Scenes From My Happy Place

The only thing better than a beautiful day at the beach is watching a storm move in.
But I do love when the sun is shinning and sand bar is close enough to wade out to and play on.

Gorgeous crystal clear water and just the right amount of waves and little to no undertow make for a pretty perfect day.

We also really enjoy water proof phone cases. Especially the two oldest girls who had a fantastic silly time taking selfies underwater. Then I of course got roped into taking pictures too.

Is it any wonder that the beach is my happy place?

Is This Necessary and Other Random Things I Found While Shopping

Seriously, dumping the package into a pot of water wasn’t easy enough?

This really had me laughing for some reason. Maybe it’s the idea that the company is somehow saying they aren’t as bad as those other companies who have their items made in China or Taiwan. They just buy all the parts and pieces from foreign countries but it is good ol’ American elbow grease that puts it together. “Because we care about the economy a little bit.”

These are just a siren song to gluttony. I thought the unwrapped Starburst were bad but these are just down right wicked. I didn’t buy them mainly because  you can’t hide white chocolate from the children in the glove compartment of the car the way you can hide Starburst because we’re all about being healthy but I will admit that I stopped and just stared at it for a few minutes with a goofy expression of enchantment on my face.

Do you ever pass things in the store and marvel at this age of awesomeness we live in or just sort of scratch your head at our consumer ridiculousness?

Pinterest #83 ~ Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I had several goals over the summer that all involved the kitchen…everything from organizing to buying and making healthier meals for our family to cooking old fashioned oatmeal and not instant or quick oats. (I realize the bar was pretty low in some areas 😉

But needless to say I am happy that I’ve had some success in these endeavors and one of the most successful new recipes is probably these little energy bites. Quick and easy, they satisfy the craving for a little sweet something something but are relatively healthy. Sweetened with honey and made with creamy peanut butter they are a hit in our house.
What you’ll need:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/2 ground flax seed*
6 TBS dark chocolate chips (I bet white chocolate chips would taste heavenly!)
What you’ll do:
Mix together the first three ingredients until well blended.
Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Chill for 30 minutes before rolling into 1 inch balls.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Snag one every time you go into the kitchen. 
Never mind, don’t do that. 
You’ll find yourself making up reasons to go to the kitchen.
*Flax seed. I am in a sort of crash course on healthy eating so I had to look up flax seed, what it does and why we want it to do what it does. It’s a good source of fiber and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as other vitamins and minerals. It helps stabilize your blood sugar too. It contains lignans which help your body metabolize estrogen in a safe form and some studies indicate that it can  help reduce the risk of certain types of cancers in both men and women because of this. And apparently around 2 tablespoons a day can help reduce hot flashes in menopausal women. (Filing that away under important and good to know information.) King Charlemagne was quite the fan of flax seed and even had laws passed that required his subjects to eat it. Who knew? 
Apparently us now 🙂

Not My Will But Thine

She came to me, blue eyes full of tears, the handmade card clutched in her hand.

She wanted me to reassure her that despite the crooked cutting and haphazard placement of artsy elements that it was still accepted…still deemed good.

In one of those seemingly rare insightful moments I knew what she was really asking. So I was truthful with her. I told her it was fine and she could give it to someone but

No, it wasn’t as nice as her sister’s.

Now before you think me a horrible mother let me share a couple of things.

First, if she was four or five years old her creative piece would have been praised and thoroughly accepted. But she’s eight going on nine and her skills are above what she was holding out to me. I know it and she knows it.

Second, the real issue was bigger…something more was going on in her little heart and mind.

She wanted to compare her creation with her big sister’s creation and she wanted the same final result but she wanted it on her terms. She didn’t want to take the time to do it the right way but she wanted the same acceptance.

The bigger issue was that she knew they weren’t equal but she wanted to insist that they were. She wanted to force her way to yield the same results. But they never would because her way was quick and easy and didn’t require the same work, patience, and attention that her sister’s way required.

So we talked about how we need to be willing to listen to instruction from someone wiser than us. To hear what someone has to say that has more experience obtaining the end result we want. To be patient and willing to put in the often times hard work required to yield a fruit that doesn’t exalt just us but brings honor and glory to God.

In the grand scheme of things this is a simple lesson. But it is one with profound application that she will use the rest of her life.

We relentlessly pursue relationships and happiness on our terms no matter the cost to ourselves or those around us, no matter the lack of success in the past using the same tactics, acting like the child demanding that the end result be deemed good just because we say so.

But God doesn’t do things our way. He says that the way to find life is to lay it down. The way to find love and happiness for ourselves is going to be found when we stop focusing on ourselves and choose instead to love others more than ourselves.

We are called to live life differently as those who belong to Christ. We are a peculiar people called to a peculiar way of being. May we take note of how we live our lives…how we be who we are…to ensure that we are indeed, peculiar to those around us who do not yet know of our King.

Linking up at Titus 2 Tuesday.

My Life For Yours

The way of the cross is a paradox…a call to death so that life may be found.

Recently, I read this article by Pastor Wilson. In it he makes the case that the way of the Gospel is “my life for yours” as opposed to “your life for mine” which is the way of the world.

Not many of us will have the opportunity to jump in front of a speeding car to save the life of a child that has wandered into the street or to take a bullet meant for someone else.

No, our way of giving up our lives looks a lot less heroic and has a lot less fanfare.

It looks like setting aside our own tiredness at the end of a long day to spend time with our children.

It looks an awful lot like forsaking our own much desired moments of solitude to have a conversation with a friend that is hurting or is weary so they can be encouraged.

It looks like laying down our own desires and wants so that they don’t become a burden to those around us.

It looks a whole lot like giving up of ourselves for the good of those around us.

Most of us know this though. We’ve been in church long enough that we understand the concept and even manage to do it upon occasion when the opportunity presents itself.

But here is what I am thinking. I am thinking that we aren’t supposed to wait for those moments to present themselves. I’m thinking we should be out hunting those moments down. To borrow a phrase from the old timers, we should be beating the bushes for ways to lay our lives down for the well being of those around us.

Because we are people of the cross we should look for the hard ways to love those around us. Because we follow the way of the Gospel we should seek out opportunity to live in such a way that it cost us something. Because we want to imitate Christ we live lives that declare, “My life for yours” in our homes, our work places, and our churches.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #82 ~ S’more Pie

I have a weird relationship with s’mores.

I love the idea of them. How could I not?

I like the crisp crunch of graham crackers.

Melted chocolate? Love some, thanks!

Ooey gooey marshmallow? Absolutely!

But the three come together and I am just…sorta…kinda…underwhelmed maybe?

I think, for me at least, the three good things come together and cancel each other out.

Shocking, I know. And my camping enthusiast friends are probably second guessing their relationship with a crazy person but there you have it.

The truly funny thing is that I am fascinated by them. And apparently a lot of people are because if you type in “s’more” on Pinterest a lot of pins come up. And I mean a lot. And also a lot of categories…in a jar, gourmet, treat, camping, buffet, kit and, I kid you not, one labeled healthy.

Since Rob and I are the only ones to have this weird indifference to s’mores I decided to give this s’more pie a try one Sunday for our fellowship meal. The pie plate came home empty so I guess it was a success.


The only complaint I have is that it didn’t cut into nice slices…we ended up doing more of a scooping thing. This could totally be my fault though so who knows? If you try it let me know how your’s slices up.

What you’ll need:
1 stick butter, softened 
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
7 oz marshmallow cream
2 Hershey bars, unwrapped and separated*
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips

*The original recipe calls for way more candy bars than I needed…a tragic event that left me with a surplus of chocolate to hide share with the kids another day 😉

What you’ll do:
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar together.
Add in the egg and vanilla.
Stir in the flour, graham cracker crumbs, and baking powder.
Divide the dough in half, pressing one half of the dough along the bottom and sides of a lightly greased  9 inch pie plate.
Spread the marshmallow cream evenly on the bottom crust.
Place the separated chocolate squares on top of the marshmallow cream.
Sprinkle the marshmallows on next.
Pat sections of the remaining dough on top of  and all around the marshmallows.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a nice golden brown.
Allow to cool completely before cutting.


A Beautiful Bride

Sometimes living in Florida with our pop up afternoon showers can be a tad frustrating as a photographer. We planned Chrisann’s bridals and had to cancel twice because of afternoon monsoons.

So, what were we to do because we had some serious time constraints to work within? Get up at 4:30 in the morning of course to do a sunrise session.
And oh my, was she indeed a beautiful bride!

Fabulous dramatic lighting at the fort that early in the morning.

Looking for all the world like a princess watching for her Prince Charming.

The First Week of August

I didn’t forget, it’s just that the beginning of the month has been really busy. I am also behind in posting my weekly project too. Something I better take care of before I get bumped from the group 🙂

Day One ~ A tea party


Day Two ~ A quick trip to the beach and a lovely sunset

Day Three ~ A curious cat

Day Four ~ Don’t worry I wasn’t driving.

Day Five ~ Sweet friends and silly giggles

Day Six~ More sweetness

Day Seven ~ The day before  the daughter of a friend’s wedding. This is pretty but nothing compared to how beautiful it looked after the flowers were added.

I can’t believe how fast the summer is going by! The kids will be back in school in a few weeks so we are in school supply shopping-well check checking-lunch planning-finish up those boni libris mode. Soaking up as much sun as we can and packing in all the spend the night with friends that we can before we hit homework and tests to prepare for days.

Thankful for the rest but eager to get back to the routine though. Turns out the the children are not the only ones who function better with a schedule 🙂

A Back to School Tea

A few weeks ago Emily hosted a tea for the 9th through 12th grade girls. I didn’t have to do much but talk through the planning stuff and then she pretty much handled everything else. She enlisted the other sophomore girls to help with the food after deciding on the menu, she wrote out all of the invitations, and figured out the decorations.

Originally she was thinking something along the lines of a vintage chic look with old books and paper flowers. But in the process of looking at proper table setting ideas we came up with an idea that changed the direction but she pulled it off beautifully.

Instead of using place cards to seat the girls in a way that would encourage the girls to mix and mingle she made them all a name plate. Since she would need to use Sharpie pens and they only come in certain colors she nixed the vintage look and the plates became a charger with a clear glass plate on top for eating. The girls each got to take their plate home with them as a gift.



She added some bright colored flowers to the table and kept things simple but quite lovely.

The idea for using Sharpies on plates is all over Pinterest but I’ve never seen anything like this. It took her a little over a week to make the plates which were 88 cents each from Walmart. The really fun thing to me is how adaptable this is. Can you imagine the holiday plates you could do? A bridal shower with monograms or using paper plates for a kid’s party with clear plastic plates on top? So fun!

This one sat on the front porch with a bouquet of flowers to welcome the girls.

Where I Am Living These Days

No, I haven’t moved or anything but since the kids have been home all summer and since the dishwasher decided to only wash half my dishes I am spending a ton of time in the kitchen.

There are dishes to be washed just about all the time.

Don’t worry, I am not keeping the kids from helping but I handle most of it during the day and then they take care of dinner clean up. A fine arrangement as far as I am concerned!

I also have them help with the drying and putting away some times. It puts a quick end to the “I’m bored” comments in no time 🙂

The biggest issue is actually the stuff that somehow accumulates all over the counter tops. In the midst of the busy activities it’s easy to forget to deal with things as they happen and before you know it the mess is messier than it needs to be.

I don’t know about anyone else but there are also a hundred different interruptions as well. Some legit but some created by my own lack of attentiveness.

Then of course there is the healthy eating boot camp Rob and I have been in all summer, too. Healthy food, I am learning, takes thought and time. And trying to teach these new habits to the kids is…well, a challenge to say the least. But with the help of pinterest I am able to get them interested in trying new recipes.

Hence I really do feel like I am living in my kitchen these days. But honestly I don’t really mind. Because God shows His grace in a thousand little ways in the kitchen.

As the last dish is dried and put away I reflect and ponder on His goodness.

Dirty dishes are a sign of God’s provision of food and sustenance. And not just tasteless fuel for our body but things that delight the pallet. Things that are just simply to enjoy and reveal His lavish delight in offering good things to His children.

As counter tops are cleaned and things put to rights I am reminded that He invites me to be part of His redemptive work…that the washing and drying and returning a sense of order are all acts that mimic and reflect the Gospel work of His son who came to restore and return order to our world.

It also produces a place where further work can be done. The next meal or treat can be prepared and the table sits ready and waiting to receive the bounty.

All of which reminds me that heaven is not some far off place out yonder. That now, even now, we live with the reality of heaven ever present in this world because the King is an ever present presence.

Join me in visiting some other blogging friends who are sharing where they live. You will be refreshed and blessed both by the beauty of the camera skills and the gracious and God honoring words.

Tim      Julie    Connie   Cindy    Patricia