{Delight} in the Season

Oh, the holidays. Where to begin…and how to end?!

I’ve been struggling the past week or so about this holiday season.

My two older boys are at the “I want, I want” age and I’ve been trying to teach them about gratitude and giving, but once again – I’m reminding myself here – they are at that age. I sometimes forget that we are all born selfish and it takes years (more than 6) to understand how to be grateful and to have a giving heart. Especially when our culture urges us to have more…and more will make us happy.

I STILL struggle with this – trendy clothes, updated technology, new is better!

So I’m working on celebrating the small victories and remembering that all I can do is teach, especially through my actions, and know that God will work on their hearts…aka giving grace.

One small victory recently was filling a box of gently used toys to donate for children that have less than us. I will acknowledge that in their minds giving toys away is just making room for new toys, BUT they also gave willingly. And in my eyes I am teaching them how to give and why; will it take some time for them to truly understand these things? YES! But isn’t that the way with habits? Time and consistency are the best teachers.

Another aspect of the season I’ve been struggling with is WHY we’re celebrating. I recently read someone’s post about how Christmas isn’t even Jesus’ real birth date and that for all of the feasts and festivals that God created in the Bible, He never said to celebrate Jesus’ birth or when and THAT date – Christmas – was created just so Christians could celebrate winter solstice – a pagan holiday.

This really bothered me and really made me second guess….well, everything!

But oh, how God works in mysterious and wondrous ways.

they will call him

I started a study through Proverbs 31 Ministries on the book by Max Lucado, Because of Bethlehem. And it occurred to me, God KNEW how this would all turn out; He KNEW that new Christians would use the pagan winter solstice to celebrate Jesus’ birth and He could have stepped in right? We all know that God can change things, but He gave us free will and you know what He does with that free will? He uses it for HIS GOOD!

“Because of Bethlehem” we HAVE our Savior…and, yes, as Christians we should celebrate Jesus’ birth every day, but God KNEW how selfish we would be and that we would NEED this “reason” and “season” to celebrate. I would not want to guess how many people have come to know Him because of the Christmas season!

I do want my boys to grow up being grateful for all they have and being grateful for when they receive gifts; I want them to be good givers, too. I pray they can be good servers in their schools and communities. I, also, pray that they won’t feel the need to be guilty of getting new things or for celebrating their Savior’s birth on one significant day; that they may know grace* when they fail to celebrate Him every day.

So, I will be joyfully celebrating this season. I will work, through my words and actions, to teach my kids about why we are celebrating. Most importantly, I will give grace. I have been given it, so why would I not extend it to those around me, especially those I love? Grace to three little boys who don’t quite understand gratitude or giving with a grateful heart; grace to their little hearts that follow their selfish minds because they don’t quite understand how to use God’s strength to overcome that selfishness. Grace for myself when I lose my “cool” too many times and when I let myself get overwhelmed by the whys instead of remembering the Giver of grace created this season so I can remember all He can/will do for my good.

May God give you

^ 2 Peter 1:2 ^

*I love this message on grace from Proverbs 31 Ministries daily devotional today (Nov. 27)

{Delight} in Change

“Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” ~ Unknown

This quote is often used when talking about fall and while it is a neat comparison to learn from, what has always interested me much more is the change that the leaves go through before they let go.

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

Changing is hard.

Whether it’s simple habits of eating better or something more complex like unhealthy relationships, change is something we are all stubborn about.

I have been very blessed in my relationships, but I’ve still had those that have gone through seasons of change and some have been let go; maybe not because of unhealthiness, but due to life moving on and that is OK, too. So I really don’t have much insight on going through a tough relational change that has needed to be let go, therefore I won’t even pretend to touch on that point.

Habits, though, I feel like I can have a bit of a say in this area.

No mistake, I am NO expert and I know (and pray those reading know) that what works for me will not work for everyone, but I’d like to share on my journey of change and learning to delight in change, so I can then let go of the unhealthy aspects holding me back.

I’ve needed to completely rewire my frame of mind when it comes to eating.

In the past, I have done a lot of “I deserve this” eating, ie: it’s been a long day of wrestling crazy kids, so I deserve this ice cream/chocolate/wine, etc; or “I’m bored” and munching on something occupies my mind and my hands. These two mindsets are still haunting me a bit and I have some really hard days, especially when I feel tired and worn out, and the “Bored” eating keeps me awake and the “Deserved” eating makes me feel better about all the times I lost my temper.

Instead, I have needed to think “My body needs this not that” and “Am I really hungry?” and “I need water, not food.”

This is a big change for me and has NOT come easily. I could name any number of excuses of course, but mainly I struggle because I’ve grown lazy. Even though I know the results of the last 9 months – both with my body and my energy; feeling good when I’m on track and feeling crappy during the times I “fell off the wagon” – I still struggle to stick with it.

I haven’t fully delighted in changing things. I may be happy with the progress I’ve made but finding joy in completely changing my thinking about food is not something I have accomplished…yet.

Even after a couple of months of “crazy school schedules” which really means I am just grabbing what I can to feed myself; I know I can get back on track and am determined to keep my change more secure. With the holidays quickly approaching I know I am apt to give myself that excuse, but my goal is to be smarter and just a bit better each day instead of completely letting go of what I have worked on.

The two things that have helped me the most in the journey are eating until 80% full and not eating anything after a certain time of night (8pm is my focal point).*

Not completely cleaning my plate has been a hard change to make. I saw a funny meme on Facebook once that said “We were told to clean our plates so we would be big and strong. Well, now we’re just big.” How true! Although this is probably somewhat due to WHAT we are eating too and HOW big our portion is. I have these smaller plates that I give my kids their food on and I’ve been using those for myself, too, and that has helped me to not take quite as much to “fill” my plate full and therefore not eating as much (theoretically; there are times I feel the need to refill said plate – insert eye-roll here).

NOT eating after 8pm has been hard due to the fact that once the kids are all in bed that is when I feel like I can finally enjoy something in peace. This is usually a glass of wine with a couple pieces of dark chocolate. Or if it’s been a particularly trying day I may pull out the ice cream and thoroughly enjoy that creamy goodness with some chocolate and caramel sauces! I remember when I had ice cream after like 3 months of not having any and feeling SO CRAPPY after eating it and almost feeling sad because I couldn’t enjoy it…silly, I know. And that is when I realized that I don’t have to completely cut everything I enjoy out, but just being smart about it.

But that isn’t always as simple as it sounds, especially when this human body lets the crazy hormones and emotions run my mind more often than not.

And that is really where the biggest change has to happen, isn’t it?

I don’t remember where I heard/read it, but someone said how we always focus on our hearts following Christ, but in reality, God knows that our minds need to be on the same track as our hearts. I can’t remember the verse reference they used, but it was something about how “minds and hearts focused on Christ” and the speaker/author was of the mind that there is significance in the mind being listed first in this case. I took it as I need to set my MIND on the goal and more often than not my heart will follow that way. Maybe I am off base or maybe it’s just my opinion, but it really resonated with me. If I can’t DECIDE in my mind that this is something I need to do, then why would the rest of me want to follow?

One non-food habit I’ve been working really hard to get better at is to wake up early so I can do my Bible study. This is super hard for me; I live in a house full of early risers and I struggle so wake as early as they do, so waking even earlier is not something that comes naturally. BUT, I notice a significant change in my attitude during the day when I can have those few quiet moments with God first thing in the morning. My head (and body) cringe at the idea of waking up so early, and that is even though my heart KNOWS it needs that time to get my day started on the right road. Changing my mind about waking early – this is good for me and will give me a better day – has become very important. When my alarm goes off and all my body wants to do is lay in bed a few more minutes, I have to give myself a mental pep talk about why I need this.

Whether it’s food or relational or general lifestyle – we can find delight in change. Is it easy? No. But to really grow and learn and know you are doing better, wouldn’t you rather work hard at something than just breeze your way through it? I would, that doesn’t mean I like it, but then I know it’s real.

And the best part is we always have Someone in our corner, cheering us on, when we choose to hear with our minds and our hearts.

Isaiah30_21

 

*I need to note that I have been taught these two habits through a coaching program and my coach Jen Weir, with Front Range Fitness & Health Coaching, has been a huge source of support and accountability in my journey. Thank you, Jen, and I would love to refer anyone with more questions about this program to her!

FBA {Farm Boy Approved}

I love autumn.

BUT, I know I can be honest here, I’m not a pumpkin-fall person.

What I love about fall is the spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger…YUM!

And the beautifully rich colors, but that doesn’t really apply to baking quite as much, so…here’s my NEW favorite (I have a LOT of favorite fall recipes!) zucchini recipe that has all the yumminess of autumn!

Recipe from Britt's Farmhouse (2)

Seriously you guys…so YUMMY!

I’d love to hear how you like it!

advice-be-fearless
photo credit: PBS.org

{Delight} in a Life

It’s hard to say good-bye.

There have been a few comforts that I’ve said good-bye to in the last couple of weeks. The significance of each comfort varies – the death of a grandpa has no comparison to the breakdown of a favorite pair of running shoes. However, I did find myself comparing the two.

If you are a runner or walker you know how sometimes frustrating it is to find the perfect pair of shoes. When I started to really work hard to get back into running and having that exercise to help get back into a healthy lifestyle, I wanted to find a great pair of shoes. And they do become a comfort item; yes, for the obvious reasons, but also for the sentiment that they helped me through the trials of finding my way back to living my best, healthy life. So, when they started to show some wear and not quite as supportive, I was a little bummed. Partly, to go through the process of breaking in a new pair, but also because they have been with me through a year of progress! I have not only lost weight and inches, but I conquered my first 10K in winter conditions (hint: I’m not a winter weather person) I’ve had more energy and the confidence to tackle another difficult race without as much preparation time as I would normally prefer.

I know the significance may seem lacking to some, but when this “loss” came less than a week after the passing of my grandpa I began finding similarities with the comfort I had found from both situations.

My grandpa died about 10 days ago. He had a wonderful life; 91 years of ranching with family and showing all of us (and his extended family) how to love and support one another. I know I didn’t have one of the closest relationships with him, there were other grandkids (like 16 others *wink*) that spent much more time with him; playing cribbage or talking ranch work, but I have the best memories of him just being there. He was always there, at everything, with his usual smile and that was probably the most beautiful show of love and support I can imagine. And he was ALWAYS willing to visit, whether it was just about everyday life or to tell us stories from when he was younger. And his positivity – I can’t image how weary he may have been in the last few years, but whenever I asked “How are you today?” he always replied, “Well I’m here, so I must be doing good!” or something similar to that.

When we were told that they were taking steps toward letting him drift away – not sure the correct way to say that, but after a few incidences, his children decided to make the move to shut off his pacemaker. Anyways, when they shared that news I felt like I wasn’t upset enough. Don’t get me wrong, I was sad, but mostly for my dad and aunts; I knew how upset they were and how much they would miss him. And I figured I would miss him, too, but I was being practical – I wasn’t as close to him as some of my cousins were – and I knew he would not be in pain, not just physical, but his nearly constant state of confusion was painful for him as well. Knowing that he wouldn’t have to experience any of that anymore and KNOWING he would be reunited with his beloved wife, I suppose I was at peace with it. But a part of me wondered why I wasn’t emotional, but then it happened. I received a message that he was having a rough night and they weren’t sure if he would make it through and all of a sudden it hit me, that he wouldn’t be around anymore. And that realization had me in tears. His consistent support will no longer be a part of our gatherings, his chair will be empty.

And then I found myself being so very grateful for the time he had with his great-grandkids! That my boys were able to know that consistent love and support for even just a little while. And you never know how much they really understand, but when we told them, EJ (6 yo) was upset he didn’t get to say good-bye (melt this momma’s heart!) but he was glad Papa Willis would be with his wife and siblings.

After my bout of tears, I realized how much I would miss his comfortable, loving support; his quiet consistency that we all knew we could count on. There is so much more I’ve learned from him, but those were the things that came to mind first.

To move on and to become better we all need to lose an item of comfort or just get out of the comfort zone and it is hard. No one enjoys being uncomfortable or the other emotions tied to that experience. Giving up my unhealthy habits and learning new ones have been hard and most definitely UNcomfortable, but I have first-hand examples of how that has benefited me and will continue to do so. And the loss of a beloved grandparent is sad and not something that can be replaced (like running shoes), but the memories to be reminisced on and lessons learned to be re-evaluated help us to remember how grateful we can be for the time we’ve had with them.

“He will not let you stumble; The One who watches over you will not slumber.” ~Psalm 121:3

I look up to the mountains-- does my help come from there_ My help comes from the LORD, who made the heaven and earth! He will n

{Delight} in New Lessons

{deep breath in…and out…repeat…as needed}

Does anyone really enjoy lessons? Unless it’s something you’re interested in, but for the sake of what I usually write about (wink) are those really the kind of lessons we like to learn?

I have learned my fair share of lessons this first year of my thirties and while I will say most of them haven’t been that fun, when I look back I can see how they have helped me to grow even though at the time it hurt – a lot!

Of course, I didn’t think about writing a post about “lessons” until just a couple of months ago. The end of May marked two weeks of FUN in the form of two extra kiddos on the ranch. When cousins come to visit there is always plenty of fun, but, as my oldest found out, there are also plenty of learning opportunities!

When given the choice of playing with his cousins or with his brother, EJ made the obvious choice – cousins! And Miles, who has already been missing his brother after his first year of school, grew increasingly upset when his big brother wouldn’t play with him. He would ask to play inside (if you know Miles this is NOT normal!) and wouldn’t want to play with his cousins.

A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
photo credit: Mariah Heitzman Photography

So EJ learned the lesson of working to include EVERYONE in the game and that choosing to play with his brother really isn’t so terrible a thing. It did help a bit too that at the end of two weeks of playing “house” or the other girly games their cousin thought up started exceeding EJ’s patience. And that was a WHOLE other lesson he got to learn!

So what of my lessons?

I’m sure I will be repeating myself from previous posts, I will ask forgiveness for that now!

My biggest lesson, I think, has been that if I don’t MAKE the time for something, it will not happen. Obvious, right? And it is, but that doesn’t make it any easier of a lesson to learn and to put into practice.

Now, I’m not talking about the normal, everyday things that have to happen in order to have a somewhat sane living situation; cooking, washing dishes, laundry, etc. Which I have at times neglected those as well and really kicked myself for it later, but most specifically, MAKING time for writing. Or making time to meal prep or to workout or, by far most importantly (and so naturally the hardest!), for Bible study.

And I think what’s most frustrating for me is that when I do these things when I make the time for them, I feel better. Meal prep = eating better = feeling better; writing = accomplishing a new post/idea = confident; working out = feeling strong = more energy. And when I start my day with God it goes a whole lot smoother than when I choose not to.

So why can’t I keep with it? Why does it have to be such a constant choice to make instead of a habit to just do it?

Well, I’m still learning and working to apply this lesson of MAKING good habits. I know that I will slip up, but another lesson I’ve learned is that when I give myself the grace I always need I am a whole lot more apt to strive toward doing better. When I beat myself up and believe the lies that I’m not good enough, I give up. Why even try when I’ve already screwed up? But, if God is for me, who can stand against me? Not even myself!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

Let us Come Boldly to the Throne of our Gracious God.

 

FBA {Farm Boy Approved}

My favorite and go-to barbeque/potluck pasta salad!

Recipe from Britt's Farmhouse (1)

All of my favorite things – pasta, bacon, ranch!

Potluck

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. ~ Galatians 5:13

FBA {Farm Boy Approved}

I’ve been trying to get myself organized to do a bit of re-vamping on here and while I’m not quite where I want to be I’m going to go forward with my new idea!

Foodie

My goal is to have two posts per month; one being “Farm Boy Approved” recipes – some of our favorite recipes out here are Volf Ranch, ranging from dinners to sides and anything else I can get these boys to eat! The second post will follow along the lines of what I’ve been writing previously.

Now for our first FBA recipe >> Meatballs! <<

Recipe from Britt's Farmhouse

This recipe is SO versatile!

Serve with bbq sauce over rice or brown gravy over mashed potatoes or marinara with spaghetti OR teriyaki with rice and broccoli! YUM! And use flavored bread crumbs – garlic and herb – to give a taste more suited for your desired dinner! Add ginger to the meat mixture for teriyaki to give a little different flavor.

The best part?! (YES, it gets better!) They can be frozen so easily and used at another time. I like to make a huge batch – like triple – bake, let cool and freeze them in 2-gallon Ziploc bags. When you’re ready to use them, no need to thaw ahead of time just throw them in along with the sauce into the crockpot on low for the day and BAM! dinner is served!

HUGE thank you to Grammie Debby for sharing this awesome recipe and letting me share it with everyone else! 🙂