Monday, November 16, 2015

Sweet Potato Pie: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Every year around this time I reflect on the first Thanksgiving my husband and I had together as man and wife. I still get a chuckle just thinking about it. We come from two different cultures. Our cultures never really clashed until we were trying to figure out what pie we should have at Thanksgiving.

Click on the link for my Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
 and how it became a Thanksgiving tradition in our home.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Battle Scar Mixed With Tiger Strips

And from my heart.

I struggle with my body imagine. I am not sure if my struggle is normal. Most conversations I have
with women about body imagine revolves around losing weight. Yes, I do need to lose weight. Not a little weight either. Let's just say the love handles are easy to grab. The love handles are an issue along with the title of this blogpost.

Birthing children the natural way never came easy for me. I have had four cesarean sections. Across my lower abdomen is a scar. Each time I see that scar, I feel as though my body betrayed me in some way. That scar is not suppose to be there. One look at that scar will send a range of emotions.

I stand closer to the mirror only to see strips that resemble those of a tiger. I want to talk about my tiger strips. If other women have tiger strips, I want to hear about them. When I am having a heart to heart conversation with another woman, I hope she brings up the subject of stretch marks. Perhaps she is waiting for me to talk about it first.

Why the struggle?

I read an article online about how to look sexy for your husband. While reading it, there were some helpful tips. What was not helpful was the picture that came with the article. The woman was not nude or anything like that. She was just perfect.

Later that night my husband wanted to leave the lights on. No special reason. He just wanted to look at me. My mind reflected on the article I read earlier that day. I have never had a problem with him looking at me. I am happy my husband still wants to take a look at this ole gal.

Within minutes he could tell that something was wrong. It took a little time, but I finally opened up. I could not understand why the body that I felt betrayed me; left me with a scar and tiger strips could be so pleasing to his eye. At that moment, I was not comfortable in the skin that I was in. Not my caramel skin as he calls it. The skin that was warped from bearing children.

My husband told me that he was proud of my scar. That scar meant that I bore him children. He had never noticed the tiger strips until I had him take a closer look.

I found out in the midst of that conversation that when I speak negatively about my body, it hurts him. It hurts him because that is not how he sees me. He sees a scar. Not just any scar, but a battle scar. He asked me to start loving my body for just the way it is.
Cannon Beach, Oregon at a women's retreat
I am starting to love my body. The body that I thought once betrayed me was created by the Creator of heaven and earth. My Creator took time to form this body out of my husband's rib. Having a battle scar mixed with tiger strips is on the same body with the breast to satisfy my husband at all times and he is to be ravished always with my love. (Proverbs 5:19)

Loving yourself means loving your body as well. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Homemaker's Attitude

As you may know by now, homemaking takes time. Time can be your best friend or you view it as an enemy. However you see time, a few things are certain; time does not stop nor does it wait. It just keeps on ticking.

Too often in my younger years of homemaking, I thought time was an enemy. I would wake up early in the morning with my to-do list in hand ready to conquer the tasks that were before me. I would try to cut corners in order to save time.

Oh sisters, I must confess something to you. I despise cleaning toilets. How I wish I could tell you that there is a smile on my face as I scrub the toilet bowl. Not only is there not a smile on my face, there’s mumbling on my lips. As I stand scrubbing, I cannot help but to wonder how long I must stand there scrubbing. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing with my time. I need to check Facebook. After all, I want to see if there’s an update on my friend’s next door neighbor’s grandmother who was having surgery. Also, someone may share an idea on a short cut to cleaning toilets.

How I wish I could say that my attitude regarding homemaking is always a positive one. It is not.

Last week after scrubbing the toilets, my daughter commented on how clean our toilets were and how much she enjoyed that. My heart beat a little faster. The first thought that came to my mind was whether or not she heard the mumbles that I uttered from my heart.

At the time, my heart says there is more to life than scrubbing toilets.

Preparing meals for my family is something I can do all day. I love being in the kitchen. I have fond memories of time spent in the kitchen. While in the kitchen, my heart is filled with praise. My attitude is great because it’s something I enjoy doing.

How quickly my attitude can change at the dinner table when the meal that took hours to prepare is eaten within ten minutes. By the way, I do not recall hearing a “thank you” or “this is delicious”. All I hear are grunts and “mmm…” accompanied by a few burps.

My family does not realize that I missed what is trending on social media because I was too busy cooking a meal. Now I am out of the loop. Three hours have passed since that friend I have never met posted a picture of her husband taking her to a lovely new restaurant on opening night. She already has so many likes and comments on that photo. All I have is a kitchen table with dirty plates.

At the time, my heart says there is more to life than cooking meals for your family.

As for me, time is not necessarily the enemy. It is my heart and the things that dwell therein. The mouth speaks what my heart says. Once I recognized that there is an ongoing battle with homemaking versus my idols, I was able to put things into perspective.

Homemaking for me could not be confined to a certain time of the day. I admire those women who have a schedule and stick to it. My greatest success in homemaking came when I acknowledged that homemaking was a matter of the heart. If I truly believed that I am called to be a homemaker, it will show in my attitude. It will be easier for me to put away the idols that consume my time.

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” -Proverbs 31:27

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Changing of the Season

As I look through the lace curtains that cover the big sliding glass door, I can see the huge pile of wood that my husband will cut this weekend to help keep us warm during the months to come. Today is the official start of the Autumn season. I am almost prepared.

For the first time in my life, I visited an Amish community this Summer. I was one happy girl. It has always been my dream to visit such a community. That is one thing that I can cross off my bucket list. While there, I stocked up on spices for the Fall baking season.

What I wasn't prepared for was the mixed emotions that this season brought upon me. It hit me one day that this will be the last Autumn season that I will began a new homeschool year. Our youngest daughter is a Senior in highschool.

Although I long for time to stop just for a moment so that I can cherish my baby girl just a little longer; however, I know that is not possible. So, here I sit gazing out the window preparing my heart for the changing of the season while reminding myself to make the most of each moment.

I say to my heart...
"Be still. Fret not. The changing of the season will bring crisp cool air and dead leaves to the ground, but you, my heart, will stay warm and enjoy the abundant life promised from my Savior."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

The other morning I woke up to a cool crisp breeze coming through my window. I laid there in bed watching the blue sheer curtains move back and forth. It was such a calming sight.

That wasn't my first time waking up that morning. Previously, I was awakened by the sound of the alarm clock. The ringing sound is a signal that it's time to rise and shine and help my husband start his day. During the course of making him an omelet, he mentioned a craving for something with butterscotch.

Later that morning, I played around in the kitchen and made these amazing Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies.
Oven at 350 degrees

3/4 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 cup of flour (You can substitute 1/2 cup of wheat flour.)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup of butter (2 sticks, softened)
1 egg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup of butterscotch chips

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream both sugars and butter together.
Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended.
Add dry ingredients from the bowl that was set aside.
*When I add dry ingredients, I always fold and blend them by hand into the wet ingredients instead. My cookies always seem to come out better. Don't over mix.
Add oats. Fold and blend them in.
Add butterscotch chips by folding and blending.

Put cookie dough in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Take 2 Tbsp of cookie dough and make it into a round ball.
Place cookies on baking sheet. Slightly press down cookies.
Put the remaining cookie dough that's in the bowl inside the fridge for 10 minutes.
Bake cookies on the sheet for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes before putting them onto the wire rack to cool.

My husband was one happy man when he came home from work.

"She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."
~Proverbs 31:12

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Day Remembered

During a recent conversation I had with my oldest daughter, she shared with me that one of her greatest childhood memories happened when she was sitting in the back seat of our car. Her memory of that moment is so vivid in her mind. She remembered the big blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was the day she asked me to pray with her. She then asked me if I remembered.

I vaguely remember that day in the car. To me, each day was just an ordinary day of teaching and training my children. Little did I know that in the midst changing diapers, wiping noses and “playing school” as my children would say; those little ears were listening to me. I’m also certain on that day I had to remind myself that mothering my children was not in vain. Daily I had to remember that what I was doing had eternal significance and my children being little was only momentary.

As we continued to talk, she started to thank me for taking the time to pray with her that day. She even told me that I was a good mom. I wasn't sure how to receive those words. Wouldn't a good mom remember a day that was so life changing in her child's life?

It was then that a peace came over me. Whether I remember each moment in the lives of my children was not the matter at hand. What was important is being the mother that God has ordained me to be.

Too often we can be our worst critic when it comes to motherhood. We look at all the things that we perceive we are doing wrong that we lose focus on why we are doing them. Truly, if we understood that the One who called us to mother our children has so much grace, we would see ourselves differently. We would no longer feel defeated at the end of the day when our minds give us a play by play of everything that went wrong. Instead, we would see the goodness of the Lord who brought us through another day. After all, that ordinary day to you, may be an extraordinary life changing day to your child.

"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." Isaiah 54:13

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Gospel According to Sandra: Day After Superbowl

If I were given a trivia on the sport of American football, I would probably fail. You would not know that if you had seen my reactions during the Superbowl game yesterday. I cheered, hollered and hooted with the rest of the group as we watched men run around in tights chasing each other and a ball. I must make a confession, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the game more when the Seattle Seahawks were in possession of the football. If you watched the game, you would understand my disappointment due to the final results of the game. We all saw it. At first, I blamed Russell Wilson, the quarterback, until it dawned on me...
Russell Wilson did not make the decision that cost the Seahawks the Superbowl game. The decision was made by his coach. His coach who has authority over him. Inside I applauded that young man for honoring his coach. Mr. Wilson simply did something that we all have been faced with or will be faced with sometime during our life. To obey those in authority over us, even if the cost is great. I am certain for a brief moment the quarterback questioned the coaches decision in his mind, but without hesitation, he obeyed. He honored the man whom had authority over him.

"Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, 
because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account."
-Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)

By now you are probably saying this is another post about submitting. Well, yes, it is. I am not saying that you have to submit to everyone who has a title and abuses others in the name of that title. However, I am saying that submitting to those in authority over you is not a bad thing. Submitting to proper authority protects you. The situation between this quarterback and his coach is a great example. According to reports I read via the media outlets, the coach has taken blame for the call that resulted in the loss of the Super Bowl game. What a great coach/leader for taking the blame. What a great football player for doing what was asked of him.

Often times when being told to do something that we prefer not to do results in the battle of the wills. The will of our coach, boss, pastor, husband, ect. is meet with resistance when it does not fit in with our will. Let's face it, we all want to have things go our way. When things do not go our way, we know how to make others around us feel uncomforatable. All it takes is a little passive aggressive know how. After a while, we get what we want. Think about it, what husband would not give in to what his wife wants after she has withheld herself for a long period of time. We see it all the time on a sports team when the athlete plays halfheartedly because he/she is upset with the coach. Even within the church we have a tendency to not give as much as we can because we do not like what the pastor is doing.

"Football is a lot like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, 
hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority."
-Vince Lombardi

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I desire to pattern my life after His. If asked whether trying to live your life the way Jesus did was difficult, I would be the first to raise my hand while saying yes. Especially after I read the passage of Scripture found in Philippians.

"And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross."
-Philippians 2:8 (NIV)

One thing for sure, I am filled with joy knowing that I do not have to die a physical death to be obedient. I do, however, need and should die to my selfish ways. By doing that, I will continue pursuing my goal of living in harmony with those around me.

"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires 
that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but 
you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because 
you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with 
wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
-James 4:1-3 (NIV)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Set Apart

If you were to ask my teenage daughter to describe me in one sentence, she may tell you something like this:

My mother acts like a seventeen year old trapped in the body of a middle-aged woman who is a grandmother going through changes in a body that gravity has definitely taken a toll on.

Whew! That was a mouthful. So much of that mouthful was full of truth. I could go on and on about the body changes, but I don't want to embarrass my husband, my children, my friends, my leaders or other women who have the same thing(s) going on with their bodies who swore me to secrecy. ( lips are sealed.)

However, I must confess, the part about the seventeen year old really got me to thinking. I do have a tendency to "act" like a seventeen year old. After all, I can text faster than a speeding bullet. Just text me and you'll see how fast I will respond. I post selfies on Instagram. In fact, one photo had a semi-ducklip look to it because that's what teenage girls do right? Although the ducklip is not as cute as some would think. I tweet so much that my followers know what I'm doing or thinking at any given moment. I just had the urge to tweet that I am writing a new blogpost, but I didn't.

Am I trying to fit in with a group that is clearly out of my age range?

Why I still have the need fit in even at my age?

On January first of this year, I decided to step away from any and everything for 21 days that distracted me from living. Real living. The life I had once lived not long ago. The life that the older Titus 2 woman in church encouraged me to live. A life that is set apart.

During this time, I had no idea what was happening in the social media world. I was so worried that my Facebook friends would get offended if I missed their birthday. What would happen if I went three weeks without posting a status? I thought for sure the five women who always give me a star next to my tweet would surely unfollow me thinking I had jumped ship. 

They say that social media is not real life. I beg to differ. Yes, we can be anyone we want on social media. I can easily tell you that I wear a size 2 dress. I can even prove it with the help from the latest editing software. For me, social media mirrored my real life.

In real life I strive to make sure my friends are doing well. When I don't hear from someone I would call just to make sure everything was good between us. Being quick to apologize because I did not want to offend anyone. When you offend people, they reject you. Rejection is one of my greatest fears. My greatest fear was keeping me from living a set apart life. 

Living a set apart life requires you to live a different life. I received that revelation on day 8 of 21 days of consecration. Here's the revelation...

"Why are you trying to fit in when I have called you to stand out?"

I knew then that I strayed so far from the life that God had already laid out for me. No, I was partying like a rock star at the nearest nightclub. No, I did not leave my family to go and find myself. No, I did not go to the edge to see how far I could go without falling over. I did, however, started to wonder why I would strive so hard to fit in like a teenage girl in high school.

Being certain that I am not the only one whom God has called to live a life set apart, I want to encourage you to keep living that life. That life that requires you to act in such a manner that others will not understand you. That life that requires you to dress different. That life that requires you to talk different. That life that requires you to come under the mission of your husband and leaders. That life that requires you to be the center of the gossip circle. That life that requires you to sacrificially lay it down. After all, that is what Christ did. We are to emulate Him. He was in the midst of the crowd; at the same time, He set Himself apart. Do not be afraid to live a life set apart.

"So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed." -Luke 5:16