Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn!

(I already had this post written, so even though I'm 'taking off' I thought I'd still go ahead and share this) :)

 I didn't used to be that big of a popcorn fan. That has certainly changed over the past year or so. Popcorn is one of our favorite family snacks. We buy the bags of unpopped kernels and then pop them ourselves over the stove. It is so easy to do, and then you get to flavor them yourself. All you need is a few tablespoons of oil (you can use coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil... lots of fun options just in that choice!) and 1/3 a cup of kernels to make a good bit of popcorn. 

My current favorite flavoring of the popcorn once it's popped is rosemary parmesan. 
What you need: 
3 Tblsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup unpopped kernels
1/3 stick of melted butter 
1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
1-2 tbps grated parmesan cheese
1-2 stalks of fresh rosemary, chopped finely

 Follow the directions on the bag to pop the corn.
Transfer the popcorn from the pot into your serving bowl. Pour melted butter over top, then season with parmesan, salt and rosemary.  Toss to mix all together. Adjust seasonings to taste. Put on your favorite movie and enjoy :) 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

'Be Present' : Final Post

About half way through this past month I wondered if I had anything more to offer. I just wrote what was there each morning when I woke up, and somehow now we've reach the end of the month. I'm taking the last two days of October off from writing because I have some really fun time planned with my boys (and I am going to be fully present with no distractions!). I can't think of any better way to end this series than with my favorite Bible verse, one that comforts and reassures me and points me to Jesus every time I hear it. And so here is my last post on being present: 

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 

Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Moment Thieves

Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Worry.

They steal from today. They take our eyes off of where we are. They taunt us with the what ifs of tomorrow.

How about a different 'what if'? What if: we only allow ourselves to emotionally react to what is a current reality; to what is right here in front of us.

Jesus says "do not worry about tomorrow, today has enough troubles of its own." In other words, don't go borrowing trouble for yourself. He will give you the strength to see you through where you are right now. Process where you're at, and when tomorrow comes, process there. Don't go jumping ahead of yourself and taking on the weight of the world in worry about what might be.

Stress is usually a fear that things aren't going to come together the way they are supposed to. That you might be behind schedule, that you might not meet the deadline, that the preparation for the party might not all get finished, that your plans might not go your way. But really, so what if they don't? I mean big picture here. What's the worst that can happen if you are late to something? What's the worst that can happen if that deadline passes? Will the party really be ruined if you don't get to make that last strand of bunting? (Jaden's birthday party wasn't!) I mean, I am all for being on time. But here's the balance in it... Do what you can to ensure that you are on time, and if something outside your control comes into play, then roll with it. Life is most enjoyable when we are able to take those unexpected things that are thrown at us in stride, and just do what you can when you can.

Anxiety. A physical reaction to stress usually.

Fear. Could be an emotional, mental or physical response to a circumstance that in most cases does not even exist.

Worry. Worry questions the capability of God to see you through whatever your future holds.

All of these things distract us from the present. Don't let them steal from you today.

(This post is part of a 31 day series on being present.) 

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Mama's Heart

One of my f.a.v.o.r.i.t.e. moment since becoming a mom happened yesterday.

Shaun and I were heading out to a couples barn party. We were running a little late, I couldn't find the car charger for the cell phone, things were a little chaotic, and Drew was saying his belly hurt and was laying on the sofa. I was giving everyone kisses before we left, and when I got to the sofa and kissed Drew bye he held on and said "I love you mommy." I had this feeling like he was very aware of what he was saying and not just saying it out of habit. I kissed him again and told him I loved him too. Then I ran out and got in the truck, and just as we were about to back down the driveway the front door opened and Drew came out on the porch with this shy little half smile and kind of waved at us again like he had something else to say. I opened my door and he said "Mommy, I love you higher than the whole universe." And I no longer cared that we were running late, I got back out of the truck and ran up to the porch and scooped him up in my arms and just held him and hugged him and rocked him close to me. He held on tight, and I could tell his belly was still hurting, and that just made his extra effort to come outside and tell me that he loved me again even more special. After a few minutes standing there holding him I carried him back inside and laid him back down on the sofa and went back to the truck. And I had tears in my eyes and couldn't even speak most of the ride to our party. How I love that boy. All of my boys. A heart full to bursting times three.

You do all this stuff as a mom. You make countless meals, you wipe faces, you clean dishes, you do load after load of laundry, cleaning up the same messes made different ways over and over and over again. You rock babies to sleep, you wake in the middle of the night to wipe tears and rub backs and calm fears, to nurse your littlest in the wee hours when their eyes are not fully open, but yours are, and you watch as they hold onto your soft warm presence, and you know that they feel so safe there nestled against you. You hold their little bodies over the toilet when they're sick, too weak to hold themselves up, you are their strength. You watch them play, explore, conquer, sometimes timidly, sometimes energetically, and you feel your own heartbeat in their every breath. You settle arguments, you discipline, you teach, you referee, you play, you cook, you work, you pay bills and manage the schedule, you wear more hats and hold more roles in a day than any other job description you can think of. And somewhere in the midst of the merry go round that doesn't always feel like it's going anywhere those little innocent babies and those rambunctious, hysterically-funny-but-slightly-clueless toddlers turn into little people who all of the sudden notice you. They see you, and in the most unlikely of moments they find a way to show you that they love you too. And it means SO. MUCH. All that you are doing, sacrificing, the emptying of self and the laying down of your own wants and needs, it is worth it, and it means something so deep and profound and heart wrenching. This raising of little souls is the most emotional and fulfilling adventure I could have ever imagined.

(This post is part of a 31 day series on being present)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Taking time

I need a rest today. Last Sunday felt made for writing. This Sunday feels made for resting. And so I'm taking time. I'm taking off. See you tomorrow :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014


"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts." 

Just another shorter, less personal way of saying the same thing I said yesterday. If we focus on the hurts, the negatives, the things beyond our control those thoughts produce fruit in the attitude of our hearts and restrict our capacity to enjoy life. 
If we want to be joyful then we must focus on the things we are thankful for, our blessings, the love of Jesus for us. To paraphrase Bill Johnson, "when we have a problem in our lives we don't deny it's existence, we simply deny the problem a place of influence." 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Taking Stock

There has been a struggle for me off and on throughout this past year. It is not the parenting journey I mentioned the other day, but rather a deep and personal insecurity that just seemed to surface out of nowhere over the past eight months or so. It has to do with feeling alone, questioning my significance, having to truly come face to face with the realization that the love Jesus has for me is ALL that I need to affirm me. I am pretty sure that most of these rejection issues stem from things I never dealt with as a little girl in friendships, or as a teenager in relationships, and while I'm not 100 % sure why they are coming to the forefront now, I know that the Lord will continuously bring things that are not of Him out of me and into the light in order to rid them from my life that I might have my mind and my heart renewed to see things the way he does. I also want to say, these feelings are not the fault of anyone around me, I have an amazing husband, an awesome family and support system and wonderful friends. I only know that the feeling of loneliness can either drag you down into a lifeless, hopeless pit, or it can force you to look up, to realize that the only hope of fulfillment, life and hope is through Jesus, and it can inspire you to be more intentional in the way you show His love to others, that they might not experience hopelessness in their lives. While I don't feel quite ready to share more here yet, as I feel there are still things being worked out in my heart, I do want to share one thing that has helped me tremendously when battling my way out of this deep, dark place.

Most of the war of loneliness or rejection takes place in the mind. It is a very inward focus, one that pities itself and chooses to look for the moments when you were rejected, rather than the moments that you were chosen. The only way that I can get out of the terrible vortex of these thoughts is to take my eyes off of myself. That effort may sound simple enough, but it takes all the strength-you-don't-have-in -the-world to accomplish. But praise Jesus "In my weakness He is strong." Once my eyes are up and off myself really all I need to do is look around, even just at my immediate surroundings. So. Many. Blessings. Reminders of His goodness. Reminders of the love in my life. I took a few photos today of the first couple things I could think of to prove this point. 

Sitting on my buffet are a pumpkin and a vase of fall loveliness. The pumpkin is the one Drew picked on his first school field trip. Drew. That the Lord would bless me with a child so early in my twenties and see me fit to be his mother... The vase itself is one MY HUSBAND-who is the most wonderful man in the world-gave me flowers in early in our marriage. I spray painted it white for my sister-in-laws bridal shower. And she and her husband just moved back here. More family in the area? SUCH a blessing! I have loved getting to do ordinary life with them now. In the vase are white flowers that are left from Jaden's first birthday party and red leaves I cut from the field where I took his one year old photos yesterday. Jaden. His sweet spirit. The way he needs me. Oh my goodness I love my baby boy. That little stand the vase is sitting on was from my mom from Pottery Barn. My Mom... oh my goodness I don't know how people survive without their moms close by. 

I look on the counter. Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn. (Recipe coming soon!) I made it for lunch, the boys ate it out of their cute little popcorn bowls while watching Jungle Book. But I remember being given those popcorn bowls as a wedding gift by one of my sister's friends who dropped by that morning. I opened it while I was still getting my hair done. My best friend was doing my hair. Ashly. She has been in my life since I can remember. She has three little boys now, too. And we have been through so many ups downs and crazies of life that our friendship is solidified to what feels like an unshakeable point. 
This secretary desk. I just recently switched out the hardware on it. Besides the fun memories of going to Home Depot as a family the night we got the hardware (including getting separated from Shaun and not having a phone and having to get his name called over the inter-com to come to customer service in order to find each other again) this desk is from my Mommom, given to her by my Poppop. That is so special to me. The old pretzel tin and the orange cove crate came from Shaun's parents' farm. Love bringing pieces of his heritage into our home. That Peter Pan book is from my sister. Oh, my sister... I will never ever take her for granted... I miss her so bad now that she's moved away. There is nothing in the world like a sister. And then her fiance, Nate... Beyond thrilled that she has found such a perfect match for her.... That old camera was my Poppop's too... I wish my boys could have known him, but I see some of his qualities in the way Drew is so particular about everything. 
Ten bags of apples in our basement, waiting to be made into applesauce next week. The tart-sweet smell that fills the air from them... natural beauty made by the Creator. I see Isaiah standing on his tiptoes at the apple bins as we filled up baskets the other night... "Daddy is this a bruisy apple? Is this one ok? Is this one a good apple?" he would ask before putting each apple into the basket. Isaiah. Oh my goodness the joy and smiles he brings into my heart.
In the living room, on top of the tv cabinet. That squashy gray-green pumpkin... picking it out at the amish stand with all three boys along with me on the adventure. Making friends with the amish girl who was managing the stand... asking her questions about her children, that "kiss-from-heaven" feel of a divine appointment from God when two strangers run into each other and both leave feeling encouraged. A crate full of lavender that we used at Mary's shower. Mary. My brother. They are husband and wife! And I am so proud of them, so thankful for them, and have such a soft spot in my heart when I think of them. That photo of Shaun and I when we were just engaged. The amazing journey marriage has been so far, realizing that I am not even quite sure who that girl in the picture was for all the ways I've grown since then.

But then there's more. I don't want to stop at just those few photos from my house. If I took a picture out my front door you would be able to see my brother and sister in law's house. Steph. I could not have chosen a better wife for my brother in law, or a better friend for me if I had searched the whole earth myself. So thankful for her profound, inspirational, understanding influence in my life. Just minutes down the road further is my parents house. My mom & dad. The amazing memories they created for me as a child, the way they believed in me to do anything. I am so thankful for them. But I can't stop at my parents, because my in-laws!!! They are amazing. Every tuesday night they open their home and bless us all with a wonderful meal, but even more so, they bless us with the loving family that they are. 
Thankfulness and gratitude are contagious. Once I finally get started, I can hardly stop. It is like a wellspring of life comes flowing up from within, and I can see clearly again. Funny too, I shared pictures of things, but the things are only special because of the people and the memories behind them. Even if the things all went away the people and the memories are what matter. 
But I can't stop even there. Because even if I had no things, no people, no memories around me to start this flow of gratitude from my soul, when I look up, I see the cross. I see the cross, and I see the one my heart loves more than any other, hanging there, dying for me, giving his last breath to free me from the penalty for my sin. I see His eyes, they are looking straight into mine, and they are saying He did this for me. And the oceans of love contained in His gaze are enough to drop me to my knees sobbing at the great price He paid for me, the great worth He sees in me. I cannot even see rejection in the lens of His love. It has been chased a thousand times a thousand miles away. Because He says that I am chosen. And He is faithful and true, and He will never leave me or forsake me. 

And so what started as a simple "taking stock" of my blessings in order to re-focus has left me tear streaked, humbled, and grateful beyond measure. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The World's Best Sweater

When I say "best sweater" you can just go ahead and read "coziest sweater" too. I wear it every other day I think. It is textured and soft and statement and snuggly and long and IT HAS POCKETS! And it's sooooo cozy! Wait, I think I said that already. I bought a long, open, gray cable knit cardigan sweater from express last year and it got so much use I thought I'd add another in this year. My mom bought it for me while we were out shopping for her dress for my brother's wedding, and the fact that it's from her, and combined with the fun memories from that day make it even more special to me. Add in the fact that it was 30 % off... Yes. Clearly the world's best sweater. 

Sweater: Cotton On (here
Jeans: AE
T-shirt: Target
Boots: AE 
Ring: Premiere Jewelry

This sweater has been wrapped around Jaden to keep him out of the wind as he snuggled his downy blonde head into me, it's been worn like a robe by Drew, who declared he wished he could have gotten one of these sweaters, it's been rubbed absent mindedly by Isaiah as he talks to me and runs his hand up and down my arm. It was worn to my brother's rehearsal dinner for his wedding, it was worn to run into pre-school through the rain to pick up Drew, it was worn at my dad's birthday dinner when we had a campfire outside, and a lingering smokey smell stayed for a few days afterward. It's been pounced on by my sister's kitty, who is currently living with my parents, and who's hunter instincts were overcome with excitement at the sight of another furry being in its vicinity... It's been worn to church, to stay home, to go out... In the few weeks this sweater has been mine it's seen a lot of lovely moments. :) 

I just looked, and it's on sale now for $30.00. ;) 

Drew's five year photos (and being present for our kids)

It's the first age that really sounds kind of shocking to me. I thought I'd always be the mama of babies, toddlers. And suddenly I have a five year old boy. He is not a toddler anymore. When I think about Drew my heart feels like it's flooding... The feeling rises, high and fast, til it can't be contained and the walls feel like they're bursting. My firstborn, my little man, my sweet Drew bear, he is always surprising me with who he is, with all there is to him.
We went to the football field to do his five year old photos. There's something to be said for when the passions of two people meet... I love taking pictures of my boys for each of their birthdays, it is definitely a passion for me. But I never want them to feel like it is just for me... I try to come up with ideas that they will enjoy, ways to make it special for them too. I knew Drew would love going to the highschool and going out on the big football field. And it was amazing how much fun we had together doing things we both love, me taking pictures, Drew exploring the track and bleachers and football field. When we were finished taking photos Drew said he wanted to take a walk around the track with me. So we held hands and walked the full circle together, talking and laughing, me savoring the feel of his little hand in mine. Then we went for ice cream together. It was so special getting to spend one on one time with him. 

Ending on that smile that I love so much... His real smile is the most joyful, heart warming thing ever. 

I need to be honest here... Parenting Drew was the most difficult it ever had been the past few months. He was just really at a place of testing the limits, pushing us on boundaries, and although defiance is a really strong word I'm not sure what other word to use for what was going on. I was at a loss. And it was happening in the midst of the busiest season of our lives thus far. I kept thinking "I don't have time for this right now..." And the Lord stepped in and totally convicted me of that attitude. Being a mom is not just some casual title I carry, a responsibility to keep them alive, fed, and meet their physical needs and call it a day. It is an assignment from heaven to steward their souls, to care for their hearts, and in tough seasons to guide them to Jesus to learn the right way to manage themselves.
My natural inclinations of how to correct his behavior were falling short in every way, only making things worse and not seeming to help at all. Shaun and I had lots of talks about what to do. I started reading a book called "Shepherding a Child's Heart." Now, I did not have time to start reading a book. I had deadlines, work to do, tangible things to accomplish. But every time I started to think like that I felt a gentle nudging in my spirit. Read. Spend time in the Word. Talk to the Lord. Invest. Even though it seems like madness to set aside time to do something that will not produce results I could look around and see right then, the fruit of that time spent with Jesus and trying to grow as a parent would be richer and worth more than anything else I could possibly accomplish in those moments on my own. 
Three things I got from the book so far that have made all the difference: 
-unholy anger has no place in parenting.
showing anger when dealing with wrong behaviors only muddies the waters of the true issues going on and teaches your child to be afraid of you, thereby creating an idol of the fear of man instead of the only healthy fear, which is a fear of the Lord. It distracts from the real issues and causes fractured parent-child relationships.
-I have authority in my child's life because God gave it to me, and it's purpose is to lead them into relationship with Him.
when Drew is disobedient, instead of letting it offend me and letting it push buttons of anger/irritation/frustration or taking it as a reflection on who I am, I need to instead think about how his behavior is affecting him in his relationship with God. Knowing this is what has helped take all the anger out of parenting for me. I don't need to take things personally and can instead focus on directing my kids to deal with things in heir hearts between them and God. 
-discipline is not setting aside your love for your child in order to correct them, it is actually a manifestation of your love for them.
when anger has no place in your interactions with your child during the consequences to their behavior it is much easier to see how discipline is born out of a heart of love. The Lord corrects those He loves, and a wise man values His corrections. 

One more thing I was convicted of while reading is this: do I want my kids to value things or people? Am I more upset by a ripped shirt or a hurt brother? What do I emphasize and value in my own life that my kids are silently learning to place value on as well? I always want t o value people most highly in my actions, thoughts and words. I don't know if what I just shared even makes sense, it is so deep and such a shift in my way of thinking and I tried to condense it down so much in this post. 
Basically, I went into this thing trying to figure out how I could "fix" Drew and realized (painfully at times) that there was a whole lot more that needed "fixing" in me. I am the only person I will ever have complete control over, and I want to always be willing to take a good look in the mirror and own up to my short-comings, knowing that through the power of Christ at work within me it is always possible to grow, to change, to learn, and to become more like Jesus. Praise the Lord, as I have walked this road to evaluate myself and ask myself hard questions in order to become the mom I was created to be, Drew's pushing and testing has all but stopped completely.

Drew has taught me so much about love. The way he loves me is incredible. The way he looks at me and gently touches my face and smiles at me, especially when I lay down with them at nap time, is something I will cherish forever. If I have Jaden in one arm and am trying to carry something else heavy too he always comes to help me. If Shaun and I are play wrestling Drew is my knight in shining armor. He always sticks up for me and comes to my rescue. He wants to be around me, wants to be held, wants my help, my attention, my love and my affection. He wants to tell me stories about tractors and pretend bear hunts and lego towers and airplanes... He longs to be loved and affirmed. And I will lay down my life to be the parent that I need to be for him. I never knew it was possible to want so badly for someone to know how much you love them. The love I have for my first born boy is insane. It goes beyond description, deeper than I can say. It is the love of a mother for a boy who changed her whole world, brought her face to face with herself, and inspired a journey to become all that she can be. For him. 

So what does all this have to do with being present in the moment? The only thing I can say is this: When something big is happening in your relationships that you value most highly, whether you "have time" or not, make time. We don't always get to choose where we are most needed. We just need to be aware of where we are most needed, and then respond accordingly. 
Be present for your kids. 
(This post is part of a 31 day series on being present in the moment)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One year ago today

This is how my day started out one year ago today:
With my two boys watching daddy leave for work.
 They played outside, I wrote this blog post, I put hollytone on my blueberry bushes to ensure that they would thrive the next year (Much to my dismay we didn't get a single berry this summer, and they look like they are dying now...) I straightened up the house, I snuggled my two boys, and at 1:00 p.m. I called Shaun to ask him if I should definitely take the castor oil like we had talked about... I took it, put my boys down for naps like usual, and by 5:00 p.m. things we rolling. 6:00 p.m. we were headed to the hospital, my water was breaking in the car, I was being admitted, and by 9:29 p.m. our beautiful blonde haired, tiniest baby yet Jaden Saylor was here in my arms. The happiest day, the most beautiful labor experience, the sweetest new life. Oh the newborn smell, how I miss it already.

 Life went from two boys snuggling on the sofa to three overnight.
 And that tiny little baby is now a solid, squishy 25 lb boy who says mama, and buh bye, and gives kisses and makes car noises. Who crawls around and opens every cabinet and curiously tastes everything. Who picks up his food ever so precisely between his forefinger and thumb, and opens his mouth like a baby bird when we spoon feed him, who sleeps on his belly with his arms up by his head, or tucked under his face so snuggly. Who is right now as I type filling up my whole lap, eyelashes resting peacefully on his cheeks, holding onto me as he nurses to sleep. His blonde hair is fluffier than ever, he recently discovered his tiny belly button, his knuckle dimples are daintier and more adorable all the time. He is the most content and easiest going baby we've had yet, although he sure is starting to have his own little opinions on what he wants and hates to have things taken away from him.
Jaden, a year ago I didn't know you at all yet. Today I can't remember life without you. Your daddy and I hold you together and kiss your soft cheeks and marvel at your sweetness all the time. We are so smitten with you. Our hearts are filled up to the top with our adoration and deep, deep love for you. Thank you Jesus for Jaden Saylor, our third little man. Happy first birthday baby boy! You hold your mamas heart in those chubby little fists of yours.  

Monday, October 20, 2014


If there's one thing that writing about being present in the moment is encouraging me to do, it's to actually be present in the moment. I am working through some deep things in my heart, and in order to fully understand them, learn from what's going on, and move forward, I need to spend some time with Jesus today. It is in the moment that you hear His voice. Right here, right now is where He is longing to break in and speak to you. I am not going to wait another second to press into that.