Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Big Move To...

OKLAHOMA where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!!!

(Downtown Enid, OK)

So, for those of you who haven't already heard, we are moving to Oklahoma on or around December 26.


1. We are ready to leave Chicago.
2. Tad is ready to be done working for the Four Seasons. There are many reasons.
3. Most of our friends have moved away.
4. We have no family to be close to and to help with our kids.
5. Tad's family lives in Oklahoma!!
6. It's hard to raise kids in an expensive city where you can only afford a small apartment.
7. With Maddy's high energy, she needs some land to run around on! And a dog to take care of!!
8. We are hoping for a change, opportunities to get involved in ministry, and more opportunity to grow spiritually.
9. We are hoping to eliminate some debt with a lower standard of living, fewer expenses, and cheaper everything!!
10. More stability in a job where Tad doesn't work overnights, and can have more opportunities to get involved in ministry, a small group, and have a regular work schedule.
11. Warmer weather!!
12. City living is hard for raising a family. There are great opportunities for kids, and we have loved our time here, but there are many things that kids miss out on that we want our kids to have (a yard, pets, a bigger place that we can afford for them to run around in, a quieter street to ride bikes and play with other kids, etc.)

While there are more reasons, or more details regarding these reasons, this is the list in a nutshell! Our plan is to have Tad work through Christmas day, which is the last busy day of the season at the hotel. We have a moving truck rented and will probably have 4 of Tad's siblings come help us drive down with all of our stuff. We will live with Tad's family for a little while as we get settled, find a place of our own, and while Tad starts his new job.
(Tad's family's house)

I know that a lot of you knew about this opportunity for us, and others may just be hearing about it now! We are excited, nervous, and in the process of working out all the details. This plan has been in the works now for over a year, and we are finally in the last leg of our planning! We have sought counsel, prayed about this, thought about this, and feel like this move is best for our family. Tad has a job lined up, so this takes care of some concern for right when we get down there. It will be so nice for us to have family around, people to help with the kids, and for Tad to be around as his siblings grow up (there are 6 kids still at home with Charity (7) being the youngest.)
Maddy has so much energy that she just loves our time in Oklahoma. A big backyard to run around in. Lots of aunts and uncles to play with. Grandma and Pops to spoil her!!
I am really looking forward to meeting new people, getting involved in a church where we can grow as a family, serve, and be in small group, being in an area that is more supportive of homeschooling, hopefully having a house with more space for my kids to run around in, and a yard to get some energy out, planting a garden, being near family and family get-togethers, and seeing my husband and kids thrive to be near family! And of course, living closer to Pioneer Woman!!
We would love your prayer for these things:
1. Ease of nerves (especially for me) for a big move. I have only had a big move once, to Chicago, for school.
2. Wrapping up all the odds and ends here in Chicago, and lining up everything in Oklahoma.
3. Wisdom in finding a place of our own, timing, and getting a place that will adequately fit our family.
4. Smooth transition to living with Tad's family, our time there to be pleasant and productive.
5. That the kids would transition well, sleeping arrangements, different environment, realizing this is permanent and not vacation.
6. Wisdom for Tad and I as we make decisions regarding which church to go to, activities to be involved in, meeting new friends.
7. Tad's new job, that he would enjoy it, that it would provide for us, that he would finally have a regular schedule.
8. For our family unit, that we would remain close, and make decisions that are best for our family.
9. That God would direct us into what ministries he would have us be a part of, start, or if we need to not be involved in ministry right away and focus on our relationship with Him.
10. Safety as we travel/move with our car, a moving truck, and possibly Tad's sister's truck.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this, be a part of this with us, and to hopefully keep us in prayer as we continue to get ready for this move. I pray that this is what the Lord would have for us, and that He would be guiding us, even though scary and unknown, into His will and plan for our family. May we be faithful in what He is calling us to.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Love...Fall!!!

(Caramel Apple Muffins)

Can I just say that I love when Fall finally comes around?? I remember my mom just raving over Fall when I was a kid. At the time, I didn't really get her great enthusiasm over it. I would just see her raking leaves for like 3 hours a day and think she was crazy!! But now I have really come to love it. Probably because Fall doesn't mean school, but for me it means Fall baking, cool, Chicago days, Fall festivals, a more solid schedule after the carefree days of summer, getting closer to all the holidays, Fall baking, and well, Fall baking. Did I mention Fall baking?
Every year since I was a kid, I have fond memories of going apple picking right after school started. When we were in Christian school in Highschool, I remember going right from school in our skirts to the apple orchard with my grandma, and trying to climb trees and pick apples in a skirt. I have carried on this tradition (not picking apples in skirts, of just picking apples!!) with my own family, and we have really enjoyed going out to Royal Oak Farm and picking apples. Of course now, picking apples means that I have a lot of baking to do!! And that's fine with me!!
This year, Tad didn't want our apples to run out too quickly, so we picked 2 bushels. If you don't know how much that is, it's a stinking lot!!!!! I still have apples to go through, and I have already made applesauce, apple butter, caramel apple muffins, apple-braised chicken, apple-pear crisp, apple dip, apple bread and cinnamon-apple couscous!! Phew!! That was tiring just typing all that!!
(Pear-Apple Crisp)

Another recipe that I will post in the future is for Pumpkin Gingerbread. It is divine!!! I found this recipe a few years back and make it several times each season!! It is probably the best bread recipe I have ever made!! Pumpkin is a whole other story as well!! By the end of the season Tad is about done with pumpkin until the next year!! I love making pumpkin everything!!! I hope to post some of my yummy pumpkin recipes from this year!! And don't even get me started on Pumpkin Spice coffee from Gloria Jeans, or the Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks!!
Also coming up is the Fall Festival at Moody church, a Fall Festival with our friend, Jess, when she comes to visit, our Chicago Park District programs for Maddy (soccer, art, and music), AWANA Cubbies, small groups at church, Mom to Mom at Moody church, and we just started preschool at home!! We have a really fun curriculum and are having a lot of fun!!
This year, Chicago got a blast of cool weather pretty early. It made me eager for Fall pretty fast, and got me cooking with my favorite fall flavors!! Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, here I come!!
So, for all you Fall fans out there (Mom!!), cheers!! (with our warm apple cider, of course!!)
FYI: My love of Fall does not come from a dying, crazy, all-out, obsessive passion for football. Hm Hmm. You know who you are.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the Playground

You know, it's funny all the drama that pops up on the playground at such a young age. It reminds me of highschool and the little cliques who won't include other people. I just can't believe my 4 year old daughter is so big. It seems like yesterday that we were going to the park just so she could go in the baby swings. Now, I tell her to go "play with the kids." But it always amazes me that she can't always just "go play with the kids." She will sometimes come back and say, "they said I can't play with them." Or I will watch her from a distance and watch her try to play with some girls her age, and watch them snubbing her, whispering in each other's ears, and purposely leaving her out. And poor Maddy doesn't realize what they are doing. She is just trying so hard just to play and have fun with them. I think to myself, "are we 14 or 4?" Immediately my motherly defenses kick in and I want to go tell off these little 4 year old snobs, but then I realize that my reactions are teaching my daughter how to react to situations like these. I haven't always handled them the best way possible, but I hope to teach Maddy how to deal with these small situations, as they are just the beginning of dealing with difficult people, hard situations, and the world. It's hard to see her have to face rejection and bullies at the playground, but then again, it's a good lesson. I've seen her treat other kids harshly, be the one who won't share, and get mad at others who are playing on something she wants to play on. It's a good time to teach "the golden rule" and to remind her how it feels to be treated wrongly.
But still, I can't emphasize enough how shocked I am especially of the drama between little girls. It seems to start early, and I would almost rather that Maddy play with boys because of the lack of drama. They just seem to play. But of course Maddy would rather play with the girls at the playground who are in a little group, playing with their expensive dolls and expensive strollers, and running around together. But all too often, they are content to just play with each other and not let another little girl "in."
So a lesson to Maddy and myself. Check the emotions. Learn to positively deal with difficult people. Remove yourself from mean people who can't play nice, and always be ready and willing to include others in your group of friends. Don't harbor anger or bitterness towards people, let it slide right off and find other people to be around. Watch your tongue. Be a light.
It's a tough world out there, but I am finding that every situation is a teaching/learning situation for my daughter. If I respond negatively, she will respond negatively, and will continue to do so in the future. She is watching me and learning how to deal with her own little emotions. O Lord, give me wisdom, and help me to bite my tongue!!

"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin."
Proverbs 13:3

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Crazy Love

I just got finished reading the book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. I was truly moved and inspired by this book and I hope it moves beyond an emotional response. It took me awhile to get through this book, I put it down for awhile because, honestly, it was pretty intense!! Not to mention the fact that getting time to read on my own was a rarity!! But I decided to make the most of my time pumping and read every time I sit down to pump, which is 4 times a day for about 10 minutes at a time (Long story short, Judah hates nursing but likes the bottle). By the time I would start reading, I would be interested enough to keep reading if I had the time.
A lot of my friends had read this book, and their church did a bible study on it in their small groups. I was advised to read it slow (what choice did I have with kids?? LOL!) and to seek accountability while reading it so that I would follow through with where the Holy Spirit was leading. I have to admit I haven't sought accountability, but it really got me thinking and stirring and asking what I can do to get outside myself and live for God while serving other people.
Basically, the book is about our true love relationship with God. Who God is. What He has done. What that means for us as believers. Are we believers? Do we look like believers? Do we act like believers? If God called us to give everything for Him, could we?
It's hard to really explain the heart of this book in a few short words and fully get the point across. Trust me. You just have to read it for yourself!! It will change you. It will get you asking questions. Evaluating your heart. Questioning your lukewarm living. It will make you uncomfortable. You might want to put it down. I did for awhile. But I'm so glad I picked it back up and finished it.
I am now challenged in my own life to serve people. To stop living for myself and my own happiness with my spare time, money, thoughts, material things. I want this world to be about more than myself. I want to help people. Love people. Serve people. Feed people. Show God's love pouring out to my children. Teach them to serve from a young age. I want them to be thinking of how they can serve. I want this to affect my life and evoke new thoughts about what I do in my spare time, how my family can be a serving family, what things I need to give up so that others can have more, and to start evaluating my heart and seeing what God wants to change in me.
Here are a few excerpts from the book:

"Christians today like to play it safe. We want to put ourselves in situations where we are safe 'even if there is no God.' But if we truly desire to please God, we cannot live that way. We have to do things that cost us during our life on earth but will be more than worth it in eternity."
In reference to 1 John 3:16-20:

"God didn't give a little for us; He gave His best. He game Himself. John is saying that it is no different for us: True love requires sacrifice. And our love is shown by how we live our lives. 'Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.'"

"But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through."

And a prayer from the book that gets to the heart of the matter:

O God, I have tasted They goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
From A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.

These words "misty lowland" have rung in my ears since reading this prayer. Why do I think I'm satisfied in this misty lowland? Why do I strive for it? Think about it? Long for it? Why do I push God out and refuse this amazing, better life He offers and continue to drive the ship on my own? I pray that I would come back to Him, want Him more, and have more of Him, less of me. I need to be invisible; He gets the glory; serve people, serve people as if it were Christ.
Read the book.

And if you have read the book, I would love to hear your comments, how God worked in your life while reading the book, and what kind of change God has called you to. Let's encourage each other as we pursue Christ!!