Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Easy Toddler Easter Craft

I love celebrating holidays with decorations and activities with my kids. I especially like taking the opportunity to make a craft or card that can be sent to grandparents who live far away.
This easy Easter craft for toddlers can be made into cards for grandmas. They will love it! 
  1. Have toddler color all over a few sheets of white paper with crayons and/or paints. 
  1. Cut sheets of blue paper in half for cards 
  1. Cut thick zigzags of green grass 
  1. Create or use an egg shaped stencil to cut out several original artwork Easter eggs! 
  1. Layer eggs and grass together and glue down. 
 I did this with my son (18 months old last Easter) and the 3 cards are so cute! Ilove that it's really easy, mess free, and looks great when finished without micromanaging my little guy.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Paleo "baby" Banana Pancakes Recipe

The other morning I stumbled onto an amazing recipe!

We eat paleo most of the time... let's be honest it's not 100%! But it is becoming more and more important for our overall health. For my son this is especially important as he is showing some signs (and has been since he was a baby) that he has some wheat/gluten sensitivities.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I remembered it was my turn to bring breakfast to my parenting study. I wanted something that would double as breakfast for me and my son as well. So I whipped up this fun and healthy paleo breakfast!

Paleo "baby" Banana Pancakes

They are so delicious and fluffy! It's hard to make enough for leftovers since my son goes into human vacuum mode.

I hope you and your family enjoy them! (I originally posted these on my @cozykitchenspices instagram)

Paleo "baby" Banana Pancakes
• 2 ripe bananas, mashed well
• 4 eggs 
• 4 T. Coconut flour 
• 2 T. Coconut oil, melted (or butter)
• 1/4 c. Milk of choice
• 1/2 t. Vanilla
• 1/4 t. Baking powder
• dash salt
• 1/4 t. Cinnamon 
  1. Mash bananas in mixer. Add eggs and mix well. Add coconut flour and let sit 3-5 mins.4
  2. Meanwhile, melt your coconut oil over medium heat. (Pan will now be prepped for cooking) 
  3. Add milk and all other ingredients, except coconut oil. 
  4. Add the melted oil and mix together. 
  5. In your well oiled and warmed pan, add about teaspoon sized amounts to create 3" pancakes. Cook about 2 minutes then flip and cook 2 minutes more. Adjust time to your kitchen and preferences. Makes 35-40 "baby" pancakes.  
You don't have to make them in a small size of course. I just do it for ease of flipping and because my son loves the small size. I love using a generous amount of coconut oil so they fry up and almost get a donut-like consistency. These have been a big hit with my friends' kids as well!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hearing Jesus Above the Noise

I wrote this a year ago, but I wanted to reshare it as I prepare my heart for Easter amidst a lot of "noise" in this season of life.
Photo by Nancy Heath
Photo by Nancy Heath

Last night I had two dreams. In the first one I was driving around a desert area near Los Angeles and saw three worship services side by side: a Jewish service, a Muslim service, and a Greek Orthodox service. First, the Jewish leader put out a call to worship, then the Muslims, and then the Greek Orthodox began their service. It was almost impossible to distinguish one from the other since they were happening at the same time.

In the next dream, I was in Jerusalem at night with my husband. We were driving around the city and checking into our hotel. I could feel the excitement of being in that ancient city and wanting to walk the old streets and sites. I suddenly woke up (my son was crying for me in the other room) and had a brief vision of Jesus appearing in person in Jerusalem under an archway. I paused for a minute, taking in how incredible that would be to see! Then, the realization hit me that I miss out on Jesus almost daily.

Every day, God wants to speak to me, to each of us. Even when I'm going through my mundane routine in my messy house with my active toddler and I'm half a world away from the Holy Land.

Unfortunately, I let my complaints and distractions become louder. I concern myself over the current trivial issue that is being kicked around on the social newsfeeds. During a free moment, I seek a break or an escape instead of connection.

How much have I missed?

I'm guilty of trying to do things out of my own power (which isn't much) and trying to see the big picture of my life and where I should direct it to go (which is like trying to navigate a foreign land blindfolded).

All that I am given is this day. Last week at Bible study I wrote down this quote from the teacher speaking about the book of Daniel, "We're in Babylon. We can concern ourselves with today and leave the rest to God."

So even though I am not anyone special and I'm not visiting any ancient landmarks anytime soon, I am trying to look for signs of Jesus in this day that I'm given even when everything around me feels so ordinary. God loves to show up in ordinary.

"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.” (Matthew 11:25-25, MSG)

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out." (Romans 12:1-2a, MSG)

Monday, March 14, 2016

You're Ok

Archive post: I don't think we can be reminded too often...
I went to a small Christian college. I followed the rules. I was involved. I was enthusiastic. So it was a logical next step for me to apply to become a resident assistant (RA). The position of RA was very popular on our campus and came with a sort of prestige. {It was a very small school.}

The process of selecting RAs involved multiple levels of tests and interviews. From a written application, recommendations, tests, group interviews, individual interviews. My RA that year was a friend and she was encouraging me through the whole process. After 2-3 weeks, the pool of applicants had become smaller and I was sure that I'd be a part of residence life the next year.

The tradition was for current RAs to "kidnap" the selected RAs for the next year at night and go to some sort of initiation ceremony. The night the kidnapping was to take place, my RA gave me a sly smile and knowingly said she'd see me later.

That night I was asleep until I heard some noise in the hallway of our dorm. I laid in bed wondering... I heard doors opening, girls whispering, giggling, running, and then the noise passed over my room. I let out a heavy sigh and wondered why.

I haven't had many moments in my life where I've heard God speak to me spontaneously, but in that moment He did. All I heard were two words repeated twice: You're OK.

In that moment, I couldn't hear any verbose, proclamations of the greatness of who I am as a daughter of Christ, all I was able to hear were those simple words. That was enough.

Just like a child who hears that he is loved, needs to know that he is liked by his parents, sometimes we need to be reminded that we are OK.

This affirmation is so simple but there is a deep place in us wondering, "Am I OK?"

Especially when we go through setbacks or when our plans fall short. God is with us in those lonely, vulnerable moments telling us that we are OK.

What is OK?

OK means being on the right track, don't give up, you are not alone, God is responsible for your end result.

So listen carefully...

You. Are. OK.

Dear God,
You see our hearts, and all the bruised, broken places therein.
Be near to the brokenhearted, the disappointed, the lonely, the ones about to give up.
Help this reality of being OK, sink deep within us.
Heal our hearts, so that we can pursue more of you.
In your name, Amen.

Messing Everything Up

Archive post: I wrote this 2 years ago and I'm still on the same journey. It's amazing how prophetic these themes were...

As a young child, I liked order, I liked things done MY way. I would often play by myself because I didn't like the games that other kids were playing.

When I was about four years old, I was playing with a Fisher-Price castle at my grandparents' house. I carefully arranged all the plastic figures inside and built an intricate scene.

My two year old sister was creeping closer. I was anxiously blocking her because she did not share my methodical, orderly play preferences. My grandpa asked why I wouldn't let her play. I told him,

"Grandpa, she's going to mess everything up!"

With a mischievous glint in his eye, he said, "Oh, no she won't."

"Ooookay," I sighed.

Within seconds, she had successfully "messed everything up" as I had predicted. I looked back at my grandpa and said, "See? I told you."

I'm not sure where this idea of cultivating a "perfect" life orginated. Maybe we can blame pinterest or facebook, but I'm sure this pressure existed before that.

We are taught that there is a right way to do things, an ideal that we should want for our lives. If we're honest, I'm sure we all want to live happy, productive lives.

But what if God intends for our lives to be more than simply "happy" or "productive"? What if He plans to "mess everything up"? To derail our plans.

{Spoiler alert: that's exactly what He wants to do!}

...we have a calling to give generously, but voices chide that it is foolish
...we have a calling to adopt, but voices warn us that it will bring heartache.
....we have a calling to recklessly engage in community, but voices whisper that it will be messy.
...we have a calling to advocate for justice, but voices shout that it will make people uncomfortable.

There could be something that God is calling you into that you don't even want to acknowledge. When you think about it, your stomach tightens and you want to change the subject, fast.

You could ignore it and persist in building a "good" life. (Like the silly plastic castle scene I had devised as playtime perfection as a child.)

Or obey the call that looks like it will "mess everything up", but it is the way to a better life--the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His way will open up a door to something you never could have imagined for yourself.

But that's exactly where fear holds us back! Sometimes we're more comfortable with our plastic castle, our way of doing things.

Even though it scares me and I'll probably have to recommit to this several times each week...

I'm choosing to let Him mess everything up.

How about you?

Dear God,
If we've asked you to be our Savior, help us release our will,
and let you be our Lord, our Leader.
Help us to focus on your voice alone.
Surround us with others who can encourage us and support us as we strive to live for you.
In your name, Amen.