One Last Hurrah

“Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.”

Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

One Last Hurrah - Ordinary|Awesome blog

 


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days ChallengeTo read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

Dutch Baby {Weekend Cooking}

Levi asks me a couple times a week to make a Dutch Baby. It’s like big pancake, but it puffs up like a popover. It’s baked in an oven-safe skillet, but you can also make it in a metal 9×13 pan if your cookware isn’t oven-safe. When it shrinks down after coming out of the oven it’s warm and custardy – I love it! If you haven’t had this little gem of a breakfast food, then you should – soon.

This morning I made Melissa d’Arabian’s Vanilla Dutch Baby :

Dutch Baby {Weekend Cooking} - Ordinary|Awesome blog

She even has a video at the link above in case you’re worried you’ll mess it up (you won’t.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut into wedges and dig in! She has a fancy blueberry/lemon topping, but I’m not that ambitious… It’s delicious without it!

My all-time favorite Dutch Baby recipe is this one: Weekend Breakfast Recipe: The Apple Pancake from The Kitchn. Holy moly – butter, sugar/cinnamon/ginger mixture, apples and the custard pancake. The apples caramelize in the brown sugar and cinnamon, the pancake is nice and thick and everything is just right about it. LOVE this recipe.

My picture doesn’t nearly do it justice:

Dutch Baby {Weekend Cooking} - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Here’s The Kitchn’s picture:

Picture via the kitchn

Yum!

Try it and tell me what you think! Do you have a Dutch Baby recipe you love?

 


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days Challenge

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Special Delivery

Here’s something ordinary-awesome – Steve buys me Food Network magazine.

Special Delivery - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Ok, I’ll explain why this is more than ordinary.

I love cooking. And I love the Food Network. When the Food Network came out with a magazine, I got the very first issue. I am a charter Food Network magazine junkie.

Steve caught on to the fact that I liked this magazine, and one month he picked it up for me. Then the next month… and the month after that…

I have every single issue of this magazine (this is only some of them):

Special Delivery - Ordinary|Awesome blog

I have every single issue not because I’m a hoarder, but because every month since 2008 my husband has surprised me with it.

He knows when it comes out, and every month he checks the magazine aisle in the grocery store for the next issue and picks it up for me. He could have bought me a subscription that comes in the mail, but I’m glad he hasn’t. Instead, one day every month he comes home with it in a grocery bag along with the loaf of bread or jar of peanut butter I asked him to pick up – special delivery.

I say that’s pretty awesome.

 


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Mama, Can I Do Bible Study?

In the mornings I try to take a little time to work on whatever Bible study I’m going through. Morgan is usually gone by the time I do this, but on the weekends she comes over and says to me:

“Mama, can I do Bible study with you?”

The first time it happened I wasn’t sure what exactly to have her do, and honestly for a split second I was tempted to say “No, I’m too busy” or “No, this is my time”… and then I did a double take – my 5-year old wants to study the Bible with me… YES. OF COURSE.

Mama, Can I Do Bible Study? - Ordinary|Awesome blog

So, I still get my Bible study done, but I pick a passage of Scripture; I highlight it and we talk about it. Then I give her a special pad of paper to write it on. Sometimes she has me write it with a highlighter in cursive so she can practice her cursive writing.

I love love love that Morgan wants to read and write the Bible, and I hope she always does.

 


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The Worst Summer Ever

I was standing outside chatting with our neighbor when she asked me a pretty benign question – “Did you have a good summer?” I, with my big mouth, not willing to fake it, responded, “No! … Actually…” <insert awkward laughter and me blabbering about not going to the beach ever because it was cold>…

I don’t know what kind of season of life you are in, but I’m coming out of a pretty hard one. (Or maybe we’re not through it yet – I don’t know! What a fun thought…) So, that was the truth – it was a crummy summer. Really bad things happened. Things that I never ever would have chosen for our family.

But that is not the whole picture. Two things go through my mind when I think about this summer -

One –  we had some really fun moments this summer. But I can’t remember most of them because I’ve been fixated on all that went wrong. All summer I lamented what an awful time we had, so no one was more surprised than me when, the night before school started and we were all sitting around the dinner table, I blurted out

“So, what was your favorite thing we did this summer?!”

It was almost an out-of-body experience. What the heck am I talking about?! We didn’t do anything fun at all! And that’s exactly what Morgan said. I weakly feigned disapproval at her comment as Steve rattled off the fun things we did – Cherry Festival, fireworks in our backyard, checking out the animals and food trucks at the fair… He gently corrected her poor attitude (and, unknowingly, he corrected mine.)

Worst Summer Ever - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Worst Summer Ever - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Worst Summer Ever - Ordinary|Awesome blog

 

 

Worst Summer Ever - Ordinary|Awesome blog

(Thankful for a healed pinky…) -

Worst Summer Ever - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Two – if I could see the whole story – if I could stand at the end of it all and look back, knowing the fullness of my story, our story  – would I choose differently than what God has allowed and ordained for us? I doubt it.

I’m still wrapping my head around that one.


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Great Cloud of Witnesses

Great Cloud of Witnesses - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Tonight, I turned off the light and folded my body in two to kneel on Morgan’s bottom bunk and whisper with her before she went to sleep.

Morgan: “Mama, I want our lives to be like a movie.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Morgan: “At the end of our life – will they play music like in the movies?”

Me: “Uh… not exactly…”

Morgan: “Well, I want our life to be like a movie that everyone watches to see what will happen.”

Me: “Oh Morg… There are people watching. The Bible says there is a great cloud of witnesses watching what goes on here. Watching the greatest story every – the story of God’s great rescue plan.”

Morgan: “What do you mean? Who is watching?”

Me: “Everyone who loves Jesus and has already died and gone to be with Him – Noah and David and Joseph and… all kinds of other people…”

Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses… And so many more -

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Let’s not grow weary and lose heart – a great cloud of witnesses is watching our story. The Story.


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days Challenge

To read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

The Bathroom Reading Plan {Spring/Summer Edition}

You know how some people talk about the books that are on their nightstand? Well, my books are on my bathroom counter. Yes, as in, next to the toilet. I keep them on my nightstand too, but a book is really good if it’s made it to the bathroom stack.

I used to read all the time. Once we had kids there was no time for reading during the day, and at night I was exhausted or I wanted to be spending time with my husband.

If you are lamenting the loss of your reading time for any reason, seriously – try the bathroom reading plan (B.R.P.). I’ve gotten whole books read with only time in the bathroom. Ya’ll are probably like “TMI, Lauren…” but you know that people are not going to mess with you when you’re in the bathroom. Ok, scratch that – if they’re ages 3+ you can usually convince them not to bother you for a few minutes while you’re in the loo.

Reading is necessary for me. There is something about the written word that gets me deep down. And not just written word on a computer or on a kindle, but actual books that you hold in your hand. I know I’m old fashioned, and maybe I’ll convert one of these days, but I’m fairly certain that as long as they continue to print books I’ll choose the ones you hold in your hand and mark up the pages.

The following books were part of my B.R.P. this spring/summer. I recommend them with no reservations and give all of them five stars. They are that good.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog          The Sweet By and By - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog        The Mysterious Benedict Society - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog

Atlas Girl - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog     The Nesting Place - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog      Restless - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog

Cold Tangerines - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog         Bittersweet - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog     Bread & Wine - Bathroom Books by Ordinary|Awesome blog

A few of them were especially meaningful to me, but that is another post entirely.

Click on the books to find them on Amazon! Happy reading!

What have you been reading lately??

 


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days Challenge

To read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

 

Fringe of Frost

This morning, when I reluctantly left the warmth of our down comforter, I peaked outside and spied the grey glistening of frost over the leaves and individual blades of grass. I snuck out and took a few pictures. If the neighbors saw me they probably wondered what I was doing tiptoeing around in my pajamas.

Fall and winter are my time of year. So much color, so much sparkle, so much drama, [so much cold, Steve is going to say.]

Orange, red, electric yellow, spices, pumpkins, fires, acorns, [football]…

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a delightful book of poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston called A Circle of Seasons. The landscape this morning brought to mind part of it:

“Autumn leaves a fringe of frost when pumpkins turn to gold,

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Pulls his collar up to warm his face grown gray and old,

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Gathers in his harvest, says a prayer of thanks,

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Gives a little shiver, and all the air turns cold.

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Fringe of Frost - Ordinary|Awesome blog

O earth,

Rest well

Under the Autumn spell!”

 


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days Challenge

To read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

3 Easy Steps to Taming a Paper Hot Spot

I have this spot in my kitchen. It’s, according to Fly Lady, a hot spot. It’s the first place to put anything down when we come into the house, and it’s the most convenient spot to move things to when we clear the table off. It’s a catch-all. Most days I can’t see the countertop.

I hate that.

I’m not great at organizing and cleaning and sticking to routines, but after a while the clutter really gets to me, and I snap and get my clean on for hours on end.

Which is what happened today.

I’m not really advocating this – slow and steady is probably better and you won’t have sore feet from standing for so long… But it got the job done.

I should have taken a before picture, but just picture it really bad: piled high with a month and a half of school papers for Morgan, preschool papers for Levi and Taylor, 15 library books, and lots of mail. Seriously. It was bad.

But not anymore:

Hot Spot Overhaul - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Please note: I could have cropped out the clutter underneath this area, but I’m keeping it real…

Do you have this problem too?? Maybe it’s not in your kitchen – it could be any place where all the papers and clutter go to die…

Here’s what to do:

1) Organize papers into binders:

Here are mine -

Preschool:

Hot Spot Overhaul - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Kindergarten:

Hot Spot Overhaul - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Household (sorry – no pic) and Calendar/My Stuff:

Hot Spot Overhaul - Ordinary|Awesome blog

I got a laugh out of the fact that one of my children picked off the stickers that said “Choose Joy” on the outside of my calendar binder… Is that like a testimony to how hard it is to choose joy?? he he…

I already had a household (bills, appliance info, warranties etc.) and calendar binder, but I needed to figure something out for school stuff. It feels so good to have a place to put all those things. I plan on punching holes in the papers that come home right away and storing them in the binder. I’ll sort through them at Christmas and at the end of the year. Ok, at least at the end of the year.

Maybe you’d like to have a work binder or a Bible study binder… Whatever kinds of papers you’d like to get a handle on – binders are a great solution.

2) Set up a spot for incoming papers and mail:

I found the white tray for mail in the first picture at Target for $5 – score! The goal is for papers coming in to be contained to this spot and cleared out every evening to start with a clean slate the next day.

3) Organize a supplies cabinet:

A few months ago I decided I wanted a spot in the kitchen to keep office supplies so they are readily available. I’m so glad I did.

Hot Spot Overhaul - Ordinary|Awesome blog

It’s super convenient to have important papers I refer to often right there, along with the change jar we fill up over time, pens, note cards, post-its etc. etc. And it keeps all these things off the counter.

If you don’t have a spot in the kitchen, no worries – maybe there’s a good place in another room for you to keep all your supplies. The key is to have everything at the ready so you don’t have to go searching.

- – – – -

You can do this! Just do a little at a time – maybe a step a day. Soon your hot spot will be controlled!

Go forth and organize your junk! It will feel great!

 


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days Challenge

To read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

 

 

Yep, We Met On The Interweb

It was June 2006. And I was wondering if I’d ever meet someone.

I was living a full life – I had a good job, lived in Milwaukee – a fun city, and had great friends. I was actively involved in my church – singing and volunteering in youth group. But there were no prospects on the horizon. Where was I supposed to meet someone, anyway?

I began journaling my prayers, and asking the Lord what he wanted to do with my life. My real passion was missions. I attended a weekend workshop with a missions agency to see if it was for me. After much prayer and counsel from my parents and other people I trusted, I declared my intentions to the missions committee at my church to pursue an opportunity in Sweden.

At the same time, I made a profile on a site called ChristianCafe.com at the beginning of June. Even though I was prepared to be a single missionary, I deeply wanted to be married and have a family.

- – – – – – -

Meanwhile, there was a guy named Steve across the lake in Northern Michigan. He was building his own business, working hard, and volunteering with his church’s youth group.  He was going on dates and taking initiative, but he didn’t seem to click with anyone for a lasting relationship like he was praying for.

His ChristianCafe.com account was no longer active, but one weekend in June they sent an email saying he had a free week.

- – – – – – -

“This guy sounds pretty funny… And he says he’s searching for a great pot roast recipe – which I have. I’ll just send it over as a joke!”

- – – – – – -

It started with the pot roast recipe, he wrote back.  We exchanged a few emails and then he went silent. I wondered if that was it. After a few days he was back. He had had to pay $30 for a month membership. He would later say was the best $30 he ever spent.

We decided to talk on the phone. He had a nice voice, and we talked for a long time.

We both knew we weren’t in this for a few laughs and dinner out. The only reason we were communicating was to see if this could work for the long haul. So there was no time wasted beating around the bush or putting off big questions for later. We meant business. How many kids do you envision? Is divorce an option? How do you view your role in a marriage? What are your dreams? How do you deal with money?

He asked if we could meet in person. I did a background check. I mean, this guy could be all talk. He checked out. We met the weekend of the 4th of July in Holland, MI. It’s strange meeting someone you’ve only seen in pictures for the first time because their face is no longer frozen in one position. You can see now what they look like when they talk and their body language and how they laugh. I will always remember meeting Steve for the first time.

We hit it off, and he met my sister and close family friends of mine since my parents live overseas. Next I met his family. Everyone seemed to approve and we became surer and surer.

Yep, We Met On The Interweb - Ordinary|Awesome blog

By Thanksgiving we were ring shopping.

- – – – – -

Not wanting to “abandon” missions to run after a guy, I sought counsel from my pastor. What he said will always stay with me, and probably changed my life:

“You never know what kind of impact a family living for Christ can do in the world. There will always be unsaved people wherever you are, but there will not always be someone to do life and ministry with.”

- – – – – -

In order for Steve to meet my parents he had to buy an international plane ticket and get a passport. My parents live in France, so in December 2006 he flew over to meet me there the week before Christmas. My parents surprised him with a birthday present – train tickets for the both of us to Paris for the very next day. I didn’t know he had a ring with him. Or that he had to hurriedly asked my parents for permission when he went down for a drink of water the night before…

So there we were – on the eve of his birthday, approaching the Eiffel Tower at a few minutes to five, and he stopped, turned around and hunched over to find something in his backpack. Then he turned back to me with a box in his hand, and said “Will you marry me?” Of course it was yes, and we kissed and I cried and the Eiffel Tower exploded in twinkling lights as the clock turned to five o’clock.

- – – – – -

We got married on May 26, 2007.

Yep, We Met On The Interweb - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Yep, We Met On The Interweb - Ordinary|Awesome blog

I’ve spent 760 words telling about the beginning of our story, but it would take days to tell the fullness of our story to date.

Yep, We Met On The Interweb - Ordinary|Awesome blog

We’ve launched a business, moved three times, brought three children into the world and lost two before we knew them. We’ve weathered some hard things we never saw coming. And I can see it on our faces – we are not the same people we were the day we promised ourselves to each other. Our love has deepened and grown. It’s been tried and stretched. We’ve wronged each other and forgiven. We’ve laughed hard and grieved hard. He is so much more than I knew the day we got married. He has been Jesus to me.

 


To read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days Challenge