Saturday, November 16, 2019

Recipe: Banana Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

You’re gonna want to make this muffin recipe. It’s good for breakfast, dessert, snack time, to have with coffee...
🍌Banana Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins🎃
Vegan and Gluten-Free!
Adapted from Beat Bake Eat
•2 overripe bananas, mashed
•1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
•1/2 cup brown sugar
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•1/3 cup cooking oil
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1 cup flour (I used Pamela’s gf baking mix)
•1/2 cup old fashioned oats
•Preheat oven to 375*
•In a large bowl, combine bananas, pumpkin, and brown sugar.
•Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and mix well.
•Stir in the oil and vanilla.
•Add the flour and oats. Do not over mix.
•Scoop the batter evenly into a 12 cup muffin pan.
•Bake for 18-20 min.
I think it would be yummy to also add chocolate chips or nuts!
Now, go make some yummy muffins!😋

Monday, October 28, 2019

Video: Batesville, Arkansas

We went to Batesville, Arkansas for a few hours at the beginning of July. It's a neat day trip. Not included in the video but worth checking out is Batesville's modern and inviting library, Marshall Dry Goods (a fabric lover's dream), and Best Dam Steakhouse (formerly Josie's which was included in this video: Hardy + Mammoth Spring, Arkansas).

Thursday, September 05, 2019

A Just God?

Have you ever been angry at God? Confused over what you thought was an unjust punishment?
“Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
Have you ever wondered why God struck down Uzzah? The oxen carrying the ark stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to touch the ark to “help” it from falling. What was the sin in that?

There is a lot of backstory leading up to this point that you need to read to understand why they were transporting the ark in the first place. The ark represented God’s presence, and David is wanting to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. Go read the chapters leading up to this point and the chapter that we are discussing. I’ll wait here. :)
  • The capture of the ark in 1 Samuel 4 and 5
  • Return of the ark in 2 Samuel 6

To answer the question of Uzzah’s sin, let’s look to portions of the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary. First of all, there were specific instructions that were to be followed when carrying the ark.
The priests were supposed to use poles that slipped through four rings on the ark so that their hands would never touch the ark itself. But here they were carrying it around just like the Philistines did— on an oxcart. This story alone should tell us how God feels about the attitude that says, “I will worship God in my own way. It doesn’t matter how one worships God or what you do, as long as it’s sincere.” God does not take kindly to worship that disregards His standards.
Regarding Uzzah's specific actions: 
Uzzah’s touch represents a failure to understand his own sinfulness. Uzzah saw the ark headed toward the dirt, and he reached out because he assumed his hand was less dirty than the ground. Most of us would have done the same. But think of this: the earth has never committed the blasphemy of rejecting God’s authority. The earth has always obeyed the commands of God. Dirt could never pollute the ark. But the touch of a sinful man could. 
Uzzah did not understand this so he tried to do God a favor. David did not understand this so he got upset with God. But the reason we do not understand the judgment of God is that we do not understand the wickedness of our sinfulness. 
Our sin was apparently so heinous that Jesus, the Son of God, had to come to earth and be torn to shreds. Crucifixion was an unspeakable brutal process, meant to inflict maximum pain and to showcase a person’s shame. 
This was the punishment God Himself took for our sins. It was brutal. It was unbearable. It was disgusting. And that is precisely the point. The cross should remind us that our sin is unspeakably wicked.
God is so holy that He cannot tolerate impurity. The difference between Uzzah and us is that God gives us time to repent of our callous attitude. Do we realize the magnanimity of His grace toward us, that we can come into God’s presence, day after day, year after year, and not be struck down?
God would be within His rights as a just God to allow our story to end in verse 10, with Uzzah’s funeral. Yet the love of God breaks through once more, not as a result of any Israelite obedience but by the sheer mercy of God. Obed-edom, the newest landlord of the ark, has seen a change of fortune…his household has seen the blessing of God.
We risk missing the sweetness of God if we rush too quickly past this point. David’s last interaction with God led him to a crisis of faith, one that caused David to be angry and afraid. David had seen God in action and had pushed Him away. We might expect God to confront David for his disobedience. What we see instead is a slow process in which God woos David back to Himself. David has said to God, “Please leave me alone.” And God has gently responded, “I love you too much to do that.”
David hears the news of Obed-edom as a sort of promise for himself. God’s intention is not to be wrathful forever. So David ends the radio silence between him and God, determined to bring God’s presence back to his city with him.
These three months have been instructive for David, too. He must have done some reading because now, instead of using an oxcart to pull the ark, David has ensured that people are “carrying” it. The poles are back in place, and David is attempting to worship God the way God has revealed. 
The poles, however, are just the start. The caravan has not even taken a dozen steps before David calls a halt and offers up the chief picture of worship in all Scripture— sacrifice. The Israelite people were familiar with animal sacrifice, harkening back to the great sign of Passover. In the Passover, God had provided a way of salvation for His people: through the death of a spotless lamb, God’s wrath would “pass over” the household of Israel. And Israel’s worship centered on rehearsing this scene, reminding them that God’s presence with His people could only come at the cost of substitutionary death. 
Sin requires death. There is no getting around this. And there are only two options: either we reject God and pay the steep price ourselves, or we accept the sacrifice Jesus dearly made on our behalf. His grace is a gift, but it is a gift that must be received. David knew this, and he responded the only way people ever respond in light of God’s gracious love— with overwhelming praise.
There really is no way that I could have said it better. I learned so much from this book, and I highly recommend it for studying the book of 1 and 2 Samuel. The text I've included is just a portion of the depth the commentary covers. This insight was humbling and incredibly valuable in seeing how dirty and disgusting my sin is but also in seeing that God doesn't leave me in the mire. What a blessing it is to be forgiven and offered grace and mercy. And what a responsibility it is to pursue holiness and God's design. But it's a responsibility we don't do alone-- God leads and gives us the Bible to know His desires.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Living with Chronic Pain

Note: I posted this to my Instagram and Facebook last week. I wasn't planning on pushing it out anywhere else, but I think it's something I need to share. I live with pain. I have a great life, but I don't want to hide the part of life that really hurts.  So, here's a little photo and caption I shared last week when I was living in the pain. ♥

I’m waking up to day three of limited mobility. My edema flared up majorly this weekend and has affected my feet and legs to the point of not being able to do much walking. As I sat on the floor to get ready Sunday morning, since standing was uncomfortable, I wanted to pout a bit. I prayed and poured out to God my frustrations and limitations. I don’t normally do Bible study on Sunday mornings. I know I should. The rush of getting ready for church and the busyness of the day means I prioritize other an afternoon nap. I also get spiritually fed really well on Sundays, but I’m starting to see that I need to be feeding myself that day too. While I was pouting, I ached for comfort from God. So I read my daily devotion, which happened to be about God placing us in hard situations for a purpose. Then I picked up my daily Bible reading, which was from Job and how God had a purpose in his pain that was not punishment as one of his friends believed. Those two readings sustained me as I spent most of the rest of day in bed, healing and resting. I’m still not very mobile, and I still have some aches, but this time has forced me to slow down, think, and ponder on what God is doing through my pain. I also have some really cute caretakers checking on me. We all have different pains and reasons for those pains, but God can sustain us and teach us through them all.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Joy in Creation

Humidity— the original filter. My lens wouldn’t defog this morning. The humidity was no joke, and I could feel the moisture in the air as we walked around the yard.

Do you ever sit and marvel at creation? Are you amazed by a sunset? Are you overtaken with love for your children? Do you feel joy from the beauty that surrounds you? Did you know that our emotions are similar to how God feels? John Piper says that Psalm 104 is a song expressing the joy that God has in His creation. As I read the psalm, I feel the greatness of God and how small creation is in comparison. The things in creation that overpower me and tower above me are completely within His control. The psalm shows His power and His handiwork. His words themselves can control creation. This pushes me to praise and adoration. When I marvel at creation, I’m really marveling at the Creator who brought it all into being, me included.
“He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. May the Lord rejoice in his works. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
Go read Psalm 104!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Harlow's "Big Girl" Room

Up until a couple weeks ago, Harlow was sleeping in her crib.  Don't worry-- her crib turned into a bed! She was starting to outgrow it, and the crib mattress and springs just aren't as comfy as a regular bed mattress.  I have been looking for beds for a few months, trying to figure out what to get for her. My thought was we would get her a twin bed.  Colin and I were wanting to get a new mattress for our bed, so our final decision was to move our current queen mattress to the guest room and move the full size mattress from the guest room to Harlow's room.  It takes up more room than a full mattress, but it saved us from buying a second mattress and bed frame. The iron bed frame is an antique that I had growing up.  Even though it takes up more space in her room, I think the white bed keeps the room feeling fresh and open.  The bedding is what I had right before Colin and I got married and has been our guest bedding.  It was the perfect fit for Harlow's room.  So, it turned out we didn't have to buy anything new to transform her room!

In case you were wondering, Harlow was excited to come home to a "big girl" bed!

Here are a few posts on how her room has looked in different stages over the past almost five years.  These posts will have details on some of the furniture and decor in her room.

Harlow's room is small, but we've found that you can make a small room work for whatever you need!  She loves her room and doesn't know that it's considered small for a bedroom.  I hope this gives you some inspiration for your small spaces.

Here's a photo overload of her "new" room.  You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Learning from Laundry

Learning from Laundry

Often the things we complain and grumble about are actually some of our greatest blessings.
Anyone prone to hating the task of doing laundry?
I can walk into a room that is temperature controlled and has electricity and running water to do laundry. I don’t have to walk out into a harsh climate and find water to bring back to the house or carry my laundry to a water source.
I can push a few buttons and have machines wash and dry my laundry for me. I don’t have to scrub my laundry by hand.
I have a pile of laundry that needs to be washed and folded, because I am blessed with clothes to wear, towels to use, sheets to sleep on.
I have small kid clothes to wash, somehow more frequently than my own clothes, because I am blessed with a daughter to raise.
While my husband washes his own clothes (we learned in our first year of marriage that it was best for us to do our own clothes…can go more into depth about that later😉), I can either grumble that he always seems to have a load sitting in the dryer, or I can see it as a constant reminder that I have him.
When we start to view the tasks we despise as actually blessings, we’ll no longer be resentful. We’ll instead rejoice at the gifts we’ve so graciously been given. The next time you have a basket of laundry to fold, use it as a time of prayer, thanking God for all He has given you. That’s what I’m working towards.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lamenting for Moab (Isaiah 16)

Hiding from my pride over here ↑

After taking more three years to read through the Bible from beginning to end, I had a lot of questions. As I read, I would put a sticky tab on a page any time I had a question. I’m now going back and trying to find answers for all those tabs. Often I find that my questions have been answered by continuing to read the Bible. Sometimes, though, I just can’t quite grasp the depth of the Word or see past my own human reasoning. When I can’t use the Bible to answer itself (on my own), I turn to trusted commentaries and Bible teachers to help me.

One of my questions came from my own self-indignation and pride. In Isaiah 16:11, we see the prophet Isaiah lamenting for Moab.  Moab is a nation born out of sin (see Genesis 19). Isaiah notes that the Moabites are known for their pride and conceit. They’re an idolatrous people. My question that I wrote in the margin of my Bible was, “Why lament for Moab?” Why lament for people living in blatant sin and worshipping idols they made with their hands?

Maybe I’m the only one who has ever felt this way about people. I can be pretty hard on people. If they’ve done something wrong, they deserve punishment. Extending mercy and grace isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. Lamenting over the consequences they will face definitely isn’t something I initially feel.

So, why does Isaiah lament for a prideful, conceited, idol-worshipping group of people?

Note: Here is a very surface level, watered down answer. I’m only addressing one aspect of this passage. This isn’t the end-all explanation of this chapter, but this is an explanation that really hit home for me.

The Matthew Henry commentary gives an outlook on the passage that is pretty convicting. He starts by saying that at the beginning of chapter 16 that God has made it appear that he doesn’t delight in the ruin of sinners, and He tells Moab what to do to prevent that ruin.

God doesn’t get pleasure from our wrongdoing. We need to get that, because we first need a clear picture of God to have a clear picture of how we are to view evil.

Also, God doesn’t hide a secret formula for how to do right and how to be in right standing with Him. He lays out a clear picture of repentance and salvation. Spoiler alert: The faithful man who sits on the throne who seeks justice and righteousness in verse 5 is the prophecy of Jesus! We have a King who provides righteousness for our sin, and we need to let everyone know!

Jumping back to Matthew Henry, he says that in verse 11 Isaiah experiences an inward grief, inward trembling that feels like strings being played on a harp. He says the afflictions of the world should be afflictions to us. Isaiah is mourning over the destruction that is coming to Moab because of their sin.

Do I ever feel sick in my gut over the pain of the world, like my insides are being plucked? Do I write off evil, or do I groan and grieve for those living in evil, praying that they may know righteousness?

Searching for an answer to my “why lament for Moab?” question was a real slap in the face. It made me face my pride (because that’s what it is when I think I’m better than someone else). I’m supposed to share the good news about the righteous King and lament for those who are serving anything else. It’s easier to lament for Moab when I remember that I had to be redeemed from pride, conceit, and idol-worship myself. I need to be afflicted by the world’s sin and tell them about my righteous King.

Monday, May 13, 2019

How We Got Out of Debt

D E B T — The four letter word that makes us all want to dry heave a little.

About ten years ago the only debt I had was a small mortgage (about $32,000) and a car payment. They were small monthly payments well within in my budget. My house eventually sold for a profit for me and my fiancé (now husband) to buy a home together.

Somewhere after marriage, though, larger debt came. We still had a mortgage, but it was within our range and was far less than rent would be in our town. The problem with debt came elsewhere. We had two car payments, had wiped out savings from me being sick and needing treatments and physical therapy and numerous doctor visits, and had huge unexpected expenses pop up like often happens in life (veterinarian expenses from having a sick dog and then having to put the dog to sleep, new HVAC for our home after it was vandalized, oven quit, washing machine quit after several DIY repairs, on and on). We had not been smart with our finances, and we racked up major debt, mainly because we had separate credit cards and weren’t communicating about what the other was spending. My husband came into the marriage with some debt, and we were slow to learn how to manage money as a couple. We weren’t trying to keep secrets, but we just didn’t have everything laid out and didn't have accounts merged to know what our spending really looked like. We each worked full-time jobs and should have been able to save up for emergencies and save for things like travel, remodeling our house, paying off cars, and so on. Instead, we were spending on stuff that was of no real value.

Then we also had a baby during this time. This is where you laugh if you’ve had a baby yourself and know how much that costs. We had NO IDEA what it costs to be pregnant and birth a baby. We had to pay quite a bit for prenatal care, then for me to have the baby by emergency c-section and for our baby to be in NICU for five days. The cost was overwhelming. [Side note: We negotiated our bills and had them reduced by about 70%. I called every office that sent us a bill and asked if they reduced bills based on financial need. We had about five different medical offices to pay, and only one office told me no. Other offices let me set up payment plans or let me apply for a discount. I had to submit our income and expenses to some of the offices who then gave us a small discount. We did have insurance, and all offices received payment from our insurance (we paid for our own insurance at the time since Colin’s employer at the time didn’t provide insurance). We were paying our insurance and paying the offices, but since medical costs are astronomical, we needed all the help we could get. Our total bill was still very large, but it became manageable monthly payments.]

Once we had Harlow, I was home full-time. I wanted to be home, but we also couldn’t afford daycare on what I was making at my boutique. We sat down and laid out every bill we had. Things got ugly. I cried a lot. Anxiety was high. Guilt was high. We had to forgive each other for some serious financial mistakes. We also asked God to forgive us for us not being faithful with what He had given us.

Then we buckled down. We made a real, on paper, line by line budget. We sold my new car and went to being a one car family. We cut everything that could be cut. We stopped eating out. We stopped shopping. We had to buy diapers and wipes, which meant not buying things for ourselves. The only fun things we did were free, like being outdoors. We went on a serious spending freeze. We sold everything we could online and at consignment stores. We sold clothes, shoes, furniture, instruments, golf clubs, decor— whatever we could sell, we did! I made and crafted things (from materials I already had or what people brought to me for commissioned projects) to sell for a little extra cash.


I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it was easy or that our stress immediately went away when we decided to pay off debt. It was harder to live like this. It was harder to pay off debt than it was to get ourselves into debt. We reaped what we sowed. We lived with worn out, ill-fitting clothes. We ate at home, and sometimes couldn’t even buy groceries when we ran out of food. We never went without food, but it meant eating what we could scrape together in the pantry and drinking only water. We said no to meeting up with friends, because we couldn’t afford a meal at a restaurant and couldn’t afford the gas to drive there.

We got into debt with two incomes. We got out of debt with one income and a baby.

Then the day came when we went to the bank and dropped off our last check that meant we were FREE of debt! We were giddy! We celebrated by going through the car wash— something our daughter loves and something we couldn’t freely do when we were in debt. Once you go through this journey, it doesn’t take much to excite you!

Today our only debt is our mortgage. We don’t have plans to pay it off early, but we do have our monthly payment divided into two payments a month, helping pay it down faster. That means we take our payment and pay half at the beginning of the month and half at the middle of the month, and it pays off our mortgage faster. I’ll put a link down below to this method if you don’t know about it.

I’m not saying we won’t have have debt again. If we have another child, there will be medical debt. Sickness could cause debt. We may buy a car that will come with debt. This isn’t a judgement on those who have debt, and this isn’t a declaration that we will never be in some kind of debt again. Our goal is to never be where we were again— unwise and foolish with finances.

This is an encouragement to get real about your finances. Whether you’re single or married, sit down and see what the reality is with your money. It may cause some tears. Cry it out. Then make a budget. AND STICK TO THE BUDGET. You’ll have to stop caring what people think. So what if you have to sell a car and drive something cheaper? So what if you have to tell your friends you can’t go out? Invite them over for a potluck. Tell them you’re trying to get out of debt. We feel shame about money, so we try to hide our situation. But being honest about it means they know why you’re saying no, and it might be the push they need to do the same thing.

Not in debt? Great! Stay that way! Make a budget now, and stick to it so you can stay out of debt!

So what is our family doing now that we’re not in debt? We are saving up to do work on our home that was built in 1945. We worked on it with money we saved before we got in debt. Then once we were in debt and digging our way out, we couldn’t afford any more remodeling. We are now trying to catch up on projects that need to be done to care for our house and to keep and increase its value. We also have been able to say yes to eating out again. We still have a very strict budget we stick to, but that budget includes eating out and doing fun things that might cost a little bit of money. I’m not saying we have go to Disney World or Paris money (but maybe one day!!!), but we can buy clothes that fit and go grab an ice cream every once in awhile. We are also contributing to retirement since neither of us are in jobs that do that for us. We are also saving for emergencies that we didn’t save for before (who knows when our 20-year-old clothes dryer might go out!).

We still say no to things. Since we live on one income and stick to a strict budget, there are still things we can’t afford to do. We can’t eat out every time we are asked. We can’t go on expensive trips. We simply can’t live outside of the budget. There are things that need to be taken care of (like our house so it doesn’t go into disrepair), so that means having to say no to other things. You will never stop having to say no. So get used to that word. Saying “no” can be very financially freeing, which can result in mental and emotional freedom!

It took a couple years to pay off our debt. The biggest feelings we dealt with were guilt. We could have done so much with the money we blew. We weren’t responsible with what God gave us, and we learned some big, hard lessons. If this is a journey you have to take, don’t stop giving to God. Don’t stop tithing. If you never tithed before, start immediately. We tithed throughout our debt journey, and trusted that God was going to keep supplying. God didn’t get us into debt. We were the ones to mismanage where the money went. So if God didn’t get us into the mess and was instead the Giver of all good things, why in the world would we not give to him through it all? Not tithing is taking from God, and not tithing is not something we can afford to do.

I am far from being a financial expert. I can tell you what we did, but I can’t tell you how to do it for yourself. There are experts out there, though, that can walk you step-by-step through the process. I’ll link down below to some of the resources we used and are still using. I still watch videos and read articles that remind me and push me and teach me to make smart money decisions!

Take a deep breath. Tackling debt is tough, but it's doable!


Finding Your Worth

•Finding Your Worth•

I recently had an interaction with a stranger who asked me, “What do you do?” I know that phrase usually implies that you describe your job or how you spend your days. I felt like my full answer was complicated and too time consuming for the situation I was in, so I simply said that I was a stay-at-home mom. Now, don’t stop reading if you work outside the home or don’t have kids. This isn’t a discussion of work-from-home vs. work-outside-the-home. Aren’t we all a little tired of that discussion by now?

When I answered with that, I received a look of disgust, and the woman immediately walked away. For all I know, she could have instantly had a stomachache come over her and the need to flee to the bathroom, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case. Her look and immediate departure translated to me that it wasn’t worth her time to talk to me. I wasn’t worth getting to know.

Don’t worry; I’m not about to have a pity party— quite the opposite.

There was a time where I defined myself by “what I did” and the career I had. I had a job I loved, and I loved talking about it. I found pride in it. I felt accomplished, fortunate, and talented. I later had my own business, and it gave me happiness and, again, pride.

Then I decided at 8 months pregnant to walk away from it and to be a stay-at-home mother. It’s another post for another day why I made that decision for our family (with no pressure but full support and a bit of surprise from my husband). Walking away from a career and a business meant I lost those things that had once defined me.

Now, I know mothers who are defined by their children. Their children are their lives. The children come before everything else, and the children are where they find their pride and identity and worth.

Here’s the thing: everything can be lost. You can lose a job. You can lose a career. The world changes. You can change. You can lose your passion and interests. You can lose physical and mental abilities. You can lose a child, and while a child is a life of worth, they are not where you find your worth. If you find your worth based on something that can be lost, then that means you’re holding on to something that is fleeting and, well, worthless.

I bring this up to encourage you not to look down on those who don’t have what you see as a valuable career. Don’t look down on the mother who stays home. Don’t look down on the mother who works outside the home. Don’t look down on the person who doesn’t have children. Most importantly, find your worth in something that isn’t fleeting, something that can’t be lost. I find my worth in knowing I’m a child of God. I will never lose Him, because He is constant and is holding on to me. He will never let go of me, even when everything else in this world would drop me in an instant. My worth is found in Jesus and in who He is. I know all too well that you can lose your physical abilities and you can walk away from jobs and careers and businesses. And though I pray it never happens, I know you can lose a child. But through all that, I cannot lose my worth in Christ. What a relief! Now, maybe that’s how I should have answered that woman’s question.

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