Archive | August, 2010

Contentment in All Circumstances

Pure exhaustion. That would describe me right now. Having found little sleep last night leaves me feeling pretty drained. Fear has been attacking me lately at the thought of trying to sleep. I was up folding laundry, reading, and simply crying out to the Lord. Can I possibly joyfully serve my family today when I have no brain? Where can I find the strength necessary to just focus on today, rather than worrying about tomorrow?

What does it mean to be content during these challenges seasons?

I love the way Nancy Twigg states it, “Contentment is being able to come to terms with where you are and what’s going on in your life, even if it’s not what you would have chosen for yourself. True contentment is not having everything you want, but learning to appreciate everything you have.” (From Clutter to Clarity)

Being content means being at peace with your circumstances. It means laying down your desires, and finding joy in all that the Lord has given. It is easy to let the mind wonder to unhealthy thoughts of comparison, asking the what-if’s and if-only’s, but being content clarifies life by keeping us focused on reality.

Contentment is possible when I focus on cultivating a thankful heart. When I fill my mind with a verbal reminder of all the sweet gifts he has poured out on my life – my husband, children, home, church family, etc – contentment is a companion of thankfulness. It requires taking control of my thoughts. It is not easy. When you are weary and tired, the mind does not function so easily and can wander back to thoughts of self-pity. There is no fruit in these thoughts. It is a daily battle for me right now. Self-pity is a work of the enemy to destroy our productivity and service to the Kingdom.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)

Let’s take control of our thoughts, dear sisters. Let us stand with Paul in declaring, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). Let us put our hope in God who never changes, rather than the fluctuating circumstances around us. Even if nothing else may be going right, I can be confident that God is with me. Let’s discover together that God is enough through every season of life! I am speaking out loud to my soul today, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why are you in disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalms 43:5)

Comments { 47 }

True Woman 2010

My sisters, mother, and I will be heading to Fort Worth, Texas on October 14-16 for True Woman 2010! We would love for any of you lovely ladies to join us as we are challenged in understanding our position and value in Christ. I am eager to hear the truth shared from Nancy Leigh Demoss, Mary Kassian, Kay Arthur and others about how we can live out our lives, homes, and ministries for the glory of God.

I wanted to use this opportunity to extend an invitation to you. Join our group and save $20 per ticket. If you are attending the conference, you can join our group! Simply use our group code: TGCC at checkout. Learn more through the promotional video here:

True Woman is also coming to Indianapolis, Indiana on September 23-25! I’d love to hear from you if you are able to attend, join our group, and meet up!

Comments { 26 }

Healthy Lemon Bars

I am a huge fan of lemon bars! In fact, I think it just might be my favorite sweet. I love the combination of sweetness and tartness that they provide for my palate. I have been on the search for a means of making my own lemon bars in a more natural fashion. I found my friend Kimi’s lemon curb bars recipe, and fell in love! Not only were they incredibly simple, but they were delicious, gluten free and healthy all in one! I am all about simplifying, so I adapted her methods a bit to make it quick and easy as follows. I skipped the addition of lemon zest, because I did not have it and also found that the mixture was definitely lemony enough without them, and thus it saved a further step.


3 whole eggs
1/4 cup honey (I found the smaller amount was perfectly sweetened enough – raw honey is your best option)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup coconut oil (I cut back on the coconut oil from the original recipe since it was too strong of a coconut flavor to me. 1/4 cup was perfect! Choice virgin cold pressed unrefined coconut oil for best nutritional value.)


1 cup of raw almonds (soaked and dehydrated, if possible)
1 cup of raw pecans (I have used practically any combination of nuts here!)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup of melted virgin coconut oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt

Filling Directions:

1. Blend the eggs, honey, and lemon juice together in a small sauce pan until thoroughly combined.
2. Turn the heat on to medium high and add coconut oil, mixing regularly until the oil has melted.
3. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens and bubbles.
4. Remove from pan and place in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool and thicken further.

Crust Directions:

1. Place nuts in a food processor or blender and pulse until finely chopped, but not pureed. You may have little chunks of nuts, and that is fine.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse again until well combined.
3. Spread over the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.
4. Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5. Cool completely before layering the filling over the top. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Scrumptious! I am going to make another batch now!

Check out Kimi’s original recipe here!

Comments { 38 }

Finding Time to Read as a Homemaker

We took an impromptu beach trip over the first part of this week, thus the delay for my next post. Aaron received some extra time off work this week, so we are enjoying some rest as a family!

Photo Credit

Every month that I post my reading list, I get the question: how do you find time to read so many books? Today, I’d like to share some of my ideas for incorporating reading into your lifestyle. Without reading, I would never be able to learn new things about natural, simple, and creative homemaking, nor would I be inspired to press on in my role through the struggles and weariness of everyday life. It is my source of inspiration on a daily basis! Reading the Word of God is my first priority as it enables me to find my daily strength in the One who is able. Beyond daily striving to abide in His Word, I aim to read another book to help stimulate my mind and strengthen me in my role.

I strongly encourage each women to cultivate the habit of becoming a reader. Make it your hobby! Each year I strive to read a godly title addressing all of my roles – womanhood, motherhood, wife, and missional homemaking. These four books – Womanly Dominion, Mission of Motherhood, Sacred Influence, and Practical Hospitality have been my top yearly reads and are essential for inspiring me further up and further in while pursuing daily faithfulness to the Lord. Beyond these titles I love selecting a few biographies to read to provide godly examples to model my life after. I like to read titles on natural living, creative homemaking, and Christian inspirational titles. As much as I would love to read more history and modern titles, I have to prioritize my limited reading time to those that will really build me up in this season of life.

Being a wife and mother who reads is essential for passing on that love for learning and reading to your children. They learn by example. What you love, they will likely love.

If you want to grow in your role as wife, mother, homemaker and follower of Jesus – please don’t neglect the art of reading!

1. Make a reading goal and seek accountability

Every year I make a reading goal. For me, I aim for 25 titles completed by the years end. I post it here on my blog and begin marking them off as I complete them. I add to the list throughout the year as I hear recommendations, but I often scratch out other titles if I loose interest. Make your list and seek a friend, spouse, or relative to help keep you accountable.

2. Set a weekly family reading night

Having Tuesday night reading night has been a challenge to maintain but it certainly has been our goal to have one night a week to read together or individually as a family. This encourages reading as a family exercise from which we can all find enjoyment.

3. Carry a book with you

Carry a book with you is a valuable way to make use of time while you are in the restroom, waiting for an appointment, waiting for the kids from piano lessons or sports, etc. Having a portable reading device is also very helpful in this way (Kindle for iPhone or iPod touch, or iBooks are great new additions to the portable world). I can read from my phone making it easy never to forget a book and easy to pack.

4. Read before bed to wind yourself down

I love to take 30 minutes before bed to just read to my heart’s content. This helps wind me down from the busyness of the day, or help relieve my mind from stress. Don’t read anything too stimulating at this time, as it could keep you up. This is my favorite and most productive reading time of the day because there are no distractions and the house is peaceful and quiet.

5. Don’t be afraid to put a book down

The key is not to get bogged down. If a book is not really interesting to me, I glean what I can and then move on. Even John Piper, one of my favorite theologians, explains that he rarely reads a book from cover to cover. He picks out the meat and leaves the rest behind. In this manner you can get a lot of reading it.

6. Get into the habit – read a page a day!

One of the key ways to start reading more is to just start with one basic goal – read a page a day! You will often find that you cannot stop after one page, but making the daily habit will far surpass your expectations. I often take a few moments after I lay the kids down for a nap to read a book and take a short rest myself. Yes, there may be many other tasks calling my name (clean the dishes, or organize something), but I deliberately stop and take a short rest to rejuvenate myself for the tasks ahead when my children rise up and hubby comes home.

7. Guard your internet usage and other distractions

Many people don’t have time for reading because they are using their free time for the internet or television. The average American watches over 4.5 hours per day – no wonder we don’t read! One of the reasons we don’t have a television is for this reason – too distracting for me. I still have to guard my computer time by setting a timer or using parental controls as a safeguard, so I have more time for more productive pursuits.

8. Read while you nurse – multi-task!

Reading while I nursed my littles ones has been the perfect time to read a book.

9. Take advantage of audio books

Subscribe to Audible or borrow audio books from the library to enjoy while you travel, houseclean, or prepare meals. I love to use these times to listen to my favorite podcasts - Revive Our Hearts or Homemakers by Choice – but it is another opportunity to listen and glean from books.

You always find time for that which you prioritize! Make reading a priority for your day and you will always be blessed with fresh inspiration for your calling!

Comments { 45 }

Simple Real Food Meals for Summer and Busy Seasons

Photo Credit

Busy seasons will come and go. There will be  seasons of life with greater suffering and trials to endure. Babies, morning sickness, moving, and the like. How can we pursue feeding our families nutritionally during these times? I honestly have been struggling with maintaining a real food from scratch diet in our home over the last year while enduring insomnia and caring for two lively little munchkins in our home. It simply has not been possible.

It was extremely refreshing to here from Stephanie at Keeper of the Home her post Even Real Food Bloggers Get the Blues about her own struggles with maintaining a real food diet in a busy season. Please check it out for some wonderful encouragement and suggestions. I was thankful to hear that I am not the only one.

During this season, I have been trying to slim down and stick to the basics. I do a simple natural housecleaning routine.

I currently buy sprouted bread, tortillas and the like. I am not baking much, partly due to being summer. My priority has been to maintain simplicity and maximum nutrition. I continue to make my own kefir for the wonderful antibiotics and as a great base for all of our smoothies, and kombucha (a refreshing summer beverage with lots of probiotics). These are easy and frugal at the same time.

Here are some of our simple summer meal ideas for this season:

Simple Meals at Our Home

Breakfast -we stick to the same breakfast routine at our house, rotating between oatmeal, smoothies, and eggs. Lately we have been eating a lot more green smoothies, because they are easy to prepare, the kids love them (and we don’t have to deal with picky eaters!), and you can throw practically anything in them for increased nutrition. They make an easy simple lunch or dinner as well. We add coconut oil or coconut cream for good fats and flax seeds as well. Stephanie recommended the addition of Green Foods Magna Plus Powder to increase the greens and veggie content. Great suggestion that I will be starting!

I also make a large batch of homemade granola for a simple breakfast or over top of fruit salad and yogurt, but also buy organic cereal for the enjoyment of my husband! This is one thing he really likes for me to buy on occasion. It sure is nice to have on hand for those busy Sunday mornings before church.

Hamburgers – yes, hamburgers are wonderfully delicious made from grass-fed meat. We serve with raw cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and such on a sprouted bun. Utilizing the husband and the BBQ is wonderful. He loves learning a new skill while mommy gets a break. I appreciate this immensely! Another favorite is chicken thighs with some natural Montreal steak seasoning.
Pasta Presto - a simple meal that takes 20 minutes to prepare! Add chopped zucchini, onions and carrots for increased veggie content if you don’t have the energy for a side salad. During busy seasons I often prefer to stick with one main dish to maintain my energy.
Hummus & Pita – a wonderful simple lunch with quality protein! Make a hummus platter for a light dinner.
Salmon Melts - I keep my pantry stocked with cans of wild salmon to make these easy sandwiches that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Makes a nutritious lunch or dinner.
Burritos - a seven layer burrito style is simple and nutritious with the addition of brown rice, black beans, grass fed beef or pastured chicken and your favorite toppings. Use canned beans if you need to!
Salmon – Trader Joe’s sells this marinated wild salmon soaked in olive oil and spices that takes 15 minutes to bake in the oven. It is delicious and easy to side with some potato wedges and a simple green salad.
Fish Tacos – I purchased some packs of Frontiers Organic Fish Taco Seasoning mix and what a delicious simple meal they make! I combine wild cod with the seasoning mix and fry it up. I use this mayo/lime juice mixture over cabbage, sliced avacados and tomatoes and serve over corn tortillas. Yum!
Baked Potato Bar - grad some chili (a can of chili if necessary) and serve over baked potatoes with an array of toppings – cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, bacon bites, etc. Along these lines we have also done nachos for a quick easy meal.
Cobb Salad- this yummy salad has been a regular lately! Make your own ranch dressing with my recipe. Taco Salad or Chicken Ceasar Salad are also simple main dish salads, perfect for warm summer days.
Grilled Veggie Sandwiches – these are simple and delicious!
Roast in the Crockpot - another easy meal is to throw a pork or chuck roast into the crockpot with natural BBQ sauce and allow to cook on low all day. Nice way to get dinner out of the way in the morning.

Those are some of our simple favorites! I hope you will be encouraged to see that we are all striving to be faithful with the time and energy we have to make whole nutritious food for our families, but the Lord gives grace for these seasons! Making everything from scratch may not be all the realistic for most of us. I am also confident that the Lord is in control of our health and wholeness! It is not worth it to worry and fret over our well-being. Maintaining a peaceful and joyful home is far more of a priority. Remember, the Lord instructs us to not worry about our food or clothing, but rather to “seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto us (Matt. 6:33).” Being faithful but not striving to the stress of our households is key!

Comments { 29 }

When Homemaking Gets In The Way of Mothering

Photo By Witigonen

This post is brought to you by Passionate Homemaking’s Monthly Contributor, Vina Barham.

So at one point in my very short homemaking career, I got this idea in my head that I should learn to bake bread if I was going to be an awesome homemaker. And for a few months, I was baking bread like, a lot. I was also soaking grains and beans and making elaborate meal plans and all that old school coolness.

And then, I stopped. Just like that.

Because somehow, Home-making got in the way of Mothering. Or at least my idea of homemaking. I was slowly wilting in the kitchen and buried under piles of cookbooks for two hours every week trying to figure out our weekly menu, trying so hard to do all the things every good mother should do. I mean, every good mother should at least learn how to bake stuff and have a well-planned schedule of meals, right? Right?

Some of us just thrive and glow in the kitchen. The kinds of mom who are in their element when they are putting something together on the stove, with a planner and a calendar on one hand, a spatula and a rolling pin on the other. You moms rock in your own Julia Child way.

For some of us, it just ain’t so.

Not that we give up trying to learn, because oh how I would love to be THAT mom who makes all our bread from scratch, and have meals that flow seamlessly well. But that requires time, and a whole lot of learning curve. And there’s only so much time and energy that is Given us each day. And sometimes, we have to let go of the Good to make room for what is Good For Us, so that we can offer our Best and focus on the Essential.


  • Taking care of ourselves so we have more of us to give in generous loving heaps to our family.
  • Practicing the art of loosening up, embracing the mess and playing more with our children.
  • Maintaining Our Core Identity so we can offer Genuine parts of ourselves to the people we love.
  • Focusing on Growing as a Mother (and a Wife) instead of Perfecting the Art of Homemaking.
    Okay, more practical examples:

  • Settling for buying nourishing bread elsewhere for the time being so I can learn the essentials in the kitchen stress-free.
  • Forgoing the elaborate menu plans, sticking to the simple recipes I know and slowly, but surely building on them.

I still bake bread on occasion so I can continue to learn how to do it, but I have given myself permission to take that off my essential list, for now. And slowly, I’m learning what needs to make that list, and what needs to be “put on hold” for another time. And bit by bit, taking baby steps and starting small, I will bake the most delicious bread yet in my house. But for now, first things first.

Comments { 68 }

Simple Steps to Declutter Your Home

Stuff, stuff, stuff! Are you struggling to keep your head above water in maintaining your home in a simple and peaceful manner? It takes a bit of persistent effort to maintain a simple home, but it is well worth it, as you can turn your focus towards the more important things in life – relationships and hospitality.

I feel like I am always in a mode of decluttering, because I hate things not serving a purpose in my home. As I have been packing some of our goods in preparation for a potential move, it has helped me further declutter and seriously evaluate what do I want to take to another home. If it can stay in boxes for several months, is it really needed? Do I need ten cookbooks? No, I only use two of them.

For every item that gathers dust, it takes time to clean, maintain, or clear out of the way to accomplish another task. Let’s join forces in taking an aggressive attack towards clearing away the clutter!

1. Keep Your mission at the forefront

Decluttering is only successful when I keep the right mindset. What is the purpose? So that my home can be a more peaceful place for the rest and refreshment of my family and those God has called us to serve in our community and church. I don’t want to be spending hours each day housecleaning. Decluttering removes that need. Use the opportunity to teach your kids about giving generously to bless others with your stuff. Include them in the process.

2. Work room by room

Start decluttering by working room by room throughout your house. Start at the door and do a full sweep of the room, top to bottom. Empty drawers, cupboards, and closets. Ask yourselves these questions as you evaluate each item in your home:

Do I use it?
When was the last time it was used?
Do I care about it?
Is this item beautifying my home?
Could someone else use it more?

3. Work quickly and be aggressive

Make sure to work quickly and don’t think too hard about each item. What is your first instinct? The more you think about it, the more you will be able to justify keeping the item.

For clothing, reverse the direction of the hangers for any items that you are unsure about. If they don’t get worn in the next month, you will know for sure that they need to go. For children’s clothing, eliminate what clothes you don’t care for or stained. Limit the numbers to 6-8 outfits. For toys, reserve a few toys per child and remove the rest or rotate them in storage. Kids don’t want or need tons of toys. It is overwhelming to them.

4. Persevere for the end is worth it!

The initial re-haul may take some time. It took me a solid week, taking one room each day. After the initial re-haul, maintaining a simple clutter free home is so much easier, and takes a bit of time here and there – often taking place with the changing of the seasons in my home. I like to take about 30 minutes each week to declutter one area of my home.

When you seek to intentionally declutter your home, it makes it so much easier to be a peaceful and joyful homemaker. It is like a weight is taken off your back. Your spouse will benefit from a refreshing place to come home to. Your children will be more content. And your home will be more prepared to minister to others through hospitality. It’s a win win situation!

Comments { 57 }

July at Our Home

Me & Vonni Renee

Last week was an intense week of preparation for a local outreach over the weekend (Compassion Vancouver) that we were helping coordinate, so I am finally getting around to posting our monthly update. July was a month of seeing the hand of the Lord open up some neat doors for us.

After releasing my desires to the Lord and surrendering my will (as described in my June update) , God started working so beautifully. He opened the door to receive the three doula clients that I needed to achieve my certification, nicely spread out throughout the remainder of the year. I helped welcome the arrival of Vonni Renee on July 25th, through a beautiful natural hospital delivery. God orchestrated all the details for the perfect timing. I was able to serve and support this sweet couple welcome their first baby and they were thrilled as much as I was.

Secondly, Aaron and I have begun leading worship together at our church on a regular basis, which has always been a dream in my heart. The Lord has given my husband a real gift in this area, and I always wanted to partner with him through my piano skills in serving the body in this way. With the wonderful support of our church body, and the recent purchase of a keyboard by the church, we are now able to work together in this way. It has been such an encouragement to see the support and love of the body. It is a wonderful outlet for us both to continue to develop our musical skills and serve the body at the same time. I cannot wait to welcome our little ones to the team in the future! ;)

Our house continues to be on the market for sale, but we are completely at peace with that. We are considering the options of renting it out, but continue to wait for further direction for the right renters if that is the way God would have us pursue.

In the meantime, we are continuing to reach out in our community, preparing to start preschool with our daughter Karis, and also preparing to speak at the Selah conference. The Lord is good!

What did I read this month?

Gardening Eden: How Creation Care will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World by Michael Abbate – my favorite read thus far on our responsibility as Christians to care for God’s creation. It was very challenging and biblically sound. I appreciated his well rounded approach of not living out of fear, but choosing to enjoy God creation and strive to care for it in a balanced God honoring manner.

Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves by Erin Davis was an encouraging read on the importance on understanding your position and image in Christ, especially for those who struggle with image, appearance, or talents. Erin provides a motivating challenge to see your beauty in Christ and how to live that out practically in our day and age.

Aromatherapy for Mother and Baby: Natural Healing with Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Early Motherhood by Allison England – As I have began to explore the world of serving pregnant and mothers in labor in natural ways, I picked up this book at my local library and found it truly fascinating. There is a whole world of natural essential oils that are wonderful for preparing for labor, for the actual delivery process, and for postpartum healing. A great resource!

Comments { 21 }

Simplify Conference – September 25

I am excited to announce that I have been invited to speak at the Selah conference, which is an annual seminar for women held at George Fox University in Newberg, OR. It is coming up on Saturday, September 25th, from 9-5pm. This year the topic is: Simplify – Discover the biblical truth that less is more. This conference is focused on the important task of de-cluttering our heart and lives in order that we much embrace the best that God has in store for us. We will learn together the importance of prioritizing our values and how to spend our time and resources intentionally.

I will be leading a break out session on the topic of Missional Homemaking. The thesis of my talk will be: Come be challenged to live an intentional life of simple living in order that we might give generously to others through hospitality, relationships, and ministry.

I am absolutely thrilled for the opportunity. My prayer is that God might use the vision He has imparted to me to help inspire other women towards more purposeful planning in making their homes a place of ministry. If you live in the area, please join us! I would love to meet you and be blessed by your support. Otherwise, please pray that the Lord give me the words to speak!

Learn more here!

Comments { 15 }

The Essential Back To School Preparation


With the new school year fast approaching, it is essential that we, as mothers, make sure we don’t get overwhelmed by the responsibilities and tasks that accompany the months of August and September. We must simplify our lives to make sure we have room for all the things that await us:

Back to school shopping, organizing school papers, calendaring school events, scheduling sports events, shuttling to extracurricular activities, deciding whether to be a coach or room mom or carpool driver or co-op coordinator, planning for the far to quickly approaching holidays.

The list is endless and paralyzing.

Feeling overwhelmed is a call to simplify

When we feel overwhelmed, we need to simplify. Often we only simplify by trying to tackle our list of to-do’s. But we just as regularly need to evaluate and simplify our lives. So let’s break the process of simplification down into 3 steps: why we avoid it, why we need it, and how to do it.

Why We Avoid Simplifying

1. We are afraid of making seemingly big decisions.
2. We are afraid of making the wrong decisions.
3. We are afraid of looking like we can’t handle it. (Even though it’s true.)
4. We are afraid to let go of our junk. It may be ours, but it’s still junk.
5. We don’t want to let anyone down.

Why We Need To Simplify

1. We need room to breathe.
2. We need space to grow.
3. We need time to listen. To others. To God. To ourselves.
4. We need peace.
5. We need to cultivate our ability to make wise decisions and model it for our children

How To Simplify

1. Pray – God’s really good at showing us what we need and what we don’t.
2. Write A Mission Statement – A measure of what is important to us. When we can’t think or decide our mission statement can decide for us. If it doesn’t fit – get rid of it. (It’s also a good idea to create a mission statement for your family to help everyone have proper direction.)
3. Seek Counsel – develop a trusted circle of people who know you and will help you identify the important from the unimportant.
4. Default To No – when new opportunities are presented, default to no. Few of us have too much time on our hands.
5. Just Do It – The fear of making a poor decision should not require us to carry hundreds of heavy, unmade, procrastinated decisions.

Action Time
Take a few minutes, right now, to list, evaluate, and prioritize your responsibilities for the coming year.

Join The Discussion
How are you preparing for the upcoming school year? What is one tip that helps you manage the chaos?

Comments { 4 }