JT. Sweet John Thomas was born at the end of August and has filled our lives with so much more love! Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!
Applemint Tea May 3, 2013
Several people have asked for my recipe for applemint tea so I figured posting it here and sending the link would be easier than separately messaging everyone. Without further ado, Applemint Tea.
Method One (Hot Steep)
Gather up a bowl full of applemint sprigs.
Fill a pan with about 2 quarts of water and bring it to a boil. Bruise and rip the leaves and stems. Turn off the heat and add the applemint. Steep until the water turns a beautiful light greenish tan.
Before straining if you would like to sweeten the tea, add your desired sweetener. Depending on who I am fixing it for, I usually use stevia or honey and just sweeten to taste. You want to add the sweetener before it chills over ice because you want the sugar particles or honey or whatever to dissolve well. While the tea is steeping, I prepare two quart mason jars by filling them with ice cubes and placing a filter over the mouth of the jar. I use cheese cloth or even cone coffee filters depending on what I have on hand. Then I tighten the jar band to hold it in place and pour the tea through to strain out any leaves and stems.
Cap it, shake it up and enjoy!
Method Two (Cold Water Steeping)
Sorry, I don’t have any pictures for this one but I did find a you tube link to the video where I first learned about applemint tea and how to cold steep it. This method is fun to do with children but I do think the hot steeping method provides a stronger flavor! In this video, the recipe starts at 20 minutes and 3 seconds in so you can skip to that section if you like but the whole video is great fun!
I hope you grow to love the summer tradition of applemint tea as much as I do!
A Mother’s Reflection April 25, 2013
I don’t get a chance to post on here very often, I know. I appreciate those of you readers who still hang in there with me :). Since my last post, to quickly update you- we are expecting a little boy in September! My baby girls are 1 1/2 and the stories about twins working together to create mischief is oh-so-very true. They are just a crazy bunch of joy! My little man is 3 and a crazy bunch of energy! He keeps me on my toes and my face in smiles. And now, to what brought me here to type to you all tonight- my daughter.
My sweet Aralyn Elizabeth turns 7 tomorrow.
When I was expecting with her, I was told by other mothers that having a child was like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. I have found this to be true with each of my children and they are all small pieces of my heart- living, breathing, flesh of my own.
Each of my children is special to me for different reasons. Ordained by God to be a perfect fit for our family. I have names for each of them that are just special ones Mama calls them. James is my Sunshine boy. He brings so much joy and fun to my heart.
Ruth is my Songbird. She is my spunky, fiery sparkler who is always humming something and singing sweet as can be.
Anna is my Grace. When she was born, she was could not breath or eat on her own. She had to be revived and survived on a breathing tube and was fed through her belly for a day or so until she started fighting and it was as if God breathed new life into her body and every day I feel His grace when I think of her. She is also the sweetest thing you will ever meet and so far, my only calm one of the bunch 🙂
But Ara. Oh my Ara. She is Mama’s heart. I have called her my heart from the beginning because every bit of who God created me in my innermost self, the essence of who I am- my heart- I see in my daughter. When I read of David and how God called him a man after His own heart, I think of Ara.
I can’t really even put into words the connection that we have. The feelings that we share. The love that we both feel for people and the deep joy we feel at the same portions of scripture or beauty of creation. So much so that I will stop trying.
My sister took these pictures. In them, I think you will see just how special this little one is to me. She is her Mama’s girl. She is my heart.
I love you Aralyn Elizabeth. Happy Birthday!
Homespun Holiday January 12, 2012
What a wonderful, blessed Christmas we had! Here are some of the highlights:
I scored this beautiful tree on black friday- next best thing to a real one, most people couldn’t tell it was fake!
The REAL garland to give the home a piney smell. Also scored on black friday!
Ara and James loved the tree this year. The ornaments were never in the same place and we had quite a few bite the dust, unfortunately.
Our first fire in the fireplace 🙂
This year we did quite a bit of holiday baking!
Peppermint Bark chilling in the fridge
Baking Maple Granola for gifts…
Along with 6 dozen cookies: 3 dozen chocolate chip and 3 dozen toffee crunch
Packaged and ready to go and one left for Paul and I to munch on…
We took the kids to see the Christmas train display
Made gifts for our family…
…started to knit the kids stockings… and then decided to let that go this year, maybe next.
What a sweet Christmas it was! Quiet, no places to rush off to, celebrating with family and friends the birth of our Lord.
So grateful for the blessing of God’s Son sent to earth and the blessings He continues to send everyday.
I hope you and your family had a very blessed Christmas as well!
My Ugly Heart December 6, 2011
- (DISCLAIMER: I have no idea how those bullets down the side got there or how to remove them. SORRY!)
- The Christmas season has a way of revealing to me what a sinner I am. Fitting, since the holiday is a celebration of my Savior’s birth, but humbling none the less.
- Every year around this time I get bit by the bug. A bug so rampant, I’m thinking it needs to be added to the strains of illnesses included in the flu season records. As a helpful guide, I am including a list of symptoms. You may have the Christmas bug if:
- 1. As you are shopping through Target, every toy you pass you imagine being opened Christmas morning by your child with a huge smile on their face, accompanied by the exclamation, “I love it! You are the best Mother in the whole world!”
- 2. The words “Honey, we bought each other a house (or insert needed appliance, car repair, or plumbing job here) for Christmas, let’s not exchange gifts this year” make your heart drop with sadness no matter how right they are.
- 3. Your store daydreams change from #1 symptom to imagining your child unwrapping the boring things like underwear that they really need but don’t want with a disappointed look on their face, accompanied by the proclamation, “This is the WORST Christmas ever!” (you only think that’s an exaggeration- I have a very dramatic little 5 year old.)
- 4. You start wondering how kids during the great depression didn’t break their parent’s hearts after opening their one and only gift- an orange which was a rare treat to them.
- 5. You realize now, more than ever, you are much more materialistic then you ever imagined…
- Treatment for the Christmas bug includes a hefty dosage of reality:
- 1. Your child doesn’t need every toy in the store, in fact they are undoubtedly better off without it and so are you. Not to mention, as the years pass, their enthusiasm for gifts drastically reduces and last year we were horrified to hear the dreaded phrase, “what else did you get me?” escape our child’s lips more than once. “Where did we go wrong?”, we asked ourselves. After all, we had been careful not to make Christmas about the presents…or so we thought. We didn’t “do” Santa, we limit our gift giving to a few special items per child, we read “The Three Gifts of Christmas” leading up to the holiday, we even tried no gifts on Christmas day one year opening them on Christmas Eve instead so all of Christmas day could be focused on Christ’s birth. How did we end up with such greediness coming from our children? Perhaps the first dose of medicine I needed to swallow was the reality that my children get the Christmas bug too. Whats worse? They caught it from me. MODEL CONTENTMENT!
- 2.The house, furnace. dishwasher, new axles for the car, toilet repair, you name it was a BLESSING! And despite the little pang in your heart that tells you otherwise, it is enough. Gather friends and family in that gift of a home. Warm bodies from that furnace mean warm hearts snuggled in their beds on Christmas Eve. Dishes covered in food being loaded in the dishwasher make me grateful when I think back on six years without one and thankful that food was on those dishes around the table where my family joins together to eat. Whatever you may have inserted in that blank, whether a car repair which enables you to travel and see loved ones or even the fixed toilet that saves your ears from the constant sound of it running- GIVE THANKS!
- 3. When needs are met, whether through Christmas or any other time of the year, teach your children to praise God! “Kids you know you needed new underwear, don’t tell me you didn’t notice the holes in yours and no- holiness isn’t a good thing when it comes to underwear. Praise God! He provided you with new underwear this Christmas!” CHOOSE JOY!
- 4. Oranges DO make great stocking-stuffers. Throw in a ziplock baggie of cloves and let your kids decorate them to make pomanders for your Christmas table centerpiece. BE CREATIVE!
- 5. Pray that the Holy Spirit would change your heart about Christmas. Pray that He would take your greed, selfishness, and desire to please anyone but our Savior. Pray that He would transform your family through the power of His love and that we would all be awestruck by the wonder of His glory! PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!
To my 18 year old self June 8, 2011
This week for small group, the following three questions were sent out to be thinking about for our meeting tonight. I journaled them and after watching a You Tube video entitled, “To my 16 year old self” about skin cancer, I decided that the answers are probably better shared to hopefully prevent some other youths from making the same mistakes I did. So, I present you with a genuine picture of my young teenage years and beyond.
What if you could go back to and talk to your 18-year old self, as you were just about to enter adulthood? At 18 most of my worldview for holiness, purity and relationship with Christ was already solidified. I think to be of true help to “my 18 year old self”, I would have needed to vision cast from birth. Not that it isn’t an appropriate time to recast a vision for these things, I just know for me, personally, the damage to a biblical worldview of them had already been done.
Knowing what you know now, what vision would you cast for yourself in holiness, purity, and your relationship with Christ? I wish I could have presented (my very young self) a vision of guarding my heart in a way that honors Christ. To explain that purity is about more than just sex but involves thoughts, motives, emotions, and faithfulness to someone that at that point in life I had never even met. I wish I could have told my 12 year old self that over the next 6 years I would in my head “try on” over ten guys as husbands, “playing house” with them in my imagination, doodling what our married name would be all over notebooks, writing out our children’s names and fantasizing about what they would look like. I wish I could have explained that these activities, while seemingly harmless, are the very things that make it impossible to follow the advice given repeatedly in the Song of Solomon, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,by the gazelles or the does of the field,that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” I would warn myself not to ever start reading the romance novels I would be given for Christmas at 13 years old, explaining that fantasizing about someone other than my husband, even fictional, will not aid “guarding my heart” for the one I would covenant only to love. I would paint a picture for me that the best romance story ever written is the one God writes for my life and cannot be found in lust of youth, the pages of a novel or the scenes of a romantic comedy film. As far as relationship with Christ I would tell my young self not to waste time! I would tell middle schooler Jen that sleep, books, pouring over fashion magazines, and worrying about who would be at youth group or who I would sit with at lunch will only serve to distract me from anything meaningful, and absolutely would not matter to me ten years down the line. I would challenge myself to read the bible more than novels, talk to God more than my friends on the phone, and to serve His people more than myself. I would also warn myself NEVER to get on the poms squad in highschool and to use my college years to develop character and godliness more than a portfolio that I would never end up using anyhow. I would explain that gracefulness is more beautiful to God in my heart than on a stage. I would tell myself that one day I would meet a man named Paul, who will remind me so much of the Paul in the bible that perhaps I would be better served to study Paul the apostle instead of the blond haired boy in the seat in front of me. J
What vision would you cast for your singleness, or your marriage, fatherhood or motherhood. Now, thinking forward, what vision will you cast for the rest of your life? The vision I would cast is what biblical womanhood looks like: “reverent in behavior, not slanderers, to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”. I would urge myself to work on developing those virtues than selfish ambition. The vision I would cast for the rest of my life is that virtue is caught more than taught and while I need to be teaching my children what marriage, fatherhood and motherhood look like biblically, they will learn more by my example. Since I am incapable of representing biblical womanhood well, my prayer is that I would be continually on my knees asking the Spirit to work in my life despite myself.
Blog Meme? ::right now:: May 30, 2011
DISCLAIMER- I might be stealing, if I am, I am ever so sorry. In my blog surfing, several times I have come across what I believe is a blog meme called “::right now::” It is a simple structured blog post to give readers a peek into your day using action words to describe “right now”. Because I am not sure what blog it originated with, I am most likely not giving adequate “hosting credit” to it and so I apologize for the lack of online etiquette. I believe it is a Monday Meme and today I found it on SouleMama.
right now I am…
::wondering if taking a family hike today was such a good idea at 27 weeks pregnant with twins. (going into the trail downhill, was much easier than coming out uphill and my balance was, lets just say, not so good)
::marveling at how much older my little girl seems everyday and the paradox that is her selective gift of being aware of details. (how is the same girl who spies a camouflaged snail under a log on the side of a hiking trail not able to find her bright magenta flowered play boots daily when they are in the same place every time?)
::feeling large 🙂
::smelling the lingering smell of turkey bacon coming from the kitchen which reminds me of Grandma H’s house.
::thanking my parents for a very generous babies gift in the form of a new dryer that won’t take three cycles to dry clothes (going to be a life saver with three little ones in cloth diapers!)
::enjoying having spent the weekend with family and friends and having my sister home for summer break.
::looking forward to celebrating 6 years of marriage with my love this week!
::wishing you a blessed Memorial day with loved ones!