Exhaustion, Influenza, Christmas and More

I realize I have been pretty quiet here lately. It is hard for me to believe that I had the capacity to write every day for 31 days in October. I posted 9 times in November and only 3 times this month. I think God knew that I could handle it in October, because clearly the remainder of 2014 was going to be an all out war.

To lay it out there honestly, I am EXHAUSTED.

Pretty much everything life is throwing at me right now is too much, and most of that is self imposed I know. Some of it was unplanned and those things have hit me the hardest.

I have lit the candles on my advent wreath twice. There I said it. Day 2 and I think day 6. We read a smidgen of the book I had all perfectly laid out and the pages haven’t cracked since. Sure looks pretty but it is all show. Plain and simple I have failed having a spirit of Advent in our home this season.

Advent wreath

Our Christmas Angel has moved each day, but typically not at 9:30pm when my reminder alarm is set because Karlena is ALWAYS still awake…so I forget and scramble at 5:30am instead. One of the days I am going to get caught.

Christmas Angel

Last week Elijah was sick and out for 4 days, poor kid didn’t have his spunk….except for the day he was at home with me when our daycare was closed, the day after my surgery, when I should have been resting but he and Karlena fought and screamed so badly that I may have lost my temper at them that my screaming caused me to double over in pain.

Elijah sick

Yes THAT was a proud moment…the moment when you tell your kids that LITERALLY they are going to make their mama explode if they don’t stop fighting.

Heading right on into our weekend was Karlena’s first dance recital…where I stressed over getting the perfect ballet bun. We tried a couple of times and figured it out thanks to You Tube.

ballet bun

She was adorable and while she doesn’t seem to be a natural quite yet, she looked beautiful in her costume and fulfilled my mama’s dream of having a dance daughter.

Karlena ballerina

 

I have not wrapped a single Christmas present. NOT A ONE. My kids keep asking me to please wrap presents, but first I would have to box everything up into unidentifiable containers so that I can wrap in front of them, or with them as they would prefer….but this mama is EXHAUSTED. Did I mention that?

Oh and yesterday I went to see a Dr. because I was feeling like I wanted to die, and was told I likely have Influenza. (They don’t even bother testing when you have all the symptoms) Because OF COURSE. So go home and rest mama, and oh too bad so sad the pharmacies in town are all out of the meds to treat it. :( I cried a little and crawled in bed. I posted an updated to FB and someone I know, who will remain nameless, contacted me because they had just had Influenza and had extra meds…because the week before the pharms were packed full of meds and they were filling scripts for the entire family. And one of the peeps in their family didn’t use/need the meds they bought. This may be some black market/illegial stuff going on but I was desperate.

But Praise Jesus – I mean seriously PRAISE JESUS. These meds were a LIFE SAVER. I told my mom I feel 800 thousand times better today. Not great, but I am not whimpering in a corner either. Life is looking up.

Christmas is ONE WEEK away, and did I mention that I have NOTHING wrapped? Oh, sorry I am still a little foggy here…I am going to just go with it. We may just celebrate Christmas up in Isaac’s closet….where all the presents are “hidden”…and I use the term “hidden” loosely, but since most of my children are too young to know I blog, they won’t read this soon enough to know to go and peek. Mom for the win.

Some day I will post my award winning, best ever stuffing cups recipe. Some day I will maybe even share my family Christmas letter…but for today I am hanging on by a thread, guilty over all the time away from the office I have spent in the last week…stressed over all there is to do in ONE WEEK, one week people! Agh!!

So may your days be Merry and Bright…around these parts I am just hoping for a little less insane! <3

Not What I Wanted For Today…But…

Choose Joy

I shouldn’t be surprised really, it seems it always happens this way. Life hits, harder at times, and it can feel like things are spinning out of control.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going in for a fairly simple, “routine” laproscopic procedure. It is same day, I should be home around the dinner hour…I am not worried at all. But there is a TON of things I wanted to do to prepare for a few days of me being tied to the couch as I recover.

And so, on a day when we have client deliveries and need witnesses, a day when Dominic won’t be able to answer the phone, or prepare for the things coming up while I’m out…our youngest boy is sick and I am at home.

It is moments like this that I can get so frustrated. Why does this have to be happening now?

But what good does that type of attitude do me?

Yes it is inconvenient, yes it is frustrating…but it isn’t the end of the world.

While my natural response may be one of anger and pity, I can choose to have a different response.

This morning I spent a few brief moments circling my family in prayer. Praying over our meetings for the day, for the health of our family, my upcoming surgery and the big choices that face Isaac in regards to college etc.

What an honor it is to pray for my family.

While I do bring my requests to God, I also bring my thanks even when life isn’t perfect.

I am thankful for each member of my family.

I am thankful for all of the blessings that God lavishes on us.

We don’t worry about food, or heat, or how we will get to and from where we need to go.

We are spoiled really, and while a day like I hadn’t intended isn’t my plan, I can still be grateful.

But gratitude is a choice.

Each and every day I must make the choice to choose joy, in ALL things. (<==== Click to Tweet)

Yes it may be work, it may go against the grain of what my natural response might be. But my hope is that when I make that choice over and over again, it might become the natural response I have to any kind of situation.

My prayer for you today friends is that regardless of what you are facing, that you might make the choice to choose joy. Choosing right along with you this morning!

Grandma Gertie’s Caramel Creme Sandwich Cookies

Caramel-Creme-Sandwich-Cookies

In the spirit of sharing and receiving some wonderful cookie recipes I am sharing my all time favorite Christmas cookie recipe. This one is so good that I don’t know why I don’t make it all year round. It is my dad’s favorite cookie and a recipe from his mom whom I never had the chance to meet. But I think that I would have loved sitting down with her and a batch of these wonderful cookies.

For the dough:
1 cup butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy and add egg yolk. Slowly add the flour until mixed. Then put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.

Once chilled roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Press flat on a cookie sheet. (I use a small cookie press with a little design on it) Bake for 8-10 minutes @ 325 degrees. Remove from sheet and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
2 Tbls butter – brown in a sauce pan on the stove
Add 1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
Add 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix together and then add a Tbls of milk, one at a time until thick. (Usually just 1-2 necessary)

The frosting will be almost like a carmel-like consistency. Find 2 cookies of a similar size and frost the bottom of 1 cookie and press it together with the bottom of another cookie.

And what you are left with are sugary, wonderful bites of goodness! I am telling you these are RICH but wonderful and will sure to be a hit at your Christmas parties!

I hope you try these cookies and if you have any questions in the process please contact me!

What is your favorite cookie recipe at Christmas? I’d love for you to leave a link/recipe in the comments below! Maybe I will find a new favorite!

Merry Christmas friends!

Photo Credit: via

Come As You Are – A GSD Welcome Invitation

Allume 2014 Smilebooth

As you may have seen from our posts and pictures, several of our core writing team traveled from across the country and met at Allume this past October. It was fun to spend time together as a team, and an amazing opportunity to meet with so many new friends and dreamers as well.

We decided to host a little “meet-up” so we could visit with some of these new friends in person. While the majority of us who gathered ended up being part of the original God-sized Dream team, it was a wonderful time to come together and share about where we have been and how we see God leading and moving in our lives and dreams going forward.

Prior to the meet-up, I was up in my hotel room with one of my roommates and fellow GSD writer, Delonna. We were gathering up everything we needed to bring downstairs. Before we walked out the door, Delonna asked me if I thought she should change her shirt.

Now Delonna is a die-hard Ohio Buckeyes fan. DIE-HARD. Whooo, watching a game with this woman was an experience, especially when the game went into overtime. Yikes! ;)

She had been wearing her Ohio State T-shirt all day and wondered if she should change it. I probably looked at her with my crazy eyes and asked her why she would do that?

She said she wanted to make sure that she was making the right impression at the meet-up.

I told her she looked beautiful and to keep the T-shirt on! :)

This got me to thinking the next morning in the shower (that IS where I do my best thinking…I really need a recorder in my shower so I can get all these thoughts and prayers down during that time!!)

We always want this space to be a place where you can come as you are.

I am sharing the rest of this post over at God-sized Dreams, will you join me there?!

Some Goings On

Thanksgiving

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow! How did November whiz by so fast?! We are hosting this year again but it will be a much smaller group. I am just excited to spend time with both of our parents, and get geared up for Christmas decorating…my favorite!

Since I don’t have anything really profound to share with you right now I thought that I would just give you a peak into some goings on here recently.

  • Isaac gave blood at school yesterday for the first time. I didn’t even know it was happening, but he heard about it and being 18 and all, he went ahead and signed up. I seriously just love his heart. I am so proud of the man he is becoming. And I get a little twitchy when I think about the fact that in a few short months he will be moving out.
  • I did a bunch of my Thanksgiving prep in advance this year. I have worship team practice tonight so I won’t be at home to do it then, so the cranberries and applesauce are ready, the elements of the stuffing are ready to go and the turkey is all set to be put in the roaster early on Thursday morning. I will do the mashed potatoes before I leave tonight and will rewarm them in the crock pot. The other dishes will be made in the morning tomorrow. The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is a bread product. Not sure what will happen there, I need to figure that out! :)
  • Speaking of stuffing, next week I will share the recipe that I am using. It is a recipe that I have changed and doctored for the past 2 years and it is AMAZING. I am more excited about the stuffing than anything else. This year I am making it in individual muffin tins to try that…I will let you know how it all turns out!
  • I was invited to speak at our local MOPS group next Tuesday. The speaker they had lined up went on unexpected bed rest and they needed someone short notice. Heather, who takes our family pictures, sent me a text 2 nights ago asking if I would come and share with them about hospitality and why as women we often feel we have to have it perfect to invite people into our spaces. Since that has been something that has been on my heart since Allume, I felt confident that I could come up with something. I have been praying that God would give me His message to share…I haven’t written anything down yet though. I better get on that!
  • I have most of my Christmas shopping done, even found a couple of deals early that I thought I would have to get tomorrow so that is nice. Although I am one of those crazies that loves being out on Black Friday…I try to be extra friendly to the people working and make it a fun experience. So I will probably go out just because! :)
  • It is snowing here today, and I am not happy about that. My parents were supposed to head to our house today…but that may be delayed. Snow before Thanksgiving should be banned. It has been a COLD November and I am nervous about how the remainder of the winter will be!  Sometimes I think living in the south would be nice…but then I hear stories about leeches in bathrooms and roaches in microwaves, and am thankful that because of the cold we don’t deal with that here!
  • Most of all I am thankful this week. God has blessed our family in so many ways and while we don’t always live in full gratitude, our hearts seek to acknowledge the blessings on a daily basis. My prayer for you is that your Thanksgiving would be safe and happy and full of wonderful food and time with family!

When Anger is My Expected Response

Last week I shared a little bit about my struggle with anger. Of course when I open up and share the ugly and my hopes to overcome the struggle…I have to anticipate that I will be given plenty of opportunities to “practice” a different response.

Anger

This past week I have had some failures and some successes. For a bit of light today, I want to share a success and why it was a reminder once again that my attitude and response to my kids can make such an impact.

On Wednesday last week, Dominic and I took Isaac back up to SDSU for a college visit. Becky (Dominic’s mom) was in Marshall and picked up the kids from school for us because we weren’t going to be back in time.

Usually the after-school pick up is the time that I have with just me and Gabriel to ask how his day was. Depending on the day he usually has a good, or a bad point to share. :) It is less than 10 minutes really that we have together, but it has become an important time for both of us.

We got home from the college visit right before it was time for Gabriel to go to Awana. So he and I jumped in the car and drove the 15 miles to our church.

I took the time to ask Gabriel about his day and he paused, sighed really big, and said that he just had to tell me the truth about something. He seemed stressed, so I told him to please go ahead.

He said that he lost his folder. His main folder that holds his homework, contains his reading log…it is kind of a big deal. He was unable to participate in math class because he didn’t have his homework…and he feared telling me because he anticipated that I would be angry.

You see when anger is my first response, I teach my kids that anger should be the expected response. (<====Click to Tweet)

When Gabriel told me about his folder, I honestly wasn’t angry about it…but he was afraid that I was going to be. He said that he didn’t want to tell me, but he remembered once when I told him that I would rather know the truth and deal with a situation right away, then not be told the truth.

I said that I was sorry he had lost it, that it had caused stress during his afternoon. I asked if he wanted to pray about it and he did. We prayed over his finding his folder. We prayed a prayer of thanks that God forgives, and I reminded him that we all make mistakes. I said that he could learn from this and work a little harder about checking to make sure he had everything he needed when he left his classroom.

After it was all said and done he thanked me.

It honestly broke my heart, but he thanked me for being comforting and not getting angry.

You see he has experienced me being angry at him enough, that when my response is one of compassion, he thanked me.

It was a reminder why this journey is such an important one.

I want my automatic response to be one of compassion, not anger. (<====Click to Tweet)

Yes we will all make mistakes, and while there are consequences, my attitude doesn’t have to make the consequence worse.

Such a stronger reminder to me that my response can have such an impact.

And the next day Gabriel found his folder in his block 2 class. Praise God.

Lord, I thank you for giving me opportunities to “practice” at being a better responder. My prayer is that my response will not be one of anger, but of compassion and patience. May my life be a reflection of all the patience and compassion that You have shown to me. In Jesus Name, Amen

A Golden Birthday – Celebrating Isaac

Isaac 18

I think I may be in a bit of denial over this one – but my baby turns 18 today. Can you believe that?! 18!!

18 years ago we found ourselves in a hospital anticipating the arrival of our firstborn. We didn’t know what we were having, but I was sure it was a girl (ha!) I labored for what seemed like hours (oh wait, it WAS HOURS) Long, slow hours that may have been filled with me being angry with Dominic because he could eat and walk and not be in pain. ;)

And then late that evening the doctor said it was time and Isaac Immanuel joined our family of two and everything changed.

He was perfect, and huge (8lb 15oz)…my doctor at the time told me she didn’t think he would be bigger than 7 1/2lbs….little did she know! But he was strong and adorable and we were in love.

We left that hospital a few days later, right after a terrible ice storm, and spent our first night as a family at my parents house because it wasn’t safe for us to drive home. I was terrified at my responsibility, I was a mother but I had no clue how to do it right.

We spent many days and nights those first few months, Isaac and I, crying together. :) He had colic and I was a nervous wreck. I was sure I had messed him up and done something wrong because he cried so much. But then a few months passed and he was all smiles.

He had the biggest grins and he made us laugh. Fitting as his name means “he laughs.”

When people say that time goes fast and it will be gone in a blink of an eye, they aren’t kidding.

I feel like I blinked and he was walking, blinked and he was starting preschool, blinked again and he was starting elementary school.

Each moment, a blink and then on to the next.

Isaac has always been a good student, but 2nd grade was a tough year with a teacher that didn’t enjoy the boys in her classroom – that year could have paved a negative path for him. But in 3rd grade, Mrs. Bonte, saw that he was bored and needed more of a challenge so she started giving him “extra math assignments”. She made it fun and encouraged him to work hard…He excelled and I credit her for how that encouragement shaped a path that he continued on until today. (Mrs. Bonte passed away unexpectedly last year and I never had the chance to thank her for how she changed Isaac’s path that year – teachers you can make such a difference!)

When Gabriel was born, Isaac was so excited to be a big brother. He was so helpful and couldn’t wait until he was old enough so that they could play together. It was the same with Elijah and Karlena too. Isaac’s siblings adore him, and while they don’t always get along they all love having Isaac around. I am not sure how we will all handle it when he moves away next fall!

We moved to Marshall when Isaac was a freshman. Talk about life change. I know the first year wasn’t easy for him and even today a big part of him wishes he could be back in Beresford with his friends. But he took it in stride, adjusted well and continued to work hard at everything he does.

He continues to amaze me.

He works 2 jobs and gets great grades. He has a plan (for now) for college next year and it is exciting to see where God’s path will lead him.

For a lot of years I know I really failed Isaac as a mother. I didn’t always manage life well and he likely saw and felt the consequences of that. But he is a strong, brave, kind man today and it is a testament of how God can take our brokenness and in spite of us, make something beautiful out of it.

I am so blessed to call Isaac my son. I hope that this post (if he reads it) isn’t too embarrassing. :) Maybe today it will be, but my hope is that someday he will read this and be reminded at how much he is loved. How thankful I am to be allowed the great honor of being his mom.

My life was forever changed 18 years ago, and I have been blessed to overflowing because of you Isaac. God bless you today and all the many years ahead. I am excited to see where God will take you and will always be here to cheer you on.

I love you son.

The Song {And a Giveaway!} #awakenlove

The Song 2

I have shared before that Dominic and I spent way too many years struggling in our marriage. We just weren’t equipped to handle marriage well and we were far from God…it was not a good mix.

Unfortunately we built up a lot of bad habits during that time and learned how to fight well and love poorly. Today I am so grateful for the grace that has been poured out on our marriage and the restoration that we have seen take place.

It isn’t easy and it takes work and a lot of prayer – but God is faithful!

Today we work together and spend most of our days and nights together. There have been “interesting” moments for sure, but for the most part we both feel blessed that we have this opportunity now.

But the one thing we are the worst at is finding time for just the two of us.

Date night? What is that?! :)

In fact a few weekends ago we had some clients to visit in the afternoon and decided to get dinner out together afterwards and Dominic felt guilty that we were having a nice dinner and the kids were a home eating leftovers. (They survived if you can believe it!) ;)

Time together just the two of us, not doing work, is so important though. 

It is easy to get busy, make excuses and not participate in things because there is always something else that needs our attention.

Recently we started hosting a small group from church at our home every Sunday night. It has been so good to fellowship with other couples, even if all our kids are upstairs.

But even more than that I want us to learn more about each other, so when I was asked if I wanted a copy of THE SONG: Awaken Love Couple’s Devotional  to review, I was excited. I love having resources available that help encourage strengthening a marriage.

The Song 3

This devotional is based on the Song of Solomon in the Bible. It is a 6 week devotional with short lessons for 5 days of each week.

Short stories and some discussion questions to get the couple talking, this is an easy way to increase communication and look at how God’s Word views marriage.

The Awaken Love devotional is a great resource for any couple to have!

I would encourage you to check out this website. It has links to materials you can purchase as well as links to other free resources. These were my favorites. Rekindle your Marriage Resource and 10 Ways to Pray Protection over Your Marriage.

As a part of this post FlyBy is offering the devotional for free to one of my readers. So if you would like to win a copy please leave a comment below and I will pick a winner on Friday November 21st!

#seethesong

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

When Anger is My First Response

Harbor

There are times when there are posts and ideas in my mind that I’m really excited to write about. And then there are times like today that I feel God is calling me to write and I don’t want to share the words.

Because if I’m being honest, this isn’t something that I want you to know about.

It reveals a part of my soul and my character that are difficult. Areas in my life that God is working on me, refining me… you see I have a problem with anger.

Anger itself reveals my lack of self-control and the ability to find the good in situations. When my first response is one of anger, nobody wins.

And I can feel it. I can feel myself getting angry and once I am there it seems that my natural response is to yell.

I want to be a place of safe harbor. A place of comfort and trust. But a mama that explodes when she is frustrated is no safe harbor. (<====Click to Tweet) When my kids know that mom is mad they don’t come to me…they go the other way.

It is a harsh and painful reality.

The majority of this post was spoken when I was in the bathroom. Okay maybe that was too much information for y’all…so sorry! I was just getting ready one morning, and I just felt very strongly that these words needed to be written.

So I used my phone and my notes app and I spoke these words into being.

I want more for me. I want more for my children. I want my more for my husband and my friends.

I don’t want my legacy to be one of anger. (<====Click to Tweet)

I know it must have been God’s prompting to read Heather’s post that morning.  In this season of busy I haven’t been able to keep up on his many blogs as I would like to. But for some reason I clicked through and read her post.

Heather was brave and shared her own story of struggling with yelling at her kids. Of putting on that face, that mask if you will, for everyone outside of her home. But not having that same attitude towards those closest to her.

And unfortunately her post struck a nerve because I can relate so well to what she was saying.

So as I got ready that morning I could just feel God convicting my heart.

“I called you to be a light.”

“Yes that light is important when you share it with the outside world. But even more than that Kristin, you need to be showing that light to your family.”

So I come before you broken, stripped bare and humbly asking for your prayers.

I am going to be circling this in prayer. I can’t make this type of transformation on my own. God has to do a work in me and through me. I just need to be willing to do the hard things to see change.

I want to use this space as a place to remain accountable.

You have all blessed me with my own safe harbor. Your words of encouragement and not judgement help me to be more transparent. So it may get raw and real around here but I need to be able to take off the mask…even if just in this space first.

It is my prayer that as I walk this road, God will mold me into the woman, the mother and wife He created me to be. Thank you friends for walking with me!

In Him, Kristin

Photo Credit: Rasmus Zwickson

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

We are always looking for new recipes that we can use to feed our family quickly and easily. I especially like soups/stews in the winter that I can prepare in my crockpot and set and forget it.

Dominic was recently visiting a client and he was persuaded to stay for dinner. He was served white chicken chili and raved about it. We searched for a recipe that would be similar and tried it yesterday.

White Chicken Chili 2

This recipe was so easy and I adapted it from one we found on Betty Crocker.com. A link to the original recipe is here. We changed it just a bit so I will share my updates.

4 lbs boneless chicken. The recipe says you can put the chicken in the mix uncooked, but I just didn’t like that idea so we browned it with onion before we added it in. Also we basically doubled the recipe from the Betty Crocker site to make a full crock pot.

2 cans white beans. We used 1 can of Great Northern beans and 1 can of Cannellini beans. Make sure to drain and rinse your beans. I personally think the “sauce” they put on beans tastes like dirt (I know I am weird) so I always rinse my beans off.

2 cans fiesta corn, drained. And 2 cans Rotel. I used original Rotel, but in the future I may use the mild Rotel so it is less spicy. Dominic and I enjoyed it but the younger kids thought it was a little spicy.

2 16 oz jars green taco sauce. I originally only bought 1 jar and when we set out to make the recipe I thought it really needed the second jar so we searched our cupboards and found a green salsa verde so we added that instead of a 2nd taco sauce.

The last ingredient was chicken broth. The original recipe called for a 1/2 cup …but that wasn’t nearly enough. I bought the organic chicken broth that is found in those boxes and used at least half the box. I wanted it to be soupy…not too thick. But you could adjust it based on your liking.

We put everything together over the lunch hour and then put the crock pot on high. It was hot and ready by the time I picked the kids up from school. If you started it in the morning I would just cook on low for the entire day.

We served it with cheese, sour cream/plain greek yogurt and corn chips.

White Chicken Chili

It made a lot, but with 6 of us it won’t last long. Fast and easy and oh so yummy! What is your favorite crock pot recipe? I would love if you shared it below because I am always looking for new recipes!

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