Monthly Archives: June 2013

Jesus Calling: Laugh!

Learn to laugh at yourself more freely.  Don’t take yourself or your circumstances too seriously.  Relax and know that I am God with you.  When you desire My will above all else, life becomes much less threatening.  Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities–things that are beyond your control.  Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.

Laughter lightens your load and lifts your heart into heavenly places.  Your laughter rises to heaven and blends with angelic melodies of praise.  Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing My children laugh.  I rejoice when you trust Me enough to enjoy your life lightheartedly.

Do not miss the Joy of My Presence by carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.  Rather, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.  My yoke is comfortable and pleasant; My burden is light and easily borne. 

Proverbs 17:22, Proverbs 31:25, Matthew 1:23, Matthew 11:28-30

Keep It Simple (Prayer #15)

One of the blogs I have recently started following is called “The Actual Pastor.”  The author’s name is Steve Wiens and he’s a pastor at a church I attended and LOVED in Minnesota, called Church of the Open Door.  My sister sent me this link: Wins and Losses which is a great refreshing read for parents (seriously, check it out!).  I decided to check out his blog and connected with a lot of what he’s written. 

 

One of the things I liked that he shared was this prayer from Krista Tippet: “God, I am willing to do what you have put me on this earth to do.”  It was simple, but after reading it once, it echoed in me for days.  I actually went back to the blog to get the words phrased right and then put them up on my refrigerator.  I am willing.  I want to do what His purpose is for me today.  And it really is this simple.  It’s a breath of fresh air from my normal over-analyzing, wanting-to-know-the-whole-plan-now self.   I am willing.  I don’t have to figure EVERYTHING out for the rest of my life.  I am willing, today.
Recently, we were faced with a big decision as a family.  It would involve me spending a significant chunk of time outside of the home.  I wanted to make sure that we were right in our choice as it would really impact our family.  I started to stress about it….ah, back to my old over-analyzing tendencies again!  Then, I stopped, took a step back, and calmed down.  This past year, I’ve really been learning to focus on what God has had for me each day, not necessarily trying to figure out the big picture. 
It’s been freeing. 
It’s been easier. 
And the simple statement on my refrigerator totally resonates with this focus.  So we’ve made our decision and I’m trusting.  Trusting that as I am willing, God is going to lead not just me, but our entire family in the big decisions and in little choices. 

 

Thinking about all of this brought me back to some Francis Chan (from Forgotten God):

I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life.  God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year.  In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.  It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience.  It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants to do in the next ten minutes.  It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.

God wants us to listen to His Spirit on a daily basis, and even throughout the day, as difficult and stretching moments arise, and in the midst of the mundane.  My hope is that instead of searching for “God’s will for my life,” each of us would learn to seek hard after “the Spirit’s leading in my life today.”  May we learn to pray for an open and willing heart, to surrender to the Spirit’s leading with that friend, child, spouse, circumstance, or decision in our lives right now.

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Lord,

May each of my children’s hearts cry out, “Lord, I am willing to do what you have put me on this earth to do.” And help me to live out this prayer each and every day.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen
 

A Prayer for My Daughter I…(Prayer #14)

She follows her older brother around like he hung the moon.

She loves M&Ms…and peas.

She eagerly grabs for her new swimsuit, black and white polka dots with hot pink accents.  She wears it around the house, refusing to let her dad catch her so he can change her back into clothes.  While she loves her adorable swimsuit, she’s not too fond of swimming pools just yet.

She loves shoes…her sandals, her dress shoes, her tennis shoes.  But put her in her car seat and those shoes are off within seconds.  

She hates sitting still when I’m doing her hair but is captivated by her reflection in the mirror of her with those hard-fought-for pigtails.  

When I lay on the floor, she flops on top of me, causing me to wrap her up in a hug.  She giggles. She tickles me back.  Her eyes sparkle with delight.  

She takes her little ballerina monkey everywhere, but also loves playing with rocks, water, and cars.  
Where have the past two years gone?  My baby is blossoming into a little girl before my eyes.  She’ll be two next month.  

She’s such an amazing combination of sweet and feisty, tenderness and strength, wanting to be held close and striving to get down and do her own thing.  I feel so humbled to be given the amazing gift of a daughter!

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Lord,

She’s growing up so fast! Equip me with strength, wisdom, and grace as I raise this little girl into a strong yet tenderhearted woman.  Thank you for the amazing women you have used to shape me and thank you for the strong, vibrant, and funny women of integrity you have already put into my daughters’ life.  May she look around and see how You’ve given each of these women a story of love, grace, and redemption.  May she long to be part of Your story and be excited for her own story.

As my daughter grows, give her wisdom in how to handle her emotions.  May she understand that emotions aren’t truth, but that they help give insight into truth.  May she not only be adept at expressing positive emotions, but may she also feel comfortable with anger, sadness, and disappointment.  May these feelings and the experiences that evoke them draw her heart towards Yours.  May she be unashamed of her tears.  May she cry more tears for others in compassion, than for herself.  May she never be held captive by fear or anxiety.  May she be quick to turn to You with these feelings.  May they never fester or color her overall perspective. 

Help her to see that having a sensitive heart is not a weakness.  Give her a tender soul, but thick skin.  May she care more about what You think of her than what other people do.  May she desire to please You in all that she does.

May she be known as someone who sees the best and draws out the best in everyone.  May she be above cliques and may she reach out to those who are excluded or lonely, even if that finds her being alone herself at times.  Keep her tongue from gossip and malicious talk.  Instead, may her words bring healing and grace to others.  Give her a clear, bold voice and may she delight in expressing this voice in many different creative ways. 

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen
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If you liked this posting, check out: 25 Rules for Mothers with Daughters.

And here’s another prayer for daughters that spoke to me by Ann Voskamp: A Prayer for A Daughter.

“Leggo My Eggo” (Prayer #13)

…well, what I really mean is “Let Go My Ego” but the other way sounded more catchy.   I apologize to anyone who thought this posting may be about waffles.  Moving on…

Like many, there are times when I take constructive feedback well and other times when I get defensive.  Both my ego and my insecurities play into the moments when I don’t take feedback well.  Its caused me to think about how my ego and my insecurities can negatively impact my parenting.
This past week I finished Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel.  It’s a book that I’d highly recommend, not only for people who are currently parents, but also for those who hope to be parents someday or for those who want to take a deeper look at what grace really looks like in relationship. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and middle of the book, but for some reason, the topics discussed towards the end of the book really impacted me—especially the portions about candor.  While those chapters aren’t focused on ego and insecurities in parents, they do indirectly address them by what is discussed. 
Where can my ego and insecurities get dinged as a parent?  All over the place.  Feeling pretty good about yourself?  Think you do a pretty good job of being selfless?  Get married and have kids.  Both will put you to the test.  Marriage and parenthood have revealed so much in me that I need to address to be a better person and follower of Christ. When it comes to ego, insecurity, and parenting, here’s just a few questions that have come up….
·         Am I willing to admit when I’m wrong—both to my husband and my children?
·         Am I able to acknowledge when I react vs. when I respond?  Many times when I react, my ego is involved—I feel disrespected, slighted, or not appreciated in the way I feel I should be. Ugly!
·         Can I accept feedback from my children when I’ve hurt them by my actions or words?
·         Am I able to look at my blindspots or weaknesses as a mother and a wife and work on them? 
·         Will I be open-minded and apply wisdom about parenting that I receive from friends, family, and resources?
·         Am I able to step back and let others love my kids and take care of my kids in their way instead of trying to prescribe how I want everything done?  Different doesn’t mean wrong.
·         Will I give my children the freedom to be themselves, even if some of their choices may embarrass me?
·         Can I keep my mouth shut and let my husband and my children learn from their experiences or learn from someone else instead of feeling like I have to be the one to point things out?  In counseling, I called this “stealing the light bulb moment” from someone.  So often we want to speak truth into others’ lives because we want the credit or want to change them for our own benefit.  Many times we need to 1.) let them figure it out themselves or 2.) let the Holy Spirit work in their lives.  We need to trust that God can bring change or growth in others, even when it’s not through us.  Don’t try to force change in others yourself.  It won’t last and it strains relationships.
·         Will I trust God for my reputation and care more about what He thinks than what others think about our family and our parenting decisions?
·         Can I distinguish between a power struggle that needs to be fought for the good of our children or family vs. wanting my way?
·         As the parent in the parent-child relationship, I have more power in the relationship with my kids.  We are not equals.  Do I use that power in loving ways or do I misuse my size, the volume of my voice, speed, use of words, etc. to overpower them and get what I want? Do I consider us equals when it comes to respect, dignity, and the value of their opinion (even if I don’t agree with their opinion)? 
·         Do I put my childrens’ and husband’s preferences before my own or do I want things to be all about me? 
·         As they get older, will I encourage interdependence and then independence instead of making all of their decisions or making them do it my way?
·         Am I willing to sacrifice for them and not resent it or hold it against them?
Here are a few excerpts from Kimmel’s book that really challenged me (this section is kinda long, but oh so good.  If you don’t feel like reading it all, just jump down to the prayer at the end):
Kimmel defines love as “Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost (52).”  Ego has no place in loving this way.  LOVE IT!  He expands:
1.)    Love is the commitment of my will…in other words, doing the loving thing may not always come naturally to you. You may have to muster courage, say no to your fears, and place your feelings in check.  Love is about making decisions based on the covenant we have with that person.
2.)    To your needs & best interests…not to “MY needs & best interests.”  Love sees our needs as a “B” priority compared to the best interests of the person we are called to love.  It is not in our children’s best interest to give them everything they want, to make life easy for them, to side with them when they are clearly wrong, or to circumvent consequences for their sins.  It is not in their best interests to facilitate false fears holding them hostage, to fight all their battles, or to rescue them from all their wrong choices.  Love is about meeting their ACTUAL needs, not their selfish needs.
3.)    Regardless of the cost…Secure love understands that loving someone is often inconvenient and sometimes painful.  Loving your kids costs money, time, and sleep.  It might cost a mom decades of time originally planned to be spent on her career.  It might cost her her figure.  It might cost a dad a promotion.  It might mean that there are some amenities or lavish vacations you must do without.  It definitely means eating crow, swallowing your pride, & asking for forgiveness a lot (52-53).


Grace can’t be some abstract concept that you talk about in your home.  It has to be a real-time action that ultimately imprints itself on your children’s hearts…The primary way to give our children grace is to offer it in place of our selfish preferences.  They receive grace when we choose not to commit sins against their hearts when our human nature would suggest that it would be okay to do so.  In fact, the greater grace that children receive is when we can even see the sins we are inclined to commit against their hearts followed by our willingness to go against our selfish urges.  Kids want things, need things, say things, or do things that either bother us, embarrass us, or hurt us.  But sometimes we are hurt because we might be exercising immaturity, insecurity, or indifference.  We take things that are huge to children and trivialize them, or we take small issues and magnify them out of proportion (141).  

The third characteristic of grace-based homes is this: they are homes that give children the freedom to be candid.  These are homes where what is on the child’s mind can end up as dinner dialogue without fear of payback.  That’s because homes of candor create give-and-take between parent and children that promotes honesty dipped in honor.  Grace makes the difference because it keeps honesty from getting ugly.  It ratchets up the free exchange of heartfelt things to a much higher level of forthrightness—a careful forthrightness that guards the other person’s dignity (185).  

We need to create homes where we talk about the deep and sometimes troubling issues concerning our children in a way that builds them up and makes them better people.We also need to create environments where our children have the freedom to do the same with us, and this applies to their disappointments in us as well.  Kids have questions about their sexuality as they get older.  They need to feel free to discuss anything with us that might be troubling without embarrassing them or sensing that it will cost more than it’s worth.  In our weak moments, we might do something that angers or humiliates them or crushes their spirit. Grace-based homes provide an outlet where the children can respectfully voice their disappointment without fear of reprisals (186).

The most significant benefit of candor for our children can be the most painful to us.  This happens when we allow our children to be forthright regarding how they feel about us. Most parents don’t even give their children this option.  Children in these types of homes are quick to figure out that their mother and father aren’t interested in hearing their feelings about them.  They aren’t looking for an authentic relationship at the heart level with their children.  It’s common for these children to tell their parents what they want to hear rather than what is on their minds.  This isn’t the pursuit of truth but rather the careful airbrushing of an illusion…The unwillingness to give a voice to the hurts we have placed in our children’s hearts is the epitome of high control…In contrast, it is our openness to “openness” that draws us closer to our children’s hearts and to God (198).

Kimmel later points out how much God values candor in His relationship with us (200).  He wants honesty from us as we talk to Him in prayer.  He wants us to share our struggles, hurts, and questions with Him and doesn’t hold it against us if it doesn’t come out perfectly.  He doesn’t punish us if we express anger or disappointment towards Him (the Psalms anyone?).  He accepts us as we are.  If God wants us to be this honest in our relationship with Him, can we do the same for our children? 

What about you, can you “leggo your eggo?”  Do you know your insecurities and weaknesses? If so, how can you keep them from having a negative impact in how you parent your children?  What buttons do your kids push that you need to respond to instead of react at?  How quick are you to apologize to your kids?

Dear Lord,

Forgive my ego.  Forgive my pride.  Forgive how sensitive I am about my insecurities and failures.  Give me a teachable heart.  Help me to let go of my defenses.  Replace my defensiveness with openness.  Help me to approach my relationships with humility and Your wisdom. May there be less of me and more of You.
As we raise these children, may we be quick to admit when we’re wrong, be open to constructive feedback, and be willing on a daily basis to put others first.  May our children see that it is normal to have weaknesses and how to deal with them in a way that brings You glory.  May we lean on you in our areas of weakness.  May your power and strength shine through us, especially in those areas. 
Help us know how to speak to each child’s heart in a sensitive way.  When we accidentally or intentionally hurt our children, may we be quick to admit it and work to undo the damage done.  May our hearts be broken over how we have wounded those most close to us.  Give us the strength and the courage to face our selfishness, our sins, the ugly in us that you need to change.
Lord, you do not have a “seen but not heard” relationship with your children.  Help us to follow your lead and create an environment in our home where our children feel free to express their thoughts and feelings.  May they know that we want to hear from them, even if it means having to face some ugly truths about ourselves.  Help us to not take our childrens’ words or actions personally.  And may we care more about what You think of us as parents than what others do. 
As Proverbs 2 says, may you turn our childrens’ ears toward wisdom and their hearts toward understanding.  Give them teachable hearts, ones that call out for insight and search for it as for hidden treasure (Berndt).  May they come to value feedback as a way to grow and become more like You.  May they be secure in who You’ve made them to be…strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and foibles. 
We love you,

 In Jesus’ Name, Amen
 

Wet Paint–Peanut Butter and Oatmeal, Gooey Goodness!

I have always loved peanut butter and adored oatmeal.  Put them together in something and I’m in heaven!  So today I’m sharing two of my favorite recipes that combine them.  Bonus: both recipes can easily be made dairy-free.
When I came across this first recipe for Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding by Chocolate Covered Katie on Pinterest (Link to Original Recipe), I couldn’t wait to try it.  And it lived up to and exceeded my expectations! It is delicious, warm, gooey goodness!  On top of that, it is healthy and easy to make.

Ryan’s assessment of it?  “Too much peanut butter” to which I said, “How can there ever be too much peanut butter?”  So while I won’t be making it for Ryan, I will continue to make it for myself and for Makenna, who finished off Ryan’s portion with delight!


Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk of choice (almond is the lowest calorie)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 a ripe banana
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • honey
  • optional: chocolate chips

 

1.) The original recipe says “cook the oatmeal” like normal.  I had to google how to do that as I’ve always just made instant oatmeal in those packets for myself!  So for those who don’t know: combine the oats, milk, and salt in a small pan on the stove.  Cook for approximately five minutes on medium heat (until it starts to bubble, some of the milk has evaporated, and the oats look “wet” or tender).  Or microwave same ingredients on high for 2 or 3 minutes.

2.) Using a blender or ninja chop, mix together the peanut butter, banana, honey (just drizzle a bit), and vanilla.

3.) Add half of your cooked oats to the ingredients in the ninja chop.  Puree until it is smooth.

4.) Add the unblended oats (left for texture, I love it!).  If you want more banana, cut up the remaining 1/2 banana on top.

I have made this for breakfast, lunch, and dessert (obviously not on the same day–I love peanut butter and oatmeal but not that much)!  And to save myself from cleaning an extra dish, I’ll actually eat it straight from the ninja chop container…which causes Ryan to roll his eyes at me.  : )

For those who are wondering about calories (especially because of the oats and p.b.), when made with almond milk, it comes out to about 330 – 350 calories (without chocolate chips).  I was adding extra banana and 1 1/2 Tbsp of peanut butter, but when I want to watch my calories, I lower the amount of both.

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My other favorite recipe combining these two delicious ingredients is Homemade Chewy Granola Bars!  These granola bars are delicious, hearty, chewy goodness!  The only downside is that I can rarely stop at eating just one!

This recipe originally came from the Jezierski family about 13 years ago.  I have made it so many times, I almost know it by heart.  It is my favorite granola recipe hands down!  I’ve changed a few ingredients to work for our family so I’m writing the recipe how I usually make it while noting the original ingredients in parenthesis.

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey (or corn syrup)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (or butter)
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup wheat germ (or flaxseed meal)
3 cups of oats
3/4 – 1 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms (depends on how much chocolate you want in the bars)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
optional ingredients: 2T sesame seeds, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. coconut, 1/2 c. raisins

 

1.) Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Blend well.

If you’ve never used coconut oil before, it usually comes in a glass jar and is solid.  To melt the coconut oil, set the glass container in a bowl or pan full of hot water for a few minutes.

Melting coconut oil in pan in sink

2.) Add remaining ingredients.

I usually “sample” the granola bars at this point
to make sure they taste right! : )

3.) Press into pan.

4.) Bake 15-20 minutes (until the edges are starting to turn a light brown).

Like I said, DELICIOUS, Portable, Chewy Goodness!  Enjoy!

Note: Honey doesn’t seem to hold the bars together well without the coconut oil.  So if you’re using butter, use corn syrup.

Since posting this, I’ve continued to experiment and have found that you can replace the brown sugar with Truvia Baking Blend.  According to Truvia’s instructions, use half the amount of sugar called for (so in this recipe it’d be 1/2 cup of Truvia Baking Blend).

What are your favorite peanut butter and oatmeal recipes?

I Never Thought I…

One writes not to be read but to breathe…one writes to think, to pray, to analyze. One writes to clear one’s mind, to dissipate one’s fears, to face one’s doubts, to look at one’s mistakes–in order to retrieve them. One writes to capture and crystallize one’s joy, but also to disperse one’s gloom. Like prayer–you go to it in sorrow more than joy, for help, a road back to ‘grace’. 

 

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I never thought I would be a writer.

 
And I never thought I would enjoy writing as much as I have.

 
If you had told me a decade ago that I’d be writing a blog and enjoying it, I would have laughed!  You see, although many don’t know it, I’ve been insecure about my writing for years.  I never received a solid English/writing education on how to be a great writer in junior high and high school and while I went to a college I loved, it wasn’t one that was academically rigorous.  When I got to graduate school and had to write papers in APA style, it was brutal!  So despite LOVING to read, I struggled with its counterpart, writing. 

 
There is one moment growing up when I toyed with writing.  When I was younger, I had to write a short story for school.  I wrote about a family on the Titanic and my younger sisters read it and loved it.  I remember thinking how awesome it was to create something that others enjoyed, but that was it. 

 

So I was surprised when my career path involved writing assessment reports for a few years.  I was even more shocked that I enjoyed it as much as I did, but even after leaving that job, still didn’t feel like I had solid writing skills.  So why do I have a blog?

 
Tangent-time….I don’t keep a journal in the traditional sense.  I have two “journals” I keep.  A prayer journal when I am consistent and write in it, mostly pages of bullet points of things I’m praying about, and a quotes journal.  I am a voracious reader and love keeping quotes from the different things I’ve read that have challenged me, caused me to think, or caused me to explore my feelings at another level. 

 
The closest thing I came to ever keeping a “traditional” journal was writing letters to a dear friend.  We lived really far from each other so we used to write pages and pages to each other about our lives, our faith, the ups and the downs.  As I wrote to her, I processed my thoughts, my feelings, my struggles, and it was so cathartic.  And hearing from her sharing at that same level was priceless.  So many of our struggles, our questions, our thoughts and feelings, were similar…even if on the surface they appeared different.  It led to a deep, close friendship and God used her words to greatly impact my faith and my life. 

 
 

I think that’s where I first started to love writing.  The process of exploring my thoughts and feelings on paper, the give and take, and a sense of coming together to process common experiences.  It was dynamic, it was challenging, and in a sense, it created something.  I learned a lot about myself.  It helped me truly see her.  It helped me be seen.  And isn’t that what doing life together is all about?  Connecting over common experiences and validating them?
 

 
Writing expresses our journey.  Reading and resonating with someone’s writing reminds one that they are not alone in the experiences they’ve had.  The specifics may differ, but many of the thoughts and feelings, the questions asked in angst, are similar. 

 
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me then when I turned to writing to work through our difficult family experiences in the past five years.  I had originally started a blog to keep long-distance family and friends up to date on our family.  I started by posting pictures on it, but pretty soon found myself writing too.  As I look back, I’ve seen clearly that God gave me two special gifts through our journey that have helped me process these difficult experiences: friends who have sojourned down similar paths and writing.  Both have validated our thoughts and feelings and have helped us make sense of everything.  I treasure both gifts as blessings from above. 
 
I don’t claim to be an authority on feeding and growth issues, vomiting, tethered cords, or parenting, but I enjoy writing about our journey.  And I’ve been surprised at times at the number of people who have checked out postings on my blog.  One evening, I was going back through my list of blog posts to find links for my current posting and almost fell off the couch when I saw that one of my postings had been visited over 500 times.  And then my jaw dropped when I saw a second one had been visited over 1,000.  My blog isn’t that popular, most postings get just a few hits, probably from the family members and friends that I pay.  Kidding.  But there have been a few that have had a lot of visitors, and it’s humbling.

 
The other night I received an email from a father in France.  He wrote to me about his son’s recent diagnosis of tethered cord.  He needed to hear from someone who has walked that particular experience.  He needed his thoughts and feelings validated.  I don’t know everything there is to know about tethered cord and won’t be giving him medical advice, but validating his experience–his thoughts, his feelings–is something small I can do.  I know that it helped me and passing on that small, but valuable, gift feels good. 

 
I never thought I’d enjoy writing, but I do. 
 
I’ll end this post with some wise  and encouraging words from Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of Carry On, Warrior and the Momastery blog:

Dancing sober is what I do when I write.  I just try to be myself–messy, clumsy, crutchless.  Dancing sober is just honest, passionate living.  If, anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write.  Write as a gift to yourself and others.  Everyone has a story to tell.  Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the “right” words.  It’s just about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice.  When you write your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone.  And if you’re a really, really bad writer, then it might be most important for you to write because your writing might free other really, really bad writers to have a go at it anyway…If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough.  Just do it.  Be generous. Offer a gift to the world that no one else can offer: yourself. 

This posting is part of a Writing Prompt from Ellen Stumbo’s blog.  Check it out here: I Never Thought I…

WET PAINT …Removing Age Spots…

…from our cookie sheet. 

When I saw this link on Pinterest:  New Life for Old Cookie Sheets, I was intrigued.  Ryan and I own a really old cookie sheet that has tons of gunk on it that won’t come off, regardless of the scrubbing.  I don’t have much power in my scrubbing, but Ryan does, and even with his muscles, a speckled cookie sheet remains.  We don’t use it that often, usually only for things that we don’t want to bake on our new cookie sheet.  And when we use it, we put tin foil between the food and the speckled cookie sheet.

So, I thought, what an awesome way to surprise Ryan.  I’ll clean off this old cookie sheet and he’ll see it and be astounded by my homemaking skills! 

1.)    Sprinkle baking soda and hydrogen peroxide on your cookie sheet (she recommends a layer of baking soda, then some hydrogen peroxide, and then another layer of baking soda)

2.)    Let it sit for hours—no scrubbing necessary! So I did steps one and two.  This concoction sat on our speckled cookie sheet for HOURS.  At least three.  And there was not a noticeable difference.  So I thought, “maybe I didn’t add enough baking soda.  She did recommend two layers…” and proceeded to empty the remainder of my baking soda box onto the cookie sheet.  And let it sit the remainder of the day.

When Ryan came home, he found a cookie sheet with a crusty, dry layer of baking soda on it sitting on our counter.  I explained what I had tried to do and he was hopeful that something had happened as we saw a few areas of the baking soda that looked slightly brown. 

So with eager anticipation, we scraped off the baking soda and, I’ll admit, I did some scrubbing despite the “how to” post saying you didn’t need to, just in case our speckles were worse than the poster’s.  I wanted success, not a repeat of earlier.   
Was our speckled cookie sheet now pristine?  Um, no.  After removing the copious amounts of baking soda, we discovered our cookie sheet, speckled as ever!  Well, there appeared to be a small improvement in the top left corner, but that was it.

 

Did I impress my husband?  No.  Did I provide an opportunity for a good laugh? Yes.  Guess that was good enough!  And guess it was time to get some new baking soda anyway….

Have any of you de-gunked your cookie sheets?  If so, what were your tricks?   

Curious why these posts are called “Wet Paint”?  Here’s the original posting that explains it all…Wet Paint?

Does Hope Really Float? (Prayer #12)

Anything minus hope equals nothing.  Hope is the human equivalent of oxygen when it comes to a person’s ability to live effectively.  ~Tim Kimmel

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about hope this week.  The dictionary says hope is: 1.) to cherish a desire with anticipation and 2.) to expect with confidence.  I think I’m a pretty hopeful person overall and I think that comes from my faith.  In the past, I’ve called myself a “realistic optimist”, meaning, I tend to believe that with God, no situation is unredeemable, no obstacle insurmountable, but at the same time, I have seen what reality is without God.  A.W. Tozer says it best: “The cross-carrying Christian, furthermore, is both a confirmed pessimist and an optimist the like of which is to be found nowhere else on earth.”  I think my sense of hope is one of the biggest gifts my parents gave me.  They have always put their hope in God and their actions and decisions demonstrated this belief.  Their hope was (and is) contagious and God has never failed them. 

When our little family went through our hard times the past few years, my hope was really put to the test.  And I’ll admit, there were moments where I felt things were pretty hopeless.  But those moments didn’t turn into months or years.  As friends and family reminded me to focus on God, His character, and His sacrificial love for us instead of getting overwhelmed by the circumstances we were in, hope returned.

I want my children to have hopeful hearts.  I want their outlook to be colored by hope, not by circumstances.  I think that’s a supernatural request.  To me it seems very human and really normal to get caught up in our current storm or difficulty and to allow it to color everything…our relationships, our attitudes, our faith, our perspective…

And I don’t just want my kids to weather and overcome difficulties in general, but I also want them to have a sense of hope when faced with their own weaknesses (II Corin 12:9), really difficult people (Genesis 50:20), and seasons of time where doing the right thing not only is not paying off, but seems to be making life worse (Galatians 6:9).  Here’s what Kimmel writes about how parents can instill hope in their children:

Kids groomed in a grace-based environment find it easier to be visionaries, to trust in a better future, and to long for a greater good (96).  

Ultimately, we want our children to place their hope in the only true God.  We have a far greater chance of seeing that happen if two things occur first.  One, they need to watch parents who place their full confidence in the only true God, Jesus Christ.  When we say that we’re deriving our hope from Christ, but they see a lack of joy, a lot of fear, and a lack of patience and kindness towards those who don’t know Christ, we send out a mixed message that contradicts the gospel we hope they’ll embrace.  The second thing our children need is to be raised by parents who treat them the way Christ treats us as parents….Grace-based parents have an uncanny way of producing children with a strong hope (97).  

Children must understand that they will run into challenges bigger than their ability to handle them.  That’s where they need to be encouraged by our example to put their hope in God.  They need to see us turning to God with confidence when we are afraid, out of energy, out of ideas, or out of money.  They need to see how we have trusted Him to overcome our helplessness in every situation (107).  

Now, there’s one more area where God wants to use us to build their hope, and that’s when God chooses to solve their problems in ways that wouldn’t be of their own choosing.  The God we trust in doesn’t always deal with (these) problems in ways we expect or hope for.  Sometimes He answers our pleas with answers like “No” or “Wait” or “Later.”  When He does, it’s because He is working to make us better and stronger and to draw us closer to Him.  He has a bigger plan that this setback fits into.  Children need to have a hope in His love that enables them to trust in His character while walking down these painful corridors of their lives (108).

He built great gifts into them as well as weaknesses that require them to lean heavily on Him for power and help.  Children need to see parents who approach their shortcomings without venom or condescension.  As they find parents who take delight in building into them life skills that compensate for their shortcomings, they develop a strong sense of hope for the future (112-113).  

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being the God of hope.  Thank you that you can be trusted to take anything that happens in our lives and bring good from it.  Thank you for giving me parents who demonstrated faith and hope in You in a way that made it contagious.  May our faith and hope be contagious to our children, too! 

As I think about my children, I am so thankful for their joyful spirits, their cheerful personalities, their laughs and their smiles.  Please instill in them a deep, unswerving hope grounded in the reality of You.  Help them to look at the world from Your perspective and to not get focused solely on what is seen and temporary.  May they know not just with their heads but also in their hearts that You are intimately involved in their lives.  That You ordain their journeys…the good, the difficult, all of it.  

Jesus, I don’t necessarily expect an easy journey for them as life isn’t always easy, but I do pray that they have hearts that trust You easier than I have.  I think of believers who have gone through so much worse than I ever have who have trusted You with abandon.  I want that for my children.  I want them to know with every fiber in them that You are good, that You care, and that You can be trusted, with the big and the small.

When they struggle with their unique weaknesses, may they turn to You for strength and may they experience it.  When others pick on them, exclude them, or mistreat them, may they respond with grace and may You use what was intended to harm them for exponential good.  When having integrity and working hard does not seem to be paying off, may You remind them that it matters to You and that they will reap a harvest if they don’t give up.  When they are overwhelmed, may they cry out to You.  When tested, may their hope prove lasting and genuine.  And may it be contagious too! 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen