Cornerstone fall festival

We had a festival two Sundays ago at our church. It was so much fun. The girls jumped on moon bounces, we had smoked pulled pork sandwiches and enjoyed chatting with sweet friends. Dave even got in a little soccer, yet paid for the exertion of exercise a few days later! The night ended with a bon fire and blue grass music. Love it.

I only took these two pictures...


His gifts, week 3

I'm into week 3 of penning down God's gifts that I've experienced, observed, and thought about.
Here are some from last week.

*early morning run, enjoying a misty morning at the park
*new clothes, thanks to birthday money from dad
*food to feed my family
*co-op classes
*getting up early
*hugs from Addie
*haircut lessons from Shannon
*gift of scissors
*warm banana bread
*book of Matthew
*swim lessons
*evening trip to the park
*tickle time with my girls
*a dishwasher that works
*restored health
*Hailey's hair that sticks up so cute
*grace to ask forgiveness
*rocking little ones before bed
*Dave, amazing daddy
*my big girl's generous heart to give away doll.
*the patience of my Selah Grace
*trip to Nashville


Surprises, in many forms

This past week was full of surprises. Some good and some just plain, not good. The big surprise of my week was the unexpected trip to Nashville. I say, Nashville, but really where we went was quaint town of Franklin. But all the little towns around the big city kind of get lumped in to the area of "Nashville." Dave has been traveling there weekly to build business for his company and always has had to leave us behind. This week we got to come! We all piled in the van early Thursday morning and headed west.
It was a good surprise! More on our trip to come.

On to the not so good surprise. I've set out to be thankful. I've sought to discipline my mind on God's gifts. Surprise. It's not easy! In fact, it's very hard. I knew it would be, but didn't realize how much my flesh caves to the idea of daily giving thanks. I've surprised myself by my excessive default to grumble and complain. I didn't realize how much I do until I've started to concentrate on giving thanks. Every moment that I want to get angry. Every time I want my day to go a different way. To get more done, for the kids to stop arguing. When I think about how tired I am of cooking 3 times a day, 7 days a week. I've lost the Eucharisteo. Joy gets sucked away. It's such a hard discipline.

An example came just this morning, on the way to church. I didn't like how someone in the family talked to me. I was angry. I was hurt. "How dare they?" I could feel the life being drenched from me. I knew this was an opportunity to stop. Think. Look. I've got so much. I'm blessed with a healthy family. We have all we need. We're together. The list goes on. I confess I didn't start give thanks immediately. I consciously chose not to. I wanted to stay angry. But I asked for grace. Grace. Spirit of grace come to my hard heart. Then...grace came. I gave thanks. I focused on God's blessings. His gifts of grace in exchange for my sin. A change happened in my heart this morning. I can honestly say that I can't even remember what I was angry about. It works. Grace. Thanksgiving. Then joy! But it's hard work. Very hard work. And so often I don't want to give the effort. But God's grace can break through. I'm seeing it happen.

I'd like to say that this experience above characterized my week. But it didn't. I far too often gave into a grumbling heart. A few days went by without me writing one thing. Not one drop of ink touched my journal listing God's gifts. But I write about this morning to give testimony that thanksgiving works to transform my heart. Joy results and glorifies God. And when it does, I'm a happy mom. I'm a better wife. It's what I want to strive for and ask God's help in.

There was another surprise for me this week. One that could not encourage me more. It's the realization and experience that giving thanks and having the mind set on God's gifts calms my anxious fears. I feel like an Israelite who the Lord is calling to look back on his provision for me. I need to remember. But I want to grumble instead. I have a life full of his gracious provision and faithfulness. Give thanks. Remember all he has done. Manna in abundance, daily provided. Won't he be faithful in the future as he has already, even through the deepest valleys? The more I remember and the more I give thanks, the more I see my heart trusting him more. It's a miracle. This journey of joy is more than I could have imagined. Surprise, it's hard. But surprise again. It's grace to my so often troubled and anxious soul.


Autumn beauty

I'm thoroughly enjoying the autumn beauty here in Tennessee.


Pumpkin Soup

Everyone, even Addie, enjoyed this easy soup. A perfect dinner on a cool, autumn evening. Pair with some warm bread and/or salad. We enjoyed it with buttered raisin toast.

Pumpkin Soup

1 cup chopped onion
1 chopped red pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups chicken stock
3 1/2 - 4 cups cooked pumpkin
2 teaspoons fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup cream
few dashes of nutmeg
salt, to taste (if you use homemade stock you will need more)
sour cream

Sautee the onion, garlic, and pepper in olive oil. Add the stock, pumpkin, parsley, thyme, and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and blend. I used a hand held soup blender which makes this very easy. If you don't have one, you can use a blender. I left a few chunks in. Simmer for an additional 20-30 minutes. Add cream. Then add the nutmeg, one dash at a time until it leaves just a hint of flavor to the soup. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!


Appalachia Museum Fall Festival

My mom and I took the girls to this a few weeks ago. I missed not attending the Ag Farm fall festival back home, but this definitely filled the void...maybe even more so. We learned a bit about life in Appalachia years ago, how they did things, listened to some sweet bluegrass music and the girls learned a little square dancing. We saw animals, bought some wonderful goat's milk soap, fresh sorghum syrup (my new favorite sweetener) and a few other goodies.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

A baked goodie that we made last week. I tweaked it a bit to add a healthy spin on the recipe. They were super yummy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 eggs
2 cups sucanat
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup water
2 cups cooked pumpkin
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
few dashes of nutmeg
few dashes of allspice
12 oz. chocolate chips

Beat eggs. Add sucanat. Stir water and pumpkin. Then add oil. Combine dry ingredients and add to liquid. Fold in chips. Line muffin pans and fill 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 min.



My exercise in giving thanks has begun and my pen was busy this week noting various things that came to mind throughout my day. Many of those things had to do with fall. We have found Tennessee to be gorgeous this time of year.

Some gifts I wrote down.

*cool weather
*beautiful fall leaves so bright
*mist over the field in the morning
*red maple leaves
*rainy days that water

We've found an endless array of activities to enjoy here. Fun abounds.

*fall festival outing
*shopping for pumpkins
*decorating house for fall

The girls and I love to bake together and pumpkin muffins are one of my favorites. I picked up some pumpkins at Trader Joe's and baked them. It's something I find much more satisfying than just opening up a can of pumpkin.

*cooked pumpkin
*pumpkin soup with a hint of nutmeg
*warm muffins
*roasted pumpkin seeds, salty good.

This already is quite an exercise in building faith. I look back over what I've written and feel my heart fill with joy. So many things. So richly blessed. So undeserving. I see all that I have, how much God has graced me with blessings. I focus there. And not on how I want my toddler to stop screaming and fussing. How I'm frustrated by school lessons. I see my heart resting on beauty.

*the sound of my girls laughing
*my big girl who vacuums
*healthy daughters
*my mom who does dishes for me
*food to feed my family
*teaching my girls
*hot tea
*nice neighbors
*a night out with Dave

It's just a taste of what has been written down in my "one thousand things" book this week.


A new journey

I've begun a new journey. The Lord is doing much in my life. And I wanted to share a bit of it.

Moving to Tennessee, actually this whole last year has been a difficult year for me. It's one of the reasons I've been quite MIA here. Half the time I'm not sure what exactly to say. Posting on a blog can seem to hide all the reality we live in. I have been pretty raw here on this blog. And lately to pick up and just post normal stuff, when I feel nothing but normal just didn't seem quite right to me.

As many know, my world came crashing down on 11.2.08 when Alivia died and there have been many valleys since that initial deep one. Alivia's life and death initiated a great work of the Lord in me.  I didn't really see it. But often when I have been least aware of it, He has been doing the most. Peeling away layer after layer in my heart of the many things I hold on to and seek to find joy in. I'm starting to understand, in part, some of the lessons from the valleys.

Here are some thoughts from my journal over the past few weeks of this journey I've started. My journey towards joy.


I am a different person than I was 4 years ago. Grief has a way of crushing the heart and breaking it to what seems beyond repair. And even if repairable, never to be the same. Then there are the ripple effects of grief that the heart needs to bear. It never seems to end. However, God has a way of taking that crushed, broken heart and making it something beautiful. Will I let him do it?

God wants me to be consumed with Him. Enough of being consumed with me. Life has brought some bad, even unthinkable, but He doesn't want me to turn that into self-pity and a paralyzed life. He wants me to be so thankful and aware of his blessing, his work, his sustaining grace, that what results is a life that shines joy. Joy. Regardless of circumstances or feelings. Seeing Christ in everyday moments, the good and the bad, the hard and the easy. He wants me to daily see His glory and be amazed. And it's what I want.

There has been a tug of war in my heart over the last number of months. Actually longer than that, but but I've just recently become keenly aware of it. And I have not understood it. I still don't. But I feel like one who is in the opthamologist's chair, big machine up to my face, clicking through lenses, as things become less blurry, more into focus. Many days I have felt my heart running, resisting the truth I so desperately need. Engulfed in a world of endless to-do's, screaming infant, needy toddler, school lessons, illnesses, medications, confusion, and unknowns. Running. But no where to go on my own, however hard I try. I've been left empty, anxious, lacking joy, angry, lonely.

I feel the Lord's beckoning to me, but the day's needs and wants, and my stiff heart seem to pull me away from the focus I do desperately need. My heart feels damaged from the life I have experienced and that's where I stay. I don't want to move on, yet I do. I feel trapped. I don't pursue the Lord, I retreat. No joy. No rest. I want to give up on life. But the Lord has not given up on me.

I find myself now in this unknown place. I'm away from people I love, people I want to be near. Things don't seem easier, just more complicated. I am confused, trying to sort through a world of constant thoughts, fears and unknowns. Where is the Lord in all this? What is he doing? I crave ease and relief.

The Lord is doing. I don't understand it all yet, but the lens is becoming more clear.

I recently picked up the book, One Thousand Gifts, that a dear friend gave me before moving to Tennessee. Through it, it's as if a cloud is beginning to lift. I see myself in the author's words, life and experiences. I crave a fuller life, joy and peace. But I've allowed my heart to become blind, focusing my eyes more on circumstances than on my Savior. More on what I want than what God wants for me. How do I respond when things come crashing down again? and yet again? How do I hold onto joy and not give in to anger? The author, Ann Voskamp talks about Eucharisteo. I'm learning it. Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy. I need to see this more and experience it. "Lord, open my eyes to the glory of my Savior around me. In the hard, mundane, in all times. I want to be changed by being thankful, by adoring in the physical things around me that point to You."

What I need is to see God. I want people to see God when they see me. "Less of me, Lord. Break down my pride. Thank you for bringing me so low these past years, through the pain, through my weakness. I've come to see, through all these valleys, that you really are the only thing that will bring me joy. The perfect life I envision and crave will not fulfill, will not bring joy. Only you. Please bring it, more joy."

So I'm on this journey, a quest to see more of God and experience more joy. To open my eyes and adore. To see and give thanks. Because, grace, thanksgiving, then joy.

I've taken up the task of penning one thousand gifts, as Ann notes in her book. I've got a journal and a pen on my kitchen counter, each day jotting down the things I'm thankful for, the gifts of God all around me. I need my focus to change. It's not me making the change, but Christ in me. I need joy in my Savior through seeing His glory and grace all around me. Not just seeing my circumstances alone, but seeing Him in them. This will be hard. I know there are days I will want anything but to be grateful and to seek God's glory. But it's a commitment I want to make. One thousand things!


For all who care to read, I aim to write and make note each week of some of the things I've seen and am thankful for. And perhaps more of the effect of Eucharisteo in my life.

"The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible. And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible." -Ann Voskamp


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