Saturday, April 18

The Big Boy's Bedroom

This room was a lot of fun to do. I learned how to use an air nailer, cut and hang window casings and mouldings and I can't WAIT to show my boys. This is the only time I ever expect it to be so tidy. :) wait till you see what the inside of their closet lo

Just used this beast. It is half as big as I am and weighs almost as much. Had to sit on the board to hold it still but that miserable corner cut is done. #dewalt #DIY  The older two boys share a bedroom which we made from two small bedrooms about five years ago.  Life happened and it kind of lingered not-quite-done.
On a whim, I had them clean (it took All. Day.) and then we swept and got to work.  All remnants of cream to brown paints were dumped into a 5 gallon Lowes bucket and stirred until I liked how it looked.  I think in all, we used up about 8 part empty paint cans which was a wonderful feeling.  Less clutter on my paint shelf! 
The floor was painted a few years back and as hard as my boys play, I knew re-painting it was a hopeless cause.#Rug striping success. #diy #remodel  I did have a plain sisal rug which spent time in our living room and had stains.  Painter's tape, scrap paper and two cans of dark brown spray paint later and it had new life and new home in the boy's room.

The boys hooked up the air compressor for me and Aiden kept me stocked with nails in the air nailer whenever I shouted that, "hey, I'm out of ammo!" and with the compound miter saw humming and nailer popping, we finished the window casings, crown and floor mouldings.

Happiness for a nesting thrifty mama is dumping gallons and quarts of leftover #paint into a bucket and getting *just* the right color for the bigger boy's bedroom. Next up, tackling the air nailer (which I carry a healthy fear of) and figuring out trim a
Needs paint and a nothing a little white caulk won't hide. Hello trim! It's only been six years...

At this point I banned the boys from the room.  New bed frames (Wally-world online with free delivery), some time on the sewing machine sewing curtains for four windows and two pillow cases (fabric from Jo-ann's), freezer paper stencil artwork for above their beds ($3 yard sale bulletin boards)and a freehand Yoda on an old canvas and most of the room was done.  Simple bedding, I found at Target ($40 for it all) and also came across a clearance steel outdoor table ($16) which made me go, "hmmm..." and back to the toy department for a lego panel I had seen.

  Lego mat, super glue and clearance steel outdoor table = custom #lego table for my lego boy.Home with some super glue and a Lego table was born. 
Black bins (Target also) on shelves hold their clothes.

They loved my HGTV-esque reveal and altogether it cost about $300.

Thursday, April 16

Five Things Every Family Needs From Their Local Church

While looking for a church away from home, my husband Sean and I have had this ongoing discussion about churches, the gospel, and families.
Waiting for the sunset and doing this: 1. We need the gospel.
We don't need self help talks or Bible story morality lessons.  We need the gospel repeated as the center and end-all hope of every Sunday morning sermon because when families are taught to live and breath the gospel message in their homes, home life begins to be transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. We need community.
Families need older friends for encouragement and to be the voice of experience, we need younger friends to keep us active in encouraging others and we also friends who are navigating this parenting gig just as we are.  Our isolationist society tends to encourage us walk into church five minutes late and scurry out for the next thing as soon as it is done.  Churches, thank you for hosting old fashioned pot lucks, dessert nights, barbeque picnics and the like.

3. We need practical tools for gospel centered marriage and parenting.

Maybe this looks like older, humble couples giving a few informal talks and answering real life questions at a dessert or coffee night and maybe this comes in the form of offering childcare for moms (and dads too!) while they sit around and glean from a panel of older women (men) or work through a gospel centered parenting book together.

4.  We need support in our prayerfully sought out educational and parenting choices, whatever those may be.

We need scriptural encouragement from the pulpit. If it isn't a gospel imperative, please don't make it one in your sermon.  Thank you to the churches who support home educating families, offer practical guidance to parents with children in public school, and venture out into doing or supporting private education done well.

5. We need encouragement, accountability, and grace.

I read that catechisms were developed as an early tool of doctrinal training, keeping fathers accountable in fulfilling their Deuteronomy 6 parental duties.  Somewhere along the line of church history, the roles of fathers as spiritual leaders in the home disappeared, and accountability in the realm of church family became associated with controlling instead of encouraging.  Whether we are families jointly parenting or singly parenting because of divorce, widowhood, or emotionally or spiritually absent spouses, we each need encouragement and accountability in our parenting struggles and goals. This encouragement can be done with joy, with gospel centered teaching and goal setting from the pulpit, and perhaps best and most practically in small group settings.  I love that our pastor recites from the catechism and encourages families to learn it and my role as mother has been best encouraged within the small, eclectic group of moms that has been meeting now for a few years.

Along with this, we need grace for where we are in our walk with Jesus, for our special needs kids that may not fit any preformed parenting ideal, and for our varied individual life situations.  Encouragement and accountability can not be done well without a covering of grace.

Finally, a huge thank you to the churches who serve selflessly and lovingly convey the gospel message to individuals and families.

Monday, January 26

Motherhood is not about how well we seem do it all, not about which formula or ideals we employ or how well our children act in public. Motherhood is not about the glorification of me. It is all about the glory of Christ, whatever form that may take. It may take the form of little sleep, a difficult road with a child, or a full on melt-down in Target.  We can be sure of this though, that He who began a good work in us mothers and in our children will be faithful to bring it to completion and faithful to teach us to trust Him and enjoy Him forever.  May He receive all the glory.

Friday, January 23

January Beauty

January is usually a hard month. Is it alright to say that?  I feel like we all are under pressure to walk around trying so hard to be okay, to give the impression repetitive months of frigid and dark don't affect us. :)  I've decided I'm too old for that anymore.  January flies in dark and cold in upstate New York and things are more difficult to arrange with our sweet Levi & Benjamin combo which makes getting out out the house, even for a heart-pounding, blood stirring ski across the fields, very difficult.  Sean has been under the weather for a few months with a Lyme flare-up and as this hymn flits across the Pandora app on my phone, I turn it up. 

The coming of the new year came with our church's annual time of prayer and fasting and this time of reflection, contemplation and prayer is always a balm.  I feel challenged by God to look for the hope and beauty He sends to us and to trust Him as we are in this season of the unknown as a family.  I know His graces are all around me, quite silly actually, to need to be reminded to look for them but how thankful I am for His loving, gentle reminders.

1. The bedroom was a mess as I had pulled furniture from corners for a good deep cleaning, wall wipe down and floor scrubbing when this gift of afternoon sunshine fell across the wall.  The little oil painting and embroidery on the wall are a mix of family heirlooms and second hand finds.  My favorite one I paid a nickel for at a church sale.

2.  The need to get out for a walk.  It hit one icy Saturday so Levi and I bundled up with only my eye slitted between hat and cowl and him snug in his carrier underneath my coat.  Nine degrees but the sun was turning the scraggly fields to silver and gold.

3.  I'm thankful I can turn out a stack of pumpkin pancakes and have kids happy to call it dinner.

4. It may be all ice and snow outside but the living room mantle got dolled up with some sunshine.
5,6,7.  More lovely ice-cold day walk photos from our country road.

8.  Sean surprised me with a little indoor greenhouse for Christmas and we planted our homeschool Hope Garden with peas, beans, swiss chard and stevia and one lone black grape seed.  I'm not sure what all will last with our limited daylight but I'll pick up a grow light next time we're at Lowes.  Aiden put it together for me and we placed it up by a window in the homeschool room, which being above a woodstove, is easily the balmiest room in the house.

9.  Sean handed me a latte just as I headed into the copper tub for a hot soak while the hurricane of children stuck indoors during a week where temps never rose above zero swirled around the house.  He blesses me daily.

10. Amazon boxes turned into playhouse.  And lots of donate bags.  There is just something absolutely cheery about cleaning out and passing on.

11.  I took advantage of knitpicks wonderful black Friday yarn sale and whipped up the Gallatin scarf.  Reading this on my kindle.  So good.

Saturday, January 17

Menu and recently

oat groats with cinnamon and raisins
corn muffins

garden salad
cheese quesadillas
fried potatoes and sausages
hummus and naan
sourdough crackers, cheese slices, fruit, salami
Mexican millet
millet salad

grilled Asian chicken salad
cheeseburger casserole
pumpkin pancakes
garlic tofu over rice
general tso tofu, greens, rice
pork chops with apples and onions
ham and potatoes

adapting to 4am wake-up calls
sunshine and sub-zero temps
winter housecleaning - spring is much to sought after to be stuck indoors
daily lessons with my cuties
Foyle's War on Netflix with my love
family photos with our newest blessing
lettuce and beans sprouting in the little indoor greenhouse
reading Give Them Grace and Orthodoxy

Friday, January 9

To Love His Bride

Gandhi is perhaps one of the most often quoted men when one desires to point out the hypocrisy of Christians.  You've no doubt heard or read his statement, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."  It oft tweeted, posted as a facebook status, and used by believers and unbelievers alike.

I have often wondered what makes Christ followers give validity to a statement about Christ by a man who not only did not follow Him but saw salvation of his own creation.  Had Gandhi known Christ in His fullness, I think his statements regarding Him would surely have been different.  This God in man flesh who said he came to drive a sword (Matt. 10:34) would not have attracted Gandhi nor would Christ's statements to those who thought that eternal rewards were reaped by the quality of life lived here on earth, a belief common to both Hindus and the Pharisaical crowds.

But what does all this have to do with loving the Bride of Christ? A barb in the flesh statement like this, whether self inflicted or inflicted on others,  is far from the mind of Christ toward His Bride, far from the passionate, sacrificial love He gives her and it ought to be far from our minds as well.

When I've written about church before, "church" being another name for The Bride or the gatherings of our fellow believers whether grouped in homes, modern churches or ancient cathedrals, I've heard stories of incredible pain experienced in those settings, done by people all claiming to be followers of Christ.  Personally, I've attended the same church since I was two years old and feel like a walking encyclopedia of our church's history, the good and the bad, the memorable and the stuff we'd all wish to un-remember, if that were only possible. This isn't an article about healthy and unhealthy churches, though that is a great and needed conversation to have, it is about the assumption that we can love God, hi-five Jesus, but not love one another in our mutual sin.

I once heard a man grumble, "That church is full of hypocrites!" and I wanted to shout, "Wonderful!  Isn't that the type of folk a church should be full of?  Sinners who recognize their need for amazing grace?  He came for the sick and not the well, right?"
Right?  Can we believe this truth and still quote Gandhi?

Those hypocrites, I am one as well.  I know what to do and I don't do it!  Every single day this happens in my life! I am unlike the Christ I follow in so many ways that it frustrates me to no end! However, I can trust that He who began the hard work of dealing with my hard-headed self and doing good work in me will keep on keeping on. Paul had this same hypocritical struggle as well several millennia ago (Romans 7) and the darndest thing is we still name churches and children after him but will curse our fellow man for struggling like Paul struggled.

I am a mom of many and so I can type out my next statement with utter assurance at its truth.
Not everyone sins the same way but everyone sins in some way.  Also just as true is that just as some children are not as talented at hiding their sin and have that knack for getting under your skin, so it goes with us believers.  The sweet Grandma who brings brownies to the bake sale needs Jesus just as well as the man sipping from his brown bag during the sermon because needing Jesus isn't measured on a scale of how bad our sinning is or how good we're being.

My husband has often told me that there is nothing new under the sun and that history repeats itself and when I read all the words that were written in the new testament and see just how many of them (it is a lot) were written to believers about loving each other and getting along with one another I have to agree.
"If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers." I John 4

Trust me, I get it.  It is hard.  HARD.  There was a season that I cried every weekend because it meant going to church.  I would cry and plead with God to give me His love for His church, a love that would bear the insults, forgive the hurts, turn the other cheek and not hurt back, sacrifice my comfort and preferences, and shoulder on through difficult relationship times because I realize that is exactly what He does for me.

We love each other because He first loved us, my friends.  It will not always be the warm and fuzzy sensation our society calls love but it will be the kind of sacrificial, agape love that requires nothing but is willing to give everything that will identify us with Christ. 

Sunday, December 7



baked French toast
scrambled eggs with cheese and breakfast sausage
cereal and fruit
rice pudding and tea
fried potatoes and eggs


yogurt and granola
ricecake pizzas
nachos, salsa and hummus
Whole Foods chicken salad over lettuce
pasta salad
flank steak and flatbread


butternut squash pasta
fish tacos
ginger venison, mushroom and greens stir fry
grilled chicken salad and peanut noodles
polenta with marinara, garlic rolls
winter minestrone and garlic bruschetta