To my dear friends…

There are days that I reflect back on the time we once had to talk on the phone, hang out, drop everything for a dinner out, watching a movie, or night on the town. We both had time for that. We both could stop everything without interruptions for each other. Not for anything planned, scheduled, or super important, but just because we wanted to do something with someone we love and you were the one we wanted to do it with. Weekends together were easier to plan or sometimes we’d just show up at each other’s house….and the rest would go from there.

1609732_10153671277912923_2810596948212779931_nThose days are not part of my reality at the moment. Now I have a husband. And kids. Kids that don’t drive and have their own things that they have to do. Like baseball, piano lessons, school activities and beyond. And I don’t love you less or want to do those things less….I just have other people in line first. People that need me to do those things with them. For this season I am just simply less available. To you. My friend. And more available to these little people that I brought into the world and get a privilege of being mommy to.

I think that once my kids are teenagers they will want to be around me less. And then my husband and I will have more time to hang out. Unscheduled. Unplanned. I’ll be able to drop things more to run out to dinner. Or for a walk. Or shopping (if I’m not completely broke from said teenagers). Then maybe we can be “that” friend again.

In the mean time know this. I am here. I haven’t gone away. I hope that someday we can do fun stuff together again. But for now, don’t forget me. Love me anyway. And know that if you need me….I mean really need me. I will drop everything for you. Because I love ya.

And until that day comes when we can be a little more care free….we just have to schedule our time together. Lunches might include little people. Movies might mean Disney is included. Hanging out might mean we’re at the carnival with our kids or choosing a trip that is kid friendly. Conversations might mean 50 interruptions because heaven forbid we talk on the phone.

Until that day….know that I love you. I always have. I always will. Because that’s the kind of friend I am.

You know who you are….my dear friends.

Ecclesiates 3:1 (ESV) For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:…

*The rest of this chapter is good too. Click Here to read it.

 

Striving for perfection will make you fail every time

A week or so ago I posted something on Facebook about that “perfect” mom that’s all cute and skinny and drives a fancy SUV and how that seems so unreal to me. How that seems to completely unlike any reality that I have ever known or experienced. With Anyone. Ever. This wasn’t my way of judging someone because I have come to understand in my few years on this planet that EVERYONE has their own struggles. That “perfect” appearing mom probably has her own insecurities. And I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is not perfect.

I realized today when I dropped off my kiddo at school that in my struggle to strive for perfection that it just can’t happen. I can even strive for great and I’ll fall short…a lot.

That’s a little discouraging and frustrating.

I want to be the BEST mom and wife and friend and sister and auntie and co-worker and and and….that I can possibly be. I want to use my time wisely. Treasure moments with my kids. Have a clean home. Be a good cook that prepares healthy meals. Have a healthy body. Be a friend that is there when needed and beyond. Be a disciple of Christ. Lead others to Christ. Be respected at work. Be respected among my peers. Enjoy my own life and give myself what I need to be happy. And the list could go on and on.

I realized today that I will never get it all right all of the time. God didn’t design us this way. We were made in His perfect image, but try as we might, HE is the only one that can attain perfection. We were created with a free will and frail bodies. We are only meant to be here for a short while and so we are charged to make an impact using the talents that he gave us within our sphere of influence (Read here to find out more about how to use your talents – Matthew 25:14-30). God created each of us so uniquely that we will NEVER look like that “perfect mom”. We’re not supposed to! Did you hear me ladies? We are NOT SUPPOSED to look like her.

God made you for you. Just you. No one else gets to be you. They can sure try, but they will never be you. And they shouldn’t want to.

I think there’s such freedom in that. It’s liberating to know that I was created for this time. For these roles. For a purpose. My job is to dig into my relationship with Him and do the very best that I can.

And THAT….is as perfect as we’ll ever get.

  • We’ll fall.
  • We’ll fail.
  • We’ll forget.
  • We’ll get angry.
  • We’ll sin.
  • We’ll yell.
  • We’ll lose perspective.
  • We’ll get it all wrong at some point.
  • We just will.

God’s loving arms will pick us up. Dust us off. Kiss our owies. And send us on our way. Just like our earthly parents would. *If your parents are like mine anyway….I acknowledge that not all parents are created equally.

Don’t be discouraged my friends. You were created to have success too. To have perfect moments. To reach your goals. But we have to keep moving forward. Every day. Choose in each moment to make the best of it. Make a difference where you can and let go of the ones you can’t save. God will walk this journey with you and gently be your guide….if you let Him.

I love you friends. I hope I can be an encouragement to you today. That’s one of the things I strive for. To be a light. To be a good friend. We (my kids and I) pray for that every day.

Lord, help me to be a light in a dark world. Help others to see Jesus in me so that they might want You for themselves. Calm my soul when I start to stress and worry over things I can’t control. Help me to be content in the place you have me. I am so ever grateful for the life you’ve given me. Help me to walk in your ways and follow the path you set before me. Forgive me for trying to be something I’m not. Forgive me for comparing myself to others. Forgive me for the bad attitude that I have when I see someone that has something I want. Protect my loved ones today dear Lord and give them opportunities to shine for You. In Jesus’ precious name….and all of God’s people said….AMEN!

When I Lay Down and When I Wake Up

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Last night as I laid my head on my pillow I felt

  • Accomplished
  • Loved
  • Tired
  • Weary
  • Sore
  • Discouraged
  • And yet hopeful that with a good night’s sleep I would have my energy and spirit renewed the next morning (which is usually how the whole sleep thing works)

When I woke up this morning I felt

  • Rested
  • Ready for a new day

Then I peeked at my facebook this morning and I saw all the fun things that some moms do with their kids in the morning and the great photos that they take and their cute little bodies (the moms) and the fun they had with friends yesterday and I was right back at feeling discouraged. Like a sub par parent, a bad friend, heavy…oh and really really pasty white. I don’t know why it hit me like this today….Normally I can look at this stuff and be happy for my friends. But lately as I become less and less happy with myself….and more aware that people are noticing, I am less and less happy for my friends.

I crave balance. I yearn for it. I want to find that place between faith, family, friends, work, health, cleanliness, organization, and FUN. I don’t want to be so crazy about my size that I lose sight of the fun of living. I don’t want to be so nuts about my house being clean and organized that I miss the fun of parenting my kids and being a good wife to my husband. I don’t want to be stressed out, but I want to do a good job at my work.

 

Balance —— That’s what I want.

 

So I’m on a journey. We all are. I’m far from perfect, but I’m trying. Man am I trying. Every day is a new day. I’m taking them one at a time. God gave me a verse many years ago and it’s just as needed for me today as it was way back then.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Matthew 6:34

Oh and guess what….it was one of my devotional verses today. Weird, huh?

Lord, walk beside me today. Lift my spirits. Let me not be so concerned with what others are doing, but focus my attention exactly where it needs to be. You chose me to be Dan’s wife and the mother to my children. You trusted me to love them and support them in the way that they need it most. Please work in me, my life, and my heart so that I can achieve these goals and all that you have for me. Let my focus be more on YOU and less on the things that I see as “missing” in my world. And Lord most of all, help me to shine brightly for you so that others can see you and know you and love you. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Who are you?

Do you ever find that depending on the group of people you’re with you are a different person? Not that you aren’t you or being true to you….but in the group dynamic you play a different role….

I’m noticing lately how that’s true for me.

Work/Church (I lump these together because for me it’s one and the same)
I’m the bubbly one. The life of the party. I like to chat and laugh and generally make the situation light. People laugh at/with me and often shake their heads at me because that’s just who I am. Don’t get me wrong….I feel respected and appreciated in my work environment because I know how to be serious and dig in to get the job done. But in general I would say I’m the “fun” one (not the only one, just one of the fun ones). ;-) **Work people correct me if I’m wrong.

Home
I’m the hammer. I’m “mean” (according to my kids). I’m in charge. Sure we have fun too, but my role is that of mom. I have to keep everyone fed, clean, healthy, and clothed. It’s a big job to keep everyone in line and love them like crazy. I’m typically not that “fun” at home. I’m not saying I like to be the hammer….but somebody has to do it, right? Trying to find balance between “mean” and “fun” at home can be a challenge. **Home people correct me if I’m wrong.

With the Girls
For some very weird reason that I can’t quite figure out, I think I’ve ended up being the “boring” one with the girls. Maybe boring isn’t the right word….maybe I’m the “plain” one. I’m not as loud. I’m not as funny. I don’t have the most interesting stories to tell. It’s weird. This is not my natural place. This is not where I see myself and yet with these women that I would consider to be the best friends that I have on this planet…my role is wrong. It doesn’t matter if we’re having lunch or if we’re having drinks…I’ve ended up being the wallflower of sorts. Maybe the word is that I’m the serious one. I don’t like this. It’s unnatural for me and yet I’m stuck. How do I fix it? I don’t want to be the “wild” girl, but how did I get to be the serious one? **Girl people, correct me if I’m wrong.

With my Husband
This is probably the most real I could get. I am me. I am Sueann. I am all of the things listed above. Fun. Serious. Mean. Honest. Life of the Party. This is where I am most comfortable because my husband knows all parts of me and loves me anyway. I don’t need to have a good story to tell or tell him to clean behind his ears or even be funny. I get to just be his wife and THIS is a pretty amazing place to be. With my husband. **Husband, correct me if I’m wrong.

I am all of these things. I like to observe the situation and adapt to what is needed, and yet I want to be true to who I am.

Does anyone else find themselves in this place?

I am not a perfect mom

I’m publishing this today….October 1, 2014, but it was written in December 16, 2013. I’m posting it today because it’s still so true. (I sometimes write stuff down and then sit on it….)

I believe that there are misconceptions out there that your life, kids, and house must look a certain way in order to be a “good” mom, wife, person, etc. I call BOLOGNA!! Here’s my attempt at showing you what my life really looks like. It’s not perfect. It’s messy. And I would bet that there are more women out there that can relate, but are afraid to tell the world. Today I’m tearing down the curtain…

 

I Am Not a Perfect Mom

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do, you’re never doing enough?

I try to be that mom. You know that mom who has these good looking, well rounded, smart, polite kids. Those kids know their mom loves them and would fight for them in any circumstance. I’m the mom that wants her kids to know how awesome their dad is and that they should aspire to be like him. Most of all I’m the mom that wants her kids to know the Lord. To know His love and want to share it with the world. And in all that I want to be the mom that doesn’t lose herself. That’s still the woman God created me to be. For me it’s singing…God gave me the gift, I feel called to use it. I want to garden. I want to spend time with my friends and family. I want to read. I want to cook good meals and share them with our family and friends.

But I’m also that mom that wishes I could do more. Be more. Have more. Dream more. Craft more. Garden more. Cook more…..and on and on and on.

I’ll be honest. I usually have laundry piled high in the living room. My kitchen counter is always covered with mail, kid’s papers/artwork, DS games, pencils, boxes, and who knows what else. And that’s just one counter. :-) My bathroom counter has cotton balls, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving cream, jewelry, pony tail holders, flat iron, and all kinds of other crap on it. It doesn’t get cleaned as much as it should – and don’t ask me how often that is because you might not want to know the answer. My dusting is behind. The beds don’t get washed as much as they should. The vacuuming….well I get around to that more than anything which still isn’t as much as some think I should. Half the time I feel lucky that I got the kids out of the house dressed, shoed, clean, and with all their “stuff” that they need for the day. And sometimes I have to run back to the school because someone forgot something.

I work full time. My husband works full time + and often the hours are weird. Most days consist of me getting done with work, go get the kids, go home, try to find something in the fridge/freezer to put together for dinner, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, homework, baths, bed time routine, everyone is sleeping….and by this time mommy is ready to pass out because she’s so tired. Then I often take a look around the house, see what I can pick up or work on before I pass out (but it has to be something quiet because the kids are sleeping now), then try to get ready for bed myself only to start all over again. Sometimes daddy can be there to do the evening stuff and there’s a little more space in there for fun stuff, but I can’t count on that most of the time. And I do all of this on a tank that is empty which isn’t fun for the kids. I’m tired, short with them, frustrated that they aren’t helping, aren’t doing what I’ve asked, they’re wanting more than I can/want to give (candy, movies, computer games, etc) and then complaining (and by complaining I mean throwing holy fits) when they don’t get what they want. And this is when we don’t have anything else going on….like soccer, football, swimming, AWANA, birthday parties, etc. I basically get 2 hours with my kids on weeknights and I don’t want that time to be spent on cleaning all the time.

Then there’s the weekends. Could I spend every moment of my weekends cleaning? Sure! If I didn’t have anything else going on (like church, family gathering, something fun with the kids, etc). Or maybe I could spend my weekend trying to catch up on rest and soaking in time with my kids. And even in those moments….those choices….I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough.

I didn’t cook a meal with them.

I didn’t do some fun art project with them.

I didn’t play the game they wanted to play at the moment they wanted to play it.

I didn’t take them to the Bison game or the UND hockey game.

I didn’t do a service project with them.

We didn’t go on some fun and faraway vacation with them.

We didn’t go to the fun play place with them.

We didn’t go over letters and shapes and colors or math problems and reading.

We didn’t study our Bible verses for Awana

We probably just stayed home and tried to breathe. Tried to cuddle. Tried to keep our heads above water. I probably didn’t accomplish half of what I ever wanted to. And to be honest…I’m not sure how to get there. My house is still a mess. My kids are probably still complaining. I’m probably still exhausted. But I’m still here and I’m still trying. Some days are easier to be hopeful that I can get better at this. Some days are just hard. Today is that hard day. I am trusting for each step ahead of me today. Trusting that the One who holds my future will carry me through. Trusting that if I am walking in the light of His truth that all things will come together for good.

As I list all the things we didn’t do….here’s what I can focus on for today.

  • Today my kids brushed their teeth without arguing.
  • They are well rested, healthy, and in relatively good moods when they left the house (even if one of them was late for school).

I just pray that my kids love their mama despite her many imperfections.

Sincerely – an imperfect mama

What she said…

You know that moment when you’re talking to a co-worker, a friend, a family member….and they are talking about someone else you know with not so much kindness? Do you join in and agree? Do you defend the person? Do you say nothing and avoid the conflict?

I have those moments from time to time and sometimes I agree. But then I leave the conversation feeling badly. What if that person, who you call your friend, heard you say those things? How would they feel? Then I think….I am not naive enough to think that the person who is saying those things about the mutual friend doesn’t do the same thing to me. Sad, huh? If people talk about others, what makes you think they don’t talk that way about you?

Then I think, what would they say about me? What could they say that would hurt me? Would it bother me? Should it bother me?

Things they could say:
She works too much
She’s really opinionated and thinks she knows everything
She is bossy
She talks to much
She’s loud
She spends too much time on the computer/facebook
She’s messy
She’s emotional

Things that would really hurt:
She thinks she’s a good singer, but I really don’t like her voice
She’s a bad mom
She doesn’t take care of her family
She isn’t very good at her job
She’s fat
She’s ugly
She’s not a good wife

And so as I think about my conversations….I think “what would I want said if it were me they were talking about”. Just food for thought….Oh and here’s what my favorite book has to say about it.

Ephesian 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear

Matthew 18:15-20 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Matthew 5:2-11

The Beatitudes

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Venison Round Steak Fajitas

So I didn’t have a lot of time and I knew I wanted to cook something at home. I have some venison in my freezer (thanks Dad), but my husband doesn’t like it. Sooooo….I thought maybe a flavorful marinade would disguise the flavor. And guess what!? It totally worked. The 8 year old boy said it was the best dinner ever and the husband had no idea it was venison. SUCCESS!! Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:
1 lb venison round steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 soft taco shells
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grape tomatoes sliced
1 medium onion
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/3 cup black beans

Directions:
Put venison into a baggy with the olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and salt. Mix around and let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Slice onion into strips. Julienne carrots. Put carrots and onion into medium-high frying pan with vegetable oil. Cook about 5 minutes or until onion is clear. Remove from hot pan and place in a serving dish.
Remove venison from marinade and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Put into hot pan. After a couple of minutes add the rest of the marinade juice for extra moisture. Cook about 7 minutes total or until venison is cooked to your liking.
While meat is cooking you can slice up your tomatoes, warm up your beans, and set cheese aside for use.

When the meat is done warm up your shells (I like to pop mine in the microwave covered for about 30 seconds) and serve! Enjoy.

Again…I don’t have a picture of it, but it was quick and easy and low cal. Here’s what I calculated for nutrition information.

Per Fajita
305 Calories
19 Carbs
12 Fat
26 Protein
380 Sodium
2 Sugar

Yay! Another one under 500 calories! Unless you have 2….which I did.

Chicken with tomatoes and celery greens on buttery orzo

Here’s a recipe for my friends.

5 chicken breast tenderloins
1 1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic
1 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon diced celery greens

Orzo:
1 cups orzo
2 tablespoons butter
1 can chicken broth (I used Better than bouillon chicken broth)

Start Orzo first: melt butter in medium sauce pan and toast orzo until golden brown. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 15 minutes or until done.

While orzo is simmering, dice up onion into small pieces and put into skillet on medium-high heat with olive oil. Let onion sweat for a few minutes and then add garlic. Slice chicken breast tenderloins into bite sized pieces and add to onion, garlic, and oil mix in pan. Cook chicken until about half way done and add sliced up tomatoes and celery greens. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until everything is warm. Serve over orzo hot/warm. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

492 calories
48 carbs
19 fat
35 protein
794 sodium
4 sugar

Sorry I didn’t get a picture, but believe me….it was pretty and yummy. I’ll make this again.

Thanksgiving Pies

In our family we split the duties of Thanksgiving meal prep. This way there isn’t one person totally stressing out about getting their house ready and timing everything just right for the meal. My job for the past ummm….probably 10 years…has been pies! At first I bought them (usually from Village Inn). Then I decided I could do this and I started baking. Now I love this part of the holidays!

This year here’s what I’m making –

  • Classic Pumpkin Pie – I like this recipe because it uses Sweetened Condensed milk instead of just evaporated milk. It just sounds better, right?!
  • 3033930460_91c1a25af0_oThe Pioneer Woman’s Pecan Pie – The best, hands down, recipe for this pie ever! I never liked Pecan Pie until I tried this one.
  • My mother in law’s apple pie (secret recipe) – Sorry, you’ll have to bribe my mother in law for a taste of her yummy pie.
  • Sour Cream Apple Pie – Trying this one for the first time this year. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • Grasshopper Pie –  Don’t tell my nephew that it’s called Grasshopper Pie. He asked for Mint Oreo and this is what I’m making him. This is another first time recipe. Wish me luck!

I might do some Christmas baking this weekend too. I found some yummy ones to try on Pinterest this year….

nutter-butter-snowmen-1-550

 

 

 

 

 

What are YOU making for Thanksgiving this year? Share your recipes! I’d love any tips you might have too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and happy baking! God Bless!

We have all sinned and fallen short

I’m totally borrowing this from an email I read a few days ago, but I had to share it. I was struck by a comment someone made on facebook. It made me sooooo mad! I don’t normally get involved in the drama and reaction commenting that happens there, but I was compelled to respond. And now….everywhere I turn, everything I read seems to be from God saying “you did the right thing…you were right in calling that person out”. Thank you Lord. Here’s parts of what I read.

“for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isa 59:2

What is God’s standard? God’s standard is perfection! The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “for all for sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of perfection” When we slip up, what are we to do? Does God still love us? Has Jesus left me? “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13.

Confessing our sins to God simply means, “agreeing” with God that we have missed His standard of perfection and that Jesus would restore us back into fellowship with Him again. Our relation with Christ is secure, but our fellowship has been broken.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

We are encouraged by reading Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us”. He no longer remembers our sin! Beautiful!

It took me a long time to figure out that once I’ve asked for forgiveness for that sin….it’s gone. God forgave me and it’s wiped clean. The only one that continued to hang onto it was me. Satan wanted to use my sin to bring me down, make me feel unworthy, dirty and by hanging onto that sin, that’s just what it did.

Then this morning I read this: Luke 6:37-38 37“Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you. 38Give to others, and God will give to you. Indeed, you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands—all that you can hold. The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”

Thank you Lord for filling my cup. For being my all. For forgiving this dirty sinner. Help me to let you carry my burdens and not try to fix it all myself. Thank you for loving me despite my imperfections. You really are an awesome God.