second try

Friday, September 23, 2011

Rest, Rythym and Routine

I love how relaxing following my new pre-school and fall schedule has been for me. I learned flexibility when I was pregnant with Eden; now more than ever I am getting to walk out what I learned. I think the key to being able to enjoy both the days when all of our plans work out and the days when almost nothing does is just being able to say, "It is well with my soul." If we can learn to appreciate the achievements of the day no matter how slight they might seem, and the disappointing for what we can learn and the good character we can choose to develop, we are well on our way to operating in peace and and always having a successful day. After all, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter if we cook from scratch or get take out that day, or whether our little one decides they don't like the alphabet anymore. It matters if there was love in how we went about our relationships. I have had success and failure in the love department this week but am so at peace with where I am and the fact that I won't stay put, but God is moving me forward. I am learning to function in rest, and in rest I can better love for love is not in a hurry or impatient, or unkind. It never fails.

Matthew 11:29

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

In the last year I gave up trying to accomplish the many things I have to do. Instead, I decided to simply do what I can and call it a night when it's time. In the process I have learned that I can accomplish more from a place of rest. Instead of doing the usual wake up at the crack of dawn and just work until I dropped into bed, I began to rest more when the kids went to bed. The awake kind of rest, not the sleeping kind of rest. And I felt so much better for it. 

Now that I have once again been starting my days at the very first with my favorite four books and prayer, I am so much better prepared to start my day with peace and love than struggling to find it in the midst of busyness and toddler energy. The best thing any of us moms can do for our kids is to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Jesus. I am coming back to that place of undivided focus. His presence is what enables me to love my kids, my husband and the others around me.

I am finding that the new routine I created is amazing for us. Just having it there to fall back on is a great feeling. So I had to run a lot of errands today? Ok, well this is what we will be doing tomorrow. No brain power required, as it is already on paper. Don't know what to make for lunch? My list makes it easy! An unexpected plus to this schedule is finding so much rest in getting more disciplined in ministering to the needs of my growing girls and our family at this time. Already I am seeing improvements in Eden. She is so worth a little extra structure and order in my life! This afternoon I actually let her watch a movie even though right now I only want that once a week. But I had a slow start... So there she was, and a little ways into it she wanted to turn it off and come cook with me. In fact, she cooked the entire meal with me: oven roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and tabbouleh salad. She picked out the salad recipe while I was rinsing the chicken in the sink. And we did subtraction as she handed me each potato to peel. She is a little sponge enjoying soaking up all the new brain stimulation we are giving her. Both of my girls are loving their new children's poetry books and asking to read them more often than just in our morning reading times. I am so happy that they love our lives right now, and they are doing so well. I am equally as happy that in the midst of all of this I am in rest, rythym and routine. Surely God gives us grace for what is required of him. We only need draw near and hear his heartbeat to receive of it.

Busyness means activity which produces nothing, or lively but meaningless activity. I used to be busy and I quit. Thank God! My hands are full of blessings, my time rich with that which is eternally and presently productive. I have much less problem saying no right now. I am saying yes to God, to cooking, to husband and children and those around me. I keep our animals fed. Everything else is not priority. Not even sweeping the floor (which I did just do) or having a spotless kitchen (which is always my goal in the midst of messing it up three times a day.) Being productive is better than busy. Productivity often happens at a slower pace than busyness. And I wouldn't have it any other way, as I thank God for his rest.

Hebrews 4:10

10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[a] just as God did from his.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Masterpieces

When Eden was 18 months and Iris was 6 months in the belly, I met a second generation artist who was successfully creating art pieces, and thriving at it. She did metal sculptures, big pieces, and had a huge workshop any artist would love to create in. However, as a young girl, she always knew that her mom resented the children she had birthed and the time they took away from her work. She never wanted to make her kids feel that way. So when she had hers, she ended up dropping her art. For years. And it sat and sat. She once told her mom, who didn't understand why she wasn't putting everything in to becoming the "successful" artist she had the talent to become, that she was working on her biggest masterpieces ever, and if she messed those up, she lost everything.

Last night, as I went to bed, I was pondering her words. I am surrounded by things I simply can not find the time to create. Passions I have chosen not to pursue right now because they have been dwarfed by passions that run with tiny feet and laugh with adorable baby chuckles. Not creating for me is a slow and painful death. I feel alive when I create, even if it is as simple as planting vegetable seeds. Yet from scripture I know that death for the purposes of God is the gateway to resurrection life. I am still trying to carve out a place, a space to create in, even if only sometimes- just for me. I have absolutely given up on developing photography any further at this point. It was a nice idea, a life long idea. And I love taking photos. But I have not even had time to take photos of my own kids much this year.

Some people eat out a lot. Some people buy boxes at the store and in five minutes feed their family out of it. That lifestyle is rarely mine, and that is how I prefer it. I know too much about nutrition (though I still have much to learn!) to get away with that. After all, I am creating human lives here. I better give them the building blocks they need to have healthy brains and properly functioning, healthy bodies. If I had no access to quality food I would just pray and trust God with the whole thing. But I do. I know that processed food is bad, so why give it to my family and expect God to give them amazing health? If I was ignorant, I could do that. But I know better, and God has entrusted them to me. I am building my family, one bite at a time. And they are worth it. And I enjoy cooking. And so I invest my time into their future, and their health.

As far as child care? Sure, there is a lot I could do if I had child care even one day a week. What a nice idea. But how could I justify child care (which we can not afford, period) when my husband and I have only had three "real" childless dates in a year and a half. I can not neglect my husband in order to pursue my artistic passions. I would much rather have a real date with my husband than paint. We are building a life long marriage, and that takes effort and creativity too. Not to mention, it is eternally significant.

And then there is pre-school. There is nothing that I would rather be doing with my three year old right now than creatively going after her education and learning. She loves it. She needs it. And both of my girls need me. Our new baby needs me, and will need a lot of me when he/she is born around the beginning of the year. And I will eat it up. I can't wait to take care of my little newborn, and watch them grow up just like we are watching Eden and Iris.

My masterpieces are not on canvas right now. One is tall, and we are learning how to make a beautiful marriage. One is three feet, and soaking up the love and learning. One is around two feet and is just delighting in me delighting in her. And one is maybe a foot, safely inside my belly, bouncing and jumping and working his/her little baby legs. These are all my treasures. I will not bring my paintings or photographs to heaven with me, but  if I succeed in helping these get there at their times then I know I was a successful artist.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthdays and Babies- Minimize Stress and Get Creative!

Anyone can create a birthday party for their little ones that they love and it doesn't have to cost much, or anything at all, if you are willing to be creative. A friend mentioned the other day how it seems almost every child these days has a character themed party. While characters have their place, and by the way their napkins, cups and plates are expensive, they don't have to be around to have an amazing, small sized bash. Following are some tips to keep get your creative juices flowing and suggestions on minimizing the stress that can accompany planning and organizing a party.


Small Guest List: My firstborn's birthday party was huge. It was fun, it was beautiful, but it was also tiring. We enjoyed seeing lots of friends, but on a day to celebrate her, I don't think she would have minded if anyone was there or not! Since then we have scaled way back for adult and children's birthdays. If you have lots of friends with children, invite the ones your child plays with most often, or the families with a child the same age.  It is a lot different feeling if you are running late on food preparation with 30 people waiting than having your best friend over who you know will understand and will not mind helping at all. Smaller parties can definitely cut cost and stress.

The Cake

To Bake or Buy: From experience, I would say a birthday is not the time to experiment with new cake recipes, but if you choose to bake something you have enjoyed before it will be hard to go wrong! Sometimes when time is an issue you can save yourself some stress by simply ordering a cake. Although you might be compromising on ingredients, it is only once a year, so who cares. And, you want to enjoy the process of your little one's birthday! Baking your own can definitely save money. If you are artistic even in the slightest you can also decorate it as you desire, but if it tastes good and their is love in your family, you child will have a great day no matter what it looks like.

Soaked German Chocolate Cake Recipe

It was Sunday morning. Everyone was up late the night before, and slept late, including me. But even so, I still got up before everyone, as usual. I had begun soaking* my favorite Original Baker's German Chocolate Cake recipe the night before as I had decided it was time to get around to modifying it into a more nutritious version. I was sincerely hoping my experimentation would work well and that the soaking I incorporated would work out. Since the house was still quiet, I decided to finish what came after the overnight soaking process. The results were a success! It was moist, yummy and cooked well. I served some mini cupcakes at a pot luck and made the traditional three layer as a treat for our family. Here is my adapted recipe:

(If you want to know why to soak, check out this great blog by Kimi Harris at, or this second blog  of hers about how soaking makes grains more digestible.)


Ingredients List:

4 ounces of sweet or semi sweet chocolate (I prefer semi-sweet for less white sugar content)
1/2 cup filtered water
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated (preferably from pastured chickens)
2 cups of white whole wheat pastry flour, freshly ground if possible (if using sprouted flour you can skip the soaking step)
1 teaspoon of baking soda (aluminum free)
1/4 teaspoon of unrefined Celtic sea salt
1 cup of virgin, unrefined coconut oil, softened (or substitute with butter)
2 cups of rapdura or succanat
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of raw buttermilk, or substitute raw whole milk with 1 tablespoon of added raw apple cider vinegar added (if using the milk make sure to let the vinegar stand for five minutes in the milk before adding. Raw kefir  also makes an excellent substitute)

Frosting Ingredients List:

4 egg yolks (preferably from pastured chickens)
12 ounces of raw, whole milk (you can start with 24 ounces and over gentle heat reduce it to 12 ounces, or substitute with one of these or a combination: raw cream, sour cream or whole milk yogurt starting with 12 ounces only and not using any reduction)
1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of rapadura or succanat (you can decrease the sweetener content if you like)
3/4 cups butter, softened (preferably from grass fed cows)
7 ounces of unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups of pecans, chopped

Directions for cakey yumminess:

Mix: flour, buttermilk and half of your coconut oil content. (1/2 cup) Mix well. Dough will be wet, nice and smooth but not sticking to the sides or your fingers. Leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.

The next day- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 9 inch round cake pans with coconut oil, or substitute with butter. Beat egg whites in bowl until stiff peaks form and set aside. Melt chocolate with the water on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when completely melted and set aside. Beat coconut oil and and rapadura until pretty fluffy, then blend in your sea salt and baking soda. Then drop in the egg yolks, one at a time, blending all the way. Next blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture, blending well and going slowly. Gently fold in the the egg whites by hand and pour into your three ready pans.

Bake: 350 degrees for 30 minutes**. Check with a knife to make sure they are done. Cool on racks for 15 minutes before removing them from pans to cool on rack. When completely cooled, fill the layers and top with frosting. don't worry about cracks as the frosting will hold it together.

**If making cupcakes, check at 20 minutes.

To Make Frosting-

Beat the milk and vanilla by hand over gentle heat. Add rapadura and butter, cooking until thickened. Stir constantly to avoid sticking. Remove from heat and then add in your pastured egg yolks, stirring until well blended. (If using regular egg yolks from the store add them into the milk and vanilla and stir on the heat.) Next, add your chopped pecans and coconut and gently mix.

Enjoy with a nice glad of raw, whole milk and some good company!

If you would like to try adpating your own favorite recipes to a more nourishing version, Lyndsay Edmonds of wrote an excellent, short blog on how to do just that!