Happy Go Stuckey


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What I Learned in January

Here are a few things I learned in January…

1. Moments of joy and moments of sadness can exist right alongside each other, almost in the same breath. December was rough. The month began with the sadness of losing another baby in miscarriage and most of December was a bit clouded by the strange mix of joy and pain we felt. I would have never have chosen to experience that kind of tragedy at Christmas. Would anyone? But God in His wisdom gave us the gift of reveling in bright moments throughout a time that would have been somewhat overshadowed by what we experienced. I have never been so happy to see the girls just being together and loving their little lives as I did in December. Our joy was not tainted by the sadness, but our true Hope was made more clear. More on this here. It has taken me this long, until late January to really see this truth at work in our lives, that whether chaos, frustration, or sadness is the order of the moment; joy, peace, and light are right there– we need only pay attention to them.

2. It is the quality of a respite, not necessarily the quantity that matters. January began bright and shining with books, coffee and the beach. Lance and I took a quick overnight trip to one of our favorite spots and spent hours talking, eating, reading and hopeful-dreaming about the new year. It was absolutely everything we needed. I considered the difference of a brief but peaceful time like that and one of say, our week long vacation to Disney last year. Much longer, much more activities and completely 100% magical, but not at ALL the same tranquil feeling as watching the waves dance in over the top of a really good book. Vacationing with toddlers is absolutely crazy/wonderful but rather less like a vacation and more like herding a pack of feral cats through Walmart on a Sunday afternoon. However, if we did not do one, we may not really appreciate the other. We may not appreciate moments like this– in the same way. I am truly thankful for both. It did cause me to realize that for me, when I’m seeking rest and refreshing, a latte and a book are a better use of that time than a busy grocery store and a long list.
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3. I learned how to make my own face cream. I know, how crunchy granola am I? Seriously though, I’ve been using the same yellow Vitamin E face cream that comes in a huge nondescript container from Sams Club for oh, maybe 10 years. As in, before I met my husband. It’s smooth, creamy and for about 7.00 you can moisturize your face for about 2-3 years. I’ve actually only bought it maybe three times in our relationship. Except that here’s the thing… bad, scary, hard-to-pronounce ingredients? It’s got them, it’s got them all. I’ve been slapping that stuff on my face for a DECADE. Of course I tried other things over the years with shorter ingredient lists and higher price tags, but they always underwhelmed me. Enter Pinterest. I noticed this blog on making homemade skin creams using shea butter and essential oils and thanks to our new relationship with Amazon Prime– lo and behold a container of shea butter *miraculously appeared on my doorstep within 48 hours so I could try it. I whipped the shea butter with a mixer until it was fluffy and then added the oils. I used Frankincense, Lavender and Melaleuca. and I will go a bit heavier on the Lavender next time. Otherwise it smells a bit too much like the gifts the Wise Men brought. The Frankincense is extremely beneficial for wrinkles and fine lines and the Melaleuca gently kills the bad and keeps the oily skin factor way down. The verdict: All in all, I really enjoy using it. When summer comes and it’s a bit more humid, I may choose to change the base to something less thick– but at the end of the day I love knowing what’s going on my skin. 
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Okay, your turn friend– what did YOU learn in January? I would really love to know.

I’m linking up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky to share what we learned, won’t you join us?


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Still being Sent

Being sent is almost always scary.

The Philippines, 1997. Barely fifteen years old, I spent three weeks sleeping under a mosquito net in an orphanage and praying God would move in me. Standing there with the others, still a child myself with sweat beading at my temples as I shifted from one birkenstock to the other. Wondering what to expect, I took a deep breath and waited. Sounds of voices only slightly different from my own rose in harmony as those beautiful caramel faces began to sing for us and I was instantly changed. 17 years later and I can still hear their voices singing in Tagalog, “Do Lord, Oh’ Do Lord” with more joy than I had ever seen. Langit. The word for Heaven. I went to share my faith with them, but I came home with a better understanding of it.

Wake Forest, NC. 2003. The moment my feet hit the brick walkway I knew I was home. Even the ice storm that kept us huddled inside and skating across the parking lot for a pizza was perfectly surreal. I came home from the visit breathless with surety and a six month plan to pack everything I owned into a U-Haul and get there by August. As I backed down the driveway at twenty-one, my parents waved their last little bird out of the nest and I headed for I-95 North. The little town with the Tea Room and the school at its’ center was home for nearly 8 years.

And then four years ago, God brought us here. Here to this house on this street full of trees. The way by which we came to be here was at times a bit winding and awkward. But we are here. We were sent and we are settled.

Settled. That word still catches me off guard after several years of unknowns. But settled is SO nice– when we can see God’s hand clearly in bringing us. And last night when we stood amongst family and friends and had the humbling honor of hearing them each pray for our family, our marriage, our ministry– and I could not stop praising Him.

For sending us again. Sending us to a town that gave us nothing but a line of question marks when we first knew our destination.

A town that used to be nothing to us– well, nothing but a Starbucks on I-20.

But no more. Bit by bit, yield by yield, God gave us a HOME. 

Our journey here several years ago began with question marks…

–but now we have only exclamation points of His faithfulness and care.

I hope I never forget what it felt like in that particular season– to be knee deep in unanswered prayers and wading through questions about tomorrow.

I pray God always reminds me of the past when I am uncertain of the future.

When God hands us the manna of today– just today– and it may look uncertain– after all that’s what manna means- “what is it?” I hope we take it willingly with both hands and know He is always sovereign. Always.

Further, I hope I never forget that settled or not, we are forever and always being sent. 

All the time, every day.

In all of our goings, we are still being sent. Between the pre-school drop-off and the grabbing a gallon of milk and the errands, errands, errands– there’s plenty to do out there. May we never get so settled that we forget why we were brought here in the first place.

Let us not stay in here and miss the thousands of opportunities that lie outside our comfy cozy zone.

Because, sometimes– just outside of comfy cozy-you-always-wanted-to-stay-here is the chance for something more.

Something faith-stretching, soul-filling, challenging, tough, tricky, and terribly wonderful.

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Crazy Good Banana Pancakes and Newlywed Life

The whirring of a coffee grinder and the clink of a French Press were the musical notes of our newlywed days. Just as the sun peeked through the mini-blinds of that little townhouse on McDowell Drive, I would wake up to those comforting sounds and to the smiling reminder of married life. Lance was in his final year of Seminary and I was working at a small bank in town. The weeks were all business but the weekends, they were all ours.

While we were still dating, Lance learned how to make perfect lattes and I was officially hooked. Hooked on the oversized mug filled with lightly sweetened foam and perfectly strong espresso, yes– but mostly just hooked on him. Thankfully he carried this talent into our marriage and Saturday mornings always began with lattes at home, breakfast, music, and plans for the day.

Just as the smell and sounds of coffee being made will always remind of those first, sunshine filled days– so will the sounds of Jack Johnson and the thought of banana pancakes. I’ve had plenty of pancakes with bananas stuck in them, but until now, I had never had– THE banana pancakes. Pancakes fluffy yet hearty, spiked with a touch of cinnamon, and banana chunks that caramelize as they sizzle on the griddle. The search for THE banana pancakes, ones that make you feel good about eating pancakes, and would cause Jack Johnson to write a song about pancakes–  is over.

Banana PancakesNote: these are not your garden variety un-healthy, mightaswellbedessert pancakes. They are filling and not over the top sweet, but the bananas and coconut come together and whoa. They have a shot of fiber with the flax meal and oat bran, which you could leave out if you choose. These will not completely derail your healthy eating plans– but they are still special enough for a Saturday morning.

We enjoy them with a smidge of butter and cinnamon sugar, but maple syrup would be perfect too. Oh and bacon. Don’t forget the bacon. (Try cooking it in the oven at 400′ on a foil lined baking sheet– crispy and easy clean up! )

Okay, now go flirt with your spouse and make pancakes.

Crazy Good Banana Pancakes

  • 3/4 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour (King Arthur is our favorite)
  • 1/4 cup Raw Sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Oat Bran
  • 2 tsp. Ground Flax Seed
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cup Buttermilk (if you leave out the flax and oat bran, lower this to 1 cup and add more liquid gradually as you need it.)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup melted Butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1-2 chopped ripe Bananas
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup shredded sweetened Coconut
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped Pecans

_MG_7693Whisk dry ingredients (Flour through Cinnamon) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or glass measuring cup, mix Buttermilk, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the bowl with the dry and whisk until combined.

Lightly spray your pancake griddle or cast iron skillet heated to about 300′

Add pancake batter using an ice cream scoop or disher, and then top with bananas, pecans, and coconut. Once ready to flip (surface appears drier and filled with tiny bubbles) then flip with toppings side down, press down lightly and then leave them alone for just a minute or two._MG_7704

The bananas and coconut will turn brown and caramelize making a golden brown crust on that side.

See?

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I know.

And if you’re wondering, things are only slightly different than they were all those 8 summers ago. We still like to make lattes and homemade breakfasts. Both come a bit earlier as we now have two little alarm clocks who wake up with the sun– but the sun is prettier when it’s just coming up, and now we get to see it with two crazy-bed-headed littles by our side.


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3 Things for Your Tuesday

1. Coffitivity. I recently discovered how I simply cannot listen to music while I’m writing. Sad. I have entire playlists full of Christa Wells and Ellie Holcomb goodness, dedicated to writing and each time I turn them on, I can’t seem to turn the volume down low enough to be able to still concentrate. I have become increasingly more easily distracted in the last couple of years and I find that having someone talk to me or sing to me just does. not. work. Can anyone identify? Enter Coffitivity. Coffitivity is a self-proclaimed as a site that “recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better.” And let me just say, it works. Imagine being at Starbucks or Panera and being able to turn down the volume of the tables full of loud people around you until they are at just the right “doesn’t distract me– but helps with the dead silence” volume. Loud guy bragging about his super cool blahblah sports car? Turn him down a notch. Bunch of high schoolers talking about how Sloan and Trey broke up in front of the whole school? Turn them down just a smidge. Someone else’s toddler (this time.) expressing their displeasure over having to sit in a high chair? Lower that screeching sound just a bit. That’s coffitivity. And unless you want to listen to a coffee shop in Paris or Brazil or the like, it’s free! I have really enjoyed having this neat little tool. And it helps an IMG_2683introvert who thinks she’s an extrovert have the illusion of noise without the actual noise.

2. Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative has written a truly indispensable book for women. The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You is an excellent tool for every woman who wishes she had more time to do the things she enjoys. Reading, cooking, crafting, running, writing, whatever it is that you wish you had more time for– this book is filled with success stories, helpful practical tips and Jessica’s kind but honest approach to the age-old problem of wanting to do something for yourself but not finding the time. The book releases February 15th, but I happened to notice it is on Amazon right now for the Pre-order price of  $7.49!!!! Which is crazy inexpensive. This book is helping me rethink the way I plan my days and it has been really encouraging that margin really does exist, no matter how full our plates are.

3. Ok. Whatever you’ve done today, you need to stop and see this video. I mentioned Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors the other day, (thanks to my Lance for taking the last 8 years to expand my musical horizons beyond movie soundtracks and Celine Dion.) They have released this fun little video of one of their new songs. There are silly costumes and plenty of fun dancing. Don’t take yourself too seriously, just watch it. And if you’re an Ellie Holcomb fan, she’s the Princess Leia who is married to the Bearded Banana. How fun is that? Very fun. AND, I believe you can get their last album for free on Noisetrade here.

 

(** #2 includes an amazon affiliate link. Basically this means I get a small monetary “thank you” from Amazon if you choose to buy this book by clicking through my link. No strings attached, they just like to reward bloggers who recommend them. :)


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Welcome to a Fresh Start. (FMF)

Ok friends. Here we are, one week in to 2015.

Whether or not you are a “one word for the year” kind of person, (I am not. I need more words.)

Whether or not you have a list of goals washi-taped to your mirror as a reminder of your next steps–

Even if you feel like you majorly bombed last year.

If December left you dried out, worn out, needing more

Here’s what we need to know: He is enough. Especially when we are not. even. close. 

So rather than a list of “To-Do’s”  how about a list of “Not- To-Do’s” for 2015?

  • We will not over-commit ourselves. We will say no, graciously and confidently all the while smiling– knowing that the space left when we leave space is the space that can be filled with what God wants there. 
  • We will find pockets of time for self-care and will accept it without guilt knowing that a drained, empty giver is one that has very little to give.
  • We will not slide into the slippery pit of comparison. We will not self-deprecate alongside her victory. We will not shrink into hiding with the thought that it’s already being said and more beautifully. We will not throw in the towel when we feel like a minnow in an ocean of big, bigger and biggest fish.
  • We will not forget that there is always room at the table for more. And if this table seems too small, we need only add a leaf to the table to make it bigger… And pull up more chairs.
  • We will not forget Psalm 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.” 

So welcome to 2015. Whatever you’re building, planning, writing, doing, hoping– know that He is faithful and He SEES you. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

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(Photo taken at the lovely Allume Conference this past October)

Back writing with the Five Minute Friday crew! Want to hop over and read what others did with the word, Welcome?


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Things I Learned in 2014

1. I love the smell of Pine. I’ve long loved the smell of Christmas trees, but always avoided the smell of anything Pine-scented for fear that it would smell exactly like Pine Sol. HOWEVER, this year thanks to this lovely scented Countertop Spray in Iowa Pine  from Mrs. Meyers– I’m a believer. Then my friend Amanda brought these Vintage Spruce Candles from Target to our Christmas Favorite Things Party– and it basically smells like living inside the most beautiful Christmas tree ever — minus the sap. And neither smells like something with which you would clean your bathtub. Just clean and fresh and completely appropriate well after Christmas. Clearly, since I’m still hung up on it. IMG_2593

2. I discovered Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel.
And let me just say, WOW. Thank you to the sweet girl at Sephora who pointed me in that direction. She mentioned it was a great tool to help your entire eye area stand out. I’m a conscientous eyeliner and mascara gal, but my eyebrows have always grown really slowly, so they get waxed about once a year and I call it good (I know, and I’m giving you beauty tips??) But this stuff is pretty stellar. In the same way that false eyelashes make your whole face look “awake” — a little swipe (literally, a little goes a long, long way,) of the brow gel adds a big “little something” to your eyebrows. Trust me. Ok, enough talk about eyebrows.

3. I discovered ALOT of great music. Some was new, some was just new to me but if you are looking for a few good tunes, check these lovelies out.

  •  Ellie Holcomb- As Sure As the Sun (Personal Fave- #8)
  • Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors- Good Light (Personal Fave- #4) ** Drew & Ellie are married and they make gorgeous music together, along with the rest of the band. So fun.
  •  Christa Wells- Feed Your Soul (Personal Fave- #5) **I had the sincere joy of hearing Christa in person at the #writersbarn event last September and her lyrics have become a part of my permanent playlist since then.
  •  Colony House- When I Was Younger (Personal Fave- #7) **Fun Fact– Two of the band members are sons of Steven Curtis Chapman. Their music is upbeat and a fun album to have playing in the kitchen while you chop, stir and sauté away. Ask me how I know.
  •  Ben Rector- Live in Denver (Personal Fave- #12, which was previously only available by pulling up the YouTube video, so yay!) I normally don’t love Live Albums, but I enjoyed this one, because well– Ben Rector.

4. Perhaps the MOST important lesson- I learned to respect the slow, the quiet, the lull. When I think back over the year I’m aware that we had moments where a lot seemed to be happening and moments where our lives seemed rhythmically slow. I learned I am happy with both, and I need both.

There are times when we are waiting on God and it might feel as though we are merely waiting on our selves. It can feel stifling to feel as though I’m waiting on myself to get my act together, frustrating even– to think I see what my next step is but not know when and how to get there.

Back in September, Christa Wells said something that has stayed with me regarding the quiet wait- “Much good happens in the space where nothing is happening.” 

The space where nothing appears to be happening to advance what it seems God has called us to do– can be a long and sometimes lonely wait.

I have felt this off and on this year and at the end of the day it boils down to one thing, my impatience. I say I trust Him and His timing, but the process often seems too long for my taste and I stop short in my enjoyment of it.

I miss the opportunity to just rest in His care and to watch the story unfold. I become just another Israelite with a long history of seeing God act but yet whining why He hasn’t “moved” in me yet. I’m realizing He IS moving– in me– in the quiet, the time of little goings-on, the lull. Nothing is wasted when He is the artist making something beautiful of all my broken parts. I want Him to build this house, and I want to be ready to not only wait for as long as it takes, but to wait with the anxious anticipation of a child.

What did you learn in 2014?

 

*Amazon Links are Affiliate Links


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Meaningful Christmas Books: Unwrapping the Greatest Gift

Last year, Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift was a very important part of my own personal Advent celebration. The readings are short and begin with a passage of Scripture. Apart from just being a beautiful book, it is an excellent way to begin or end each bustling day in the Christmas season with quiet and rest.

When I discovered that Ann had also written Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas for the entire family, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy! Tyndale House Publishers mailed me a complimentary copy for our family’s enjoyment in early October and we began to enjoy it long before December arrived.

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We received the beautiful book just in time to take it along to the Mountains in October, and Lucy spent a lot of time stretched out on the floor of the cabin, looking at the lovely pictures and reading a few words.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is a large hardcover book- about 12×12- and has gorgeous full-color illustrations throughout. A similar format is used as the original Greatest Gift version, taking the principle of the Jesse Tree and exploring the elements of Advent as they all point to the coming of Christ. A passage of Scripture comes first in each day’s reading, followed by a part of the story. Each day (or chapter) puts one story in front of the other pointing along the way to the coming of Jesus.

Though the book is meant to be for Families to read together, if your family is made up of active toddlers, you will want to take that into account as you read. Those of you, (myself included) who struggle to get your almost three-year old to sit attentively for one small board book– may find yourself gritting your teeth through the pages of this book if you are hoping your kiddos will sit still and take in the beautiful lyrical text. That being said, I feel there is a lot of value in Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, no matter the stage of your family. It would be a great piece to read a small bit of each chapter, show them the photos and then build on as your children grow. The fact that the title suggests it is for families to experience together should not dissuade anyone from enjoying Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. I have enjoyed reading portions both by myself and with the little people in our home.

What I love most about this book is perhaps what I love most about Ann Voskamp’s writing in general, her ability to cross bridges and boundaries to bring the Hope and Joy of Christ right in front of you, no matter your season of life. And the gift of being able to share that with my children with wording and pictures they appreciate is just icing on the lovely, poetic cake.

I hope that in a rush of this December, you are enjoying a few moments of quiet peace. If you are looking for a tool in which to focus more of your attention of Jesus and the gift of His coming FOR YOU, I wholeheartedly recommend Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift was given to me by Tyndale Publishers to enjoy and review. I received the free copy in exchange for my honest opinions.

**The Amazon links to purchase the book are affiliate links. Thanks for clicking! 
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