Choosing joy, when all you really want to do is throw a pity-party.

 

Let me start this off real quick by letting you know, THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT YOU. If you read this and you find yourself thinking, “Wow, Andrea is talking about me.” Get over yourself, because I am not.

Good. We have cleared that up.

A lot of exciting things are happening to the people close to me. Some are getting married and having babies. Friends are landing an ideal job, and some are taking dream vacations. Now, when these friends share with me their news, I am genuinely thrilled for them. 100%. Honest. I mean, I have been praying for most of these friends that they would get pregnant or land that job. I am their champion. So, I say all of this to say:

How can I have joy in my heart, but also sadness?

Not sadness that good things are happening to people I love. More like sadness that I have already hit some of those milestones in my life. That they are behind me.

friendsjealous

There are great things ahead for me in my life. I know this. I am excited about this. I know that God has called me to love and encourage others. To cheer others on. So, when feelings of sadness start to creep in, what I really want to do is yell. “LEAVE ME ALONE, SATAN. I AM TRYING TO LOVE PEOPLE LIKE JESUS LOVES PEOPLE.” (Has this ever worked? Please get back to me on this.)

Oh, dear blog reader, can you just be in my head? All of this makes sense in my head. I guess my main point here is: to fight for joy. Choose joy. I love my dear friends and the exciting things that are going on in their lives.

I am reading a book right now that is just so great. Lysa TerKeurst writes:

I started to ask Him to bless others and prayed this verse of abundance over them.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

I ask Him to help others succeed.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4)

When she does well, we all do well. All tides rise when we see a sister making this world a better place with her gifts. When I started believing this, my scarcity thinking started turning into abundance.

Ugh…guys…see? Her words are just so good.

Okay, I have got to choose joy, because nobody RSVP’ed to my pity-party.

Buy Lysa’s book here.

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“Stop talking. Stop talking now.” -Chandler Bing

I have been writing this blog post in my head for weeks now. Every night I think that I am going to get the girls in bed and then sit down to do some writing. But, every night, Netflix wins. It is stronger than me. However, I am taking a break from Netflix (WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!) to read and write more. <– That sentence sounds cheesier than I mean it too. To be completely honest, though, I will still be watching the show This Is Us. (But, I watch it on Hulu, so it’s not completely cheating. GET OFF MY CASE.) Have you guys caught this show yet?? It is great.

Riding in the car with my sweet 4 year old is mostly awesome. I say this in the most lovingly way a momma would say this about her baby. Lydia uses the time in the car to get all of her words out for the day. People are always telling me how well she speaks. I smile and nod, and say thank you. What I really want to tell them is the reason she speaks so well is that she practices all the time. From the time she could form a few words, she just took off and never slowed down.

“Mom, did you see that sign? What does it mean?”

“Mom, are we in our neighborhood?”

“Cement truck!!”

“Mom, I’m hungry.”

“Let’s play a game.”

“Mom, why do we have tongues?”

“Let’s call dad.”

“Mom, Betsy is talking to me.”

“Mom, I saw the number 3!”

Okay, so you get it. Now, I usually am able to keep up with her. I love that she is so curious. One day, however, I was needing to listen to the GPS for directions and Betsy was crying, so I told her we needed to have some quiet time. No talking. After we got where we were going those words: “no talking” were almost haunting me. I felt so guilty for telling her that. I was almost frustrated with myself because I am very aware that one day, probably teenage years, she will choose not to talk to me. I will almost be fighting for her to speak to me. How could I quiet my baby? I let the guilt sink in for most of the rest of the day. It wasn’t until we were getting ready for bed that night that I had a couple of thoughts that gave me a little bit of peace about what had happened that day.

  1. Whatever school looks like for us in the future, Lydia will probably have a teacher that at some point will tell the class, “no talking”. I have a chance now, before we start school, to teach her about times to talk or quiet time. To show her we can be loud outside at the playground, but then maybe use soft voices in the Library. I am learning that she understands rules better if she is shown examples (I believe this carries over into adulthood.)
  2. There are things to learn in the quiet times. I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: There are things to learn in the quiet times. Now, this can be as simple as turning off the TV for a little bit of reading. Or, choosing a quieter date spot to have a personal conversation. But, what really has hit me in the face is that, I need to press the off button myself so that I can hear what God has to say to me. I believe that we have been called to ‘be swift to hear’. Maybe what that looks like is to add a little more quiet time to your day so that you are able to listen.

littlehand

Y’all. I leave you with this gem of a conversation my parents had…

Mom to Dad: “I think we need to pick up some information about hearing aids for you while we are at Costco.”

Dad to Mom: “Did you ever think that maybe I don’t want to hear all the words that people say to me?”

 

 

 

I am the absolute very best at: quitting.

 

Has anyone ever told you, “Don’t give up!”? Or how about, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again!”? While I think that these are great ways to encourage people, I’m here to tell you: Ain’t Nothing Wrong With Quittin’ Either. I’ll explain, because you have to be careful quitting things. You have to time quitting just right. Too soon, and you didn’t give it a fair shot.

candles

I recently made some candles for the wives in my small group at church. I turned to our trusty friend, Pinterest, to learn how to make them and what materials I would need. I was getting pretty excited. I started planning and even thinking that maybe I should make and sell candles for a living. (I know what your thinking. Slow down, Andrea. YOU HAVEN’T EVEN MADE ONE YET.) Too late, though. I was already planning out my Etsy shop, and thinking of a cute pun for my business name. (All I came up with was: Other Candles Don’t Hold a Candle to My Candles.) My dreams were growing bigger, and BIGGER. I was imagining all kinds of flavors and different color candles. But, now it finally was time to make the first batch. I’ll will be completely honest here: It was a fun little project, but I will not be opening up ‘Candles by Andrea’ anytime soon. It’s a lot of work, and super messy. Nope, I quit.

I am in the process of quitting how much I put into wondering if people think I am a good parent. I think we all carry a lot of worry about the type of person we are or the type of people we are raising. I have to quit it. I’m not going to lie, it is hard. I want people to think that I truly listen to what my kids are saying and don’t just reply with a “uh-huh”. Or that my oldest gets 3 meals a day that have all the major food groups in them. (Moment of honesty: sometimes we have popcorn for lunch…) I want people to see that I discipline from a calm place. I don’t always. I have actually told Lydia that if she was not going to listen to me, that I was going to chop her ears off because she wasn’t using them anyway. Not my most proudest moment as a parent, but after repeating yourself 4,700 times you stop being kind. Parenting is the hardest thing I have ever done. But, does it have to be? Who is making it hard? Me or the kids? I think by putting this pressure on myself to be the kind of parent Pinterest tells us to be, I am making it harder than it actually is. Now, I am just trying to teach my littles to be kind. Be a kind person, and seek Jesus. It is hard to stop caring about what people think, y’all, but I can do it. Please hold me to it.

I would LOVE to quit the gym. Give it the ol’ BYE FELICIA! However, here are two reasons why I have kept with it:

  1. They watch my kids. (FOR TWO WHOLE HOURS)
  2. I am tired of being fluffy. We have chocolate donuts to thank for the fluffiness.

Now, I was serious when I said you have to be careful quitting. Sometimes sticking with something (even when it is the worst) can help you in the long run. My parents (we will call them Tooter and LuLu) come to mind here. They are two of the most hard working people I have ever met. They recently moved from PA to be closer to me and my siblings. The job they left behind was very hard on them. Long hours, long commute, and just over all not good. (Seriously. Have a cup of coffee with them and let them tell you some stories of the “special” kind of people they had to work with.) Most people, myself included, would have said “peace out”. But, by sticking it out for a little bit they were able to put the pieces in place to make this move to Texas possible. So, if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, if you know the hard work will be so worth it in the end, stick to it. Just remind yourself: If Tooter and LuLu can do it, then so can you! We are pullin’ for ya!

Remember that episode of Friends, where Joey tells Monica that her bathroom tiles are dingy? He assures her that her old tiles will “just come right up”. After picking a spot in the middle of the bathroom floor, Joey begins to pry a piece of the tile up. He is surprised to find out that all the tiles have been glued down. So he tells Monica:

friends1friends2

Joey was all fired up to change out Monica’s floor tiles, until the job got harder than he thought it would be so, he quit. (In the end he does lay new tile in the bathroom. I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging.)(Also, watch Friends. I believe it is good for your soul.)

Okay-I just want you sweet, precious, little blog readers to know this: chase after the things that are important. Jesus, family, community, etc. But, if you need to quit something (which sometimes you do so you can pursue the important things), you can come join me over on the sidelines with the other fellow quitters.

 

 

 

Musings.

Whew, we made it! It is after 8pm, and my loves are now snoring/drooling in their beds.

So much has been on my mind in the last two weeks. I kept meaning to grab the computer and get some of these ideas out, but I just haven’t. So, I feel this post will be a little vomity…but we will just go with it. It’ll be good. I can feel it. Here we go:

  1. In the car, I hear from the backseat, “I spy with my little eye something…” So I say to Lydia, “Oh, I didn’t know you wanted to play I Spy. What color did you say?” To which she tells me, “No, mom, I like to play this game by myself.” I chuckle, because that’s a silly game to play by yourself! Then, I grin. I want so badly for Lydia (and Betsy) to be comfortable just being themselves. She is so funny and smart, and she has a lot to offer the world. She needs no other person to complete her. So, Lydia, you want to play I Spy all by yourself? Get it girl!
  2. My brother’s dad is a comedian. He has this joke, and I totally use one of the lines from it. I can never remember all of it, but I use this one line often. I mostly say it to my husband in a very sassy, nagging wife sort of way. He loooves it. The line is: “Let me tell you something about you that you don’t know.” I am going to use it now on you, dear reader. Let me tell you something about you that you don’t know: You are just wonderful. I recently received a compliment from a friend that has stuck with me like a giant hug. I needed it. So, I am passing this same “hug” onto you. Wonderful you.
  3. When I asked Lydia to take something to her room today, she responded: “Actually, mom, it is my office.” So there’s that….
  4. In my community right now, friends are having babies, or are sick, or life is just cray cray. We need each other. I have been challenging myself to be a better blesser. I don’t always have the right thing to say, but I can feed you. That is how I can care for you. Family crisis/emergency? Here, let me shove a casserole at you. Stub your toe? Pie! Push a baby out of your hoo-ha? Get ready, because I am going to care the crap outta you with this new recipe. I am including this delicious recipe for you below. Try it out. Make two batches, one for you and one to bless someone else with. 🙂

ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin on, bones in
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine (For my momma friends who just had babies, I subbed chicken broth. It would have probably been okay since all of the alcohol will cook out, but you know..I just felt better about it. So, up to you. Wine or chicken broth, either will be yummy!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and butter. Cook both sides of chicken until golden and crispy. Maybe 2ish minutes. The chicken will not be all the way cooked, but we will finish ‘er up in the oven. Remove from pan, and set aside.
  3. Drain the fat from the skillet leaving about a tablespoon of that goodness so we can cook our veggies in it! Add onion, sweet potato and carrot back to pan. You just want your onion to get translucent and veggies to get a pretty, goldenish color. Add the corn and cook another minute. Add the chopped kale, toss everything together. Add the wine (or broth) and season with salt and pepper. Cook another minute.cooking
  4. Add your cooked vegetables to the prepared baking dish. Place the chicken over the cooked veggies and bake for about 30 minutes. done

Growing up, my Pop would get cranky if there was not bread served with the meal (bless his precious heart). He wasn’t wrong guys. Dinner is better with bread. Grab yourself a loaf of yummy Italian bread, mix up some garlic herb butter and toss that in the oven the last 10 minutes of baking. breadbutter

There is alot of ugliness out in the world right now. Let’s work on that. One meal at a time.

 

Here is the original recipe from Pinterest!

 

 

Pass the girl power, please.

So, you may not know the real reason I have started this venture in the blog world. I pretend it is because I have hilarious stories that people are waiting on the edge of their seats to hear. But, if we are going to get real, and I mean really real, it’s not that at all.

If you follow me on any of the social media sites, you know that Josh and I just had a baby. Pause to look at this sweet little girl…..

bets

Betsy Lou

Betsy is a little over 2 months old now, and if you have ever had children or been around anyone who has, you may know what I’m talking about when I say: your body goes bonkers on you during this time. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is common. Im discovering that it can affect women differently, too. For me, I cry. Im not sad or anything-I just cry. I want to be able to tell myself, “Get a grip” or, “Pull yourself together, man, your embarrassing me” but, I honestly feel like it is out of my control. My body is just a wack-a-doo these days. So, with all of these lovely “extra” emotions I have, I have taken to blogging. Having something that is just for me to do and that I can call my own has helped in so many ways.

So, because I know I’m not alone in these feelings, I have a teeny tiny bit of advice: reach out to your girl friends. Don’t have any? Get some ASAP. If it was not for some group text support from my gal pals, I would be having a much harder time with all of this. Having a “village” of supporters during this time will help you out. Grab your Monica, Rachel and Phoebe and lean on em’.

I am going to work on seeking out ways I can help support other women and mothers. Not to get all uterusy on you guys, but seriously, we have to encourage one another. Some mom at the park is sucking at parenting? Cool, we’ve all been there. Maybe she hasn’t slept and is just trying to survive. How about instead of judging her, we offer a hand. Maybe she will turn you down, or maybe you will be her saving grace.

I’m praying for you women out there. Our God is a God of mercy. Girl power!

 

The one where my dad orders salad better than you.

meanddad

There used to be this restaurant I would go to with my parents when we lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. I do not remember the name, however, I do remember what my dad would order. I used to think it was so odd, and now….well, I now know he was just a genius. It was a garden salad with steak and french fries on it. Duh. I mean, why not?

I am feeling pretty listy, so I made a list of things about my dad:

  • He always answers his phone. Only when on an airplane or sleeping would you not be able to reach him on the phone.
  • He orders his clothes in bulk from the internet. I’ll explain: He wears a black T-shirt and khaki shorts ‘err day.  Don’t even talk to him about long pants, he gets cranky.  So when he found the style and size he liked best, he stuck with it.  He just re-orders online when it’s time for new ones. Some might find this odd, I find it adorable.
  • He uses the internet for only a handful of things, one of which is to watch/listen to music. He loves Derek Trucks.
  • He is frustratingly good at everything. 
  • He is the perfect person to geek out with over good food. I mean, you do remember how I told you he eats salad, right??
  • He has 2 daughters, and although I think he would have raised the coolest sons ever, he is the perfect dad for girls. One time when I was 13, I was at the store with my dad and I needed pads. He would always ask me if I needed anything before we checked out.  When I told him I needed pads he sent me to go get them. I had no idea what to get. That was always one of those things that my mom just kept in the cabinet in the bathroom. Eeek. Panic! After looking for a bit, I walked back to where my dad was waiting.  My dad looked at what I had brought and told me that was for older people and that wasn’t what I needed. I had grabbed Depends. Oops. He took my over to the feminine hygiene aisle and helped me pick some that would work. Was he uncomfortable? If he was, I had no idea. At that age, I didn’t want to talk about my period to anyone, much less my father. Again, perfect dad for girls.
  • He will help you learn a lesson when you screw up. Trust me, I know. There is only one thing I am not allowed to call him and ask for help for and that is running out of gas. I did this one time and he told me no more. I have to call someone else. 🙂

I am so excited for the relationship that my husband, Joshua, gets to have with our two little girls. Fathers love their daughters greatly.

I leave you with this amazingly, delicious recipe for steak salad from The Pioneer Woman. Let’s face it, she does everything right. 🙂

INGREDIENTS
2 whole Rib-eye Or Strip Steaks, Extra Fat Trimmed
_____
FOR THE DRESSING/MARINADE:
3/4 cups Canola Oil
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon (additional) Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 cloves Garlic, Peeled
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Lots Of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
_____
FOR THE ONION STRINGS:
2 whole Onions, Sliced As Thin As Possible
2 cups Buttermilk
2 cups Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 quart Canola Oil
Black Pepper To Taste
_____
FOR THE CANDIED PECAN BITS:
1/2 cup Pecans, Chopped
1 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Water
_____
FOR THE SALAD:
Lettuce Mix: Romaine, Arugula, Watercress, Raddiccio, Etc.
Small Grape Tomatoes
3/4 cups Crumbled Blue Cheese
INSTRUCTIONS
To make the dressing/marinade, combine all ingredients in a mason jar with the lid. Shake vigorously to combine; taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

Place steak in a plastic zipper bag. Pour in half the marinade and seal. Refrigerate and marinate for at least two hours.

Prepare the onion strings: Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk and soak for at least an hour.

Make the candied pecans: Spread pecans on a baking mat or sheet of waxed paper. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Cook to 280 degrees, or until dark and clear amber in color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Pour mixture over pecans (may not need all of mixture) and quickly stir/poke with a fork to evenly distribute mixture all over pecans. Allow to cool completely.

Make the onion strings: Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Heat oil to 375 degrees. Grab a handful of onions, throw into the flour mixture, tap to shake off excess, and PLUNGE into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove to a paper towel-lined plate as soon as they are golden brown. Repeat until onions are gone.

Grill (or saute) the steak over medium-high heat until medium rare, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and allow to rest. Slice steak against the grain in thin slices.

In a large bowl, add lettuce mix, blue cheese, and cherry tomatoes. Add a little dressing and toss to combine. Add more if needed. Add candied pecans at the end and toss to combine.

Heap salad on a plate, making sure to get plenty of blue cheese, tomatoes, and pecans on each plate. Add half a steak to the top of each plate, then top the steak with onion strings.

Serve immediately. Yum!

Click here for more recipes from my gal The Pioneer Woman!

 

Arguing about Cheetos.

cheetos

It is beyond appropriate that my very first blog post be about Cheetos. What is so addicting about this orange dust-covered crunch snack? It had been forever since I had eaten any Cheetos, but when I was pregnant with Betsy someone had left a small bag of them at my house after a party. Not wanting to be wasteful (also being preggo with zero self-control) I popped the bag open to snack away. Que Lydia. How is it that children always know when you are about to eat something without them? Sometimes I have to call her name 3-4 times before she hears me, but I crinkle a food wrapper and she comes running.

L: Mom, can I have one?

Me: Uhh..you probably wont like it. They are kinda spicy.

L: Oh, ok, nevermind.

I lied. It is still debatable to whether or not it was because I didn’t want her to know about Cheetos, or I just didn’t want to share.

Now since that incident I will tell you that Lydia has tried Cheetos and like everyone else in the world-loves them. Just today she saw some on a shelf and asked if she could have some. I told her no, and that we needed to have lunch. There was quite a bit of back and forth about how we can have cheese balls (why, oh why, do cheese balls exist??) for lunch, and I had to tell her that cheese balls are not real food. “Umm…mom…yes they are. You can eat cheese balls.” Five minutes later, Im still arguing with my 3-year-old. You might be thinking at that point just give her some friggin’ Cheetos. But no, it is worth it to me to have this conversation with her. Why? Because I want better for her. The day will come when she can make her own choices about food, but for right now, it is up to Josh and I.

I was hit with this thought:

Let’s replace Cheetos with sin. Cheetos = sin, got it? You with me? Okay, so God is telling me: “Andrea, no, we don’t need to _____ (fill in the blank with sin of choice).” Just like Lydia chose to make her case about eating Cheetos for lunch, I’m trying to justify my sin to God. I am thankful for a God who will listen when I try to argue with Him. Why does He do this? I believe it is because He wants better for me.