Sunday, 29 June 2014

Five Minute Friday: Where Do We Find Our Identity?

Sorry for the late Five Minute Friday post. It was a stressful weekend and I just wasn't able to get to it. But, this peaceful Sunday evening, I was able to take the time to sit down and write! Yay! 

For those who are unfamiliar with this, Five Minute Friday is where a bunch of us bloggers/writers get together over at Lisa-Jo's place to write on a word prompt she gives us. We write for 5 minutes without editing or analyzing our writing ... just let the words flow out the way the come. And then we get to share it with each other which is a huge part of the fun! :) Come join us!

This week's word prompt is "lost". Once again, I used my preferred method - write before I read Lisa-Jo's post! :)


So often we find ourselves wandering through this world feeling lost, like we don’t know what we’re here for or where we’re going. It’s an unsettling feeling – especially when it seems as though everyone around us seems to know exactly who (where) they are and what they’re doing. Feeling lost is hard to cope with, it’s hard to get out of, particularly when we think that, in order to accomplish that, we need to “find ourselves”. I wonder if that’s the correct idea to hold? I guess it all comes down to where (or in whom) we find our identity.

As Christians, our identity first needs to be found in God. “I am a child of The King.” That is of utmost importance! If that is our identity, than we also know our purpose – to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If that is our identity and our purpose, then it is also a measuring stick, so-to-speak, which we use to make decisions in our daily life.

A job opportunity comes up – in taking it will I glorify God?
An opportunity to move to a different city/province/county arises – will making that move glorify God?
A new activity is suggested for your children – will participating in this activity glorify God?

And the list could go on…

If we find our identity and purpose in God, we will never be lost.


Five Minute Friday

Friday, 20 June 2014

Five Minute Friday: Release

It's Five Minute Friday and time to write with other bloggers/writers over at Lisa-Jo's spot! :) Today, our prompt is "release".  Join us! :)


Release: to free from confinement, bondage, obligation, pain, etc.; to let go.

I’m going with the “to let go” part of the definition today. :) 

I think I can learn a lot from my kids about letting go and living life. I guess this is a good form of “release[ing] your inhibitions”. These girls of mine, release all pretence, all shame, all fear and just LIVE! With a push of a button they are racers running around in circles, another button and they are princesses having a camping trip complete with pretend campfire (yes, even princesses can camp). They interrupt their play to run over to me with hugs and shouts (yes, shouts) of “Mom! I love you!” just to run back to play. No fear there, no hiding what they feel, just pure release of energy, emotion, life! Just look at this release! :)  

And what do we do as grown-ups? We bind up all that energy and emotion and decide we need to act like “proper” grown-ups. Well, guess what? You can act with decorum and still embrace life! But guess what else? Just because you’re an adult, you don’t always have to act with decorum! :)

Remember that Friends episode where Rachel and Pheobe go running together? Rachel is all embarrassed by Pheobe’s childlike energy. (Here’s a clip in case you’ve never seen it or can’t remember … though I can’t imagine someone who has seen this actually forget about it. :) )

Pheobe totally released inhibitions there … and who had more enjoyment out of life?? Pheobe of course!

If we put value on embracing life, on loving, on so many of these positive things, we need to release our fears! Yes, this is even a Christian thought. The Westminster Catechism asks: What is the chief end of man? and answers: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.  How can we enjoy God if we’re not enjoying the life He gave us? If we bind up those emotions for the sake of “acting grown-up” with some twisted view of what “grown-up” looks like? Honestly, “grown-up” is boring!

So today, I’m going to release my inhibitions and run around in circles with my girls. We’re going to dance, we’re going to swing, we’re going to roll around in the grass (if the rain stays away)! We’re going to embrace life and glorify our God through that! (Really, a perfect way to glorify God is to embrace the life He has given us!)

So how about you? Will you release your fears today so that you too can embrace life, glorify God and enjoy Him forever??

Saturday, 14 June 2014

I'm Not Your Servant!!

But wait a minute… “I’m not your servant!” Really? That just doesn’t sounds right in a Christian home!

This is a phrase I find myself often saying rather vehemently to my children. Of course, this is done in an effort to teach them to clean up after themselves, to do things for themselves. After all, that’s all part of growing up and becoming responsible. But I’ve decided there has got to be a much better and graceful way to say that! “I’m not your servant,” means “I don’t want to do anything for you.” “I’m not your servant,” echoes the concept that secular society promotes – everyone for yourself, serve yourself, why concern yourself with someone else’s needs, etc… This is also the idea where society teaches us that children are a burden and just cramp our style.

But aren’t we called to serve? Isn’t this what God commands? The most obvious example of this is in Matthew 20:25 – 28 where Jesus says, “You know that the rules of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve … “.  We are called to serve each other as Jesus served us. Does that not also mean that we need to serve our children? And, if we want our children to develop servant hearts, shouldn’t we model this by serving in our homes with humility and grace?  Hey, you know that Proverbs 31 woman? That wife of noble character? All those descriptors of her can be summarized in one phrase: she serves her family.

And guess what Peter says in 1 Peter 4:9-10?! “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” And Scripture has many other examples of how we must serve each other (New Testament women Martha and Peter’s mother were excellent examples of women who served).  

As wives and moms, it’s our duty to serve our families. It’s a key part of our role! Woman was created to be a helper to man!! So, instead of saying, “I’m not your servant!” and paint a picture of serving in a negative light for our children, how about we say, “I’m sorry sweetheart, I can’t do that for you. But let me do it with you and show you how to do it yourself!”

Friday, 13 June 2014

Five Minute Friday: The Messenger

It's that time again. Five Minute Friday. I usually look forward to this but this week it snuck up on me and I REALLY struggled with this word! I was just drawing such a blank. Finally I just sat down and wrote something because I had to. I didn't want to miss on FMF and risk breaking a habit I've grown to really enjoy. But I'm not happy at all with what I managed to write today. It feels disjointed and forced. Well, here it is:


The Messenger

He strides purposefully down the dark hall
a mission prompts his step
Sent by his King,
he obeys without question

He goes out with courage
willing to fulfil his task
at all costs

The words he speaks
are not his own
Words of hope

Reactions depend on his words
Will he be killed for a negative word,
honoured for a positive?

He’s tangible evidence of the King’s rule.
Without a name,
he’s simply known as

The Messenger.


Join me and other bloggers for your own Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo's! :)

Five Minute Friday

Menu Board!!

I finally made my own menu board! :) Pinterest is abounding with various versions of this and most blogs that are linked to Pinterest offer tutorials so I wasn't going to do a tutorial here (but I changed my mind ... look below! :) ). Honestly, I just looked at a few tutorials and adapted them to what I wanted. :)  My perfectionist character is not liking parts of my menu board but, generally, I'm pretty pleased with it.  Let's look at the pictures and nitpick over what's wrong with it!! lol

OK, So I'm annoyed that the letters I bought didn't come with a question mark. :) I'm also annoyed that the paper bubbles a bit after I mod poged it on (though you can't see it in the photo). Finally, I'm annoyed at my menu strip boxes that I had to attach extra brown paper to after I attached the original paper. Apparently measuring two times over is not sufficient before cutting. Ah well, it doesn't look absolutely terrible and I rather like the colours I chose. :)

And look at that! I even managed to get it hung on my kitchen wall already! :)

Instructions and Supplies? Here goes!

canvas board (I used a 11x 13 canvas from the dollar store)
3-4 12" x 12" patterned scrapbook paper
Small scraps of complimentary scrapbook papers for title.
Letter stickers (or paper to make letters)
Ribbon - 2 contrasting colours, 1 wide and 1 narrower. Use whatever looks good to you - I used a 1 or 1.5 inch and a half inch.
7 Clothes pins
Fine Tip permanent markers
About 20 12"x12" brown scrapbook paper
Modge Podge
Small boxes (I used a light bulb box cut in half, you can also use a k-cup box or a crayon box).
Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Modge Podge the canvas, attach patterned scrapbook paper and Modge Podge over that. This ensure a good seal on the paper and ensures it will stick. :) I do this in stages. Modge Podge on section (sides included so that the paper will wrap like the canvas). Then attach the paper and then Modge Podge that before continuing to the next section. It is good for the paper to overlap each other by about an inch. Once that is complete and dry, make your boxes. I had a lightbulb box (holds 2 bulbs) that I cut the tabs off the top and then cut in half. This I covered in brown manilla type scrapbook paper. Next, with hot glue, attach your ribbons. I just sort of eyed it to see where I wanted it - no real measuring happening here. :) Remember to overlap at the back so that it looks pretty and will be less likely to come apart. After the ribbons are attached, you'll have a better idea of where you want to put your food card boxes. Attach these with hot glue. I hot glued the 3 edges and squished it onto the board. You may need to add a bit more hot glue where needed along the edges.  Next you will add your title. I used some little 9 x 9 scrapbook pages cut in half and put together length wise and then added some plain white scrapbook paper on top. I did this with hot glue because it was easier at this point then Modge Podge but you could probably do Modge Podge too. Then I added the letter stickers. Finally, you need to space out your clothespins to decide where they will go. When you have that figured out, use the hot glue to attach them. You will also cut narrow strips of the brown paper to glue to the clothespins and write the days of the week on with your fine tip permanent marker (using a colour that compliments the other colours used on the rest of the board. When all this is done, you need to cut strips of paper from the brown scrapbook paper to write the meals on. I made 1" x 3" strips and this allowed me to get 30 strips per sheet. I wrote the recipe title on the front and the list of ingredients on the back so that, when I need to make my weekly grocery list, I just need to look at the back of each card to see what I need to buy for the week. :)

Friday, 6 June 2014

Jen's Sliders

So, I was inspired to make sliders for supper this evening. I figured, because they are such cute, little burgers, our girls would be all over them (they did enjoy them - both girls actually ate part of them!!).  But I also wanted to do something more on the gourmet side so that they'd be appealing to my husband and myself.  I decided on beef sliders with aged rum caramelized onions, maple bacon BBQ sauce and smoked cheddar.  They. were. amazing!! SUCH an awesome blend of flavours!

For the caramelized onions, I choose to do aged rum because I wanted something different then the run-of-the-mill caramelized onions and my hubby wouldn't let me use the beer that we have that's only available in the U.S. so I couldn't do beer caramelized onions. :)  I googled for recipes for these onions but didn't find one that appealed to me. The only thing the recipes I found had in common that intrigued me was adding thyme and cider vinegar at the end so I adopted that idea for my recipe.

Take a look at these beautiful onions! Even the girls liked them!

Ok, so I know you all want to know how I made these, but I'm not going to tell you! I'll take the secret to my grave!!! Just kidding. Here it is:

Aged Rum Caramelized Onions

1 Tbsp          Olive Oil
2 Tbsp          Butter
2                   Large Onions, thinly sliced
                     Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tsp             Light Brown Sugar
2 tsp             Dark Brown Sugar
2-3 Tbsp       Aged Rum (I use Cruzan)

¼ tsp           Dried Thyme (or 1 tsp fresh Thyme)
2 tsp            Aged Rum
¼  tsp          Cider Vinegar

Melt butter and oil in medium skillet over high heat. You want to see some good foam. As the foam recedes, add the sliced onions, salt, pepper & sugars. Stir on high for about 5 minutes until onions start to look translucent. Reduce heat to low/simmer and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes, stirring frequently until you get a nice dark brown colour. Onions will form a gooey mass and this is what you want. J Take off heat. Stir in thyme, vinegar and rum. Taste for salt & pepper, adding more if necessary. Serve immediately or store in fridge, warming up in skillet or microwave when ready to serve.

Now for the burgers/sliders. (You could, of course, easily do this for regular burgers.)  Use your favourite burger recipe or try a new one. For these I found one that Chef Gordon Ramsay apparently used for a restaurant on Kitchen Nightmares. The recipe can be found here.

So, you take your bun bottom, slather a huge dollop of caramelized onions on it (it's ok if it's coming off the sides, it doesn't have to be as tidy looking as in the photo. :) ) Next comes the burger, top that with smoked cheddar (we used Margaret River Smoked Cheddar ... all the way from Australia) and then put a small dollop of maple bacon BBQ sauce (we used PC Brand) on the top bun, spread it around and put the bun top on your stack. That's it! Enjoy!  On a side note, I had out just plain medium cheddar for the girls in case they didn't like the smoked cheddar (the oldest didn't, the youngest loved it). DH tried the regular cheddar on one of his sliders and said that smoked cheddar is a much better flavour for this blend. Also, I tried it without the sauce and it wasn't near as enjoyable. The blend of the flavours from the sauce, the cheese and the onions is just utterly amazing!

Isn't that the cutest, most delicious looking burger ever?!

Five Minute Friday: Hands

Today we link up at Lisa-Jo's with other bloggers for Five-Minute Friday! This is where we get together to just write, uninhibited writing, five minutes without editing, sometimes without thinking. :) As is often the case, I write before I read the post on Lisa-Jo's blog. I don't want it to influence what I write. What is interesting this time is, I wrote about my mom's hands and it seems the guest blogger at Lisa-Jo's also wrote about her mom's hands!

I will admit, this post took longer than 5-minutes to put together (not to write) because my youngest daughter kept on interrupting me for stories. :) I had to oblige. :)


When I think about hands, the first thing that comes to my mind is my mom’s hands. She suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and ended up with crippled hands. In fact, I don’t remember a time when her hands weren’t crippled. This due to the fact that she was diagnosed when I was 2. But her hands were beautiful. They worked with love for her family – cooking, cleaning, hugging, touching, loving, disciplining. To see her fragile hands turn pages in her books and Bible … it still brings peace to me to think about it.  Her hands also made us laugh … but only because she did silly things to make us laugh. Because of the condition of her hands, she couldn’t make a fist or do the thumbs up sign very well. So she’d do it as best as she could like this:

and she’d say in Dutch something like “Lachen om mijn duimpje”, which means “Laugh at my thumb” (my Dutch relatives can correct my translation here if it’s really bad … I used Google Translate and it’s not always very reliable). She’d especially do this when we were feeling sad and it would always make us laugh. So her hands brought laughter too! J She’d also hold them out flat and the middle finger always went above the others because they bent that way as the arthritis attacked her joints and, if we were doing something we shouldn’t, she’d poke us with those fingers! They were long and strong and pokey! J And we’d also laugh about that (she would and we would).  I smile thinking about these things – not that it was good or funny that her hands were crippled, but that we could find joy and laughter in the midst of pain and suffering.

My mom’s beautiful hands were gentle, loving and strong. I loved them. I thought nothing of them – they were just my mom’s hands! But sometimes friends would say to me, “Jen, no offense, but your mom’s hands are ugly! They freak me out!” You’d be surprised at how many people said this! Tell me again how that’s not offensive?! But apparently I wasn’t supposed to take offense so I’d just pretend I wasn’t offended and go on with whatever we were doing. I must admit, for a time those comments affected how I saw my mom and her hands. I started to forget to see the beauty in them and I just saw the horror that the arthritis did to them. I’m thankful that I could put that out of my mind and once again see the beauty. 

In December 2012, my mom passed away. I needed to do something for myself to remember her, to honour her. But all I could think about was her hands! And it took time to know what I could do and her hands were always on my mind.  And I'm creative and so I guess that's why I do creative things when I mourn just as I do creative things when I'm joyful or need to expresses whatever other emotions. So I drew this picture:

And I wrote this poem:

Fragile hands folded gently in prayer, firmly trusting.
Teaching that fold of trust to children at her knee,
singing “Now I lay me down to sleep…”
fragile hands,
Fingers gently turning thin Bible pages,
pausing here and there to read a verse;
Reading promises, hope.
A crooked finger admonishing;
a gentle touch of grace and love.
Hands in kitchen – cooking, guiding, teaching.
Teaching skills and teaching heart.
Teaching to embrace this role.

This is what her hands have done.

And I remember and honour my mom because of her hands. And I pray that my hands will be as memorable as hers!


Five Minute Friday