Sunday, December 15, 2013

I Will Love You if I Feel Like it.

  • No one can tell you who to love
  • We fell in love 
  • I fell out of love
  • Listen to your heart
  • Do what feels right
This is just a short list of popular phrases about love. Our world basically says: "I will love you if I feel like it." So many people make love out to be some magical thing that you don't have any control over, but that isn't exactly true. We all have feelings that may seem magical at times, but they are feelings, not love. We can't always control what we feel, but we can control what we do with them. Most people will probably be attracted to someone at some point in their lives. God knows I've been attracted to my fair share of men, but thank God I didn't respond/react to that attraction every time. I would probably be a MESS if I had! Love is so much more than attraction. Here is a better list of what love is:
  • Patient,
  • Kind,
  • Not jealous,
  • Not boastful or proud,
  • Not rude,
  • Doesn't demand it's own way,
  • Is not irritable,
  • Keeps no record of wrong,
  • Doesn't rejoice in injustice,
  • Rejoices when truth wins,
  • Never gives up
  • Is always hopeful
  • Endures through every circumstance. (I Cor. 13:4-7)
I'm sensing a theme here. Love is about how we treat other people. It's so easy to get wrapped up in our own issues, feelings, and desires. It's easy to forget that it isn't about us at all. We are called to love because we have been loved, but not just when we feel loved. Not just when we feel like loving. 

I am married. That doesn't mean I will never be attracted to anyone else ever again. I'm still human, and I still find men attractive. Marriage didn't suddenly blind me from every other good looking guy on the planet. I am still responsible for how I look at men and what I do with them. As a married women, I choose not to cultivate solo-friendships with men (outside of my family). I do not run for cover every time a man walks into the room, but I won't seek them out. If I'm going to be hanging out with a man other than my husband, then either my husband or another women will be there. That may sound silly to some of you, but the truth is we are sinful people and we need accountability. It is too easy to start the slippery slope to making awful choices. I doubt that most people who have an affair wake up one morning and say "You know what? Today seems like a good day for me to find someone to cheat on my husband/wife with." The Bible says "...the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness...(2 Corinthians 11:3). The good news, is that our God is bigger and smarter than Satan and He has given us resources for making good choices and knowing the difference between right and wrong. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." I love, love, love that verse! I love the picture it paints. Temptation is overwhelming. It overtakes us. If we are tempted by something, someone else has been as well. BUT temptation does NOT control us. If God is telling the truth (which I have seen proven many times), then there is always a way of escape. How encouraging is that?!? That verse has become my anthem over the years. I memorized it as a teenager and whenever I am struggling with a particular sin, I say that verse often. Whenever I feel tempted to do something I shouldn't, I say that verse and look for the escape. I am amazed by God's faithfulness. There have been so many times when I didn't think there could be a way out, but when I looked it was there. Everyone is tempted by different things. For some people it may be the urge to gossip, for some it may be sexual, for others it may be lying, stealing, pride, envy, etc. The list goes on and on, but we are ALL tempted. 

One thing that verse is not, is an excuse to push the envelope when it comes to temptation. When it comes to romantic relationships, I have heard so many people say they are okay with being alone with a person, and with making out because they wouldn't ever go too far. The Bible doesn't say "only go as far as you think you can handle, then stop." It says " Flee from sexual immorality..." (1 Cor. 6:18). When we don't follow this, we are letting our feelings guide us, not love. 

I had one serious relationship, before my husband. It was a whirlwind disaster, but I learned a lot from it. One thing I learned was NOT to "listen to my heart." If I would have done that I would have stayed with him and missed out on the life I have now. Would we have been okay? Sure, we would probably still be together, but my life would most likely be more complicated. 

Love isn't about fate, chance, or even feelings. Love is about choices. We can choose to love with our actions or we can choose to hate. We can choose to go out of our way to show people we mean "I love you" or we can hope that the words speak loud enough. Every significant relationship we have, whether romantic or platonic, will most likely be tested at some point. The only way we can pass the test is by making love a choice, not a feeling.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Forget the Mailman!

My mom has always been good at remembering people who help us throughout the year; people who are typically forgotten. As a kid, we had the best mailman. Our mailbox was attached to our house, so everyday he would walk up to our front door to give us our mail. My sisters and I would listen for him and open the door quickly to catch him before he left. He would tell my mom "My, what handsome boys you have!" or some other silly comment. We looked forward to seeing him everyday. Around Christmas my mom would always make him some sort of baked goods, usually cookies if I'm remembering correctly. She would give him a big ol' plate and he didn't care that he was going to have to lug it around with him. He looked forward to the treats every year. Mom also baked goodies for our mechanic (who we saw often with our 1984 Dodge Ram van that loved to break down...are our many other used cars!), and a few others.

I have always wanted to follow in my mom's footsteps with this, but have only done it a couple of times for a few random people. I don't think I've given to the same person two years in a row yet. This year I'm hoping to change that! Having that giant pumpkin helped motivate me this year. I made a couple batched of pumpkin bread and instead of making loaves, I make cupcakes. That made it easier to give to more people. The batches I made would have made four loaves, but I was able to make a little over fifty cupcakes with the same amount. This is an easy, inexpensive way to show somebody you appreciate them. I bought the little snowflake bags at the Dollar Tree. They came in packs of twenty-five (for $1) and they come with twisty ties. Four cupcakes fit perfectly. For groups of people, loaves or cookies may be easier. 

There are so many people we can give too. Who do you know that makes your life a little easier or someone you just want to bless? Is it your mailman, mechanic, teachers, garbage man, UPS or Fed-Ex person, Pastor, Nursery/Sunday School teachers, co-workers, boss, doctors & staff, etc? Let's bless some people this Christmas season! 

If you do something like this or have found other fun ways to spread some Christmas cheer, I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment with your ideas if you care to share. =)

Add Sprinkles before you put them in the over to add a little Christmas flair!

Write a personal note on the Christmas card. You can also tape a packet of hot cocoa to the inside of it "To warm you up when you get home." The cocoa is especially nice for people who work outside in the cold. 

You can make it more fancy if you like, or keep it simple like me. 

You can use Scotch tape to write what kind of goodies are inside as well as secure the ribbon to the bag. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Would I do it All Over Again?

This is something that I posted on my facebook a few months ago, but I want to include it in my blog. This basically sums up my view of motherhood so far. Happy reading! 

September 20, 2013
Would I do it All Over Again?
Having kids is probably one of the most difficult, challenging, and humbling experience a person can have. I have noticed over years of speaking with mothers about motherhood, that many women have a hard time dealing with the changes in their lives and bodies after kids. I had a mom ask me, not too long ago, if I ever feel depressed by the changes in my body. That made me want to share my view of motherhood and a bit of my journey of assumptions.
Going into pregnancy there were many assumptions that I made about pregnancy & delivery, my life as a mother, my post-pregnancy body, and my life in general. Here are some of them.

Assumptions about Pregnancy & Delivery:
• I will be tired (check!) and emotional/moody (not as much as I expected gratefully)
• I will experience weird cravings (I was disappointed by my lack of cravings. I thought that would be the one (or two, three, four, etc) time in my life I could eat weird things without being judged).
• Delivery will be the most painful experience I’d ever experience (Most uncomfortable, yes. Most painful, gratefully, no. Injuring my back as a teenager was more painful.)

Assumptions about my life as a mother:
• Motherhood would be hard (check!),
• Rewarding (check!),
• Fun (check!),
• Surprising (check!),
• Fulfilling (check!),
• Challenging (double check since starting the potty training journey! =p)

Assumptions about my post-pregnancy body:
• I will get stretch marks (check!),
• My boobs will be ginormous (check!),
• I will gain a lot of weight that will be hard to lose (check!).

Assumptions about my life in general:
• Anthony and I will both be sleep-deprived (triple check! – I didn’t think it would last so long. I guess that’s what happens when you decide to have two kids in less than 1 ½ yrs)
• We will have less money, since babies are expensive (check, but God is our provider, so we don’t have to worry!)

Here are some things I didn’t assume, but know now:
• Nursing can be painful and frustrating. I had heard mom’s complain about that, but couldn’t relate. I remember thinking “How hard can it be? God designed up to nurse right?!?” What is that verse? “Pride comes before the fall (Prov. 16:18).”
• Making time to cook, go shopping, clean, etc., will feel (and sometime be!) nearly impossible
• I will stare at my kids for ridiculous amounts of time, and it doesn’t get old
• I want to capture EVERY SINGLE moment of cuteness on camera, because I don’t ever want to forget
• Watching my kids grow and learn new things is AMAZING! I get super excited when something new happens. I can’t wait to share it with my family and friends.
• There are many more, but I would be here all day if I tried remembering all of them.
As I reflect on all of the changes I’ve gone through since having kids, I have come to a very simple conclusion. If I had the choice to do it all over again, I most certainly would. All of the stress, physical and emotional changes, financial cost, and other “negative” consequences of having children, don’t even come close to outweighing the joy of having Natalie and Enzo. I can’t imagine missing out on having these two precious kids. I look forward to having more children, if God will give them to me. And if that means being less physically attractive (which my husband says is not the case), or having less money, or more challenges, or more stress, BRING IT ON!!! I love my kids too much to let that stop me! My challenge to all you other moms out there: Be confident in yourself and remember why your body doesn't look the same. Do you think it’s worth it too?!? I hope so! May the Lord bless you on your journey through motherhood! -Johanna

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Easy Way to Pack and Store Pumpkin Puree

We got a huge pumpkin this year and were able to make a bunch of puree out of it. After running out of plastic containers and wrestling with a bunch of bags, I figured out an easier way to pack the puree. Most of the recipes I use call for 1 or 2 cups of puree so I used sandwich bags to hold 2 cups each. The easiest way I found to fill the bags was to put them in a cup first. Below are the how-to pics. I hope this helps!
1. Write the date, contents, and qty on a dry, empty sandwich bag.

2. Place the opened bag into the cup and fold over the side of the cup

3. Scoop into cup (make sure to measure)

4. Carefully roll up edges of bag and pull out of cup 

5. Fold bag in half and push out any excess air

6. Four sandwich bags fit nicely in a gallon size freezer bag. If you aren't going to use it right away, you can freeze it. Having it separated makes it easy to pull out the amount you need and keep the rest frozen. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My New Little Potty Pooper

I started putting Enzo on the toilet a couple months ago.

Now before you start thinking I'm the freak of the week, overachiever, showoff, or other such nonsense, let me explain...

 I had a conversation a little over a year ago (when Natalie was 7 months old) about potty training that intrigued me. A friend of mine was explaining how a friend of her's never put diapers on her baby. Her reason was that she didn't want her kid to have to unlearn the habit of peeing/pooping on him/herself. I have also heard lots of parents say that the biggest issue they have faced with potty training has been their kids fear of the toilet.

Naturally, I don't want my kids to have to unlearn things or be afraid of the toilet. I  also have to confess something that may shock you. Are you ready? Brace yourself....Ok, here it goes: I don't like changing diapers! Especially poopy ones!!!! All these facts combined have provided me with the motivation to start putting my kids on the toilet at 7 months instead of waiting till 1 1/2 or 2 years old. My goal is not to have a fully potty trained 1 year old (I don't even have a fully potty trained 2 year old! =p) my goal is to get Enzo comfortable with the toilet and think of using it as a normal part of life. To date he has probably peed and pooped in the toilet at least a dozen times. That is not a huge number compared to how many times he's gone is his diaper, but I still see it as a HUGE victory. That is 12 less poopy diapers to clean. 12 more cute moments to see my little guy acting like a big boy. That's enough reason for me!

 If you are interested in knowing some of my struggles with potty training and why I'm doing the same thing again send me an email. I'd be happy to share more.