Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pumpkins, Ponderings, and Apple Crisp

I just had to share a few recent pictures since the last time I shared with you guys I wasn't able to.  A couple weeks ago, we went down to the quaint, little pumpkin patch "down the road", The Penny Pumpkin Patch.  We look forward to picking out pumpkins every year, and since moving back to my hometown this spot has been our place to go!  It's a fun family tradition.

This sweet place is in a tiny community named Penny which is basically in the middle of nowhere, but isn't that the best place for a pumpkin patch to be?!  If you head out of town, it's somewhere between the horse farms, soybean fields, and all the smoking tobacco barns. 

Speaking of, I have to share with you a snippet of my country life.  I have never used tobacco a minute in my life, but we live in in the middle tobacco farm country.  Every fall when the harvested tobacco smokes in the barns, it is simply the quintessential smell of early autumn in the country!  If you open your windows on a brisk late September morning and smell the woodsy campfire type scent wafting in, it's a sign that the new season is at hand. I'm sure it must be funny to think about if you're not familiar with the scent or the country way of life, but for most of the people around here it's a familiar, endearing scent that welcomes fall to Kentucky! 

The love of my life!

Whenever we're at the patch I love seeing our kids run free around the pumpkins, their heart so excited their legs can hardly keep up!  We let them pick out one of their favorite pumpkins to take home.  Our daughter takes her task very seriously, where as our son just likes to mostly run and climb on whatever is around.  (With a very energetic 5 and 6 years old every single errand is an adventure, to say the least!!) I decided on a beautiful deep orange trio of pumpkins that came stacked up and ready to adorn our front porch!

I had to steal a picture of me with my beautiful little girl as she is bursting with excitement to be picking out her 2016 pumpkin! 

Just look at those dark brown eyes you could get lost in... and those eyelashes!  She's a cutie!! 

God knows and see her little heart.  I pray that I'm meeting her needs as a mommy should. Parenting has been one of the biggest leaps of faith from the very start.  It is a day by day, hour by hour reminder that I need daily help from the Lord.  I love our children with all my being, but I imperfectly guide them while trusting God's grace to cover us in the process. 

More than anything, I want to raise adults who love God with their whole being
and love people... out loud! 
Simple goal as it is, ultimately it will be their decision to make.  

My nickel parenting advice? 

Faith. (in God) 

Trust. (In God)

Prayer. (With each breath.)

Love (The best you can.)

Back home we set out the pumpkin bounty on the front and back porch and the mums I bought at the grocery. I admire the little acorns we have by the millions around our porch.  The giant oak trees loom overhead and shower our place with acorns. 

I happen to like things like that. :)

Inside I've began to set a cozy scene with the fire in the fireplace!  Most mornings are chilly enough to turn it on as I sip a quick cup of coffee during the week or my 2-3 cups I linger over on the weekends! I have bits of fall d├ęcor peeking out here and there!  I've since added more from the time this picture was taken, but it's real life here. This mama doesn't have time to stage photos these days, yet I don't want that to keep me from sharing my home with you! 

So, I've had requests for some of the recipes of things I've been making in the kitchen. and I don't want to let my cozy followers down!...

 I'm letting you all in on a delicious and easy recipe I've been making for years and years every fall!  It's a classic apple crisp recipe with dried cranberries and cinnamon. I like to bake crumbles and crisps in the fall months filled with warm and chewy fruit and topped with a crumbly oat topping! This one is a snap to put together. It's a perfect dessert with some cold milk or a decadent breakfast with a steamy cup of coffee!  Fresh out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream for us!

Cinnamon-Apple Berry Crumble

6 cups of sliced and peeled apples (about 6 medium)
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. oats, quick cook or old fashioned if you want more texture
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Ice cream if you want it extra delicious!

Heat oven to preheat at 375 F.  In a large bowl mix apples, cranberries, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Spoon into an ungreased 11x7 baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients with a fork until crumbly.  Spoon over the fruit mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender, juice bubbles and topping is golden brown!  Serve warm with ice cream!

Note: I'm sure you could make this with fresh cranberries if you add some extra sugar and cook it a little longer.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Back, at Last! A Life Update.

(I apologize that I have no pictures to show, but I'm some trouble getting them to load the past couple of weeks.  I guess my words will just have to paint the pictures vividly enough you can imagine all I'm saying!)

Good morning dear Friends!  I have missed you all!!! 

I've received some very kind and thoughtful emails and comments for some of you concerned for me since it has been since early summer since I've published a blog.  We are all good here!  I just have let time slip away. I've even began several different blogs but either never finished for times sake or had trouble with pictures, but today I decided I must write you and let you all know, we are well!! 

I'm just in a very, very busy season in my life and have more responsibilities than ever.  Because of that, I've had to simplify a few things: realizing I cannot do it all (that's a big one), not looking on my phone and social media nearly as much (I bet a few of you can understand the struggle), and not feeling obligated to write a blog post when I simply don't have the time.  My creative writing has been abuzz in my head with ideas of devotionals, delicious recipes I've made or fun family trips I've wanted to share, but at the end of the day I have been simply out of wind and unfortunately find myself at bedtime with yet not another blog written.  But as much as I never intend to have months between my blog posts, I also write simply from the pleasure of doing so and the connection with you all (I have no income from blogging). I have to give myself more grace than usual in busy seasons and if my blog suffers it's because I'm probably trying to be more present with my family. I am OK with that! God is helping "balance" my life, but I have truly missed talking to you and happy to share a little with you today!

It is autumn!  (I basically skipped summer...yikes) I love all the seasons of the years, but fall is sort of like my happy place --if you will-- out of all the other seasons!  Wonderful holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmastime are just around the corner, the cozy blankets have made there way back in our living room and the sweaters in my drawers.  It's jean and boot wearing weather and my favorite plaid blanket scarf has already been worn once!  It's a blustery fall day outside as I write.  Perfectly chilly and cloudy enough the vivid colors that are beginning to show have a lovely blue-gray sky to set them off.  It's dark enough for the candles to be lit inside!

I have a few of my windows open, and I can hear the slightly crunchy trees blowing in the wind with the occasional thud of hickory nuts and acorns falling to the ground.  We're pretty much surrounded by large, majestic trees on our property so naturally we have a fall landscape all around with colorful leaves, acorns and squirreling scurrying!  We've been seeing deer in our meadow almost every day and it delights our family! There are several sweet young ones that come out with their mama, and our children are delighted to see them!  Our kids are so cute....  When they spot a deer, they'll go outside quietly and hide behind trees and peer around to spy on the deer eating acorns or munching our grass.  That lasts long enough until one of the kids giggles themselves out of their hiding spots and the little deer family runs back into the woods.  It's really adorable to watch!  Their excitement for the small things in life is contagious!

Right now I have beautiful worship music playing that is the set list for our worship team practice tonight.  If you didn't know, my husband and I are very involved with the worship at church, and we love it!  We're are one of the worship leaders there, and he also plays bass guitar. Music has been one of the foundational things in our relationship since day one. Being a part of the worship team is one of the greatest blessings in my life.  I am grateful to serve the Lord in this way, but it's what I've known I've been called to do since I was a teenager!  In January of this year, that calling came to pass as our pastor asked us to be one of the worship leaders! (I could tell you so much surrounding that one thing, alone..)  Tonight I'm singing backup and look forward to what is always a nice interlude mid-week as we come together to practice and focus on the music the Lord has set on our hearts for the upcoming Sunday.

It's commitment to be in ministry, but it is so very worth the time and prayer put into it!  God is stretching me and teaching me as I  learn more and hopefully continue to improve my skill.  I seek God and those who "go before me" for wisdom so that I can lead the team and church in not only beautiful music, but an authentic experience with God!! 

I am humbled by the process. 

I've been singing for God in church since I was 8 years old.  I recognize that He gave me my singing voice (I inherited from Mom) and I told him as a girl that I would always use it to glorify and honor Him alone.  He gives us talents and gifts so we can use them in some capacity for Him! One of my favorite things to do is go with the body of Christ into the presence of the Lord.  Even when I don't "feel" like it, once I start singing those words of adoration to Him, I feel his presence so close to me.  Almighty God the Creator and Healer and Savior of the world is Father and Friend and Counselor. Wow!  We are all called to worship Him....God created us to worship Him and to know Him intimately!  I could go on and on and on about this, but ultimately spending time with God in worship leaves me more joyful and at peace than anything else on earth, and so I love sharing that with my church.  Also, that's why I had to let you in on that part of my life! :) 

This coming weekend my husband and I celebrate our 12 wedding anniversary!  He is my favorite person on the planet and I can't believe it's been 12 years since we walked out of the candlelit church to a ringing bell that would be the beginning of an entire life hand in hand.  I love him so much and being married is the best earthly thing besides my children that has happened to me!!!  We have known each other now for 24 years, sweethearts in grade school and friends thereafter.  When he became my boyfriend our Junior year of high school, we both knew that we knew we were meant for each other as husband and wife. We had what most would call a bold or fierce love so early on to be just 17 years old and to declare marriage in our future, but we meant it with all of our hearts. During all the trials or changes that happened over the following 3 years before our wedding, we never once even thought about breaking up or even taking a break of any kind, if anything we became all the more committed.  We knew that in marriage a break-up wouldn't be an option, so why do it when dating because we would get married anyways, period!!  I remember getting a few chuckles after just after he became my boyfriend and when I told some people that we were getting married one day.  I guess most people who talk like sound immature, but I knew we had a strong love for one another and believed God orchestrated our relationship from the start!

The fierce love we established even before our wedding carried into our marriage, and it's that kind of commitment to one another that has gotten us through the hardest and most difficult times we've ever faced in our lives.  That kind of fierce love isn't comes from the having Jesus Christ in the middle of our relationship.  He IS our fierce LOVE, and He has given us that kind of love in our marriage to brave the storms and uncertainties of life together.  Decade after decade. 

We've experienced trials over the past 10 years or so that I have felt completely at a loss... that have been so terrible or unexpected ... I felt as though Heath and I were in a the real life fiery furnace.  A furnace just like In Daniel 3 when the king threw the three Israelite boys in, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  It was said in the Bible it was heated up "seven times hotter than usual" . They were thrown in for obeying God instead of him.  The miracle of it all is they came out ALIVE and not even a hair singed on their head. This was from a furnace big enough to hold people!  It was because God sent an angel in there for their protection.  It was God that protected them!! That extra hot furnace that the Israelites came out unharmed burned up very guards that threw them in, just from them getting too close to it.

In God's goodness and mercy, since we are His children and have asked God to be the center of our marriage from the beginning, my husband and I too have survived a fiery furnace.  We've come out of what I've considered a furnace of trials that many couples would not have been able to survive on the other side.   Our "secret" is no secret, because I want everyone to know and I will cry it out from the rooftops! 

It's simply, Jesus.  Jesus is the answer!

I love talking about our anniversary because I love Heath! I honestly can say I love him more now than ever, because with God, what the fire leaves after wards is refined and more beautiful than before!  We aren't perfect, our story isn't perfect, but it is our great adventure that we are just 12 chapters in.  It's exciting to think about what will unfold this next year in our family!

I hope that I have left you with some beauty and inspiration here, and more insight into my life.  I really do appreciate every one of my readers and I pray that all is well with you, too! I love receiving emails from you, so if you ever want to talk especially if I'm not writing as much, I would be delighted to get an email from you! (My email address is in the side bar.)

Have a joy filled Autumn day and remember if you have a need go to God with it! He is near and loves you so much!