Friday, August 21, 2015

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

Sorry for the delay, I'm sure you have all put your lives on hold today waiting for the big winner of For the Love to be announced!  But I have been so busy celebrating commemorating the last day of summer with my kids that I just haven't had time to deal with such things.  So without further ado, I give you the winner....

CONGRATS to Crystal Kirby!!!  You are the Winner winner chicken dinner!!!  Now do a happy dance.  And prepare yourself to be introduced to a whole new vocab, Jen Hatmaker style.

Oh, and my fave grade school teacher was Mrs. Meyer, my kindergarten teacher, because smelly markers.  Need I say more?!?!?

By the way, isn't my assistant the cutest?!?!  She is 4, going on 16, so that's fun.

Please note that you are all winners in God's eyes...just not in my contest.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love

Dear, dear friends, it has been oh, say, around 5ish months since I have last had enough silence in my life to type.  But alas, I find myself sitting in a quiet house, and decided to be productive via my computer.

To all the moms out there: this is a tough time of year for our emotions.  One minute we are crying tears of joy that school will be starting very, very soon.  And the next minute we are crying because we have a little who is starting Kindergarten.  And that is just too presh for words.  I find myself doing just that these days...dancing my happy dance in the morning when they are all fighting and I get to tear one more chain off of our back-to-school paper chain, and then by bedtime I am cuddling the one I will be sending off to the scary world of big kid school for the first time next Monday.  Why God created us with the ability to feel such a range of emotions in one day hour minute, is beyond me.

Anyway, in honor of the kiddos getting ready to take flight, but mostly in honor of all the FREE TIME us moms will have to read and think and just do whatever man(can I get an AMEN!?!), I am doing a little give-away.  Please keep in mind that last time I did a give-away I ended up buying a book for anybody that commented.  That ain't happenin this time.  I'm just sayin.  It's a one-book deal this time, and it's once again from my favorite author, Jen Hatmaker.  She just gets it, ya know!?!?!  This book was just released today.  TODAY!!  I already glued myself to my computer and read the digital download, and now I need glasses, but whatevs, it was totally worth it.  This book is pretty much chucked full of good stuff.

So here's the deal.  In honor of school starting, and in keeping with the title of the book, For the Love, all you need to do to enter to win is comment either on here or on the FB link to my post about your favorite grade school teacher and what made them the best.  I will be selecting the winner on Friday, so make sure you enter before that.

Now I am off to cuddle my Kindergarten cutie, so that tomorrow I do my happy dance at the zoo with my crew.

Please note that this post does not in any way, shape, or form indicate that I will be posting regularly again.  I plan to fill my free time while the kids are at school with, oh wait, I still have one at home...nevermind...carry on then.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015


I'm not even sure how to begin this post.

God speaks to us in all in so many different ways...through song, through nature, through words, through others, through the Bible, and through his Spirit.

I guess that's where I start with this one...hearing God's word through His Spirit in the middle of the night almost 2 months ago.

And I've been sitting with this message since.  I kept thinking that perhaps God was just kidding about having me post this message.  And then I went to Coffee Break and started studying James.

Ever read it?

It's, um, not for the faint of heart.  Think about everything you have ever said, thought, or done, and you will get called out on all such things in this book of the Bible.

Be slow to speak, quick to listen.  Do not judge.  Submit yourselves to God.  Be wise.  Tame your tongue.  If you have faith, you must have deeds.  Get it?  It's tough stuff that pushes deep.  I believe it was while I was studying lesson 4, the one on taming the tongue, that I really felt the words in James were reiterating what the Spirit woke me up to say to me on February 2.

Stop casting stones.

Um, excuse me?  It's 2am, not really the time Lord.

Stop casting stones.

No really, God, I think this can wait until a humane hour of the day.  I need sleep, thanks.

Stop casting stones.

Apparently it couldn't wait.

Do me a favor, dear reader.  Go and find a rock.  It can be big, small, round, jagged, smooth, rough...I don't really care, just go find one.

For real.

I'm not moving on until you do, so go.

Like right now.

I'm waiting.

Ok fine, I'm moving on, whether you have the rock or not.

Now, hold that rock in one hand while you read the rest.

Ladies, this is what I need to tell you today: We must stop throwing rocks at each other.   Oh no, not in the physical sense, but we hurl rocks at one another multiple times each day.

"She's a terrible mom because she lets her kids play 2 hours of video games each day."

"She has gained so much weight after having 4 kids.  She really needs to go on a diet."

"I shouldn't be telling you this, but I hear that Betsy had an affair with Bob.  I would never do that"

"Did you see how naughty their kids were in church and they are adding another one to their family?  They are completely crazy, no matter what God is leading them to.  They need to be done."

"Her outfit makes her look terrible.  Somebody should tell her that leggings are not pants."

"Did you see the way that she lost her temper and yelled at her kids?"


After stone.

After stone.

We hurl them at one another without giving much thought to what that rock is doing to the one we are throwing it at.

This is what God has challenged me to think about: Every single time I use my words to tear another person down, I am throwing a rock at that person.  And hurting them.

We do this, and if you think you don't, well, you do.  We all do it.  It's satan's way to unleash a beast and destroy relationships.

James 3:2-12 says, "We all stumble in many ways.  If anyone is never at fault in what she says, she is a perfect person, able to keep her whole body in check...the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts...the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of her life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell...With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse women, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My sisters this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My sisters, can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

I am made in God's likeness.

You are made in God's likeness.

She, the one I throw stones at, is made in God's likeness.

So friend, lay that stone down that you have in your hand...and stop throwing them.

Please note that I in no way, shape, or form have been able to leave all my stones left unthrown..but I am sure giving it my best shot.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Um, yes, I look a bit tired.  But WHO CARES!?!?!
It's not very often that I find myself speechless.  This will come as no surprise to many of you.  I am a lot like my dad in the sense that I'm pretty sure people want to hear me talk about anything and everything.  However, last weekend I found myself in the presence of my BFF, Jen Hatmaker, and I found myself a bit speechless.  Star-struck if you will.  I wish I would have just remained speechless, but instead I rambled on nervously about how my friends think I stalk her, and on and on and on.  Just stop talking my head is telling my mouth, but I can't.  I'm already in too deep and she is already thinking I am beyond psycho and worth filing a restraining order on.

But then.

She stood up in front of 2,000 women, and spoke the words God gave her.  And I could hear God telling me that she, although quite amazing and cool, is simply doing what He has called her to.  She doesn't demand fame or fortune, nor does she live a lavish life.  She is just following hard after Him.  And all the sudden she went from becoming my invisible BFF who I truly do stalk, to a human walking down a narrow path in a broken world, who said yes to God, the same as I could....IF only I would.

How do I explain this IF:Gathering I attended last weekend with 2,000 other women locally, and hundreds of thousands of other women electronically from all over the globe?  It's hard to do at best.

Women of Faith on steroids?  Perhaps that is accurate.

Beyond anything I have ever attended?  You could say that.

God-inspired?  Definitely.

Full of the Holy Spirit?  Yes, He was there.

Moving and inspirational?  Quite.

Challenging and life changing?  Certainly.

Ready for our 6:30 flight out of Des Moines.
Austin, TX, here we come!

Last October my man surprised me on our anniversary with tickets to this sold-out event, airline tickets, and hotel reservations.  Be still my ever loving heart.  This man is a keeper.  To top things off, my partner in crime for this event was arranged to be none other than my mom.  Hear me when I say, I was weeping like a little girl in Bravo after opening such a fab gift.  What a rarity to get to take a trip without my littles, and just my mom.  Bless my man for making it happen.

The minute the event started on Friday afternoon we knew there was something happening at this Gathering.  Something big.  God's spirit was there among us, and it left us sitting on the edge our seats in eager anticipation of what was yet to come.

We sang amazing songs, such as Break Every ChainGood Good FatherOceansEven So ComeSovereign Over Us, and more.  Listen to them.  They are good, and will move you, even while you sit at your computer and pretend to read my blog.  And go ahead and sing along with them, God will be pleased with your worship, even if you're in your jammies with your hair in a messy tail and no make-up on.  God still loves you woman.

Speaker after speaker blew us away with what they spoke based on the topic of FAITH, and to be honest, I would never be able to hold your attention long enough to lay out what each one said.  I'm just not that cool.  So, without further ado, here is my
Top 10 Take-away Quotes from my weekend:

1.  "Move from lives of sight to lives of faith" -Jennie Allen, session 1
Jen Hatmaker

2. "God is good.  You know it's true in the day, you find out if it's true in the night." -Jen Hatmaker, session 2

3.  "Surround yourself with those who will surround your bed on your last day." -Bob Goff, session 2

4.  "God is the Holy Here." -Ann Voskamp, session 2

Christine Caine
5.  "I am not the God of I was, I'm the God of I AM." -Christine Caine, session 3

6.  "Service is the key to destiny.  It means you trust God more than you trust your own marketing." -Christine Caine, session 3

7.  "Faithful does not equal fearless.  It means you have more faith than fear." -Christine Caine, session 3

8.  "Results are God's responsibility, response is ours." -Bianca Olthoff, session 4

9.  "Impossible situations are not intimidating to God." -Bianca Oltoff, session 4

10.  "God gives us the grace we need for right now.  Not tomorrow, not next week, right now." -Lynne Hybels, session 3

The theme of the whole event remains "IF God is real...THEN what?"  So I'm asking myself the same thing.  It's one of those scary questions that you maybe would rather not ask, because if you ask, you might will get an answer that takes you way, way, way out of your comfort zone.  And it is there that you realize you need to have faith in a God that you cannot see, so you can accomplish a purpose that is impossible on your own.

IF you dare ask yourself what your life should really look like if God is real, then take comfort in this verse as you move forward, because trust me, you will need something to cling to when God calls you to do something crazy...
I am before all things, and in Me all things hold together.
-Colossians 1:17

Please note that my feelings were only a little hurt when Jen Hatmaker didn't address me by name when I met her.  It's hurtful when your BFF doesn't acknowledge you in public, but I'm over it.  

Um, this cutest little necklace
was our ticket to the event...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

the boy

On July 23, 2004 I was given a promotion.  One that I had been expecting for awhile, but as with all promotions, the timing has to be just right, and everything needs to line up in order for it to happen.  The thing about getting a promotion is that there is so much unknown... you are walking unchartered territory, you are expected to work harder and much longer to earn the title you were just given, and others begin to look at you in a different way.

My promotion gave me a title that I knew I would keep the rest of my life: Mom.

This sweet little pudgy boy entered my life...just one week past his due date.

I almost died.  I mean, not literally of course, modern medicine would hardly allow for that, but seriously, I almost died.

The funny thing about having a baby boy is that almost immediately people check out the size of his hands, or his feet and then comment on how he is going to be a great basketball player someday or how he has the perfect start to be an outstanding football player and he is destined to play baseball because just look at him, he's a boy.

So you buy balls. balls...basketballs...baseballs...all of them in toddler size...collegiate size...professional size...because, well, he's a boy.  And boys play sports.

Then at 4 months old you start dressing your boy up in football jersey's and dream that someday, maybe 18 years down the road, after a lot of practice, your son might be wearing that jersey for real.

Here's the thing though, and you might want to sit down for this, not all boys have a passion for sports.

I know.  I will give that one a minute to process.

My boy is one of them.

Again, I will give you a minute.

Now don't get me wrong, the kid loves the rush he gets from flying down a mountain at top speeds on his snowboard, all while I sit at the top of the run crying and figuring out how to get down without breaking my old lady hip.  And he will shoot hoops or throw the football around a little bit.  But his eyes do not twinkle when he has a ball in his hand.

Our son turned 10 this past summer, and I have learned so much over the past decade about what our culture values, what is acceptable boy behavior, and how we, as a society, make our children feel like they have worth.

***I feel like I need a disclaimer here...please do not hear what I am not saying.  If your child has a passion for sports, is thriving in them, feels valuable and accomplished because of what they do, I think that's great.  I get it.  And this post is not meant to belittle that at all.***

Moving on.

Since the time Holden was a baby it has been my prayer that he would be a boy/man after God's own heart.  That God would grant him wisdom. (Sort of like King David, minus the affairs and what-not.) And part of what comes when you pray a prayer like that for your son is that if he is following hard after God, he may not be running hard after the things that his mom or his uncle or his grandpa or his peers or society feels are worthy.

A few months ago we were sitting in a doctors office and when the doctor came in he asked Holden what he liked to do, to which Holden just sort of shrugged his shoulders.  The doctor pried a little more and asked him if he like to play sports.  Nope.  Then asked if he was a big gamer.  Nope.  He went on and finally said, "Then what is it man?  What do you do for fun?"  To which Holden replied, with a sheepish shrug of his shoulder, "I like to work."

There is no doubt that this child of mine lives to work.  He feels validated, important, and fulfilled when he has a job to do.  Perhaps much the same way your child feels after hitting a home run or  making three pointers for his team.

I think so often we try to make our kids fit into a mold that our culture has produced.  Rather than seeing our kids for who God created them to be, each with unique gifts and talents, we assume they will participate in a particular sport or activity, because "I played it when I was in school and loved it."

I love in Ephisians 2:10(NLT) where it says, "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."  And the really neat thing about all of this is seeing how different and unique God made each of us, and how it all works together for His good.

A few years ago I had to come to terms with reality...I am not a good decorator; I do not love to clean; I can lead praise team at church, but you will never hear a song of mine on the radio; I don't have the desire to run a marathon; my cookies never turn out how they are supposed to; and crafting feels like a form of torture to me.  God obviously did not gift me in these areas.  And I have wasted so much time comparing myself to others, and pondering what I am not, that for a long time I missed out on some of the good things that God planned long ago for me to do.


I'm not sure if it's just a North America thing, or a Pella, Iowa thing or if it's that way all over the world.  But I feel like there is so much pressure to always act perfect, look put together, have children that are quiet and well behaved, maintain your figure even after bringing 4 children into the world, bake gourmet treats that are only found and successful on Pinterest and the list goes on.  And quite frankly, I have had enough.  I have tried to add more flour and less butter to my cookies, but the truth is, baking just really not my gift or passion.

I have come to realize that no matter how hard I try, no matter how much time, money and effort I put into it, there are certain things that God simply did not create me to do.  So take a minute and examine your gifts, and consider what it is that God created you specifically to do.

And go do it.

Please note that I took bit of a break from the world of blogging(3 months to be exact) so that I could survive the holidays.  Mission accomplished.  And now I'm back.  Pretty sure the only one that even noticed my hiatus was my mom, but that's cool.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cleanse: The Review

Well, I am now on day two post-cleanse and I am still trying to completely form my thoughts and opinion of my cleanse.  On one hand, it's nice to not have to start my day off with some pills and my "fiber smoothie."  On the other hand, since my ban on certain foods has been lifted, I am more tempted to just start my day off with a bowl full of sugar(i.e. cereal) and load up from there.

Over the past two weeks I have traded Mt. Dew for a Spark drink, chips for carrot sticks, candy for almonds, guacamole for mayo and pizza for salad after salad after salad...

So here is the good, the bad and the ugly regarding my 10-day cleanse.

The Good

My man and I took our kids to Des Moines last Friday night.  At first I was a bit concerned about where I would find something at a restaurant that I could eat.  After about 36 seconds of research I decided that Panera was going to be my best option, and the kids love it, so it was a win-win.  I ordered a salad that I had found on their website that wasn't on the menu.  Hello high maintenance.  Instead of the salad I ordered, they brought me their Power Chicken Hummus Bowl.  I wasn't super excited about the hummus, since I think hummus resembles baby poo, but with 4 hungry kids, an empty stomach of my own, and a desire to please, I thought I would give it a shot.  I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of this salad!  I'm not sure it looks so appetizing in the picture I took, but it was good, and I would recommend it!  So one good thing that came out of this cleanse is that I tried something new, and liked it.

Perk number 2 from my cleanse is the amount of extra energy I have!  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not out running a marathon or anything, I don't have THAT much extra energy.  But instead of getting in a sugar-slump midday, I find myself perky-ish and my mind is clear(er).  Let's be real here, I still have 4 kids that drain me physically, mentally. and emotionally, but I am shocked at how alert I feel.  I feel almost human again.
And then remember how I wrote about that fabulous adult acne I was experiencing?  It's pretty much gone.  No more Greasy Gracie here.  I am now Glowing Gladys.

On day number 3 when I wanted to quit, and on day number 4 when I wanted was tempted to eat all of the halloween candy rather than hand it out to the kids, and then on day 5 when I wanted a Mt. Dew so bad I could taste it, and day number 6 when I had to resist a Starbuck's White Chocolate Mocha, and day number 7 when I wanted to order pizza, and day number 8 when I made scotcharoos and wanted to lick the frosting bowl out, and on days number 8, 9 & 10 when I just wanted to call it quits, my mom had my back.  And that was good.

The Bad

One of the major draw-backs of doing a cleanse is that I was not always able to eat what my family was eating.  For example, Cheeseburgers were on the menu one night, but instead of having a hamburger with cheese, mayo, ketchup, and a bun, I had a plain burger with guacamole on it.  I mean, it was good and all, but there is just something about a hamburger that requires all the fixins.  Sort of like...
Love and Marriage, love and marriage, 
go together like a horse and carriage.  
This I tell you brother, 
you can't have one without the other.
Try, try, try to separate's an illusion

Another thing that falls into the "bad" category is my inability to eat what I want, where I want, when I want.  I took the girls thru the drive-thru at McDonald's for lunch one day because I am just that dumb, and had to plug my nose so I could resist the temptation of the fries.  I mean, come on, THE FRENCH FRIES PEOPLE!  I had been gnawing on raw spinach salads for exactly 9 days when this beautiful box of uneaten fries was left on my table.  Be still my heart.  I am happy to say that I was able to place them in the trash, uneaten, without cheating.  And honestly, the only thing that kept me from completely inhaling them was the fact that they were cold by the time I spotted them.  And cold fries aren't quite as tempting as hot, greasy, salty fries.  Mmmm.

The Ugly

Here are a few of the sweet things I wanted to eat so bad that I turned ugly when I couldn't...

Raw chocolate chip muffin mix.
By the spoonful if I could.

Scotcharoos.  Yum.

Halloween Candy.
Dying here.

Overall I am very glad I did the cleanse, and since I am scared to death of the repercussions that come with eating "real" food after doing a cleanse, I am still avoiding sugar and all greasy foods.  Which means that my life is still boring.  No pop.  No candy.  No raw cookie dough out of my freezer....yet.

Please note that this cleanse has in no way, shape or form made me better than you.  It just made me full of a few less toxins than you, whatever that means.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Alright.  If you read my post on Monday you know that my mom and I started a 10 day cleanse on Monday.  To be honest, Monday just was not a good day from the get-go.  We were about 10 minutes late getting out the door, which meant I didn't have time for breakfast, other than the fiber drink I think so highly of {insert sarcasm}.  The whole day just felt wonky, including the foreign mostly sugar-free food I was putting into my body.

I am happy to report that yesterday was much better, as is today!  Here is a recap of my last 36 hours...

Yesterday I started my day off on a better foot, found 36 seconds to make and eat breakfast instead of the standard 23, which meant I had time to make an egg, peel a banana, and mix my fiber drink in the blender with ice so it was more of a smoothie per say and less of a glorified cup of Pepto Bismol.

Then I was off to Des Moines for a shopping day with my mom (and no kids!!!  YAAAAAYYYY!!!) My mom is so sweet, she made me a pumpkin flavored smoothie to drink on the way since she knows I like pumpkin pie so much.  Aren't mom's the best!?!?  So we enjoyed a energy-packed drink on our drive, which totally got us off on the right foot.

We did a little shopping, and ended up at Whole Foods right before lunch.  Who knew that there were enough people trying to be healthy in this world that they require their own somewhat over-priced grocery store.  Well, my man knew I guess.

Since we were both feeling a little hangry (that's when your lack of food causes you to become both hungry and angry, frustrated, or both.  Look it up, it's in the Urban Dictionary.  For reals.) we decided to grab lunch there.  Anyway, Whole Foods has this salad bar that is a-ma-zing.  3 different salad bars, with 2 sides each, 90% of which we could eat. Score.  This is what we ended up with: Detox Salad(obviously had to get this one), Quinoa, and a corn salad.
This is some version of quinoa on top, and a 
detox salad on the bottom.  I'm pretty sure you
will all want to get some next tine you are near 
a Whole Foods, so you are welcome for the info.

I'm not sure if it tasted heavenly because we were so hungry, or just because it was that good.  But it all totally hit the spot.  Even if we were sitting in my mom's truck in the mall parking lot eating it.  Classy.  You can do that when you don't have messy kiddos in the backseat.

                                                                                                 Again, the quinoa is on the left, and a corn radish salad is 
on the right.  See that cute cup by the quinoa?  
That is what my pumpkin smoothie was in.  Love.

Off to the mall, where, HELLO, things like this are taking shape:

Shenanigans!  I don't even have costumes for my kids to wear tomorrow night for beggars night, and already Christmas decor has taken over department stores.  I mean, Younker's was kind of pretty, but still!  The crazy reindeer was a bit overpriced in my opinion.

Mid afternoon Starbuck's started calling my name, but I held strong and mixed up a grape Spark drink instead.  Trust me when I say that it didn't quite taste the same as a white chocolate mocha, but it was ok.

It did refuel me for a few more hours, and I grabbed a handful of mixed nuts for a little shot of protein, and made it through the afternoon full of energy and happy to continue to shop.  Typically by mid-late afternoon I am done.  I have no energy left, I am crabby, and my legs hurt.  But between the 60 ounces of water I was chugging and these energy drinks, I was shopping on fresh legs all day.  Great news for my man.

One of our stops before dinner was to Nordstrom Rack and Home Goods, which both just opened up by Jordan Creek Town Center.  I walked out of Nordstrom Rack empty handed, but I did make a couple of purchases at Home Goods.

                                              This is what I wanted to buy:

 This is what I bought though:

They are pretty much incomparable.  Trust me friends when I say one is NOT a substitute for the other. 

Since I was about to cave, it was clearly time to eat again.  And again, my amazing mom pulled through with these salads for each of us, which was Organic Spring Mix lettuce with a hard-boiled egg and homemade salad dressing.  You can call her Becky Homecky.  The only thing that would have made this salad better would have been some of Momma Jane's homemade croutons.  But alas, this are on the naughty list for the next week.  Sigh.  

We ate these delish salads in the parking lot of Costco in an attempt to help us resist the aisle of samples, all of which are also on the naughty list this week.  Amazingly enough, we were both feeling energetic yet at this point, and conquered Costco like it was our job.

Here is a picture of my mom and I on our final stop of the night, Target.

We had such a great day, we both felt great all day, even after a 12 hour shopping day.  Now maybe I will need to do another spending fast after I get rid of all of my toxins.  I can only work on one thing at a time here, friends.

Please note that I am sorry if you're mom isn't as cool as my mom.  Mine can't be borrowed or rented out, so don't even try.