Sunday, July 31, 2016

My Playlist - If We're Honest

I fell in love with this song the very first time I heard it so much so that I went right out and bought the soundtrack to start working on it to sing at church eventually.  My favorite line in the song is, "I'm a mess and so are you."  Because its true!  I've felt that more over the last few months than ever before yet people still ask "How are you doing?" and expect an "I'm fine" answer.  What if.  Just what if instead we WERE honest and said, "well, I'm a mess right now but that's ok because deep down I know you are too."  I can already see the shocked faces yet . . it's truth isn't it? 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Family Fun - Sledding Fun

After a very warm start to the winter, we finally got some snow in January - enough snow that the boys went looking for a sledding hill.  We found one in the neighbors yard just around the corner from the house that was the perfect size for the boys for this year.  I know that next winter, we will have to  venture out to some bigger hills because, well, they are boys and the love to sled.

On the last run of the day, one of those sleds hit a pretty big rock and literally shattered.  So, before the week was done we picked up some more heavy duty sleds to have ready for the next big storm, which never really came!  At least we got one good sledding run in this past winter.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Weekly Menu - It's time to camp again!

Camping just keeps sneaking up on me this year.  Once again, we are getting ready to head out to camping and I had to work on keeping the budget under control yet providing our meals and snacks for camping.  As is always the case when we camp, I focus mostly on our camping menu and the rest of the week we will either eat leftovers or I'll work on putting meals together based on what is in the fridge/freezer/cupboards.

Friday - Chicken Florintine Pasta, and bread

Saturday - Bernie O's Pizza!  This is our all time favorite pizza place and we are so looking forward to getting to enjoy it's wonderful goodness.

Sunday - Hobo Pies.  Last time we camped, I made cinnamon rolls in the Pie Irons and we loved them.  So, this time I thought  it would be fun to make some dinner pies.  Pizza, or Cuban or Monte Cristo's. 

Monday - Steak Kabobs, Crock-Pot Cheesy Potatoes, Fried Zucchini and Mac and Cheese

Tuesday - Chicken Quasidillas, Chips and Cheese, Mexican Rice

Wednesday and Thursday - Leftovers :-)

I'm trying to keep our camp meals simple to limit my work on both cooking and clean-up.  I am still debating our lunches as I know we end up eating out sometimes depending on what we are doing.  The good thing is that we have a favorite little grocery store just a few miles from the campground so I might just pick up what we need each day so we don't have to try and store so much food.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What We are Eating - Fried Zucchini Sticks

Fried Zucchini Sticks
adapted from Pocket Change Gourmet

A few weeks ago, we had a dinner that consisted basically of vegetables.  (I did fry up a slice of ham for some protein though!) We love zucchini but I usually slice it up and cook it with butter and onion in a frying pan.  This time, I tried something different and this recipe did not disappoint.  These little sticks were so yummy that I think I skipped the other veggies I made and just ate these! 

Fried Zucchini Sticks - ready in minutes, coated with gluten-free bread crumbs, parmesan and spices that make them healthier than you think!
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 32 sticks
  • 4 small zucchinis
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (we used gluten-free)
  • ½ cup fresh parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish, optional
  • Extra parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
  1. Wash and cut zucchini, cut in half, then cut each half in half and then in half again, making 8 sticks
  2. Add eggs to a medium size bowl and whisk
  3. Add bread crumbs, cheese and seasoning to medium bowl and mix together
  4. Heat oil in large skillet or saucepan to 320-350 degrees
  5. Dip zucchini in egg, then in crumb mixture
  6. Add to oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with parsley and more cheese if desired
  8. Serve immediately

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Tiny Home Craze

Most of you have probably heard about the whole Tiny Home Craze. When I watch the shows on HGTV I'm always amazed at how people can go from a 2-3000 square foot house and live in 200 square feet with a compost toilet.  I think the whole concept started with people wanting to go "off the grid" (thus the compost toilets) and then it was glamorized and others tried to take on the concept.  I was watching an episode of Tiny Homes the other day and it was a 20 something woman who bought a super tiny home on wheels and parked it in the driveway of her parents 6000 square foot home.  So, she had access to everything she needed yet could claim she lived in that 150 square foot . .. trailer.  HA!

Well, I was recently wasting spending time on Pinterest when I came across this photo.
Isn't it pretty?  It's considered a "Tiny Home."  I laughed out loud as I read the article because this Tiny Home is 1,091 square feet of living space.  Why did I laugh?  Because our living space is . . .1080 square feet HA!  Now, I will give a tiny bit of grace (haha . . tiny . .get it?) because I think they count the porches in that square footage but still.  I had no idea I lived in a tiny house??    It's actually a beautiful home that you can read about over at  Tiny House Town.  I wouldn't mind living in this house, to tell you the truth - it's gorgeous.

So, could you live in a Tiny Home?  I could . . .oh, wait, I already do!!  What I see is that people who live in large homes, think it would be "fun" to live in something tiny whereas those of us who live in small homes, wish for just a little more space.  In reality, I know that we should just be is, content. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer Fun - July 18th

As my boys get older, each summer I want to do more things with them in order to enjoy this amazing age that they are currently at.  Well, this summer has brought some wonderful things for us to do and we are all enjoying it.

Monday - Today started off with swimming lessons again.  Both boys showed marked improvement as they both went completely underwater which is something they both had a hard time with last week. After swim lessons, we picked up lunch and headed to Nana's campsite to eat together.  Following lunch, we all got on swimsuits and headed to the pool.  It was fabulous.  The pool was clean and heated.  Not to mention that both boys were jumping (feet first) into the pool by the end of the afternoon, going fully underwater and even seeing who could stay under the longest.  Nana treated us to dinner at Applebees (1/2 priced burgers!) before the boys headed to TKD.  They were tired.  And sunburned.  But it was fun!

Tuesday - Swimming lessons continued today.  We then hung out at home to recover from our extra amounts of sun-kissed skin.  Nana joined us for dinner before we headed to the Ionia Free Fair.  I'll be honest, we had not planned to go but Josh and Nate talked over and over about how they had waited for a whole year for it to come back to town and they were just devastated that they wouldn't get to go. Well, they said it in front of Nana and the rest was history!  Really, I had hoped to take them so I'm glad it worked out.

Wednesday - Swimming lessons!  The biggest accomplishment today is that Josh jumped off the diving board!  This is a huge thing since a week ago he wouldn't put his head under water.  We hung out at home during the afternoon and the boys played in the sprinkler.  Then we had dinner and pool time at Nana's.  .

Thursday - We wrapped up this round of swimming lessons and then the boys headed to Grandpa and Grandma's for a few days.

Friday - All the fun to be had at Grandpa and Grandma's!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Playlist - "Trust in you"

The song "Trust in You" by Lauren Daigle has been a favorite of mine since the first time I heard it not long after it came out.  The words speak a powerful truth - the truth that we don't always get what we ask for yet we still have to trust in God.  This became my fight song while my dad was in the hospital and is now a truth a cling to even though I don't understand why God took my dad home to heaven.  I think it's ok to still ask why and to cry out to God  . .. I still trust in God's perfect plan and I know God understands my heart and my hurt.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Family Fun - Bowling Field Trip

 In January, we had the opportunity to go on a field trip with our online school group to a bowling alley in Grand Rapids.  It was a much anticipated event in our house as the boys had recently started playing Wii bowling and were positive they could bowl perfect games :-) 
 Darryl went with us and was able to help the boys with their throws. 
 They both actually caught on pretty quickly and really enjoyed the whole experience.

 They both had fantastic form :-)
 One of the neat things about this field trip was there was a bowling pro there who talked to the kids and helped them out too.  He bowled right next to us and several times, as he would get to his second shot, he would let Josh or Nate take the turn for him and he would work with them on their throw.  It was a great experience for them and created more excitement in them to want to bowl.

It was really a great trip and we look forward to bowling again!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Weekly Menu

Well, get this.  My kids are gone to my in-laws.  I originally thought they weren't going for their "week" with my in-laws until August but their calendar worked for them to come now.  So, you know what that means. . . not a whole lot of cooking going on for a few days!

Friday- Monday - The kids are at the in-laws so I'm giving myself some freedom.  I have a few recipes I "might" try or we "might" eat out/order in  . . .the decision will be made daily :-)

Tuesday - The kids come home today but it will be after my mom and I spend the day at my in-laws too.  So, we will keep it simple with Chili Dogs, Mac and Cheese and Chips.

Wednesday - Waffles and Sausage

Thursday -Beef Drip Sandwiches, Baked Potatoes, and Mac and Cheese.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Sundays have always been special days to me.  It goes back to my childhood when it was my "job" to wake my dad up from his nap on Sunday afternoons at 4:00 so he and I could go to the church and "study".  Well, he would study for his sermon on Sunday night and I would do a million different things.  I would practice the piano, teach myself how to play the organ, practice singing with soundtracks (always out of breath as I ran from the back of the church to the front, trying to beat the start of the song HA).  I would type all kinds of things, draw, color and read.  I probably bugged my dad a few times too but it was all part of our special time.

Sundays are really what my dad worked toward every single week.  Very seldom did he miss a Sunday because that was "his day".
He loved being a pastor, it is who he was created to be.

Sundays aren't so fun anymore, if I'm being honest.  I've really lost that joy in a day that always meant so much.  I was thinking about this past week as I sat through a church service I only went to because my kids begged to go to church.

1) It was on a Sunday that I gave my dad that last hug and kiss and waved goodbye as he drove away for the last time.  I would never get a chance to have "him" back again.

2) It was on those Sunday's in the hospital that I would sit beside his bedside, allowing my mom the ability to and freedom to walk away for a bit, and talked to him about life even though he couldn't respond.

3) It was on those Sunday's, again, that I would play the livefeed from Faith Baptist Church in Linden - "His church" - so he could hear the praise music and the preaching from two young men he cared for deeply, Pastor Daniel and Pastor Jay.

4) It was on a Sunday that I sat with my mom in my dad's room and watched his breathing become more shallow; where I listened as my mom whispered that it was ok; that she would be ok and he could go home.

5) It was late on a Sunday night when I got the call that my dad was gone.  It seemed fitting that it was on a Sunday . . .yet, it makes it hard.

I've found it difficult to return to church as I've known it.  The joy is gone. I'm not even sure I can explain it as I wake every Sunday and face the magnitude of what our family has lost.  I know our situation is unique because my dad was a pastor for so many years and impacted so many lives.  He is loved and missed by many.  That doesn't remove the fact that he belonged to "us"; to my mom, my brothers; their families . . .and now we are the ones facing the Sundays without him.  I know God is good; I know God is faithful but I still miss my dad.

For each person that grieves, the day or time is different that sits heavy on their hearts.  Maybe they spent every Monday night next to their loved one and now Monday nights are long and quiet; or maybe it was a Saturday morning phone call that is no longer given or received.  It doesn't matter the day or time; it is still a moment of loneliness; a void that can't be filled; an emptiness that is surprisingly shocking as it arrives each week.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Fun - July 11th

Monday - This week started super busy!  I enrolled the boys into swimming lessons and today was their first lesson.  I loved watching them swim!  We then went on to haircuts, lunch out, the grocery store and Menards.  After dinner, the boys returned to Tae Kwon Do too!


Tuesday - Our fun today continued with swimming lessons.  It is amazing how much they learn and how fast they learn it.  I had a few small things planned but after lunch the boys pulled out puzzles and games and then went outside so I just let them play.

Wednesday - Swimming lessons continue! After dinner, I took the boys to see The BFG while Darryl was at practice. It was an awesome movie - one of the best I've seen in quite awhile.
Thursday - Day four of swimming lessons :-)  Swimming gives us plenty of excitement each day.  Later in the day, the boys got the sprinkler out for more water fun.

Friday - The kids started the morning by getting out some toys they haven't played with in awhile :-) We met friends for bowling (we get to go free all summer!) and then a picnic lunch.  Friday night, we went swimming!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Playlist

The choice this week from my playlist is a song by Twila Paris titled, "The Warrior is a Child."  This is a song that came out in the 80's so, yes it has been around for awhile but the words are still so true.

"Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right/But even winners can get wounded in the fight/People say that I’m amazing/Strong beyond my years/But they don’t see inside of me/I’m hiding all the tears." 

These words really struck home with me because I heard them over and over while walking through the weeks surrounding the circumstances with my dad.  I would hear, "You are so strong." or "I don't know how you are doing this" and really, it was a time where I just walked the road I was called to walk and trusted God to carry me through even when I was wounded by the battle and the tears were hiding.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Family Fun - January 2016 begins!

January 2016 started out with snow.  We are "quiet" New Year's Eve and New Year's Day people.  On New Years Eve, we enjoy some soups for dinner and then have snacks while we attempt to stay up until midnight.  This year, we decided to let the boys stay up.  Josh made it (barely) but Nate lost the battle to stay awake at 11:30.  We tried and tried to wake him back up at 11:58 but he was out cold HA!  New Years Day we hung around home, the boys played in the snow, and also worked on doing some cleaning up from Christmas.

 Yes, this is Josh outside without a shirt.  He said he was hot and wanted to go outside.  I think it is incredibly funny.

 Josh and Nate did both get dressed eventually and went outside to take down all of the Christmas decorations.  They worked hard and took care of it all for me.
Nate also helped me inside the house by vacuuming up lots of pine tree needles after we took the Christmas tree outside.
 Love this smile!  Josh missing his two front teeth.  I try to get pictures of the boys as they lose teeth so we can remember what they look like at each point!
 Nate showing off one of his gifts from Grandma LeBeck - homemade hats!  They hats make me laugh anytime either one of the boys ever wear them.

Two of Nate's birthday balloons.  He decided that he wanted to let the pink one go up to the stars so he was hugging his balloons.  The funny thing is that because it was so cold outside, the balloon went up just a little bit, over the neighbors fence, and then sunk to the ground.  I quietly sent a facebook message to my neighbor and asked her to throw it back over the fence.  She did and the boys freaked out because they couldn't figure out how it "found its way back home" HA!

So, January started out quiet as we slowly got back into our routine.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Weekly Menu

This has been a pretty normal week for us.  It was busy with Swim Lessons and starting back into TKD but for the most part, our evenings were spent at home.  This next week my mom is beginning a stay at a local campground so we are looking forward to a mix of meals with her as well.  Here's the plan for the coming week:

Friday:  Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs w/ Salad and Garlic Bread.  This is such a simple meal yet everyone loves it.  (Ok, it's not my favorite but sometimes I splurge and buy some fresh Alfredo Sauce and that makes me happy HA!)

Saturday:  Pizza.  Purchased and not made :-)

Sunday: Grilled Chicken Philly Sandwiches, Fried Zucchini, and roasted potatoes for after we get home from church.  My mom will be arriving this afternoon so, maybe after we get her set up, we will roast some hotdogs over the fire to start off her stay right!

Monday: The boys have TKD on Monday nights right now so Taco's is always the easy way out.  We can eat at different times without it being an issue.

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, and chips and cheese.

Wednesday:  The boys and I will head to my mom's for dinner most likely since my husband usually has practice on Wednesday evenings and eats in town.

Thursday: The kids are heading to my inlaw's for a few days so eating will be simple. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016



One of the profound statements that my husband made about 4 days after my dad had the strokes was simply these words: 
"He is silenced.  He has no voice." 

It was true.  If you knew my dad at all you know that he always had a voice.  He had words of wisdom, words that made you laugh or made you think.  He simply always had words.  He was filled with Biblical wisdom and stories of life.  He loved to talk about the things he loved and he always made everyone he met feel, well, loved and cared about. 
Then he was silenced.  A void that can never be filled. 

As I walked into the emergency room where my dad was being treated I was greeted by silence.  He was being given medication to try and reverse the effects of the stroke. 
Tuesday morning I was greeted by silence as his voice was restricted by tubes even though his eyes spoke volumes. 
He then suffered a second stroke and I saw the silence overtake him. 
He was silent as he was airlifted away.
He was silent as I rubbed his hair moments before he was taken into what we hoped would be a life saving surgery.
He was silent as the surgery did not go as planned due to unforeseen circumstances.
He was silent as he laid in a hospital bed and so many came to see him and pray.
He was silent as Jesus took him home to heaven.
He was silent.  His voice was gone. His voice is gone and is missed beyond measure.

I was silenced.  
My voice was used endlessly in the days following my dads stroke.  
I spent hours on the phone, sending texts, e-mails, and messages to family and friends trying to keep everyone up to date.
My voice began to disappear Tuesday afternoon as I called my brothers,  hour after hour, giving updates. 
My voice grew quieter due to stress and exhaustion. 
As I spoke to the surgeon and asked questions, my voice was a whisper. 
As the nurse took me aside and said,'I feel like you are in charge and I need to walk you through some things.", my voice was quiet. 
As I directed friends and family to the crisis room and answered questions, my voice grew faint.
Exhaustion took my voice. 
During the coming weeks and through the days and weeks following the funeral, I found my voice was often weak; quiet; a whisper at times.
I still find that I often don't have a voice.
I have sung in church since I was 13 years old but, I still cannot sing.  I can stand in church and listen to the songs but I cannot sing. 
The words are choked by tears as music touches my soul. Deeply. 
I cannot play the piano because my love of piano belongs to my dad. 
He is the one who found my piano teacher and even told her what song he wanted me to learn to play
He is the one who gave me that love. 
To play again is a deeply personal journey (one I must attack soon as I'm scheduled to play in a wedding)
It is not always golden. 
It is grief.  Sadness. Emptiness. 
It is healing. 

You might see me standing in church quietly.  
It is healing.
You might see me sitting at an event and quietly looking into the distance as the world goes by.
It is healing.
You might see tears run down my cheek as something as "simple" as Aero-med flies overhead.
It is memories. It is grief. It is healing. 
I know I will regain my voice.  Healing will come but for now . . . 


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What We are Eating - Hot Corn Dip

Hot Corn Dip
adapted From The Pioneer Woman
In planning our camping trip recently, I wanted to find something that I could throw in the crock pot while we were setting up and have ready to eat in just a few hours.  We planned on cooking Brats and Hot Dogs for dinner so a dip sounded great and when I came across this recipe it sounded too good to pass by.  It did not disappoint. A few things I did differently than the recipe:  I boiled the corn instead of grilling it.  I only added red pepper (I don't care for the taste of cooked green pepper) and I did not add any Jalapeno.  One thing to note, if you don't like the southwest flavor of Green Chillies, well, this dip is not for you :-)  We happen to love them so it was fantastic!

  • 5 ears Corn
  • Vegetable Oil For Brushing
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • HALF Red Onion, Diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Fresh Jalapeno, Seeded And Diced Fine (scrap Out Half The Seeds And Membranes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 pound Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Sliced
  • Chili Powder, For Sprinkling
  • 1 can (4 Ounces) Diced Green Chilies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the corn cobs with vegetable oil, sprinkle with a little salt, and place on a grill pan for about 10 minutes, turning constantly. Remove it from the heat to cool. Cut the kernels off the cobs once they're cool enough to handle.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and jalapeno. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, until the veggies are soft and golden. Remove the skillet from the heat to let the veggies cool slightly.

In a mixer, combine the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, and 2/3 of the Monterey Jack. Mix with the paddle attachment on low until combined. Add the green onions, the veggie mixture, the corn, and the green chilies. Mix on low until just combined.

Spread the mixture in a baking dish and sprinkle with the rest of the Monterey Jack. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm with tortilla chips!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What I'm Reading

You can always find out what I've been reading by visiting my Pinterest board over at Books I've read in 2016

After reading several books in a row that were good, but not Christian based, I went in search of some of my favorite Christian authors to see if they had any new books out that I hadn't read and I was so excited to find some including some new series that I was able to start too.

Lauraine Snelling is one of my all time favorite authors and I especially love her series based on the Red River Valley.  The most recent trilogy based on the family in that series had two books I haven't read. I will admit that even this series could be read as a stand alone set, the back ground of starting all the way at the beginning is helpful.  As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to start re-reading the entire set of series from the beginning myself because I love them so much.

Janette Oke is probably my all time favorite author and I thought she was done writing but, when I went searching I discovered that she has a newer series out that I hadn't read.  I'm just in the middle of the first book and I'm enjoying her writing just as much as I did in the past.  Years ago, after reading a series she wrote, I sent her a letter telling her how much I loved the series and why I loved it.  She wrote back.  A personal, hand written letter that talked about things I had written.  It was awesome.

Tracie Peterson and Dee Henderson  are also authors I enjoy and they both had new books out as well - both the start to new series.

 (I just discovered that the next book was just released July 5th :-) )  I believe that this "set" is more of a stand alone set where each book is written about a different character.

I'm still working on the stack of books I posted about HERE.  As is often the case, I enjoy the "fun" reading more than the reading to improve my daily living :-)