Thursday, April 30, 2015

Grace at Home No. 152


Hello on the last day of April!  Is anyone else amazed at how fast the weeks of 2015 are flying by?

I'm so glad you're here for the Grace at Home party, where we pause to give thanks for the grace of God and celebrate the ways our homes are a reflection of that grace.  Here are some posts from last week that caught my eye:

Karmen at Chairs from the Curb shared her new kitchen and den with us.  Just look at this beautiful space!

Penny from Penny's Vintage Home showed us how to create an old-fashioned flower garden.  Penny is so talented!


Coletta from Coletta's Kitchen Sink shared a recipe for Peanut Butter Coffee Cake.  Yum!


Erin from It All Matters Mom challenged and inspired us with her post, "Why I Don't Care About Keeping Up With the Joneses."


As for me, I shared an amazing story regarding my birthmark.  I'd love for you to take the time to read it here.

Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ordinary, everyday miracle


I've written before about one of my life's struggles--dealing with a rare disease that imprinted me with the largest birthmark I've ever seen.  As I've dealt with my own issues, I've learned that lots of people share my struggles.  Although they may not be marked in the same way I am, difficulties with self-image and acceptance affect many of us.

Here's a photo of part of my birthmark.  This is my lower leg, the part that everyone can see if I'm wearing a skirt or shorts.



My birthmark is actually much larger than this; it extends all the way to my upper back and across my torso.

A few days ago, though, I got a jolt.  My birthmark is just one symptom of a rare disease called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome.  I'd been advised to see a specialist just to make sure all was well, and I was fortunate to get an appointment with the Vascular Abnormalities Clinic at Duke Medical Center.  Doesn't that sound like fun?

I can't tell you what a relief it was to see physicians who knew all about KTS.  Usually I have to explain my disease to health care professionals; it's so rare that very few people have ever heard of it. But these specialists have treated a number of patients with the disease, and they knew what to look for.  They ordered an ultrasound and an MRI of the veins in my leg.



Of course, I'd noticed that I'm starting to develop some problem veins, such as these spider veins:


What I didn't know was that this area of my birthmark was highly abnormal for someone my age.  Of particular interest was this part of my lower leg.  Looks pretty bad, doesn't it?


My doctors told me that this looks really good for someone with my condition.  They were amazed to learn that I successfully carried three babies to term and gave birth with no complications. They told me that they'd never seen a case of KTS in a person my age with so little damage in the lower extremity.  Apparently they expected that I'd have severe varicose veins and a good deal of skin damage from blood pooling in my lower leg.  While I've struggled with how bad my leg looks, they were puzzled as to why it looks so good, relatively speaking.

The MRI solved the mystery.  As it turns out, my leg is missing a vein.  My doctor called and said, "There's a lateral draining vein that should be present in your leg, and it simply isn't there."  There's no way to tell why I'm missing this vein, but a problem with this vein is what would be responsible for the damage that the doctors were expecting to see.  For reasons unknown, this vein simply never developed in my body.  It's just not there.

"We're not sure why it's not there, but you're one lucky lady," my doctor said to me.  "Whatever the reason, thank God it's not there."  

I think that's the first time I've ever had a medical specialist say "thank God" about my disease.

To be honest, I'm just floored by this news.  This birthmark, which has been so difficult for me to live with, is actually evidence of a little miracle.

And this has me wondering: how many "little" miracles happen in my life every day?  How much of what I take for granted is evidence of God's love and provision?  How many hidden healings are part of my life?  Or of yours?  We're so quick to question God when we see suffering and pain.  I pray that we would be just as quick to praise Him when we see mercy and help.

Dear God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear of Your goodness.




Have you ever seen an ordinary, everyday miracle?

Sharing this at
Thought-Provoking Thursday at 3-D Lessons for Life
Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Grace at Home No. 151


The weeks are flying by so fast!  I can hardly believe that it's time again for the weekly Grace at Home party.  I'm so glad you're here!

Here are some fun links from last week's party.

Pat from Life at Lydia's House is participating in the One Room Challenge.  Just look at the what's going on in Pat's foyer!


Jenna from 24 Cottonwood Lane upcycled a tray with spray paint and wrapping paper. Doesn't it look chic?


Cassie from Lou Lou Girls shared a recipe for Sour Cream Enchiladas.  These look yummy!


For lighter Mexican fare, I want to try this chopped salad from Patti at Old Things New.



Susan from A Vintage Farmwife challenged and inspired us with thoughts about how to take a sabbatical.  Love this!


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!




Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Delicious, Nutritious Breakfast Cookies


Life around here has officially kicked into the annual end-of-the-school-year frenzy.  Crazy days don't afford much time for a nutritious breakfast, yet such busy times are exactly when we need a nutritious breakfast the most!


I've found a good solution: absolutely delicious breakfast "cookies" packed with goodness.  These take a little time to prepare, but the recipe makes a lot.  They freeze beautifully, and each one provides lots of energy for busy days.

Here's the recipe.

Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 Tablespoons honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped dates

Directions
In small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, and raisins.  Cover bowl and let stand for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets or cover sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and brown sugar.  Add honey and as much of the egg as you can pour in without dumping the raisins.  Mix well.  Stir or sift flour, cinnamon, and salt together, then stir into batter. Add oats, nuts, raisins, and dates; stir until well mixed.  Dough will be stiff.

Roll dough into balls or scoop dough onto prepared cookie sheets and flatten with palm of hand.  Bake until lightly brown (9-10 minutes for medium-sized cookies; 13-14 minutes for large cookies).  Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  When completely cool, freeze cookies in a zip-top plastic bag.

Makes 24 large or 48 medium-sized cookies.

Click here for a printable version.

These breakfast "cookies" are so good!  Soaking the raisins in the egg-vanilla mixture makes them plump and flavorful.  The dates are chewy and delicious.  The nuts add protein as well as crunch, and of course the oats provide fiber.

Grab a couple of these from the freezer, microwave them for a few seconds, and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea for a delicious, quick breakfast on a busy day.



Do you have a favorite quick breakfast for busy mornings?

Sharing with 
Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesday

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Grace at Home No. 150


Wow.  This is the 150th Grace at Home party.  I can hardly believe that!  In the world of blogging, 150 weeks is a very long time!

I'm so glad you're here, where we pause to give thanks for God's grace and celebrate the ways our homes are reflections of that grace.

Here are a few posts that caught my eye last week.

Cat at Pocketful of Posies showed us how to make beautiful fabric roses.



Del from Tidbits of Experience explained and illustrated a great technique for making fried rice.


Karmen at Chairs from the Curb shared the hilarious story of her daughter's appointment with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.


And Cheryl from A Long Way to Go shared a wonderful post on how to help a friend grieve well. You'll want to read this.


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!




Thursday, April 9, 2015

Grace at Home No. 149


Welcome to the Grace at Home party!  I'm so glad you're here.  This party is a place to give thanks for God's grace and to celebrate the ways we make our homes reflections of that grace.

Here are a few posts from last week's party that caught my eye:

Paula from Sweet Pea created this amazing patriotic dresser from a simple IKEA piece.  Isn't it stunning?

Marty from A Stroll Thru Life showed how to freshen up a bedroom for spring by adding a few pieces in a springy color.  So pretty!

Roxanne from The Honeycomb Home shared a recipe for peanut butter icing.  These cupcakes look absolutely delicious!

Diane from An Extraordinary Day gave us some wonderful advice on what to do so our days don't unravel.  Her post includes a free printable!

As for me, I spent some time reflecting on the lessons of Good Friday and Easter.  I'd love to know what you think!

Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Historic moment


My oldest son went to Duke.  My middle son is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill.  As you can imagine, we are big time college basketball fans.  We bleed two different shades of blue around here.

Yes, I cheer for both teams.

And now may I present something that will likely never happen again.  Of all the brackets in the house, mine was the best.  I finished in the 99th percentile!


I didn't do any score predicting, but I sure am proud that I predicted the Final Four match-ups.  And of course I had to choose Duke to win.

Here's what I posted on Facebook before the big game:
We moved to North Carolina in 2002. Since we've lived here, we've celebrated one national championship with Duke and two with UNC. I'm blessed to be able to cheer for both teams, since one of our sons went to Duke and one to UNC! Today, though, I'm especially grateful for what a fun NCAA tournament this has been. ACC teams did themselves proud throughout the tournament. It all came down to a great Final Four with awesome teams. We lived in Michigan for seven years and Tom Izzo is one of my favorite coaches, so I'm proud that Michigan State made it to the Final Four. Lots of my loved ones are Kentucky fans, so my hat is off to that team, and I think they should be remembered for their amazing 38-win season, not for their one loss. And the Wisconsin Badgers are a wonderful team. How can you not be a college basketball fan today?
Now if I could just get a little sleep!

Did you follow the NCAA tournament?

Friday, April 3, 2015

The message of Good Friday and Easter


One beautiful spring day we experienced the blessing of seeing a skywriter perform.  Here's what the pilot blazed across the sky:


A year later, we saw this skywriter perform once again.  This time the message was a little different:



We didn't get to see the finished words here, but we knew what they would be.  The skywriter was spelling out "Jesus loves you."

On this Good Friday, I'm pondering these two messages, blazoned on the sky by a courageous pilot. Two messages about the Lord we worship.

I was watching TV footage of a street demonstration of some kind.  One of the participants held a poster stating, "Jesus loves you but God is holy."  I have no idea what the demonstration was about; it could have been any number of hot-button issues, I suppose.

That sign made me cry.

It contained two important facts, of course.  Jesus does love you--no matter who the "you" is.  And God is holy.  But why would those statements be linked with the word "but"?  As if they are in contradiction to each other?  As if God and Jesus were in disagreement about something!

Today, Good Friday, we commemorate the greatest act of sacrifice ever made--the crucifixion of Jesus. After living a life free from any kind of sin or guile, after teaching and loving people and reaching out to those most despised by society and healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind, Jesus allowed himself to be put to be tortured and put to death.  Jesus died so we could live.  Yes, Jesus loves us.

And that radical plan for the salvation of humankind--the son of God living on earth as a human, teaching people how to live, allowing Himself to be killed--that plan wasn't just the work of Jesus. That was the work of all three members of the Trinity.  They all suffered for us.  They all love us.

Yes, for sure, God is holy; so are Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  But let's not take the idea of "holiness" and turn it into a word that means distant, far off, or unapproachable.  Because that's not the way God is at all.  God is right here.  God is good.  God is full of love and compassion.  The words are so familiar that they can seem trite, but they're not: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Once when I was participating in a retreat for Christians, I heard something that I'd never thought about before, something that imprinted itself on my very soul.  A number of us all had our heads bowed in prayer, and then the leader asked us to say out loud what we knew to be true about God.  From around the room came one comment after another: "God is good."  "God is merciful."  "God is gracious."  "God is glorious."  Those were all good and true statements, and we all murmured our assent to each one.  Then one member of the group, a very wise man, softly added, "God is Christlike."  I confess that my head snapped up and my eyes flew open--and I wept.  Of course this is true.  God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one.  They are all like one another.

Thinking about the love of God reminds me of my grandmother.  She was a precious woman, one of those sweet ladies who sent birthday cards to every young person she knew.  She worked for many years at an elementary school, and she was loved by hundreds of kids, so she sent a lot of cards.  She usually tucked a $2 bill into those cards.  And she always signed them the same way.  On every card, she wrote,

Smile. God loves you.  So do I.

As I remember the events of this day, that's the message I'd like to see on a poster.

Dear God, may my life proclaim the message you proclaimed so loudly on that blessed Friday so long ago.


A blessed Good Friday to you, my friends.  What message would you like to share on this day?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Grace at Home No. 148


Welcome to this week's Grace at Home party!  I'm so glad you're here to celebrate the ways we make our homes reflections of God's grace.

Here are some highlights from last week's party:

Carol at An Oasis in the Desert showed us her new kitchen--a DIY makeover!


Patti at Old Things New shared some great tips for making beautiful silk flower arrangements.


I can hardly believe that Easter is nearly here!  Just in time for Easter, Rita at Panoply gave us wonderful tips for hosting a spring buffet.


And Amy from Wasteland to Graceland inspired us with her post, "Our Entire Blessedness."


Those are just a few of my favorites.  A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button (the code is right over in my sidebar).  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!

 

Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!