Thursday, June 28, 2012

Making Southern Sweet Tea

During this hot summer season, there is nothing like a refreshing glass of homemade iced tea. I grew up drinking iced tea and make it for my family just the way my mom always has.

I use Luzianne family size tea bags, but you could use the brand you like the best.

Luzianne has never heard of me - I just like their tea:)

I use 3 of the large size and submerge in a small pan of water. Turn to medium and bring the tea to a boil.

Remove from heat and let the tea "steep" for 10-15 minutes. This step is important in order to get the full flavor of the tea.

Fill a glass pitcher about halfway with cold water and add 1 cup sugar and stir well.  I don't drink a lot of sugary drinks anymore, but I make an exception for this one! You could probably use a sugar substitute.

Add the tea (minus the tea bags), stir, and serve over ice.

Powdered teas and ready made tea just can't hold a candle to the real thing. This is perfect for everyone to have while sitting out on your deck or porch and relaxing with your family. You could bring a jug of it to a football game or any gathering.  It goes perfectly with fried chicken or a piece of pie.  Enjoy!

Linking up to and also  and

Imparting Grace                            French Country Cottage          Home Stories A2Z

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Favorite Blogs

I discovered home decorating blogs about a year or so ago. I'd love to pass them along to you. They not only have great decor ideas and recipes, but many times share their daily struggles and dreams. I read them with a cup of coffee most mornings when I have a few quiet moments.

1.  Rhoda is now renovating a 1970's home in Atlanta, Georgia. Hers is the very first blog I came across and still the first one I read each day. I also love how she shares her heart.

2.  Ree Drummond also has a show on the Food Network. Her recipes are fabulous and she has a knack for writing. She and her family live on a ranch in OK.

3.  Traci and her husband are fixing up a home together. She always has beautiful things to share. She lost her mom a short time back and has written some touching things about her.

4. - Richella has lots of home decorating ideas and shares about health issues her family is experiencing. She has been an inspiration to me.

5.  Beth and her husband renovated a home and she has lots of before and after photos. She also does a fun fashion Friday post. ( I haven't been able to access her blog for a couple of days for some reason).

6.  This is the newest blog I've found. Sarah does an amazing job of interior design.

7.  Sasha takes beautiful, beautiful photos of her home and kids. I love her cheerful spirit! She also has an etsy shop.

8.  Amy is a beautiful wife and mother. She and her husband renovated a home and she also has lots of before and after photos. She has amazing, elegant ideas for home design. She is one of those ladies that I wish I could get to know in person.

9.  Angela is an amazing artist, wife, and mom and I'm so glad to call her a friend.

10.  Erin is from San Diego and is a pro at organizing.

11.  Seleta is a wife, mom, and designer. I love her style.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. If you leave a comment on their blogs, please let them know who sent you! I would love for them to have new readers:)

Monday, June 18, 2012


Of all the books of the Bible, the one I have liked to read and underlined the most is probably Isaiah. I love the story of Hezekiah and how his future was changed. He became ill and the Bible says, was at the point of death. Even Isaiah came to him and said essentially, "This is it. Put your house in order.You are going to die." But it says that Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and cried out to the Lord. Sometimes I think I know just how Hezekiah felt. This is such a descriptive statement when it says that he turned his face to the wall.  Haven't we all done that during a crisis and said, "God, I just don't know what to do. Please help me!" Then God told Isaiah, "Go back and tell Hezekiah that I've heard his prayers and I'm adding fifteen years to his life and also I will deliver you from the hand of the king of Assyria." If I were Isaiah, I think I would have said, "Couldn't I just have told him all this to begin with?" But it must have been important for Hezekiah to hear the bad news first so that he would pray. I would rather skip the bad news, too. Wouldn't you? But the crying out to God cannot be skipped.

source - Time magazine

Sometimes God has shown me things when I have least expected it. I'm only sharing this to encourage someone. I am not setting myself up as an example of a great person of prayer because I am far from it. But one morning I was making the bed. I suddenly saw (in my mind's eye) a lady dressed from head to toe in black. I knew she must be from an Arab nation. I also knew that she was in deep distress. This all occurred in a matter of seconds. I wasn't doing anything spiritual. I don't even remember if I was praying while making the bed.  But I stopped and prayed for her until I felt like she was out of danger. This was a few years ago and to be honest, I don't remember a lot of the details apart from how she was dressed. But a short time ago, I was in the kid's dentist office, reading a Time magazine. I was reading about Syria and all the turmoil that is going on there right now. I turned the page and saw a photograph of a lady dressed from head to toe in black. She had on a long black gown and the black head wrap and veil. I'm not saying this is the lady I saw that morning several years ago, but she was dressed the same. I'm sharing all this to say that sometimes God uses our own circumstances in extraordinary ways.

I think that if life always went the way we would like it to go, we would be limited in certain areas of our life. Because we live in a fallen world, we are going to have to go through some hard things from time to time. There are times when you are not going to receive an explanation as to the why .  You are just going to receive the bad news as Hezekiah did. But those are the times that will make us or break us. I really am speaking to myself, also. I am tired of bad reports from doctors.  But on the flip side, those bad reports cause me to cling to God. And during those times, He reveals Himself to me in extraordinary ways. He wants to do the same thing for you.

Most of my days are very normal and are just like any other mom's day. There is laundry, meals, cleaning bathrooms, ect., ect. But there is always a heart's cry going up. "God, deliver us. God help me. God, I need you. God don't be silent. God, You must come through in this circumstance." Sometimes I literally sit in my closet and pour out my heart until there is nothing left to say. But there is an assurance that God has heard me. I don't have dreams and visions and angels coming down to talk to me, although that would be great! But every now and then, the Lord lets me experience something that is apart from my problems and a part of something bigger.

I was reading from Isaiah this morning and I was struck at the number of times it says how God, "stretched out the heavens". He is always reminding us of how He has created the heavens and the earth. He placed the stars in their positions. He wants us to know how big He is, yet his concern over each one of us is so personal. He was concerned for this lady, whoever she may be, and had someone far away pray for her safety. She matters to the Him.

When we receive news that is hard to hear, the important thing on our parts is turning to God and crying out to Him. Things may not get instantly better. You may not have a prophet come to you and say, "There's been a change of plans." But God will use your circumstance to your benefit. I am saying this totally by faith, because I really and totally don't like a lot of our cirmcumstances a good share of the time. But despite them, He has shown Himself faithful to me. As we draw near to God, He in turn, will draw near to us. During those times, He will speak to you and direct you to pray for others who are going through their own cirmcumstances and your heart will have been made tender for them.

"We are built for the valley, for the ordinary stuff we are in, and that is where we have to prove our mettle." Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Night Watch

I've noticed that when I'm feeling troubled by something, the night time can be the hardest time. I'll go to bed and go right to sleep, but then sometime around 3 a.m., I wake up feeling a black despair. My thoughts can seem to go a little haywire at these times if I'm not careful. I don't know if the darkness outside at these hours contributes to this or if that is when the enemy zeroes in on me or both! But I have a hard time encouraging myself at these times. Sometimes I will get up and go downstairs or sometimes I will try and think my way through it. But I'm beginning to see that this is a very real battlefield time for me and I have to stand guard, particularly at these night hours.

photo courtesy of Brenda Brown

The verse comes to mind about, " weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning." By that, I think that what I'm experiencing probably isn't uncommon. We may be battling with despair during the day but can keep it at bay, but it's different at night when we are alone, tired, and more susceptible to what the enemy would like to plant in our minds. Somehow, fears become a little more real and hope seems like a hazy dream just out of reach.

I struggle a lot with the fear of losing another child. During the night hours, I can lay there and be absolutely consumed with this fear. I also struggle with thoughts of the future for each of our children. Worry produces nothing really, but in the night it feels like worry is helping. In fact though, worry is draining every bit of trust that I am trying to place in God. Does He really want me to fret and try to counter every tragic possibility with my own thoughts and plans?

No, God doesn't want me or you to live like this. He wants us to experience victory even in these times. He knows my thoughts a far off. He knows how helplessly I can spiral into thinking that I have to figure things out for myself.

I am just beginning to see what I need to do during these times. Usually, it goes back to a faulty view of God. He isn't too busy or too bored by me and my problems. In the back of my mind, those thoughts are never too far away. But through His sweet intervention, I now am beginning to see Him as He really is. He is extremely interested in my thoughts and fears. He is extremely interested in what you are going through or struggling with. He is very tender towards you and doesn't expect you to " just figure it out already".

If you struggle with the wrong concept of God, you've probably thought these same things. But it is a wrong concept. If you ask Him, He will show you in an individual way, how interested He is in you. We can listen to Bible verses such as, "God demonstrated His love towards us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us", so many times that we forget what it is saying. Are we just part of this large "us"?  It can feel like He died for all mankind and we are just a blip on that radar screen of humanity.  But He doesn't look at you as just a face in the crowd of all the human beings He has matter to Him. What you are concerned about, concerns Him, and what you pray about and cry over when you are alone is noticed by Him.

Oswald Chambers wrote of tearful prayers in My Utmost for His Highest:
“Here is comfort for the distressed soul. ‘Thou puttest my tears into thy bottle,’ implies that they are caught as they flow . . . The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty eye; but ‘prayer is the falling of a tear’. He regards not high looks and lofty words; He cares not for the pomp and pageantry of kings; He listens not to the swell of martial music; He regards not the triumph and pride of man; but wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or a lip quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the heart of Jehovah is open; He marks it down in the registry of His memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up therefrom.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our Kitchen Table

I was thinking about our kitchen table the other day. We purchased it in 1995 while still at Teen Challenge.  That means it has been sitting in our kitchen for 17 years! Here it is in our kitchen where the kids were using it as a fort.

Here's another shot with our sweet Caitlin doing an art project at that table.

And Caitlin having a tea party with Hannah and Molly at the same table (big brother Tyler was always a good playmate to his sister). This photo makes my heart almost hurt. How did the years go by so quickly?

But over the years,  the table was beginning to look pretty rough.  Dave and I actually went out shopping for another one, but we couldn't find exactly what we were looking for. And at times, I felt like I just couldn't let that table slip away from us. It had seen all our children sit there.  Highchairs had been pulled up to that table when a brand new baby had joined our family. Toddlers had swung their feet from chairs at this table. Crayons had been emptied on its surface along with fingerpaints and paper. How many times had I been doing the dishes only to look over at the table and see my children sitting there eating cereal in the mornings or finishing supper in the evenings?

 So a few months ago, Tyler (now age 18), hauled the table into the garage. He sanded it and painted it black for me. It now looks beautiful again!

 Even though it is a bit of a tight squeeze to get us all around the table, my heart bursts with happiness whenever I see it. It's a little part of our memories as a family. Someday it will be just Dave and I sitting at that table, but in my heart I will always see Evan, Elisa, Tyler, Caitlin, Noah and Nathaniel sitting around it with us wherever they may be. Okay, that's too sad. Let's end it this way. Someday, I will sit at this table surrounded by my children and their children. Now, that's better!

My "new" old table

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Miracle in the Mirror

I love to read all kinds of books. I've been meaning to read The Help, but haven't fit it in yet. But one small book has impacted my life greatly. I first read it several years ago, Recently, I was thinking about the story and found the book again.  The name of the book is Miracle in the Mirror by Mark Buntain.

It it the story of a woman named Nita Edwards. She was a young, athletic college student in India. She sustained an injury when she fell down a flight of stairs at the school. At first, she thought she had just suffered a bad sprain. But when the pain grew worse and numbness began creeping up her legs, she was put in the hospital. Daily, her condition began to worsen. She describes in such  heartbreaking detail how she endured the systems of her body giving way to the climbing paralysis and how she was treated with such indifference by her doctor. He would bring other staff in to demonstrate how her condition had worsened by pricking her feet repeatedly with a pin, leaving her feet bleeding on the sheets. The paralysis continued its upward course, causing her to become almost blind and affecting her ability to swallow.

Unbeknownst to her, God directed a minister to come and visit her. Years before this man had been given a vision of eight faces that would touch Asia with the gospel. He had seen seven of the faces, but had not yet seen the eighth. It was sometime after he met Nita that he walked out to the hospital parking lot and glanced back up at her room. A mirror had been placed in her room so that she could see visitors arriving and leaving. When he saw her reflection, the realization suddenly hit him that she was the eighth face that God had shown him years before. His response to this revelation was comical as he told God, " How can she be a part of the Asian revival? She doesn't accept anything on faith! She analyzes everything!" But God told him again, "She is the eighth face!"

In the meantime, Nita was consumed with a sudden yearning for God's Word. She could barely see anymore, but the nurse would position her Bible so that she could read bits and pieces at a time. She went through all the normal emotions of anger, denial, and questioning God. But at this time, she said it was as if her spiritual pipeline had cleared and she had wide open communication with God.  Meanwhile, her physical body continued to shut down. Her fingers begin to curl back as her muscles atrophied. Her mother sat beside her bed, no longer praying for her to get well, but praying that God would take her daughter to be with Him. Nita described herself as becoming a living corpse.

That seems that this would be the end of the story. But it's just the beginning of a story with an unbelievable ending. Only God could think up something this dramatic! I will give you a hint of how the story ends below.

My daughter and I recently read this book together. If you are looking for an inspiring story, I encourage you to get a copy of this book. (I found a copy on Amazon for a little over $2). If you've read a good book lately, I'd love to hear from you.