Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You Are For Me

A few weekends ago we took some students in our youth group to a huge concert called Winter Jam.  The arena was literally packed to capacity...I'm talking 17,000 people....and we were among the last 1,000 to (thankfully) make it in!  It was a very uplifting time with the message of Jesus shared clearly, tons of good music, and a great lineup of bands and singers.  It was a treat to get to hear Sanctus Real live (don't you just love their songs?), as well as Building 429 and others.   But my favorite part of the evening was being led in worship by Kari Jobe.

She radiated joy as she sang, and her sweet adoration of Jesus seemed to spread through the room.  We enjoyed singing along to the energizing song We Are...love these lyrics so much!

So wake up sleeper, lift your head
We were meant for more than this
Fight the shadows conquer death
Make the most of the time we have left.

We are the light of the world
We are the city on a hill
We are the light of the world
We gotta, we gotta, we gotta let the light shine.

My husband just posted Matthew 5:14 on his facebook the other day...

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

Her song definitely conveys this message perfectly!

Another Kari song I have been listening to lately is You Are For Me.  As I listen, Scripture instantly floods my  mind...

Romans 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let our conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.  So we must boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

2 Corinthians 12:9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This song was born out of her journal entries during a tough time, and is absolutely beautiful. Take a moment to listen and sit in His presence.  Sing to Him.  Let Him write upon your heart.  He is for you.

You Are For Me by Kari Jobe.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Just A Touch Of Love

Our house has been sprinkled with extra touches of love in preparation for Valentine's Day!

I left my little white tree in my entryway, and donned it with hearts and other reminders of love, sweet love!

I also left my little glittery red tree up for the occasion.

In the kitchen, the Valentine's aprons are hung...

And in the family room, signs of love are everywhere!

The knob fell off the little table I gave a makeover, so a scrap of burlap and a glue dot saved the day!

Handcrafted photos on canvas of those I love make me smile...

A message in chalk reminds me how I want to love.

Fresh flowers always speak of affection...we often pick out lovely bouquets at Aldi for a mere $3.99.  These are brightening up our countertop today.

I was thrilled to find these love notes with messages for the kids to leave in their lunchboxes or on their pillows!  I found them at a Family Christian Store.

Madi is receiving all sorts of opportunities to use her talents these days and though she enjoys these opportunities, they sometimes make her nervous.  I think this is a perfect love note for her.

And since sweets are for the sweet, these Cherry M&M's are the perfect treat for your sweetheart! Oh my, these are delicious!

I just love celebrating Valentine's Day!

Linking to Tabletop Tuesday.

Friday, January 27, 2012


One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was this little sign that I set out in my kitchen.

Over the past 7 years or so, my heart has come to passionately love and embrace being home, and making our home a place my family loves to be.  Trevor has done extremely well in his mornings at Pre-K this year, and my dad recently asked him what his favorite things about school were.  His answer was sweet and sincere.  "Centers, playground, and going home."  When I asked him about his last answer he said, "Because I like home, home is my favorite."

I know what he means.  I love when mornings allow me to be home with a fresh brewed cup of coffee, Bible, and study.  I love listening to the sound effects my son my son makes while playing with spaceships, motorcycles, cars, and Lego's.  I love the belly laughs that float around when my kids crack each other up.  I love after school snacks at the kitchen table and scooters on the back porch and family dinnertime and comfy conversations with my husband after the kids are in bed.   I am thankful I have been able to teach music lessons from home, and open up our home to many guests and friends through the years.

And despite the adjustment it was, the times during the toddler years where I was ready to pull my hair out and go back to work (where I could wear high heels and get a paycheck and someone actually appreciated me...ever have those conversations with yourself during a tough toddler moment!), and the bad days/moments sprinkled in with the good, I have loved being home with my kids.  Truly and earnestly loved it, and wouldn't trade this time for any position or possession in the world. These years at home have been an investment and a gift. 

Two weeks ago Madi had a morning doctor's appointment that turned out to be no fun at all.  I dried her tears and instead of sending her to school that day, I took her home.  I set out her pillow pet, soft Disney blanket, pillow, and nestled her comfortably on the couch.  It was a cold, rainy day so I made two cups of her favorite drink...peppermint hot cocoa. In that quiet moment and cup of cocoa shared with my daughter, I was immensely grateful to be home.

So as my little sign says, home sweet home is indeed where something good is always brewing.  Well, it is if you make it that way.   Home is not a house or an address, it is the sweet and safe place the four of us share our life and love.  It is our soft spot to land.  It is a place of grace.  In Trevor's words, home is our favorite.

I followed my heart and it led me home.

Kitchen Love

I've been telling you about my love affair with berries lately, and of the batches of marinated strawberries I've been enjoying.  Strawberries aren't the only berries making me swoon lately....this was my snack the other day!  A great big bowl of beautiful goodness.

I had been feeling so badly about too many rushed breakfasts before school these days, and wanted to give my family something warm out of the oven.  I saw this muffin mix at the store and it looked promising.  I got up a little early the other morning and treated our family to some fresh out of the oven blueberry muffins.  They were delicious!  I will go back to this mix again.

Don't you love the fragrant scent fresh blueberry muffins spread through your home?  What a way to start a morning!

Lunch time is extra fun for Trevor when his lunch is served on the Star Wars set his grandma sent him for Christmas!

And Madi's snack is more fun when a mini sandwich is made from a Mickey sandwich cutter Santa left in this Disney-loving girl's stocking!

Santa also brought Trev a Star Wars cookbook, and last Friday we had a blast making (and tasting)  these chocolate chip Wookiee Cookies!!

I enjoyed using the new measuring cups that I got for Christmas!

Sometimes you just can't resist sneaking a bite or two...

Love those sweet little hands helping me in the kitchen!

I must say, these Wookiee Cookies were out of this galaxy.  :)

I had a hankering for salsa this week and made a huge fresh batch.  My friend Heather, who happens to be pregnant, appreciates homemade salsa almost as much as I do.  I decided to send some her way.

And then I had a birthday girl in my small group at youth group, and wanted to make her some birthday cookies.  I decided to make Funfetti Cookies...have you ever made these?

You use a Funfetti cake mix and add eggs and oil - the recipe is on the side of the box.  You roll them in balls then flatten them with a cup.  They bake quickly into some of the softest, most delicious sugar cookies you have ever tasted!  Such a quick and easy recipe, and with a little canned frosting and sprinkles you can serve up a real simple but special treat!  The high school girls loved them, and I loved making them smile and feel special!

One thing is for sure....kitchen love is some good, good love.

Something Old, Something New

Three or four years ago, my mom saw a little black dress in my size hanging on a Target clearance rack.  Not a fancy little black dress - a comfy, classic, knit black dress that is easy to wear and care for.  A simple go-to dress at a price so low she couldn't resist bringing it home to me.  I have worn this dress many times over the past few years, and love that I can wash it in the machine and it never needs ironing and can be pulled on in a hurry.

Fast forward a few years to this past weekend.  My mom attended an accessory show where you can purchase accessories for rock bottom prices.  She brought me home a few goodies, including a soft gray scarf dressed with rosettes and a pewter pearl bracelet adorned with a fleur-de-lis.  

Sunday morning I was in a rush to get ready for church.  I pulled my trusty and comfy knit dress out of the back of my closet, threw on my new accessories, and was out the door.  It was an easy but stylish look.

Don't you love mixing the old with the new?  The classic with the trendy?  Wearing those clearance rack finds that look like a million bucks?

I sure do!  Makes my wardrobe go a long way.  

What is something inexpensive and new that you can mix with something old to feel fresh and fashionable?  Keep your eyes out for a stylish deal to pair with a classic!

On Waiting

A couple weeks ago I read some very interesting information about the growth of certain types of Chinese bamboo.  I came across this info in the last lesson of the Women of Faith Bible study Listening For The Voice of God: Growing in Faith Everyday, then did some other reading online about this interesting process.

The study told how to grow Chinese bamboo, you plant a seed and then water and fertilize it.  However, you don't see results right away.  In fact for the next few years, you have to wait, watering and fertilizing the soil while nothing happens above the surface.  In the fifth year, a shoot of bamboo will pierce the soil and then all of a sudden, a Chinese bamboo tree will grow rapidly to nearly 90 feet tall in just six weeks.

It seems that the tree grew remarkably fast; however, the process leading up to this rapid growth took years.  The necessary process for growth was actually happening under the surface for a long time before the tree shot up and visible, measurable growth and results were seen.

My husband and I have been seeking God intently regarding some areas of our lives for quite some time now.  We've asked Him some serious questions, had some difficult conversations, and have asked God for specific and clear answers.  And we've been waiting.  I feel like our lives have been "in process" if you will.  It has been painful at times and other times easier, but I know one thing.  We have, in a unique way, been growing.  God has been working under the surface as He has allowed us to sit in one of the "waiting rooms of life" as I like to call them.

*photo credit google images

Here's the thing.  I have a strong feeling that many of you out there are in one of those waiting rooms as well.  You are waiting for answers, direction, results, healing, wisdom, information, clarity, relief, leading, or something else.  You may be waiting for something exciting -  the birth of a child, an adoption to go through, a new job, a big promotion, a special vacation.  You may be waiting for something unknown - God to bring you a spouse, or allow you to conceive a child, or to give you some hint of His plan for your life.  You may even be waiting for something difficult - an upcoming surgery, medical test results that could change everything, someone to pay you a debt you are owed, a court date.

You, like us, may know that those who wait up on the Lord renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31).  You may believe that we are not to grow weary while doing good (Galatians 6:9).  You may trust that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6).  You may be claiming those Scriptures, but still finding the waiting room to be an uninviting place.  I want to encourage you this day to let God grow you in the waiting.  Like the bamboo seed that germinates under the surface for years before rapid growth is seen, we can patiently surrender as God work out His growth process in us over time, and continue to be faithful to Him until our sprouts take root and shoot to the sky.

As I have been pondering all of this, I couldn't help but think of the song While I'm Waiting from the inspiring movie Fireproof.  If you have three minutes, take the time to go to the link for this song and listen carefully to the lyrics.  They are so poignant; I am inspired as the artist sings that while waiting on the Lord is not easy, we can still move forward in obedience to Him and confidence in Him.  We can serve God while we're waiting. We can worship while we're waiting.

And we can let Him grow us, even if it is in quiet ways under the surface of our hearts, while we wait on His perfect will and plan to be accomplished in our lives.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

James 1:4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Florida Winter Inspiration!

A few years ago I moved down south where the orange trees grow.  Our neighborhood is nestled within orange groves.  I know winter is here when the oranges are ripe for the picking on the trees.

Florida's winter beauty is different than that of the Maryland winters I grew up knowing.

Things come to life here in the winter.  Everything is in living color.  The oranges contrast against the brilliant blue, and often cloudless sky.

I inhale the fresh air that blows through the orange groves this time of year as I walk, jog, or ride bikes through my neighborhood.  I bask in the sunshine that spreads its warmth, even on days when the air is cool and the breeze is strong.

Oranges aren't the only things that grow in abundance down here this time of year.  Grocery produce sections and fruit stands are bursting with fresh, locally grown berries.  I have already made several batches of the marinated strawberries that I enjoy so much.

When I took down my Christmas decorations, I used Florida's lovely winters as inspiration for a few touches in my kitchen.  I wrote a little poem on the old chalkboard I gave a makeover awhile back...

Then I set out some of my fun Christmas presents!  I put some faux oranges (purchased at Hobby Lobby) on a vintage type scale my mom gave me, next to a strawberry teapot also from her.  My friend Nanette gave me a sign with Psalm 118:24 on it and all together it looks bright, cheerful, and oh-so- Florida!

When I saw this "You Are My Sunshine" sign at Target for $1 in the value section, I was thrilled!  I have often sung that song to my family, and this time of year is certainly abundant with sunshine down here.

Today was sunny, warm, and beautiful.  The kids had a ball sledding down a hill in our neighborhood on scraps of cardboard with Paw Paw.  I snacked on blueberries and raspberries, and there are locally grown strawberries in my refrigerator.  My mom used fresh oranges to make juice tonight when she made us all breakfast for dinner.  Earlier this morning I got my exercise on sunny streets surrounded by orange trees.

You can draw decorating inspiration from almost anywhere.

I was inspired by Florida's winter, and all the bright and cheerful loveliness she brings!

What is inspiring you these days?

Linking to Tabletop Tuesday and Potpourri Friday at 2805.