Seek & Find

Recently, I have found myself in need of seeking. Seeking for a home, a grocery, gas stations, home improvement type stores, plant stores, playgrounds, a bible study, social groups, playmates for my kids….really the list goes on and on.  In all that seeking and (thankfully, mostly) finding; I am reminded of the grace and goodness of the Lord. That no matter where I am, He knows me.

He knows me.

He searches me and knows me.

That knowledge is overwhelming…

It overwhelms my fears, my complaints, my negative self-talk. It overwhelms me with gratitude, unexplainable peace and love that know no bounds.

We sang this hymn our first Sunday in Germany…

O God, you search me and you know me.
All my ways lie open to your gaze.
When I walk or lie down, you go before me:
Ever the maker and keeper of my days.

You know my resting and my rising.
You discern my purpose from afar,
and with love everlasting you besiege me:
In ev’ry moment of life or death, you are.

Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
you have known its meaning through and through.
You are with me beyond my understanding:
God of my present, my past and future too.

Although your Spirit is upon me,
still I search for shelter from your light.
There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
Even the darkness is radiant in your sight.

For you created me and shaped me,
gave me life within my mother’s womb.
For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:
Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.

Paraphrase of Psalm 139
Composer: Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)

Maybe you have found yourself searching and in need of Christ’s overwhelming presence in your life. I am finding that I need to seek Him continually…. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13.  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

I love that the promises of God are true. From the times of King David to Jeremiah; to when Jesus walked the earth; to me and you today….His promises are true, His Word is truth. Be encouraged; seek and you will find.

 

 

 

 

 

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Favorite Kids Books

We are big readers here…fall asleep on your book kinda readers. When I go through my kids rooms at night to do a last check before I go to bed myself, I remove the books that they were reading and looking at before they fell asleep. For this month’s What We’re Reading Wednesday, I asked each of them to bring me their favorite book.

Ren received Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein from his SuSu for his eighth birthday. Ren loved this book and devoured it in two days. His favorite part was when Isaiah meets Haley and he thought that Isaiah was really funny. I am going to have to read this one myself.

James Patterson’s newest illustrated middle grade story follows the illuminating journey of a very special mouse, and the unexpected friendships that he makes along the way.
What makes Isaiah so unique? First, his fur is as blue as the sky–which until recently was something he’d never seen, but had read all about. That’s right–Isaiah can read, and write. He can also talk to humans…if any of them are willing to listen! After a dramatic escape from a mysterious laboratory, Isaiah is separated from his “mischief” (which is the word for a mouse family), and has to use his special skills to survive in the dangerous outdoors, and hopefully find his missing family. But in a world of cruel cats, hungry owls, and terrified people, it’s hard for a young, lone mouse to make it alone. When he meets an equally unusual and lonely human girl named Hailey, the two soon learn that true friendship can transcend all barriers.” Amazon.com

My Sam’s pick is Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. Sam is 4 and 1/2 and at the very beginning stages of reading. He recognizes words and I am sure Green Eggs and Ham is his favorite because… Sam I Am, I Am Sam. He loves that part when I read it to him.  He also loves the illustrations and likes to point out the various pieces of the story in the pictures.

Alexandria is almost 3 and she loves all things Strawberry Shortcake. She totes the Strawberry Shortcake Storybook Treasury by Megan E. Bryant in the car, through the grocery (if I let her) and she goes to bed looking at the pictures each night.  Alexandria also has a collection of tiny Strawberry Shortcake board books that she loves. The stories are berry sweet, the illustrations are berry colorful and with six full stories there is plenty of reading for Alexandria and Mama reading time.

Are your kids readers? What are their favorite books? I am always looking for new books for Ren to read. He has a bookshelf in his room that we rotate on a regular basis. I am a huge book lover and I love that my kids are growing up as book lovers as well.

Johannah from The Sirois Family
Whitney from Work it Mommy
Crystal from Hall around Texas 
Stephanie from Wife Mommy Me
Whitney from Polka-Dotty Place
Heather from My Glittery Heart
Justine from Little Dove Blog
Keri from Keri Lynn Snyder

 

 

 

Social Media & Kids

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across a hilarious time-hop video of my oldest from a couple years ago.  In the video Ren is telling the best version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I loved it…he however was embarrassed and immediately asked me to delete it….not the reaction I was expecting as Ren is a jokester, however I honored his request and deleted the video. We then sat down and talked about what is on my Facebook page, what I share and what is on my page that is of him. I showed him my friends list (many people that he knows casually) and explained who sees what and why I use Facebook.  I then asked him if he would feel better if I asked his permission to post pictures/videos of him instead of just doing it. He nodded and then was off to build another Lego machine.

That conversation left me thinking for quite a while about the world my kids are growing up in. When I was Ren’s age the internet was just created…(mind blowing…really)…and there was no such thing as social media unless you count Polaroids and the notes that people wrote on them. I didn’t have to navigate instant…instant anything really. The best thing I can do for my kids is keep their day to day lives theirs. They get weirded out when someone asks them a question or makes a statement to them about something (that I put in FB) that that person was not a part of. I kinda like that they are weirded out (in a healthy way) by that…because it keeps me from over-sharing and helps me to be a more in-the-moment mama.

As a blogger and a mama who writes about being a mama…and my kids are 3 parts of that 4 part equation; I will have to figure out how to navigate my sharing with their privacy. Honoring Ren’s request to not post without asking his permission gives him the assurance that his life is his and he gets to choose what parts of it are shared. As a mama of young kids I have to use my judgement of what to share and not share. When they become aware of social media and their place in it; I have to honor their right to privacy.  I want to teach my kids to guard themselves and their privacy; to know that their lives are precious, protected and not for all the world to see at a moments notice.

Have you had a social media and privacy talk with your kids? What advice would you give if you have? These are new waters for me and I would love to hear from you!

 

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Crystal at Hall Around Texas | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

Jessica at Sweet Little Ones | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram
Stefanie at Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me | Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram

 

Hello Monday!

It’s been a while.  I have been super busy here. Prepping a family of five for a move to Germany is no small feat. We are leaving in June, our countdown is officially on. Hopefully this week, we will get the official orders that we need to have in order to schedule the shipment of our family vehicle and the packing of our household goods. Once those dates are on the calendar things will start to move super fast.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I have read or was reading the KonMari  Method book…The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While I have not completed each category in my home, I do see the value of keeping things that bring me joy and ridding my home of the things that do not. As a military wife the purge part of a move is so important. Not taking things that weigh you down, things that your family does not need, that bring you stress, that your kids have out grown…etc, etc, etc. The countless trips for donations, items for sale and simply putting something at the curb for a treasure hunter to take away; this has been the bread and butter of cleaning and prep this past month. This month, I am sorting through what is left, categorizing into bins and storing it on the shelf space that I will have with me in Germany. Thankfully the military will store stuff that we are wanting to keep but cannot take with us to Germany. Now it is the deciding what goes, what goes to storage and what goes to Germany….all.the.fun.things.

Speaking of fun things…I have to test for an international drivers license and I can start 60 days before we arrive in country. Ed and I have traveled in Europe and rented a car while on vacation several years back. No special license needed then. Since we will be living in Germany and not just vacationing there we have to have a special license….one more thing to my ToDo list. Oh and German language courses online. I started one of those…I can’t hold a conversation in German yet…but I do have good word (written word) recognition so far. I am adding German language to our homeschool curricula this week and I’m pretty sure Ren will pick it up pretty quick.

Add preparing our home for the rental market…and ALL.THE.THINGS. We found a property manager and just finished updating the kitchen this past weekend. New appliances (except the refrigerator) are in and a crisp white tile backsplash is up. The wallpaper is down and I am loving the white cleanliness of it all. Once we are all packed up and moved into a hotel (May calendar) we will have painters come and new carpet laid down.

Our sweet Guinea Pig girls have a new home waiting to receive them as do our 5 chickens. We will miss the wide open spaces of this home, the sweet pets and fresh eggs.  I never viewed the “American Dream” (for myself) as a home with land, chickens, a big garden, etc. I certainly do now. Living here in Ohio has given me a glimpse of the life and type of home I want for my family when Ed’s military career is over. I am grateful for the time we have had here, the insight it has given us and the lessons we have learned.

Any advice, ideas, helpful suggestions are welcome. Wish me luck, send happy thoughts, pixie dust, prayers and a spoonful of sugar will all be good…We have a lot to do this month…April, I hope you are kind to me!

 

 

Linking up with Johannah and Heather for Hello Monday!

 

Exciting News!

We received news recently and are preparing for an overseas move. My plate is FULL of all.the.things. that a Mama must do to prepare a home and a family for a huge transition. Because of that full plate I will not be posting very often here. I hope to share with you how we prepare for an overseas move, when I have time. Once we are over the pond, I plan to write about our adventures, the day to day workings of a homeschool mama life, recipes and copy-cat recipes (there is some food you just can’t get overseas) and all the things that gives me handfuls of life.

Until then, I have more spaces to go through and organize, a home to prepare for rental and suitcases to pack and re-pack. Say a prayer for me…Wisdom and peace would be my top two. Wisdom in packing smart, packing up things my kids need to make this a smooth transition and deciding the timeline for our trip and visits to family out of town. Peace for my heart (moving is tough) and my family (moving is tough).

Thanks friends!

Why Lent Matters

Chris Tomlin’s song Here I Am To Worship is, for me, a perfect Lenten song. Imagine a completely darkened room, no light from any sources (have you ever been in a cave and they turn off the lights, you place your hand directly in front of your face and you cannot see your hand…or anything). That is a life without Christ.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4 & 5). Now imagine a light, slow and steady growing and filling the room, illuminating every corner, every crevice, until the darkness is overcome. That is Christ, into the world, into our hearts, our lives, every hidden place in us.  Lent for me is creating intentional time to allow the Light of Christ to illuminate my life. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)

Here I Am To Worship, Chris Tomlin

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter Sunday). This time, for me, has become a season of reflection and pressing in. Most of the time when someone hears about Lent they think it is about giving something up (chocolate, social media, coffee, etc..). I believe that it is a time to gain. Gain perspective, allow Christ to show me the hidden places in my heart, Psalm 139:23 says Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ~Gain a greater understanding of who Christ is and His plan for my life… For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ~Gain greater peace and wisdom for the days ahead… If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

Spending intentional time for the forty days leading up to Easter has opened my heart more, to the wonder and excitement that is Easter. The sacrifice that Christ completed on the cross, that sacrifice is for me and you.  On Ash Wednesday receiving a sign of the cross on your forehead is an acknowledgement and outward sign that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. The priest says “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

From dust I came and to dust I will return. More of God and less of me… This is my Lenten plea.

A post shared by Nili (@handfulsoflife) on

Time spent in worship, study and prayer, seeking God and asking Him to reveal more of who he is to you. Asking Him to show you the hidden places of your heart and change you to become more like Him. Forty days of seeking, repentance, praying, worship and allowing God to illuminate your life; preparing you to be the light of the world. This is why Lent matters.

There is no magic formula, no perfect Lenten study, say these prayers, abstain from these things, do this, not that. I can’t tell you what time of day to seek God (all day, while you go about your life, is best) or what translation to read, or what church to attend. What I can tell you is this, you seeking God and Him being found by you and in you, that is what Lent   (and our whole Christian journey is about…even after Easter celebrations are over).  Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 

Take that picture of you standing in the darkness, with no light and one candle is lit and then another and another and another and another and another….until the whole space is filled with light, dispelling the darkness that is all around. Each of those candles is a person, a full of the Light of Christ person. If we, with the Light of Christ burning inside of us; go out and shine our light for Christ….think about what the world around us can be transformed into. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 said: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

Do you participate in Lent? How do you celebrate Easter?

 

Linking up the Tuesday Talk hosts:

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls, Crystal at Hall Around Texas, Jessica at Sweet Little Ones, Stefanie at Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too , Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me , Becky at BYBMG, Lindsay at Lindsay’s Sweet World, Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer , Justine at Full Hands, Full Heart, Christina at Waltzing In Beauty, Meghan at The Adventure Starts Here, Tina at Go Big or Go Home and Whitney at Polka-Dotty Place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish Tacos ~ A 20 Minute Recipe

I love fish tacos, the flavor and texture combinations are so good.  I have a couple of recipes that I have made over the last 12 or so years. One is labor intensive and takes quite a while for prepping and cooking. The one I’m going to share with you is not a lot of work and it’s quick. I need quick meals, I survive these days of Mamahood on quick meals. The other thing I really like about this recipe is that it has only six ingredients, three of which are fresh produce. The dressing I use is Bolthouse Farms’ Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing (this is not a sponsored post). This stuff is delicious, as in I want to use it for everything delicious and it is only 40 calories per serving.

20 Minute Fish Tacos

Ingredients:

  1. Already seasoned/breaded frozen fish fillet
  2. Soft white corn tortillas
  3. Fresh Avocado ~ cut into bite size pieces or sliced
  4. Fresh Tomatoes ~ cut into bite size pieces
  5. Fresh Cabbage ~shredded (I buy already shredded cabbage)
  6. Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Dressing
Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, remove the pit. Make long slices through the length of the avocado and then slice across as well. Do not cut through the skin. Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon.

Instructions:

  • Cook fish fillet according to package instructions
  • Wrap in the tortillas in aluminum foil and place it in the oven for the last 5 or so minutes of baking the fish. (I wrap 5 tortillas at a time).
  • While the fish is cooking dice the avocado and tomatoes and shred the cabbage (or place the bought cabbage in a serving bowl).
  • When the fish is done cooking remove it (and the tortillas) from the oven and let it sit for a couple of minutes before cutting it into slices.
  • Fill a warm tortilla with fish, cabbage, dressing, tomato and avocado.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use whatever fish you prefer and this is easily a gluten-free meal (depending on your fish breading). I used a breaded Alaskan Cod this time. I have used a grilled tilapia, salmon and even shrimp.  You can also add other toppings (my husband likes sliced jalapeno or siracha on his).

I’d love to hear if you try this recipe. Are you a fan of fish tacos? What are your favorite type of tacos?

Just Write~ Out of Abundance

Five minutes of thoughts, words on a screen, fingertips to keys. My thoughts, my emotions, my life, just write.

We had a speaker at my MomsNext group yesterday. She spoke on taking time for ourselves, taking care of our spiritual health, physical health and finances. One of the questions for table talk was, What is holding you back from taking your Me Time? I sat there and thought for a while, the only thing I could come up with is me. I sabotage myself again and again. It’s the most consistent thing about the core of who I am. Which is sad. Why would I do or rather not do the things that I know will bring me a better life? Last year was a wash when it comes to taking care of myself and I never seemed to surface long enough to make a change. The crazy thing is that 2015 was awesome. I worked out on a daily basis, ate (mostly) healthy, I spent time in the Word and in prayer…and then 2016 happened. I don’t know what even happened…I just stopped. So here I am. Seven and a half weeks into this year and I don’t want to be consistent with myself…I don’t want to sabotage myself again. Life and the days of life don’t get longer; if anything they get shorter. There is so much to be done and my ToDo lists seem never-ending. As soon as one box is checked three more appear at the end of the page.  So this is my proposal to myself.

Spiritual:

~Daily Bible readings (Proverbs and Bible App daily readings) ~ Daily Prayer and Worship times before my kids are up ~ A Bible Study for Couples with Ed ~ Worship Music on Pandora

Physical:

~ Water, daily intake to 1/2 my body weight in ounces ~ BeachBody workout stream online daily ~Cut all processed food and eat clean, whole foods ~ Snack on fruits and veggies

Financial:

~ Stick to the budget plan that Ed and I have agreed upon ~ Make it a goal to have more money left over for savings at the end of the month, more than is budgeted   ~ Cut out emotional and impulse purchases

That’s the plan. I know I am not the only person that struggles in these areas. I have a diary for the No Spend challenge that I started in January that I will be posting at the end of this month. I hope you can share this journey with me. Accountability is a powerful thing.

One of the verses that the speaker shared, to help us give permission to take time for ourselves was Proverbs 4:23, For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If we are not taking care of ourselves and staying in communion with God than the words that we speak and the life that we pour into others will be empty and we will become empty. I don’t want to become empty. I want to be able to encourage and speak life to those around me. I want abundance to flow from my heart.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you struggle in any of these areas? What have you found works for you? Do you have a plan in place to take Me Time? I hope we can encourage one another this year. I’m looking forward to 2017 continuing to be the year that brings great things…even the ones I have to work hard on myself for.

 

Flatbread Pizza~ A Quick & Delicious Recipe

I don’t know about your kids, but mine LOVE pizza. I’m pretty sure that 99.999% of all kids love pizza. I mean, what’s not to love… bread, cheese and toppings of choice. Pizza is one of those meals that can be made to cater to any eating occasion…breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack…it’s all out there. I try to keep the ingredients for flatbread pizzas on hand at all times. A mama never knows when the promise of a homemade (read kid made) pizza for lunch or dinner will by her some extra clean-up or quiet time. (What? I’m not above bribes for the right reasons.)

Artichoke & Garlic White Pizza

For this recipe you will need:

  1. One Naan flatbread
  2. One clove of Garlic ~ pressed
  3. Little Salt & Pepper
  4. One TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  5. 1/4 Cup Artichokes ~ chopped
  6. 1/2 Cup Italian Cheese Blend

Cooking Instructions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 Degrees F
  • Mix the Olive Oil and Garlic together and spread it on the Naan, bubble side up
  • Sprinkle a little Salt & Pepper over the oil and garlic
  • Spread a small amount of the cheese on the Naan
  • Put the chopped Artichokes over the cheese
  • Top the Artichokes with the remaining cheese
  • Place the naan on the middle rack of the preheated oven (You could use a cookie sheet, placing the naan directly on the rack will give you a crisper crust.)
  • Cook for about 6 or 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
  • Cool, slice and serve.
Classic Cheese Flatbread Pizza

My kids go for a classic cheese or sausage and cheese pizza. With only three or four ingredients it is so quick to make and delicious too! Grilled flatbread pizza is divine. You might end up saving yourself some dining out cash after you grill these for the first time…SO GOOD! You can pick up the Naan flatbread usually in the deli area of your local grocery. I find mine in front of the deli counter. The topping possibilities are endless with this recipe. I frequently make a “clean out the fridge pizza” and top my naan with veggies, meat and cheeses, that we might only have a little left of, but not enough for a full meal alone. Depending on if you have to prep anything, this is a 10 minute hot lunch or dinner.

Artichoke & Garlic White Pizza

Do you have a pizza topping combination that you love? Mine is smoked salmon, capers, arugula and crème fraiche. I’d love to hear if you try this recipe out and what toppings you used!

Linking up the Tuesday Talk hosts:

Beth at Our Pretty Little Girls, Crystal at Hall Around Texas, Jessica at Sweet Little Ones, Stefanie at Lexie Loo, Lily, Liam, & Dylan Too , Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me , Becky at BYBMG, Lindsay at Lindsay’s Sweet World, Sarah at Sarah E. Frazer , Justine at Full Hands, Full Heart, Christina at Waltzing In Beauty, Meghan at The Adventure Starts Here, Tina at Go Big or Go Home and Whitney at Polka-Dotty Place

All About the Girl~ $10 at Target

I’m not sure that two girls can really ever spend less than $10 at Target in a shopping trip, Alexandria and I almost did.  We went out for a girls day this past weekend on a hunt for berry, berry girly things. With two older brothers at home, Alexandria has her pick of all things masculine, car, building, dinosaur and animal related at home. While she loves playing with her brothers stuff, she also loves all things girly.

Alexandria saw this fun mermaid puzzle in the toy aisle and she wanted to hold it right away. She has been dragging puzzle boxes out of the game closet for about a week or so; wanting me to help her put them together and then playing around/on them. “It’s berry, berry girly” she said over and over. Mermaids trump dragons and dinosaurs anytime…especially for this girl. I couldn’t resist buying it for her and the $7.99 tag fit right in our budget.

Alexandria added a couple of ponies to swim underwater with the mermaids right after I put together for her. She spent the next 10 or so minutes playing quietly on and around the puzzle.  I love the bright colors, the sturdiness and the size of the puzzle pieces. Alexandria is learning to sort the pieces by color matching; I’m sure it won’t be long before she figures out how to put the pieces together.

We made one more swing through the Target Spot before we checked out and Alexandria spied a little wooden bird house to paint. For $3.00 it put us a little over our $10 budget…a girl can try though! I had hoped for little painting party on Sunday but I was immersed in a big project that couldn’t wait.

It’s so hard for me to believe that my baby is growing so fast. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was snapping her into an infant carrier? Her cute expressions, non-stop conversations, infectious giggles and love for all the berry, berry girly things just melts my heart.

Have you had any recent Target finds? Bonus points if you walked out the red doors spending less than $10.  I’m joining  Stephanie, Elizabeth, Beth, Becky and Tif for the $10 at Target Link-Up Party.

 

Becky at bybmg // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Stephanie at Wife Mommy Me // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest
Elizabeth at Chasin’ Mason // Instagram // Facebook // Pinterest