Thursday, March 31, 2016

I Love Where I Live

Hello, friends!



You know the old saying "Bloom Where You are Planted?" I'm trying and I hope you are, too.

Like many teenagers, I never intended to live in my hometown when I grew up. I've written about it before, so I won't go over it again, but at one time, I really thought I was born to live in a city and somehow ended up on a farm in the country by mistake.

And I NEVER intended to fall in love with a farmer who worried about the weather and worked 24/7.

But I AM SO GLAD I DID!


Now, I know I was born to live in the country on a farm with my farmer who worries about the weather and indeed does work almost 24/7. I'm very proud to be a farmer's wife and a farmer's daughter and farmers' mother.

It is a good life and I am very, very grateful.

And we go to Florida a lot, so there is that. Yeah!

I am so thankful to live where I live.

I LOVE our little community. It is filled with salt of the earth people who would literally give you the shirt off their back and often do. I've heard that in some parts of our country, it's common for many people to have "big hats and no cattle", living above their means and worried about keeping up with the Joneses. Here, it is much more normal for people to have "many cattle and a small hat."

I like that about them.


But, if there is a need, our people are quick to help. They volunteer. They share. They give. They support great causes. They really care about others. They notice what is happening around them.

They buy raffle tickets. And girl scout cookies. And animals at the 4-H livestock auction. And purses. And cookie dough. And pork loins. And "stuff" they don't really need when their little people ask them to.

They eat a lot, too. Porkburgers and more porkburgers. (Have you ever had one? They are delicious!) Pancakes. Sausage breakfasts. Hog roasts. Strawberry Ice Cream.

They play basket bingo and trivia and dodge ball to raise funds for various projects. They hold special spin classes to contribute money for adoptions for people they will never meet in a state across the country.

They give to missionaries across the world. And to the ministry down the street.

And those are just a few things that quickly pop into my head.

Who wouldn't want to live here?

Not only are these people givers, they are super interesting, too. I love learning about what makes a person "light up"!


I want to learn more about their......

tapping maple trees and making syrup the old fashioned way, for the sheer fun of it

taking farm "junk" and welding it into art

making furniture

creating a home music recording studio and then using it to help promote our very own American Idol contestant, Cheyenne Goss

crocheting like it is a job

beekeeping

meeting on Thursday nights with mandolins, banjos, and guitars to make music that only they will hear

running marathons, half marathons, or just around town, spinning, doing holy yoga, Insanity, Girl Fit, Cize


making museum quality quilts

studying stars and history

books being written

fishing our lakes, hunting our woods and catching the big ones

getting cattle ready for big shows all over the Midwest


growing huge gardens, picking mushrooms, wild blackberries, raspberries and ginseng

book clubs and essential oil clubs and bridge clubs

day lily collectors, daffodil collectors, antique tractor collectors

racing dirtbikes and cars and competing in talent shows and being really good at it, too

camping, glamping, motorcycling. cruising, exotic traveling


bird-watching, arrowhead hunting, eagle sightings

poetry writing and a newsletter published several times a year describing the events that happen in imaginary Happyville

Uninformed people might overlook our small community or wonder what we do for fun. Those of us who call this home, look around at all our wide open spaces, count our blessings and get busy living!



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Monday, March 21, 2016

Grateful on Mission

Hello, Friends!



When you had a chance to go on a mission trip and you knew it was going to be fun and gratifying because no one can out give God, but He pours out his blessings in ways you never dreamed, it takes a few days to process it.

Let alone share it with others. Some things should be treasured up in your own heart, but others you want to shout from the mountaintop so God gets HIS glory.

If you have ever been tempted to go on a mission trip, but you didn't because you thought you were too:
old
young
weak
strong
timid
outgoing
scared
untalented
talented
rich
poor
skilled
unskilled

get out your BIG eraser and get rid of those lies.

Don't miss the good stuff that happens when a team of Christians joins forces and works toward a common goal in the name of the Lord.



Backstory

Our church has long supported Casas Por Christo, whose goal is to share Jesus through building homes in Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. Many of us have also personally supported our friend, Scott Dewitt, a full time employee for Casas. Scott and Jonna were our youth ministers when our boys were young and we love them.

Several mission teams from our church have gone to Juarez to build homes. Brad and I helped chaperon a group when Brock was in high school. I count that as one of the highlights of my life. God grew all 3 of us during those hot, hardworking days. Because of this experience, I felt like I knew what to expect.

Wrong.

This trip was different and all kinds of goodness in a totally different way. The combination of building for a pastor's family.....a group of adults about whom we didn't have to worry....and 2 people with us who could speak a little Spanish made for a wonderful connection with our Hispanic hosts.

I love a good list so that is how I will share a bit of our trip with you. These are some of the praises I wrote in my gratitude journal during our few days across the border.



Grateful Mexico Moments 

In no particular order, I'm thankful for.....

1. A great group of fellow travelers, including our sister and brother-in-law and some of our dearest friends

2. A commonality despite our differences- JESUS!

3. Cows, cows, and more cows-mainly black angus

4. The beauty of green as we traveled south. Spring had arrived down there!

5. A gorgeous Texas sunset, cows on the horizon, taking photos in my head




6. Traveling new roads, seeing new towns-I especially enjoyed the Texas town with a circle drive around the courthouse.

7. Our spunky waitress at Cracker Barrel-She started out harsh, but we ended up talking about Jesus.

8. The opportunity to go on this trip

9. A great worship service at Grace church in Wichita Falls-To remember:gorgeous facilities, no formal offering taken except in collection boxes placed around the building. They told us they only start a building project when they have all the money to pay for it-and they obviously had many building projects. Word to remember from the sermon: Abide

10. Belle's Chicken Dinner, Abilene-good food and a singing waitress with a beautiful voice


11. Laughing hysterically at Brad's sincere sympathy for dirt that can't raise corn and beans, no matter how hard it tries

12. A lovely evening with Scott and Jonna and children-so nice to reconnect AND enjoy great BBQ

13. A good night's rest before crossing the border-I worried more about not sleeping than anything.

14. Praying together before crossing that we would bring God glory as we blessed and were blessed by the Acuna family

15. The sharp contrast in 5 miles. How can it be? We are so thankful to live in America, truly the land of opportunities!


Off to school!


16. Tears and hugs from Marta when we arrived. I have tried to imagine the emotional roller coaster her family had been on. It isn't easy to accept help and I pray that we didn't come across as people swooping in to solve their problems. It was obvious their family had the most important things- Jesus, love, and each other.

17. Meeting their beautiful children-Luis, Elsie, Anahy, and Naphtali and his wife, Christian

18. Hard work but wonderful camaraderie among all of us-a Holy Spirit thing. Not a harsh word was spoken the entire week. And I didn't see any eye-rolling either! Or meaningful stares.

19. Hospitality shown in a 2 room home with dirt floors-BIG LESSON for me. Have company. Feed people. Love others. Stop thinking everything must be perfect.

20. Great Mexican food prepared for us by Marta and the Casas cooking team. Who knew there was such a thing as fried tacos?


Marta covered our tortillas with this beautifully embroidered cloth. Isn't it pretty? 

21. Reminders to "look up and see" what is happening around me. I tend to focus right in front of me and I miss the big picture sometimes.

22. Serious conversations in God's timing.

23. Playing games in the evening. Have you played "Spot It"? I'm terrible at it, but I loved it!

24. Special worship time when I stepped into the church while the 2 girls were singing worship songs. Reminder of how blessed I was to be able to go on this trip. Is that what happens when you aren't distracted by TV or computers-you sing worship songs for fun? Hmmmm.

25. Hard Work + Fresh Air = Good Tired + Good Sleep

26. Amazement at the construction skills of Rosemary, Geri, and Tami! No offense, Theresa and Debbie and me!

27. Walls covered in scripture written in English and Spanish before the dry wall went in place








This is the quilt we made during the Super Bowl game for our Casas family.  

28. Brad's patience letting me drive nails that would have been simpler to hit once himself and be done. Okay. Maybe twice. (Wink)

29. A touching worship service including loud praise in English and Spanish, prayers, tambourines, and another very loud Mexican noisemaker, dancing, foot washing, hugs, and God's word. Heaven is going to be amazing!

30. Rosario, the pastor and father, reminding us before worship...."Let's enjoy the Lord." Yes. Let's. I bet God gets tired of being presented by the enemy as mean and harsh and judgmental. God is LOVE. Why would we resist that?



31. Presenting this wonderful family with the keys to their new home

32. A "Pepper" party after the house dedication with 3 kinds of empanadas made with love by Marta. My favorites were either the meat or pineapple ones. Yum!

33. By our last day, we visited with Marta like old friends and sisters in Christ.


34. Knowing we will meet again in glory if not before

35. A high school boy in tears as he said good bye to Luis, also in tears. These boys bonded over soccer and guy-ness.



36. Flavored liquid creamer, gas station hot dogs (not me!), french fries

37. Our clean, little, friendly community. HOME.

38. Our praying and loving church family who made our trip possible. Their generosity paid for the home we built and their prayers lifted us and got us there and back safely. We are blessed.




Sidebar: I took lots and lots of pictures and enjoyed looking through them and editing the ones I liked best. I was presented with a dilemma when selecting the ones to include in this blog post. I had a choice of how to present the community-as a poverty stricken sad place or a place of hope.

Someone with a camera and an agenda could come to our home town and focus on the sad and ugly or try to capture the spirit of our county and see the beautiful.

It seemed so disrespectful to Rosario and Marta to focus on what they did not have. Instead, I chose to look at what they had. They had all the things that really matter. And lots of it.

There is beauty everywhere. I chose to look for that.

People are people no matter where they live, the size of their bank accounts, or the language they speak. We all need Jesus, and without HIM we are poor, indeed.

Our group went to Mexico, but what we did is no more important than helping the person who lives across the street from you. So gather your people and your tools-no matter what they may be- and let's share Jesus.

I'd love to hear what Jesus is teaching you. Please encourage all of us and share in the comments!



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Monday, February 29, 2016

What I am Loving in February


Hello, Dear Readers!


I am celebrating this Leap Day reflecting about what I enjoyed this month. At the end of January, I challenged myself and you (#imnotthebossofyou) to live more intentionally during the 28 days of the love month. You can read that post here.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I really met my goal of living intentionally, but time marched on anyway as it is prone to do.

Thank goodness God gives do overs. I don't want to waste my days on things that don't have value, and I'm sure you don't either. Note to self: stop mindless scrolling

Without further self flagellation, here is my February list.

Things I am Loving in February:


1. This Ministry: Casas Por Christo

Christian after writing her favorite verse on a 2x4 in her family's new home. Isn't she a beauty?
Casas por Christo is a ministry that uses home building as a way to tell others about Jesus. If you want to learn more about this great cause or how to provide financial or physical support check out their website here. Brad or I would also love to answer any questions you may have.

This was a special month for us because we got to cross something off our bucket list. We joined a group of friends and family and took a mission trip to Acuna, Mexico. I'll write a post about it all soon. I just don't have the oomph to do it today since I am still suffering from "bus lag" after our 20+ hours on the people mover on our way home.

Tired but so blessed.

We partnered with this ministry headquartered in El Paso, Texas, to build a home for a pastor's family in the border city south of Del Rio, Texas. Our church paid $6900.00 for all the materials and the 15 people in our group joined our leader, Scott, to provide the labor.

Scott was our youth pastor many years ago, and we were so blessed to be able to spend time with him and his wife and children. Having him with us made a special thing even more delightful!

2. This Song: Let Love Win


Have you discovered the Sunday morning radio program Worship with Andy Chrisman? I found it on Tune-In radio and love listening to it as I get ready for church. Andy plays great music, interviews artists, and prepares our hearts for worship. He also introduces songs I probably would never have heard of otherwise, including this one by Carrolton, Let Love Win.

And it's just a bonus that this video includes hammer and nails after I just talked about Casas por Christo. God is so creative!

         


3. This book.....The Artisan Soul



Jeanne Oliver introduced me last year to this national best selling book written by Erwin Raphael McManus, a Christ follower. I'm reading it for the second time and am so inspired by it. We were created by the original artist to be creative ourselves-we ALL are artists in one way or another. Our entire life is a work of art.

The author encourages us to ask Big Questions.

What kind of life are we crafting- an artisan life with the Creator at the center as we use the imagination and gifts He gave us, or a soulless one with the voices of those around us directing our path?

(Pause for pondering.)

That is deep but important stuff. 

I know what the correct answer is, but it is hard not to let the negative voices in my own head drown out HIS cheering Spirit. Please tell me I'm not alone.

4. My New Spotify Playlist.....Free


My One Little Word for the year is FREE and I'm looking for it everywhere. These songs are blessing me big time and maybe they will you, too.

Here is the link if you want to give it a listen."Free"


That's if for this month, friends. I hope some of this encourages and blesses you so that you can pour it out to others.

Please share with us what YOU are loving!


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Monday, February 8, 2016

Holy Yoga is for Everyone-even You!

This is a photo of a quilt that I took on our trip to the Northeast last fall. Isn't it a beauty? I hope whoever made it went to yoga often! They would certainly need to open up the chest after the hours spent over the sewing machine creating this masterpiece

Hello, friends!

The groundhog saw his shadow and that means an early spring. It seems like he was right on the mark today. It is gorgeous here as I'm writing this especially for February! The sunshine works wonders for my state of mind. How about you? We were made to live in the light-in more ways than one.

One way to improve our mood any day is to get up and move. And it doesn't matter how old we are or what kind of physical shape we are in.  Our Creator made our bodies to feel better when we are moving. Unfortunately, not everyone is able or wants to do a vigorous power yoga class. Those who have replacement joints, problems with balance, trouble getting up and down from the floor, are extremely inflexible, or recovering from an injury or illness may find Chair yoga is one way to maintain range of motion and general health.

Recently, my 86 year old dad's doctor prescribed yoga or tai chi to help build strength and improve balance. I'm sure my dad never dreamed he would be attending one of my Holy Yoga classes, but when I heard what the doctor ordered, I jumped all over it. I began reading and researching and practicing yoga in a chair myself and was delighted that a complete practice can be done either in the seat of chair or using the chair for a little help with balance in standing poses. I began teaching a class at a local church.

Serendipitously, Holy Yoga was offering a specialty training at just at the right time. I honestly thought I could teach chair yoga without it, but I signed up anyway. Once again, my Holy Yoga people are knocking my socks off with the quality of their training. I am learning soooo much about chair yoga itself and how to help individuals maintain independence as they grow older.

Guess what? I think anyone who can't comfortably do traditional yoga should give Holy Yoga chair a try. Here are the reasons why:

Benefits of Chair Yoga:

1. Increases circulation
2. Stimulates digestion
3. Improves balance
4. Increases health of joints and decreases joint pain
5. Increase energy levels
6. Increases strength, flexibility, respiration
7. Decreases risk for osteoporosis, therefore, fractures
8. Releases endorphins which combats depression
9. Improves sleep and insomnia
10. Improves posture and range of motion

And a few more because why stop at 10?

11. Relieves stress, tension, and anxiety
12. Improves foot and pelvic floor health
13. Reduces incontinence
14. Develops core strength and decreases back pain
15. Stimulates brain function

Or even 15? I think one of the best benefits of all is:

16. community.


These lovely people are just some of those enjoying the physical and mental benefits of chair yoga. They laugh and visit and move their bodies in new ways. And with Holy Yoga, they also get in touch with the True Healer through prayer, scripture, and worship music.

A benefit I didn't expect is also happening. Our little township lost its school a few years ago, and it has been really difficult to maintain a sense of community. There isn't a coffee shop or a grocery store or elevator anymore-all places where it was possible to run into your neighbors once in awhile. Bob's Hardware is still a place to gather, but usually the "loafers" there are just men.

Last week, I made a pot of coffee after class and these yogis spent an enjoyable hour catching up with one other and making new friends.

It was music to my ears!

If you would like more information about Holy Yoga or my classes, ask away. I could talk about it for days.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Three Things I'm Loving in January



Hello, friends!

How in the name of time did it get to be January 30? This has to have been one of the quickest Januarys ever. I hope it has been filled with satisfying and rewarding things for you and you feel healthier and more joyful than you did on January 1.

If not, I wonder what would happen if we lived intentionally in the month of February, focusing our efforts on things that would result in feeling better emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Hmmmm.

What would we say "yes" to and what might we leave behind?

Deep stuff.
And probably the things that make for a rewarding life.

Pausing for a few moments of reflection........

Now on to more frivolous things!

I love to read posts where bloggers share the things they are presently loving. I have learned about the most interesting things from my blog buddies-items that have enriched my life, made things easier, or were just plain fun! So, I'm sharing some with you today.

3 Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. The Giving Keys

I'm not sure exactly how this company came into my radar, but I think it is the neatest idea ever. So many people are choosing One Little Word to focus on for the year instead of making resolutions, including me. My word for this year is "Free" and I'm sure a post will be coming about it sometime soon. Last year my word was "Joy" and the year before, "Learn," and the year before that, "Do," and the year before that, "Follow."

I need to order more keys!

The Giving Keys manufactures great, simple bracelets and other items with small keys stamped with the word of your choice. They invite you to wear your word, soak up your word, enjoy your word and your bracelet, and then pass it on to someone else who needs it more than you. 

My bracelet arrived last week and I've just started to wear it. I might or might not have told our son that I hoped no one needed it more than me just yet, because I LOVE my charming, little bracelet.

2. When Calls the Heart





If you are looking for a sweet, uplifting TV series that also teaches life lessons, check out When Calls the Heart.  I found it on Netflix and our three oldest granddaughters and I have spent some happy hours and devoured lots of popcorn watching it together this winter. Season Two was just released. Yeah!

3. Anastasia Eyebrow Kit



This picture has nothing to do with eyebrows, but isn't it pretty? Be still my heart, I was really there once.

I have a minor obsession with eyebrows and I've written about them here. Don't you just love a full dark brow? I do, too. However, as we move farther along on life's highway, our brows tend to thin and get lighter.

I'm kicking and screaming away from that.

Sephora sells an eyebrow system by Anastasia that involves a pencil/brush and brow gel to hold it all in place. I really like it. Possibly other make up companies sell something similar, but I haven't tried any of them. If you are eye brow interested like me, check it out on Sephora online.

That will do it for this month. Any Stitch Fixers out there? I'm waiting for my first box after the girls in my small group shared how much fun it was. I'll let you know what I think.

Please share what you are loving right now. We would all love to know!


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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Laundry Moms



Good Morning, friends!

You can imagine my excitement a few weeks ago when I was contacted by The Laundry Moms to do a guest post on their fantastic blog. All of you Trim Healthy Momma fans should definitely check it out because there are gobs of resources that you would love.

I wrote about a dear man, Don Shull. Click on over and read about a wonderful person and real life hero. I love people who inspire me to step it up a notch. Maybe you will be inspired, too.

 "A Life Well Lived"



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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Alice's Farmhouse Rolls



One of my personal treasures is a humble cookbook put together by the Jasper County Home Extension Association. It was published in 1972, cost $2.00 and contains recipes from many people I know and love. Many of these great cooks are busy in heaven now, but I still remember them fondly when I see their names and recipes in this book.

These women were farm wives who raised big gardens alongside their big families and who packed big picnic lunches to take to the county fair and to many family reunions every summer. They didn't buy convenience foods.

Their children were not regulars at the local fast food places because there were no fast food places in the community in 1972. There was a very busy Dog 'N Suds, but we never ate there. Teenagers did drive around it over and over and over and over again on Friday and Saturday nights. Good times!

Yeeks. I might have been one of them. Time is passing, people.

Anyhoo. A few years ago, my cookbook disappeared and I was heartbroken. My boys' favorite meatloaf recipe was in this book, our traditional birthday cake, my mom's rolls and many other goodies we loved to eat.

It took a while, but my mixing bowls and I finally moved on and I quit automatically reaching for it.

My cooking luck changed when my mother-in-law downsized and moved down the road from us. She found a copy of this very same cookbook packed among her basement stash. This copy had belonged to her own mother.

I  am now the proud owner.

My copy has Grandma Pitchers penciled notes, recipes torn out of magazines, and hand written gems from her friends she added to the back.

Talk about a treasure!

I want to share with you a recipe from this book that my mom is famous for-at least in our family and extended family. These rolls are easy and almost never fail. I like to make them ahead of time and follow the directions up to the second rising. I place them on parchment paper (not touching one another) and freeze them individually. After they are frozen, I put them in baggies and take out what I need, let them thaw and rise and bake as needed.

I think you and your family will LOVE them, too! The dough is a dream to work with, so this is a beginner friendly recipe.

Alice's Farmhouse Rolls

1 pkg. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
3/4 c. milk, scalded
1/2 c. butter ( I cut mine into chunks.)
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. salt
3 beaten eggs
4 1/2 c. flour

Soften yeast in warm water. Combine milk, butter, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast mixture and mix well. Add eggs, then flour, Mix to smooth, soft dough. Knead lightly on floured surface. Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise until double in bulk-about 2 hours or so. 

Divide dough into thirds; roll each third on lightly floured surface to 9" circle. Brush with melted butter. Cut each circle in 12 wedge-shaped pieces. Roll each wedge, starting with wide end and rolling to the point. Arrange rolls in a greased baking pan. Cover and let rise till very light-an hour or so. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush with butter.

Since you are the one removing them from the oven, be sure to grab a crusty one from a corner-delicious. If you are lucky you might have some homemade cherry jam from your sweet mother in law to smear on top. SWEET!

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