Run The Race

This morning as I was doing my devotions I was really challenged. I often get very discouraged that things don’t go as I plan, or I don’t see things happening as quickly as I would like them to. As I was reading I was reminded that as we see what we want we need we need to set goals for ourselves to get there. It may be something like making a large life improvement or lifestyle change, or maybe it is something that may seem smaller but still makes a big impact. Whatever it may be we can’t let the thought of that end result seeming so big and out of reach that we don’t take any steps forward.

We need to first pray about it and make sure that are thoughts and plans are in line with God’s. Ask for His help and His guidance. I am only able to be who I am with Him leading and guiding me. So it makes perfect sense to start there.

Next we need to set goals. For me one thing that I struggle with is keeping my house as clean as I would like it. Now I know that it is not always going to look perfect. We have three small children in our house and it is going to look lived in. But there are things I can do to make it look better than it does. For example, in the middle of my kitchen I have a big island. I love it! It is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen, but because it is so large it tends to get cluttered really quickly. So I have decided that for the next week my goal is to keep my island clean and free of clutter. It may seem like something little and insignificant, but to me it is a big thing. It will take the stress level of “my house is a mess” down a notch. I have to start somewhere.

I am taking my situation and looking for one thing that I can to do to get to my end goal. Like running a race, if all you do it sit there and look way ahead to finish line and make no action you will never get there. To achieve your goal you have to take action, one step at a time. Each step has a purpose. Each step gets you closer to the finish line.

So as I look at my house I see one thing that I can do to improve it. I am going to make the commitment to take action. And the more that I do it the easier it will become. Keeping that island clean will become more of a habit. Once I have made that adjustment then I am ready to take the next step. And step by step I will get closer to my goal.

Now is the perfect time to take action! Stop just sitting there looking at the finish line and focus on the next step or even the first step. Make a commitment to run that race. However fast or slow you may go isn’t the issue, it is all about just moving towards the goal.

 

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In The Quiet

One of my favorite sounds is the “pop” that canning jars make as they seal. I know, silly right? Well I love it. It reminds me of my childhood and also just has this homey feel to it.

Unfortunately I don’t get to hear the “pop” very often. My house is usually a hub of activity and with that comes noise and lots of it. Now I do enjoy the sounds of children and all that comes with it, but tonight as I sit here finishing up the rest of my first batch of salsa for this year I am enjoying the quiet. Everyone else has gone to bed and the house is still. Generally I would be in bed now too. Tonight though I get a little blessing is disguise. At first I wasn’t all that pleased when I realized I would be staying up late to finish my canning that I had started earlier in the afternoon, but now I am cherishing this time. I put some relaxing lavender essential oil in my diffuser, sat down uninterrupted, and now I can spend some time reading. And of course I get to listen for the “pop.”

Be Imitators

Have you have stopped and listened to your children playing? I mean really listened. If you do I am sure that you will find they sound a lot like you. Children are probably the greatest imitators. They pick up on even the littlest of things that we do and say. As they are babies we are so proud to see them imitate. They learn to sit up, they eat at the table with us, they take their firsts steps, then they begin to talk. Those first few first words are so cute and we cherish them.

Imitation can be the cutest thing. I love seeing my daughter taking care of her babies, talking to them, feeding them. It is so cute to watch my sons driving their little trucks and tractors around “just like Daddy” does at work or the farm. They all love to play “house” and the many other day-to-day things that we do as a family. But then there will come something out of one of their mouths on occasion that completely surprises me. Most times though when I stop to think about it, it was probably something that I have said. I say things that in the moment seem harmless, but when I hear them repeated out of my child’s mouth it doesn’t sound so innocent. Or maybe it wasn’t what I said but how I said it. As parents we have to be so careful how we behave around our children. They see and hear more than I realize at times.

It can seem like such an undertaking. I can get overwhelmed just thinking about it. How can I always behave in a way that is worth imitating. It is a lot to know that you are most responsible for how your children act.

There are two things I have learned in this.

  • One bad moment, one bad attitude, does not make a bad child and also does not make a bad parent.

  Every time we see ourselves fail or see our children behave in a less than lovely way it is tempting to think that we have failed. That is not the truth, as long as we recognize our shortcomings and make an attempt to learn from them. Use those moments to teach our children. Grow from them ourselves. Only when we accept defeat and make no attempt to move forward have we failed.

  • We have the best example ourselves to learn from. God is the most gracious Father.

He loves with unfailing love. He continues to pick us up and call out the best in us. I find that the more time I spend with the Lord the more I become like the Him and in turn the more I see of Him in my children. I cannot improve my children until I take care of myself. God calls us to be imitators of Him and we cannot do that if we do not know Him. Taking time to learn who Christ is and what He has done for us is the very best thing that we can do for our families.

Becoming an imitator of Christ and spending time with Him is going to look different for everyone. For me I most enjoy spending time in His Word in the morning. Unfortunately I do not usually get a lot of time then. My little ones are early risers and my day starts quickly. I do try get a least a few minutes. But for the most part my time with Lord is spent in little bits of time throughout the day. When I was young our pastor’s wife described it as “10 second prayers”. Taking those few moments to acknowledge the Lord throughout the day, talking to Him just as we would a friend. Also I enjoy worship music and you will often find it playing in my house. I connect with the Lord though that and it is something that I can do as I go about doing the other tasking that demand my attention. What I really love about that is I can do it with my children and it is something that I am proud of them imitating. Just as they pick up on the not so desirable things they will pick up and begin to imitate the good as well. There are few things that make me as happy as seeing my children worshiping the Lord and singing songs to Him, seeing them spend time with Him.

One more thing to think about; we are learning and growing just the same as our children are. As they imitate the things they see and hear and use that become who they are and the adults they will become, we also are shaping who we are by the things that leave an impression on us. Don’t take that lightly, because just as children we will begin to imitate the good and the bad, therefore shaping who are children are. If you ever want to really see what influences you just take a moment to watch and really listen to your children. They will show you with the most unhindered honesty.

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Strawberry Freezer Jam

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  It is strawberry season here is Pennsylvania!  The kids have been finding small wild strawberries on our path over to the farm these past couple of weeks. They love searching for them. Unfortunately they are not enough to do anything with. So the kids enjoy their little treat. Every year we will buy a few quarts of strawberries to enjoy. This year I wasn’t able to go pick them myself so I just bought them from Aldi. We will have them all sorts of ways, but one of my favorite things to make with them is Strawberry Freezer Jam. I will make enough of it to last us through the winter. I love being able to open up a jar of jam in the middle of the cold winter and have a little taste of summer and warm sunshine. It is fairly simple to make. Honestly the hardest part is not eating half of the strawberries while you are cutting them up.

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Don’t they look amazing!

After you rinse off your berries you will hull them and cut in quarters. I use my potato masher to mash them. You can also put them in your blender and pulse until they are the consistency that you like. I like to have little pieces of fruit in my jam, but if you would rather it smoother you could mash a bit more than I did mine.

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I make 2 quarts of berries at a time. It will equal about 4 cups of mashed berries.

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Next mix together your fruit pectin and sugar.

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Pectin

I am using instant pectin, that way I don’t have to cook anything. I can just mix it together. After you have the pectin and sugar mixed together add the pectin mixture to the berries and stir for 3 minutes. It is important to stir for the full 3 minutes. This will help to ensure that your jam with set and thicken. Spoon the jam into clean jars. I often use empty peanut butter jars. They are handy and a good size for us. You can really use any jar that you have as long as it is freezer safe and the top seals well. Make sure that you leave a 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar because the jam will expand as it freezes. 2015-13-7--11-30-59 Then go ahead and put your jam in the freezer. If it even makes it that far. It is that good! It will last in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. When you are ready to use it just take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator until it thaws out. Enjoy!!

The Story Behind The Name

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This verse from Nehemiah has been one of my favorites over the years, but it has also proven to challenge me. When I sit and look at it there is really a lot of meaning in just those few words.

The Amplified Bible says it like this: “The joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” Stronghold literally being fortress. A place where a particular cause is strongly defended and upheld. To put it simply so that even my mom brain can understand. God creates a place through joy for us to reside where he defends us and hold us up.

What is joy? Well looking at it from what I have learned through scripture it is so much more than just being happy. Happiness is an emotion. Joy is a mindset. It is the assurance that God has it all in control. God is working for your good. God is good, and he loves us without end. Joy is also making the choice to praise God through all things, not because things are always going well and I am continually happy, but because He is always present in every situation. He is always with me.

In the assurance that God is a loving God and ever-present we can find our strength. I have realized that it is not who I am that brings me strength, but who God is in me. When His joy is running through me I am a new creation. I am fulfilling His purpose for my life.

I love this version of Psalm 33.

“We’re depending on God; He’s everything we need. What’s more, our hearts brim with joy since we’ve taken for our own His holy name. Love us, God, with all You’ve got – that’s what we’re depending on.” (Psalm 33:20-22 MSG)

When we put our all into God, then we can truly and fully experience His joy. How amazing is that. It gives me chills as I am writing it.­

Let’s be honest, there are more than a handful of times that I don’t feel joyful. Things don’t go my way. My kids are in sour moods. My husband did something that irritated me. And there are hundreds of more reasons that I won’t spend time listing, because you get the point. We all have things that take our eyes off God and the joy He has for us. And this is where I mix up my perception of joy and happiness. I can’t be happy all the time, and that is ok. That is life. It doesn’t make me any less of a mom, wife, or woman. But what I can continually have without fail is joy, God’s joy through me. That will be my strength, my place of refuge. That will be what I cling to when all seems to be going wrong. God will get me through. His love covers all and holds me together. And when thing are going well and happiness is emotion that I can easily feel I have all the more reason to be joyful.

So what it all comes to is that God is for me. His joy is in me. Whether happy or sad, up or down, He is constant.

Hello world!

So I finally did it. I started a blog.  This is an idea I have been tossing around for the past year. The problem was I didn’t know where to start. It didn’t matter how much I looked at things to try to figure out what I was doing I still felt clueless.  If you know me at all you me all know that I like to feel prepared for things. I like to feel knowledgeable. Well I still don’t feel completely prepared, but I am just going to go with it.  It will be a journey with many things to learn along the way. I love to learn new things and I am always looking for new and exciting things to just pour myself into.

A JoyFull Home

I would like to use this blog to share who I am and the things I enjoy. You will find a lot about my kids and the adventure it is raising them along with my amazing husband who I am sure you will read a lot about as well. We are lovers of the outdoors and when the weather is nice that is where we spend most of our time. The adventures we have are endless including the many things to do on the farm and all of our gardening.

I love all things crafty and I look forward to sharing that with you. I am also a lover of music. I am pretty sure it is on my blood. I don’t ever remember a time when music has not been part of my life. My husband and I are head of the worship ministry in our church and it has been quite the adventure. Along with all this I am a hair stylist by trade. I love doing it, but right now it is just at home on the side. I loved my job in the salon but I chose to stay at home with my children instead of work a full-time job. There are times I miss it, but I wouldn’t trade this time with my kids for anything.

Above all else I love the Lord with all I am and I would not be where I am or who I am without Him. You will find that the things I have to say will be intertwined with Him and my growing relationship with Him. I hope that I can inspire you and encourage you in your own relationship with Him.

Be blessed! And I hope you enjoy our time together.