Wednesday, March 28, 2012


We almost named our second-born, our daughter, Haven.  She ended up a Tannah, as that just seemed like it was the right one for her.

Haven ~ a safe place, a place to call home; a place of rest, simplicity, and even beauty.  These are the thoughts, the feelings, that are evoked in me when I think of the word.

My boys' room after I redecorated...inspiration for what it will look like later today!

Today, my house is all a-scattered.  Laundry piles, both clean and dirty, abound.  There are overflowing closets, beds to be made with fresh sheets, and dishes washed.

This is a busy season for our family.  I'm guessing we're not alone in this.  It is most likely a very busy season for everyone.  And yet, in our busyness, I seek to create a place of refuge for my family and all who may grace our home with their welcome presence; a place of stillness set apart from the whirlwind that is sometimes life.   
Making the beds, fresh sheets headed our way soon!
 Usually I practice balance in the daily housekeeping of my home.  A daily tidy for all areas, paired with a bit of organizing here and there keeps things in good function.

Today is different though.  I can just feel it.  Do you ever get there?  It's a no-holds barred kind of day.  I'm turning some brilliant piano music up loud and throwing the hair up in a pony.  We'll have all hands on deck (watch out, kids!), and we're throwing balance to the wind.  It's a get it done kind of day.
A bit of whimsy framed becomes a thing of beauty

Why?  What is the catalyst, you say?  Well, maybe you didn't say it, but I believe strongly in having a good firm why behind each action.  

My man works hard.  I want him, and our whole family, to have a place of rest we can come to for rejuvenation and refreshment in the Lord.  It is my desire that when we are in our home we find it to be a haven, a place of peace and rest...and JOY!  A place where God dwells, laughter happens daily and we all grow together.  
A cleared-off dresser; to my soul

A place where anyone and everyone is welcome and can come and rest in the presence of the Lord.

So there you have it.  Ponytail, tennis shoes, loud piano music, here we come.

Enjoy today,

P.S.  You are welcome here!  Thank you for stopping by for a visit.  Please join the conversation by leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grace Revealed

Once upon a sunny day, I opened the creaking lid to my paint-layered mailbox to find this:

Concealed in a nondescript white card envelope, she shyly held her beauty.  Curious, I tore away the paper.  And once unveiled, she revealed her grace.   

Roses flanking the outer edges, a sweet nosegay of colorful forget-me-nots holding the center; with the first sign of spring, a single red tulip, drawing the eye inward.  Gorgeous.  

And the script penned inside?  A note of thanks.  Gratitude for a small act of kindness done simply and in love.

She now rests on a spring green plate speckled with brown which has always reminded me of the pattern of an egg.  Which bird's egg, I'm not quite sure.  I couldn't even tell you if one exists but in my imagination.  But there they are together, a sweet pair; card and plate welcoming spring and joy and all that is to smile about in life.

To give thanks is truly a blessing.

Where is your heart today?  Are you grateful?

Take a few moments today and write that card of thanksgiving you have been meaning to write.  Send a thankful email, text or message to someone.  Pick up the phone and call someone with a word of gratitude.  Look in the eyes of another and say thank you.

And in all these things, recognize that all good gifts come from the Father above, who does not change like shifting shadows, but tends us as the sheep of His pasture.  And thank Him.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Enjoy today,

P.S.  You are welcome here!  Thank you for stopping by for a visit.  Please join the conversation by leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Sunshine, smoothies, siblings, straw, smiles...Is there a more perfect combination??
This past Saturday, our family got out in the backyard and worked the ground.  We tilled a nice section of land for a kitchen veggie and herb garden.  After tilling, we hauled wagon after wagon of fertile, nutrient-rich compost from my pile behind the shed that I had cultivated last year.  Piling that on top of the freshly-broken ground, we mixed it in a bit.

Once the aged compost was added, we piled eight inches or so of straw on top of the whole deal.  The straw will help to keep the weeds at bay, as well as continue to feed the soil.

Our family never uses any form of pesticide or chemical in our garden or on our lawn.  We love to grow what we eat, and eat what we grow.  

Getting the job done
If I had to describe my gardening style and methods in one word, it would be this:  No-Fuss. 

I think gardening is really a lot simpler than many of us make it out to be in our minds.  I've known many people over the years who have expressed a desire to garden but feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information out there.

Honestly, it's really not that difficult.  It is the oldest profession known to man, dating back to Adam and Eve's work and joy in the garden of Eden.  

You see, we are just conduits.  We plant the seeds, we water the plants, we snip away the dead foliage, add organic matter.  But God makes it grow.  He provides all of the raw materials:  sunshine, seeds, water.  We simply tend, and He grows it.

I don't worry or stress much if my method is the right one, or the newest trend.  I keep it natural and simple, do my part and trust God to bring the harvest.  

How about you?  How does your garden grow?

Enjoy today,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cultivating Natural

My Isaac, full of laughter, up a tree

In our family, we enjoy cultivating a natural lifestyle as much as possible.  Our children rarely watch TV; we send them out instead to play in the sunshine, climb trees and use their imaginations.  They go barefooted often and on warmer days my boys are usually without shirts.

For food, we eat as close to the source as possible.  If we can grow it, we try to do that as time allows.  If not, we try to buy locally when able.  We eat an abundance of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains.  Refined sugars and processed foods are the exception at our house as opposed to the rule.  If I can make it from scratch to avoid preservatives and chemically-laden pseudo-foods, I do.

We have a few simple phrases we like to repeat when deciding if it is edible.  For instance, "If Grandma didn't eat it, we don't eat it."  Or "If we don't keep the ingredients listed on a food in our pantry, we won't be eating it."  (Seriously?  Yellow Number Five?  What is that really, and do you want to ingest it??) 

And my personal favorite, "White bread makes you dead."  Take that one with a grain of salt; Kosher sea salt, of course.  There was truly a season when I had to get my toddlers to stop saying that in public.  A bit too inflammatory for polite society.

These things are simple.  We are not purists by any stretch of the imagination.  We keep these guidelines to serve our family well, to keep us healthy and strong; rather than for us to serve the guidelines and become enslaved by them. 

Lavender Tea Tree freshly poured last night into one of our handmade soap molds
Hand-crafting my own soap for my family, and for you, has been one more aspect of our healthy style of living.  In my continuing quest to live as close to nature as possible, I wanted to seek out a better way with soap.  Have you looked at the ingredients listed on a bar of soap recently?  Can you pronounce them all?  If not, they are most likely chemicals and not something I want to use on my family's skin. 

Here are the ingredients present in a completed bar of lavame clean's soap:  olive oil, coconut oil, water, essential oils and often an herb or spice from my pantry for texture and natural color.  

What's that you say?  You can pronounce all of these ingredients?  Good.  Because you should be able to generally recognize the ingredients in food you are eating or products you are using on your skin.  
Lavender Buds gracing the top of the Lavender Tea Tree soap
We will be delving more into the why's and how's of all-natural skin care in the coming days.  You'll definitely want to stay tuned!

Enjoy today,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A New Tactic

I've had a relapse.  I hope you understand just how vulnerable I am being here.  This is not comfortable for me to admit by any means.  But here we go.

I have been crunching ice again all week long.

It's true.  It started again as just holding a frosty cube in my mouth and allowing it to dissolve slowly.  As the icy cold slowly gave way to a cool puddle,  I told myself there was no harm done.  I wasn't actually chewing the ice, right?

I gradually transitioned  to gently cradling a chunk of ice between my molars.  The frozen matter held a weight of comfortable familiarity while resting there.  Physiologically, it feels so right.  Rationally, I know it is so very wrong. 

It was only a matter of time from there.  I knew I was playing with fire.

I crunched.

And from there, I slowly began sneaking a glass of ice in seclusion.  One while at my computer, another while driving; and yet still more while cleaning the house.

Then, the final step, the dinner table.  I took down the ice while eating with my family.

They held me accountable and quickly reminded me of my commitment.

I am now investing in gum.  The robust flavors in Clove and Black Jack gum will provide a nice diversion, but I usually don't allow myself to chew them since they are not sugarless.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

In the devising of my new strategy, I will be chewing this gum for approximately 30 days until the ice habit has been completely obliterated.  Pulverized, if you will.

I'll keep you posted.

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  ~I Corinthians 10:13

What are you struggling with today?  Give it to God and ask for His help.  He will answer you and help you, and He will provide a way out.  Take that way. 

Enjoy today,

Monday, March 5, 2012

The King And I

I often re-read the journal and prayers I kept during our time in Colombia last summer. 

I wrote.  Slowly and carefully, I consciously penned each impression He pressed upon my heart while there.  Scribbling furiously away whenever a quick moment could be grasped, I wrote.  I didn't want to lose one iota of what He was teaching me, where He was leading and the love He was washing over me each day.

"Yesterday Caleb said he wanted to live in Colombia when he grew up.  I asked him if he wanted to be a missionary."

El pavo ~ the camp peacock
 "He replied with a maybe.  Then he said, 'Or the Johnny Appleseed of Colombia and plant palm trees so coconuts will grow; or maybe a peacock tamer.'" (excerpt from Colombia journal)

There were days I captured the tangible sorts of memories such as these.  And then there were the early morning moments sitting alone in a white plastic chair with a hot cup of coffee and journal in hand before our work began; just my God, me and the howler monkeys' music.  

That's what I love about Yahweh.  Here, at home, He and I spend time together first thing every morning before the day begins, often before the sun makes its appearance.  And there, in South America, He and I spent time together each morning still before the day began.  He was there, and He is here.

Without the noise all around us that is usually so prevalent, how audible His voice. 

His voice is always clear when we drop away the excess, slough off the dead skin in our lives, shed the sin that is weighing us down and travel lightly in communion with His Spirit.  

Early morning view of the Andes Mountains from the camp

"I've been awake since 2:30 a.m.  I think.  I went ahead and got up.  It's about 5 a.m.

Brewing a pot of coffee now.

The moon is just a wee sliver of a thing -- a smile gracing the lower portion of the full dark orb's circumference." (excerpt from Colombia journal)

My quiet moments with the Lord Jesus are more precious to me than anything in this world.

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart."  ~Luke 2:19

These moments are sacred spaces when time is stilled.  It's just the King and I meeting Spirit to soul.  I look deep into His eyes, attempting with my frail human mind to glimpse eternity there. 

He ministers to me on levels that no one else can even understand; yet He understands because He is my Maker who formed me.  These moments are just pure divinity and glory. 

"Deep calls to deep
at the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your waves
have gone over me."  ~Psalm 42:7

Have you met with Jesus recently?  Find a stretch of time and let His love wash over you.  Ask Him to speak to you; open His word and listen.

Enjoy today,

Friday, March 2, 2012

Come To The Table

My first baguette, up-close and personal
I prepared dinner tonight for my family.  

This is one of my favorite things to do.  Early in the week I peruse my recipe book, chock full of our family's best-loved dishes.  For a meal to make it into this thick three-ring binder, its directions for preparation secured in a sheet protector, is a high honor.  It means that for the most part, my family likes it, it is usually on the healthier side (although not always!) and it contains made-from-scratch ingredients as opposed to out of a box or can.  Tonight's menu included French baguettes, lasagna and salad.

What's that?  Lopsided, you say?  No, no, that's just the camera angle. 
I carefully choose our breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the seven days in the week, and then I shop, sticking to my list in hand.  The meal plan stays posted on the side of the fridge throughout the week for easy reference. 

Table set for dinner.  What a joy!
Our table holds a very important place in our home.  It is where we share our meals, take sustenance for our bodies and refresh our souls.  We laugh hard with each other there, serve one another and resolve issues together.  We have grown from just the two of us, to having a highchair pulled up, then booster seats; and now five heads, often more, are seated regularly on the wooden chairs and bench.

It is a place where our hearts and souls meet.  It is a place of refuge, where the wanderer can find healing and rest.  And it is a place of sanctuary from the busyness of each day.

Thrifted terra cotta pots freshly planted with herb seeds
What if every meal were one in which Christ's love was communicated to those sharing our table?  That in the passing of the bread, the bowing of our heads for prayer, the smiling and honoring one another, we are ministering through Christ to one another on a very deep, yet primitive, level?  This is one of my prayers for my family and our guests at each meal.

Total cost for place setting?  $2.50, includes charger, plates, napkin and utensil.  Check out thrift stores and yard sales for great savings on table gear!
This weekend, go ahead and set your table.  Break out your good dishes.  Spend them on your family.  And then invite a few friends or wanderers over to share in mutual fellowship and encouragement.

"You feed them with blessings from Your own table and let them drink from your rivers of delight."  ~Psalm 36:7-8

Enjoy today,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Bit of Unfurling

Night is falling, the day is done.  Time to simmer the house down, put my feet up and relax a bit.  The children are all nestled snug in their beds, while visions of, not really.  But they are all washed clean after their nightly bath and tucked away for the evening, reading their books quietly by soft glow of their bedside lamps.

A sweet vintage bathtub soap dish gifted by a friend, cupping a bar of Lavender Tea Tree

After filling my cherry red tea kettle with fresh water and setting it atop the stove to boil, I light the wick of a small candle.  The flame glimmers for a moment, then expands into a rush of flame with that familiar burst of air.  These sounds, scents; they soothe and lull the senses after a full day.

Tea with honey and homemade whole wheat peanut butter cookies

Other evenings I may reach for a good book and curl up on the couch in a favorite pair of flannel pajamas.  

"Safely Home" borrowed from a friend, a must read!

Or perhaps I simply sit and crochet another dishcloth for a friend.  This soft 100 per cent cotton yarn unfurling itself, flowing seamlessly through my fingers as I weave the hook back and forth, stills my spirit and clears my mind.  It always catches me by surprise when perceived problems I've been mentally turning over seem to work themselves out.  The tightly wound bundle of yarn slowly gives way to a cushy cloth with a purpose.  I like this.

Current dishcloth in progress
Tonight, set aside a bit of time to relax and regroup.  A warm bath, a clean cozy bed and a good book can work wonders.

"Be still, and know that I AM God."  ~Psalm 46:10

Enjoy today,