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Love Notes

 

shabby chair

February is the Month of Love. And with Valentine’s Day right in the middle, romantic notions abound. Love is ” in the air” and commercialism has capitalized on this holiday so strongly that it’s hard for V-Day to live up to the high expectations we’ve placed on it. Many are doomed to fail before they even try! Society does enough to deflate the self-esteem and worth…

Let me share a different slant on this Monumental Month of the Heart: God is Love.

What if we miss it each year completely? I’m a bit older than 29,  (ha), and this is just now a new thought to me!! So I took the word LOVE, and wrote it out on several sticky notes. Each day I write an adjective/verb underneath the word Love, and then let the Lord begin to reveal His heart on these words in relation to His Love. I think you should try it with us. Let’s turn February into a way to purpose LOVE  in to all and everyone each day. I want to make every day of this month a tribute to God’s Love; I want to see new ways to show Love; I want to hear, taste, see, and be Love, the way we were created to be.

Next week, we will share a few of our LOVE NOTES  that we have been collecting. Our hope is that you will discover many more because our God is Love.

 

love notes

Imitate God, therefore in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with Love, following Christ’s example.  Ephesians 5:1-2

What Goes Up, Must Come Down!

One of the many joys we have both learned as Boy Moms, is to embrace the sheer pleasure of destruction in our sons’ worlds. I truly believe that a few of our kids only humor us with our Christmas tradition of Gingerbread-making because they know the day will come at the end of the Holiday Break when we will bring them all together again for: Demolition Day!

demo day

Yes, we are “those moms” that give our sons Nerf guns and hammers and on the count of 3… let them wreak havoc on our cookie creation. The whole thing is usually reduced to rubble in seconds while the two of us try to capture the fleeting moment for a scrapbook, dodging bits of gingerbread and candy flying past us!

This is how we look at it: children are constantly told to “be still, be quiet, don’t touch this or that, stop running…” It must be so difficult to contain all that frenetic energy bundled up in these growing bodies, AND obey all the adults that want them to stop acting rambunctious! Of course we can’t have children completely run amok (!!) but there should be some balance in their behavior training.

There are times we can create appropriate moments to run, yell, jump, wrestle, and touch everything in sight. So that’s what this day is about for our Gingerbread Warriors. They anticipate this day greatly, and we all dive in to the fun of it. So when we say “be still,” they can, because they trust us to tell them when it is time to “run with abandon!”play!

Enjoy the “play”; these moments are treasures tucked into your children’s hearts. They will become more important to you than all those moments they were quiet.

muddy warriors

“Open my heart, Lord, to the gifts of this day!”

Remembrance

We celebrate many anniversary events in our lives. Often what is unspoken are our anniversaries of loss. We all have them, yet we typically don’t collectively mark the occasion. Sometimes the emotional attachments are so poignant and intense it seems too difficult. Yet if we share just a bit, even a funny story…perhaps our grief feels a little lighter and our loved one is tucked into our heart memory just a little more snugly.

RemembranceToday we take a moment to remember our mother-in-law, Kitty. It’s been six years — a speck of time in the grand scheme of things yet so long in a family’s history.

Rather than dwell on all that she’s missed, we remember her spirit at family events. She was ALL IN. She loved the chaos of little boys running all over, digging in sandpiles and leaving their handprints all over her windows. She relished those grubby little bodies crawling into her lap and reading with her. She instilled a love of reading into all of her grandboys. I have fond memories of our firstborn backing up with an armload of books, landing topsy-turvy upon her and being caught with love. She’d exclaim, “Whew!” and they were off, diving into reading adventures together.

She loved well. We strive to pass on her legacy well.

We pray and hope that each of you are able to reflect and share special moments of your loved ones with those around you. Relive a funny story together. Look through old vacation albums or family reunion pictures. Remembrance is an honor and weaves a deeper texture to your family tapestry.

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion” — remember that moment in Steel Magnolias? It’s such a great example of the tenacity of the human spirit.

When we come together, we are stronger.

(…and surely that increases the odds someone has Kleenex!)Kitty's beloved dogs


“a time to weep and a time to laugh…” Ecclesiastes 3:4



 

Hot Cocoa Station

hot cocoa timeAs soon as Thanksgiving is tucked away and Holiday decorations are bursting out of our attics ready for display, we set up a Hot Cocoa Station in our homes that our families always enjoys year after year. The beauty of this little spot is that we tend to leave it up past Christmas and New Year’s and let it linger until the winter weather begins to warm up. As a mom, it frees me up from all the prep of making cups and cups of chocolate. And as a kid, it enables them to make something without assistance. (I will step in with younger ones and help with hot water prep). We sometimes throw in some hot apple cider and tea options too. It is fun to have friends and family come over and feel able to” help themselves” to a warm beverage!

cocoa station

Another trick we find MOST handy in both of our kitchens is a Drink Station. Our families have been using this tool for several years now. When you have multiple kids in your home, the last thing you want during “germ” seasons is for them to drink after one another!! And inevitably, as much as I used to try to catch them before their lips hit a cup that was not theirs…the germs had already been shared. YUCK!

Sooooooo, if you feel me on this one, then you might want to set up one of these in your kitchen:drink stationA long tray works perfectly for defining the space. We have been using this drink station in both of our homes for several years now. It has been great for cutting down all those loads of dishes. I was constantly collecting cups from all over the place and decided enough was enough! By defining the spot in your kitchen, all cups are corralled, and I wash them every day or so now because I know whose they are. This is a simple but very effective way to manage your family’s beverages.

Lately, my boys have been using these mason jars that have a number on them. I found them on a clearance rack and assigned each boy a number (birth order is easy to remember), and they look at it as some form of “secret code”! Win! Win! For All!! kids drinks

You can be as creative/practical as you want on your drink station. You match it to the style of your kitchen and make it personal for your family.  Hope this helps the traffic of cups in your kitchen!

“My cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5

What’s for Dinner??

Every single day we are faced with the dilemma:

“What’s for Dinner??

We’ve each triSlow cooker mealed different menu plans over the years. We’d like to share what works for us…most of the time. I know for me personally that the days I have “a dinner plan” go more smoothly because I can focus my energies elsewhere and tackle the dinner preparations with my designated helper when it’s time to hit the kitchen in the evening.

Menu board ideas are all over Pinterest. I adapted my own a few years ago by combining what appealed to me: flexibility, easy-to-use, and able to be quickly updated for the season.

What's for dinner??

 I used a 12 x 12 scrapbook frame that holds up to 25 pages of paper:

Menu board frame

I loaded it up with scrapbook paper for seasonal background color.seasonal scrapbook paper

I used glue dots to affix tabs for days of the week and mini clothespins to hold menu items. This could be simplified further by using clothespins or mini chalkboards that have days of the week already labeled.

— alphabet stickers for the title: What’s for Dinner??

— a line of ribbon for color

— two mesh index card holders with small chalkboards labeled Entrees and Sides

— cork board attached by spray adhesive; this area gives you a place for extra food cards or new recipe ideas

I made pockets out of folded index cards to hold individual menu items, loosely organized by food group categories. **Adding the page number and name of cookbook for specific recipes is helpful to you later!Menu pockets - entreesMenu pockets - sides

In each category pocket, there is a card with a specific food item. Some have been personalized by the family member that made the card or who is the “author” of the dish.

Menu pockets - fruits

Menu pockets - veggies

My kids take turns being my dinner helper. When we are discussing the menu plan for the week, they each get to pick what they would like to help make for dinner on their helper night. This helps their motivation tremendously!

Menu planning - kid helping

I encourage them to choose an entree and two sides. Since there is only one card for each item, this is an easy way to get a variety of fruits and veggies throughout the week.

When I began this project I used paint chips to add a splash of color. I now have blank index cards pre-cut into strips to make additional labels as needed.

Start with your favorite foods and add as you go.

Although I’ve been using this system for years and making a grocery list each week, I just recently had the insight to keep track of weekly menus that have worked for us to use again in the future. #duh!

It takes a bit more time to make a menu plan and coordinated grocery list, but I think it will be worth it next month when I can pull out a weekly menu and head right to the store!  I even did myself a favor and grouped the shopping list according to sections of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, frozen, canned/dry goods) and made a copy to use as a checklist, keeping the original in a menu planning binder.

You can personalize your menu board however you like. Pick the basic elements and streamline to your family’s needs. You can make it as simple or sophisticated as you want.

Menu planning - grocery list
Menu planning & shopping listGive yourself a break and include cards for “Take out,” “Dinner Out” and “Scrap Night” (aka: Leftovers) as well as some simple themes such as “Soup & Sandwich Night” and “Pizza Night.” Adapt what works for you and your family now. You can always tweak it later.

I’m off to “test” my shopping list with 3 boys…I may rip my list in sections and challenge them to see who can locate all their items first. Since I’ve drug them to the store provided them with ample shopping opportunities before, they know to search for store brands and sales items first. They may grumble a bit now, but their future college roommates will be impressed with their grocery skills, right?

apples and pears

fun veggie display



So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” I Timothy 6:8



Yes, menu planning is a chore. It does take time and effort. Every once in a while I need a reboot. When I freshen things up, I get a little more enthusiasm behind the process. 

What's for dinner - Jan
January menu board, prepped for the week
What's for dinner - Feb
February menu board ready to prep

Ready, set, go!     Let us hear how YOU are doing!

What's for dinner?? menu board update
February menu board, prepped for the week

 

Legacy

 

quilts

 

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

A neighbor that our family holds dear in our hearts just said goodbye to a mother of 90 years. Such a good, long life, but still hard to lose at any age, always.

As he reflected on his mother, this is what I heard:handpicked

she loved her children dearly

she worked hard in life

she poured into her family

she stood up for us, and stood by us in every circumstance

she knew how to make each person feel important; special

I never met this woman, but I listened to this son’s heartfelt sentiments and I began to think…

Feelings trump Actions a lot of the time. The memory bank cements the details with the years added; but the feelings infused to the spirit stay long and hard in our minds. Our heartstrings are attached to those feelings.

This is good news to the daily grind of life!! But a strong, powerful and important lesson to pay attention to…

whatever the event, circumstance or situation, be it good, beautiful or ugly; you can CHOOSE to end each well. There is an enemy that would really like to keep this a secret, but oh what a great Godly weapon against such one!!!

 

teacup

Listen: God can restore anything when we choose to give to to Him. Every time that we show LOVE, KINDNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL... we are ending it well. The people around you- Family, Friends, Strangers, God-orchestrated People will remember how they felt in your presence long after any event or meeting.

I know that I strive to point to the Lord with my life. I want to look like a big, beautiful, messed-up, imperfect, redeemed, restored person that ended things well because the Lord showed me how. And then that irritating enemy can’t replay any tapes to confuse me later, because God stops him, and reminds me how we ended even the hardest things in life well; together.

reflection

 

Embrace every moment you’re given. Time flies and moments are fleeting, but as you give the very best of you,  then our Lord can use that to be part of your legacy.

Mercy Me has a song called “In the Blink of an Eye”

 

 

shamrock

Here are parts of our Legacy:

This shamrock plant is in my house and my sister-in-law’s because it reminds us of our mother-in-law who loved this plant. We both have quilts that go back to great-grandparents in our lives that we wrap our children in. We share stories about loved ones that have gone on before us, and we cook with the recipes of cherished women in our past. All of these simple things implant feelings on our hearts; they are an evolving legacy…

Each transition that we take hold of will add another layer of texture to our lives and our children’s memories of home.

 

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children. Psalm 103:17