Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give Thanks to the Lord

Dear Lord,
     Thank you feels like such an insignificant word. Especially when brought before the creator of the heavens and the earth, but thank you is all I have. Thank you for my life. Thank you that as I sit here and breathe in  and out, I do so without struggle. Thank you for my health. Thank you that I don't worry everyday I wake if this will be the last I get to spend with my family. Thank you for my family. Thank you for the way they shaped and molded me as I grew. Thank you for giving me the best mother you possibly could have, one that taught me what it means to care about people and to think of yourself less. Thank you for this new family  I have and am growing with Lance. Thank you for sending me a man that loves You more than he loves me. Thank you that I don't ever truly question his love for me. Thank you for his servant heart that is displayed to me daily. Thank you for giving me a husband to share this life with. Thank you for granting me the most wonderful privilege to be Brody's momma. Thank you for his sweet spirit, his kind, tender heart. Thank you for the many expressions that pass across his face daily. Thank you that although we may be worrying and struggling with his ears, that he is healthy and so smart and thriving. Thank you for our cozy, warm house that is ours. Thank you for a job that I get to serve people during their most troubling times. Thank that this job allows me to be at home four days a week. Thank you for making me a passionate person who really feels everything. Thank you for our wonderful church family that demonstrates Your love and fellowship so beautifully. Thank you for the many opportunities you present before us to serve there. Thank you for my wonderful Dgroup girls. Thank you for the close group of friends you have given us that we get to do life together. Thank you for allowing me to live in this beautiful, free country. Thank you for allowing me to live in Oklahoma where people talk a little slower and love a little deeper, where homes are always open and ready to help. Thank you for sunrises that remind me that Your mercies are new every morning. Thank you for the brilliance You have displayed in clouds that remind me You are the Great Creator. Thank you for technology that allows me to stay connected to people in a way that has never been possible before. Thank you for music that speaks deep down to my soul and helps me heal, rejoice, praise, mourn and love. Thank you for coffee and the way it brightens my day. Thank you for Your son. Thank you that while I was still a sinner Christ died for ME. Thank you that You don't love in the way that I love, Your's is greater than any love could ever be imagined. Thank you for Your Word that is so readily available to me any time in any place. Thank you for brilliant Christian scholars who have poured their lives into understanding your Word thoroughly so that I might understand Your word a little better. Thank you for this time of year for the joy and memories that flood it and the wonderful memories to be made. Thank you just doesn't ever seem like enough. But it's all I have to give. Thank You Lord, Thank You.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Learning to take the time

We are moving into the busiest time of the year. The holidays come and feels like all we do is go go go go go. And then go some more. In a time of the year when we should be slowing down and enjoying the blessings the Lord has provided for us and sharing those blessings with others, we get bogged down with hectic schedules trying to fit it all in.

This year I'm going to challenge you, and myself to do it a little differently.

There is nothing more wonderful and humbling than your 2 year old teaching YOU a lesson. We were at target the other day. (Not a rare occurrence for us) When we go to target Brody always wants to "touch the balls." There's something so intriguing to him about these giant spheres that line target. Every time we go I let him touch one, two, maybe three and then hurry him into the store so we can o about our business. On this particular day Brody said, "No Momma, I want to touch ALL the balls!" As I was getting ready to tell him, no that's enough, I caught myself and thought, "Why not?" What am I in such a hurry about that we can't walk clear to the end of the building and make our way back. We weren't on any kind of schedule and in no rush to go anywhere so we went with it. As I'm holding his hand and walking along the sidewalk up to the store and watch him pat the top of each ball I thought. Whoa. Look at this joy. Brody is having a blast doing this and it's taking a minuscule amount of time out of our day to do this.

We slowed down, enjoyed the moment and just rolled with it. And it changed my perspective. How much joy am I missing out on in a day when I rush through the little parts of life? This time of year is full of little moments and I fully intend on embracing them. I don't want to rush through or miss one glorious microscopic minute of this glorious season.

Making Your Home a Haven-The Kitchen

This Challenge was probably my favorite because the Kitchen is the heart of our home. I love to cook and bake. I love showing love to people by preparing a meal for them. There is nothing like the smell of something baking in your home. 
This Challenge:
 Focus on the kitchen, the heart of the home.  Cook things with pleasant aromas  like homemade bread, pies, and cookies.  Don’t wait to have a reason to make something special – do it simply to show love to your family. Invite your kids and/or hubby to cook along side of you – make memories in the kitchen – test tasting, being creative, laughing and loving. Remember the importance of dinner time around the table as a family. Work on showing love to your family. 
I have always had Brody in the kitchen with me. I affectionately refer to him as my little sous chef. Even when he was an infant, I'd move his bouncer into the kitchen and talk to him about what I was making and how. As soon as he was old enough to stand in a chair safely, I had him right in the kitchen with me. He loves it. If I start to do anything in the kitchen, he's coming up next to me saying, "I elp momma?" His 2 1/2 year old attention span usually stays with me long enough to dump a few things in the bowl. But then he's on to pulling my spoons and spatulas out, opening and closing the lid on the crockpot putting cupcake liners in and taking them out. But he's with me. Experiencing it with me. It is such a special time for us. I have so many memories of cooking with my mom, I can't wait for Brody to have these too. 
For this specific challenge we spent the afternoon making homemade applesauce. I could not believe how easy it was! Applesauce was always a little intimidating for me, but this was unbelievably easy and it made the house smell AMAZING!

You can find our recipe for applesauce here!

Homemade Applesauce

I have always loved applesauce. It's one of my favorite "treats" to put in my lunch that I take to work. It may make me feel a bit like a 7 year old, but hey, I love it! And Brody now loves it too! I never realized just how easy it is to make. I got this wild whim when we were at the grocery store one day to give it a shot, thinking I was going to be getting into something horrible complicated, I carved out the afternoon for this activity. I was so wrong. Let me tell you, the hardest, most time consuming part of this recipe was peeling and cutting the apples, and that took me a whole maybe ten minutes. And I had the cutest little helper doing it, so the time flew by. Like a lot of the things I make, I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe and tweaked just a tad. You can find the original recipe  here

Here's what you'll need...

  • 6lbs apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 slices
  • 1 cup Apple Cider 
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
And that's it folks. You are four ingredients away from deliciousness.

1. Get yourself a big ole mess of apples. And having a handsome, handy little helper doesn't hurt either!

2. Peel, core and dice up that big ole mess of apples. I used an apple slicer (you know the big circle kind that doesn't always cut all the way through and you end up almost chopping your finger off when you try to push it through? No? Just me?) and it made quick work of it. I did have to use a knife to cut off some core when I didn't line the apple up quite straight enough.

3. Put said big ole mess of apples in a big ole pot. Pour apple cider over and squeeze in the juice of 1 orange. 

 4. Add brown sugar...

5. ...And cinnamon. 

6. Cook over medium heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Isn't this beautiful y'all? And the smell? Fuhgedabouit!

7. Pour into your food processor and and blend until smooth. This recipe makes so much, I had to do it in two batches. 

Enjoy! Applesauce will keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge. But I would be willing to wager it won't last that long. It for sure didn't at our house! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Making Your Home a Haven- Family Fun Night

The second challenge in Making Your Home a Haven was planning a Family Fun Night. The focus of this challenge is working on gentleness in your home.

J.R. Miller says “The richest heritage that parents can give is a happy childhood, withtender memories of father and mother. This will brighten the coming days when the children have gone out from the sheltering home, and will be a safeguard in times of temptation and a conscious help amid the stern realities of life.”

Our family fun night was all about pumpkin carving. We anxiously waited for daddy to get home and dinner to get eaten. Then we busted out the pumpkins, knives and spoons and prepared ourselves for a rich, fun night. 

This was the first year Brody was really into decorating pumpkins. It is so neat to see him beginning to enjoy the holidays and begin making memories and traditions with him. Building these warm fun family memories are something near and dear to my heart. My mom's Alzheimer's is getting worse. She doesn't share many memories with us anymore, and when she does remember a certain time or event, the people, times and details are usually grossly confused. However, I remember them, my sister remembers them, my brother remembers them, my nieces and nephews remember them. These are gifts she gave to us without even knowing she was doing it. Even though she can't look back fondly on these times like we can anymore, we can. We remember the warm, love filled family nights and traditions she began with us. And we're better people for it. 

This is what I want to give my family. If there ever is a time I am not here, or unable to remember these wonderful times, they will have them. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Make Your Home A Haven

I stumbled on this wonderful blog through a friend's facebook page. Unfortunately, I was a couple weeks late for the link up, so I thought I would just wait and cram my "home into a haven" transformation into a week. Each week Courtney gave a practical tip and challenge to give your home the feel of a haven. I love this quote by Courtney...

I believe we can create a physical environment, 
as well as a spiritual environment, that can bring peace, 
harmony and a sense of calmness to our homes if we are willing to be intentional.

I want my home to be a feeling. I love walking in the door and the overwhelming peace that can be felt. I love the comfort, the warmth and the love that accompanies this feeling. It seems like this feeling is most felt during the holidays. I also feel challenged to provide this same feeling for my husband and child. I want home to be more than just a physical address for them. I want it to me their heart, their safe place, their memories. 

Here was Courtney's first challenge...
Go buy an extra large candle and light it everyday in your home. I will be starting mine in the morning but if you work – you can start yours at dinner time and let it burn until you go to bed. Do what makes sense for your family. I will be placing mine in the kitchen – the main hub of my home.
Each time the candle catches your eye, say a prayer for peace in your home.
Philippians 4: 6,7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, byprayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
There is something so warm about a candle. It's no secret that I'm a scentsy lover. I love the decoration of the warmers, I love the scents, I love that I can leave them on and know my house will smell divine when I get home. But there's something about a candle, something about the warmth, the flicker, the act of lighting that just has more feeling attached to it, so rather than just falling back on my well used scentys I went out and bought an actual candle. 

 Every morning I've lit this candle and said a prayer for the peace of our home. Every day I pray that Brody and his future wife have childhoods full of love and laughter. I believer part of this starts with the environment of the home. I vow to always try to make my home a haven for all those who enter in. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Halloween, Corter Style

I am an avid lover of all things festive, holiday, and celebratory. I am about as sentimental as they come. Lance claims my spiritual gift is hospitality. I love opening up our home (whether literally, or figuratively through hosting at another location) and loving on people through food, fellowship and making memories.

Last year we hosted our first halloween party. It was so much fun to decorate, cook and have our friends in our home and seeing their cute littles all dressed up. Brody is blessed with lots of little automatic friends through our close group friends. So naturally, I just had to do it again this year.

This year I decided to go with a "Monster Mash" theme. Our kids are all still to little to get into too much of the "spooky" aspects of halloween, so this was a much better direction.

I had some fun games planned for the kids to play. 

The monster slime was definitely the favorite. The kids spent most of the night playing with this and it was so easy to make! 

Here's a look at the decorations for the party. Usually I make a lot of the decorations for my parities, but I found a ton of cute monster themed decorations at Hobby Lobby and gave myself a break for this one. I love how everything tied together! 

For food, I went with the old fall stand by, a chili bar. I had cheese, fritos and jalapeƱos out for people to add, and hotdogs for the kids. I poured some chef mix into a bowl and called it "monster mush." 

The desserts were my favorite and turned out to be a huge hit. I made cupcakes and had candy melts in all different design and squiggles and candy eyes set out so the kids could make their own monsters. I also made "Monster Mallows" by dipping marshmallows in candy melts, adding some candy eyes and piping on some frosting hair. The great thing about monsters, is it's better if they're not perfect, so it definitely takes off a lot of pressure! 

We had such a great time! I think a halloween party will definitely be an annual thing for us. It's going to be so neat to watch the kids grow up together and have these fun memories to share!
I'm pretty sure it's near impossible to get a group of toddlers to stand still OR look in the same direction. But don't they look great?!
Trick or Treating

Our church does a huge trunk N treat every year that is open to the entire community. This year they hosted in on the Wednesday before Halloween. This is what we've decided to do as our only "trick or treating" event. Brody gets a TON of candy (more than he could ever need) and most of the people that really want to see him dressed up are there, so this route just works for us. It had rained all day, so instead of worrying about canceling and rescheduling, it got moved inside to the fellowship hall and it actually worked out really smoothly! 

Brody even found another rodeo cowboy that also just happens to be one of his favorite big kids! 

Halloween Day

Even though we don't do traditional trick or treating, I still wanted to make this a fun day. So we got up early, had a spooookyy halloween breakfast and Brody put on his costume. 

We went up to his daycare to join in on the party and took one of our favorite treats, DONUTS! 

It was so fun to see Brody interacting with his friends and his teachers. There is always a little bit of worry that accompanies sending your child to a daycare and seeing him so happy there and loved on helps alleviate some of that worry. 

Then we hopped back in the car and headed to Momma's work to see Brody's Aunt Eyah and our good friend Tracie. Oh, and did I mention the hospital I work at has a Coffee shop that serves Starbucks right in the lobby?! So naturally, we stopped for a warm drink. 

Then we headed on over to Daddy's work and did some office to office trick or treating then had a fun lunch with daddy. 

That night, Brody put on his Halloween jammies, we ate pigs-in-a-blanket and french fries for dinner and watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," as we passed out candy to trick or treaters. Brody loved running to the door and seeing the kids coming by dressed up. 

I love the way we do Halloween. It just works for our family and can't wait to just keep building these memories every year. What are some of your halloween traditions?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Christ In Me

A while back I was listening to KLove on my way home from work and was listening to an artist on there talking about when she made the shift from listening to Christian music to being a Christian music listener. The difference was really hearing the lyrics of the song and feeling them. Knowing them. Living them. Music has always been a powerful thing to me. I love it. We have music playing in our house constantly, thanks to Pandora and iTunes Radio, and are known for some mad "jam sessions" in the car. One of the songs that I've really been moved by recently is "Christ in Me" by Tim Timmons. Listen to the song and take a look at the lyrics. 

The same great light that broke the dark
The same great peace that calmed the seas
Hallelujah, is living in me

The same great love that gives us breath
The same great power that conquered death
Hallelujah, is flowing through me

And what, what if I believed in Your power
And I really lived it
What, what if I believed Christ in me
What if I believed

I would lay my worries down
See these hills as level ground
What if I believed, Christ in me

The same great love that casts out fear
The same compassion that draws us near
Hallelujah, is living in the air

The same great mercy I received
Amazing grace for a wretch like me
Hallelujah, is flowing through me

And what, what if I believed in Your power
And I really lived it
What, what if I believed, Christ in me
What if I believed

I would lay my worries down
See these hills as level ground
What if I believed, Christ in me
Oh, I would praise You with my life
Let my story lift You high
What if I believed, Christ in me
What if I believed, Christ in me

And what, what if I believed in Your power
And I really lived it
What, what if I believed, Christ in me
What if I believed

I would lay my worries down
And I'd see these hells as level ground
What if I believed, Christ in me
Oh, I would praise You with my life
Let my story lift You high
What if I believed, Christ in me
What if I believed, Christ in me
What if I believed, Christ in me

The chorus of this song convicts and challenges my heart. I've learned about, and known God all my life. I was raised in a Catholic church and attended almost every Sunday. Then in high school I started attending the church I am still a member of today. I went to bible college, I've been on mission trips, I serve in the church today. I'm not telling you this as a pat on my back, but so I can tell you how strongly convicted I am by this song. I proclaim and teach "Christ in Me," but do I truly believe, or claim it? Probably not. "...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt17:20) How often do I turn to myself for things when I should be turning to Christ. If I truly lived the lyrics of this song, lived a life trusting in the light, peace, love and power that is "flowing through me," rather than trusting in my own strengths, abilities and desires, God could do some amazing things. 

Christine Cain says, "Impossible is where God starts." Think of all the impossible things we, as believers, could do, say, conquer, the people we could reach, if we really claimed "Christ in Me," and believed the impossible could happen. This has been my prayer this week. That I may not only claim, but truly live and believe "Christ in Me."