Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Beautiful - sunny and cool. Upper 50's today.

One of my simple pleasures:
The "heel" of the bread shortly after I remove it from the oven.
I use this recipe and seem to bake this yummy bread every Monday.

On my bedside table:
Same Kind of Different as Me - excellent book! I can't remember who recommended it to me, but thanks!!

On my TV:
Well, we're already behind on Dancing with the Stars so probably will just click delete and start fresh tonight. Additionally, we watch Top Chef on Wednesday evenings as a date with my spouse, and Survivor has restarted...I'm not a big fan of the people on it this time so far...and I hate all the conflict.

On the menu for tonight:
Finally have tonight's meal in process - Ground beef stroganoff in the crock pot for when we get home from football.

On my To Do List:
Just finished schooling the boys with a bit to finish with TJ yet. However, we have frost coming this evening so we're going to head up and clean off the remainder of the garden. Hoping to keep the peppers going though so will cover them this eve.

New Recipe I tried last week:
Thanks to Leigh for this yummy one! Crock pot Cheesy Shredded Pork Tacos...

In the craft basket:
Can beans, start putting away all the garden stuff...

Looking forward to:
Hmmm. A little getaway maybe in two weeks?

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Your kids can do windows... :)

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
Karen always seems to hit the nail on the head, and I particularly enjoyed this post...

Favorite photo from last week:Signs that we're getting towards the end of the growing season...harvesting some BIG sweet potatoes (well, just one)

Lesson learned the past few days:
Prayer and trust can keep the demons away...Satan knows where your weaknesses are so stay on the offensive and ward him off at the pass.

On my Prayer List:
My pastor, that he may stay strong and healthy while he shepherds the flock
My marriage, that I can be a godly wife
My kids, that they will grow to love the Lord each and every day
Brad and I, that we can minister to those around us of God's love and faithfulness

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
This struck me yesterday during my pastor's sermon...(Well, lots of things struck me, but this one in particular)..."As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him." I Samuel 17:48 Goliath sauntered with such confidence and pride, while David RAN to meet him - he didn't cower, he didn't fear, he didn't hesitate, he RAN. David was a hero...we need to be heroes in our own life, each and every day, running to the possibilities that God has placed in front of us!

Have a great week!
Our dog, Baxter, is bit over 70 years old in dog years. He has lived the outdoor life, chasing wildlife, scaring up pheasants, bringing home carcasses...all the special tasks that make him the top alpha in his book.

But, lately, within the past year or so, his thoughts and actions have turned to one other mission...getting in the house.

It all starts with the longing...

This dog has one goal in mind...

And, he's not going to let you forget what his goal is, because when there is a puppy look...

He won't settle for anything less...

Than the joy and knowledge of knowing...

That today's mission has been accomplished...

At least for the time being...
I have decided, that if you ever want to know where your kids are, just go to the bathroom. In this house, 9 out of 10 times I go to the bathroom, within mere seconds a child will knock on the door with a comment, question, or deep need of something DIRELY important (in their mind at least). However, right now, all children are out of the house, and I have a few moments to ponder, reflect, and just sit. But, instead, I have been trying to quick empty the dishwasher, load it back up again, clean the counter, chang into something besides my most comfortable yoga pants, so I can head down to visit quick with Brad's aunt, who is visiting at my in-laws down the street. Two of my three children have walked down already, and the third is out with daddy for a bit of a date.

But, here I sit. Here I am, in between jobs...tasks that need to be completed - not even really in between, because the dishwasher sits open, in a state of transition - just emptied, ready for loading. But, the computer beckoned, and off I went to see what it had in store for me. I watched a little video, clicked "like" to a couple of items, starred a recipe to use in the future, and got an update from Bella Mella regarding her son, Andrew. Which prompts me to stop, right now, and pray, for a few moments. He's young, and battling cancer. It just hits me right in the stomach. Probably because I have been imagining it being my oldest, and I wonder if I would be a witness to my Lord and Savior through it all. Would I be able to comfort my son through the agony of treatment? Would my son feel the comfort of Jesus? Would others see Jesus through me?

I'm taking some moments to reflect on that, and pray.

Oh, and I'm also going to thank the Lord for the health he has given to us. What little things befall us each and every day that cause my mood to swing, or give me a "poor me" attitude. They are nothing in the grand scheme of things. We are blessed. I know it. I just don't always show it.

I'm going to reflect on that as well.

It's the best use of my time in these few moments I have, right now.

Won't you take a few moments to do the same?
Proud donor of the TFTF Foundation (Teeth for Tooth Fairies)...

...and our little tomboy!

Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!

The weather in my neck of the woods:
Rainy and cooler - perfect for a blanket and a book

One of my simple pleasures:
Um, see first question... a blanket and a book :)

On my bedside table:
Food Matters by Mark Bittman (from the library, but I'm going to buy my own copy)

On my TV:
On the DVR - Survivor (if they reran it Sat night like they said) and DWTS starts tonight. Top Chef on Wednesday - it's fall tv watching time!

On the menu for tonight:
If the football game gets rained out, we'll have Tator tot hotdish; otherwise sandwiches on the go

On my To Do List:
Office organization
Work catch-up
Laundry today - LOTS of it

New Recipe I tried last week:
YUM! Amish brown bread from Evening Shade Morning Latte; Veggie Frittata from Food Matters

In the craft basket:
Still gardening...

Looking forward to:
Well, is it too early to look forward to Friday?

Homemaking Tip for this week:
I've said it before and I'll say it again...Put a piece of saran wrap down on a plate before putting raw meat on it to grill. After placing on grill, remove wrap and plate is clean for when you remove it from the grill

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
I'm leaving this one blank this week because I can't find the post I was looking for - and, I branched off of someone's blog to a new one and now can't find that one either!!

Favorite photo from last week:Our first dig found this sweet potato! Half of it fed our family last night for supper!

Lesson learned the past few days:
Involve your children in what you are doing - put margin in your day to make sure you have the time to teach and assist

On my Prayer List:
All of our new bible study leaders at our church
Our pastor
My family

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Psalm 119 has been on our minds and hearts this week, particularly v 18: "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of they law."

Have a wonderful week!
Ever have one of those "A-ha" moments? One of those light bulb moments where it all just comes together and you see what everyone else sees, despite years and years of thinking you were perfect? Well, maybe not perfect. But, let's admit, I know that my way has been the right way all this time. Hasn't it?

Last night, some dear friends of mine from church came over for a time of prayer. All our husbands are deacons at our church, so we try to have purposeful prayer time to cover them with God's guidance and peace as they make decisions affecting the flock. While we spend time in prayer, we also make sure we have plenty of time for chatting, laughing, sharing, and, of course, eating! So, as I was getting everything ready last night, my two children eagerly wanted to get in on the action (one was at football practice in case you think I have one child who didn't care to share his talents...) As usual, I was under a strict time frame as I hadn't built in any margin for additional help from my kiddos, so, begrudgingly, I found some jobs for them.

Job #1:
"JD, can you open these nuts and put them in this bowl?"

"No, I don't want them mixed with chocolate chips. Just in the bowl would be fine."

"No, I don't think we want to add peanut butter or butterscotch chips either. Just the nuts. That's all I want in the bowl."

"Actually, I don't particularly care for the design and seeing how high it can go in the bowl. They won't be able to scoop the nuts out with a spoon if you don't take some out."

"Yep, just put them on the table."

"No, we don't need to have a design on the table. Anywhere is fine."

"No, the decorations are fine. Simple is sometimes best."

"No, I don't think the tooth fairy will bring you a throwing knife."

"That is fine, right there. Yes, right there. On the end. Yes, there."

Job #2:
"You know how we cut the grapes apart into manageable sections? Here's the platter for them - green on one side, red on the other."

"No, you don't need to alternate every other one. Just one color per side is fine."

"Yes, I realize we can make that side extra tall, but I am thinking it would look better if it were a bit more even."

Job #3:
"You want to use the apple cutter? That's fine - I'd love for you to do that. Here's a plate. Use three of the red and three of the green."

"No, you can't slam it down on the cutting board like that...that will bruise the apples."

"That is going to bruise the apples if you keep hitting it against the cutting board. I know it is hard. I can help if you want."

"I'll help you if you need it."

"Give me that thing."

"Yes, you can alternate the colors if you want. That would be pretty. But first you have to dip them in lemon juice so they don't turn brown."

"A 2.3 on the acid scale, huh? I didn't know that."

"Yes, it does hurt if you have a hang nail."

"Run it under cold water. That should help."

"Give me that. I'll do it. You put them on the plate."

"No, we'll put the caramel in the bowl on the side."

"No, you don't need to alternate with bananas. Just the apples would be fine."

"Yes, you do make a wonderful banana and apple plate, but tonight I just want the apples."

Job #4:
"Go ahead and put the candy corn in this dish."

"Yes, you may have a few after you finish so that you don't spread your germs."

"Actually, don't put them into those holes on the side of the dish. Those are for decorations."

"Well, I'd prefer you just put them in the bowl."

"Alright, leave them that way. I am sure the ladies will love it, just like you said."

Job #5:
"The pecans should go around the outside of the cake in a circle, and then make an inner circle that alternates with the outside."

"No, I don't want a B on the cake for our last name."

"No, I don't think we need a gun on the cake made out of nuts."

"No, chocolate chips aren't necessary."

"No, I don't particularly care for candy corn on the cake."

"Just the nuts would be fine."

"Yes, it looks perfect, honey. Thanks for your help."

Outside they both went to be happy greeters and help our guests find their way into the house. Cheerfully they welcomed each of them, and made me proud to be their mom.

I learned, through this (somewhat painful at the time) process, that my ideas aren't always right, aren't always the best, and there is more than one way to decorate a carrot cake. What is important is having kids by your side who want to contribute and make a difference...may I never forget to build a margin into my day to share the joys of working together!
Special thanks to Sandra for hosting!
The weather in my neck of the woods:
Going to be warm today - seems like we have had more of summer in September than we did the entire month of August.

One of my simple pleasures:
A guilt free nap on a Sunday afternoon - haven't had one (the nap) in eons, so am hoping when the weather turns colder I can put one into the schedule - (how sad is that - to have to schedule a nap???)

On my bedside table:
Food Matters - Mark Bittman
A Cousin's Prayer - Wanda Brunstetter

On my TV:
Top Chef every Wednesday night (my weekly date with my dh for the late night showing)
Survivor starts this week (although, it looks like a lot of eye candy)

On the menu for tonight:
Football games tonight so food on the fly - sandwiches and soup

On my To Do List:
Can/freeze all the tomatoes in my garage that I picked on Tuesday

New Recipe I tried last week:
Pioneer Woman's Steak with Blue Cheese

In the craft basket:
I have some buttons to sew on and some animals to repair due to to much lovin'

Looking forward to:
The boys playing flag football tonight
Getting the tomatoes canned

Homemaking Tip for this week:
Glass jars make great containers for reusable items from the health foods store...nuts, lentils, wheat berries - can see how low you are at a glance.

Favorite Blog Post of the week (mine or other):
I love the outlook of Bella-Mella...her son was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor over the past week, and what a witness they have been so far. And, they show how everything is in God's timing. Read back through the past posts, and experience their story - Andrew is fighting the good fight. Won't you join me in praying for them as well?

Favorite photo from last week:Our view from the kayak

Lesson learned the past few days:
Satan wants you to think one thing, when indeed an issue may be stemming from something entirely different. He may want you to not see the obvious, because you may focus then on something even more detrimental or something that will further HIS work and deceit. Always be on guard and in prayer.

On my Prayer List:
My church and pastor
My spouse and many things weighing on his mind
My family, that we may bring up our children to be lights in a dark world
The families of the 9/11 tragedies

Devotionals, Scripture Reading, Key Verses:
Psalm 91 was of particular comfort this week as the 9/11 tragedies were being remembered. It is comforting to know that we have a God that is never changing, and always by our side. He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress: my God, in whom I trust." verse 1-2

Have a great week!
Two weeks ago, we set up camp in our "East 40" (although it is certainly not 40 acres, but it sounds cool) and had ourselves a little staycation. Brad mowed a section out of our long grass, which eventually will be our orchard someday. In the meantime, it makes a perfect site for a couple of tents, a campfire, some lawn chairs, and family fun.

Breakfast for supper - nothing wrong with that!

The campsite...

Watching the day end...

The day was waning, the moon arisin', and the world was settling down for the night. Unfortunately for me, no air mattress in my tent means mom sleeps inside tonight! Being married to a chiropractor is awesome, but I don't like to provide him any extra work if I can avoid it! While I love to camp, I do have my requirements, and an air mattress on the lumpy, bumpy ground is a must. Lo and behold, our big air mattress doesn't fit inside our tent door when it is already blown up, and we didn't have enough cord to run electric to the tent, so, I headed in to our house (and my nice warm bed) while everyone else roughed it outside. It got down to 42 degrees that night as well, so all of them snuggling together in one tent was a great idea! I wouldn't have fit anyway with that sleeping plan!

The next morning, the campers awoke to a gorgeous day, complete with fog over the foothills and the sun peaking through. What a glorious scene to behold prior to heading to church!

Amazingly enough, that was the first time we had our tents out this summer, and hopefully we'll be able to get them out a time or two again yet this fall. All I know, is whether we take a big vacation, or stay at home, when families are together, memories are made!
A few weeks ago, we made a large purchase. It had been a planned purchase, one we had been saving for, but nevertheless, it was pretty big around here. A certain someone had a birthday, and had been wanting one of these for a long, long time. And, what good is one, if you have to go it alone? Thus, the reason for two!
You should always kayak with a buddy. All the kids are able to use the smaller one, so anyone can join daddy for a relaxing ride on the lake -

Or, perhaps a ride down the river would be in order... All I know is that summer will be drifting by faster than ever now!

It's back to school this morning, but not before I spend a few minutes sharing how wonderful our weekend was! The weekend was absolutely beautiful, and had a full moon to boot! We spent part of Saturday celebrating our nephew's birthday with a picnic and a trip to the zoo. The rest of the day was a combination of front porch time, reading, cooking, and being together as a family.

Sunday was such an exciting day - we ventured out to Lifelight. Lifelight is the largest free Christian music festival in the United States. Three days worth of people brought well over 300,000 people from my understanding. We ventured out to the venue (a field) on Sunday afternoon to listen to Decemberadio, Andrew Palau, Lincoln Brewster, and the Newsboys. What an exciting and uplifting time this was! To be immersed in God's message of truth and life, sitting and standing and praising God amongst thousands of other Christians...words fail to express the emotion. From my understanding, many unbelievers attend as well, and I think they would be hard pressed to walk away without feeling the Spirit!

Honestly, though, what touched my heart more than anything was seeing TJ, JT, and JD worshipping their Lord and Savior with hands raised up, singing along with all the Newsboys songs that they knew - glorifying God and praising him. My prayer for them is to have this faith ALL through their life! Andrew Palau spoke of being wayward for 27 years - it doesn't matter if you have a pastor as a father, or are raised in the most biblical of homes. Children with the best parenting in the world still stray from the path they were raised in. But, Andrew's parents did the only things they could - they loved him, prayed for him unceasingly, and continued to speak the word of truth to him. Eventually, (27 years later!) Andrew recommitted his life to the Lord. It gives hope to me as a parent, but I think it is also important for my kids to hear of these things that pull them away from what they believe - alcohol, drugs, pornography, and much more can lure them away from God. Standing firm through the trials and temptations is extremely difficult, but ultimately rewarding. I pray they came away from Lifelight with that message!

Andrew Palau:

Main stage:
Rockin' out with Lincoln Brewster:

May God continue to bless and keep our families safe in his fold, now and forevemore!
Through another blog site, I linked into a family who just received horrific news regarding their son, Andrew. I have read through most of the blog, and find my heart just reaching out to this family as they walk through the valley. Please join me as I lift prayers up for this family - he's about the same age as my oldest, and it makes me realize even more how life is a gift given from God, and we should live every day to the fullest -and, more importantly, to his glory!

Please join me then, today, and going forward, in praying for Andrew.
Pray for Andrew

And, hug your kids a bit extra today.
Rainy days are such a call to curl up with a good book, a blanket, and a cup of coffee. Well, at least in my mind. The cloud cover is heavy and oppressing this morning, so saturated that they must release the overwhelming amount of moisture nestled within. The drops meet the ground, first as a gentle pitter-patter, but soon increasing the crescendo to an all out escape, bathing the earth and washing it clean, while nourishing all that it touches.

So it is with God's love as well. Sometimes it is but a gentle whisper on the breeze, seeking us out, calling us to come near, and be with him. Other times the storms of life rage and we call out to Jesus to envelop us in his peace, comfort, and care. He's always there, he's always with us. Whether it be tears shed for a deceased fish, or comfort of the loss of a loved one, he's there. Whether it be for calm for today's test, or embarking on a new and exciting journey, he's there. Whether we ask for it or not, he's there. Nothing is more constant. Nothing is sweeter. Nothing nourishes better. God's love is HERE, and he wants you to take it.

For through life's trials and temptations, through the days ups and downs, through the good and the bad, through the ominous days of life, our God reigns, and does so with love and mercy. What an amazing gift he has given us - the ability to never, ever be alone. To never have to do something on our own. To never feel lost and not have a way out. Those days are gone - gone! The death on the cross crossed over that chasm that previously separated us from God, and drew us together. We are washed clean, with the blood of the Lamb, and nourished by it as well.

Time to curl up with my coffee, a blanket, and a good book...the GOOD book. God is calling me. Is he calling you today?