning mother. And for our children who were counting eggs and so looking forward to witnessing their miraculous birth.

And I had to remind myself just the opposite of what I usually have to remind myself daily: that as much as God loves me, He also loves the sparrow, and he takes care of the birds of the air, too. Yes, He'll even take care of this sorrowing mama bird, too.

This Mother's Day, I have been thinking more about the women who have lost. Women who have lost babies. Women who have lost their dreams. Women who need to remember that God knows and cares and loves them--deeply.

I read a post this past week that helps us understand how to celebrate Mother's Day. It's helpful and gives hope especially to women that will struggle with this day.

I have one dear friend who has been walking a long, hard road of wanting to be a mother but who is still waiting patiently for children. Although she would write her story differently, she chooses each day to say "yes" to the story that God has written for her. I'm praying for her this Mother's Day, that God would fill the emptiness in her heart with His love and hope for the day that her longing heart will be filled. Her heart's desire for children may not be fulfilled in this lifetime, but one day her heart's burden will be completely lifted and she will long no more.

I have another friend who is spending what could be the last days with her dear mother. The news came unexpected, and while they are praying for many more days together, they are also preparing for loss. Getting ready to say good-bye this Mother's Day weekend was not in the story she would have written for her life, but she, too, says "yes" to God and chooses to trust Him in these hard, hard days.

Dear Jesus, You care for the birds of the air. Yes, and how much more you care for your own children! Wrap your arms of comfort around your daughters who are grieving the loss of a child, the loss of a dream, and the loss of a mother and friend. Remind them of your never-ending love, even when they don't understand. Especially today. Come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A "God" Day

We both got up on the wrong side of the bed.

She knew it and so did I.

And she wrote me this thoughtful note to tell me just what she was thinking.

{She even neatly trimmed it.}

But she first misspelled "good" and wrote "god" so it originally said:

"It is a bad day for me but my Mommy thinks it is a god day for me."

And when she handed it to me, I slowly started to smile again.

Yes, everyday is a "God" day for us, dear one. Especially the bad days.

I didn't want her to correct her spelling {this time}, but she did.

But I'll always remember what it first said.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Let them eat....COOKIES!

Today my son and I baked up a batch of hospitality to give to our new neighbors. Cookies! And the best part about making cookies is...making cookie dough. Yum, yum!

I discovered this recipe from my friend Megan, who is a Mary Poppins wanna-be. (I think she's pretty close!) It's been one of my favorite cookie recipes since. A little cookie heaven, I say.

Here's Megan's recipe:

Megan's Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

(makes a double batch--double the fun, double the YUM!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


  • 1.5 C sugar
  • 2 C softened butter (real butter, not shortening or margarine)
  • 1.5 C brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 5.5 C white flour
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 packages of colored M&Ms
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Add the flour a cup at a time. Mix in the chocolate chips. Form dough into balls and press as many M&Ms into each ball as possible. Arrange on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven even if they don't look done. They will firm up on the warm cookie sheet after being in the oven.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Growing in Grace

I've been obsessed with all things green lately. Maybe it's been all this rain, or maybe it's that my inner green thumb is starting to come out. (Is that even possible?) Every time I see something green poking out of the earth, I am almost beside myself. Growth after a cold, barren winter is so, so encouraging. For the earth, and for my soul, too.

Scotty Smith has been a longtime favorite pastor of mine. While he's not my pastor, he pastors all who are who are his "friends" on Facebook and those who follow him on Twitter. And while his online prayers are super inspiring, I've also been encouraged by the daily shots of wisdom he's been serving up lately in a series of posts I'll call "Signs of Growing in Grace." For me, it's kind of a check-list for my heart. I live in a world where I can't measure much these days, so it's been a good little inventory to assess just how my heart is doing. And when I see little green shoots of love, joy, or peace poking out of my heart, I'm greatly encouraged.

Here's a few of my favorites posts to share with you, thanks to Scotty Smith.

A sign you're growing in grace: You're beginning to understand that suffering is good soil for growing a gospel heart.

A sign you're growing in grace: You care about the impact you have on others, because you know you're capable of harm.

A sign you're growing in grace: Your commitment to loving well trumps your "need" to be understood and liked.

A sign you're growing in grace: The little book in which you keep a record of wrongs done to you has less pages than ever.

A sign you're growing in grace: While not condemning you, the gospel is exposing the depth of your selfishness & greed.

A sign you're growing in grace: You're always coming back to the gospel in order to move forward in the Kingdom.

A sign you're growing in grace: You fully enjoy Christian liberty & you fully enjoy limiting your freedom out of love.

A sign you're growing in grace: You're learning how to correct your children without crushing their spirits.

A sign you're growing in grace: You look to grow through things, not just get over things. Change means more than relief.

A sign you're growing in grace: Fewer sighs of irritation, more signs of sanctification.

And my personal favorite...

A sign you're growing in grace: The hope of the gospel is freeing you from Pollyanna-like denial & Eeyore-like despondency.

Check him out on Facebook or Twitter!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Counting My Blessings

71. 9 years of life with my middle boy
72. cookie cake to celebrate
73. piano recitals with friends
74. funny, funny boys
75. one, two, three, four eggs in our nest
76. growing in grace
77. planning beach vacations
78. time to unwind at Starbucks
79. my 6 year old baby girl falling asleep in my lap
80. safety, peace, & protection

Count along with me, friends. Won't you?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breakfast with Jesus

What do Swedish Fish, goldfish, cinnamon rolls, and our Risen Lord have in common?

That's what was on the breakfast menu in our home the week after Easter! (Yes, we're all health nuts around here.)

Inspired by one of my favorite parts of John where the resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples on the beach for a little morning fish fry, I thought we'd read John 21 together and have our own breakfast of fish and bread. Okay, goldfish crackers and Swedish Fish (left over from an egg hunt). I also thought I'd jazz up our bread with a little cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar for some morning cinnamon rolls. Because, really, I think Jesus would have done the same if he had a little extra cinnamon around that morning, too.

It was the perfect Resurrection breakfast to talk about the joy of being Easter people. And I think it'll become a new tradition.