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A Divided Heart ~Wise Wednesday 6/28/17

“When a child is born, so are grandmothers.” ~Judith Levy Pixabay

Divided: separated; shared; to diverge; cleave………..

I have decided that being a grandparent causes you to suffer from a “divided heart”. Beginning at the instant you learn your child is having a child, it’s as if a magnetic force immediately draws your thoughts, dreams, prayers, and overwhelming love in the direction of that tiny, beating heart, hidden from the world. 

Fast forward to that breathless moment when the miracle that will call you “MiMi” (replace this with whatever your grands call you or will call you) is placed in your arms.  Everything else fades away. Cradling this precious armful, older heart to brand new heart, it seems they beat in unison, filling a place you didn’t know was empty, and nothing is ever the same again.

Time is both precious and tormenting. The longer you want to savor the sight, breathe in the scent, and caress the tiny fingers and toes of this new person in your life; the faster the minutes, hours, and days seem fly by. All too soon you’re faced with saying goodbye. Your stomach clenches.  Tears flow.  A heart divides.

A temporary condition?  Afraid not. A one time thing? Nope! Carson is two now: my heart?  Still  pulled in different directions.  We’ve recently been blessed with Owen: my heart? The chasm has grown.   The struggle is real! While my very being wants to wipe every tear, experience every milestone, calm every fear, and read bedtime stories every night with my grandsons; I’m also drawn home. My normal: the routine, responsibilities, schedule, and those that wait for me, beckon. Yes, a heart divided….wanting to cling to one place while yearning for the other.

Pondering this heart situation, it has occurred to me that we suffer in a similar way as Christians.  

“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.”
Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

Above?  Earthly Things? Earthly things? Above? A heart divided! I  often find myself torn between a heart that is focused on me and my wants and one that is looking to follow God’s plan for my life. Maybe you do, too. And while we want to be home with Christ, where our fears will be calmed and our tears wiped away; to get there, we are faced with saying goodbye to THIS home. We cling to our earthly life and yet yearn for Heaven. Thank goodness God sent Jesus to bridge the gap of our broken hearts! Jesus said:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:1-4, 6-7 (NIV)

I wasn’t prepared for the powerful love that comes with being a grandparent. I’m blessed to only live four hours away from the boys and technology helps keep us connected in-between visits.  Goodbyes will always be hard. As my heart continues to pull me in different directions, I pray it reminds me to always stay connected to the One who, with the greatest love of all, is preparing a place for me where my heart will be divided no more.

 

 

 

 

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It’s a Wrap! (M’m! M’m! Monday in Disguise)

"The season has shifted and changed so I let go of what I am use to and walk bravely into the unknown because I know God is right beside me with each step." A Modern Day Ruth / Pixabay

“The season has shifted and changed so I let go of what I am use to and walk bravely into the unknown because I know God is right beside me with each step.” A Modern Day Ruth / Pixabay

“That’s a wrap!” Words often used to signal the end of a storyline or season of a T.V. show, but today they’re words reverberating around in my chaotic mind. Part of MY story, a season of MY life is wrapping up and I’m going to have to wait for the new season to begin to see how things work out.  Just so you know; I don’t like waiting……I don’t like change…….and I don’t like not being in control……even when the new season promises to be good, great even!

Our new house was ordered today.  I’m packing the remaining odds and ends and we’re moving out this weekend. In six to eight weeks our house should arrive and we’ll begin to write a new story; live a new season! That means in this in-between time we must say goodbye to our old, blue house. In the world of television the time between seasons is full of reruns and it’s no different really for me.  This time of farewell to our home of 18 years is sure to generate lots of memories to relive and retell.

I’m not really sure how to say goodbye to walls that protected our family and gave us space at the same time.  To let go of bedrooms where books were read, sleepover giggles quieted,  bedtime prayers whispered, and goodnight kisses shared. The upstairs porch with its once grand brick-a-brack railing , a place where little girls could get lost in their imaginations, will be hard to see go. Conversations while we ate together, games played, homework done, and Christmas cookies decorated made our dining room the heart of our home. As I sat this morning in “my chair”, a place made for lingering, a place that allows me to gaze out to our majestic pine tree and the bird feeders that hang there, a tightness formed in my chest as I realized that my view will never be exactly like this again.

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That’s life isn’t it? We take the familiar for granted and then it’s gone. We get caught up in the day to day and forget we are creating memories. We blink. Things change. WE change. The season ends.  

“For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1-7 (NLT)

Yes, For now: “It’s a wrap!” It’s time to tear down. However, I’m so grateful it doesn’t end there.  It’s also a time to build – build a new house – build new memories – Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 goes on and says:

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.  He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.  So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”

We all find ourselves leaving seasons behind and venturing in to new ones.  What a wonderful promise that even when we can’t see where they lead; God has the whole beautiful journey planned for us, all the way to eternity!  So let’s “wrap” ourselves in that! 

Now for this weeks recipe……I couldn’t miss this opportunity to share with you a tasty WRAP recipe!

 

Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbls. olive oil
  • 1 Lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C. BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 C. pineapple tidbits
  • 1/4 of onion, chopped
  • 1-2 hearts of romain, chopped
  • 1/4 c. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4-5 large wheat or white tortillas (I used white)

Instructions

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add chicken pieces to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook, stirring to be sure chicken is cooked through and a golden brown.
  • Remove pan from heat.
  • Add barbecue sauce and pineapple to the pan and toss with the chicken.
  • Warm tortillas.
  • On each tortilla, put a spoonful of chicken, sprinkle with cheese, onion, and romain.
  • Put cilantro on top. (I found this to be very strong and would not use near the amount again)
  • Roll burrito style and serve immediately.
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Running for Shelter

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“He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge..” 2 Samuel 22:2-3 (NAS)

 

“I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!” Famous words spoken by the Big Bad Wolf in the children’s story “The Three Little Pigs”. (Second Grade teacher at heart and mind, remember?) Each Little Pig had built themselves a house: one of straw, one of sticks, and the last pig built his of brick.  As the story goes; the Big Bad Wolf is true to his word and blows the house of straw down.  The first Little Pig runs for shelter in his brother’s house of sticks.  After a visit from the Big Bad Wolf, the house of sticks lay on the ground and the two Little Pigs run for shelter in their brother’s house of bricks. Ending happily (for the pigs), the wolf huffs and puffs, puffs and huffs, and huffs and puffs again but is unable to blow in the house of bricks. The Three Little Pigs learned a valuable lesson….seek shelter in a solid place!

What about us? Where do we run for shelter when trouble is huffing and puffing all around? I don’t know about you, but I first tend to rush and dwell in my emotions. Whether sadness, anger, disappointment, fear, or whatever I’m feeling, I move in and try to become a permanent resident. In reality, I wallow. Taking longer than I hate to admit, it eventually becomes evident that like the Little Pig in the straw house, staying there while things are falling apart around me isn’t an option.

Where do I run for shelter next? You guessed it. The “stick house” of worry. Ever lodge there? Somehow I, and maybe you too, think that by residing with worry we’ll  be protected from all that lurks around us until WE can find a solution. Wringing hands, churning thoughts, spinning stomach, all become familiar roommates and if we stay too long we end up in a heap beneath the weight of our trouble.

I’m realizing that in times of trial, trying to find refuge in emotional “straw” or “twigs” of worry keeps me exhausted and hopeless as I’m battered by what’s raging around me. Surprisingly enough, I’m learning the same lesson as the Three Little Pigs! Stay with me…..Jesus said:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)

There are always going to be “Big Bad Wolves” knocking on our doors. Even though they’re different for each of us our reaction is often the same…..to run for shelter.

The Pigs learned to seek shelter in a solid place and So. Should. We.

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection, my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2 (NLT)

Isn’t it comforting to know that even when we’re still living in places that so easily crumble; we have a fortress: a place of safety, a place that will not fall, waiting for each of us. Just as the Third Little Pig welcomed his brothers, God waits for us to find our refuge in Him. I wish I could say that I’ve left my straw and twigs behind and run straight to the house of brick every time. I’m working on it and reminding myself and you, that OUR happy ending comes when we’re running for shelter straight to the One who saves us!

“Running for shelter” is this weeks discussion at http://www.tsuzanneeller.com

 

M’m! M’m! Monday 8/1/16

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun. ~Julia Child

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.
~Julia Child

Family Reunion
The O’Jays, 1975

It’s so nice to see
All the folks you love together
Sittin’ and talking’ ’bout
All the things that’s been goin’ down

It’s been a long, long time
Since we had a chance to get together
Nobody knows the next time we’ll see each other
Maybe years and years from now

Family Reunion……

It’s that time of year!  Time for grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and everyone in-between to come together for a family reunion.  I love to see pictures on Facebook and in the newspaper; pictures of all the different generations of a family posing together, arms interlocked, with smiling faces, and a look in their eyes that says “we’re home”!

Home. The definition changes for me. When I’m with my mom and sisters in Michigan, I’m home. After being away and the “Welcome to West Virginia” sign passes overhead, I’m home. Sitting within the protection of the walls of our old house…..home, and soon, new walls will provide the security of being home.  But…..nothing says home to me more these days than having both our children, their spouses, and our grand baby within arm’s reach! Yesterday I was HOME! Sitting around the table with our four “children”, grandson, my husband, and my mother-in-love filled this ole gal’s heart to overflowing! I so treasure these times of reunion.

Because here in the mountains of West Virginia, most family reunions require a covered dish; I thought I’d share a recipe that is perfect for just such occasions!  It’s easy to make, easy to transport, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have to worry about what to do with leftovers because there won’t be any! So, kiss your aunt, play horseshoes with your cousin, hold your granddad’s hand, and cuddle that grand baby! Our time on this earth is short. We DON’T know when we may see each other next. Isn’t it a comfort, that a Reunion awaits us one day; where there’ll be no more sorrow, no more worry, no more pain…just rejoicing and love, and who knows? Maybe horseshoes and a covered dish!

“This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home that is yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

Hash brown Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag frozen, shredded hash browns, thawed (1-2 minutes in microwave)
  • 1 Cup onion, chopped
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 Pint sour cream
  • 1 Stick butter, melted
  • 1-2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 Bag or so of crushed potato chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine thawed potatoes, onion, soup, and sour cream.
  • Spray a 9 X 13 casserole dish with Pam.
  • Place potato mixture in pan.
  • Melt butter and pour over the top of the potato mixture. (I make holes in mixture with the end of my spoon first)
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of butter layer.
  • Cover entire casserole with crushed chips.
  • Bake 1 - 1 1/2 hours until chips are golden and casserole is bubbling.
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http://www.myseaofthought.com/2016/08/01/mm-mm-monday-8116/

What means home to you? Share that and your favorite dish to take to a reunion in the comments below!  I’d love to hear from you!

M’m! M’m! Monday 7/18/16

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook--try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun. ~Julia Child

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.
~Julia Child

Today I’m lost without ever leaving home.  My sense of direction, dulled; I find myself aimlessly floating between the past, present, and what’s yet to come. Wayward, I drift on the rising and falling   tide of “what ifs” and “why nots”…. leading me only farther from where I need to be. 

Yes, I’m adrift on the sea of woe is me.  Ever been there? It’s a much too familiar place where my blessings feel obscured, as if swallowed by the fog.  And my wants?  They seem far out of reach; just minute dots on the distant horizon. Sucked into the whirlpool of my own churning thoughts, the me I want to be, is missing.

SEND OUT THE LIFEBOAT!!!!!

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”  John Newton, 1779

Join me in singing those words over to yourself a few times.  They remind me that whenever we feel lost…lost in grief, in sickness, in conflict, in worry, in fear, or even in our own self-centered thoughts; Grace. Is. Our. Way. Home.

Sometimes, like today for me, it feels like the person we want to be is nowhere to be found. Isn’t it reassuring that we’re not navigating this journey alone? We have each other to hold on to, inspired music and writings to keep us on track, and the amazing assurance that we’re never too lost that we can’t be found by the One who leads the way!

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?  Won’t he leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he finds it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.” Luke 15:4-5 (NLT)

Days like today just require comfort food so I’m sharing with you one of my very favorites!

Peach Crunch

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sliced, ripe peaches
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I use old fashioned but quick works too)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbls. butter or margarine, melted
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Instructions

  • Spray Pam in a 9 x 13 dish.
  • Spread the sliced peaches over the bottom of the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle peaches with white sugar and a little cinnamon.
  • In a bowl, mix together oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, salt and melted butter. (I use a fork)
  • Pour crunch mixture on top of fruit, spreading evenly.
  • Sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top - if you prefer, you can leave it off (I love nutmeg!)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and crunch is golden brown.
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Comfort at its best! Yummm!

Comfort at its best! Yummm!

This is my Grandma Stevens’ recipe that we tweeked by doubling the crunch.  It works well with apples in the fall, too! Serve warm with ice cream or my preferred way….with milk!  Makes any day better! Enjoy!

 

The Stuff of Life

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One of many loads of stuff from my classroom as I retired.

I am an expert on stuff!  Stuff and I have an intimate relationship.  Everywhere I go stuff seems to follow.  My classroom was “stuff central”. My house? Stuff City.  Need something?  “Let me dig in the stuff in my purse.  I’m sure I have it!” Oh, and then there’s my brain….more stuff rattling around in there than I can handle or you want to know about!

Up until recently I was comfortable with my stuff.  I felt safe amidst the clutter. But now? Something’s changed.  As I’ve told you before, I am going through every room in preparation to move.  Somewhere in this process my perspective shifted. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy for this memory collector to let things go. Tears have been shed.  Things have been in the trash or give away pile that I’ve struggled to leave there. But as I look around a finished room I feel an unexpected feeling of freedom. A lightness that wasn’t there before.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT)

As I linger (as I so love to do) with this new attitude I’ve come to realized that in having old greeting cards, letters, awards, artwork, ticket stubs, souvenirs from happy times; I somehow found reassurance of my self-worth. (I know, I’m worse off than you thought!) As I continue to sort through my stuff, I’m also sorting through all these emotions , but what I’m learning is: life is full of good stuff and bad stuff. When we (I) focus and are tied to that stuff, it can become a burden.

Let me just confess to you now that as hard as getting rid of my tangible stuff is; releasing my “worry stuff”, scary stuff”, “sad stuff”, “angry stuff”, “unforgiving stuff”, to God is even more difficult for me! Oh, I might put it away for awhile, but all too often I think I know what’s best so I open that “box of stuff”, comb through it, and even add to it! Oh how that stuff weighs on my heart, my mind, and soul!

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Did you catch that?  The burdens I create, and maybe you too, by collecting stuff, whether in drawers, boxes, closets, or in our hearts; we don’t have to carry! Unburdening ourselves from the stuff of life allows us to open our arms and soul to the “yoke that is easy and the burden that is light” Jesus offers us.

The process of eliminating stuff from my life is an ongoing one.  I’m happy to report that recently I sat and went through four boxes of memories from my elementary years forward and when I was finished I only filled two back up.  I laughed, cried, and shook my head in wonder in all that I’d kept. And yes, as hard as it was, I had to let go of these precious items!

Bobby Sherman still makes me swoon!

Bobby Sherman still makes me swoon!

I pray that as I prepare to move into a new house, God continues to work on moving me forward. No more looking behind to find myself but setting my eyes on Him who’s known me all along.  Maybe you have some cleaning out to do like I do.  Will you join me in releasing the stuff of life so that we can begin to store our treasures right where they belong; the only place “where moths and rust cannot destroy them.”

 

Joining Suzi Eller for #livefreeThursday where her prompt this week is “It’s just stuff”. (Oh so timely for me!) Want to read more?  Jump over to http://www.tsuzanneeller.com to see what others are saying!

 

 

 

Home

"There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:2-3 NLT

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:2-3 NLT

I got up this morning, poured my cup of coffee, and sat down in my chair at the window to watch the activity taking place at the bird feeders.  This is my routine pretty much every morning I’m home, however, this morning was a little more exciting (in the bird world, at least) because the Wrens are back and building a nest in the bird house.  It’s an amazing thing to watch as the tiny bird approaches the small opening in the bird house with a GIANT stick, often three times their size and yet, it still manages to maneuver it through. All the while the other half of the couple is chattering anxiously and excitedly flitting here and there. It’s hard work creating a home one stick at a time!

Home……it’s what’s been on my mind lately.  I recently traveled to help my mom prepare to move into a new home.  It’s a lovely condo with lots of light and storage. But even though it’s a positive move it has still caused her feelings of doubt, anxiety, and heartache.  At the same time, she’s experiencing excitement about redecorating, the joy of having friends close by, and a peace knowing she’s found the right place

In a few weeks my daughter, who I can still picture smiling up at me with a toothless grin and a head full of curls, is about to have a baby of her own.  She and her husband will be navigating their way to recreate their home as a family of three instead of two.  Doubt? Anxiety? You know it!  And as a parent I know that there’ll be some heartache too, but right there mixed in are great excitement and abundant joy!  (I can hardly wait!)

Add into the mix, my son, who is about to be married and join two lives into one home.  Again, its a time of mixed emotions. There are so many questions to be answered, plans to be made, and priorities to set. If ever there’s a time with a myriad of feelings, it’s planning a wedding, but the promise of this new love brings such delight!

My home was built over one hundred years ago and has seen better days. Now common sense would tell you that we have enough going on in our lives right now, but I’m not always sensible, SO….my husband and I have been looking into making a change in our home too.  We’ve given consideration to building a new house, one board at a time….. TOO STRESSFUL! Tearing down our family home and putting in a modular has been an option….. this caused me some heartache, though.  Remodeling where we’ve called home for many years is still being considered.  All three options are exciting and all three have also caused my husband and me a great deal of anxiety!

Home…..some of its definitions are:  shelter, a dwelling place or retreat, any place of residence or refuge, a place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.  These are all so true but for me there’s something more about home which cannot be defined.  It is that gravitational-like pull that draws me back. It is memories of times past and hope for times to come. It is love.

Yes, every emotion on the spectrum is experienced in a home…some good, some not. It is where we teach and learn about life.  It isn’t perfect but it’s where we begin and where we end. And in the midst of it all we have the promise that a Heavenly home awaits us. A place where there will be no more heartache or anxiety, only excitement and joy as we have never known before!  They say “Home is where the heart is”.  I have definitely put my whole heart into creating a home for my family and more importantly into building in us, one prayer at a time, hearts of faith, so that on some sweet day we will all finally be home together, forever.