Sunday, April 3, 2016

Writing my way into the Dawn of Spring


Thinking back on my time at a writer's conference that I went to this year has been so good for me. I had no idea that there were so many ways of writing, of comprehending what you write, or even that there are different genres of writing. I'm sure that you smart and talented people knew this, but it was all new to me. 
I'm one of those writers who have moments of inspiration, where I suddenly have a lightbulb go off in my head and I sit down and scribble out my thoughts and it just all comes together in one brilliant post; and I feel so accomplished and happy. I hit send, and away it goes on my Facebook, racking up views and likes (or not) and my feeling of accomplishment is euphoric. 
Then there's the spaces (and they are the huge spaces in time, up to a year or more) where I don't get inspiration at all. I see the sun in the blue sky and feel it on my skin and the breeze blowing on my face, and it does nothing for my heart. It's kind of like dusk on a grey winter evening. 

There's no emotions. No joy. No tears, either. 
It's just, empty. Or more like; 
Blank. 
Writer's block? I was told that there is no such thing. Writers block does not exist. It's either a lack of sleep, low blood sugar, hunger, or a need for fresh air. There is always something to write about, even if it's crazy things like an ant crawling across your floor, or the dogwood petal stuck on your windshield, or sticky fingerprints on your computer screen. There is always something to write, they told me emphatically. 

But what if my heart is empty? My thoughts are numbingly lifeless? Or what if one single thought is clamoring piercingly through the cold night air of my consciousness, and it's too difficult, too painful to begin to articulate on paper or the keyboard? Could I write then? 
Maybe not. 
But I could mutter. I might even be able to stutter. 
And would you know, God loves those kinds of prayers? You might not even think of them as prayers. Or even sentences. But the halting words, the frequent pauses are more precious than gold to Him because they are from His child. Everything I feel and think is important to Him.
I didn't used to believe that. But I sure do today. 
I communicate so much more, and better now, both in prayer and with my precious family. I feel more and hear more, too. 
I love hearing my little girl chattering to me from her place on the living room floor, surrounded by her mess of sticker dolls. My tall 9 year old son as he crashes through the front door with the ruddy glow of the outdoors scented with the blooming daffodils and freshly cut grass. My strong, loving husband as he opens the leather bible at the dinner table, reading the words of Jesus to his little family. 
There are words all around me. Both good and not so good. But I'm learning to adjust my listening ear to the good, and filter out the negative. 
To see the beauty in the rays of the sun, the happiness in the smell of cut grass, joy in the laugh of my beautiful children, security and love in the embrace of my husband. To learn to know without a doubt, that God is good. All the time. 



Suddenly I look up, and I know: 
It's spring.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Split Seconds

I come to the door of my room, and survey the house. 
The kids fall silent in the midst of their play as they realize that because of them, mom is probably not happy with what she sees. 
There's chips on the floor. Sticky juice puddles on the counter. Puzzle pieces, angry birds toys and stuffed animals lay strewn in the front room and the den. 

It's only Monday. I should be full of spiritual health and vibrancy from yesterday, listening to a morning full of messages about God and His love for us, how to apply basic truths to our everyday life and being around picturesque families who have neatly dressed children with clean hands and faces. 


Growing up, I heard time and time again how important it is to have that QUIET time in the early morning, without the noise and disturbances of usual life. "Put away life for one moment. Shut the door and close your ears against the demands of your home and listen for the voice of God. He can't speak into your heart if it is too busy trying to filter out His voice from your everyday life noise." 

But as I stand at the door of my room, I know that I can't just close my bedroom door against my two beautiful children for myself, or to read my bible completely undisturbed without my little early bird girl waking up and wanting to crawl into our bed and chatter. Or that I need to minister and serve my husband breakfast and coffee before he leaves for a long day at work. 

So what then? How does God walk with me and minister to my heart when I can't stop and have 5 minutes of quiet with my Bible? How does He help me grow in the ant-attracting puddles of juice and the stale chips on the floor? 


It was in that moment that I felt like God spoke to my heart and said: 
"It's here. It is right here, in these split seconds where you grow. How you respond to the situation I have placed before you is your chance to make a difference in the little lives that watch you, that learn from you, that love and adore you. How will you talk to them? How will you treat them when you clean up their little spills, their few chips that they dropped? Will you take this as a learning curve from Me? Will you love them like I love you?" 

I breathe in and realize that my kids are still staring at me, waiting for my reaction. My son looks up at me and I hear him say hesitatingly: "Mom? Are you okay?"

I smile, reach out my hand and say "Come, my loves. Help mommy clean up the house."

And all is well, in my heart, in their eyes and in our little world where we learn and grow together. 

In those split seconds. 




Monday, May 13, 2013


Gentleness. 

What is gentleness? 
We think of it when we carefully hold a newborn, or when we give instructions to the movers as they unpack your grandmother's fragile china. We use it in directions to our children as we unravel brother's hair from sister's sticky fingers, and when we comfort a friend grieving the loss of a loved one gone on before. 

But do we really know what gentleness is? Focus On The Family Gary Thomas writes: 
"Gentleness is a strong hand with a soft touch. It is a tender, compassionate approach to towards others weaknesses and limitations. A gentle person still speaks truth, sometimes even painful truth, but in doing so guards his tone so that the truth can be well received."

Gentleness takes on many outfits in the daily life of a woman. It's worn in your smile as you patiently work with intense and highly energetic children in your ministry. Its worn in your touch as you shake the hand of a stranger, making him or her feel welcome in your home or church. Its worn in your attitude as you listen to your husband talk about his day, instead of unloading on him about your own.

Gentleness isn't just a cute little kids song we sing, or a word we notice in the Bible every once in a while. Paul said he was gentle to the Thessalonians as he shared the Gospel with them because "you are dear to us." 1 Thess 2:7-8 
He told Timothy that a "servant of the Lord must not strive (struggle or or fight vigorously) but be gentle to ALL men..."
And the wisdom that God gives us "is first pure, then peaceable, GENTLE...." 

Gentleness is not necessarily a gift, as much as it it a choice. Max Lucado writes:
"I choose gentleness. Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice, may it only be in prayer. If I make a demand, may it only be of myself." 

Gentleness does not mean that you will become less. It means the very opposite. It's not me who says so; its God. 
Psalm 18:35 - "Your gentleness has made me great."

Jen Matthews

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I haven't blogged in a while, but I have been reading other people's blogs; and I was so encouraged by this one I just had to share it with you guys.
Enjoy!


It was one of those days. I was driving to the airport in the pouring rain. The skies were grey. The day felt a bit gloomy. And honestly, so did I.
There were just a lot of little things swarming my thoughts. Feelings of inadequacy stinging. “There are so many things I’m responsible for and never enough hours in the day. I do enough to keep things from sinking. But I just wonder if I’m doing anything well. I don’t think I am – doing anything well.”
The more I focused on these thoughts, the more overpowered I became. The more overpowered I became, the more withdrawn I felt.
I pulled into the parking space and started the fight with my luggage. My suitcase has two wheels missing. And of course I keep intending to do something about this. But I don’t have time. So I make do with a crazy suitcase and a crazy life and a crazy sense I should just pack my family up and move out west somewhere. Live on a ranch where we grow our own food and I cook beans in a black pot over an open flame.
Surely that would fix everything.
Except that I know it wouldn’t.
Because the chaos isn’t from my circumstances. It’s inside me.
I boarded the plane. I stared out the window. I watched the grey clouds envelop us.
And then the grey broke.
Suddenly, we rose above the clouds and the sun was shining crazy bright and far wide and fabulously clear.
The clouds were just a temporary covering. They didn’t stop the sun from shining. They just prevented my eyes from seeing the sun. And it wasn’t just the sky that appeared a little brighter. My mood did as well.
I started to shift from feeling overpowered to empowered as I realized three things:
Just because I feel it doesn’t make it real.
Just like I felt the sun was gone but it was very much still there, I might feel like I’m not doing anything well, but it doesn’t make it true. The fact that I have weaknesses doesn’t make everything about me weak. I have plenty of strengths.
All I have to do is ask a couple of my friends or my family members to help me see what I do well. I can celebrate those, and then get a plan for bettering things that need improvement. I can start by identifying one thing to improve on this month. And do a little toward making that one thing better.
There are a lot of people who would trade their best day for my worst day.
Yes, I have a lot to manage. And yes, sometimes things get a little foggy. But that doesn’t mean I have to stay swallowed up in the grey. That means I need to get my head above the clouds and see all the many places where the sun is shining brightly in my life. So, I can start making a list of things for which I need to be thankful.
My mind needs some space to think.
If I always run at a breakneck pace, I’m eventually going to break. My mind is a powerful tool, capable of seeing things that can be done more efficiently and effectively if I give myself time to think. When is the last time I just sat quietly with a pen and paper and asked the Lord to help me think?
As 2 Corinthians 12:9 teaches, God’s power is made perfect in weakness. When I’m sinking in thoughts of inadequacy and plans to relocate out west, I remember that my ability is not based on what I can do. My ability and strength come from the One who can do all things. With the Lord working in me and through my weaknesses, I can feel the transformation from being overpowered to empowered taking place.
If the clouds have been looming close lately, maybe it’s time to stop. Pause. Lift your eyes to an altitude that can rearrange your attitude.

Monday, July 30, 2012

That moment when you realize you should have wrapped your gift...

Yes. I gave a book as a gift. What can I say? I like to read, and there's always something homey about a house when you walk in and see books on a shelf.
I was seriously staring at my book while we were literally driving down the road to go to a wedding reception, wondering why on earth I didn't grab a gift bag on my way out the door?!? ... when suddenly I decided to go all "pintrest" on it.

I grabbed a brown napkin from my glove box while my husband looked on with interest. I think the napkin came from Burger King. lol.
Unfolding the napkin, I tore it in half and started twisting it to look like twine.


I had to untwist a bit of the end and wrap it in the other half of the napkin, and twisted it all together to make a long "twine".
Then I wrote a lil something on the inside of the book, wrapped the napkin/twine around it and tied it up!

No, its not fancy, and after I took the pic I readjusted the bow a bit to look a lil more presentable. But all in all, not bad.
Especially since it was a napkin from Burger King.
But hey; isn't it the thought that counts? :)
Later!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Hello Friends!

This is a new attempt for me, and I hope a successful one!
There have been times when I'd wished there was another way for me to share adventures or pictures other than just Facebook or Google+, and so I'm trying this!
My first blog is going to be...
Wait for it...
about FOOD! Haha!
My sister made these delicious pastries this morning, and seriously, they are to DIE for.
Some of you have asked for the recipe, so here it is!
http://whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/puff-pastry/
Here is the Pastry Recipe:

Puff Pastry Recipe


Yield: @ 2 lbs or @ 910g worth of Puff Pastry
This recipe is based off of "The Professional Pastry Chef" by Bo Friberg

Ingredients:

Butter Block Ingredients

  • 1 lb + 3 1/2 T (510g) cold unsalted Butter
  • 2 t (10ml) Lemon Juice
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1 c (130g) Bread Flour

Dough Ingredients

  • 3 c (400g) Bread Flour, approximately
  • 3 1/2 T (55g) soft unsalted Butter
  • 2 t Salt
  • 1 c (240ml) cold Water

Directions:

Make Butter Blockpuff pastry recipe
1. In mixer w/ paddle attachment, work butter lemon juice, salt, and flour into a smooth paste.
2. On a sheet of wax paper, roughly form an approx. 6" square with the butter block mixture. Lay another piece of wax paper on top and smooth out the square & straighten the sides. Peel back each wax paper sheet & re-lay as it wrinkles to keep a smooth, even surface. After block's thickness & sides are even, refrigerate until firm.
Make the doughpuff pastry recipe
1. Sift flour onto your work surface (preferably something chilly like granite or marble slab) Pinch butter into chunks and place on top of flour. Continue pinching butter into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Now it's kind of like making fresh pasta. Shape into a mound, then make a well in the center of the mound. Add the salt & cold water into the well, then with a fork, use a whisking motion to gradually incorporate the well's sides into the water. When it starts to form a solid mass, finish incorporating the flour by kneading. Incorporate just until it is still sticky and has a rough texture. Adjust the water & flour as needed. Try to knead as little as possible. Puff pastry likes lazy kneaders.
3. Form dough into a ball, remember-knead as little as possible. Flatten the ball a bit, then cut a cross halfway through the dough. Wrap it up & let rest in fridge for 30 minutes.
You'll want the Butter Block to have approximately the same consistency as the Dough, after the dough is rested. You don't want the butter rock hard, but not mushy soft, either. A dough that is softer than the butter will stretch while the butter doesn't. If the butter is softer than the dough, it will be pushed out the sides. Either suck to some degree. You may have to adjust chill/resting times for either dough or butter block so they are about the same. Kitchen temp., how long it took to make the dough, fridge temp., all affect the consistency of the Butter Block & Dough. Figure out adjustments to make so they'll work together homogeneously. It may take a time or two, but you'll get the hang of it. While everything is chilling, get to work. Clean that kitchen up. Then relax & get ready to assemble.
Assemblypuff pastry assembly
1. Pull the corners of the cuts out of the dough ball to make a square shape. Roll the dough out to a square slightly thicker in the center than on the sides, and slightly larger than the butter block.
2. Place the butter block diagonally on the dough square, so that the butter corners are pointed at the middle of the dough sides. Fold the uncovered dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.
3. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2" thick. Remember to keep dusting with flour whenever needed to keep the dough from sticking & tearing the layers.
4. Size up your rectangle visually into 3. Fold one third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over. Just like a tri-fold brochure. Try to have everything as even as possible. All the edges should match fairly closely. Put on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Relax, read the paper, check email, whatever you like.
5. Roll out to 1/2" thick and repeat the fold. Don't forget to flour as you roll. Plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total five roll & folds.
6. After the last fold, roll the rectangle out to about 3/4". If it is difficult, put dough in the fridge for a bit to relax the gluten. If using immediately, cover, rest in fridge for about 30 minutes, then use as needed. If it's for later, cut into sections big enough but that still fit easily in your freezer (usually just in half), layer with wax paper between sections, freezer bag it, & store until needed.

 I'm sure you can use any filling, but since I had Cherry Pie Filling on hand, my sister just used that.


And here is the Danish Recipe:
http://sweetbaitblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/cherry-cheese-danish.html
 This is a super easy and delicious recipe!

For the danish
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 can cherry pie filling
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla in cream cheese

For the icing
1/4 cup powdered sugar
milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

OK...this is easy peasy...preheat your oven to 375 OR 400 if your oven is like mine (in need of repair). Thaw your puff pastry, unfold, and cut in to squares...make them whatever size you like. I like mine a little smaller.

Make cream cheese filling by heating your cream cheese in the microwave to soften. Just 10 seconds or so, you need to be able to stir it around. Mix in your sugar and vanilla.

Assemble by putting a blob (that's a technical term) of cream cheese in the middle of pastry square....I spread it out a little bit on the diagonal down the center. Dump (another technical term) some of your cherry pie filing over cream cheese. Take the two sides of the pastry that you didn't spread cream cheese on and fold over the center...pinch together so it stays closed. Bake for (crap I forgot to time it) ummmm maybe the pastry box will tell you? Maybe 12-15 mins? Maybe you just keep checking it? I sort of tell by smell...when I can smell it I check on it.

When you're done let the danish cool on a wire rack. I put the wire rack on top of the baking sheet I used so it catches the drizzle from the icing.

Now, on to the icing...just mix your powdered sugar, extracts and milk till you get a nice consistency for drizzling. Should run off the spoon, but not overly runny.  After the danish is cooled completely drizzle your icing.

I think she made a whole batch, and I'm pretty sure they won't last the day.
We ate them with hot coffee and chill time with family.
If you try them, I promise you'll love them!
Enjoy!