Friday, December 31, 2010

Another New Year's Post ;)

This morning I was greeted by a freezing cold room (according to California norms) and a pounding headache. :P But as my coffee and advil begins to kick in, I've decided to write down some observations and hopes:

2010 was an interesting year to say the least
January brought my niece to live with us
February brought Tim's job loss
March took my patience and my niece
April brought spring break with my boys
May took my husband to Texas
June brought Ethan's 10TH!!!! birthday and a trip to Texas
July brought anxiety and (at that time) my inability to deal with it
August brought the realization that we would be staying in California for the remainder
September brought school and the comfort of schedules and routine
October brought Indian Summer temps and plans for holidays
November brought together family and crafting
December brought the introduction of nightly family worship and prayer

Months don't really bring us things, do they? But sometimes it feels that way. It's almost like every month is a new year.
I could write volumes about all that the Lord has taught us in the past year. I am so very thankful for how he has brought Tim and I closer together and to our boys. I am thankful for the tangible ways that the Lord has shown His love for us by anonymous gift-givers and friends who listen.

My hopes for 2011 are simple:

Yes, I do hope for a job for my husband
that nightly family worship and prayer continues
that, by God's grace, I can become more of the wife and mother that I was born to be.

My head is full of ideas, friends! :) And my hope is in the Lord, not the number of this year.

Have a wonderful New Year's eve!!!


Thursday, December 9, 2010


Have you ever watched someone who is suffering and been absolutely helpless? Doesn't have to be something horrifying. . . maybe just someone who is in a lot of emotional pain and not a word you say will be able to console.
I was struck by this helplessness twice today:
On my way to pick up the boys from school, I passed by a familiar cemetery. It's the cemetery where many of my loved ones are buried, and so I always look over as I drive by. Don't really know why, probably just to try to see the spot where their bodies lie. Anyway, as I drove by today, there was a tent up with a freshly covered grave underneath. And sitting in a chair under the tent, was a man with his head on his hand, just looking at that fresh grave. In the seconds as I passed, I could tell that he was not very old. Probably around my age. But something about the way that he was sitting there struck me to the bone. I could feel his sorrow. As I continued driving, I thought about what this day must have been like for him, and how he must feel now, sitting all alone mourning whoever was in that grave. And I felt helpless.
Then tonight. Tonight is the night when Paul has cub scouts and Ethan and I get to have some special time together at Denney's. And he started talking. You see, just this week, his Tourette's tics have flared up for the first time in about 7 months. And they are back with a vengeance. It's very hard to listen to his talking getting interrupted by these tics and then see him grimace because of the pain. Helplessness. Nothing I can do can take my son's pain away. And believe me, I have tried.
While we were at Denney's, Ethan started playing with some things he brought with him, and I began working on my Bible study of the book of James. We are in chapter 5. Want to know what verse I read? "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." (vs. 13)
I can't go back to that man in the cemetery to pray with him, but hubby and I can teach our son to pray. To cry out to our Heavenly Father who loves us. And the crazy thing is that before I could even share this with Ethan tonight, he prayed. He asked that the Lord would help the pain not be so great. That it would not be distracting to him in class. Tears are falling down my face even as I type this. . . . I am so thankful that the Lord prompted Ethan to pray to Him. And I am humbled and corrected for not going to Him the way that my 10-year-old has done. When I see someone suffering, my first response should always be to pray, either for them or with them! Why do I always try to figure out how to "fix" the situation?!?! Really. Who do I think that I am?
Now, I don't know if it is the Lord's will for Ethan to be healed, but I pray that Ethan will continue to lean on Him who has the power to heal and has Ethan's best interests in mind. Praise God that there is a remedy for helplessness: Prayer.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Favorite Bread Recipe

Well, I know I wrote a crazy-long post last week explaining the bread recipe that I use. That is a great recipe, but a friend of mine directed me to another one that is even better! Truly, this bread tastes and feels like no other bread I have ever made.
So, check it out and let me know what you think! :)

Delicious Whole Wheat Bread
makes 2 loaves
Crystal Miller

2 cups warm water
1/3 cup honey
1 T yeast
1/3 cut olive oil
2 t. salt
1/3 cup gluten flour
5 to 7 cups freshly ground whole wheat flour

In a large bowl or in a large mixer (such as a Kitchen Aid or Bosch type) combine the water, yeast and honey. Let sit for a few minutes to give the yeast a chance to start working. Add the salt, oil, gluten flour and 3 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Continue to add more flour until the dough does not stick to the side of the bowl and does not feel sticky to the touch. Knead for 4 minutes in a Bosch mixer or 7 to 10 in other mixers or 10 to 15 minutes by hand.

When dough has finished kneading let it rise once until doubled in bulk (unless you are using a Bosch type mixer and in this case you can skip the 1st rising). Punch down dough and divide it into 2 pieces and form into loaves and set in bread pans.

Let it rise in a slightly warm oven (
this means that you turn the oven on for just 2 or 3 min. or until you can feel the heat and then turn it off, if it is too hot then it will kill the yeast) for 15 to 25 minutes or until the dough is ½ inch above top of pan. Turn oven to 350 (without taking bread out) and bake for approx. 30 minutes or until golden brown.


Monday, December 6, 2010

I heart Pecans

About 45 years ago, my grandparents, along with my dad and uncle, moved out to California from Oklahoma. Rural Oklahoma. From what I understand, my grandmother needed some medical attention, and they had some family out here, so they came and eventually settled in the Inland Empire on about a half an acre. Shortly after they moved in, my grandfather began to make that land his own by composting and planting. I wish you could see the pictures of that land. I remember as a child, running through the rows of corn, and around the tomato plants. Picking up the strange looking squash that looked like flying saucers. The land seemed to huge to me, and yet it was small and right in the middle of a city.
Along with all the vegetables and trees that he planted, he decided to plant some pecan trees. The story is that he had to order them from a grower in Georgia and that people laughed at him. They said the trees would never produce in California; what was he thinking?! Well, they did grow to become beautiful shade trees, but did not produce.
My grandparents were both gone to heaven by the time I was in high school, and so the mini farm died away. But the trees stayed. Mostly because they were easy to maintain, I suppose. And about 5 years ago, my uncle died in September. That November, the pecans emerged. It really was an amazing thing. All four tress, dripping with pecans. I can't even recall how many were harvested, but we just kept picking and picking.
Since that year, we haven't ever seen a crop like that, but the trees faithfully produce these wonderful nuts every year.
Those trees are especially a blessing to Tim and me. We dry the nuts and shell them every year to give as gifts in mason jars. This allows us to give gifts when we wouldn't be able to afford to. And people love the wonderful taste of these fresh, raw pecans. I also love the fact that the boys get to help pick them and spend time with a grandfather who they don't see very often. There's some sort of peace about that property that I will always love.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Advent Calendar

Every year I make the goal to follow an advent calendar with the boys, and every year, so far, I (we) have failed to follow through. So I decided we need more than a piece of paper or a candy filled countdown calendar to use. . . but we don't have the extra money to purchase what I had pictured in my mind. I knew I would have to make one. :)
Then I remembered that I bought this (McCall's M5778) pattern weeks ago to make little Christmas tree decorations. That pattern also includes a Christmas card holder, which is in the shape of a big Christmas tree. Perfect! Here's what I did:

1. Cut pattern. I used some green fabric (I think it's a bottomweight) that I was given, but I would recommend using 72" green felt from Joann's.

(I had to use my kitchen table!)

2. If you are not using the felt, you'll need to iron on interfacing. Decor Bond works really well if you have heavier weight fabric like this bottomweight that I used.

(You might need to piece the interfacing)

3. Pinning the fabric with right sides together, sew around the Christmas tree, leaving an opening for turning at the bottom. (About 5 inches) Now, if you're using the felt, you can just sew the two layers together. No turning is necessary. :)

4. Clip corners and turn the tree right side out. Press and top stitch the entire tree, including the opening at the bottom. (If using felt, skip this step)

5. Sew on the ric rack in desired placement.

6. Mark desired locations for the 25 paper clips, and then hand sew them on to the tree.

(You only need 3-4 stitches per clip)

7. Hot Glue on the buttons

8. Cut out desired shapes for ornaments and number them. At some point, I'd like to make mine a little nicer, but these will work for now. :)

9. I used this site for the daily Bible reading and Christmas hymns. Then I just wrote them on a white label and stuck them on the backs of the ornaments. Nothing fancy. ;)

10. Hang! Okay, well, I didn't hang mine. . . . I used tape! :S I know I'll regret it next month when I take it down, but I really didn't want to make holes in the wall, and I don't have any of those command hooks. If you would like to use hooks, just makes some loops out of ribbon or left over ric rack and glue them onto the back of the tree. :)

I hope this post serves as an encouragement to start some new traditions and get crafty! :) You can do it!!!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Amazing, make-u-feel-accomplised, Bread recipe

Seriously. I feel like superwoman after pulling this bread out of the oven! There's something about the work that goes into kneading it, the smell of it, and just knowing that I will be slicing it up to use for sandwiches and dinner everyday, that makes me smile. This is just one tangible way of being a Titus 2 woman, and I love it. :)
So on to the recipe. I found this amazing recipe on here. And, to be perfectly honest with you, the only reason I chose it was because of all the ratings it has. There are also tons of ideas in the comments that are great.
Here's the recipe (with my comments included):

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

3 Cups of warm water (110 degrees)
2 (.25 ounces) pachages of yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup honey (or agave nectar or maple syrup)
5 Cups of bread flour (yes, you need to use bread flour)
3 Tablespoons of melted butter
1/3 cup of honey (see above)
1 Tablespoon of salt
3 1/2 cups of wheat flour

1. In a large bowl, mix warm water (make sure that it's around 110 degrees. If it's too hot, you will kill the yeast. And if it's not warm enough, it will take too long to rise) , 1/3 cup of honey and the yeast. Stir to combine. There will be little chunks of the yeast, but that's okay. Then add the 5 cups of bread flour by stirring while scraping the sides of the bowl. Let this set for about 30 minutes, or until it is big and bubbly.

2. Mix in 3 Tablespoons of melted butter, 1/3 cup of honey and salt, just stir it all in. Then stir in 2 cups of the whole wheat flour. You may have to use your hands a bit, but the idea is that it is not super sticky so that you can start kneading. So after the 2 cups of wheat flour are mixed in, through some wheat flour on the counter and take the dough out of the bowl. There will still be some parts of the dough that are pretty sticky, so just kind of push those parts into the flour on the counter and start forming a mound. (I hope that makes sense. . ) Keep adding the wheat flour about 1/2 a cup at a time. You'll need to add more flour to the counter and to the top of the dough as you are kneading. Now, I don't know if this is the professional way to knead, but the way I do it is to push the dough forward with the palms of my hands, fold it over, turn it, then push again. If you are still confused, watch this. By the time you are done kneading, you will have added about 2 1/2 more cups of wheat flour and the dough will only be slight sticky.
Place your dough in a large, greased bowl, turning once so that it has a thin layer of the grease, then cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel.
You're going to let this rise for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled.

3. Whoohoo! You're almost done, and this is my favorite part. :) Once your dough has risen to double the size that it was, you punch it down. That's right. Make a fist and punch down in the center of that big bowl of dough. It is truly satisfying! :D

4. Now you grease your 9 x 5 loaf pans (I believe glass ones are the best if you have them), and divide the dough into three, equal sized loaves.

5. At this point, you can either put all three loaves into the pans, or roll out one or two to add ingredients. To roll the dough, you just lightly flour the counter, roll it out to about 5 x 10 inches and spread the ingredients on the dough. I've used cinnamon and sugar, cinnamon and raisins, dried cranberries and pecans or walnuts, really anything that sounds good in bread! Then just roll it up and pinch off the ends. Then place in the loaf pan.

6. Once the loaves are in the pans, you will need to cover them up again and let them rise until they are about an inch above the pan. (about another hour)

7. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the loaves have risen, stick them all in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. You'll know they're done when the top and the sides are browned. If your sides and bottom are still white, then the inside of your bread will be doughy. Believe me. :(
The top may get a little crispy, which I like. But if you want a softer top, you can spread butter on the top of the loaf right when it gets out of the oven.

8. After you remove your loaves of yummy-smelling bread from the oven, make sure to let it cool for a bit before attempting to remove from the pans. You may need to run a butter knife along the edges, but most of the time, they just fall right out. Use a good serrated knife and dig in! :)

Please don't be intimidated by this process of bread-making! Grab a friend and try it together! Oh, and one last thing. Yesterday I said that it cost a little under a dollar to make this bread. I don't think that's entirely accurate. It's difficult to calculate the exact amount, but it probably comes out to around $1.50. The most expensive part is the honey, so use what you have. Maple syrup, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc. :) Also, much to my dismay, I use **gulp** bleached bread flour. . . I know. . . but when a 25lb bag is about $6.50 at Costco, it's really hard to spend $18 at Winco for the wheat bread flour. When my budget allows for it, though, I will switch for sure.
Okay, have fun baking!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Baking Day!

The aspect of Tim's job loss that has probably affected me the most is in the area of our food budget. I am a stay at home mom, so I am constantly preparing meals and snacks. And when we don't have the money to buy the food that I would normally use, things get a little hairy. . well I get a little cranky. ;)
Over the last few months, I have been working to develop my baking and cooking skills to better use foods that are inexpensive: read: whole foods, fresh food!
Now, I had already been cooking mostly all of our dinners from scratch for some time, but our baked goods and snacks were a different story. Good bread and healthy snacks are expensive! So I had to make a choice. I could either buy cheap "wheat" bread at the dollar store, or I could learn how to make wholesome and tasty bread for my family for a little less than a dollar per loaf.
As I have been perfecting my skills and baking away, one problem kept arising. . . . where can I fit this into my schedule??!?! And then I remembered a great post written by Abbi at Proverbs31 living:
What a concept! Most of us are either home everyday, or we dedicate a day of the week to stay home to do laundry or other household chores. Why not use that time to bake as well? Really. Most of the time involved in baking is in letting the dough rise or baking it in the oven. During those times, keep on going with your normal tasks. :)
Monday is my baking day, so I thought I'd share with you whats on my menu for today:

-Banana muffins
-Honey wheat bread
-Wheat sandwich rolls
-Molasses Cookies

I usually try to make one breakfast item for those mornings when I don't have time to cook breakfast. . . . err, when I don't get out of bed on time. ;) Loaf bread is made every week, and this week I am trying out these sandwich rolls. And then I make one or two sweet snacks for lunches and for hubby's sweet tooth. :)
Really, I can't express to you enough how much this has saved us! I'll write more about this again, and provide recipes. But start thinking about items on your grocery list that you can replace with homemade goodness.
Now, I'm off to go take the umbrella out of the patio before it flies away in this crazy wind! :)


Monday, November 8, 2010

Lies. . . .

I shared this on Facebook about two weeks ago, but I needed a reminder today. ;)

Jesus did not die so that I can have material pleasures in life. What does that stir up in your heart? I’ll tell you what it stirred up in my heart this morning when this thought came to me: I have been holding on to some sort of prosperity gospel for some time now. I know. Is that possible? It’s not like I consciously have said, “I believe that God will give me a Mercedes if I believe in Him.” But think about it for a moment. . . . .

Tim has been unemployed in the traditional sense for almost nine months now. The Lord has provided for us in many ways, but there has been no full-time job offers in 9 months of sending out resumes and applying at hundreds of different places. And, to be honest with you, I go through seasons of being “okay” with this. The times when I am “okay,” there are usually other prospects of a job on the horizon for me to look to. And then when I am not “okay” I am swallowed up by anxiety and grief. So, over the past few days, I have been praying and thinking about this: Why am I so freaked out about Tim’s being unemployed?

I think most people would agree that losing one’s job is one of the worst things that can happen to a family. Why is that? Well, losing a job can mean losing a home, losing a car, losing the ability to buy things when you want to, losing the ability to be comfortable, losing the ability to provide food for your family, losing some freedoms. Okay, look at that list again. . . everything on it is related to money and possessions.

And during this time of Tim’s job loss, I have prayed in earnest that the Lord would provide a job for Tim so that we can resume our lives. So that we wouldn’t have to rely on other people, etc, etc. And when the Lord hasn’t answered my prayers, I have been resentful. Wondering, “where is Your faithfulness, O God?!”

And here’s where it hit me: Jesus did not die so that you could be comfortable here on earth. He did not die so that I could have all the material possessions I want. EVEN if what I desire is good and not excessive. Yep.. . ..

Not very may of you are in the situation that Tim and I are in right now. But I want to challenge you to think about this. We can be really critical when it comes to people believing in a prosperity kind of gospel. Let’s be more critical about what we truly believe. I am horrified to think that this was in my heart for so long, truly horrified. So think about what your reaction would be if you or your husband lost your/his job today. How would you respond? What would you be anxious about? Let’s guard our hearts from consumerism and the temptation to see money as the only way that God blesses His people.

His faithfulness is in what He has already done! He died a gruesome death, raised up from the grave, and is now preparing a place for us while He intercedes on our behalf! Praise God for His goodness and unbelievable grace upon those who believe!.

I have a feeling I will be rehearsing the gospel to myself even more often for a while, and praying that my eyes will be open and aware of any of this sin that could come crawling back into my thoughts. And I don’t know what is in store for Tim and I. But I do know that my salvation is secure, and that I’m here to be used by God, and that’s all that I need to know.

Please share your thoughts! :)


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rivers of Joy

"I will sing of Your mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy. . "

I heard this song for the first time today on I have not lost anyone recently, but over the last 7 years, I have lost quite a few loved ones. But that's not why this song hit me today. There is pain and grief associated with job loss and the journey to employment. I don't talk about it a lot because I would rather focus on the work that God is doing in us and His faithfulness. The truth is, though, that it is extremely difficult at times, and Tim and I have to make a conscience effort to rely on God's grace to continue moving forward to get through this time. We have to purposefully praise Him and "sing of His mercy."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

love, love, love

Okay, so I don't normally write about mushy love stuff. . . but I am going to today. :)

In approximately 6.5 hours, the boys and I will be picking Tim up from the airport. He has been in Texas for six days, but it has felt like months have gone by! This is the longest he has ever been away from us.

I really didn't think it would be hard without him here. About four years ago, he was working retail and we rarely saw him, and I was okay. So how bad could six days be? Well, I have definitely learned a few things while he was away:

- He makes me laugh harder than anyone else can

- As much as I think he is the one who leaves stuff all around the house. . . I see now that I do it too :/

- He is my motivation to take care of our home

- Dinners were not the same.

- I do not sleep well at all in bed alone.

- The love that the boys have for him has brought me to tears this week

There are so many other things that I could write. . . .

It's so crazy to think that ten years ago, I appreciated Tim's good looks above almost anything else. I still like the fact that he is good-looking ;) but I love the man that the Lord has made him to be. He is the one that God chose to be my husband, the leader of our home, the father of our boys, and I am so very thankful.

I am deserving of hell, and yet, by the grace of God, I get to be married to this wonderful man! Thank you, God!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where am I standing right now???

Half Dome Yosemite National Park
photo credit:

Most of the time I assume that I am standing on the solid ground of Christ. Do you ever do that? Just assume? Well, this is what happens when you assume: You are taken off-guard when you start sinking.
There is so much uncertainty in my life right now. Where is Tim going to find a job? In CA or TX? What kind of job will he have? How will we pay our bills? What or how much should we tell the boys? Financial decisions, etc., etc., etc.
And for the past few weeks, I would say that I was standing on solid ground. . wavering slightly, but on solid ground nonetheless. Last night the rubber met the road. For whatever reason, I was completely overwhelmed and hopeless about our situation. And I allowed myself to stay there most of the night into the early morning hours. Where was I standing then? Definitely not solid ground, that's for sure. I was sinking. It was even a physical feeling of suffocating. I started frantically looking for jobs for Tim online. Reading about the places to live in Texas, looking at church websites. .. craziness. All at midnight.
So I finally went to bed around 1am, only to wake up at least once an hour. The awesome thing is that every time I awoke, the words of The Solid Rock were singing in my mind. It's the old hymn that rings with so much amazing truth. The Lord used this hymn in a mighty way in me today. He is so faithful. I am so undeserving.

The Solid Rock
My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand -
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev'ry high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand -
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand -
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand -
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Shouting. Honestly, I don't shout (in fright) very often. When I do, it's gotta be something that has really taken me by surprise.
So I really had to laugh out loud while reading this verse in Leviticus:
"Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces." Leviticus 9:23b-24
Can you picture it? Here is a tabernacle full of people, watching as the priest offered the sacrifices. And all of a sudden the glory of the Lord is made visible, and then the people shouted and fell on their faces. It just makes me laugh. . . and it also makes me think.. .
The people shouted and fell on their faces because it surprised them. But they had been hearing about the Lord and bringing sacrifices, and not expecting anything to happen. . . do you see where I'm headed?
How many times do we pray and not expect to see the Lord work? I can say that I have had many instances when I have prayed for something, the Lord answered my prayers, and then I was astonished. . . almost in disbelief that He made it happen. I have acted like those people who shouted and fell on their faces.
Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't fear the Lord, or be in amazement of all that he is capable of doing. But I am saying that we need to think about how powerful and all-knowing He is, and not let that take us by surprise when He allows us to see Him at work. Also, that we need to pray in faith, knowing that He is fully able to answer everything that is in accordance to His will.
There are so many things in my life right now that seem to be impossible to fix. But I know that my Father who created this universe can remedy all in His timing. And I am so completely thankful that He is capable. And I'm also grateful that He chooses to show us His power, even when we aren't expecting it. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The itch. . .

Well, it's been about five months since my last sale on Etsy. I did do a few shows in November and December, but I'm starting to get the itch to begin sewing again.

The studio was closed in January, so all of my studio equiptment is back in our spare bedroom. Which means that space is limited, and there is no way for me to produce on a large scale. And that's a good thing. One thing that I'd really like to see happen this time is more of a balance between sewing and family. It's so easy for me to get more excited about sewing and marketing than washing dishes, doing homework, and taking care of my husband. ;)

So, be watching! There's a lot of new stuff that I'd like to start making. . . like a children's bag line and some accessories for boys! I'm excited!!!!!


Friday, March 19, 2010

This is truly an amazing song that the Lord is using to minister to my heart. Learning to walk with Jesus upon the waves is not easy. . .