To Young Moms – The Hardcore Truth

It seems to be more common nowadays to see a teenage girl with a baby. It’s hard to look at any one gal and not assume they are already “tampered with”. For me, anyways, I look at most teenage girls with a sense of agonizing wonder as to what they do in their secret life. Not that I’m creepy, but because it tears me up inside the inevitable ignorance they live by. A mere teenaged child with the mentality that they know what is the best decision, that they are “adults” and know how life works. We were all teenagers before. We all can relate to a time that we honestly thought we knew what was best for us. In fact, it’s hard for me to write this knowing that I was a teenager only 3 years ago. I’m sure I’ve lost some credibility in my opinion from here on out and I’m sure there are some stuck up noses as to why I of all people have the right to write such a post. Well, show me some grace. As I have a loving aching heart for young girls, especially those who have the life changing circumstance of a child.

I’m not here to call the kettle black or sit high and mighty claiming that I got it right and I know what is best. I’m merely offering encouragement to those who struggle with the thought that their life is over now OR that they are too closed off into their own knowledge to better themselves as a woman instead of staying a girl.

There are a few things I notice is some young mothers:

Arrogance is one. Obviously, they thought they knew best by having sex with that guy behind the bleachers. It’s not like they don’t know what sex does, or what its purpose is actually intended for. They are above that. They are “in love” and they aren’t naive enough to let it “go too far”. They know better than to get pregnant. But just like that, those butterflies turn into morning sickness, the control of not going too far is lost and now their “love of their life” is too good for her problems. And now she has a baby. {This is just an example scenario} Deep down, she realizes she’s not all that and a bag of chips. Now she has more things she needs to handle and act like she knows what she’s doing with.

Insecurity. Quite simply, they are not secured enough in themselves and seek out a boy to give them worth and security. Then adding a baby to that gives them some sort of meaning, or purpose. But, also leads to more insecurity. Which stems from ignorance. Maybe they don’t know what all is involved with having sex with a boy. Maybe they do naively let it go too far out of curiosity. Then, BAM! they have a baby, yet they don’t even know how to take care of themselves. Some can’t even drive yet! And here they are holding a newborn awkwardly, wondering how to feed it, how this and that works, why the baby constantly cries, why it won’t sleep at night, etc. You’ll hear them complain most because they simply don’t even know how to deal with conflict or inconveniences yet! Then they may start raising it how they want to be raised and end up with another ignorant selfish teenager down the road.

Which brings me to the biggest thing I’ve noticed, selfishness. And quite frankly, it all boils down to this one. They’re selfish with control of their lives, they’re selfish with their physical needs, they’re selfish by resenting the life they created, and {controversial topic warning} they’re selfish for not wanting the child and aborting it. And they’re selfish for not wanting to commit to the circumstances they face because of the selfish decisions they chose. But let’s be real here, we are ALL like that no matter what chapter of life we’re in. But, in my opinion it’s slightly more detrimental when you add innocent lives to the mix.

This stirs up a question in my mind though. Where are their parents? What are their parents like?
I’ve decided that one parents as they were parented or influenced. However, it is true that one can take their own path, but unless they seek out better environments and influences, I’m afraid that all they will know is what they see and hear. That is to say that even though she grew up in an abusive home with bad influences, if she seeks out a better alternative and decides that there is something better than her environment, then she has the power to break that cycle.
Although, it’s not always the parents fault. You could be the best parents ever and still have your child go off the deep end. A child reaches a certain point in their life, or rather their mind, that they can now make decisions and be who they want to be. I find that to be a tool of Satan that he uses to corrupt the vulnerable minds.

I can only imagine the inner struggles and inner demons these girls deal with day-to-day. The secrets they hide, the barriers they put up, the lies they tell themselves. The constant guilt, regrets, reminders. The ever pressing thoughts they have about succeeding in life, their dreams seemingly disappearing. The anger they have about being forced into a life they didn’t want. The chronic hurt they have. The abuse they inflict on themselves. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to me! The thought of them giving up on life. Not in a sense of suicide, which sadly is a choice some make, but giving up on life while living. Giving up on becoming more, overcoming their struggles, bracing for the storm instead of embracing it. Don’t they know that there is more out there than the imprisonment they put themselves in? Oh, how they could only know of the shinning light right in front of them gleaming ever so brightly. But instead they shield their eyes, put up walls, lie to themselves, and cast themselves away from the opportunity to be more.

We all make bad choices. We are simply human. It’s not the choices that ruin us, it’s how we deal with the consequences of those choices. Sometimes, there is no telling whether a choice set before us is right or wrong. As life is a risk, a gamble. Even if you are in the truth, wise, and seem to know pretty well between right and wrong, there will still be choices that we make that end up not being what we thought. That is why not allowing yourself to be consumed by the wrongness of the choice and instead growing and overcoming it is so vital. Knowing that you are NOT alone, that where you are in life, where your influences and environment is, that doesn’t have to be your prison. Sadly, wherever you go in this world, you’ll find bad influences and environments. But you’ll also find good ones, too. The best one of all is allowing Christ to hold your hand, comfort you, give you worth and security, and allow him to refurbish you into a glorious woman by using your struggles and tragedies and making them into something beautiful. You are not done in this life, woman. You have a beautiful child, or children, that look to you, that rely on you, that trust you. Who do you want them to see? Who do you want them to be? Do you want them to see you as a struggling mother working 3 jobs and always seeming down and worn out, or do you want them to see a positive, empowered woman who overcame her struggles and now shines a light so bright to others?

 

Did I describe you here? Did this hit a tender spot for you? Tell me about it. I want to hear your story. How do you plan to overcome your struggles. Have you overcome them already? Do you want to see yourself in a different life?

 

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HOW TO: Puree Your Own Pumpkin

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It is October here in Ohio. If you can imagine, the weather here is pretty bi-polar. But today it seems pretty normal. It’s cloudy, wet, rainy, about 52 degrees – what I would consider a pretty normal fall day… for Ohio.

With October comes pumpkins. Though, my obsession with “pumpkin everything” started a couple weeks before fall officially started. Pumpkin spice coffee, Pumpkin spice cake, Pumpkin spice Cheese Cake, you get my point. Being half way through this pregnancy, I’ve just have really taken a liking to pumpkins. I want to make pumpkin everything, meaning I want to put pumpkin IN everything… within reason. And I didn’t want to add the extra expense to my grocery budget by adding a bunch of canned pumpkin puree to my list. Let alone, not wanting to add more processed and preserved food to our diet. I’m all about trying to make things from scratch and “do it myself”.

So let’s see how I did this. It’s my first time by the way, but it turned out great!

What you will need:

A PIE pumpkin – not the carving one, but the little baby ones. I got mine for $2.00 at the farmers market.

A food processor of some sort. I used my very incompetent blender that I really don’t like and would like to get a better one…. *Hint hint to the hubby*

And I would hope you have an oven and a cookie sheet… and a spoon.

Zip-lock baggies

HOW-TO:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. And wrap a cookie sheet with foil. This helps to keep it clean and to not burn the edges.

2) Cut your pumpkin crosswise in half.

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3) Scoop out the seeds. Save them and place them aside to dry! Your best friend might just love roasted pumpkin seeds.

4) Place the halves cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes.

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5) The skin should be a bit darker and should be easily stabbed with a fork. Unless you want to wait until it’s cool, carefully take a spoon and peel the skin off. It may come off in one piece, but if not just peel it off in pieces. Be sure to scrape as much of the “meat” part off as you can.

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6) Puree a few scoops at a time until its pureed to your liking. Then mark the zip-lock baggie with what it is and how much you put in there – I put 1 1/2 C because that is usually what most recipes call for.
*Tip: Fold the opening of the baggie over once and then dollop the puree in. It will cut down on the messiness of the bag.

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7) Freeze. Then next time you want to use it for baking, just take it out a few hours before, or boil it til it’s thawed. You may need to drain the excess water… or just adjust your recipe.

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Ta-da! You pureed your own pumpkin! Congrats! I paid $2.00 for that pumpkin and got about $5.00 worth of puree out of it! That’s about 5 cups worth…And really, it was quite easy to do!

What is your favorite Pumpkin recipe?

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

I tend to be the kind of person who doesn’t allow excuses to get in my way as far as baking or making anything. That doesn’t meant that I don’t have faults in allowing excuses to prevent me from doing things – as we all do. But when it comes to the kitchen, when it comes to a pregnant woman wanting something she doesn’t have, I make no excuses. For example, today was a very fall-like day and as I was pureeing a Pumpkin I really wanted some Hot Chocolate to sip on. It just seemed to fit. But, I don’t have hot chocolate mix. So, I made my own! No excuses here!

Come to find out, hot chocolate mix really only has 3 ingredients in it. Unless you want to get fancy. But, I’m not one to get fancy when I just want a mug of hot cocoa.

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What You Will Need:

2 C Dry Milk

1 C Powdered sugar (you can get away with regular sugar)

1/2 – 1 C Baking Cocoa (I did 1/2 C but think next time I’ll do 1 C. I really like my chocolate)

A storage jar

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HOW-TO:

Mix everything in a bowl. And put in the storage jar.

To make:
Scoop about 3 Tablespoons of cocoa mix into a mug and pour hot water over it. Pretty simple. And pretty darn tasty!

 

*If you don’t have Dry Milk, you could experiment by just using the other two ingredients and just heating up some regular milk to mix it in. What do you think?

The Judgement Seat – Being Defensive in Church

Church.

What is it about Church that seems to be so bitter in the mouths of believers nowadays? What is it that turns people off from wanting to gather together as a body of Christ to worship our heavenly Father? Many have an answer for that. The most popular one would be “the followers”. Those that claim Christianity or follower of Christ as their title. Those “followers” – the ones who are supposedly called to lead others to Christ and help encourage one another – are the ones pushing away other followers. According to most people who have turned away from the church, anyway.

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews 10: 24-25

My focus here isn’t blaming the followers that “push people away”, nor is it really blaming anyone at all. Because, everyone has different situations that go on. There are many different reason as to why one would feel like they were pushed out of the church. One reason that I won’t so much talk about because it’s not what I want to get into right now, is the church people deliberately judging and causing issues for people that make them leave. Unfortunately, there are some churches with those high and mighty people that will judge you in the most cruel way. But let’s look on the other hand as to why people leave the church, and maybe even leave God.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

I’ve heard many times that people can not stand the negativity, preachiness, and judgement in churches. Some have said the reason they are judged is because they don’t live up to the standards and interpretations of certain church goers. Which leads to the question of who is to determine what constitutes as a “true follower”? Sure, we all have our own thoughts on how life should be lived as a christian. But what it boils down to is what the Bible says a True Follower is. I could easily tell you out of my own knowledge that a True Follower is someone who Loves the Lord with all of their heart, soul and mind. Who strives to “be like Jesus”. Who practices all the fruits of the spirit. But, I also know that some take those to extreme and sometimes out of context. We are human. We fail at love, we fail at gentleness, we fail at understanding and compassion. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t growing and learning through our stumbles.

14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty….27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – 1 Corinthians 12: 14-27

 

The other thing that I think a lot of people skim over too often is the difference between judgement and calling out someone about something they need to work on in a biblical way. There is a difference between, “you shouldn’t wear low-cut shirts to church! You’re sinful and should be ashamed!” verses kindly explaining modesty to someone, but also understand that that may be the only thing they own!  Grace, kindness, understanding, and gentleness. But, what about those who take things way too personally and overly dramatizes a simple gentle act of guidance? As Followers of Christ, it is biblical to tell someone, “Hey, you’re straying away a bit there, you might want to readjust your sails”. Though, many times people get way too defensive and feel as though they are being prosecuted for being themselves. Hm, let’s look at that a little bit. Being yourself and being a growing and learning follower of Christ are two different things. Being yourself in the sense that you are who you are and you ain’t gonna change isn’t quite where God wants you to be. He wants us to be open and humbled.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

We are constantly being judged by others. Any church you go to there will be judgement. And honestly, any other place you go to there will be judgement. What we need to look at though, is how we handle OURSELVES rather than how we handle other peoples issues. Rather than taking judgement personally and allowing it to fester negativity and bitterness, look on those people with love and kindness and allow them grace. We do not go to church because we are perfect and know everything there is to know about following God. We go to church because we are NOT perfect, we are broken, we are sinners, and we have issues. We gather together as a church to unite the body of believers in total worship to our Father in Heaven. We don’t go to church to please or impress others, or to manipulate them into their “own interpretations”. We go there to encourage and support each other. I mean that for those who feel victimized in churches. I’m not pointing the finger, I’m simply saying that we can’t expect others to show us true fellowship if we are too busy putting up walls and getting defensive about someone’s struggles. Do onto others. Regardless. Love thy neighbor, regardless. Love in the way that shows grace and kindness. Not a simple “I love you but I don’t have to like you or deal with you” sort of way.

Regardless of whatever situation you’re in with a church, we must remember that Christ is our common denominator. As a body of Christ, we exercise our spiritual gifts to serve and minister to each other. How can we help one another if we are constantly defensive and victimize ourselves to the issues of others?

What are your thoughts? Have you felt judged in a church which made you leave? Have you stopped going to church because you constantly feel that way? Have you reflected on that and opened yourself up to a change of heart or allowed yourself to be humble and acknowledge where you may need to change?

 

 

 

Accepting the Facts – A Crazy Pregnant Lady’s Post

I’m on baby number two and I would like to give a stern “mommy look” to all those who told me, “the next one will be easier…” and then share their glorious pregnancy stories with me. Meanwhile, I’m staring at the restroom, green in the face and wanting to punch kittens. {That is a metaphor. I couldn’t ever punch a kitty.}

When I was pregnant with my first son, I denied it for two weeks. The weekend before I took the test, my hubby and I were at a youth retreat and I was completely out of character. {Most embarrassing moment…ever.} I noticed I was eating less and was very picky with food choices. Which, you’ll learn that I’m not very picky at all. I’m a complete foodie. My good friend even noticed before I knew what hit me. She predicted I would drink more than one glass of water at lunch one day, and sure enough I think I drank 3 full glasses. I still wasn’t convinced. So I got blood work done and the nurse called back and said, “Yes, you are definitely pregnant.”
I was working 4am-7am at FedEx at the time. I stayed there about 3 more months and realized that puking my guts out for 2 of the 3 hours at work was not fair to them, or me. However, I was sick for a total of 8 months with that kid!
September 11th 2012 came around, and that kid still wasn’t out so I was induced and had him at 3:31pm on September 13th. He was 9 pounds 11 ounces, 23 inches long with a 14 inch round head… yes, I had him naturally. I’ll leave the gory details for another post and I’ll try to refrain from my comments on the ignorant anesthesiologist that went through two packs on me for the epidural that didn’t even work all the way cause she didn’t do it right. {Sigh… easy Miss.}
Anyway, after my little toddler was born, it seemed I got a bit spoiled with an angel of a baby. The first two months of breast feeding was a bit difficult. I wasn’t producing enough for the monster to eat! But after some adjustments, everything worked out fine. After two and half months he slept ALL the way through the night. 8pm to 8am. {Yeah, that’s a bit shocking.}

I had the dream of having 6 kids, homeschooling all of them and homesteading. Like those families you see and wonder how they do it and why the mother is not in an institute due to insanity. Yeah, I wanted that. But as life rolled on, things changed and we realized our dreams weren’t lining up very well with God’s dreams.
Months went by, then years went by and my little baby boy is now 2 years old. {Sniff} In the spring before his second birthday, I found out that I was expecting another little angel. I’m not sure why, but it seems that it’s best not to even know that you’re pregnant, because as soon as I found out for sure that I was expecting, the sickness and living hell swept in. I know of people who went 5 months and didn’t even realize they were pregnant. {I don’t even know either.} Why couldn’t I be one of those people? Shoot, only 4 more months and you’re done!
Nope, not me. With my second one on the way, I ended up in the ER for fluids my first month because I went 2 weeks not being able to keep anything down. After drinking even more water than I was, I continued to throw up almost every other day. I didn’t eat anything due to no appetite and well, throwing it all up. I lost 5 pounds. I was miserable. Woe is me, pat me on the back, and give me a good get well wish. My first half went like this. I hardly ate, therefore I hardly gained. On top of that, I had “baby pains” way early. You know what I’m talking about, the cramping and stretching of ligaments that makes you paranoid and check to see if you’re bleeding or dying every hour. I was more stressed during this pregnancy. And the extra thoughts and cautions I had due to being so sick and in so much pain stressed me out even more. Which isn’t good for you. {Note: Do NOT… DO NOT… go on the internet and look up your symptoms when you’re pregnant…. JUST DON’T}
I hit the half way mark and things started to get better… sickness wise. I gained my appetite back, and so far at 27 weeks I have gained 15 pounds! {That’s actually an accomplishment, don’t hate me} However – and this is my main problem and reason I’m posting – I’m an over achiever and have no limits on what I allow myself to do and don’t know what “take it easy” means. I’m restless. SO! When I started feeling better, I started doing more things such as moving furniture, cleaning more, doing NORMAL things. Yeah, you can’t do normal things when you’re pregnant. You are NOT normal. You are NOT an average person. You are NOT the person you were before conception. You are a totally different and abnormal woman who is brewing the next president of the United States inside your little belly. You are weak, you are fragile, you are the most important thing right now. AND THAT IS OK!!!

Look, I’m not saying sit on your bum and eat chocolate cake and milk shakes every day and not do ANYTHING. {Though, I realize there are some that have to do that} But, realize you are pregnant and need to limit your regular activities.

I don’t know how to be pregnant. I don’t know what I should or shouldn’t do. There are books and books on what you should avoid and what you should do to make things easier, but I don’t read and I don’t have time to read because I’m too busy doing the things I shouldn’t be doing. I can’t help myself. I see something that needs done, so I go and do it. I don’t have the humility to ask for help. I don’t have the patience to wait and have someone else do it for me. I see the couch needs moved, so I move it. I see I need to do 3 loads of laundry and carry an over loaded basket up two flights of stair 6 times, so I do it. My son wants to wrestle and be thrown around {safely}, so I play with the kid. I try to load my arms as full as I can with bags of groceries. I do WAY too much. I’m not even that big and at the time, I felt perfectly fine!

BUT! I put myself in danger and ended up in Labor and Deliver due to some pressing signs of labor. Back pain, leakage, hard stomach… Everything turned out to be OK. However, that gave me and my hubby a bit of a scare. Just to clarify, I assured and manipulated my hubby into letting myself do these things. I told him and myself that I was fine. I wasn’t fine. I learned that day at the hospital that I am pregnant and that I can’t do everything.

During all of this, I have decided that I don’t do pregnant well. This will be our last biological child. Adoption is an option in the future for us. But, not only did I decide that base on me not doing this very well, I also feel spiritually that God has a plan for us that doesn’t involve a house full of kids. Maybe that is why he allowed me to have such eventful pregnancies. I’m not sure.

My point is, when you experience being pregnant, EXPERIENCE IT! Allow yourself to be pregnant. Don’t deny it, don’t try to continue normal things, stop when your body tells you to stop, learn what your body is saying, and do NOT be afraid to call your OB for every complaint! That day I was hesitant in calling because I thought I was complaining too much, ended up being the day that something serious could be happening. I was lucky and was able to realize what I needed to change. You are being super woman enough by growing a human inside you!

Take it easy and do as I say, not as I do!

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Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Apple Chicken – Crock-pot Style

Here is your “FOODIE FRIDAY” post!

It’s fall time. It’s slow cooker time. It’s apple time. It’s crazy filled weekend time. It’s “ain’t nobody got time for that”… time. So, let’s dust off that crock-pot momma!

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Things you will need:

~Chicken Breast (Thawed)
~Bacon {Hate me if you will, but I used Turkey bacon.}
~Apples {Whatever kind you get is fine – I used Golden Delicious.}
~BBQ Sauce – Sweet Baby Rays all the way!….baby!
~Sugar
~Lemon Juice
~A Crock-pot {Or a pan and an oven}
~Smoke Seasoning

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There is really no measurement method to this recipe. You’ll need about 4 Chicken breasts. About 8 pieces of bacon and I used about 4 medium sized apples, chopped. I didn’t peel them because I feel the skin adds to the yumminess.

Step One:

Wrap your chicken boobies with the bacon and snuggle them together in your crock pot.

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Step Two:

In a separate bowl, squeeze out about 1-2 cups of BBQ sauce, about a 1/4 c of brown {or white} sugar, and about 1/4 c Lemon juice from a bottle, or you can get fancy and squeeze your own. Mix all that together and cover your chicken wraps with it as evenly as you can.
Then chop your apples.

photo 3(3)Best way is to just quarter them, scoop out the center core and just chop them up.

Step Three:

Then put them on top of everything. And let them cook for 6-8 hours on low OR put that thing on high for 4 hours if you’re like me and don’t think of dinner until 1pm.

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This was a BIG hit with my little family! Even my 2 year old ate it! Serve it with a nice salad and some bread to spread the extra apples on and it makes a GREAT meal!

Let me know how it turned out in your kitchen! What famous slow cooker meal do you make this time of year?

Why So Serious? – A Look into the Depths

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I’m quite certain, each and every one of us out there deals with emotion on some kind of level. We were made with feelings, therefore we have emotions and therefore we react with emotions. It’s inevitable, unavoidable, and predictable. Even if you try not to, you still react out of something. You could be the most bad-ass person out there and still have emotion.
Reacting out of emotion can be good and it can be bad. Here lately, with my thread on facebook recently, well… all the time, it’s a soap opera of emotions and reaction and decisions based on them. I see their  self-imprisonment by the way they allow their emotions to get the better of the situation and cause them to make rash decisions which end up making the situation worse and making them look arrogant and immature. “I’m done with all this, I’m never opening up to anyone again.” “I’m sick of the drama, I’m never trusting again.” “I’m better off alone.” “I can’t go on anymore.” “I’m never helping out anyone ever again.” “People aren’t worth it.”
I am being totally frank with that statement, I understand. As much as some may not like hearing that, it’s still true and you can act out of emotion and call me heartless, or you can act out of emotion and let it slide and understand where I’m coming from. {See what I did there?}

In some cases, people react out of emotion because of vulnerability caused by past abuse, health issues, stress, family drama, etc. It could also come from built up emotion held in for a long time which weakens our filters and makes us burst out in irrational emotions and decisions. And in other cases, in which I can relate to most, is self-blame. Instead of reaction towards others, we keep it in and beat and blame ourselves and take it captive personally. We hold our self worth in the opinions and actions of others. Whether we keep it to ourselves or burst out in reaction to it, we find our emotions and others emotions toward us more valuable than our well-being and true worth. We define our identity in it. We make decisions off of it. We build our world around it. Yet, we try to remedy it with drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping, violence, lying, anger… should I go so far as murder? Do the remedies work? Do they resolve the issue? Do they make things better? I’ll dare say it doesn’t. In fact, it’s proven to make it worse and will build into your already deep hole of emotion – trapping you to the point of unspeakable depths.
What is it that causes such reactions? What is it that creates such a monster out of our emotions to react in such a ridiculous and irrational way? We tend to be so consumed in the moment of our reaction toward the situation that we don’t realize what our emotion is stemming from: Control issues, incompetence, standards not being met, insults, offense, hurt, etc.  Even reactions out of love, joy, grief… all can cause radical outburst.

OK, my point? So what? So we are emotional. Yes. But, my main concern for you dear people and myself, is being trapped by emotion and living in a dark, depressing, unhappy world. The fear of seeing so many others go through life with this entrapment and not resolving it until way into their older years and then be full of regret – or not even healing from it at all and die in this imprisonment. {My heart breaks thinking of this}

My point is, there is a solution, a rescue, a way out! Speaking on behalf of myself and many others out there, you don’t have to live like this! Many, including myself, have found the way out, have been climbing out of their hole, and have been restored. Do you know what it is? I’m not sure why, and maybe I’ll blog about this later, but it seems to me that there are those who may not have yet reached rock bottom, or are just that consumed in their self-righteous emotional worth that they disregard this path out and don’t believe it will work for them. OR, in many, many cases I’ve heard about, they have tried this path, yet the work it takes getting out is much too hard for them, so they would rather wallow in sorrow in their hole trying to decorate it and fancy it up than to face the facts, get dirty, and better their lives. Better the lives around them even. Do I need to even say it? Do I dare mention His name? You’ve already concluded I’m talking about Jesus, I’m sure. Some may have done the ever typical eye roll, and have done the “oh…right…well… ” remark that I hear much too often.
But for those that are open to this whole Jesus thing, it really does work. It really is the ONLY thing that does work – and I don’t mean that in a bias way. If you really want to go try the surplus of other ways, go right ahead, but then when those don’t work, try Jesus… DO JESUS… don’t just try a little bit and give up. I mean fully do Jesus. And be surprised.

Jesus was emotional. And, if I dare say, He was quite the drama king. He felt compassion, anger, grief, joy, etc. But His emotions stemmed from LOVE. He was compassionate toward the weak. Angry toward the haters, however, had compassion for them. Instead of holding it against them, He was distressed by their hardened hearts. He grieved in many ways. He also was joyful! Though, He showed these emotions ever so brightly. Not muddied, or quietly. He was very colorful with them. I’m not saying that we need to be the most dramatic with our emotions. But rather look at where Jesus’ emotions came from. God. Jesus replicated God and His emotions. More importantly, look at the worth God gives you. You are worth far more than these worldly snickers of emotion. You are defined by HIM, not others. You will find your identity in Christ, and in that identity, you will find peace with your emotions. You will realize that nothing else matters but His plan for you. You will gain more love, compassion and understanding toward others which will also heal and wash away those bits of hurt and rage. They are human, they have issues, but their reaction to their own issues do NOT define you.
Time with God, His Word, His people, will heal you and give you the energy to withstand the constant attacks of others reactions and your own. You will gain a clear and peaceful mind, empowerment, and be free.
Let’s be real for a minute though. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to hurt. Whatever you are dealing with, whatever the cause of this imprisonment, He will walk you out of it, but you will need to walk as well – reliving the past for a moment, going through those hard times again, for a moment. Because God will show you something incredible through all of that. Through all of that dirt, mud, pain, fire, ashes, brokenness, He will show you light, clear waters, restoration, freedom. All that time spent digging that whole, all those layers you went through, well, the only way out is to climb up back through all of that. And when you get to the top, when He finally shows you your TRUE world, that, my good friend, is when your life will really start. THAT is your true worth. You are not alone in this. Not only is God walking you out, but you have those at the top and even on the way out cheering you along, praying for you, and helping you. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. You can be on your way to freedom by a simple request, “Help me, Lord.”

18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. Eph. 4: 26-27

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Being a Real Mom in an Unreal World

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I’m a new mother. I’ve only been at it for about 2 years now. I only have one kid out and one on the way. No where near compared to those of many, or those with older ones. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to motherhood, or that I don’t have any credibility. I mean, many people who didn’t have children – even those who were younger than me – told me everything I needed to know when I was pregnant with my first.
I am by no means going to tell you that I have it right, that I have it figured out, that I know everything there is to know about motherhood. Shoot – I’m positive there is no such thing as knowing it ALL about motherhood. I am pretty sure that my way of thinking will be different from other people’s way of thinking, and that is OK. If we were all the same, then that would be boring.

If you were to look up motherhood in the Bible, the verses of all verses would be this one:

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Proverbs 31: 25-30

How many women strive to be that woman? {Raises hand}

This makes me think of what the world considers as a good mother: “Super mom”, “Soccer Mom”, “Working Mom”… Etc. All of which are great. However, I think that as women, we get so caught up in the how-to’s and the wannabe’s of motherhood. We want to be like this lady, we want to be this kind of mom, we want to work toward this. As there is nothing wrong with those ambitions, I feel as though we get too caught up in what we “should be” than who we really are. Who God created us to be and called us to be. If He wanted you to be like that other lady, wouldn’t you think he would have already done that?

When I married my husband 4 years ago, I had this idea of a wife that I wanted to be. The wife that cooked homemade dinners every night, that made his lunch every day, that always kept the house cleaned. Go ahead and chuckle, but I really worked hard at it. However, about a few months later, I realized that cleaning wasn’t my strong suit, we bickered about cleaning… we still bicker about that. I decided an extra hour of sleep was better than getting up and packing his lunch. And, some days, I really just didn’t give a darn about cooking dinner. And at the time, I was working part-time and going to school part-time, so understandably, I was a bit spread out. I decided to just be myself. Granted, I tried bettering myself with cleaning and other things. But, I decided not to consume myself with this idea of a wife that I thought I should be.
When I found out we were going to have a little one, I really didn’t know what I thought. I couldn’t pin-point what kind of mother I wanted to be. I knew what kind of mother I didn’t want to be, though. And I got a bit consumed with that. But, I shortly realized living in fear of being someone you’re not is ridiculous. I had many kind people tell me about motherhood and parenting. I took all advice given with consideration. But, despite me thinking that I didn’t know what I was doing, I realized that I just need to be myself and not be this fairy-tale mom that I see on TV or read about. I needed to be REAL. Even if that means going against the grain of the world. Example: Spanking. Vaccinating. Food choices. Schooling. Etc.
I’ll tell you straight up that I spank my child. No, I don’t abuse my child, I discipline him. And guess what, it works and he is still his own person, he’s very healthy, and as obedient as a 2-year-old can be. I don’t baby him every time he gets a boo-boo, or when he whines about something ridiculous. I believe that not baby-ing them teaches them that life isn’t so awful or dramatic. That every time something doesn’t go their way, or that they get hurt, isn’t a time for weakness but a time to reconsider your reaction and how to make it better than wallowing in their sorrow. I also let them explore and figure things out on their own. Such as dog poo. I told him no. He eats it anyway. I stand there and laugh because I told him so and now he can suffer the consequences. It’s much better than freaking out and getting dramatic about it.  {Yes, I realize I’m sounding like a heartless monster. I’m really not. I do tend to give in and cuddle them when they scrape their knee. I’m still human.}
This is how I parent. Sure, it may change a bit here and there. Every child, mother, parent is different. And that’s fine. No matter how you raise your children and run your house, as long as you are REAL with it you won’t have the constant frustration, disappointment and anxiety about “the perfect household”. You will also not care very much about what others think because you’re not comparing yourself to them. You are YOU.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I will admit to you that I used to look at a whining child while their mother stood there reading a jar of pickles and wonder why they have kids and why they aren’t telling them to be quiet. I also looked at those kids and blamed the parent for their disobedience. Then, I became a parent of that same whiny child and disobedient child and now understand where that parent is coming from. Sometimes you have to do what YOU think is right despite what other people will think. If that means disciplining them in public while your neighbors and strangers are watching…well, sure. We can’t go around cautiously wondering what other people think. What is that teaching your child?

On the other hand, there are those “parents” that honestly should not have had kids. And there are those moms out there that still need their mothers to raise them up. When I say be yourself and be real, I mean that in a way that you don’t get so consumed in a worldly standard. Don’t be ignorant. Always strive to better yourself and be open to criticism and have an open mind. Accept the advice given to you and maybe even USE the advice.

Just be real, mommies. You don’t have to be a super woman, or a perfect mother/wife/homemaker. Don’t look down on yourself because you didn’t make a smiley face with your kids food, or that you burnt dinner, or that you didn’t do a bit of laundry for 3 days. It’s not important. What’s important is that you spend time with your child, that you try your best, that you learn your best, and that you don’t go with the crowd when you are not even part of the crowd.

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake

Just savor that title for a minute….. Ok, now let’s make it!

So, instead of starting out with this long segment of why I am making this delicious dessert and a novel behind the recipe, I find it best to just get down to business. Then, while your dessert is baking, you can read my elaborate story. Sound like a plan? Good. Let’s get baking.

You Will Need:

~ Graham Crackers {OR! Use crushed Oreos for a chocolatey flair}
~ Sugar…. and more sugar
~ Brown sugar
~ Butter
~ Cream Cheese {Duh…} Three 8 oz. packages.
~ 15 oz can of Pumpkin Puree {Another, Duh} – *I’m planning a post on how to puree your own pumpkin soon!
~ Eggs {Get 3 from the chicken coop}
~ Pumpkin spice
~ Flour
~ Vanilla
~ Pecans
~ Light Corn Syrup {If you forget to get corn syrup, like I did, substitute 1c water with 1/4 c sugar.}
~ Evaporated milk
~Whipped cream if you’d like
~ Spring Form pan {But don’t stress if you don’t have one, just use a cake or pie pan}

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PRE-HEAT THE OVEN FIRST! {I always forget to do this}
425 F.

Crust:

1 pkg Graham crackers {OR, about 1 1/2 c. crushed Oreos}
1/4 c Sugar
1/2 c Butter (1 stick), melted

Place Graham crackers in a zippy bag and get your meat hammer out, then SMASH them to a pulp! Or, if you don’t quite enjoy the relief in smashing things to a pulp, you can simply use your food processor… that i don’t have. Melt your butter. Combine the crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Spread it evenly in your pan. Bake at 425 F for about 10 minutes, or for as long as it takes you to mix the filling together.

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Filling:

3 (8 oz) pkgs Cream cheese at room temp.
1 (15 oz) Can Pumpkin puree {Or, 1 1/2 cups of your own pumpkin}
3 eggs
1 1/2 c Sugar
1 tsp. Pumpkin spice {I honestly just sprinkled as much as I wanted in there…}
2 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp Vanilla

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, sugar and spice {and everything nice} and blend well. Add in the flour and vanilla. And BAM! You have your filling. Pour that goodness into you crusted pan. Bake for about 15 minutes at 425. Then reduce heat to 350 and bake for about 45 minutes. Check on it. You want the center to be just a smidge jiggly.
*Note: If your batter is a little clumpy, it’s OK! Also, if your cheesecake comes out with a few cracks, it’s OK! It’ll still taste like a cheesecake!

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Topping:

7 Tbsp butter, divided
1 1/2 C Pecan halves {I used wholes… cause I don’t know how to read at the store}
1 1/2 C Brown Sugar {Confession: I just dumped what was left in the bag. It looked like 1 1/2 but it might have actually been 1 2/3. Note to self: Put brown sugar on the list}
3 Tbsp Flour
1 1/2 C Light corn syrup {Remember what I said above about substituting.}
1 C. evaporated milk

Put 3 Tbsp of butter in a medium sauce pan and brown your nuts for 5 minutes. Take your browned nuts and put them in a bowl. Add the remaining 4 Tbsp butter, Sugar, flour and syrup. Heat to a boil for about 5-7 minutes. {Until sugar is dissolved} Mix in the evaporated milk and browned pecans and boil for about 3-5 minutes until it’s thick. Set aside and let cool for about 1 hour. (While your cake is baking)
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Put it all together and….

Once your cheesecake and topping has cooled down, pour the topping on top of the cheesecake {That was redundant} Place it in the fridge for 4 hours…. Heck with that! Put it in the freezer for MAYBE an hour to two  and enjoy that sucker sooner!

It’s Fall season here in Small Town, Ohio. I’m about 25 weeks pregnant and I am absolutely IN LOVE with pumpkin ANYTHING! Like, I put pumpkin spice in my coffee, and pancakes, and brownies, and cookies….
I saw this idea of a cheesecake on Pinterest. {You’ll read that a lot} I made it my own, like I do with EVERY recipe I make. Actually, do I really follow a recipe to a “T”? No. I usually alter it a lot depending on what I have in my kitchen. Ask me for a recipe? Good luck. Cause I have no idea what I just made.
Anyway, I decided to make this cheesecake for our young adult group. It’s on Thursday. And, maybe it was my pregnant brain, but I forgot that our good friends are leaving their doggies with us for a week. Making a cheesecake while watching 3 dogs (including ours) and my 2-year-old son was a bit hectic. Luckily, I put them all out back and let them roam free in the {fenced in} yard. Yes, my son was out there by himself with 3 dogs and a stick. I was more concerned for the dogs.
After a delicious meal with our group of freshly caught fried fish, my dessert did not last five minutes! And I’m not in the least bit exaggerating here. Really. I always assume a silent table with mumbles and “nom noms” as a sign that it was good. There were some discussions about fighting over the cake. So I think next time I will make two cakes.

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Please excuse the last couple pictures. I had to hurry and take a snap shot of the finished product before it was devoured. If you can relate to a rushed mother with a toddler, I didn’t have time to make the picture fancy at home.

I hope you enjoy this special dessert!

If you have any suggestions to better it or any comments, PLEASE share! How did you make this your own?

My life as I know it

My Life as I Know It

1917206_1272009681154_6042599_nWhat better way to start off this story than to start with being born, again. I won’t go into the whole “I was born this day, this is what my childhood was like” nonsense. Although it was a cherishing part of my life, it’s irrelevant. My real story starts when I gave my life to Christ and then was baptized in His name when I was 13 years old. I had grown up in your typical Christian atmosphere – going to church every Sunday and then playing in the basement with the other kids while my parents gathered with their “Life Groups”. Shortly after our family had a huge turn in direction and had moved to my Grandfather’s farm, I realized I needed a stronger relationship with Christ than my innocent recollection of Jesus. We joined a new church where I began getting involved with the youth group. At that point my walk with God grew deeper and I was baptized shortly after.
At thirteen, I didn’t really know what to expect from this new perspective. It wasn’t like I was coming out of a bad life. I dilly-dallied through life as any typical middle school student. However, after about a year, drama hit our home. {which is a story in and of itself so don’t get too attached to that subject.} I grew up around bad influences from my Uncle, Aunt and Grandfather. They lived in a separate house on the farm, however that didn’t stop the annoyance of Police showing up every other night because of some ridiculous outburst. They all were very heavy drinkers. I have no doubt that they did some sort of drugs that I purposefully ignored. It was a very interesting learning environment. I could have easily found their “stash”. I could have easily taken on their influence. I could have easily been the typical teenager, it seemed, in our not-so-little-anymore town. And I knew the temptation was intentionally sitting on a silver platter for me because I had chosen Christ and a righteous life. And because I was new to this walk, my will and strength wouldn’t be so strong – or so the devil thought. Because, before I said “I do” to Christ I already had a stubborn and rebellious attitude built into me. I was not of the norm. I didn’t follow the crowd, usually. I was my own person from human birth. And to much of Satan’s dismay, I didn’t use that demeanor to his benefit. Well, not fully anyway. I’m pretty sure I’ve swerved toward the dark side a little bit growing up. But who hasn’t really?
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Throughout high school was very dramatic. I met a really cute guy at the fair at fourteen. After six months, I decided that nagging my parents every weekend to drive 30 minutes to see this boy for a few hours was a bit more work than the actual relationship. At the time, it was your typical “meet a boy, date, then break up” feeling. But when the fair came around again, we met and it was awkward. But in a “I think I still like you” way. Fair passed, and we went on with life. Meanwhile, my relationship with my mother grew weaker and troubled. I’m not sure why. It wasn’t like I was actively trying to ruin the bond, but it just so happened that we didn’t see eye-to-eye anymore. {I’m sure I’m speaking for many other teenagers out there.} That didn’t stop me from doing what I thought was best. Not out of spite, but because I felt “alone” to make decisions. Of course, I had God with me  and a lot of good support from significant mentors in my life. My parents did teach me a lot. And I give a good amount of credit to them for that. {If you’re my parents reading this, I appreciate you and wouldn’t change a thing.} Things happened the way they did for a reason and I can’t sit here and regret or try to change anything.36130_1504547534455_4508619_n
At sixteen, I met at the fair with that cute boy I dated. Let me tell you something: a couple of years sure has a toll on growing up. Holy Wow! Billy and I had been talking a little bit before we met, but that first glance was a game changer. It wasn’t long before we started dating again. But, this time he had a car. {Score!} Our relationship started off strong. And, honestly, if it wasn’t for his comfort and support, I believe I would have gone down a dark path. Family life got really icky. There were a lot of big decisions I had to make. Billy w5989_10201114288240144_773229838_nas on the path toward joining the Marines. I was on a path toward a promising modeling career. Both of which would steer us in opposite directions. Both very good careers. My parents supported me very much with the modeling opportunity. I wasn’t as supportive of myself as they were. It must have been my conservative and modest side, but having to be OK with posing mostly naked just for an interview didn’t settle well with me. Then, the life of a model is no easy road. God really weighed on my heart about this decision. He convicted me not to go through with it, much to the disappointment of my parents. Billy struggled with the decision in joining the Marines. However, he went through everything just to be turned down because of a minor lung issue he had. Nothing serious at all, but it was enough to block that career out.

Our relationship g33906_1688623336235_2999690_nrew stronger as we built it more on Christ. He proposed and I said yes! College time approached and Billy and I had made plans to go to college together in a different town. After many 2 hour trips back and forth to find housing and jobs, the college rejected our financial aid, we couldn’t get a job, and no one would let us rent an apartment. Despite all that rejection, we planned our wedding in 5 months and got married at 18 on September 10th 2010. We went to a community college for a short time before dropping out due to life turning directions…again.

I truly believe it was God’s divine intervention that things happened the way they did. It seemed that as soon as we said yes to God, He made sure to direct us to where he wanted. Every time we would make a decision, God would intervene and steer us toward his plans. He has a special way of speaking to our hearts and convicting us to make certain decisions.
580038_10200804112725950_1652475829_nIt wasn’t long after we got married that we had our first little blessing. Despite God’s presence and guidance, we made some pretty stupid decisions. I think God allows us to make mistakes so that we can grow and learn from that. We are in no way out of the hole we dug ourselves in. Shoot, we own our own home already at 22. And have another little blessing on the way. We may not seem too wise in the eyes of some, but I believe God will not forsake us and will continue to provide for us. And not only provide, but teach us how to better ourselves. We are involved in our church we joined just a couple of years ago. And God is revealing some amazing things there! I couldn’t be more happy with how things are going. Sure, I would like to be more comfortable and stable, but it just makes life that much more interesting.

Throughout my life so far, I have realized that disappointing others is inevitable, you can not expect to get support for every decision you make, and the only thing that matters in this life is following God’s direction and being OK with where you are and knowing that it is for HIS purpose you were made. I’m still learning this every day, week, month and year. But I hope that through this learning experience called life, I’ll be able to help make it a little easier on someone else.
That is why I started this blog. Because, being “typical” isn’t going to get you anywhere in life. Being of the norm isn’t going to get you somewhere different. My focus throughout my life has been to be a rebel against the world and live for God and for his purpose. Trust me, I’m no mo-hock, tattooed, pierced gal. {There is nothing wrong with that! I’m planning my first tattoo myself} I’m just a girl, a wife, a mother, and a follower of Christ in a world where that is the most weirdest thing you could do!