Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Perfection is the enemy...

I'm consumed with creating the perfect kitchen and dining area right now.  Refinishing cabinets, painting walls, retexturing ceilings and getting rid of that awful popcorn, are consuming my days.

Yesterday, I was supposed to start a new adventure.  I was supposed to step out of my comfort zone and begin the journey that God has laid out for me.  Instead, I spent 12 hours painting and completely put my life on the back burner.

Today, I realized how all consuming this project is and that I really need to accept the fact that perfection might be impossible (my kitchen/dining area was built in 1981 and had four layers of wallpaper, and sand texture on the walls).

I was sitting on a step-ladder with a gallon of paint on my lap, a 1/2 inch brush in my right hand and a meatball in my left hand.  My 7 year old fixed me lunch and I couldn't stop making the line between the ceiling and the wall "perfect" long enough to eat with him.

Perfection isn't only impossible, it's the enemy.  It's the enemy of productivity and it's the enemy of my purpose.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Easy, Grain Free Breakfast Sandwich

Like a lot of families, the Heislers have the joy of navigating life with food allergies.

Maclain is severely allergic to wheat and soy.

I am allergic to wheat and legumes.

This makes for fun eating.  We've pretty much given up on bread because of all the fun things we have to avoid.  When you buy a gluten free bread at the store it is likely to contain ingredients like fava flour or garbanzo flour.  While some of them are very yummy, they really aren't worth the expense or irritation that comes from eating them.

For about 2 years, I've been searching for a gluten free, soy free, legume free bread recipe that I can do at home.  If it's convenient, then that is even better.  The other day, I found this on Pinterest and seriously thought it was too good to be true.  Paleo bread, in the microwave!  I can make a single serving at once, which means I'm not wasting ingredients (which aren't cheap) or effort on a loaf of bread that will go bad in my fridge

I made a single serving a few days ago, and started thinking about all the yummy ways we can use this bread.

Then, I decided to try it out on my picky kids.

There are five of us, so one batch at a time wasn't going to work.  I got out my mixer and made some modifications to the recipe.

  • I multiplied the recipe by the number of people I was serving.
  • I decided on an oil to use.  This is important.  If I want a light and fluffy bread for a cold sandwich (which I did the first time), I use grapeseed oil.  If I want an english muffin consistency for a breakfast sandwich, then I use butter.
  • I wanted a flat bread, so I used a flat bottomed bowl for the bread instead of a coffee cup.
  • I  lowered the microwave time to 75 seconds.
  • I did not add any honey, since it was optional and I'd prefer to not use sweeteners.
 To make it easier for you to try, here is my modified recipe for 6 breakfast sandwiches:

2 Cups Almond Flour
6 Tablespoons Flax Meal
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 eggs
15 Tablespoons melted butter

Throw all of the ingredients in the mixer on low for about a minute.  If you want to mix by hand, whisk the eggs before adding to the other ingredients.

Grease the bottom of two ramekins or flat bottomed bowls.  Spread exactly 1/4 cup of the mixture evenly into the bottom of the bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute 15 seconds (microwaves may vary).  I have the second one ready to go in as soon as the first one is finished.  Once slightly cooled (maybe 30 seconds), use a butter knife to pop the bread out of the bowl. Repeat until you've used all of the batter.  You should end up with 12-14 pieces of bread.

Once I got my bread finished, I fried some eggs.  Actually, my husband did this part, and his system is probably the easiest way to do it.

  • Heat a skillet with 2 TBSP of butter
  • Fry one egg
  • Put the sandwich together in the following sequence: bread, cheese, egg, cheese, bread.  The part of the bread that was on the bottom of the bowl, should go on the outside of the sandwich.
  • Place the sandwich in the skillet (still hot, with some butter left over) for 30-45 seconds on each side, or long enough to melt the cheese without burning the bread.  Basically, make a grilled cheese sandwich with an egg in the middle of it.
  • Repeat until you've used all your bread.
The kids loved their sandwiches, I loved my sandwich and no one had a strange food reaction.  The bread toasted nicely, and held up to the sandwich very well.  My husband had a steak and skipped the sandwich (you can't win 'em all).

Now I'm imagining endless possibilities for this bread; individual pizzas, BLTs, cream cheese and nutella sandwiches.  YUMMY!!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sometimes a flood...

Jesus told a parable of a wise man and a foolish man.  The wise man builds his house upon a rock, and the foolish man builds his house upon the sand.  Honestly, I'm singing it right now and if you grew up in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School like I did, you are probably singing it too.

There have been times in my life where I knew there was no foundation to my life worth speaking of.  Too many years went by where I was definitely a foolish woman and when the floods came (and they frequently did) my life washed away with the waters.  The floods of those days were so visible to anyone watching.  It isn't hard to miss a life spiraling out of control, and I wasn't very good at hiding my flawed foundation.

In recent years though, the foundation has been a bit more stable.  Through the complete grace of God I've become a woman who loves the Word, seeks God's will, craves His presence and hides under His wings.  Serving God has been my greatest joy and the most rewarding thing I've ever done.  My kids all know Jesus as their personal Savior, my family loves the Lord and my marriage is built on Godly principles.  The flawed foundation of my youth seems a memory, one that makes for a great testimony and some really interesting stories.

But then the flood came...

It wasn't a big flood, in fact most people who know me haven't even noticed it.

Someone said some little thing.  It wasn't of much importance, and it really shouldn't have mattered.  Except it sparked something inside of me, something I thought was long gone.

The waters of self-doubt and distrust started to rise and I ignored them.

I ignored them because I thought, no I knew, my foundation was strong.

Then someone else said something, some little thing that I should have been able to let go, something that didn't really matter.

And the waters kept on creeping...

I started seeking validation from others and using it like sand bags in a hurricane and it worked for a little while, to keep the flood at bay, but eventually the water came right over the top.

I had no idea I was getting caught up in a cycle, but that didn't make it any less real.

Feeling Unimportant = Serve until I felt better, run myself ragged and wear my family out

Feeling Unattractive = Change my hair, buy a new outfit, get new shoes...keep trying to look younger

Feeling Unnoticed = Post something on Facebook and feel a little better every time someone clicked "like"

Be a better mom!  Be a better wife!  Be a better friend! Be a better woman!

Dangerous Flash Floods Were Coming...

...and I had no idea.  I probably wouldn't even have noticed if my family hadn't decided to give up social media and electronic games for a week.  My ego would have taken the hit, and I would have gone right to my Facebook friends and Instagram followers for an instant fix.

Instead, I got swept away in a torrential downpour of fear, anxiety, and second guessing like I have never EVER experienced.

The waters were rising and I felt my little house falling apart.

But my foundation?

The flood didn't break my foundation, the flood exposed the foundation that was already broken.  Realizing the brokenness that has been exposed is terrifying right at this very moment.  I am facing the reality that Jesus and I have some more stuff to go through, and it probably won't be an easy journey.

But I do have faith that one day I'll be thankful for this flood, because sometimes a flood is exactly what it takes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Why do I love Him so much?

Someone asked me the other day, "Why do you love Jesus so much?"

It wasn't a compliment, it was kind of said in that "What's so special about you?" kind of way.

I would be lying if I say that I wasn't taken aback.  I'm sure if someone could hear my thoughts at that moment, that it wouldn't have been pretty (cue video of my head exploding).  After some time, being the introspective (obsessive) person that I am, I started asking myself the same question.  Why do I love Him so much?

How do you explain the why the ocean is deep?  How do you explain why a child's smile is beautiful?  Some things just are, and defy explanation.  Why Jesus is worthy of love, is just one of those things.  There is no describing it, but that won't stop me from trying.

Make no mistake, there is absolutely NOTHING so special about me that makes me love Him more.  It's all about how amazing He is!

He was willing to forgive my sin debt.

He was willing to PAY my sin debt.

He loves me in spite of my shortcomings and failures (and there are plenty).

That still isn't enough...that describe all the reasons I love Jesus.  See, all of those things are true about every single person that has ever lived.  So why me?  Why *DO* I love Him so much?

Jesus addressed this very argument, with a Pharisee who was questioning a woman's outpouring of affection on Jesus.  The story is found in Luke 7:36-50.

You can read the story yourself, but I'll give you the rundown.

Jesus was eating at some religious official's house.  "Religious official" isn't really a just description, but let's say that this dude knew the rules and followed them.  He not only followed them, but he made sure other people followed them as well.  While Jesus was at the guys house, the town whore came in and poured a very expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus' feet.  She cried buckets of tears all over His feet, washed them with her hair and then put MORE perfume on His feet.

The religious dude was slightly confused, and questioned whether Jesus was legit.  Surely if Jesus KNEW what kind of woman was washing His feet, He would tell her to stop!

But Jesus didn't stop her!  Instead, He told a story to the religious dude, you know to straighten him out.  Then He did this:

"Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (Luke 7:44-47 NLT)"

Jesus' words, so simple and straight to the point, answered the question "Why do I love Him so much?"  I love him SO much, because I know that I need Him.  Because I know how broken, bitter, angry and sinful I would be without Him.  My sins -- and they are many -- have been forgiven, so I will show Him much love.  SO MUCH LOVE!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ten Things I've Learned in Ten Years of Marriage: Part II (His point of view)

I'm so extremely excited that my amazing husband has decided to help me with this blog post.  He's grown so much as a husband, father, leader and man the last ten years that I often joke that he should give husband lessons.  I won't keep you waiting any longer, here is what he has learned in the last ten years.  If you missed yesterday's post, you can find it here.

It takes three to make a marriage work; God must be the third person in your marriage.

It can't be your mother, her mother, your friends, her friends, or even your kids.  Any other person "in" your marriage will come between you, only God can bring you together.

It's perfectly OK to cry in front of your wife.

It is important for her to see you vulnerable.  She needs to know that you hurt, she needs to know that you care when she hurts.  It doesn't mean you're weak, it means you're man enough to face the hard stuff.

You must pray for, and with, your wife.

She needs to know that you're fighting spiritually on her behalf.  She needs to know that you're asking God to protect her.  You must lead your wife spiritually, and the start to that is praying with her. Sidenote: Praying together has some added "benefits."

You must pursue your wife like you did when you were dating.

Pursue her with romantic gifts, letters, cards, actions, words, and surprise dates.  Plan romantic dates, do not ever leave this up to her.  It is your responsibility to set the romantic tone in your marriage.  If it's waning, take action immediately.

Becoming emotionally connected to another person is an affair.

Do not discuss your relationship issues with a member of the opposite sex!  Do not let members of the opposite sex discuss their relationship issues with you.  Protect your marriage!! Don't have close friends of the opposite sex.  Have couple friends, who protect their marriage the same way that you protect yours.

Admit when you're wrong.

I get it, it's hard for me every single time.  These few words can go a long way to repairing any relationship.  "I was wrong! I'm sorry!  Please forgive me!"

Help with household chores.

I don't mean take out the trash and change the light bulbs.  She finds you sexy when you're doing dishes or vacuuming the floors.  Don't make a big deal out of it, just do it.  Don't expect an award, just do it.  Let her reward your efforts, but if she doesn' her around the house anyway.

You must be the spiritual leader in your house.

Lead with your actions.  Let your wife and kids see you opening the Word and seeking God's face.  Take your family to church, lead your kids in Bible study.  If you don't do it, they won't do it.

Your wife is your mate, not your maid.

You're perfectly capable of picking up after yourself, putting your dishes in the dishwasher and washing your own clothes.  If she likes doing it, you're probably stupid if you don't let her, but don't expect it.

Treat her with honor and respect, give up your own life for her.

Be her biggest supporter, it's your job to lift her up.  Do this with your actions towards her. Speak kindly of her, when she's around and when she isn't.  It will get back to her. She isn't just the best thing in your life, she should be your life.  Protect your wife, in every way.  Protect her emotionally, spiritually and physically.  Never let her feel like she can't trust you.  Don't treat her the way you want to be treated, treat her the way she wants to be treated. Your biggest reward will be a happy wife, who fights for her family.

I'd like to thank my wife for asking me to do this with her.  Let me just say, having failed my wife in every area at one point or another; helping, honoring, loving, and respecting your wife will not only improve your marriage, it will work wonders in every other area of your life. The happiness you have as a man taking care of your wife is indescribable. There is nothing more manly than loving, serving and leading your wife.

Hey baby, thanks for editing this---Michael.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ten Things I've Learned in Ten Years of Marriage: Part I

Ten years and 1 day ago, my husband and I started out on an amazing adventure together.  I was a single mom of 2 kids (ages 2 years and 5 months) and he was a Soldier.  We knew he was deploying, so we started out on this adventure knowing that we would spend the first 18 months apart.  In the last ten years, we've added a child to our brood and he's adopted the two I had when we got married.  He has become my best friend, spiritual leader, and partner in ministry.  I wish I could say that getting here was easy.  I'm actually glad that getting here hasn't been easy because we learned some things through the struggles, things that will carry us through whatever is to come.  So here it is, ten things I've learned in ten years.  Stay tuned tomorrow for the ten things Michael has learned (yes, he's posting tomorrow and I'm so excited).

Surround yourself with people who honor marriage.

It isn't enough for your friends and family to honor your marriage, they have to honor theirs as well.  They have to uphold marriage itself as valuable and important.  An inner circle of friends who don't honor marriage will undermine yours, whether intentional or not.

A Christ centered marriage requires a Christ centered life.

A wise pastor friend of ours compares marriage to Scuba Diving.  Diving in Tandem (sharing a tank) you just can't dive as long, but if you each have your own tank you can better sustain.  Marriage is no different, you each have to have your own tank and it isn't your spouse's responsibility to keep yours full.

Forgiveness can't be earned, must be given freely, and isn't optional.

Forgiveness has more to do with who you are than who your spouse is.  Resentment is like a splinter in your finger, no matter how small the offense if left alone it can fester. Your spouse may do something unforgivable, forgive them anyway.  Forgive them the way you would want to be forgiven, you may do something unforgivable one day.

Laugh together, every single day!

Laughter is more important than communication.  Make each other laugh when things get tense, it makes dealing with the source of the tension so much easier.

Never, even once, say "I will never divorce you, unless ______"

I promise you, whatever you put in the blank will happenDon't leave a window open, a caveat on a marriage is a window that's wide open with no screen.  

A marriage can survive an affair.

If you've messed up, own up!  Be willing to face the consequences, be an open book, don't blame the other person.  If he (or she) has messed up, forgive them! Don't blame them for every thing that's wrong in the marriage.  Your marriage might not survive the affair, but it can so give it a shot.

Meet your spouse's needs.

If your spouse feels their needs aren't being met, ask what you can do to make it better.  Don't take it personally, unmet needs are often the result of needs that aren't communicated. Side note: Share with your spouse what you need from him/her and be reasonable with your expectations.

Do not nag!

Saying something once is drawing attention to a problem.  Saying it twice is a gentle reminder.  Saying it three times is nagging.  If it isn't affecting you or your children, and it isn't dangerous, don't bother with a second reminder.   Nagging about little things makes it difficult to draw attention to the big things.

Don't complain about his guy friends.

As long as they aren't treating you disrespectfully or encouraging him to keep secrets from you, let him have his buddy.  Odds are his buddy's true character will reveal itself eventually and he needs to trust you to hold him up when it does.

Be a wife worth pursuing, and ALWAYS make the pursuit worth it.

It sounds like I'm saying the same thing twice, but really I'm not.  I'm saying that you should do your very best to look your best, without being obsessed about your looks.  Every time you walk down the stairs, or out of your bedroom, make him say, "YES!  That's MY wife!"  Don't have unrealistic expectations, or be too hard on yourself (odds are you're not a super model), but get his attention.  Once you have his attention, and he makes the effort to pursue you...ALWAYS respond to his pursuit.  Never make him regret it, unless you want him to stop.

There you have it, ten things I've learned the last ten years.  What have you learned about marriage that makes you a better partner?

Tomorrow you get to hear from my hot hubby!  I can't express how excited I am about that!