Tuesday, January 29, 2013


This morning, Nora and I pulled out the painting supplies. I covered the back of my calendar in card stock, and then placed that on top of her high chair (I wasn't sure if the food coloring would stain her chair, and therefore took the necessary precautions). I used this recipe for the paint.

With only one baby playing with the paint, the recipe was way more than I needed. However, I did save the rest of it in tupperware, hoping to pull it back out in the next few days. But you may want to cut the recipe in half. 

Couple of things: Don't be alarmed when you add the cold water to the cornstarch and it hardens like a rock. As soon as you add the boiling water, it will melt into a really nice texture. 

2 cups of cornstarch
4.5 boiling water
1 cup of cold water 
liquid food coloring 

Add the cold water to the cornstarch, and then slowly add the boiling water. Once its fluffy, split it up into several bowls and add some food coloring! Easy peasy!

Nora seemed to enjoy mixing the paint together in the bowl more than painting, but either way, this occupied her attention for about thirty minutes. Pretty good activity, I'd say. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snow Day!

Yesterday marked Nora's first legitimate snow. I am pretty sure that last year there may have been a dusting here and there, but nothing serious. Either way, she was not able to play in the snow being that she was only a month or so old. However, this year, even with barely an inch of snow, we bundled up and went outside to play in it. The temperature was somewhere around 20 degrees, and I was pretty sure both of our noses would fall off by the end of the excursion, but we did it! And if Nora would have had her way, we'd be out there still... Yes, I do mean a whole day later, still playing. The little lady does not ever want to come inside, and she makes sure the whole world knows it any time we do. My poor neighbors!

Please notice the newest fashion trend: Plastic baggies wrapped around shoes and mittens.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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Who's Your Daddy?

I've often said to people who are waiting to hear God's voice something along these lines, "don't expect to hear his voice thundering through the clouds!" And for all of those times I've said something like that, I should be slapped on the hand.

Because this morning, God spoke to me. In case you're wondering, I will admit that it was not an audible discussion, but it may as well have been. Sometimes--or more truthfully, often--I forget that God does speak to us, as clearly as if we were standing right in front of him. The question is, are we listening?

I will no longer hold you in suspense. Here is the story: 

Last night, at the dinner table, Eric and I were discussing whether or not children are a product of their environment. We were able to look at several children we knew, their families, our own, and come to the conclusion that yes, children are surely a result of their environments. For instance, what are the values that parents are instilling in their children, and how do we see that play out in their behavior? What birth order are they? Oldest? Youngest? Were they sheltered and hugged every time they took a tumble, or were they picked on by siblings? Et cetera... 

Nora is a little spitfire, as I've said in previous posts. She will allow only a certain amount of cuddling before becoming frustrated with the confinement and trying to escape our kisses. Surely a result of how much we smothered her with love when she was a baby--and, I might add, would continue to be doing if she let us. Apparently there is such a thing as too much lovin'. 

Anyway, I went to sleep last night feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all because, if the above is true, then isn't it my job, as a parent, to do my best to control that environment that shapes my children? If I don't protect them from those experiences that could harden them to life, make them bitter and angry people, isn't that on me? 

This morning, God said otherwise. 

I was doing a devotional reading in 1 Peter 1:1-9. For the sake of making an already verbose story a bit more concise, I will only delve into the relevant part of the passage which begins like this: "1) Peter, an apostle of Jesus the Messiah, to God's chosen ones who live as foreigners among the Dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2) who have been set aside in advance by God the father, through the sanctification of the spirit, for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus the Messiah. May grace and peace be poured out lavishly on you!" (1 Peter 1:1-2) 

The commentator to the devotional, NT Wright, starts right off the bat by explaining: "This is what Christians are: chosen; set aside; sanctified for obedience; sprinkled with the Messiah's blood!" So, then, is it not about our ancestry, social status, class, birth order, family name, or anything else? If we take what the Bible says to heart, then it's about only one thing: our identity in Christ. This alone ought to be what shapes us. 

Even more, Wright encourages us to remind ourselves daily of who we really are, or else we will begin to listen to the "insidious messages we get from the world around (that we are who we are because of who our parents are, where we live or how much we earn)."

...Seriously, could God's voice get any clearer?  

The world is always trying to shape us. Its voice seems, at times, much more persuasive than God's. The problem with not understanding who we are in Christ, is that it can make us give up on evolving into a more mature character and faith before we ever really get going. How easy is it to lower your own expectations for yourself, telling yourself that you are a victim of your upbringing? You don't expect yourself to be any better given the circumstances, and neither does anyone else. How easy to compare yourself to others who have had similar experiences, and feel better about where you are--but not compelled to go any further. 

Unless we know who we are and the designs that God has for our lives, we will allow our environments to shape us. Maybe without us even knowing it. 

But when we know that he has called us to greater heights and greater depths, perhaps we are more willing to live into those things. Perhaps we will actually believe we can reach those places and make the consequent changes in our lives. 

As a parent, I am learning that, although the environment that Nora grows up in is important, teaching her of her identity in Christ is exceedingly more so. If God's voice is louder and clearer than all the other voices around her then it won't matter what earthly experiences she has. This is what it means to become like a house, built upon a rock. Steady and sure, by God's great grace. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stephanie & Erik: Engagement!

I must say, my first engagement session went pretty well. Considering the subjects were my sister and future brother-in-law, there was minimal pressure. Not that I didn't want to take great pictures of them, but they were comfortable around me and Em (my older sister, who helped them pose), and I was comfortable telling them what to do! Just ask Erik, I may have gotten a little too comfortable. There were several pose ideas that we would give him and he'd laugh and say, "That doesn't feel like us." Such a sweet response to us, the pushy sisters-in-law.

After having my own family's pictures done professionally, and being told by that photographer to "interact", I gave them that same advice a few times. To which, Erik began poking Steph in the face. Needless to say, none of those pictures made it on the blog. :)

Below are a few of my favorites. But before you begin to scroll through, first let me say how incredibly content I am to watch my sister giggle and bask in the attention that Erik gives her, and to know without a doubt in my mind that he will take good care of her and treat her right. Thanks, Erik, for being such a willing participant in this photo shoot and we cannot wait for you to be an official member of our family!


A bunch of thanks, again, to Emily for helping me out with posing and helping to make them comfortable in front of the camera!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Rudder of a Ship: Which direction are you going?

This morning, my husband and I woke up before dawn broke (too early!) and came downstairs to make a pot of coffee and sit at our little breakfast table to read our devotion together. I mentioned in a previous post that we are reading, Early Christian Letters for Everyone by N.T Wright as part of a new routine. And, let me tell you, it is amazing to see how just a little bit of time with God in the morning can change the entire direction of your day.

Which brings me to my point this morning: in James 3:1-12*, we see that the tongue is a very small part of the body, similar to a rudder on a ship, and yet it steers and guides a person, controls where they are headed. One slip of the tongue, and you can easily go off into an entirely different direction.

James warns that being a teacher is a risky profession. How easy to send your pupils off in a certain direction, perhaps determining the course of their life. It is one thing if that direction is a good one, but what if something you say sends them in the wrong direction?

My children (Nora and any other future children; I feel the need to clarify this) are my most obvious pupils. I am responsible for teaching and guiding them. So what is it that I am instilling in their lives?

The other night, I went out to Target for a quick errand and left Nora at home with Eric. While I was in the store, I heard soft whistling coming from the grocery aisles. In the refrigerator section, I saw the source. It was a young boy, probably about 10-12 years old. He was teaching his little brother (maybe about 5 years old?) how to whistle. I smiled at them and proceeded to pick out my food, taking my time, not realizing that they were waiting for me to move aside so that they, too, could grab the same item. When I realized, I apologized for taking so long but they were very gracious, especially for being so young. I was struck by how sweet they were to me.

Anyway, I continued through the grocery aisles, every once and a while hearing the same whistling. When it was time to check out, I stood behind them in line as the three boys helped their mom load their groceries onto the belt. And then, again, load the bags back into the cart. Meanwhile, their mother complained about them to the cashier.

To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. I listened to her talk, and watched the boys more closely, wondering if I was missing some sort of bad behavior. But all I saw were these boys serving their mother quietly, as she was slandering them publicly -- and right in front of them too!

After saying that they drove her crazy, she said something along the lines that she had five children, but "at least I got two girls out of it all."

Oh, my heart broke! These little boys, hearing so plainly their mother's favoring.

I could keep quite no longer, so I spoke up and said that I had witnessed them practicing their whistling and thought they had been very sweet and well-behaved. Of course, I said this in a much kinder and friendlier way than I truly wanted. These same words, spoken in a different tone, could have been pretty vicious. I couldn't help thinking that maybe the mother needed to hear a few choice strong words, but instead, I tried to gently show the mother that she ought to be careful what she said about her sons. And hoped, at the very least, that these children heard me speaking positive things about them.

As a mom, especially, when you are in the house all day with your little ones, it can feel like you are quite stuck there. It is easy to resent the children that seem to "imprison" you. But every word out of your mouth can bring blessing or curses. What are you showering your children with? These young, moldable, and innocent children who look to you for direction... What direction are you heading them in? One that says they are a nuisance? A burden to you?

I pray every day that God protects Nora from my sin, but that is not an excuse to live in sin. Instead, I must try to show Nora each and every day what a blessing she is to me. How she brings joy and life into every moment.

If all we do is tell our children that they are incapable of doing something right, is it any wonder that they grow up and live in that? How much different would our world be if parents chose to pour blessings over their kids instead of slandering them? Maybe they would grow up to become adults who are confident in who they are and the good that they can do.

Just a quick disclaimer: Perhaps, because I am a mom, I tend to think of teaching Nora first. But the truth is, any time I give advice or mentor someone, I am "teaching" them. I am guiding them in a certain direction through my words. James warns that teachers are judged by God more severely, so the lesson to take away is that we better be careful what it is that we are saying.

* "1) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters; you know that we will be judged more severely. 2) All of us make many mistakes, after all. If anyone makes no mistakes in what they say, such a person is a fully complete human being, capable of keeping firm control over the whole body as well. 3) We put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and then we can direct their whole bodies. 4) Consider, too, the case of large ships; it takes strong winds to blow them along, but one small rudder will turn them whichever way the helmsman desires and decides. 5) In the same way, the tongue   is a little member but boasts great things. See how small a fire it takes to set a large forest ablaze! 6) And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is a world of injustice, with its place established right there among our members. It defiles the whole body; it sets the wheel of nature ablaze and is itself set ablaze by hell. 7) Every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, you see, can be tamed, and has been tamed, by humans. 8) But no single human is able to tame the tongue. It is an irrepressible evil, full of deadly poison. 9) By it we bless the Lord and father; and by it we curse humans who are made in God's likeness! 10) Blessing and curses come out of the same mouth! My dear family, it isn't right that it should be like that. 11) Does a spring put out both sweet and bitter water from the same source? 12) Dear friends, can a fig tree bear olives, or a vine bear figs? Not can salt water yield fresh.

James 3.1-12

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Crate Bookshelf

First of all, I loved this project! And especially how it turned out.

You can buy a normal bookshelf for about $100, or buy a bunch of crates from a craft store, stain them,  nail them together, and make your own unique bookshelf for about the same cost. Yes, it is a bit more work but, in my opinion, worth it. 

Each crate cost about $10, but I think that if you looked really hard (harder than I did, at least), you could maybe find them for free somewhere. I did ask a nearby nursery if they threw out their crates after their Fall Festival, but the woman seemed to think that they kept them... I am pretty sure she did not really know, but either way, I decided to move on to what I did know: that my favorite craft store carried them. If I were more like my smart husband, I would have searched the internet for months to find the perfect deal. But, for me, sometimes convenience weighs out. And I became impatient. (If anybody knows where you can find these crates for cheaper than $10/ea., let me know. If only for the sake of anyone else interested in a project like this.)

I must say, staining these suckers is a pain. It took me about five hours to make sure they all had a really nice coat. And then I spray-painted them with polyurethane for a nice seal and shine. My husband worked with me to nail them together, and then nail them to the wall so that my daughter cannot pull them down on top of her. Safety first!

Still accruing stuff to put on the shelves, so the decorating is not complete. (and please excuse the bottom shelves which are completely chock-full of baby books and puzzles.)

Also, my husband is completely renovating our master bathroom. He gutted the entire thing and has just finished tiling both the shower and the floor. So, when I went to pick up the tile from a local tile company, I found tons of wooden pallets outside. After asking about them, I was told that they were up for grabs. Apparently the firemen will come grab huge loads of them, set them on fire, and practice putting them out. So, go with a truck to your local tiling companies and load it up with pallets for crafts! I am planning on making a coffee table for our basement at some point. If I ever actually do it, you'll see about it on here. So keep coming back!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Give Them Grace

‎"..most of our children believe that God is happy if they're good for goodness sake. Instead of transmitting the gloriously liberating and life-changing truths of the Gospel, we have taught our children that what God wants from them is morality. That being good at least outwardly is the be all end all of their faith. This isn't the gospel; we're not handing down Christianity. Certainly the faith that has empowered the persecuted church for two millennia isn't as thin and boring as 'Say you're sorry, 'Be nice,' and 'Don't be like them'." 

Give Them Grace, Elyse Fitzpatrick 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


This morning, Eric and I started a new routine. We are waking up early in the mornings, before he goes to work, and spending some time reading scripture, journaling, praying and discussing. It's one of those things that you know will be good for your emotional and spiritual health, but it is so hard to do. Getting up out of bed before your baby wakes up seems almost impractical. If she's sleeping, shouldn't I be?

But now that the time reading has passed, it's 7:45 am, and I am feeling wonderful. Refreshed. Excited for the day. Expecting great things.

I am reminded of Nora. Every single time (I can count on my hand the number of times where this has not been true) she wakes up--whether from a good night's sleep or a nap--she greets me with a smile. When I take her out of her crib, and we descend the stairs together to our main level, she kicks her legs with excitement. Sometimes, if I playfully hurry down the stairs, she giggles.

Every time she wakes up, she expects great things. Each moment awake means she might witness or be a part of something good. And she knows that. For a one year old, it could be as simple as running around the kitchen table as I chase her. Or pulling books off of our bookshelf. But this is all it takes.

What would our days look like if we approached them with that same childlike excitement? And how would they differ from the days where we have to pull ourselves out of bed, and methodically place one foot in front of the other?

Every day holds promise. I'm hoping that we remember that, the way a child does.

"Great is his faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:23

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's the End of the World

I was at my parent's house on December 21, 2012, the day the world was supposed to end. The movie, 2012, was on TV and I'd never seen it before so I sat down to watch it. I quickly got sucked in to the graphics and storyline.

There's a scene near the beginning, when the world is quite literally falling apart, with a man standing on the top of a mountain rejoicing over what he is seeing. It's clear that the end of the world was something he believed in, had even been expecting. So when his beliefs are confirmed to be true, he is ecstatic instead of scared.

Now, as a Christian, I was quite certain that the end of the world would not occur on December 21 because the Bible teaches us that only God knows when Jesus will return. But, in the same way as the crazy man on the mountain in the movie, I too believe in the end of the world (at least, in the sense that we know it). But my beliefs differ in that they center around Jesus and his second-coming. He has promised to bring restoration, healing and peace to earth.

The day of the Newtown shooting in Connecticut, one of my Facebook friends posted something that caused me to pause. She wrote, "Lord, come quickly." I was moved by that response because the sad truth is, there will be another shooting. Not only that, but the tragedy that happened in Newtown is only a tiny fraction of the evil that occurs in the world at any given time. Think of all the wars we've seen; the genocide, the children forced to become soldiers, those that are trafficked, etc., etc. And even beyond that, the poverty, hunger, thirst and disease that permeates our planet. None of these issues will ever go away. This is evidence of the enemy of God seeking destruction.

That is, until Jesus comes again.

To see an end to all of our suffering, Jesus must return to right all of our wrongs. And He will. I believe that with everything in me. The question is, am I praying for that day to come quickly? Am I preparing for the day when all of our sorrows will be replaced with joy at seeing our Savior, as He fulfills prophecy and redeems the world?

Perhaps the most important thing for me to realize is that my waiting is not one of idleness. It should involve action. It should involve fruit. Although I am waiting for Jesus to come, knowing that He alone can truly restore our world, I can--and should--play my part in bringing His Kingdom that much closer.

We are on a sinking ship, but our Rescuer is coming. Our God is faithful and his character is to want to rescue us. We can rest assured that we are not waiting in vain. But in the meantime, do we not continue to bail the water out of the ship? Or do we sit, watching the water rise around our ankles? And then up to our waists?

What does that action look like for you? In what ways can you bring the Kingdom of God that much closer to your corner of the world?

"The time has come," [Jesus] said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Mark 1:15

Katie Vogel Media

Katie Vogel Media