Saturday, July 31, 2010

Be Still My Heart

My heart was full.
The sun was calm and beautiful.
I found the beautiful sun and waves peaceful.

He was loud and excited.
The array of colors sent my son roaring in delight.
He knew it was beautiful and he used his whole body and voice to express himself.

I laughed in surprise at his enthusiasm.

He is wild, loud, and exciting. Always enthusiastic.
An antonym for tranquility. He screams at a peaceful sunset.

He shows me new ways to love life.

He may never be still...
but his love steadies my heart.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let’s Talk about Sex: Incredible Sex in Marriage

A few weeks ago, Amber at The Run A Muck, posted this:

"We are the beautiful gangly church. We love Jesus, and more often than not, right after Jesus and sometimes before Jesus, we love SEX – or we wish we did – or we wish we didn’t. The topic can makes us pretty wonky.

In efforts to change our perspective here, to call sex good and pure and completely God-given. I think we should talk about it a little – say on Fridays. Don’t you? Don’t you think young women in the church should be able to talk to other women in the church about it (It = SEX)?

Before we get to talking, let’s think and pray. What are some positive ways you would like to see the church respond to SEX?"

I commented.
She asked me to pray and consider writing a guest post.
And, I did.

Here's how my post begins:

Incredible Sex in Marriage

I love sex. It’s true. I am happily married (celebrating 15 years this month) and I enjoy sex.

Lots of women do not enjoy sex. I have friends that don’t. Don’t get me wrong, sex isn’t something I normally talk about. My friends and I don’t talk about sex –because, well, we just don’t. But, there was that one time, when the subject came up –probably because someone said they had to shave their legs or something- and a friend said, “Oh, that’s right, I forgot, you like it.” I was sitting at dinner with two married women and I was the anomaly. That was just one of the many times that I was saddened by the reality that it can be more accepted for women to dread sex than enjoy it.

I believe that sex within marriage should be fulfilling, and even, dare I say it, exciting.

To read the rest, join me at Amber's place: Let's Talk about Sex: Incredible Sex in Marraige

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Togetherness and Family Fun (TTT 136)

Last weekend, we went to the coast. We had a fantastic time time together.

We found treasures, climbed rocks, and fed the birds.

We laughed. We talked. We watched the sun set.

Our trip was all about togetherness and having fun. It was an extended celebration of our 15th anniversary. It was such a happy weekend. It felt good to share the weekend with the kids. We were celebrating life. We were celebrating our family.

I am thankful for our mini-vacation.
I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for my husband.
I am thankful for my marriage.

This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thirsty for More

I'm reading a book called Chazown. It's too early to know if I like the book- or the premise of the book, even. However, the book is making me think about what's important to me. It's making me think about what matters most. Each day is made up of little decisions. Each day is just another day. My whole life is made of up day after day. If I am not cognizant, I will get to the end and I won't be sure if my life mattered.

The book references a prayer by Sir Francis Drake. I looked it up. It's touching. His words stirred up my desires and prompted me to pray. Here is part of the prayer:

"Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity"

Sir Francis Drake (1577)

I am praying. I am dreaming. I am looking to become unsettled and uncomfortable.

I am thirsty for more.
I want more faith. more passion. and more love for others.

I am thirsty for a growing relationship that never gets stagnant.
I want a vitality that is only possible through total dependence.

I am thirsty for more.

Tuscan Chicken

I recently tried out this recipe. My whole family (all 6 of us) liked it. That means, it's a keeper.

Tuscan Chicken

2 lbs chicken breast tenderloins (I used chicken breasts and then cut them)
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup beef broth

Salt and pepper all the chicken. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan. Brown the chicken (1/2 at a time), cook for 3 min per side (or longer depending on the thickness of your chicken), drain on paper towels.

Sauce (I doubled the sauce)
Add vinegar to pan and cook for 30 seconds stirring up brown bits. Reduce heat to medium and add butter, garlic, onions and thyme and cook 4-5 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in wine and broth and reduce sauce for 5 minutes.

Chicken and Sauce
Add chicken to the sauce to warm through.

Tuscan Chicken Dinner
I made whole-wheat spaghetti and put the chicken and sauce on top. We had a side salad and fruit with it.

Check out other wonderful recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Allergies and Asthma on My Mind

Allergy and Asthma Thoughts: A little of This and That

This past weekend I almost bought something for my son that had peanut warning. The allergens were written in bold letters. It said Contains: Milk and Wheat. The ingredients were above that. It looked wonderful. As I was checking out, the clerk offered that he thought he could find another non-peanut item for me. He pulled the item. It wasn't safe. It made me re-look. There in very, very small print, at the bottom of the package was a warning, "May contain peanuts". It was ridiculously small. When will we have standardized labeling? Will it ever happen?

My PA son is going to VBS this week. I couldn't help but laugh at myself this morning because my nerves were shot. I was nervous taking my son to vacation Bible school. Part of me felt like I should get a grip. Part of me felt extremely brave. All of me was thankful for a special friend that understands food allergies and made sure to work with the food, verify ingredients with me, and make sure my son was comfortable. Will new situations ever get easier on my nerves?

My oldest son is at Cub Scout camp this week. I packed him such a big lunch, I laughed to myself this morning. He ate it all. (How in the world does he bring home half his lunch during school and then eat a monster sized lunch today?) He could have eaten the lunch provided, even in addition to his lunch. He won't eat the provided lunch because it contains peanut butter sandwiches. I explained to him that he could still eat it and then come home and wash his hands. He isn't willing. PB&J was his favorite when he was 4. Now, I wonder, will he ever eat peanut butter again? I marvel at how my son's food allergy affects his siblings.

This morning I was reading Chicago Tribune article about kids with peanut allergies and asthma. My son walks up and asks if I am reading about his allergy. As he stands next to me, I hear him breathing. I notice him breathing. I ask him if his asthma is bothering him. He says yes. We get his inhaler. I ask him if his asthma bothered him yesterday. He says yes. I spent time explaining that he needs to treat his asthma when it is there or it will get worse. I wonder why he waits until his asthma gets bad before he wants to treat it. I wonder if others have trouble with this with their asthma kids. I wonder when and if he will change.

I experience times of stress and nervousness about my son's future. Sometimes it is just unreasonable. Why do I worry so much? I plan and do the best I can. I pray. Why worry? But still, I am afraid. I worry about future events (like day camps and sleep overs). I worry about school. Just today when my son said he didn't like a girl at school, I worried that it was because she made fun of him. (But, I got him to explain...turns out, she just doesn't talk and he talks all the time. He says they are opposites. Now that's funny.) I worry about him being in a new class in the fall with a different teacher and different kids. I am often afraid. I hate it. I wonder if I will ever be able to let go of the fear or if this is a fear that allergy moms carry forever. I also wonder, if you pray, will you pray for me?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Haven't Changed a Bit

I know you already saw our honeymoon photo but I did this cool comparison today and...

I don't think we've changed a bit.

I'm going on a date tonight. It's going to be nice, relaxing, and romantic. (Let's be honest, sometimes anything without 4 kids seems romantic.) I doubt I will be back to post a Thursday Thanks Tank today. There's no doubt, I am thankful for my husband. He's napping right now, snoring away next to me, gearing up for our big night. (Ahem. That's not what I meant.) Back to nice, relaxing and romantic... I can't wait for our date.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I am the one

The words are tucked away somewhere and I am having trouble finding them.

I'm getting close to celebrating 15 years. I want to explain fantastic, fulfilling, exhausting, and humorous. It's all of the that and more. There are good days and challenging days. We have bad days and take-pictures-of-every-moment exciting days.

I'd like to tell you about the man of my dreams. The problem is, I never had a man of my dreams. He just sort of came along, grabbed me and showed me the world as I never knew it.

We've been here and there- 5 states, 8 moves, and 2 year long separations (courtesy of the US Army).

I have been trying to find the words for a couple of days. The words just won't come. Funny. We are never at a lost for words. We talk for hours. We've written letters, emails, and love notes. We'll sit on the floor of our living room and just talk about nothing.

These days, we can't always get a word in. Four gifts from God, four pieces of us, four fighting-for-our-attention energy balls often make so much noise we can't hear ourselves think, much less put together a complete thought out-loud.

We wouldn't trade them. We can't imagine our lives without them.

There are days when I think about the freedom of a life without family. Freedom to do whatever, whenever. I cannot imagine it.

I am the one that makes him smile.
I am the one that knows where he is ticklish.
I am the one that understands his heartaches.
I am the one that knows how loud he snores- and knows how to nudge him just right to make him stop.
I am the one that melts in his arms.
I am the one that tries to understand when he falls asleep while I am talking at night.
I am the one that cannot keep my eyes open when he talks to me in the morning.
I am the one that was there when he lost a loved one to suicide.
I am the one that made him a father.
I am the one that knows his favorites.
I am the one that can push his buttons, frustrate him like no other.
I am the one that encourages and prays for him.

I am the one that he loves.

Our up and down, loud and busy life is ordinary. Our love is extraordinary.

July 22, 1995

July 4, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

A love story and a flashback

He was the guy I couldn't have. He was good. I wasn't. That's what I convinced myself. We started dating during my senior year of high school. I was already planning to go away to college. I couldn't wait to get away. I wanted a new beginning. I wanted freedom: from rules, from stereotypes, and from reputation. I tried to let go but I wanted him, too. We dated off and on during that first year of college.

Then, we fell for each other. I fell for him. He had been praying I would. I finally I gave up the lie that I wasn't good enough and realized that he loved me for who I was. I received freedom: freedom to let go of my negative self image, freedom to be me, and freedom to love.

We wanted our future together. We could not wait for a new beginning. But, we had to wait. We were engaged for 1 1/2 years.

We were in love. The time went by slowly. The future was full of promise.

We were young, both 21, when we got married.

Here we are on our honeymoon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank 135

Each week, on Thursdays, I make a thankful list. Sometimes, I share a written list here on my blog, sometimes I make a pictorial list, and sometimes I just write about one thing that is on my heart. It is always a glimpse into my thankful heart and an exercise that keeps me focused on gratitude. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

I am thankful for Quality Time.

1. Time to myself. Last weekend I went to the coast for the weekend. It was very peaceful.

2. Playtime with Dad. I love to watch the kids wrestle with dad. I laugh, I take pictures, and I even get in on it sometimes.

3. Family Time One night this week our oldest asked if we could watch "Cheaper By the Dozen" after dinner. My husband started the movie and I decided to skip my workout. Before long, I had little ones fighting to sit in my lap. It filled up my heart. My little girl finally gave up and sat on my 5 year old's lap as he was sitting in mine. It was so precious, I nudged my husband and asked him to grab the camera.

4. Summertime Fun One night last week, we were just hanging out as a family and we decided to make S'mores. It was Summer fun and de-licious.

5. Foundation Time: Without this, I would not be the person I am.

I encourage you to take time to be thankful today. You will be better off for it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cranberry Apple Crisp

This dessert makes my husband smile.

Well, okay, that was my dessert and coffee. He takes his coffee black. His serving was much, much bigger. Really.

The night I made the crisp, my husband posted this Facebook status: "My wife made a killer Apple Crisp. It MUST be love!"

It's good. It's also easy to make.

Cranberry Apple Crisp

5 cups sliced tart apples (about 6 medium apples)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking pan.

Pare and core apples. Layer apples and cranberries in pan sprinkling with sugar as you layer.

Mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Work in butter until light and crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples and cranberries.

Bake 45 minutes or until apples are tender. Serves 9 (ya right, not in my house).

Check out other wonderful recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Musings

A few musings inspired by my weekend:

I was a few pounds down and then I went away for the weekend. I didn't eat much (or so I thought) but, apparently, snickers aren't low cal.

My husband decided to cut the boys' hair this weekend. He called me to get my thoughts (read that as, to hear my reaction) on him shaving my oldest son's head bald. I said something to this effect, Um, it may look cool in the Avatar movie... but you cannot do that while I'm away.

This is what my 9 year old wanted:

This is what he got:

Wow, now that I look at those two pictures, he might make a good Aang. Maybe he should I let him go bald and sport an arrow to see the movie. Hmm...

This sign

You are about to see beautiful scenery and be sore for three days.

It doesn't matter how much you try to prepare yourself, nothing will provide an easy transition from this

to this

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekends and Rainbows

"Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them." John Shirley

I went to the coast this weekend. My weekend was relaxing and quiet. It was a perfect get-away. And, wow, don't you just love the rainbow on the beach? It was beautiful. The picture doesn't do it justice. But then again, I only had my camera phone with me at the time. I'm just glad it showed up in the photo.

Weekends and Rainbows... such beautiful things.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Last Night's Oregon Sunset:

When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.
Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Slow Summer Days (TTT 134)

Last week, I had the pleasure of going to a luncheon with my husband. During the lunch, another business man asked me if I had a lot of plans with the kids for the summer. I told him we were enjoying being relaxed. He went on to ask if I had the kids sign up for camps and other activities. I explained that we were enjoying the freedom of a lack of commitments. I said that I knew it was unconventional but I believe that a lack of activity promotes creativity. The man looked at me, blankly, and then moved te conversation elsewhere. He wasn't rude and I wasn't offended. Still, it was clear he didn't follow my line of thinking.

In truth, my oldest is going to Cub Scout camp later in the summer and another son is going to participate in a day camp for incoming kindergarteners. I am debating taking my kids to a VBS program.

I am not avoiding all organized activities. I am just not trying to fill up my summer with activities. I am not trying to entertain my kids with a full schedule.

I am slowing down.

Two notable things have happened so far:
1) I am available to others.
2) My kids are enjoying being with each other.

I am available to others.

We have 2 extra kids here. After lunch, we called to see if they could come over. As it turned out, our invite was perfect timing because their parents had to be at a doctor appointment.

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a text. She was in town with her four kids. She wondered if they could come by. It was a fantastic playdate. And then I watched some of her kids while she went shopping at Wal-mart and stopped at the pharmacy to grab a prescription.

Not being extremely busy has kept my thoughts available for others, too. I am more aware of needs and concerns. I am in the moment. I have a real presence of mind that didn't exist when I was bouncing between activities.

My kids are enjoying being with each other.

I can listen to my kids play with each other for hours. The strangest thing has happened since we have been home more, my kids are playing better together. Maybe the slower pace is helping them relax. We aren't rushing here and there. We are spending time together. The kids seem to be rediscovering toys. There's a lot of laughter, too. Oh sure, they are still kids; they still argue. But, I am taking advantage of the time I have to work on relationship building between my kids. In other words, instead of just telling them to stop and to apologize, or instead of jumping in an putting an end to the disagreement, I talk to the kids about what's going on. I encourage them.

I am thankful for my slow paced summer. I am thankful for the presence of mind I have and the lack of stress I am experiencing.

This is my Thursday Thanks Tank (TTT 134).

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Festive Iced Cookies

I got this recipe years ago when we lived in Virginia. When I tried them, they were decorated for Christmas. These cookies delight everyone and can decorated according to the holiday.

I took the tray of cookies to our July 4th celebration. I brought an empty tray back. The next morning our July 4th host told me she didn't get any cookies so I brought her some. (I always reserve some for the family to enjoy at home.)

Festive Iced Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar

Mix all ingredients well and roll out on board. Cut into shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Notes: Don't let edges get too brown. I like the cookies thinner so I roll the dough out pretty thin.

1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/8 tsp salt
1 lb powered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk

Mix all ingredients well. If too stiff, add a bit more milk. Color as desired with food coloring. Frost cookies when they have cooled.

It's best to allow time for the icing to set if you are taking the cookies somewhere. At least one of my kids prefers the icing to be "dry" but another likes the fresh icing because it is easier to lick off.

Check out other wonderful recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.