Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Cornbread muffins and pizza dough rising (left); menu for the week (right)

My church's motto is, "Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters." This motto is one of the reasons I love our church. I'm not always good at loving my neighbor (regardless of who my "neighbor" happens to be at that particular time), but I know it's important that I try.

The last year or so, my mind has gone from just "loving" to "serving." Isn't service a form of love? Can't I show my neighbors how much I care by helping and doing things for them? I recognize that this can become a slippery slope. I mean, do we have to do be doing something all of the time to show our love? Does this mean we shouldn't take care of ourselves?

Please know that I'm no expert in this subject. I'm just like everyone else and stumble and fall over my intentions and my actions. It has been on my mind, though, and I'm really trying to sort out how I can best serve and how I can serve more.

One way I know that I serve often and consistently is by working for (and with) my family. By cooking and cleaning and homework and shuttling and taking them to church and on and on and on, I'm serving them. Sometimes we feel like our lives aren't that important and that we're not doing anything big. But, you need to know, we are. Our lives are filled with opportunity to lift others up and serve them in every day little things.

I definitely enjoy serving by cooking and baking for my family. In fact, it's the way I most enjoy loving them. Today I got chili going in the crockpot before we left for church. (Incidentally, I made my own chili powder today. I have no idea why I never did that before. So easy and quick!) When we got home, I made lunch for the kids (Ramen noodles!) and then made gluten free corn bread muffins to have with dinner and prepared some pizza dough to have later in the week. I know that would seem like a lot to some people, but to's awesome. I love to be in my kitchen.

My kids are getting older, though, so I'm thinking that it's time for me to serve in ways outside of my family. Well, to be fair, I do teach Sunday School and stuff. But, I'm talking more far-reaching. I'd like to do another mission trip. Or, maybe volunteer in a capacity outside of my normal "neighborhood." I definitely need to think it through, though, because my desire may not meet my availability. Maybe I should cook and bake or people? I mean, I made 12 cornbread muffins...I could've just as easily made 24!

Hmmmm. I guess I have lots to consider with this! Summer will be the perfect time to do mull things over, as schedules tend to be a little easier then, you know?

How do you volunteer?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Just Tired

I don't always find Mondays to be difficult. (In fairness, I guess you could say that I often do.) At any rate, today I'm very tired. Work seemed to take a lot out of me and I'm not sure where I've landed.

After I made dinner (pork chops and homemade garlic/parmesan mashed potatoes - so good!), we all sat around for a bit. Then, the girls thought we should go for frozen yogurt and I agreed. We walked to the local place at the plaza around the corner from our house and had a lovely treat.

The kids are taking turns getting cleaned up and I'm on the coach with our dogs. Dave left for a meeting, so it's just us. For a while I seriously did nothing. I just...sat. Eventually I thought I should at least get my laptop and check in here.

I tell you all this not to totally bore you, although I'm sure that's part of the result. I'm telling you because I think we should all feel ok with this kind of night (or day) every now and then. I could get the clothes out of the washer or finish cleaning up from dinner or pick up the thirty-one delivery that came today (free stuff!), but I simply don't want to. And that's ok. All of it will still be there for me to accomplish tomorrow.

Me on the couch with my quilt, computer and dogs
The kids will sit down to read at about 8:30. I typically read with them, but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I may not stay awake! Tonight I will just have to accept that my body and brain are tired. I think we sometimes push ourselves to get it all done and then snap one day. We just can't do it all of the time. I will be a better wife, mother, employee, etc. if I take care of myself and right now that means total rest.

Do you ever need to just take a break? What does that look like for you?

Monday, April 28, 2014

In no particular order

Since I didn't really give too much away in my first post, I thought I'd list some of my bucket list here. Now, it's definitely incomplete. There are things I'm sure I'm forgetting. And, there is a thing or two that I'm just not ready to share. But, there's certainly enough to list. (Posting it also gives me some accountability to actually trying to attain them!)

Here's the list (in no particular order):

- run a full marathon
- go on a mission trip with my second daughter (older daughter and I went earlier this year)
- complete 3 half marathons this year (1 down, 2 to go)
- full marathon
- travel to Greece
- take a family cruise
- become debt free
- sponsor another child through Compassion (we already sponsor a little boy in Uganda)
- go to a blogging conference (I should probably actively blog first)
- become successful enough in thirty-one that my family has more financial freedom 
- buy a Mac (my two computers are provided by work)
- family vacation to Washington DC

There should be more on this list. I'm sure there will be. In fact, I'm sure I'll remember some as soon as I post this! 

I think it's important to have seemingly unattainable dreams along with things you know you can do (with some work). I did my first half marathon in February 2013. That had been on list for so long and it took a lot of prayers, sweat and tears. I did it, though! I ended up doing another one in September 2013 and just completed one a little over a week ago. Crazy!

What are some of your dreams?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

In Belize - part 3

Our bus ride from the orphanage to the church was about 2 hours. We were still not a tight group or anything, so the bus ride was somewhat quiet. There were pockets of people talking, but there was also a lot of looking out the window at our new surroundings. The roads are incredibly narrow and we went very fast. (It was a little too fast for my liking!)

We were in a very populated area at first. There were houses that clearly belonged to very wealthy people. Then, right next store to these gated homes/complexes, were houses that looked like sheds for lawn equipment here at home. In fact, the sheds here are in better shape! Some of the houses were rather open. It was definitely our first glimpse of the poverty we were going to encounter. We also so huge fields of sugar cane.

There were a lot of dogs. Some looked incredibly sick and hungry, while others looked like they at least ate somewhat regularly. It seemed like people must have kept them for protection. But, they obviously didn't have health care - or worry about reproduction!

We arrived at church and were shown where we would be staying. The men stayed in the church sanctuary, while the women were sleeping in an attached building. We got to work pretty quickly inflating our mattresses and organizing our things. Some of the women encountered some rather large bugs in our bathroom, which didn't make me super happy!

Our meals were prepared by some of the women of the church. Dinner that first night was homemade chicken tamales. They were heavenly!


I've started to realize that I can't do a day-by-day report for you; it will take forever! I will try to do more condensed version in 1 or 2 more entries, ok?

Have you ever gone a trip that pushed your comfort zone?

Friday, April 25, 2014

In Belize - part 2

Once we had finished our lunch (prepared by the wife of our bus drive for the week), we headed to the orphanage. This was the part of the trip that I was most worried about. I had joked many times in the weeks leading up to our departure that I was concerned I would accidentally adopt one or two without my husband's knowledge. It turns out that Belizian law would have made that difficult even if I had wanted to.

We weren't allowed to take any pictures within the orphanage gates. They didn't want to risk any kids accidentally ending up on the internet or something. (Possibly on a blog like this?)

Oh my goodness, what fun we had with those children. They were thrilled to receive the gifts we brought, like toys and games. But, even more, they wanted to play with us. We ran, sang, did crafts, carried kids and just had fun.

There was a woman who arrived and sat with some of the children. I heard later that she was a mother visiting her children. She had left them there because she couldn't provide for them.

A few of us spent some time with the employee in charge that day. She told us that she rides her bicycle almost two hours in the morning to arrive for her 10 hour shift. Most days she rides back home at the end, although she sometimes will spend the night. She talked about her love for the children, which is what keeps her there. She talked about her dream of being able to teach the kids some skills, like sewing, so when they leave they have a shot and making themselves into something. We learned that even though they get donations - like chickens and gardens - they don't have the time or personnel to manage everything. So, the chickens died and the gardens wither. She said that although they always appreciate the donations, they really just need more hands.

We were at the orphanage for about 2 hours, I believe. My daughter really enjoyed this part of our trip. While it broke my heart that the kids were there, I did see many smiles. I left there in better shape than I anticipated.

Next up: heading to our home for the week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sanity Check

It has been a long week already...and it's only Wednesday. We've all had those weeks. I know I'm not the first. I also know this won't be the last time it happens to me! But, today was just stupid.

My middle one was diagnosed with mono last week. Luckily she was on spring break, so she didn't miss any school. I'm also luck to have a job/boss that allows me to work from home when necessary. So, I was able to be home with her while she rested. But, she got bored. And we had Easter. She felt particularly lousy at church that morning, but flat-out refused to leave because it was Easter Sunday and it's important. I'm glad it was important to her, but was frustrated that she wouldn't go home to rest. She and I left our family and went the very back to sit on some couches for a bit, then went back up to the pews for communion. (We're not annoying at all!) I ended up asking a doctor from our congregation, as I was walking back from communion, about ruptured spleen symptoms. I'm not crazy or anything.

This week she seemed to be getting worse instead of better. She had severe pain in her left side. Her throat felt raw. In fact, my normally happy and smiley girl was downright miserable. Add to this a big to-do list for work, other children with needs and a husband also working...and you get an unhappy me.

Yesterday was the low point. She felt awful. I looked at her abdomen and, with the expert opinion of my English degree weighing in, it looked swollen. I talked to the doctor's office and we ended up in the ER...who questioned the mono diagnosis. Really? We left with less answers than we had.

Our primary called this morning and said we needed to follow up in the office in the late afternoon. When I told my daughter to get dressed, she was annoyed. But? I was also annoyed. I had several work calls today, deadlines that had to be met, a look at my other daughter's grades. You know - the stuff that an annoying day is made of.

We had to go to the office several towns over, which is less convenient that the one 10 minutes away. The upshot is that we saw a PA that we really like. Even better - we got answers! Yes, she has mono. Also, the pain she's feeling is a pulled muscle from coughing. FROM COUGHING! She doesn't have a ruptured spleen. She's out of school this week, but we're at the end of the sick road. She's back on Monday.

We got back home and saw that the gas company was using our driveway. Seriously. Just had equipment all over. They didn't seem to mind when I got home, although felt like talking to my husband when he arrived. (Hmmm. I need to get over this bitterness.)

I made dinner. I got people ready for practice. I did all the mom things. I got through the whole day! And, I know you can, too. We can get through the bad news, the difficult conversations, the deadlines. We can get through it all with Him. I prayed my butt off today...pretty much all day. And now it's quiet in my house. I have hair color on my hair. (I wonder what it will look like?) I have a drink in my plastic cup. (Our dishwasher is broken. Of course.)

All is right with the world.

How do you get through "those" days?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Belize - part 1--

My oldest daughter and I went on a mission trip to Belize in February with a group from our church. We spent over a year preparing and praying. There was a lot of agonizing over flying. (I'm not a happy flyer. At all.) We had to get passports, which took way longer than it should have. We took bottle return donations (and financial donations) from friends. We worked and fundraisers at church. We talked and laughed our way through our nervousness. Then? We went to Belize.

(I will tell this story over time. It's way too much for one post and I desperately want to get it all in. I have no idea how long it will take me to tell. I'm sure it will seem too long at some points and short on details in others. Thank you for your patience as I sort it all out!)

I had no idea what to expect on this trip. Volunteering at home is one thing. We do good works and then we feel better about ourselves. It's wonderful. This time, though, we'd be far away. We'd be eating different food, sleeping in a church, working with people we really didn't know very well. Plus, I wasn't sure what we'd see! I knew there would be poverty - that's why we were going! It was better and more moving and crazier than anything I could've imagined.

Our group was comprised of 24 people, not quite half of which were teens. We left very early on a Saturday morning. (My son insisted on coming to the airport to say good bye, at 4am, and cried as he hugged me on the sidewalk. It didn't make for an easy separation!) We were a sleepy group, heading to unknown territory, with cautious adults and incredibly excited teenagers.

The flights went better than I could've hoped. My daughter laughed at me when I got nervous and held my hand as we landed. I got yelled at for taking a picture while waiting to be admitted to the country. All in all, the travel couldn't have been better. 

We were greeted by the organization we'd be spending the week with as soon as we walked outside. I was the first one through the doors at customs and was recognized immediately by the t-shirt I was wearing. (We all wore the same one, which made me feel a little strange. I'm not a big fan of matching the people I'm with!) 

Our first order of business was a group picture and then a bus trip to lunch. We ate BBQ chicken outside a church in the beautiful sunshine. (WNY had a pretty snowy winter, so we were all thrilled to be outside in the sunshine!) This was also when I learned that you don't flush toilet paper in Belize. At least, not in the places we'd be going. (You also don't drink the water. Or brush your teeth with it.)

NEXT STOP: Visit with some kids for a few hours at an orphanage. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I have always loved to read. In first grade, I won the reading contest (based on number of books read) and got to take some new books home at the end of the year. I'll never forget that! One was a hardcover Pinocchio chapter book. Oh, how I loved that book!

When the 6th Harry Potter book came out, I read it in a day. My husband got home from work and asked me how the day had gone. I realized I had NO idea what my kids had done all day. They were around 6, 4 and 2; I'm lucky they made it through that day alive.

My time for reading ebbs and flows. There are seasons of my life that I do nothing but read. Then, months could pass and I'll realize I haven't done much. I like the feel and smell of books, but do have a Nook. Reading that way has made it easier to read library books that I'm not sure I'll want to read again.   It's also a lot easier to take my Nook on car trips.

My favorite genre is definitely young adult. This is a bit odd, as I'm approaching 40. But, there is it. It's easier now that I have a pre-teen daughter who shares my love of reading and likes to discuss the books she has read. Her love of the Huger Games and Divergent series sparked my interest to read them. Our favorite series to read together is the Percy Jackson (and following) series. The next one comes out in October and we're both very excited.

In addition to young adult, I've read a number of Christian life books recently. I'm currently reading Rhinestone Jesus (affiliate link) and am loving it. This book was the catalyst in my decision to start this blog and seriously move forward with my dreams and plans. (I know I haven't told you yet. I promise, when the time is right - you'll be the first to know!)

Other recent titles include (all affiliate links):
Sparkly Green Earrings
The Antelope in the Living Room
Surprised by Motherhood
Chasing God
Grace for the Good Girl
1000 Gifts

We try very hard to have the kids read for 30 minutes each night before bed. We all sit together and read our individual books. This is one of my favorite parts of the day! (I can tell you that I'm typing this around 7:45pm on the last evening of spring break. I'm pretty sure there will be some meltdowns when I announce that it's time for everyone to come inside, shower and settle down. So, please don't think we're believing ourselves to be fabulous with our reading time!)

What books are you reading right now?

Monday, April 21, 2014


I'm not sure what I'm doing. I had a blog many years ago - and I was pretty faithful to it! But, life got in the way and I stopped writing. Other blogs were started and stopped. I couldn't find my will to write anymore. Will this be any different? Only time will tell.

What I can tell you is that I have some dreams. My dreams are big and will require a lot of prayer and work. I'm not ready to come out with them in public. Yet. But, a blog seemed like a good place to start. This is where I can feel things out; a place where I can sort through my thoughts and get all of your feedback! I know I'm not alone on this journey. I have Jesus. I have you. I have my family. And also? I know I'm not the only one with dreams. We all do. Let's work on them together!

Have you ever started something fun and exciting? A new project? Then, at some point in, you stop? Yeah, I have, too. I'm scared it will happen again. But, I'll never make it at all if I don't take the first step.

This is a pretty vague first post. I haven't really told you anything. I promise I will, though. Stick with me!