09 December 2014

Winter Berry Muffins

Today I'm sharing one of my absolute favorite wintery breakfast-snack-dessert-things.
(Seriously, you can eat it for whatever!)

The recipe is my grandmother's, and calls for St. John's partridgeberries (or lingonberries), but if you aren't lucky enough to live in Canada, you can use cranberries!  Fresh or frozen work equally well.  I like to buy the cranberries in bulk around this time of year and then freeze them for future use. 

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.  

Add egg, vanilla, milk, baking powder, and salt to your buttery-sugary blend.

Then, mix in the flour.
My mom always did two parts white flour and one part whole wheat,
but you can use all white (or all wheat) if you like.

Pour in the berries and fold until incorporated.


And the finished product!

I am not ashamed to say that I could eat a whole batch of these babies in a few days.  Hey, cranberries are good for you, right? ;)

For some reasons my muffins didn't rise well this time, but it could be because I used almond milk instead of regular milk.  Oh well.  They still tasted amazing. :)

Cranberry Muffins Recipe

1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cup wheat flour

1.  Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar.

2. Mix in egg vanilla, milk, baking powder, and salt.

3. Stir in flour until blended.

4. Fold in berries until incorporated.

5. Fill muffin tins 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Tip:  reserve some berries to add in once you start getting to the bottom of the bowl.  If you don't, you might end up with some berry-less muffins!

01 December 2014

December Printable --- FREE

I did it!  I challenged myself to create a new print every month for the whole year (starting in March) and I'm so proud that I actually accomplished my goal! :) (You can see all the prints here and purchase all past ones in my shop!)

In honor of both of holidays we are celebrating this month -- Christmas and Hanukkah -- I created two prints that could kind of be used with both.  Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights and Christmas honors the birth of the Light of the World, so I went with a "lights" theme.  I hope y'all enjoy this print, whether you're observing one or both of these special holidays!

Also, there's a companion print available for $5 in my shop!

Lastly, I promise to have some new posts up this month... I literally have four drafts waiting for me to finish.  Too much traveling the last two months!

Remember, all of the previous free prints offered
here are now available for purchase in my shop!

02 November 2014

November Printable --- FREE

Happy Thanksgiving month, bloggies! :) Here's a little reminder to remember what's important in your life and to give thanks for it.  I like to remember the struggles and the trials, too, because those things are what cause the most growth, the things that give character.

This month, I'm counting 1000 things I'm thankful for -- 33 things every day.  Join me?

(I realize I've been scarce the last month, but I have some stuff in the works, so keep checking back!)

01 October 2014

October Printable --- FREE

Happy fall, everyone!  Autumn is my favorite season and October my favorite month.  I grew up in Virginia, famous for her tall trees, and October is the most beautiful time of the year.  To see all the trees change their colors is breathtaking, and I miss it so much!

In battling my yearly bout of homesickness, I created a very fallish print for y'all today!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

09 September 2014

Our Story -- Part 4

PART 4, AKA "IT GETS REAL."  This one is also kind
of short, but the next one will be longer, I promise!

I had no intention of striking back up any sort of friendship with Drew.  Somewhere along the line over the last month or so, I had decided that not only did I not like like him, but I also just did not like him.  I hate to admit this, but I'm going to be honest... the first couple times he tried initiating a conversation with me, I discovered that I found his incessant friendliness irritating.  

So I resolved to avoid him.  

Over the summer, our church had moved from meeting at a small elementary school to a large high school, so it was relatively easy to evade him in this new environment.  (And no, I didn't have to resort to hiding in bathrooms this time!)

It was harder to dodge the guy at youth events, though.

One of my favorite parts of high school was being a part of our youth group's drama team.  We ministered at our church, at homeless shelters, on retreats, in children’s church, and at other youth groups and churches.  And somehow Drew was getting invited to chaperone these outreaches.  Ugh!

One night that September, we were serving at a church about an hour away and presented our drama after the worship set.  As we left the stage to find our seats, I was less than pleased to discover that Drew had taken the empty seat next to mine.

Oh, great!  I thought, making a face.  Apparently he hadn't realized that we were incompatible as friends yet.  As if to reinforce my opinion of him, Drew leaned close to me to whisper something.

“My gum is stale.”

“So spit it out,”  I whispered back, hopefully sending the message that I wanted that to be the end of it.

“I don’t have anywhere to put it.”  A pause, then:  “Can I put it behind your ear?”

What?”  Y'all.  I cannot make this stuff up.  I don't know where he came up with it!  Was being annoying just something that came naturally to him?

“Can I put it behind your ear?”  He grinned knowingly, unrepentantly.  I hated that look.

No!”  I felt like telling him to grow up.  I didn’t.  Instead, I threw him a withering look and turned my back to him.  He didn’t bother trying again.

At the end of the message, an altar call was given and Drew, being a youth leader, went to pray for some of the kids from our group who had responded to the invitation.  I took advantage of his absence by making myself more comfortable in my chair, in order to pray.

You are going to marry Drew.

The thought came out of nowhere and I nearly laughed.  I might have, if my stomach hadn’t been sinking through the floor.  I knew the Voice that had spoken.

I could think of a million reasons why we wouldn’t—couldn’t—work.  I mean, hadn’t God been listening earlier?  Was this some kind of sick joke?  I had standards, after all!  I had plans!  And Drew was not in them!  Maybe at one time he was, but that had been months ago.  Now I just found him annoying.  

Anyway, I was seventeen - way too young to be thinking about marriage!

Impulsively, I turned to one of my friends who was sitting on my other side.  “I think God just told me I’m going to marry Drew,” I blurted.

It was a statement I immediately wished I could unsay.  Saying it out loud didn’t make it sound as silly as I’d thought it would.  If anything, it sounded more plausible.

“Seriously?”  She asked as her eyes lit up.   “That’s so awesome! Drew’s a great guy!”

I simply nodded, miserable but unable to find a voice for my protests.  No one would appreciate them anyway.  Everyone loved Drew.  Finally I said, “But I don’t like him!”

My friend smiled.   “Maybe you will.”

Her casual attitude toward my potential future bothered me, but I shrugged and let it go.

Maybe, she’d said. But maybe not.

I was pretty confident I wouldn’t change my mind.  Even if I did, Drew was eight years older than me.  Practically impossible.  With resolve, I put the words out of my head.  

I’d been mistaken.  God hadn’t said anything.

. . . continue to part five . . .

04 September 2014

Wildflower Goes to School

Today was my Wild Woman's first day of school.

Last week, I took Hallie to Payless for school shoes and she picked out a pair of sparkly purple Mary Janes.  Every day, she went and got them out of her basket, put them on, and begged me to let her wear them.  And every day, I told her that they were special school shoes.

Needless to say, she was so excited to finally wear them, to finally get to pose with the chalkboard, to finally take her Sofia backpack in the car, to finally pack a lunch.  It's like she's been waiting her whole life for this day.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering what the heck I'm supposed to do without my biggest handful two days a week.  Oh yeah.  Run errands.  Do projects.  Generally be productive.  Those things.  It's so weird being a mommy of only one again!

When I picked Hallie up from her class, both of her teachers commented to me how sweet she is, what joy she brings to the classroom, what a helper she was during clean-up time.

While these are things I know about my girl, they are often overlooked in the day-to-day of her pushing boundaries, pushing buttons, pushing her brothers.  I needed this view of her from another person's eyes.  I needed to see her on her own, apart from her brothers.

This year is going to be so good for her.  I'm so excited to see this wildflower blossom and soar.

Hallie insisted that I redo the chalkboard to include pink and purple.
"See that purple two?  That's me, because I'm two!"
I'm so glad the kids had different first days this year; it allowed me to
focus on each one individually and make it really special just for them!
My sweet and spicy girl is gonna kick this year's booty.
I love this girl so much.

03 September 2014

First Day of Pre-K!

I did it.  I sent my boy off to his first day of pre-k today.

I thought I'd have to hold back tears, dropping him off at his first day of five-day preschool.  I mean, I cried the first morning I sent him to Mothers' Day Out, y'all!

But surprisingly, I wasn't a wreck... even though he didn't even ask for a "big hug-kiss" goodbye.

I was mainly excited.  Excited for this new chapter in his life, excited for him to learn independence, excited for another adult to pour into his life, excited for him to make friends on his own.

Still, as I sit writing this, I can't help but feel that it was just a moment ago that I was holding him in my arms for the first time, and now he's taken the first steps out of my arms and into the world.  The part of his childhood that was fully reliant on his Mama is slipping away.

... and now the tears are coming!  Whew!

Anyway.  Here are some pictures of his first day of school!

"Mama, do you want me to smile or laugh?"
We unknowingly bought the same backpack and shoes as his Uncle Anderson!
Gabriel and his teacher, Miss Brenda. 

01 September 2014

September Printable --- FREE

The verse I'm sharing today has historically been my very favorite verse of all. :) I love the promise of strength that comes from trusting and hoping in the Lord.  I love the poetry in the phrasing and the imagery of the eagle, one of my favorite animals.

Hope you enjoy the art!

19 August 2014

Our Story -- Part 3

So sorry for the length of time in between posts.  It's been a busy summer!

Over the next few months, Drew and I became better friends.  At the youth leaders' Christmas party, which I attended as a student leader, I realized I had a crush on him.  I felt like the silliest girl on earth -- because it was like every other girl in the youth group also liked him -- but he had such a dynamic, magnetic personality, that it seemed out of my control!

One of my friends somehow got his phone number and showed me with the biggest smile on her face, ready to share if I wanted it, too.  Not that we planned on using it, ever, but we were giddy with the possession of something so personal.  I didn't copy it down, though; the only way I wanted that information was if Drew gave it to me himself.

And a couple weeks later, he did.  We were at some youth event, and it was so nonchalant.  Like, "Hey, in case you need to reach me, or in case we get separated, here's my cell."  (I, of course, gave him mine in return.)

I was so triumphant... and completely aware of how idiotic it was!

And then he started texting me, which was just becoming popular.  We had an ongoing argument over which texting method was faster, ABC (which he used) or T9 (which I used); it finally resulted in a text-off... in which T9 won.  Duh.  We also exchanged IM screen names at some point and we would chat while he was in one of his law classes.  (Not recommended, y'all -- Drew claimes that was the only class he didn't do well in.)

For my 17th birthday, he got me a little dreidel, which was kind of an inside joke between us.  I still have no idea where he found one in March, but he somehow managed it.

People started asking me about him and it was always awkward.  How was I supposed to respond?!  "Oh, yeah, I really like him, but I'm 16/17 and he's 23!"  Plus, he was always really friendly to everyone, so I never felt like I got special attention from him.  In my mind, it was always completely one-sided.  I mean, it would be weird if he liked me back, right?!

In May, Drew went back to Texas for the summer.  The first two months of the summer, we talked on the phone regularly, maybe 5 nights a week.  I got home from work between 11 and 11:30 every night and he would call me and we would chat late into the night.

And then one day, I asked myself what I was doing.  I knew if we kept talking this frequently, I was going to start liking him too much and that it was going to hurt a heck of a lot when the inevitable happened.  Suddenly, I became convinced that he was going to meet someone that summer.  He was probably even going to come back engaged.

So I decided to cut the friendship off then and there.  I stopped answering most of his calls, and when I did pick up, I never allowed the conversation to last more than a couple of minutes.  My friend and I were going on an overseas missions trip in July, and I kept making excuses that I needed to pack or prepare.

Finally Drew got the hint.  His calls tapered off, and so did the texting.  And by the time I left for Bulgaria, I felt like I was completely over him.

I'd love to say I had a hard time letting him go, that he was hard to forget, that I thought of him all the time.  But if I'm honest, I hardly thought about him at all the rest of the summer.

The first time I saw him at church that fall, I felt a little zing of excitement, but I quickly pushed it away, firmly telling myself that we weren't friends anymore.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for me, nobody had ever told Drew that.

09 August 2014

New Etsy Shop!

I'm super stoked to announce the opening of my Etsy shop!  WHEE!

There isn't much there yet, but I'm happily working away on some new designs!  Eventually I hope to have invitations and more, but for now it's just prints.

If you missed any of the free prints I've posted here since March, I have them listed in the shop at $5 each.  Going forward, all of the free prints posted at Sufficient Grace will be available for a month before I move them to the shop to be sold, so check back here at least once a month to see what I've got new for you! ;)

05 August 2014

Sunday Beach Trip

This past Sunday, we took the kids to the beach.  In our three years of living in Houston, we've only made the hour-long drive a handful of times.  I don't really know why, other than the fact that Drew and I aren't that into beaches.  (Seriously, we went snow-skiing on our honeymoon.)

The kids, on the other hand, absolutely love the beach.  And I found myself enjoying it a whole lot more through their eyes and experiences!  I can't wait to go again! 

Building sandcastles with Daddy was a highlight!
This kid is a fish.
She's not afraid to get a little dirty. ;)
Last time we were at the beach, he wasn't walking.  This time, he was running.
Mr. Independence.
Everything is more fun with a giant shovel.
Beach princess.
Daddy's devoted little helper.
My heart!
Favorite shot of the day.  I love the adventurous spirit that Drew is cultivating in our son.

01 August 2014

August Printable --- FREE

Today I'm sharing a verse that has been a source of encouragement to me for a while.  Whenever I read this scripture, it brings to mind Psalm 46:10:  "Be still, and know that I am God..."  

What a great reminder that when I am still, trusting in the fact that He is the Lord, I don't have to worry because He is fighting for me.  It makes me feel peace in the midst of all the things that I face daily, knowing that I have a righteous advocate who speaks to the Father in my defense.  Ah!  Love it!

I hope this verse comforts you as much as it does me!  Happy printing!

28 July 2014

To My First

I realize I never wrote a post for Gabriel on his birthday.  It was hectic trying to get everything ready to our trip to Israel that I couldn't find the time to sit and write something meaningful for my special, special boy.  So here it finally is, two months late!

My dear Gabriel,

You were my first newborn, my first crawler, my first toddler, my first introduction to this motherhood thing.

You were the first I said goodbye to at the church nursery, the first I left with someone other than myself, the first I took to Mother's Day Out, the first I cried over as I watched you go off into the world without me, even if it was only for a short period of time.

You were the first one to take a piece of my heart with you as you left my arms.

My mind is struggling with the reality that you will be a full-fledged preschooler soon.  In a few short weeks, you will leave the nest, test your wings, discover that you don't need your Mama as much as we both thought.

It begins, this letting go.  It excites me and it breaks my heart all at once.

You are entering a new stage of independence.  You will learn to do more and more things on your own, need me for less and less, although I hope you'll want my help for a wee bit longer yet.  You still need help getting your shoes on the right foot, but you've started saying, "I'm going to pretend you didn't tell me, so I did it all by myself."

Over the last year, I have watched you grow taller, yes, but I have also seen you become more tenderhearted.  You take care of your baby brother with such sweetness, always ready to share or play with him.  You have started getting along more with your little sister, too, which warms my heart.  I know she isn't the easiest person to play with!  Oh, and you love to pick your Mama flowers -- melt my heart!

You're so helpful.  I can always count on you to give Asher his sippy cup, pacifier, blankie, a different toy, or something that he's dropped.  You love to run and get a diaper or wipes for me, too, always proudly proclaiming, "I like to help you, Mommy!"

Only a few months ago, I would have called you shy, but I have seen you blossom as a four-year-old. You're still not the biggest talker, but you suddenly have much more to say to people other than your family.  You make friends more easily now, which makes me so excited for your coming days of preschool.

I love how you're always ready to "make a deal."  I'm not exactly sure where you first heard the phrase, but now you're always telling me things like, "If I share my candy, I don't have to share the Kindle, is that a deal?"  

You are constantly learning.  I can practically see the wheels turning in your head when you listen and you like to know that I understand what you say.  "Does that make sense, Mommy?"

You just turned four in May, but you already insist that you're almost five.  I guess that's fair, because when I look at you, I see a boy who is almost ten.  Almost fifteen.  Almost twenty.

When you have a little boy of your own, you'll understand just how quickly time flies.  And I'm sure when you look at him, you'll want to slow time down just a little, like I do when I look at you.

I love you more than you'll ever know, Mighty Man.  You'll always be my first.

Your Mama

Some of my favorite pictures of your fourth year + fifth summer.

Picking Mama flowers! 
Love this smile.
Soccer stud!

Beach babe!

The zoo might be your favorite place in the world.
Just wait until SeaWorld this summer!
Proud of your first Lego car that Daddy helped you build.

23 July 2014

Lessons from Galilee

Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me about stepping out of my comfort zone, out of the "boat" where I feel I am safe.  

I don't know where (or to what) He's calling me yet, but I know the call is coming!  He's been using practically everything to speak to me!

I began to hear this message while I was in Israel, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.  As I stood there, wind tugging at my hair and my clothes, I tried to picture a terrifying storm over the peaceful lake, to imagine the fear of the disciples as they struggled to keep their little boat afloat.  And then, to see Him, walking across the tumultuous waves... wow!

As I stood in the gentle surf, I prayed that God would give me Peter's faith.  I know that if I'd been in his sandals, I would have clung to that flimsy boat helplessly, begging Jesus to calm the storm with His words like He'd done before.  But get out?! Yeah, right!  I'm staying right here, where I feel safe!

But fortunately I wasn't on that boat.  And I have the advantage of having read the story.  I know what happens when Peter decides to get out.  He walks on the water, too.  Yeah, he gets scared, takes his eyes off of Jesus, and begins to sink.  But he walked on water, y'all.  

And I have the power to choose that outcome for myself...
if I choose to follow where my Savior calls.

Over Independence Day weekend, I devoured the book Water Walker, by Ted Dekker.  (First part is free for download here.)  Without giving too much of the book away, Water Walker draws a parallel between physical storms and the storms of life.  We live in our little boats, thinking we're safe from drowning in the water, but in reality, the boat creates a false sense of safety.  

I am no more safe in a canoe than I am actually in the water during a storm.  In fact, I am less safe there if I have specifically been called out of the boat.

And then, this week in my devotional, I'm reading about Jonah and how sometimes storms are used to get our attention.  This one part stuck out to me:  God is flushing you out of hiding from behind the perceived protection of your flimsy umbrella.  And then: We are more fearful of the task itself than of the consequences of our disobedience.


Yeah, basically the same thing He'd been speaking to me about the boat.  Only now there were consequences to disobedience.  I was stricken, convicted.  I immediately wrote in the margin, "I am Jonah!"  But I don't want to be a Jonah.  I want to be a Peter.  

I want to be the one who discounts the fear, the boat's safety, the impossibility of the task.  I want to be the one who boldly says, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water!" (Matthew 14:28 MSG)

So that's been my prayer the last couple of days, that God would give me the courage to accept His call when it comes, that I would look above the rising waves and see His hand held out to me.  

I want to trust that He has prepared me for what He's called me to do.

(And yes, if you were wondering, all these pictures are ones I took of Galilee.  It's just that beautiful!)

01 July 2014

July Printable --- FREE

Hello again, blog!

It's been a long, crazy month with two cross-country road trips, an international trip, and then the day-to-day life with three littles.  But I promise I have some posties in the works for y'all!

For now, though, I'll just share this patriotic print I designed to celebrate Independence Day this coming weekend.  I love both the promise of the verse as well as the reminder to pray for our nation, that we would continue to be a nation that honors God.

02 June 2014

June Printable --- FREE

I'm sharing another one of my favorite scriptures with y'all today in the form of a free print!

I believe that God has a special place in His heart for children.  They are special to Him, and as such, should be special to us, as well.  So, whether you have one child or many, claim the blessings that He has promised.  Children are a reward from Him.

This print is kind of masculine, so it may just be what you're looking for as a Father's Day gift for a special man in your life.  I may end up using it myself... ;)

30 May 2014

A Dream Come True


I'm going to Israel.  On Tuesday.

I am not even sure if my mind adequately comprehends what I am about to do.

I've always loved the land of Israel, always had a desire to go.  Ever since I was 9 or 10 years old, I have been dreaming about the day I would see the land for myself.

I want to go where history began.  I want to see the land God chose for the people He chose.  I want to walk where the heroes of my faith walked.  I want to be the place where my Lord stepped out of eternity into time, where He grew, and lived.  Where He died, where He rose, and where He is soon returning.

The fact that I'm actually going hasn't quite set in yet.  I've already spent some tears in anticipation, but the bulk of my emotions will probably hit me halfway over the Atlantic.

Speaking of which, if you think of it, please say a prayer for me.  I struggle with minor travel anxiety and I would love to not be affected during this trip!  I get knots in my stomach and have trouble eating whenever I am in new places.  And since Israeli food is so yummy, I would really love to eat a falafel every day that I'm there. ;) Thanks, y'all.

(And if you think of it, please also pray for my children, that they won't miss their mama too much while I'm gone!)

I purchased a new journal for my trip, and am prayerfully anticipating the Lord speaking to me a lot while I'm in Israel!  Hopefully I'll be able to turn His voice + my thoughts + notes from our trip into blogs when I get back.

If you'd like to keep up with my journey, you can do so via my Instagram feed.  I will have wi-fi at the hotels and plan to post pictures and thoughts each evening.

13 May 2014

To the Mamas of Angels

I know the pain that Mother's Day can bring.  I know the feeling of the hurt in your heart that you experience every single day, the one that is only magnified on this day that celebrates everything contrary to what you feel:  Life.  Love.  Hope.  Motherhood.

Even as I snuggle with my three sweet children, my heart yearns for the two that I will never know on this earth, my two precious angels in heaven.  My heart will forever be incomplete.

When you lose a child, you lose a part of your heart.  And you never get it back.

Two pieces of my heart will always be missing.  The loss of a child is not something your mama's heart ever gets over.  To tell the truth, I'm not sure it's something your heart was made to get over.  The very nature of my heart, of your heart, of every mother's heart, was made to hold that child.  Forever.

For whatever reason our arms our empty -- miscarriage,  stillbirth,  abortion -- it doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter how they died.  It just matters that they lived.  No matter how briefly, your child lived.  

I can't pretend to understand the agony of infertility, nor the despair in the inability to carry a child to term, nor the pain of abortion.  But I do know the heartbreak of miscarriage.  I do know what it feels like to have babies in heaven, to have a heart that will never be whole.

One of the hardest parts of my first Mother's Day was the feeling that I wasn't a mother.  I felt like I was drowning in grief, having miscarried only a few weeks before, watching all the mothers in the church stand to be honored.  I fought the tears that threatened to overwhelm me.  Drew squeezed my hand, gently urged me to stand also, but I couldn't.

I'm not a mother.  I may never be.  The thought glued me to my seat.

But it was a lie.

was a mother, even though my baby was no longer living.  Believing that lie was like saying my child had never existed.  But he had.  For almost four weeks, he had lived in my womb.  And as soon as he ceased to be alive, he awoke in the arms of Jesus, where he still lives.

Hear me, mothers.  That voice that denies you your rightful title of mama?  That voice that dismisses the life of your child, however brief?  It is lying.  Please don't believe that lie.

You are a mama, an angel's mama.