Table Love

My kitchen is quiet this morning while I knead the bread dough, and smooth the tops of loaves.
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My heart, not as quiet, is aflame with thoughts of Good Friday, Easter, and The Last Supper.

Jesus, breaking bread with his disciples around the table at The Last Supper, shares His heart and His plan for their lives. My life. Your life.

Jesus, knowing that His disciples would turn from Him during His darkest hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, was filled with joy to share a meal with the people He loved. His love for them, and all of humanity, was portrayed that evening as He broke bread, drank wine, and washed His disciples’ feet.

Jesus commands His disciples to something so simply, yet so profound and sometimes difficult. John13:34 tells us that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Love each other. His command to love is not a frivolous or superficial kind of love…Jesus commands His disciples to love each other as He had loved them. Love as Jesus loves. Love because Jesus loves.  Oh, the wonder our world would see if we could grasp this commandment and live our lives accordingly!

Some may say that I am reading too much into this, but I find it profoundly wonderful that Jesus chose to share this ever important command to love while gathered around a table, breaking bread, and fellowshipping with those He loved.

Table fellowship. Table love. This is how I believe my heart beats.
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For it is often the simple things in life that can be profound. The mundane that can be the miraculous. How is this possible? Because God, who loves us with a deep abiding love, is the giver of everything. Everything. And in this we can rejoice. In this, we can love.

As I pull hot bread from the oven, slather it with butter, and smooth napkins onto the table, my heart is full. My heart is anxious for the fellowship that will happen around my table this evening. An opportunity to love those around my table, and an opportunity to collectively remember what Jesus did for us on the cross so many years ago.
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So as you gather with those you love this Easter season, may you remember that each and every person around your table, and each and every item of food gracing your table, is a gift. A gift from The Gift, given so that we would glorify Him.

And this Easter season, if you’re finding it difficult to believe in a love so life-changing, I would love nothing more than the chance to talk to you more about it. God loves you. He sent His one and only Son to live a perfect life and to die for you. He loves you, and He wants you to accept His love.

And my table…it may not be huge, and we may often sit crowded together, but there’s always an extra seat. Always. And at my table, I would love to share with you how you can know God’s love personally. It will change your life.

 

Burlap and Creativity

Hello there! Happy Wednesday to you all!

It has been a loooong time since I’ve blogged about anything related to decorating. I used to blog a lot about my ever-growing project list, and I’ve missed telling you all about it. Rest assured, the project list is still there, and just as long as ever. :-)

For today, I thought I’d show you what I did with a large piece of printed burlap I’d purchased at the fabric store. It’s been a long time, actually, since I’d finished these two projects, so I can’t remember exactly what the price was on this burlap. I know I had a coupon, and I know it wasn’t too expensive.

I took a small bench I had “rescued” from the side of the road, and with some paint to cover the bench legs (which based on the bite marks, looked as if they’d been the homeowners’ dog’s snack) and the new fabric to cover the existing yucky fabric, you’d never know it had once been destined for the garbage truck.
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IMG_3841 IMG_3360While it may not be professional quality, I love it! The top of the bench opens for storage, and it is the perfect size to tuck into the corner of our living room. We often pull it out for extra seating if we have large groups of people we need to seat in our living room.

I took the rest of that piece of burlap, and covered the back of a very large and very ugly photograph I found at Salvation Army for $4.00. While the photo was hideous, I actually liked the frame, and knew it would be the perfect size to make a chore chart for our children.
IMG_3804I used spray adhesive to attach the burlap to the photo, and glued small clothespins onto the burlap. Each kiddo has their initial on the board, with their chores clipped alongside, so they can be reminded each day what is expected of them. Once the chore is finished for the day, they flip over the chore card to the other side, which has a small saying to encourage them for their effort. I painted the wooden letters for their initials, which I’d purchased for super cheap at Hobby Lobby, with the leftover yellow paint from the bench project. I love the quote above their chores. It says, “Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” I want so much for them to learn responsibility, and to learn the correct attitude to go along with that responsibility.
IMG_2259These two items in our home are some of my favorites. Okay, okay…so I admit that I have lots of favorites…I think I say that about every project I do! ;-) I love that they cost a small fraction of what they would have been in a store, and I had a ton of fun being creative to make them exactly how I wanted them.

There are lots more projects in the works currently…mostly outdoor projects. I’ll try to remember to photograph them along the way, and share them with you soon. How about you, friends? Any projects at your house? I’d love to hear!

 

Insignificant, or Important?

Recent Facebook posts, paired with the sun-kissed skin of those adoring its photos, revealed Spring Break vacations from many across the country. How many times over the past week have I either asked or answered the question, “Did you have a fun Spring Break? What did you do?” It dawned on me yesterday that by some standards our family didn’t do anything particularly exciting…but that by looking at it from another angle, we did something extraordinary.

Sitting in my living room yesterday, I welcomed back the children I take care of after school. We sat in a circle, each child re-telling their Spring Break adventures. After everyone had a chance to share, I asked if anyone wanted to hear what I did over Spring Break. One of my daycare kids said, “Did you, just like…. clean the house and cook for your kids?” :-)

My first reaction to this innocent comment was to feel badly that from a child’s perspective, I’d done such boring things over my Spring Break. What if my kids felt the same way? What if I am a boring parent? What if I ruined their Spring Break because we couldn’t fly somewhere exotic? What if, what if, what if…

And then I stopped myself dead in my tracks. I forced myself to re-think the fun and laughter we’d experienced over Spring Break. It was as if God revealed to me that grandiose plans are not necessary to create grace-filled moments. That the seemingly mundane can indeed be miraculous. That slow and simple can be soothing to the soul.

Fellow stay-at-home mama who didn’t vacation over Spring Break…may I encourage you? And myself? Let’s remember a few things…

*Cleaning the house gives way to teaching responsibility to our children. It opens opportunities for me to re-tell the story of how we prayed and prayed and prayed for this house five years ago. How we drove by it countless times, hoping and praying it could be ours…God answered and provided. Re-live these types of stories with our children…kids love stories, and they need to hear how God plays an integral part in their own life story.

*Cooking for our families opens doors to nourish not only their bodies, but their hearts. Stir that soup and bake that bread with joy…knowing that God can use it for His glory. I don’t know that I will ever fully realize the impact that family meals, cooked by my mom and enjoyed around the table together, had on my life. It’s so important.

*Down time is important, but often hard to find. Enjoy it when you can. Spring Break at home brought about opportunities to snuggle and watch movies, read books, and just relax. Unfortunately, in the busyness of life, those moments don’t happen every day. I’m extra thankful for those moments last week.

*Crazy and uenxpected things will, and often do, happen with little ones at home. Sickness, injuries, ect. Try to do better than I did when we had unexpected craziness last week…rely on God’s strength and patience to guide you through. Pray. A lot. Don’t storm off to the grocery store (for necessary supplies for said crazy event), all in a tizzy, and fill your cart with several boxes of chocolate cookies you knew you’d want to eat later to unwind. Bad idea. Don’t do that. Lesson learned. ;-)

*Surprise your kids every now and then. What was supposed to be a walk through the local pet store last week to look around, turned into impulse beta fish purchases for each of my children. That is so unlike me, but it was so fun. The kids were THRILLED!
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*Enjoy the simple moments in your day. God’s gifts abound each day…we just sometimes need practice recognizing them. As we recognize them, thank God for them, and make it a point to allow our children to hear our thanks. Thankfulness is contagious. I want to be contagious.

The point of all of this today? Honestly, I’m not really sure. I feel like I’ve rambled on and on without a whole lot of direction…but I felt led to write, and so I did. I felt led to share that little piece of my heart, and what God revealed to me about our Spring Break. Maybe someday God will provide a way for me to experience a Spring Break trip with my kiddos. I’d love to someday experience flying in an airplane for the first time (for me and my kids!) or experience seeing the ocean for the first time for all of us. God certainly speaks through experiences like that. But even if that never happens, we’ll continue to love each and every opportunity at home that He gives us. Because each of God’s gifts, no matter how seemingly large or seemingly small, is significant. Each one matters. Forever.

Blessings to you all today!

 

Spring Break

Spring Break is here, and we are enjoying some down time at home. Okay, to be completely honest…we’d have loved to have been able to travel somewhere warm and sunny, but we’re making the most of our “staycation” here at home. A few highlights so far….

**Sharing Dairy Queen Blizzards at the mall. We rarely take family trips to the mall, so the kids really enjoyed this!
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**Saint Patty’s Day supper with my parents and siblings…LOVE time with them!! Mom made her green cupcakes, a favorite in our house each year. Somebody was upset we wouldn’t let him eat them all!
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**While Spring Break is fun and such a blessing, any sort of break from the school year also means I take a break from income from childcare. And, this week, I took a break from bread baking/selling, as well, to spend more time with my munchkins. We very much enjoy the break and extra time together, but the lack of income is sometimes challenging. I did have some bread in the freezer from last week, and a gal stopped yesterday and bought $14 worth of bread. Perfect timing because “Frozen” came out on DVD yesterday, and we took that bread money and bought it for the kids…on sale for $14.99! And, one of their other favorites, “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” was on sale for $4. We had three happy kids!!
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**All three children had dental appointments yesterday, and they all did fantastic! Titus especially loved the pretend toothbrush and stuffed animal he could play with while he waited his turn.
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I left the office feeling a bit discouraged, as the dentist and I talked more about the orthodontia work that Nadia will need over the next few years. She has two very pronounced cross-bites, both of which will need major attention after she looses her front baby teeth. The process includes a bracket cemented to her molars that actually breaks her top palate and expands it, another devise to push out her front teeth that are not aligned, followed by braces, retainers, ect. All I can think about is how painful that will be for her, and how much money it will cost. I jokingly said to the dentist that I should start saving our pennies, and she looked at me very seriously and said, “Well, I’d actually start saving your dollars. She will need significant work.”

As we waited for the elevator to reach the top floor after their appointments, an older couple stood next to us, waiting for the same elevator. They lovingly looked down at my children, smiled a genuinely sweet smile, and said, “My, what beautiful children.” And while I know that older gentleman will never find and read this blog post, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for blessing my heart with your simple smile and kind words. One never knows what a smile will do for someone else’s heart, and yesterday, that gentleman’s smile and words were what my heart needed. And, it encouraged me to do the same to others…wear my smile in public, and give grace to all those around me…for you never know how God might use that for good.

Last night was a big night for our two youngest munchkins. Titus FINALLY moved from his crib to a big-boy bed (which was Nadia’s old bed), and Nadia got a new full-size bed from her grandparents. They are growing up SOOO fast!
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Titus finally fell asleep at 10:15 last night, was up three times in the night, and fell out of bed with a thud at 6:30 this morning. :-( I think I have forgotten that it takes a while to adjust to a bed after being in a crib! Today will be a several-cuppa-coffee kinda day!
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We’re not entirely sure what the rest of Spring Break holds for us. The kids are begging us to purchase them a pet…not likely to happen! What else? Reading, playing, snuggling, laughing…simple things, but profound and necessary things. Things that make it extra fun being a parent!! :-) How about you, friends? I’d love to hear what you’re doing this week for Spring Break! Whatever it is, enjoy the days and enjoy the people you spend your days with.

Blessings to you all!!!

Wish Lists

Happy Monday, friends!

My day started abruptly at 2:30 this morning, as Titus wailed from his room, “I neeeeeeed you, Mommy!!! I looooove you, Mommy!! Can I sleeeeeep in your bed, Mommy?!?” While one part of my heart was flattered by such love, the other part of my heart was annoyed and sleep deprived. Part of me wanted to just pull him in our bed, and we’d all maybe go peacefully back to sleep. But I knew that would only fuel his fire and set up a bad pattern. Disciplining and reasoning with a 2-year old at 2:30 AM is not my ideal way to start a new week. Neither is throwing out an entire batch of whole grain waffle batter after hearing your kids gag and choke on the first bite. (for the record, they were right this time. It was n.a.s.t.y.) I’d rather not have scraped burnt bread dough from the bottom of my oven this morning, either, after all 6 loaves overflowed onto the oven racks beneath. Yep…happy Monday, indeed?!

Thankfully, after copious amounts of extra-strong coffee, the day has taken a turn for the better.

On my mind for today? Wish Lists. Last year, Tanner and I decided to try Amazon.com Prime Membership. I think I’ve blogged before about how much I really, really, really like having the membership. Who knew you could get anything and everything on Amazon.com?! I’ve ordered everything from books to bread yeast, and it arrives on my doorstep in two days. Awesome.

You have the option on Amazon.com to set up a “wish list.” It’s a great way to keep track of things you run across that you’d like to have someday. I won’t even tell you how many books my book wish list contains…it’s a bit embarrassing to be honest. ;-)

I’ve started to make a wish list for kitchen items that I’d love to have someday. All of them are complete non-necessities, but all of them would make my love for cooking even more lovely, and reduce the sometimes ridiculous amounts of time I spend in my little kitchen. You can read a gazillion online reviews for these items, but I thought it would be fun to share them here on my blog. If any of you own these items, or have used something similar, will you let me know your thoughts? Love it? Hate it? I want to hear from you.

So without further adieu…my kitchen wish list. :-)

1. Miyabi Evolution 7 inch Santoku Knife
knifeMy knife set, a wedding gift almost 11 years ago, has seen its better days. It’s getting really hard to keep a sharp edge, which makes all the cooking I do a little annoying. I used this knife at a store display in Chicago called SurLaTable. They had potatoes and carrots available to practice chopping, and I fell in love with this knife immediately. Who knew I could love a knife?! :-) I also loved the Wusthoff knives. I’d love, love, an entire block set of either of these knives, but good grief….you could purchase a room full of furniture for what a whole set costs! But one good knife might be a possibility sometime. What about you? Do you have a set of knives you love? I’d love to hear!

2. Keurig Rivo Machine
rivoTo those who know me well, it should come as no surprise that I fell head over heels for this machine when I saw it in an amazing Chicago store called Eataly. My coffee-loving heart about burst when I saw a Keurig that could brew my espresso AND steam my milk. At the same time!! Who knew?! We are the only ones on both sides of our families that do not own a Keurig of some sort. Thinking maybe this should be our way to join the Keurig club?! :-) Does anyone, by chance, have this machine? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

3. Breville Risotto Plus
risotoThis is not your average slow cooker. It’s a crockpot/sauté machine, rice/grain cooker, and risotto maker. Oh my! I personally love risotto, but hate making it. Typical risotto  requires almost constant stirring of the creamy rice mixture the entire time it cooks, usually around 45 minutes. Seeing as how my kids would probably destroy the house in that 45 minute chunk of unsupervised time, I’ve only made risotto a couple times. But with this machine it’s virtually hands-off, and cooks in less than 30 minutes. I can handle that! It also sautés the veggies prior to making the risotto, and cooks other grains like rice and our ever-favorite quinoa. It looks so awesome!

4. Digital Kitchen Scale
I don’t have a particular one in mind that I’d like to have, but I would love a digital scale. There are a lot of baking recipes that could be improved if I measured the weight of the ingredients, rather than the volume. Do you have a digital kitchen scale? I’d love to hear which one you have, and if you like it or not.

5. Silpat Mats
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I go through a lot of parchment paper around here, and would love to replace that with something re-usable, like these baking mats. I know lots of people love them!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on some of these kitchen items, or thoughts on some of your favorite must-haves in the kitchen. And now, in the spirit of cooking and baking, I’m off to try my hand at that bread again. Fingers crossed it works better this time!

Blessings, everyone!

Extravagant Love

I was born and raised in a little suburb just outside our state’s capital. The backyard of the duplex my parents rented ran right into a cornfield, for as far as my little eyes could see. Summers were spent watching the corn grow while splashing in our plastic wading pool, and Fall brought about opportunities to explore the cornfields. I remember laughing as my sister chased my squealing dad with snakes she found in the field. True story. :-)

Today, thirty years later, I am raising my own little family just a few blocks south of that duplex I used to call home. The cornfields are long gone, and the little suburb I once knew is no longer so little. In fact, this town I’ve known and loved my entire life is bursting at the seams.

The opening of a tenth elementary school in our town has caused recent upheaval as school boundary lines need changed. At a school board meeting a few weeks ago to discuss the proposed changes, several parents made public comments voicing concern that with the proposed changes, several elementary schools would have mixed “social classes,” and this made them uncomfortable. Really?! Social classes…in elementary schools?!

My heart, heavy with many thoughts and feelings, felt the need to pen a letter to my children in regard to that comment, to the changes that surrounds us, and to what is really most important in life.

Dear Jayda, Nadia, and Titus,
What a joy it is to be your momma! For years, I prayed that God would gift me with the privilege to be a mother…He answered my request far and above what I could’ve imagined. You each bring such special qualities to our family, and your daddy and I couldn’t be happier.

It seems surreal that two of you are in school full-time each day, and that Titus could start preschool in the Fall. Where has the time gone?! I was thinking recently about the time I spent in school as a young girl. Just like you do today, I faced situations in which I had to “put my sifter on” and decipher truth from falsehood. Sometimes in the morning when I’m zipping your coat or tying your shoes and I tell you to “put your sifter on,” I can hear you groan. “We know, mom. We know.” But I will never stop telling you. Just like my mom never stopped telling me. If I needed that sifter that many years ago, I can assure you that you need it now even more.

You’ve already witnessed, in your short lives thus far, that people are different. God, in His very creative way, forms and fashions each individual for their specific calling in life. Sadly, however, not everyone sees these differences and appreciates them…they let differences drive people apart. You will never walk the exact same path that someone else walks, and that’s okay. The older you get, the more diversity you’ll see in the families that surround us. God made each person and each family unique for a very good reason…don’t ever forget that. 

No matter where this road in life takes us, I want you to always know that it is not the stuff in life that makes you who you are. You will, however, probably be told that stuff is significant. You will know other people who value stuff far and above other important things in life. Stuff is magnified and glorified everywhere…on social media, on television, in the movies, among your peers at school, and even amidst people close to you. I pray that you will always know, deep in your heart, that stuff doesn’t determine your importance or significance. Stuff can be taken away at anytime…love cannot. 

1 Corinthians 13…via “The Message Bible” sums up perfectly what I pray for myself, and for our family. Always strive to LOVE.

1 Corinthians 13
1) If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

2) If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7) If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

13) Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 John 4:19 tells us that we love because God first loved us. God loves us with an extravagant and unconditional love. May we love the same!

You will know people who have much more stuff than you have. Fancier cars, bigger houses, nicer clothes…love them. Extravagantly.

You will know people who have much less stuff than you have…love them. Extravagantly.

You will know people who are faster than you, smarter than you, taller than you, anything-er than you. Love them. Extravagantly.

Welcome people, of all different walks, into your life with open arms. Love extravagantly. Always.

And above all, children, love Jesus. For without Him, we know nothing of true love. Love Him. Extravagantly.

With extravagant love,
Momma

F.U.N.

A HUGE thank you to those of you who shared such encouraging words with me after my post yesterday. As I laid my head on my pillow last night, I felt such gratitude and thanks for how God is working, and for how He is using friends and family along the way. Thank you!!

I was thinking…it’s been a while since I’ve shared something fun and light-hearted on my blog. So today, here are some random fun things happening around the Archer household.

*I spend my days playing with two 2-year olds, one of whom confuses the sound of “tr” with “f.” So, things get rather interesting when we play trucks around here. Oh, my…I feel like I need to wash my ears out with soapy water afterwards! ;-)

*I posted this on my Facebook wall, but had to share it here, too. Nadia was playing paper dolls the other night, and told me that I was one of the dolls. She said, “Mom, I’ll dress you in comfy clothes since you’re not really very fashion-y.” Ummm….ok. I really need to go through my closet and find some more fashionable clothing options!

*Most of you know that I love to cook and bake. I’d been wanting a stock pot large enough to make large amounts of chicken stock and other soups. I found one on a local Swap Site, used only once, for $15. It’s HUGE….16 quarts! I was thrilled to find out that this particular one is a commercial-grade pot, and retails for over $120! It worked great for a gigantic pot of chili…our freezer is now stocked with chili for a while. 20140205-134148.jpg

*A while ago, I shared on my blog that Tanner came up with a fun way for our family to remember to pray for one another. There’s five days in a week, and five of us…so we each have a day that’s our day to be prayed for. But we also wanted to teach our kids the power of praying for others, as well. We wanted them to see, in a tangible way, the many prayers requests that we can be praying for. So yesterday I pulled out my handy-dandy spray chalkboard paint, an ugly old picture, and turned it into a family prayer board. It needs a little work yet, but it’s a good start.
20140205-134909.jpgThe left side reminds us whose “Prayer Day” it is, and one other topic we can pray for that day. The right side will be prayers requests for specific needs that we have, along with the needs of family and friends. I was so excited to see that Jayda, on her own accord, wrote down her teacher’s name on the board yesterday. :-) Love it! We consider it an honor to pray for those we love, so really truly…if you have a prayer request, please let me know and we’ll add you to our board. I think it will be so cool to watch God answer these prayer requests, and to see our children realize that He is indeed in the business of answering prayer. Maybe not always the way we hope or want, but He always hears, and always answers.

*I am continuing to love baking bread for people in our community. Fridays have become bread days around here, and I love it! I’ve met new people, made new friends, and consider it an honor to share what I love with others. 20140113-143958.jpg

*I, like most everyone in Iowa, am very ready for Spring. Spring cleaning is desperately needed around here, and I cannot wait to be able to play outside with the kids again! Come on, Spring…we’re ready!

*Many of you are familiar with a wonderful Christian author named C.S. Lewis. A brilliant man, and author of many fantastic reads! I ran across this quote from him, and I seriously love it. cs

That being said, I think I’ll go curl up with a book and something to munch while I wait for the little ones to wake up. :-)

Enjoy your day, everyone! Stay warm!

Blessings!

 

Learning To Trust

Hello friends! 

Several times over the past few weeks I’ve sat down to write a blog post, only to find that my fingers just couldn’t express my heart as they flung across the keyboard. Maybe it’s because both my heart and my head have been bursting at the seams lately, and even I am unsure of how to express my thoughts. So here’s my feeble attempt. 

Some of you know that Tanner has been doing the photo/video editing at our church over the past couple years. What started as a hobby and opportunity to serve the local church has shifted drastically to a passion. I’m not kidding you, sometimes I think his very heart beats in rhythm to the videos he’s editing. He is in love. Seriously. 

Several months ago, Tanner mentioned (out of the blue) that he thought it would be awesome to make and edit videos for missionaries. Editing videos at church has shown him the vast need for sharing stories. And not just any story…stories of God’s deep and vast love for people. Stories of redemption through Jesus. Stories that breathe life. Eternal life. Maybe, he reasoned, there is a need for that same story-telling ministry outside of Des Moines, Iowa.

Fast forward to now, and that little spark of a thought has ignited a forest fire within his heart. And while my heart is beginning to smolder with that same fire, I must admit that I’m struggling to keep my heart’s flame going. I swear I must have an inner-scitzofrenic…my emotions can run from thrilled and excited to scared and unsure, all without a moment’s notice. 

I realize that sounds silly to many of you. You have spouses who travel for work, or maybe you yourself travel often. But for my family, this in uncharted territory. We’ve never, in the almost 14 years we’ve been together, flown anywhere on an airplane. In fact, I’ve never even seen the inside of an airplane! We’ve planted our roots deep here in our cozy little house…and while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, I’m realizing that having a husband who travels part-time will be a huge adjustment for me. While I am very excited for this opportunity for him, the Type-A OCD Emily emerges…I begin to see that this makes no sense on paper. These trips would be self-funded, as would be acquiring the camera and computer equipment he would need for the trips. If you’re familiar at all with travel and equipment expenses, you know this is no small task. While tag-teaming to clean up one child’s vomit in the middle of the night last week, it reminded me how much I take for granted having Tanner here all the time. I realize I am not a very good parent without him. And then my mind wanders…having him gone for a week or two at a time would be challenging in lots of ways. But what if it’s longer than that? What if his plane crashes? What if he contracts some weird illness in another country? What if, what if, what if….

As I have wrestled through these feelings and thoughts, God has brought two songs to me that have been helpful in calming my heart. I’m understanding more and more each day that God’s plan for our lives is the best plan, and I do not want to be guilty of standing in the way of His leading. And if that means packing up my husband for a trip half-way around the world, then I want to do it with a willing heart…not begrudgingly or half-heartedly. These two songs have been powerful to me the past few weeks. 

 

 

And so, if you feel led to do so, say a prayer for our family? Please pray for guidance in this journey. Tanner currently has his application with a local missions agency in the works; and, as of last week, a couple new opportunities have presented themselves as possibilities along the way. (FYI…he’ll still be employed where he’s working now. These trips would be short-term trips, where he’ll travel using the vacation time he has at work.)  He’s super excited, I’m excited most of the time, and our kids are oblivious. ;-) Your prayers would be appreciated!

Blessings to you all today! It’s a winter wonderland around here today. Our plans for the evening involve a fire in the fireplace, a pot of decaf coffee, and watching the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate livestream from answersingenesis.org. Have you heard of this? Bill Nye (as in Bill Nye the Science Guy, remember him?!), a hard-core scientist will be debating live with Ken Ham, a Bible-believeing Creation scientist. It should be a fascinating event, and we are excited to watch!  Enjoy your evenings! 

 

Update

It’s just another Manic Monday! 

Is that song now stuck in your head? Good. I’m not alone now. :-)

So many thoughts are rolling through my head today, just waiting to burst out through my fingers and onto the keyboard. But I won’t overwhelm you with the longest, most random post that might have ever existed. I’ll save that for another day. ;-)

In the meantime, I’ll update you on my last post. Things continue to change/move forward with some exciting changes around the Archer household. I had my second bread-baking marathon last week, and had so much fun sharing some yummy focaccia bread with others. It did my heart so good to hear “customers” say that they’d planned to share the bread with friends they’d invited to dinner that evening. I had previously decided upon a little tagline for my breads, and it fits perfectly….

Vintage Breads-”Inspiring people to share together in the goodness of food, one loaf of bread at a time.”

So, thank you to everyone who got bread from me! Continue to enjoy it with those you love, and I’ll continue to bake it with love in my little kitchen. 

Tanner recently received another email from the missions agency he’s applied to for short-term missions trips. They’ve approved yet another step in the process, and we plan to fill out forms for the next step this evening. This is becoming more real every day, and I have all sorts of emotions about it. Mostly excitement and anticipation; however, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t also a bit nervous and scared at the same time. There are so many unknowns, and for a TypeA planner like myself, those unknowns can be tricky. I’m learning more each day to seek and trust the Lord with all of my heart. We’d covet your prayers through this opportunity. Prayers for clear guidance for Tanner, prayers for the missionaries he’d be working with, and prayers for the finances to fund a trip like this, along with the necessary equipment he would need to purchase. God is good, and we are trusting fully for His guidance and provision in this exciting chapter of our lives. 

A very dear friend of mine called me yesterday to inform me their furnace had caught on fire over the weekend. As we did her laundry at my house this afternoon and she re-lived the scary story of the fire, I was brought to tears of thankfulness for God’s protection for her family. The fire erupted in the furnace, just inches away from three gas lines that run through the house. Suffice it to say that things could have been much worse, and we’re praising God for that. But, if you would, please pray for her? The myriad of details that need to be worked out are overwhelming at this point, and they are living in a local hotel…not easy for anyone with small children to do. 

And all of these things combined bring to my heart a subject matter that I’m hoping to blog about soon. Something that’s been weighing on my heart, and my head is filling with words that need to be written down. Hopefully I’ll see you back here later in the week to share those thoughts with you. 

Blessings to you all!! Enjoy the week! 

The Spin Of Life

As a young girl, I’d sometimes reluctantly agree to ride the Silly Silo at our local amusement park. The Silly Silo was a spinning vortex so fast that once it reached top speed, you would stick to the wall…even when the floor beneath dropped away. I remember my youth pastor once taking a photo of me on the Silly Silo. Folks, that was not a pretty picture. Trust me.

The last two weeks in my life have felt like a perpetual ride on the Silly Silo. Various happenings have seemed to spin the vortex of life faster and faster, making me dizzy with each turn. I keep wondering when the floor will fall out from beneath my feet, just like on the ride I enjoyed as a child. And yet, I know that even if the floor does fall from beneath, the strong and loving hand of my Heavenly Father will hold me up. He will never let me fall. And so life continues to spin…sometimes faster than other times, and I’m trying to enjoy the ride with each rotation.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those of you who showed so much love and support when my grandfather unexpectedly passed away on New Year’s Day. Our family certainly felt the prayers and love that flowed so freely. Thank you! I find myself thinking of Grandpa at the most unusual times. Grief comes in waves, I’ve been told…and I’m now finding that to be so very true. I missed seeing him in his usual spot at church yesterday. Since I was a little girl, Grandpa and Grandma have sat in the same spot most Sunday mornings. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss seeing him there. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is experiencing eternal praise and worship services in Heaven now. And that brings my heart great comfort.

Over the past year or more, my husband has been increasingly involved with the audio/visual/tech department at our church. His main responsibility through this ministry is to film and edit what we call “Saylorville Stories.” Each Sunday evening, an individual within the church shares (via pre-recorded video) their story of how God has changed their lives and hearts. My husband, Tanner, has fallen in love with this ministry, and I have seen his heart beat for the Gospel of Christ louder and stronger than I’ve ever seen it before!

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A few months ago, he talked with a friend of ours who is a missionary to Brazil. Tanner wondered if there would ever be a need for an audio/visual ministry on the mission field. In a whirlwind of events, Tanner has been in contact with a local missions agency, filling out preliminary paperwork for what looks to be an amazing opportunity to use his gifts and talents on the mission field. We’re not talking a change of vocation or anything. He’s looking into using his vacation time from work to take short-term missions trips, where he’d be responsible for using visual equipment to capture the heart of the missionaries in whatever country he’d travel. The missions agency currently does not have anyone doing this type of ministry, and they are thrilled that Tanner is interested!

We are so very excited for this opportunity!!! Would you pray with us for all of the details that would have to be worked out? While Tanner has the knowledge of visual equipment and is continually learning more, he does not actually own most of the equipment that would be needed for this type of venture. And, the missions agency would not pay for his travel expenses, either. So while we’re over-the-moon-excited about the opportunity, there are a lot of wrinkles we’ll need to iron out before anything is official. Your prayers for this opportunity would be much appreciated!

For the past six months I’ve enjoyed experimenting with all kinds of homemade breads at our house. A few people who had tried my bread mentioned that there might be a market for it, to which I really thought they were being overly complimentary. I didn’t think there would be a huge interest. This past weekend showed me just how wrong that assumption was!

I’ll spare you the long version of the story. Here’s the short of it. A local gal, who had purchased a loaf of my bread, posted about it on our local swap site. Within minutes, my email inbox was flooded with requests for information about the bread. I’m still not sure that I can see my kitchen counters from beneath all of the flour and yeast that covered them this weekend. To say it was a baking frenzy around here would be putting it lightly! I was able to pass out loaves of bread to many friends, as well as to new people I had the privilege to meet. It was a whirlwind, and still is…I have a 2-page list of people who want to be added to an email list for bread purchasing. Who knew?!?!

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I asked my Facebook friends for a possible name for my little endeavor….it was hilarious to hear what they all came up with! I would like to come up with a name, not because I’m planning to open a bakery or anything, but simply because I need to open a new email account for communication purposes. And, I want that email address to reflect my goals/desires behind baking all this bread. That goal is to reach others with what has been on my heart the past year or so. God has been teaching me that there is beauty to behold in everything…from a gorgeous sunset, to the birth of a child, and even to the most simple loaf of bread or bowl of soup. God has bestowed so much grace into my life, both in the big and small of life. And for some reason, I sense that grace very deeply each and every night when we sit down as a family to eat dinner. I feel His love and grace surrounding our table as we offer thanks to Him for the provision of our food. And so, the words “table” and “grace” keep coming to mind for possible naming purposes of home-baked breads. I’m thinking “The Graceful Table” or something along those lines. Maybe “Grace-filled Table,” or “Table of Grace.”

So, cast your vote or give me a new idea. What should I call this new little endeavor?!

I hope this post finds you all doing well! Thanks for reading about the current dizzy spinnings in my life. :-) Blessings to you!

 

 

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