We Will Love the Least of These

This video opened the sermon at church on Sunday and the moment I saw the little boy standing on the beach, I had tears in my eyes. I used a lot of energy to keep myself from completely sobbing during the whole video. It made me think of my dear friend, Shontel, who is pursuing adoption fiercely right now, anxiously awaiting a child from Ethiopia someday.

Someday.

These could be our daughters and our sons.

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Let Her Be Four

LetHerBe4

This Saturday was beautiful in Middle Tennessee. It was sunny, breezy, 70 degrees, and just perfect for being outside all day, so that’s what we did. Once grocery shopping was out of the way, Zoey and I went outside and washed the car the old fashioned way – with dish soap and sponges. It was more like momma washed the car, she played in the soap, which was totally fine since it was nice out anyway.

Zoey playing with the soap turned into Zoey playing in the mud puddle that was forming at the bottom of our gravel driveway… which turned into her jumping up and down in the puddle and splashing muddy water all over herself.

In that moment, I had to make a decision.

Get onto her for getting filthy and continue to get onto her as she inevitably would give into the temptation of mud.

Or…

I could let her get filthy while making her understand that she would have to get hosed down when she was done.

We chose the latter option.

Moms, there is nothing (and I mean nothing) happier for a kid her age than playing in mud and it being okay. It was bath day anyway, so what else was I going to do? She was completely content for a good hour or so, piling handfuls of mud onto her lap, splashing in the muddy water as it went up her shorts and into her hair. She was a happy kid. I thought back to when I was her age, would I have been allowed to get so filthy? Probably not.

It kinda made me want to let her do it even more.

In that moment, I decided it was far more important to just let her be a four-year-old kid. I knew she’d let me know when she was done and she did. When the fun was over, we hosed her down, then went inside for a lengthy bath. She had mud everywhere, from up her shorts to in her ear. She had a blast and I felt like mom of the year for being totally okay with her getting so disgusting. ;)

Moms, this summer, let your kids be kids. Let them get completely disgusting as they discover the world around them. My miracle child is only going to be 4 for a short period of time. It’s up to me to let her have a childhood to remember. Pretty sure she’ll always remember “that time mom totally let me get completely disgusting in mud” and “it was awesome”.

I made a choice this weekend to just let her be 4. I’m so glad I did.

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Going Camping… Any Tips?

My little family is going camping July 4 weekend. I haven’t been camping since I was a kid – not sure when Glenn went last – and Zoey has never been. We’re going with another family who also has a little girl her age and thankfully they are camping veterans, so we’ve gotten some idea of what we’ll need for a successful trip, but I’m turning to you!

I need ideas. I need tips.

What are your favorite camp meals?

What natural remedy keeps the skeeters away? Does burning sage really work?

What about the bees? Does lemon deter them?

What are your favorite camping games/activities? Glow in the dark bowling, anyone?

What can you absolutely not live without when vacationing in the great outdoors?

Share your ideas/thoughts/tips! I started a camping board on Pinterest (did you expect any different?) so please check it out and send me pins if you’d like: Camping.

I’m all ears!! Er… eyes… you know what I mean.

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Baked Pizza Pasta

Baked Pizza Pasta

This recipe came to be by complete accident, which I guess is how all recipes happen… but for me, it was totally a moment of “ooh, that might be good” and wanting to use up certain ingredients we already had before they went bad. I basically sacrificed my family’s well-being on this recipe since I had no idea if it was going to taste like amazingness or a complete failure.

That said, this is how this recipe was born:

  • I had some cooked pasta in the freezer leftover from a meal two weeks ago. I am the world’s worst when it comes to measuring pasta for dinner. I always, always, always over-prepare and we end up with tons of leftover pasta, which is fine… unless you don’t have enough sauce to go around. Anyway, I ended up freezing what was left, sauce-less, and pulled it out of the freezer on Monday night with intention to use it on Tuesday.
  • I also happened to have an entire jar of mushroom marinara sauce leftover from last Friday night (I’ll spare the details) so it needed to be used as well since it was officially on day 4 of being open.
  • I had about 1/3 of a bag of mini pepperoni leftover from bagel pizza night (same Friday night).
  • I had shredded Italian cheese and sliced mozzarella.

It occurred to me that I could totally take our regular old spaghetti night and turn it into pizza pasta night. This is extra cheesy, so that is what really makes this so pizza-y. Is that a word? No? Well, it is now.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cooked spaghetti or pasta of choice
  • 1 jar pasta sauce of choice
  • Mini pepperoni (I used about 1/3 of a bag but you can add to your heart’s desire)
  • 1 c. shredded Italian blend cheese
  • 6 slices mozzarella cheese
  • Basil, oregano, or other favorite pizza seasonings to sprinkle on top

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spread the cooked pasta evenly in a 9×11 baking dish
  • Spread pasta sauce on top. Add a little water to the jar and mix it up to ensure you get all the sauce out of the jar, then pour in. This will also make sure the pasta stays extra moist and doesn’t dry out too much in the baking process. Use a spaghetti spoon to mix the pasta with the sauce to make sure it’s all coated.
  • Sprinkle with mini pepperoni (however much you want) and shredded cheese.
  • Lay six slices of mozzarella cheese across the top of the pasta. Don’t worry, they will melt down and won’t keep their square shape!
  • Sprinkle seasonings on top of the cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

This was so good! I’m not even going to pretend this is healthy or even PCOS-friendly, and that’s okay. This is kid-friendly and fun, and not something we’ll eat all the time, but something that is a nice, cheap, fun break from the extra healthy meals I typically prepare. And who doesn’t love those cute little mini pepperoni?!

Don’t answer that if you’re vegan or vegetarian.

Let me know if you try this one and what you think! Try it with some of your other favorite pizza toppings, like green pepper and onion!

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Your Love is Relentless

We poured this song from our souls, through our hearts and out of our mouths at baby Jocey’s memorial service earlier this year. It has spoken to me so strongly ever since. I remember holding Zoey closely to me (all 45 lbs of her), standing there, and just crying out the words, so incredibly thankful to have my only child in my arms. I felt like my heart was exploding from the amount of pain I imagined my friend to be going through in that moment as she was saying goodbye to her daughter. Prior to that day, I had only heard this song a few times and yet for some reason I knew every single word during that service.

Probably because I needed it.

Tearing through the veil of darkness
Breaking every chain, You set us free
Fighting for the furthest heart You gave
Your own life for all to see

Tearing through the veil of darkness
Breaking every chain, You set us free
Fighting for the furthest heart You gave Your life

Your Love is Relentless

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Consuming Fire

This weekend, we built our first fire in our fire pit in the back yard. I guess I should mention that we built this pit two years ago and it’s never been used until now. Not because we haven’t wanted to, but because we were waiting to get a metal ring to put inside it. See, we built this pit out of leftover landscaping bricks we just had in the garage that came with the house, figuring we were being frugal by doing so. Well, it turns out, you can’t just go to Lowes and buy a fire pit ring, you have to buy an entire fire pit kit to go with it, meaning the bricks, too. Someone at some point mentioned getting a tractor wheel to put in there, which we haven’t had much luck coming in possession of. Someone else almost gave us one, but turns out it was rusted, so we couldn’t use it. Our neighbor, on the other hand, has been telling us that we should just go for it, the bricks will be fine. In the meantime, he had a burn pile we’ve just contributed to season after season as he is a veteran burner and so far that has worked fine for us. I’ve been the cautious one, so we haven’t just gone for it.

Until this weekend came around.

We spent a good three hours on Saturday just picking up sticks and limbs from our recent storms, and breaking them down into smaller pieces suitable for burning. It occurred to us that we should really just try the fire pit and see what happens. My main concern was google telling me that you need fireproof brick or you risk the possibility of it exploding on you. That never sounded like a good idea to me. However, after many people telling us that the brick we had should be totally fine, we decided to go for it and just made sure we had the hose nearby.

Everything turned out fine.

We got rid of all the limbs we had (a wheel barrow and a huge trashcan full) and got to enjoy a nice fire during dusk when it was mildly chilly outside. We kept it pretty low and took our time with the burn process. The bricks themselves look totally unscathed after a good hour of burning, so I think we might be in the clear.

Watching the fire reminded me of something.

There are moments in life when I feel like I am in a consuming fire. Moments when I feel like things are just coming at me and I literally can’t breathe. My face gets hot and sometimes stays hot for days at a time because I’m overwhelmed between decisions in my fertility, in work, in my home life, in my church life, the list goes on.

I was reminded today that a consuming fire isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be good. Our God is a consuming fire, we can’t escape Him and who He is, and frankly, why do we want to? Why is it we think we know better than Him and that we can live without Him guiding us? Sometimes I look at myself and can just see how flawed I am and how I’ve been so wrong to try to keep my problems in my pocket to take care of on my own later. I’ve got to give it to God. I mean, for crying out loud, He created the heavens and the earth, things that we cannot wrap our brains around, no matter how much we try and how much we think we know. We’re always wrong. He consumes us and it’s a good thing.

Notice we respect fire. Not because it’s hot and burns, but because it really is unpredictable, no matter how much we think it’s contained. I can’t keep God contained in a little box, or in my little fire pit. I have to let Him be who He is and consume me in the process.

After all, gold is refined by fire.

FirePit

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LWM: We’re Going on a Trip Soon – Without Zoey

Ya’ll. Glenn and I are going out of town mid-May for my cousin’s wedding.

Notice I said Glenn and I.

Zoey isn’t going.

For the first time ever, we are leaving her to go on a trip alone. We couldn’t afford for all three of us to fly, but we were able to swing two tickets on Southwest, so we decided it would be a good time to just go alone. I mean, she is four years old now, most people have at least left their kids with grandparents overnight by now. I haven’t.

She’s going to be in excellent hands while we’re gone and THANK GOD FOR FACETIME. That will be happening every night.

Anyway.

I wrote about it over at Liberating Working Moms. If you have any advice, mom or not, please head over there and let me know what you suggest. I could use a little encouragement, too! Advice or not, haha. Check it out in the link below:

First Vacation Without My Child and I’m Freaking Out

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