During the time that I have been down, I have tried to keep busy as I can. One of the ways that I do that is by making things.

I love to knit and crochet, and if you have read my blog for very long you know that my vision is to make knitted/crocheted gifts that have been saturated in prayer and then given to those for which I have prayed. In order to fund this gift-giving ministry, I make some projects to sell. Each item that I knit/crochet is done with quality materials, workmanship, and prayer. It is my hope that the recipient is not only comforted as they snuggle up with an afghan or cover up with a shawl, but their lives are also touched by prayer.

This week I realized that I should “beef up” what I offer for sale in my Etsy shop so I started practicing on some different types of items. Typically I have just listed afghans there, but I decided to try some different scarves and hats this week as well.

My kids get them because they are practice items and not up to the quality I want to sell.  Here are a few of the things I have made this week:

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I am planning to make some more of these types of items to put in the shop so that I can fund the gift-giving portion of my ministry. I will also do custom work, so if you are looking for a handmade gift for someone, or just something for yourself, feel free to ask!

If nothing else, doing something new this week has helped me keep my mind off of how I feel and onto something new and good!

Feel free to share this post with others and spread the word about this ministry that the Lord has me doing!

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A week ago today I had surgery. I expected I would be back at work by today. But I am not. Instead I find myself waiting impatiently for the time to pass so I can take another pain pill.

It sure seems like for me, illness and surgery are kind of like home plumbing projects – they never quite turn out the way you think they will at the start and there are detours along the way.

I didn’t anticipate that recovery would take longer than the weekend, much less longer than a week. I didn’t anticipate the emotional toll of spending a week in my recliner. I didn’t anticipate fighting depression as well as fighting to recover from surgery.

So as I sit here this morning, I am meditating on these words:

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (from Isaiah 40, Italics Mine)

I am holding on to these words today. He will give me strength in my weakness. He will renew my strength as I put my hope and trust in Him.

And that is all I need today.

That, and another pain pill. 🙂

I don’t have much to say today as I am still quite foggy as I recover from sinus surgery last week, but one thing I am very familiar with is the early morning hours. I have seen more of 2:30 a.m. in the last five days than I have since college and having babies. But there is one thing that has kept me calm and helped me get back to sleep in those moments of high pain, my all-time favorite album for calming me down, A Warm Shade of Ivory by Henry Mancini.Henry_Mancini-A_Warm_Shade_Of_Ivory-FrontalHenry_Mancini-A_Warm_Shade_Of_Ivory-Trasera

I have it on vinyl (or rather, my mother had it on vinyl and it is now mine), but I also purchased it on CD so that it is on my iPad and I have played it over and over these last few days. My favorite song is Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet and that was the processional in my wedding, but the first song on the album has become my “cue” to relax. So for those of you in a stress-filled Monday, take a cue from this, listen and relax.

I wouldn’t typically do this, but today I want to share with you the sermon my Senior Pastor preached on Sunday. I think it is worth listening to, probably more than once.

We live in a culture where the tendency is to be ruled by how we feel, rather than being ruled by what is true, and Doug addresses this issue beautifully. It was just another example of what the world says versus what the Kingdom says.

Take a listen to “Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings,” and then leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

The other day, our Pastor to Seniors was sitting in my office relaying a story to me about his wife who has been struggling with some pain issues recently and waiting for healing. He found her one night in bed crying and she told him that she had been thinking of the song, Make Me Willing. It was a song they both knew well, but one that was unknown to me. He then shared with me the words to the song.

Make me willing to wait patiently
for the answers I’ve prayed for so long.
Make me willing to listen to Thee
and to say “not my will, but Thine be done”.
Make me willing to thank Thee for tears
And for the heartaches that cause me to pray.
Will you make me a vessel the Master can use
Keep me willing the rest of my days.

My Father points the way to go
Then makes the way for me.
He tells me I must trust in Him
My faith will help me see.
The road may not be easy
The testing will be great
But then my Lord reminds me
That He will help me wait.

I know that he was sharing them as part of the story of his wife’s struggles, but the words hit a chord with me as well.

I have been waiting for years to see how God will bring to pass the calling He has placed on my life.

I have been waiting for years to be healed of the depression that I struggle with regularly.

I have been waiting for years to see the fullness of blessing promised to those who give to the Lord.

I have been waiting for months for relief from the sinus issues that are plaguing me.

And sometimes, in each of these situations, it is hard to wait, because I want to see results and relief now.

But the words to this song melted something within me.

Lord, make me willing to wait on You, however long it takes, whatever route it takes.

Make me willing.


(Song begins at 2:24.)

One of the hardest parts of completely changing your diet is breaking away from the “go-to” meals that you have been preparing for years.

  • Spaghetti and meat sauce
  • Mushroom steak
  • Any kind of meat put on a grill
  • Pizza
  • Tacos

These were just a few of the staples in our family menu. We always had the stuff on hand for them and could make them at any point in time.

So what happens when you decide that you are going to now eat a plant-based, whole foods diet?

All those “go-to” meals go down the drain, and you have to figure out what to cook.

When I made that switch about a year and a half ago, I spent hours researching recipes and trying various things. I still do sometimes just for fun because I love to cook. The difference now is I have that list of things that I can pull from quickly when deciding what’s for dinner.

And lucky for you, I am going to share some with you!

First of all, I have a list of cookbooks that I use and love (some of my favorite recipes in parentheses):

  • Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes; Black Bean, Zucchini & Olive Tacos; Cauliflower Pesto Soup; Kidney Bean & Butternut Jamba Stew; Pasta de los Angeles)
  • Veganomicon, Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero (Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits; Cauliflower and Mushroom Potpie with Black Olive Crust; Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup with Sauteed Shiitakes)
  • Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, Del Sroufe (Quinoa, Corn and Black Bean Salad; Tomato, Corn and Bean Salad)
  • Quick-Fix Vegan, Robin Robertson
  • Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, Robin Robertson

The last two are newer ones that I have gotten and I have a list of recipes I want to try, but haven’t gotten to them yet. I am particularly looking forward to the slow cooker recipes this fall and winter.

Then, I have created a Pinterest Board called Go-To Vegan Dishes. The only things on that board are things that I have tried and liked. I also have posted information there about substitutions for vegan cooking, because most recipes I find can be adapted to be vegan if I want them to be.

If you are considering an option like Meatless Mondays or even going all the way to a plant-based, whole foods diet, take a look at some of these tried and true recipes that I have posted and pick one to try for yourself. You will be surprised at how flavorful and delicious plant-based eating can be!

If you have questions about plant-based eating, feel free to ask. I don’t know it all, but I am learning more about it all the time.

The world says, “me.”

   The Kingdom says, “others.”

The world says, “take.”

   The Kingdom says, “give.”

The world says, “rule.”

   The Kingdom says, “serve.”

The world says, “run.”

   The Kingdom says, “rest.”

The world says, “entitled.”

   The Kingdom says, “grace.”

The world says, “hold on.”

   The Kingdom says, “let go.”

The world says, “hate.”

   The Kingdom says, “love.”

The world says, “fear.”

   The Kingdom says, “trust.”

The world says, “despair.”

   The Kingdom says, “hope.”

Friday night I got the opportunity to spend the evening running errands with just my daughter. It was great. We got to spend time with one another talking about life and just hanging out.

In the car on the way there and back, we were listening to music – as always. On the way home, Fifteen by Taylor Swift came on and I was suddenly overcome with the need to talk to Anne (again) about boys, sex, kissing, choices, and more.

We’ve talked before. She knows that I think it is a good idea to not date until after high school. But as we were listening to the song, I was thinking about all the girls (and boys) who at a very young age are already making decisions that are going to affect their lives forever.

So we talked. Or rather I talked. I told her more about my story with boys and why I think dating in high school isn’t worth the heartache. We talked about staying pure – even to the point of not holding hands or kissing a boy. We talked about consequences of not only sex, but of giving your heart to someone before you are mature enough to handle it. And I tried really hard to make sure that no matter what, she would always see that the lines of communication are open. She assured me that if and when she has questions, she’ll talk to me, and I hope that is true, especially in these upcoming teen years.

For some, conversations like this may come easy, but not for me. It makes me nervous. I don’t want to scare her. I don’t want to scar her. I don’t want to give her more information than she is ready for, but I don’t want to hold back and not help her understand these things BEFORE they come up in her social circles. To me, this is one of the trickiest parts of parenting.

I don’t want to make my kids feel like if they mess up they are breaking a law and I won’t love them anymore (in any area – not just sex), but I don’t want to approach it in such a nonchalant way that they don’t see that there are multiple reasons to choose abstinence.

And I definitely want them to hear me before they get to the place where the voices of their parents get drowned out by the voices of their peers and society.

So, as uncomfortable as it is to start the conversation, I dove in yet again.

And it was good. So good.

How do you keep the lines of communication open with your children when it comes to these hard topics?

Fifteen by Taylor Swift

You take a deep breath and you walk through the doors
It’s the morning of your very first day
And you say hi to your friends you ain’t seen in a while
Try and stay out of everybody’s way

It’s your freshman year and you’re gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
“You know, I haven’t seen you around before”

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
And when you’re fifteen feeling like there’s nothing to figure out
Well, count to ten, take it in
This is life before you know who you’re gonna be
Fifteen

You sit in class next to a redhead named Abigail
And soon enough you’re best friends
Laughing at the other girls who think they’re so cool
We’ll be outta here as soon as we can

And then you’re on your very first date and he’s got a car
And you’re feeling like flying
And you’re momma’s waiting up and you’re thinking he’s the one
And you’re dancing ’round your room when the night ends
When the night ends

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
When you’re fifteen and your first kiss
Makes your head spin ’round
But in your life you’ll do things greater than
Dating the boy on the football team
But I didn’t know it at fifteen

When all you wanted was to be wanted
Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now

Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday
But I realized some bigger dreams of mine
And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy
Who changed his mind and we both cried

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them
And when you’re fifteen, don’t forget to look before you fall
I’ve found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you’re supposed to be
I didn’t know who I was supposed to be at fifteen

Your very first day
Take a deep breath girl
Take a deep breath as you walk through the doors

I saw this and thought it was so hysterical and true that I thought I would share it with you all.

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It’s fall. Which means it is soup season. I love soup. The problem is, since changing over to a plant-based, whole foods diet, two of my favorite soups have been off the table:  Split Pea (with ham) and Ham and Bean. And I have missed them.

So last week I decided to go hunting and see if I could find some vegan alternatives that would give me the same flavor without having to add ham to the soup.

And I hit the jackpot!

Sunday, I tried this Vegan Split Pea Soup in the crock-pot. I even served it to my neighbors. It was great! The addition of liquid smoke gave it that meaty flavor without the meat, and the hearty vegetables were delicious.

Then Wednesday, I made this Vegan Country “Ham” and Beans, minus the seitan ham because I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like attempting to make any. I did it in the crock-pot instead of on the stove top, and I should have cooked it on high instead of low, because the beans didn’t get done and I ended up cooking it on high again Thursday for a few hours to get the beans done. At any rate, the kids and I ate it for dinner on Thursday and it was good. I added liquid smoke to it as well, to add that meaty taste. It was a little heavy on the sage, so I think next time I would cut that in half, and it needed more salt, so I would increase that.

So many people wonder how I can get by without meat, but these two soups are perfect examples of how our meals don’t have to center around meat to be tasty and healthy.

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This is a picture of my computer monitor at work.

Taped to it and just below it are some reminders.

  • My calling is sure. (A reminder to me when I start to feel discouraged. God has called me to pastoral ministry, and He will bring it about in His timing.)
  • He is not expecting me to be perfect – He is expecting me to be available. (From a Leading and Loving it online conference a couple of years ago. Helps with my perfectionism and over scheduling.)
  • Change me. (A prayer I am praying this year, because I want to be changed into the person that God wants me to be.)
  • Love is a deep desire to promote the well-being of others. Dan J. (My favorite definition of love.)
  • Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5 (A verse I pray often as I learn to follow Christ more and more.)
  • God-centered living is characterized by: Confidence in God; Dependence on God and His ability and provision; Life focused on God and His activity; Humbleness before God; Denying self; Seeking God’s perspective in every circumstance; Holy and Godly living. Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God. (Reminders to me of what it means to follow God wholeheartedly.)
  • 5 Statement Pledge of Faith: 1. God is who He says He is; 2. God can do what He says He can do; 3. I am who God says I am; 4. I can do all things through Christ; 5. God’s word is alive and active in me. I’M BELIEVING GOD! Beth Moore, Believing God (A reminder to me why I can and do choose to believe God.)

When I was growing up, I remember my mom having index cards in various places around the house with scripture on them. I guess this is my version of that. I think it is important to keep the important things in front of us, and for me, that means putting them down on paper and literally keeping it in front of me. I spend a huge portion of my day sitting at my desk looking at my computer screen. By putting these important reminders right there in front of me, it almost guarantees that I will see and read them at least once a day.

Are the notes pretty? Not necessarily. Three of them are ripped pieces of paper. Four of them are my scribbles. I have had to add tape to the back of the sticky-notes to keep them sticking to the monitor. But that isn’t the point. The point is to remind me of the things that the Lord has taught and continues to teach me.

These are the ones that are most important to my life right now. There have been others in the past and I am sure that there will be more in the future, but these are the reminders for now.

How do you keep the things you are learning in front of you?

 

Oh, the things you learn as a Daughter of the King, if only you listen.

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