Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What a Year Can Bring

I began this blog one year ago today, and I thought I'd commemorate the event with, what else?  Another post.  :)

I started writing here as a place to share my thoughts, however random they might be - to share life with others, and hopefully glean a thing or two along the way.  I haven't been as intentional about writing as I'd hoped to be, and while I don't regret spending less time on the computer, part of my goal for this blog was to literally just write more.  Time to re-evaluate and move forward!

What an amazing year it has been.  It's hard to believe that's all the time that has passed, to tell you the truth.  I now have a little girl who seems so grown up.  At nearly 18 months, she's talking (although much of it is still only remotely intelligible), plays dress up, sings and dances, "reads" books, and can <help> set the table.  :)  My heart swells to the point of bursting every time I look at her with her dimpled smile and curly hair.  I am so incredibly blessed, and amazed that she's mine.

It's amazing what a year can teach you.  I've learned so much about being too self-reliant.  Trying too hard to do things on my own strength, instead of living with grace, toward myself as much as toward others.  I've learned as a Mother (perhaps not for the last time!) that I can't always "fix" everything.  Sometimes my little girl just has to deal with the consequences of being naughty.  Sometimes I can't make the tears from the teething go away.  Sometimes I can't ease her frustration when she's trying to learn something new.  The thing is, I learned that not only is it okay, sometimes it's necessary!  I think about how God "parents" me, and how so many times he lovingly shepherds me the same way.

This year my husband celebrated a milestone birthday, and I realized all over again how deeply I love this compassionate, patient, incredible man that I am privileged to spend yet another year with.  I am still in awe that God brought us together.  This year we will celebrate half a decade of marriage (sounds like so much longer than 5 years!).  ;)  I am amazed that he chose me, of all the girls he could have chosen, and so thankful to belong to such a gracious, tender-hearted man as Nate.

This year has taught us a lot about our marriage as well.  We've learned that marriage is about more than servanthood, it's even about more than modeling what real love looks like day in and day out.  At it's core, our marriage is designed by God to mirror Christ and his relationship with the Church.  A high calling!  A radical one, in the eyes of our culture, and one that we cry out for strength daily to achieve.  It can never happen through our effort alone.

This year been one of sojourning for us as well.  We are no nearer to finding a permanent church family to call home, and while we are discouraged, we have not lost hope!  We continue to seek God's face as we know that His plan is perfect, and our ultimate desire is to glorify Him with our decision, and with all that follows.

A year goes by so quickly!  It's true what they say: the older you get, the faster time goes!  :)  What has this past year brought you?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

To the journey,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

90 Days, or Not?

Well, Kids, my 90 days were up on September 1st (I guess I missed the 60 day update - whoops!), and I'm now in *drumroll please* Psalms!  Haha.  I really had expected to be further along by now (obviously) but for whatever reason, I kind of got hung up once I hit Nehemiah.  Go figure, right?  I read all the way through Leviticus and Numbers with dogged determination, and once I get to the part about the Israelites returning from exile, I kind of went kaput.

Still, once I got past the "they started re-building the wall until so and so made trouble and they stopped again" parts, I was okay.  Don't get me wrong, I still found in interesting, especially the ways that God changed the hearts of these foreign kings to not only allow the Israelites to return and begin re-building, but also to fund the project!  Can you imagine?

The story of Esther has always been one of my favorites (talk about a strong woman!!), so I breezed right through that book.  Her trust in the Lord in the face of extreme persecution (and the potential extermination of her people) is always so incredible to me.  Something she says near the end of the story when she's about to beg for her people's survival has always stuck with me:

“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”  - Esther 4:16 (emphasis mine)

That's the kind of woman I want to be!

Job always makes me re-think my perspective of "fair".  If you could ever ask for a picture of a Sovereign God who loves us in the midst of allowing us to walk the hard road, Job is it.  I just love the dialogue between God and Job beginning in chapter 38.  Can you imagine God talking to you from inside a tornado??

I am looking forward to continuing on, if not at the pace of 90 days.  :)  Maybe Dad was right, and it will be more like 180.  haha

"Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love."  - 2 John 1:3

Here's to the journey!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Employment

So I just recently started a new endeavor in employment - a paper route!  I used to have one when I was a kid, and this kind of brings me back in some ways.

The part that's the most different is getting up in the middle of the night!  I usually wake up around 2:30 a.m. to pick up the papers between 3-3:30.  The hours are really a mixed blessing for me.  On the one hand, it requires missing out on much of the "after bedtime" activities that I used to enjoy after Olivia went to bed.  Why are so many shows on at 8 again?  :)  On the other hand, Nate has to be at work by 6 a.m., so this allows me to be home in time for him to leave, and I get to spend the entire day at home with Olivia where I want to be most.

The extra income is a nice bonus for us (when isn't it?) - to allow us to do things like go out on dates, spend a little extra for a new toy for Olivia, or a new pair of shoes, etc.  We have been incredibly blessed thus far that I have been able to stay home full time with Olivia, but that meant really making our dollars count.  This paper route gives us a little freedom with some "spending" money.

So far, other than the newbie bumps that come with any job, I've really enjoyed it.  It's so sleepy in the city that time of day, and I really enjoy the time to reflect, listen to sermons, or whatever music I want to without worrying about disturbing anyone.  I also have an audio Bible that I use frequently (really comes in handy for the 90 day challenge!).

It's nice to have some quiet "alone" time during the day too.  Especially as Mommy to a toddler, there aren't many of those moments throughout the day.  Even during naptime, that's usually when I play "catch up" and take care of things that are easier to complete without little feet to watch for.  How do you carve out some quiet time in your day?  Before bedtime?  Do you take some time to reflect maybe once a week?  I always love to hear from other Moms!  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Grace and Peace!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

90 Days . . . Update

So far, so good!  It's been 30 days, and I'm still on track!  I've been immensely enjoying this time, and I know it sounds cliché, but I really have been learning so many new things.  Reading through the history of civilization, from Adam to Noah, and then from the flood through Abraham . . . then on into Israel's birth as a nation, and right now I just finished reading through the line of kings.  It never ceases to amaze me the kinds of things God pre-ordained to happen in his selection of kings, their reigns, etc.

Aside from the more prominent kings, (David, Solomon, etc.), I am amazed by the stories of kings like Hezekiah, who had steadfast faith in the face of imminent death for not only himself, but his people as well.  Or kings like Josiah, who began his reign at eight years old . . . and then lead one of the most profound returns to their covenant faith in Israel's history.  It actually says he threw a Passover feast like none before him.  Not even King David, or King Solomon had ever honored the Passover this way!  So many incredible things that paint a picture of such an incredible God.

What kinds of things has God been teaching you through His word lately?  Do you employ a specific method of study?  Have there been any systems that you've had more success with than others?  I'd love to hear your feedback!  I'm always looking for new things to keep me accountable to reading regularly.  :) 

Looking forward to continuing this journey!

Grace and Peace,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friend Reunion: D.C.

If you ask my husband what his favorite memories of college are, he will undoubtedly refer to one event or another taking place between an intimate circle of friends from those years.  He was fortunate enough to grow and learn with the same group of incredible people throughout his four years at school.  Several of the friends ended up going on to marry, and while I didn't attend the same school, after marrying Nate, I was graciously adopted into the group.  These friends are really more like family, and through the years, we've made an effort to get together in spite of being spread out all over the country.  I really cannot be more blessed by their friendship!

This summer was especially fun.  It was the first time the entire group was together since we started adding children to the equation.  Boy was it fun to watch our kids interact!  There were so many other reasons this trip will be memorable for us . . .

The day before we were due to arrive, we got a phone call from our friends out in Washington D.C. who were hosting the gathering.  There had been a "land hurricane" (yes, you read that right . . . that's what the news sources were calling it, haha!), and they were left without electricity.  By the time they had called us, they had already gone without power for nearly 24 hours.  Thankfully, with kind neighbors offering the use of generators, they were able to save the $700 worth of groceries just purchased!  We were just praying the power came on before our plane landed!

We were able to fly out of Chicago with another couple and their daughter (also from Iowa) who were part of the "group".  This made travel lots more fun!  Thankfully, Olivia slept until we were nearly landing, which was fantastic!  All those great ideas from Pinterest on how to keep a toddler busy were filed away for next time.  :)

Upon arrival, we were dismayed to learn that there was indeed still no power, which meant no a/c.  Normally this wouldn't have been too big a setback, but we're talking Washington D.C. in July, in a record year for heat.  Factor in the ridiculous humidity, and it was pretty safe to say everyone was miserable.  Still, we were all excited to be together, and we made the most of our first night there, camp out style!

The next morning (Sunday) some very generous friends of our host couple let us stay at their enormous home.  They already had restored power, and air conditioning!  We were eternally grateful!  Here's a photo of the amazing home:

One of the perks of getting this group together is re-living college days.  For the guys, that means plenty of Smash Brothers and Mario Kart on the N64.  :)  Thankfully, after one night, and two days of being at the "other" house, we were able to move back to our kind friend's home where they were hosting our entire group.  Hooray for electricity!

While our main goal for this trip was just to visit, and enjoy each other's company, we also wanted to take advantage of some of the awesome things Washington D.C. has to offer.  We were able to visit the Smithsonian, tour the White House (very cool if you ever get the chance!), visit the Library of Congress, along with portions of our group going on to the National Botanical Gardens, and the Capital Building.

Going anywhere as a group meant we had quite the entourage!  Strollers, baby carriers galore, we were quite the sight!

Olivia was always up for another adventure.  She was my little Hollywood baby this trip - she cracks me up!

 Of course, one of the highlights of the trip for the kiddos was riding the Metro around the city.

It was such a thrill for them to "hold on" while the train was in motion!  So cute.  Our friends also made the trip memorable for the littles by indulging them in a giant bouncy house.  The kids certainly wore themselves out playing in it!

In addition to the other activities, we grown-ups got to have an evening all to ourselves.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at a pub in Old Town Alexandria (definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me!), and then meandered around enjoying the scenery, old buildings, and general "quaintness" of the city.  After dinner, we were brave enough to venture over to the National Mall to check out the monuments by night.  Hoping for a cooler (and more enjoyable) viewing.  I have to admit, in spite of being absolutely drenched in sweat by the end, it was really enjoyable!

Needless to say, we created enough memories on this trip to last a lifetime, and the experiences shared only served to re-enforce the amazing friendships that have stood the test of time.  We feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of this group!

Nine adults, and five kids (under the age of 3!) under one roof, for an entire week.  What an adventure we had!  So thankful, and looking forward to the next time we're all together again.  :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tribute To My Dad

Ah.  Father's Day.  A day of barbeque, picnics, and . . . car shows.  Or something like that.  :)  Dads all over the country receive new unwanted ties, or sweetly handmade monstrosities that they are obligated to display on their desk for some unknown period of time.  It's usually a day for kids to treat their dads like the heroes they are.  And for our family, it means even more.

 For our family, it's a day to celebrate not only the way that our Dad raised us, but also the example he set for us of our heavenly Father.  No dad is perfect, but mine comes pretty close.

He took time to make the little things big things for us.  Every time I played the piano for my Dad growing up, he would rave about me being the next big concert pianist.  I wrote a story - Dad would declare me a future published author.  He suffered through years of dance recitals, and gymnastics meets, and had to take out a second mortgage to pay for the gas it took to drive us to all those practices!

Dad had a childish wonder about the world that gave us a passion for the world around us.  He would never accept "average" for our best - but always pushed us to give our all.  He never talked down to us, but encouraged us to break the stereo type of what the "normal" kid should look like, and use the minds God gave us to excel just about every area.  Dad was never satisfied with pat answers.  He wanted us to learn to think for ourselves, and to seek out the Truth.

I've received countless intangible gifts from my Dad.  He's always been a big believer in reading - and from early on in our childhood, he was careful to share all kinds of literature with us.  I've inherited that love of reading, and hope to pass it on to my children as well.  Dad taught me to love music - not just one kind of music, all music (although I still have a hard time choking down that Country . . .)!  I can still remember being three or four, and Dad asking me "Wanna listen to some Rock & Roll?" and sitting with him in the rocking chair, in the very middle of the living room, with the speakers blasting - and being perfectly content.

Even when he was tired, Dad never made us feel like he was "obligated" to spend time with us, but made us feel treasured.  He praised us unceasingly through our growing up years, never sparing a chance to tell us how proud he was of us.

Dad with my Grandpa
Another thing I am so thankful for - is that Dad always stuck to his convictions.  ALWAYS.  If Dad said no, that was it.  As a Mother now myself, I am so grateful to have had the example of a Dad who was firm, and didn't spare me the discipline I needed to shape my character.

To this day, I admire my Dad's love of knowledge about Scripture, and theology.  He is humble enough to admit he'll never know it all, but hungry enough to never stop seeking more.  God has blessed me with a Dad who taught me to know why I believe what I believe.  Not just because so and so said it was right, but to look for answers, and come to my own conclusions.  By God's grace, I was pointed in the right direction!

I have far more awesome memories of my Dad than could possibly fit into a blog post, but as a daughter who is eternally grateful, Dad, thanks!  For everything.  I love you.

Men Grilling
Dad & Grandpa

Friday, June 1, 2012

Through The Bible In 90 Days

For my birthday this year, I received a brand new, shiny Bible.  It's an ESV Study Bible, and there is just so much in there!  I have been enjoying it immensely.  Every year for the past couple of years, my Dad has done a challenge where he reads through the bible cover to cover, in 90 days.  I have participated once, and let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart!

However, I have learned so much more about the big picture of my salvation, and how the entire Bible points to Jesus Christ.  I'm not kidding - we're talking Genesis, and I'm seeing Jesus.  It is an amazing experience!  My Dad is out of school for the summer, and has challenged me to participate as he plunges ahead through yet another "90 Days" read.  I excitedly agreed, and he has already started the challenge.  When I called home today, he jokingly asked how the "Bible in 180 Days" was going for me.  ;)  He knows me well.  Needless to say, summer is a busy season for our family, and we travel often.  Still, I plan to begin my challenge this Sunday, and stay as close to the "90 days" schedule as I can.

This is such an enriching, deepening of faith for me.  The last time I participated, it was right before the birth of my daughter.  I am so thankful for the time of building up God used in my faith!  I would invite you to join me, and share what you're learning along the way.  I need visual reminders, so I use a bookmark with the schedule printed on it.  You can get more information about the 90 day challenge here.  I'm hoping to post updates at 30, and 60 days.  I am praying for a humble heart to learn, grace when I fall short, and endurance to press on to the finish.  Can't wait to get started!  Here's to the journey.

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Letter to my Daughter

My Sweet Olivia,

I am so thankful that God chose me out of all the women in this world to bless me as your Mommy.  You are an answer to my prayers, and the fulfillment of many dreams.  I have so many hopes and dreams for you as well, my little love, but most of all, I pray that you will someday make Jesus your treasure.

This silly world will try to tell you that you're always a winner, and that you should just look inside yourself, and see how amazing you are, just by being yourself.  The reality is, we are broken, sinful people.  Even our best efforts at being "good", God sees as filthy, futile attempts at reaching His standards of righteousness.  Your only hope (and Mommy's and Daddy's too!) at attaining that righteous standard, precious girl, - is accepting the mercy and grace of Jesus, so that God will see you through His perfect righteousness.  He rescued you - saved you from God's wrath by paying the price that God required for our sinful rebellion against Him.  I pray that one day, He will awaken your heart to this truth, and you will follow after Him with everything you are!

I love watching you grow, and learn new things (like how to smell flowers!).  Childhood is such a wonderful, short time, and as you get older, you will understand that these precious moments will have a profound impact on your grown-up years.  I am so excited to have the role of your primary teacher, and I want you to grow up with a love of learning!

If I have done my job well, you will learn that sometimes things will make you happy . . .

And sometimes things will make you sad, but both are necessary parts of learning.  Life will not always go your way, and you will learn to work through disappointments big and small.  Even in those times, my sweet girl, remember that God is good, and His plans for you are perfect.  You will not always understand, and most times, those situations will not make any sense at all.  Trust that His purposes for you are loving, and He is wise!

I want you to know - even though Daddy and I think you are the most beautiful girl in the world, you will sometimes feel otherwise.  Know that you are lovely, because God - the Creator of all things, said you are lovely!  He is an all-wise, all-loving, good Creator.  And He made you, body and personality and all - exactly the way He wanted you to be.  There is so much freedom, and rejoicing in really believing that truth, my love!  So, when you someday have acne, or crooked teeth, or you don't match the airbrushed girl you see on TV, or your clothes are boring compared to the latest trends, always remember this: you are lovely, because God says you are lovely!

I want you to know - while I hope you grow to love music, and maybe even ballet - while I dream of times of cooking together in the kitchen, or planting flowers in our garden . . . I have surrendered you completely to God's plans for your life.  Whatever He calls you to do, my honey bunny, do it with all your heart, soul, and strength!

He may call you to be a missionary, far away.  If that's the case, then go - and know that you have mine and Daddy's blessing.

He may call you to be a business woman, and live in a big city, with long hours, and lots of travel.  If that's the case, Daddy and I will stand behind you.

He may or may not call you to be a wife.  If He does, I pray that you will fashion your marriage to be a picture of Christ and the Church.  With God's help, I pray that Daddy and I will be a godly example for you to someday follow.

He may or may not call you to be a mother.  But if He should, oh my baby girl, I pray that you will lean on Him for grace and wisdom!

Nothing can compare to the experience of knowing that you are carrying another human being inside your own skin.  It is a profound sense of servanthood to offer your very body for the life of another!  When you feel those soft flutters in your tummy, and you know that God is fashioning another eternal soul within you, your heart will rejoice.

When you go through the labor and pain of bringing that beautiful baby into the world, you will taste just a little of the agony that Jesus went through to bring you into new life.

Nothing compares to hearing those hungry cries, or holding a tiny life close to you while you nourish them with your own milk.  What a magnificent, wonderful thing to be specially designed by God for such a thing!  It is something no man can ever experience.

If God calls you to be a mother, my precious child, I will someday rejoice with you.  Even if He doesn't - know that His plans for you are still good.  There is no mold you have to fit into.  You are a precious, beautiful, unique girl.  And God has astounding plans for your life that only you can fulfill.  I am so proud of you, my sweet baby girl, and I love you more than you will probably ever understand.  I am so privileged to be your Mommy, and I can't wait to watch you bloom.  No matter what your life should hold, you will always be my precious girl.

I love you,
Your Mommy

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Year of Firsts! (Reflections)

Since the last entry was getting pretty long, I thought I'd save this for another post.  :)

Now that I'm the Mommy of a one-year-old, I've been reflecting on some of the things that I wish I had known a year ago.  It didn't matter how many books I had read, or how many children I used to babysit.  I didn't matter how many people had shared time honored advice with me.  There were some moments when I really had to learn from my baby, and trust my instincts.   

Especially as a new mom, don't underestimate your own instincts!  There will be times when everyone else is telling you to do one thing, or to do it the way they did it with their babies, but you need to trust that no one else knows your baby like you do.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating ignoring a doctor's advice, or blatantly doing something you know could endanger your baby.  However, God designed you to be this baby's mother, and he will graciously give you the wisdom you need for her care.  Trust that wisdom!

Some things I had to learn the hard way.  Olivia only liked to sleep in a certain position.  She would scream for long periods of time - which I attributed to "colic."  She would crane her neck back as far as she could when she was being held, or lying down.  After a while, (and thanks to the wisdom of my Mom!) I learned to watch for "triggers" in Olivia's behavior.  It was after this, that she was diagnosed with infant reflux.  Learn from your baby.  It really is true when they tell you that every baby is different.  No matter how many babies I had had experience with, not one of them would have been the same as my own.  She still likes things done a certain way!

Looking back, I wish that I had accepted help more readily.  I was always too proud to ask for help, and when a dear soul did offer it, I always responded with a cheerful "Oh, it's okay!  We're doing great!"  instead of accepting their generosity.  Let go of your pride, and allow others to bless you with some help!  There were days when I had no clean laundry, I hadn't showered, had barely eaten anything all day, and was practically sleep walking, trying to figure out why my baby was crying non stop.  I sure could have used two or three hours to catch up on sleep!  Trust me, others will understand!  They have most likely been in your shoes a time or two as well.  Heaven forbid someone think we don't have it all together!

From here on out, I am trying to be better about letting my Husband fly solo.  Just as I wasn't born a mother, my husband wasn't born a father!  He will never learn how to be comfortable caring for our children if I'm always swooping in to his rescue.  I was really terrible at this when Olivia was very small, and her little cries felt like they were literally wrenching my heart inside my chest.  I knew I could soothe that cry faster, so I just "helped" my husband by relieving him instead of allowing him to struggle through - even as I had done once upon a time.  Daddies need to learn too - and they will never get the opportunity if we are always doing things for them.  Take it from me - the baby won't even be scarred for life!  ;)  There are some things that Mommies do better, it's true.  But babies need their Daddies, and it's okay if Daddy doesn't do it the way you do.

More than anything, this past year I have had to learn to prioritize.  Maybe some of you won't struggle with this as much as I did, but especially in those early days, maintaining order in my home helped me to feel orderly in my spirit.  With a newborn especially, most times that just isn't possible!  Remember that feeding your soul is more important than vacumming carpeting.  Folding laundry can wait if you need to nap.  You may have to do things differently than you did before.  Instead of trying to maintain your pre-parenthood lifestyle while trying to fit a baby into things, give yourself some grace and re-invent your way of doing things.

Be prepared - you will never be the same after you lay eyes on that brand new little life.  Your heart will swell with more love than you ever thought yourself capable of feeling.  And as that sweet little love grows, you will love each new stage even more than the last!  It is bittersweet, how fast these babies grow.  Olivia is such a little toddler now, and I just have so much fun with her every day.  I love to watch her learn, and enjoy so many little things that I take for granted.

If you're disheveled, and in the midst of sleepless nights, wondering how in the world you're ever going to figure this mom stuff out, hang in there!  Before you blink, you'll be watching your precious baby blow out the candle on her first cupcake.

Most of all, remember:
"He will tend His flock like a Shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  Isaiah 40:11

He is merciful, and gentle with us!  When we are desperate for wisdom, He is there.  When we are insecure, He is there.  When we are weary with exhaustion, He is there.  And He will always gently lead us.

A Year of Firsts!

Well, it's about time I blog about my daughter's first birthday (it was only in March!).  Thanks to Pinterest, I had far more cutesie ideas than I could muster the time to complete, but still, I had so much fun planning a party for our family and a few close friends.

I wanted it to be special, but not over-the-top-best-first-birthday-in-the-neighborhood kind of a party.  I put out things that I thought reflected Olivia's character.  I also had pictures from her first year around the house for guests to see, and Olivia's baby books to look at.

Much as I would have loved to serve our guests homemade gourmet delicacies, I have a tendency to over-plan (I know, you can't believe it, can you?), and at the request of my husband, wise man that he is, we kept it simple with cupcakes, punch, and pizza for lunch.  The most gourmet that I got was purple cauliflower for the veggie tray (because how fun is that?).

Even though Olivia's birthday is mid-March, we had this weird streak of hot hot weather.  With guests in the house, the temps kept climbing, so we moved the party down into our family room area in the basement.  Much cooler!

Of course, the cupcakes were a hit!

Olivia enjoyed her first sugar rush.  :)

She's such a big girl now!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Bone" Appetite!

I was feeling particularly in the mood for baking today, but as we didn't really have any occasion for it, I decided to bake for the dog instead. :)

I found a great recipe on Pinterest (three cheers!), and gave it a go. This one is really simple, only requires four ingredients, and was really easy to make.

You start by adding 2 cups of whole wheat flour, and combining it with 1 cup of rolled oats.

Then add 1/3 cup peanut butter (I used creamy, but crunchy would work too), and 1 1/2 cups hot water. Combine it and knead well. I used my KitchenAid mixer for this job - any kind of stand mixer will make your life easier! Otherwise, you'll need plenty of elbow grease.

Then roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. You can use more flour, or oats to prevent it from sticking. Use cookie cutters to cut whatever shapes you want. I didn't have any cutesie dog bones or anything, but I wanted to use smaller cookie cutters anyway, to make bite-sized treats.

Put the shapes on a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. If you have any leftover dough, you can either re-roll it out, or roll little balls and make a cross hatch pattern like traditional peanut butter cookies. Just don't get them mixed up with the people kind!

This is what they look like when they're finished:

They smelled tasty, like peanut butter cookies!

My dog, Sadie sure loved them! She's been following me around asking very politely for more. :)

There you have it! Super easy - these took me no time at all to make. Even if you have a picky eater who turns a nose up after a polite sniff, don't throw them away! Animal shelters are always in need of this kind of thing. You could make their day. Give it a try, and let me know how your puppy likes them!

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Back!

It feels like it has been ages since I've last posted - partly because of the holidays (I know, that was like, half a year ago!), and partly because my computer finally crashed.  For Christmas this year, Nate and I decided to forgo exchanging gifts with each other in favor of purchasing an iPad instead.  It has been lovely to use - almost as convenient as a laptop, except for (alas!) its lack of blogging capabilities.

So, all that to say, my husband promised me some time to blog this weekend, and instead, I waited until 11:40 pm on a Sunday night to start a new post.  Maybe one of these days I will kick this procrastination thing permanently! 

There have been lots of life events since I last wrote.  I have a little girl who is very much a toddler now.  We celebrated her first birthday in March, and she is ever so close to walking.  She is my pride and joy, and also the source of early gray hairs.  A childhood friend of my husband's has recently married, and Nate was honored as the best man in the wedding ceremony.  I love witnessing true, Christ-centered love come together in its purest form during a wedding ceremony!  I am so happy for both the Bride and Groom, and I can't wait to watch their life unfold together now, as they serve God according to his purposes for their marriage.

Friends, I have so much to tell you, and share, and much to catch up on to cover the past several months.  For now, I will just say that I am blessed beyond my imagination, and so privileged to be living the life that I am.  I hope to fill all of you in soon!  I will have to nab every opportunity I get at using an actual computer, and not something that most of the internet recognizes as a "mobile" device.

What about all of you?  What has been going on in your lives lately?  I can't wait to hear!

Grace and Peace,
 - Amanda