To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Time for Friendship

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down 
his life for his friends. ~John 15:13

Friends are people I feel we should all have. Friends, if chosen well, can be such a blessing. Some people, like myself, enjoy several close friends of all shapes and sizes. Others of you prefer to keep your close friends and confidants to a minimum. Some of you may even only have one person you would call a close friend. Whatever your preference, having friends is important. Even more important than having good friends is being a good friend. Some people are gifted in knowing how to be a good friend. Others, well, they need a little encouragement in this area. Since I have an over abundance of wonderful friends who have taught me so much about what it means to be a friend, I thought I'd share what I've learned. I would like to preface this by saying that the Bible teaches us clearly about friendship...the kinds of friends to look for and avoid as well as showing us that Jesus is THE friend and our example. This post isn't a Bible study on friendship...just some practical advice from a girl who thinks friendship is important and tries hard to be a friend worth having.

The first thing I've learned is that in order to be a good friend you need to be available. Trust me I know what you are thinking, "I don't have time to be there every time my friend needs me". I get it. I have a family and I am not able to just drop everything in an instant. Being available is more than just physically being there. Distance, for instance, would prohibit even the greatest of friends from being available physically. We live in a time where technology makes it easier than ever to be available. With things like texting, FaceTime & Skype, and email it is so manageable for us to be there for our friends even when distance and time prevent us from being able to hold a hand or give a hug. Being available just means you are willing to set some time aside from your busy schedule to make a phone call, send a quick text, write an email or Skype. This is especially important when you know your friend is going through a difficult or challenging time. I can't tell you how encouraging it is when I am having a hard day and I suddenly get a text from a friend letting me know they are praying for me. Or a friend I haven't heard from in awhile will send a card or email letting me know they've been thinking of me. Another thing I've learned is you need to learn what your friend's need. Have you ever heard of the book, "The Five Love Languages"? In it the author is speaking to married couples but I think it translates into all types of relationships. The 5 love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Receiving Gifts
Quality Time
Physical Touch
Knowing the ways in which the people you are in relationships with feel loved will help you be a better friend (and wife, sister, mother, etc.). For me my love language is Acts of Service with Quality Time a close second. I feel most loved when people give me their time (which is valuable) and help me with a task. I have friends who are amazing at making me feel loved. I have one friend who is always reminding me she will come over and help if I have a project to work on. Today in fact she was here helping me core, peel, and slice A LOT of apples that were given to me. It meant so much to me that she was willing to take time out of her day to spend it here with me chatting and working on something I desperately needed to get done yet could not have by myself. When my sister was recently here visiting for the week she made me feel loved by cleaning...every time I looked she was cleaning something that I
never have time to do like the oven. Another friend ALWAYS folds my laundry when she comes to visit. She doesn't even ask anymore. She sees it and does it automatically while we are chatting. These kinds of friends are a blessing and make me feel loved because that is my love language. Not that the other things on the list are not appreciated...they are very much appreciated. Because Acts of Service is my love language it is how I most easily show love. My first thought is to bring you a meal, watch your kids or help with a project. But that might not be my friends love language so its important that I learn what is so that I can be there for
them in a way that lets them know I care and makes them feel loved.
I've learned that being a good friend requires me to be accepting of others for who they are and not expecting them to change to suit my preferences. Do all of my friends and I think alike or act alike? No. How boring would that be! I had one friend say recently, "I thank God for each of you ladies, and the way our different personalities complement each other". Differences are good and we should be willing to accept our friends and love them for who they are. I'm thankful for my friends who are patient and gracious with my imperfect self and keep me around despite my undesirable qualities that I know at times drive them crazy!
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I have learned that my children are watching me and the kind of friend I am to others will have an impact on them. I am their first example of what a friend is. Not because I am trying to be their friend, (that's a post for a different day), but because they see how I treat my friends, how I speak to them or about them and whether or not I make time for them. I am the first person who teaches them what a friend is and what it means to be a friend. I want my kids to make wise choices when it comes to choosing friends and I want my example to be one that they can emulate. I have found the best training they can get in learning to be a good friend is with their brothers and sisters. These are their first friends and learning to be a good friend to each other will give them just the practice they need to be a good friend to others.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Time for Thankfulness: Revised and Updated for 2013

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. ~Psalm 100:4

November is the time of year everybody starts thinking of things they are thankful for, leading up to Thanksgiving. It's all over Facebook with status' each day of something one is thankful for. So I decided, because consistency is not my greatest strength, that instead of each day posting one thing I'm thankful for I instead would just make a list of 30 things, one for each day of the month!

I am thankful for:

1.First and foremost I'm thankful for Christ dying on the cross and forgiving me of my sins. I don't want to think of who I would be or where I would be without HIM. 

2. My husband. I am amazed every day that God gave me such a good man. He is my best friend and loves me unconditionally...good days AND bad days! I love him so much and am so thankful for him.

3. Seven healthy children. WOW! With so many stories lately of children who are sick and dying I am thankful each day for how God has blessed us in this area.

4. For Noah. Everyone needs a Noah. He is a love and could sit and chat and hug all day. He is  just so thoughtful. He is a good friend and so good to his siblings. He makes me laugh because he is as awkward as I am and he frustrates me because we are so much alike!! But I wouldn't change anything about him.

5. For Owen. He is so much like his dad, I love that. He's our goofball and always knows how to put a smile on my face. He is determined and hard working but loves making everything in life fun!

6. For Gabe. Gabe is all boy & all personality. He never stops thinking, or talking or moving. He's our most exhausting one but always makes life interesting with his unpredictable ways. He's a born leader & strong willed and so interested in the world around him.

7. For Will. He's my "sweet William". He is so kind and gentle. He is the first one to pick something up if you've dropped it. He's also very organized, always making sure things go where they belong. He loves to laugh ,even if he has no idea what he's laughing about! I can't imagine our family without him.

8. For Jena. She is a girly- girl with a side of tom boy in her. Truly it just depends on her mood and I love that about her. She loves to tease, her brothers especially, and loves it when she is teased back. She's also such a big helper. She loves to help fold laundry and load/unload the dishwasher...and is actually very good at both! So thankful for her helping spirit. 

9. For Tess. My little Tessie-Lou is the happiest, smiley-est baby there is...after Will, because he was too. She has a smile at the ready almost constantly. You will hear a lot of people say that they've never heard her cry. While she does cry, I'm not surprised some haven't heard it because it is so rare. She adds so much joy to our house and we're so thankful for her.

10. For Emma. Though these first couple of months have been tough since she is a baby more on the fussy side I'm so thankful that fussy is the worst I can say because so many parents face very real and scary ailments with their kids. When she does smile she has the most adorable dimple, just like Noah's and it makes my day. I'm so thankful God blessed us with a 3rd little girl and I'm looking forward to seeing her personality come through.

11. For the fact that I can be a stay at home mom. There are many challenging and tough days but there are more great and rewarding days and I'm thankful I'm able to be home with the kids.

12. For my husband having a job. In this economy the fact that he has a stable job cannot be taken for granted. 

13. For friends who are unbelievably loving and supportive. I'm so blessed with so many great women in my life. 

14. For family. My kids are blessed to have all their grandparents and 3 great-grandparents, lots of aunts & uncles and cousins. 

15. For coffee. It has to be said! I'm thankful for very, very strong (preferably Starbucks) coffee. 

16. To be an American. Despite everything that is happening and going on in our country...some things very scary...I'm still proud to be an American.

17. For the Bible and for the freedom to own as many as I want, read it whenever I want without fear of being thrown in prison or losing my life.

18. For our home. It's warm and safe and full of love. It's a place where there is always an over abundance of all of life's necessities-Praise God!

19. That Ben and I are healthy. It sure makes taking care of this family a whole lot easier!

20. For modern conveniences! Life is a lot easier today with things like indoor plumbing, electricity, dishwashers, cell phones, computers, etc.! 

21. For Facebook. That may seem like a strange thing to be thankful for but when you stay home taking care of a lot of little ones it's hard to get out and F/B has helped me feel connected to people. So many of my friends have been a huge source of encouragement.

22. For nature. Mountains to climb, trails to hike, lakes and oceans to swim in, animals to watch. God's creation is amazing!

23. I'm thankful that Ben's parents give us beef each year! Sure helps our grocery budget!!!

24. I'm thankful for how God has gifted Ben with so many skills & talents-have I mentioned how just plain awesome I think my husband is??

25. I'm thankful I have eyes that see and ears that hear. This is definitely something I take for granted, and shouldn't!

26. I'm thankful for things like make-up, hair color, hair straighteners, and nail polish. These may be frivolous things but they  are things that are sure to put a smile on my face when I'm feeling frumpy and less than pretty!

27. Music!! I love that there is music for every mood and occasion. I especially love the way it can prepare our hearts to worship God and express our love to him.

28. I'm thankful for the way God has provided for our family. A lot of people say it is too expensive to have a big family but we have seen God's provision for our every need and almost every want and I am so thankful for that. What an awesome God we serve!

29. Fire. Not only because it heats a home and cooks food but because of the way it brings people together to talk and laugh around a campfire eating s'mores. This is one of my most favorite family times!

30. The fact that I woke up today and so did my most precious gifts, Ben and the kids. I'm thankful for the gift of each day.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Time for Pinterest Hits...and Misses!

If you are not on Pinterest by now, you really should be! I think whoever came up with this idea is a genius; it has made my life a lot easier on several occasions! When I'm in a funk meal planning, the first place I go is Pinterest. I pin a lot of things. Most of us on Pinterest do. But how many of those pins do we actually try or do? I've been making an effort over the past few months to take some of the things I've pinned and actually make them. Since I haven't exactly had a lot of time for crafts or DIY projects but I still HAVE to cook, the pins I've made lately are recipes. So here are some of the ones we enjoyed...and some not so much!

1. Breaded Ranch Chicken 

This recipe was a hit! It was so tasty and very easy. I'm one who almost always has some packets of Ranch dressing mix on hand so this is a recipe I can make in a flash. Though I did recently pin a recipe for DIY ranch seasoning, which I hope to try soon. If it turns out to be a hit then I can make this recipe with my own seasoning. 

2. Vegetable Mac n Cheese

This recipe was another fact, it's on the menu for this weekend. I first made this recipe when we were having guests over for lunch. I know it's risky to try new recipes when company's coming but I took a chance anyway. I'm glad I did. It is such a fun take on mac n cheese, has lots of veggies, which I found you can choose the ones you like and eliminate the ones you don't (I did not put squash in mine). It has nice flavor and the red pepper flakes give it just the right amount of kick to make it interesting!

3. Crock Pot Chex Mix

This one I am going to have to say is a miss...for me anyway. Not so much on taste, because it tastes fine. My problem with it is that it makes a mess of your crock pot! And I don't find it easier to do it in the crock pot then in the oven. I prefer my oven method so I'm going to stick with it. I guess my suggestion would be if you decide to try it then invest in some crock pot liners and save yourself a lot of scrubbing!

4. Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes

If there is anything I love, it's finding a recipe that the kids devour. And this recipe is one of them. Another item I always have on hand are refrigerator biscuits. I grab these when they go on sale and freeze them (yes, they freeze beautifully!) so all I have to do when I've got some leftover chicken to use up is thaw some biscuits and we've got ourselves a meal everyone will love! This is one of those recipes too that you can play around with. Make your filling to your liking and then bake them up. It's an easy recipe and a neat way to use up some leftovers!

5. Buffalo Chicken Bites

This one I'm afraid to say is a miss. None of us cared for this recipe...and we're big buffalo chicken fans. I can't quite put my finger on what it was about this recipe that made it not to our liking but even after 3 or 4 attempts, we still didn't like it. Maybe you'll have better luck than I did!

6. Sweet & Sour Chicken

This is by far the BEST recipe I've pinned on Pinterest to date! Everyone I've made it for has also raved about it. It's not exactly a quick and easy recipe...there's some prep work and planning involved. But it is so worth the effort. This recipe also freezes very well. Prepare it up until the baking stage. Freeze it. Then when you're ready to eat it stick it in the oven and let it finish cooking. You will not regret taking the time to make this, I promise!

7. S'mores Bars

I do not do a lot of baking. It's not my favorite thing to do. I would much rather cook a meal. But I do try to bake for the sake of my family so I like recipes that are quick and easy. This one is's very quick and easy if you have everything you need. But I'm calling it a miss. It just wasn't as good as you'd think it would be. I guess there's just no beating a real s'more by the campfire so my suggestion is this...if you have the ingredients for s'mores, make yourself a campfire and enjoy the real deal because these pale in comparison!

8. Strawberry-Yogurt Cake

This recipe is a huge HIT! It takes some planning because it calls for a few ingredients I don't always have on hand but it's definitely worth making. It's so yummy and very easy to make! I highly recommend this recipe!

9. Poppy-Seed Chicken Casserole

This recipe I just recently tried when my in-laws were visiting and we say it's a hit! It is really yummy and the poppy seeds give it a great flavor. This one Ben even talked about days later...that's when you know you've found a recipe that's a keeper! The instructions say that some add rice to the bottom and I absolutely did. I added 2 cups of cooked rice to the bottom of the casserole. I think next time I might experiment by throwing in some veggies. I love recipes I can be creative with and this is definitely one of them.

10. Coconut Rice

This recipe I have not tried yet but I plan to this weekend. It seems super simple. I even bought minute rice, which I never do, to ensure it comes out just as it's supposed to. I love coconut and I think this fun take on rice will go nicely with the shrimp I'm planning to make to go with it. It seems too simple to mess up but we shall see!

So here you have it! A few of my "pins" that have proved successful and not so successful. Maybe you can incorporate some of these recipes into your menu planning this month. I hope to have some time in the near future to try out the more crafty & DIY type pins I have waiting for me...and when I do I'll be sure to let you know how they turned out!