Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stacie's Tuscana Soup


2 gallons of Chicken Broth (I make my own) salt to taste

2 packages of MILD Italian sausage (cooked)

One to two large onions, sliced thinly

6-8 small potatoes peeled and sliced

2 cups of chopped kale

4 cups of half and half or straight milk

Combine first four ingredients. Boil till potatoes are tender. Add milk or half and half. Bring to a gentle boil. Add kale. Simmer for for 10 minutes. Serve with focaccia bread by using a bread machine. If you are interested in just a straight bread machine that works for everything, you can click here to see my French Bread recipe.

This is a double batch! It freezes really well too!






Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Spiritual Roller Coaster Ride


I am going on a journey with God that is insane. I remember distinctly about 8 years ago, I was in the middle of a Bible study called, "Beloved Disciple". I heard God telling me to fasten my seat belt because my life would be a roller coaster journey if I decided to obey and surrender to Him. I had no idea what He had in store for me. I think at that time I was in the middle of having all my babies. Thriving instead of surviving motherhood was my ultimate goal. I was trusting God as Steve and I both felt that we were being led to have a large family. I knew he was going to give me the tools that I needed and I knew by having a large family I was definitely going to face opposition from the world and from my beloved family and friends. What we were doing was NOT normal, but we kept trusting God.

We had a tiny house (975 square feet) and we had just had our fourth child. Our baby slept in a playpen in our living room because there was no room for him in the kid's bedroom. But I knew that we were not supposed to move until we had our debt paid off. As soon as I signed the last check to the credit card company, two days later God gave us this four bedroom, roomy house! I was so glad I waited on Him.

I felt God leading me into homeschooling my children. Again, it was against the norm. I had never even considered it and yet I did it for seven years. They were crazy, wild, fun and hard years. So many goods and so many bads. But I wouldn't take back one of them. God wanted me to experience homeschooling and he gave me a vision for my children so that when he called me out of it, they could stand under the pressure of public school. My mothering was intentional. I always said "character before academics". If that meant we didn't get one lick of school work done that day, that was OK. You could be a successful businessman, but if you have no love or respect for others, you hadn't gained anything. This mentality served my children well when they went into the public school system.

As I sent my children to an institution that I feared practically more than life itself, I kept hearing God whisper in my ear, "you can trust me with your children.". As school shootings increased, my fears would increase. My mind would create all kinds of scenarios and I would not have peace. When they kept getting sick and lice notices were handed to us almost weekly, I kept praying that God would get us through it. So far we have not got lice once! That is a miracle! As the Common Core Standards started being implemented in our school, again I wanted to panic and try to fight it or control it somehow. I have done all I can do (written to my senators, representatives, attended school meetings on it, written to the education department) and all to no avail. I am going to trust God with my children's education. Because I have homeschooled I know that there are a lot of options out there. I can think outside the box and know that my children will be OK when they move into higher education, even if they don't do extremely well in the academics department. When evolution is taught, I tell my children, "Good, don't be afraid of it. You need to know what the world believes. But we can say in our heads, "not true", every time we hear the millions of years lingo." I have taught my children a biblical world view and it has served them well.

Our roller coaster really did a loopty-do when one of my sons made mistakes and devastated us. As we went upside down over and over again, I kept crying out, "I want off this roller coaster, Lord! I am sick, I am tired and I can't keep going!" It wasn't exciting anymore, it was scary and there were too many unknowns. I wasn't shrieking because I was feeling joy, I was screaming because I was in pain. God somehow kept me tightly secured in that seat belt until we got out of the loopty-dos. As we started getting on a more even track, there would be times when we would shoot up a steep hill and then have to come down very fast. But I was learning that God could be trusted. He wasn't going to let that roller coaster fall off it's track.

This last two weeks, we have experienced victories that were unimaginable a two ago. We have had some breakthroughs in our son's situation and in our house situation. Downright miracles! I am waiting patiently for the Lord to work it all out and I know that I have gained a greater patience because God has made me wait. What I once fretted over, I don't fret over anymore. Housing is nothing compared to your hurting children. I would take a housing issue any day than watch helplessly because my child was in emotional pain.

I am alive. I am breathing! As much as I am tempted sometimes to get off this roller coaster called a "Surrendered Christian life", I know I must stay on it because every time we go up that steep terrain or we do a loopty-do, I can praise God and give Him the glory for getting us through it. Christian lives are not meant to be boring. They are meant to be exciting and beautiful.  Our testimonies are our lights that shine before men. They point the way to Jesus. Please share it! We all need to be encouraged.

Has God done something exciting in your life? Please share in the comment section.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Out With the Old and On With the New Year (My Musings)

(Daddy and his littlest girl)
 
I can't believe we are in a new year already! What in the world happened to last year? It has been pretty silent on this blog, because I have been enjoying having my kids home from school. We have had down days and busy days, but they have been wonderful. I do not take breaks from school for granted. I so enjoy having my children around me, caring for them, hugging them and talking with them.
(Josh is looking sharp at my Grandpa's funeral. He honored Grandpa Fay by wearing his dress coat. Grandpa would have been so pleased)

We have got to see lots of family during the holidays. I am so thankful that all three sets of our parents are within 3 hours driving distance! Also, my brother and his wife and children are just 45 minutes away and my sister is now just two hours away. We are such a close family because of it.

Our children have had the opportunity to be part of our little church's Christmas Story again. I love watching them participate with cheerful attitudes (the first this year) as they play shepherds and angels. Marcus got to be King Herod this year.

(I have been able to watch my brother and SIL's children a few times this past week. They are such sweeties! Our children LOVE to play with their cousins.)
 
Before school got out, Steve and I so enjoyed watching the children perform in their Christmas program at school. They sang some really fun songs and made us all laugh with their adorable antics!

We were hit earlier this December with some REALLY cold weather. Cold for us, anyway. I think the lowest was -1. Brrrr! I was praying that our heat pump wouldn't quit on us. But it pulled through! Thank you, Lord! We stayed warm and just holed up watching movies, playing games and reading.

Yep, Josh is officially taller than me and Marcus is getting pretty close. They are both trying hard in school. Proud of both of them and the effort they are putting into it. I am not a mom that requires A's and B's, I just want them to put effort into whatever it is they are working at. I try to be a cheerleader that encourages them when they stumble and fall. I use phrases like "What are you going to do about that?" or "Is their anything I can do to help". I am really trying to not micro-manage my children as much as I used to. It seems to be working because everyone is much more relaxed when "Perfection Mom" is not on the rampage!
 
We are in the thick of basketball season, so starting next weak we will be averaging three games a week, not to mention practices. I used to have such a hard time with this. I was not a sporty person, so I never thought I would make this a priority for our children. But when some of your children seem to excel and enjoy something, it is hard to say no. I just don't want to do it all year. Spring and summer is when I refuse to let them play anything. We all need to rest, recoup and not be running around all the time. I am OK with sports if I know it is just for a season.

(Lily begged for a gingerbread house this year. I bought it for them and let them figure the whole thing out. I love that they are getting older and can figure things out for themselves. That's half the fun, right?!?)
 
I have had time to read some really good books lately. My favorite one that I couldn't put down is called "Confession of an Imperfect Mom: A Path to Less Guilt and More Grace" by Julie Barnhill. Through this God's Word and the encouragement in this book, God is teaching me to relax more and realize that my children's future isn't all up to what I have done and what I haven't. Man, I am just soooo controlling. I need to give myself more grace. God can work through my mistakes that I have made. What a relief! I am also reading Lynn Austin's new book "Return to Me", which has been excellent so far. Her biblical fiction is amazing. I am learning all about the Israelite's return to Babylon. So many lessons for me!


 
Even though life is still very hard and stressful, we continue to wait on God's perfect timing in many areas. We are still wanting to move closer to the children's school and our church. We have a buyer for our house, so now we are waiting for a house to go for sale that is within our price range and is big enough for our large family. In His way and His time.
 
I find myself reflecting that this truly was a year of "Reconstruction".



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