Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good Bye 2009...What's Ahead in 2010

Goal Setting. For most of our 17-year marriage my DH and I have sat down in January, usually at the local Starbuck's, with a laptop and a list of goals we hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year. Before we began our new list we retrieved the list from the previous year and evaluated what we achieved. We are a couple who tends to dream big so sometimes our goals remained unmet (like the years when I consecutively tried to read at least one adult book a month), but often times we reflected on great accomplishments.
Then after this time of reflection we would enthusiastically type up the coming year's lofty goals and discuss how we planned to help the other person reach his/her goals.
A couple years ago I became increasingly frustrated with this goal-setting event. Year after year, as I reflected on my previous year's goals I realized I accomplished very little, at least according to my list. Heck, I could not even manage to read a book a month! I would then begin to get down on myself and soon our Starbuck's trip would turn into a pity party/cry fest about how I can't manage to even reach the most mundane goals. Needless to say, DH was not particularly thrilled with where our productive goal setting meeting ended up.
DH would then reassure me that I do a lot, homeschool the kids, make meals, maintain the house, etc. but I wanted to live a life that screamed significance. I wanted to be someone who accomplished more than cleaning the house or teaching a kid to read. I wanted to save orphans, feed the hungry, write cookbooks, learn photography, and serve in ministry. I wanted to be a Martha Stewart, or a Bakerella, or a Beth Moore, or a Farm Chick, or a Dara Torres, or a Max Lange, or get the picture. I now think it's my pride and ego that wanted to be all these things.
Well, this year after six months of slowing down (and reading a lot of books) and enjoying some peaceful living, I think I'm finally realizing I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I can be a Martha Stewart for my little family, a Bakerella for my girlie and her friends, a Farm Chick in my little world, a Beth Moore in my prayer/Bible time, a Dara Torres in my jogs along the beach, and a Max Lange to our two beautiful sponsored children. But most importantly, the goal isn't doing these things to prove significance to anyone, but to be significant to those around me and to live a life doing what God wants me to do.
So this year's goals may seem smaller, but I think they'll be more significant. They'll be: To enjoy each day to the fullest. To live a healthy and happy life. To love on my husband and support him. To Cherish the three precious children we've been blessed with. To know my God tomorrow, more than I do today. And to live a life that brings Glory to God, and no one else, especially not me.

When It Rains...We Bake

watching the butter and sugar- looking for a fluffy consistency

carefully reading the recipe

mom, I've got it under control...thumbs up!

6 eggs!

beautiful batter

ready for the oven


beautiful...Great Cake

A pouring-down, rainy kind of day is an excellent day to try out that recipe that's been on your "to try" list.
A couple weeks ago the kids and I went to Starbuck's for a little coffee treat. Standing in front of the baked goods display case our oldest son was trying to convince me that we should buy a slice of pound cake for him. Being the frugal mom that I am, I chimed, "Why buy it? You can make that!"
So yesterday was his day to create his own pound cake. We selected a recipe from Country Living GREAT CAKES. I purchased this book a couple years back when I attended The Farm Chicks Antique Show with a friend. My friend, owner of Summerland Style, had a display booth and I was blessed to be there with her.
GREAT CAKES is a Fabulous cookbook filled with classic cakes. If you're calorie concerned this is not the book for you. But if you want a flavorful, tried-and-true cake pick one from this book. Every year on our kids' birthdays I hand them the book and ask them to choose which one of the cakes they'd like me to make. It's a treat for all of us.

The editors from Country Living also attended The Farm Chicks Show and graciously signed my book. It's become one of my treasures.
Yesterday our boy made...

Spice Pound Cake
3 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
6 large eggs
1 c. sour cream
Confectioners' sugar (optional)

Make the Batter: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Set aside. Combine the flour, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. Beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl with a mixer set on medium speed until light an d fluffy- about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture by thirds, alternating with the sour cream and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing just until the batter is smooth.

Bake the Cake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean- about 1 hour 20 min. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the side of the pan and invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle the cake with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving (makes about 14 servings) Protein: 6 g; Fat: 20 g; Carbohydrate: 77 g; Fiber: 3 g; Sodium: 259 g; Cholesterol: 132 mg; Calories: 499.

Monday, December 28, 2009


The kids like to dress him up. This is Luke in his special Volcom hat.
Just over two years ago a VERY special little cat walked into our lives.

At the time we lived out in the country where coyotes roam at night and cats live a life of risk and/or adventure if they stay out past dark. We had a precious orange tabby cat who was an indoor cat. But late in his life he decided he wanted to hunt for bugs and hang out on the deck. One day a terrible storm came rolling through and that was the last we saw of our orange tabby named Louis.

I combed the shelters put out ads, but no one had heard nor seen our 11+ year old tabby.

After about 2 weeks from his disappearance, I was startled by a skinny, malnourished orange tabby who peered at me through our kitchen window. Being the animal lover that I am I opened the back sliding door and in ran the fur covered bag of bones. He was so skinny and pitiful.

We still had Louis's food and water out in hopes that he would return. This vagrant cat speedily ran to the food and began devouring it.

The kids thought this cat was Louis, but I knew better. I was confident that this kitty was a gift from God. I so missed my orange tabby and since I don't believe in coincidence, the fact that an semi-identical orange tabby showed up at our doorstep, in the middle of country fields, just reminded me that God was looking out for us and this little kitty.

After a trip to the vet we learned that this guy, we now call Luke, was about 3-4 years old.

I put out ads and alerted local veterinary offices in case someone was looking for him, but never received a response.

Now this guy has been with us for just over 2 years. He's left the life of skinny, wandering cat. He's the most friendly cat I've ever met. Our neighbors love him. He's gone from wide-open spaces to the life in the O.C.

This morning as I was holding him I thought back on his last two years. What a change! He was found by a family who would love him. And I think he's got quite the life!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hittin' the Road

This Christmas we've become a Band Hero, Beatles singing Rock Band kind of family. We've rotated through the vocals, guitars, and drums. We've taken tutorials, and refined our voices (ha!). We've reminisced on great songs of days gone by and how old we were when they were popular.
I feel like an accomplished parent.
I've exposed the kids to one of my favorite bands, The Beatles, thanks to the Wii game Gommer gave them for Christmas. We've listened to Yellow Submarine countless times and I don't think the kids are tiring of it. I've never played so many video-type games for so long in my whole life!! I feel completely unaccomplished, but totally satisfied that our crew has had one of the best Christmas's ever. They have played and played to their hearts content, or so I would think, but our middle son with big, brown eyes reassured me that he still has more left in him to play.
We've sang Taylor Swift's hits many a time and our girlie is asking that we do it "One more time." And who could forget my rendition of Culture Club's, "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"
Our oldest son said we'll probably be apologizing to the neighbors tomorrow. Let's hope they didn't hear! I can wish!
My voice, and not so good a one, is tired, my drumming foot is tired, my guitaring fingers and forearms are tired. I think it's time to call it a night...
Time to go round up the Band Heroes...try to tear them away from some Jesse McCartney.
Wish me luck...

Friday, December 25, 2009

My first Grandbaby!

This Christmas the #1 item on our 6-year old daughter's wish list was a Baby Alive Whoopsie Doo Doll. Not only does she coo and chuckle, she has the ability to poop and pee. Wow! What a joy! When I had sweet little babies, I didn't wish to become a mom to experience explosive poops, arching pees and the like, but these qualities made this doll a must have on our little girl's wish list.
For months our sweet pea wrote "Whoopsie Doo Doll" on many lists and dreamed about this baby. We even made a trip to Target to make sure it was all that she hoped it would be. She left the store wide-eyed and continued to dream of it being under the tree.
When she awoke, she went for the most odd-shaped present under the tree in hopes that the peeing and pooping doll would be wrapped beneath.
And sure enough it was! Today this precious Whoopsie Doo Doll has been by her side. She's been fed, changed and cuddled. I've been told I definitely need to make a trip to the store for more diapers.
It really is a cute doll. I've rocked her as requested and even fed her. She sucks the bottle, drinks the water, coos, and if you remove the bottle too fast she'll begin fussing.
What warms my heart more than watching our little one truly enjoy her Christmas gift is knowing that even a 6-year old precious has an inner desire to be a "mommy." She is a nurturer and it blesses my heart.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

10 Things I've Learned While Living in the O.C. #2

Okay, this is the second posting of 10 Things I've Learned While Living in the O.C. Despite preconceived notions of what I thought O.C. people would be like, they are warm, welcoming and very inviting. Never before in my adult life have I ever been so welcomed by neighbors and friends. My sweetheart and I have been amazed and completely blessed by the hospitality here. We've also had many a conversation wondering why the people are so much more friendly and inviting.
Since being here we've been invited over for dinner, we've been invited to MANY parties, we've been invited over for holidays, we've been invited over to just hang out, friends have offered to have our kids over at the spur of the moment and we've had a friend offer to just come over and watch our kids so we can go out on a date.
So what is so different that people actually want to hang out with us?? Here are some of the things we've come up with...
One thought is that so many people here are not FROM here so they all know what it's like to be the "New" people in town and want other new people to feel welcomed too. They've walked in our shoes before.
Thought number two...where we come from people have their families (generations in the same town) and their peeps and having new people come in might just be too invading of the way things have always been.
Thought number three...God's just been setting us up perfectly. He already knew what we would need to make this home for the time we are here. He surrounded us with amazing people to make this transition smooth.
So, if you're reading this and you're from our "other" home, I'm not trying to guilt anybody for not inviting us over. I'm just making an observation. You can invite us over when we get back. But in the meantime, invite someone over and include them in your life. It will bless them immensely!
If you're from our "current" town and you've been an inviter, Thank you very much!! You've blessed us greatly.
So, as I've discovered, The O.C. is filled with amazing people who have made us feel like we're at home from the time we arrived. Thank you for being there and for allowing God to minister to us through your hospitality.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Best Kind Of Days

Ever have one of those days that is so good you just want to bottle it up so you can splash it on yourself when you're not having a great day. Today is one of those days. A day when I just want to savor every moment, every laugh, every smile from our kids. I want to purposely preserve it so I don't forget a detail, but these words I'm typing don't even seem to do justice to the feelings of pure satisfaction I felt this afternoon.
Today started out like any other day. We embarked on our daily homeschool routine. We read a chapter from Leviticus. We read a chapter of Indian in the Cupboard. We learned about King James I. Little did I know from him we got the King James version of the Bible. The kids did math, English, spelling, a little geography, read from the American Patriot's Almanac, and practiced their piano. Same similar routine that goes with most mornings around here.
The last few days it's been a bit chilly and we've found ourselves huddling indoors, but for some reason today seemed like a great day for a picnic at the beach. So after schooling we ran one errand then headed to Subway to grab a couple sandwiches. The boys had already packed up the car with bikes, helmets, backpacks with blankets and a good book. We were off.
We headed to one of our favorite beach locations. Deal was I got to go for a little jog at the beach while they biked along. After about a 30 minute run we secured the bikes and then headed to the sand.
The waves seemed more forceful today making a statement with each roll toward the beach. They begged to be noticed and admired. The boys envied the surfers who were out today, but I was glad our boys were along the shore with and sound...and we decided football was more our sport today.
I stood on one end and both boys were on the other side. We threw the football back and forth. With each throw I made they comically dove for the ball, tackled each other and laughed uncontrollably. I love seeing two brothers get along so well. I stood and marveled at the closeness our boys share. I pray this relationship continues to grow and that they forever become each other's best friend.
While the boys and I were playing our little girlie girl was setting up the sandy home front with the blanket. She organized the shoes on the blanket corners so the it was secure. She dusted the sand off and prepared for our meal.
The football toss continued for quite awhile and the whole time I was trying to take in every second. It was just one of those experiences when I thought, "I hope our kids remember this time at the beach."
After our fun, we ate our sandwiches, entertained a little black poodle named Molly who wanted to be part of our moment. Then as the sun started to go down, and the wind began to pick up the chill was getting to be a little too much for our youngest.
We packed up and as we were walking back to the car, our oldest son said, "Mom, it's really great that you're getting sporty. You've really improved on your football throwing."
My reply, "Honey, that's the best thing I've heard all day!"
For some reason his words really hit me. There was so much more behind those words. I don't think it's all about the football throwing. It's the time. It's the setting aside of everything else to take in these moments with our little ones. It's the savoring every moment, laughing, and cuddling on the blanket eating a sandwich. I think for him today was so much more than he could express too.
So as I go to sleep tonight, my prayer would be that God would engrave today on the archives of my memories and mark it "IMPORTANT" so I can retrieve it at a moment's notice. It was priceless and should not be forgotten!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Holy Spirit Centered Life

I'm currently reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan and it's making me realize how many of us are really missing out on so much of what God has in store for us as we live lives led by our personal interests rather than by living by the Holy Spirit and the abundance He has to offer.

Francis writes, "When it comes down to it, many of us do not really want to be led by the Holy Spirit. Or, more fundamentally, many of us don't want to be led by anyone other than ourselves. The whole idea of giving up control (or the delusion of it) is terrifying, isn't it? Do you thrive on controlling the big and small in your life? Does the thought of letting go and listening to the Spirit's guidance scare you and only make you cling tighter to what you think you have?"

We have some friends who have wholeheartedly followed the Holy Spirit. They amaze me! They have opened their home to orphans. They have left the country they know and love to follow God in a far-away land. They have left the comforts of lucrative jobs for living a life of service. And today I learned they are again listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and adopting another child who would otherwise have no family, no future, no Jesus.

These people are more than Christians who believe in Christ and go to church on Sundays. These are people who are Christ-like.

Francis explains, "When people give their lives to God in exchange for a ticket out of hell, there is often no turning or change of direction, which is the definition of repentance. If all you want is a little Jesus to 'spiritualize' you life, a little extra God to keep you out of hell, you are missing out on the fullness of life you were created for.
He continues, "Not only this, you don't need the Holy Spirit. You don't need the Holy Spirit if you are merely seeking to live a semi-moral life and attend church regularly. You can find people of all sorts in many religions doing that quite nicely without Him. You only need the Holy Spirit's guidance and help if you truly want to follow the Way of Jesus Christ. You only need Him if you desire to 'obey everything' He commanded and to teach others to do the same. You only need the Holy Spirit if you have genuinely repented and believe. And you only need the Holy Spirit if you understand that you are called to share in Christ's suffering and death, as well as His resurrection."

To experience the FULLNESS of what God has designed for life. Doesn't that sound amazing?

I think of our friend's 2 (soon-to-be 3) adopted children, born in a country where God is silenced. Born with minor external differences that would have left them shunned by their culture, possibly begging on the streets surviving one day to the next. Now, because the Holy Spirit is guiding their lives and they've listened, these three children are in a loving Christ-centered home. They have sisters and a big brother. They are surrounded by love and family. They are getting a wonderful education and they will have a blessed future.

Today, I'm asking the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives. To map out the course of our day. I want to value those things God values and have it evident in my life. More than by word, but by action.