Gdynsk

We had a great time last weekend visiting Gdynsk. A mentor of all of ours came to spend time and connect and see how we were doing. It was freezing there but we were able to keep warm in cozy blankets and sleep well into the morning. What a treat, with my three kids at home I am NEVER able to do that! hahaha We were able to focus on church planting, encourage each other with ideas and silliness, drink tons of coffee, have a spontaneous baptism (hurray!) and stayed up late into the night laughing. It was wonderful. We have such a great group of solid loving people.

Living lightly

I recently had to go to a meeting which I did NOT want to go to AT ALL. I added stress upon stress thinking and imagining all the things that have been said in similar meetings and caused myself a stress migraine. Lame.

I don’t know if you do this but I talk to myself. Not all the time out loud, but yeah. So I began to tell myself that you’ve got to power up (not those words but basically) and go into that meeting with huge walls around myself so that the failure feelings of the past wouldn’t wound me this time.

All of a sudden God gave me two pictures. I could go into the meeting alone with an inflatable suit on that gave me huge muscles and made me walk like I was tough. I had this picture of myself walking into the meeting facing my opponents. Ready for their comments. And also looking ridiculous. However, I then received a picture of myself on the back of Jesus going into the meeting. I was like one of those teeny cute baby monkeys that cling to their mothers backs. That the strength walking into the meeting shouldn’t be my own (imaginary) strength but actually God’s. I found this incredibly reassuring and like I didn’t have to put any pressure on myself. Just knowing that He was walking in first and would take the bulk of what would be said was relieving to say the least.

If you find yourself in a situation that you would automatically gear up for, pump yourself up or create defensive walls around yourself for protection just know that there is such a better way. It’s not up to you or me.

Matthew 11:28 MSG

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

 

Also, the meeting went better than I thought! I left without feeling attacked or incredibly discouraged. Instead I could see that there was clear communication and possible steps to be taken in the future. A partnership in a sense. So progress! 🙂

Joy

Growing up, we went to church  and learned that ‘the JOY of the Lord shall be your strength”. I had no idea what that meant as a kid/teenager. I assumed that it meant that if you’re happy all the time- even in hard seasons of life- that that joy will bring you strength to get through it. And I used to put pressure on myself to always be happy and ‘joyful’. But that level of hyper-ness was too exhausting.

Now that I’m a bit older, I’m starting to realize that there are many different types of JOY.  Like shades of blue or yellow. The dictionary describes JOY as: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. 

I have found great JOY after finishing a great book/Netflix series, watching my children make pancakes, photography, holding hands with my husband and traveling to new countries. In these examples, it would be odd if I suddenly screamed and jump for JOY. My kids and husband would look at me with big eyes and wonder if I finally went crazy. But I felt extreme happiness and pleasure at each of these examples. Real pure joy. It just looked different.

When I went through a hard time a couple months ago, I didn’t feel like I had a constant wave of JOY to make me feel better. But rather, I felt like I was in the middle of a huge lake and each small moment of happiness was like a stone that I could stand on. Looking back I could see a stone path that I had walked on to get back to shore.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Parenting Doubts

Recently I’ve been fighting the common parenting voice of doubt. Am I really doing all I can for my kids? Are they all feeling loved in each of their own unique ways? Am I parenting ok? Are they feeling supported and cherished? And, amongst all the questions I have swirling in my mind, the most common one is, ‘does my middle child feel neglected?’. Do they feel like I spend more time with their other siblings and only give them the left overs? You know- the stereotypical box that people put middle children- which means that the middle child ends up with the left overs of mom and dad’s attention, second hand clothes, and tired parents. Basically the short end of the stick.

Not being a middle child myself, I never had to worry about not having enough of my parents attention. However, now I’m fighting those voices leaving myself concerned that I’m not doing everything right or giving enough. I want so much to parent right- which probably means I AM doing something right. lol All of that to say that I know my kids are happy, healthy and know mom and dad love them. I know (head knowledge) that I’m doing a lot for them. Not things like making dinner but reading to them, making forts in the living room and baking together.

I hate this second guessing game that , I will generalize in saying that most parents have to fight.  Yet, I find peace when I think about putting my fears and concerns for my kids to God. Knowing that I will do my best to parent and love on them and that He’ll do the other 90% to make them into an incredible human that will touch the world. It feels, inside, a first like a spinning compass. Spinning out of control not knowing where to go. I started this post off with some of those questions. Yet when I talk with Jesus and talk, give control and take a deep breath – I feel like that compass is redirected and is pointing north. To where I should go and what I should say, do whatever with my kids.

First, I’m writing this because it helps myself process, hehe, but also I’m hopeful that some of you would find encouragement in my journey towards parenting. That you might relate and that we would all receive a breath of fresh air.

You’re a rock star parent. I’m a rock star parent, and we’re doing a good job- be encouraged friend.

 

Flower Lane

 

 

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Insane beauty. In the midst of our neighborhood maze I found this gem this morning.

I was taking my morning walk with the neighborhood, before it got hot outside, and discovered a beautiful little lane/large sidewalk that has a whole line of beautiful bright flowers.

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They instantly made me smile and I wondered if I stole some if a neighbor would yell at me.

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How’s this for a beautiful restful place?! Elijah was napping in the stroller so I sat there for a good 30 min! So incredibly peaceful. I’ll definitely remember this place.

But pretty amazing am I right?! I’m so thankful I live in such a beautiful neighborhood in a beautiful city!

Our new Krakow painting

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In May, when I attended Polish Language Lessons, we went out -as part of a class assignment- on a scavenger hunt. Best lesson ever. We were to only use Polish and find the answers to specific questions pertaining to places.

One particular place was a small free museum exhibiting a famous Polish poet. I have plans to do a whole post just on the place but it’s awesome and peaceful. (why are museums so relaxing?)

All that to say- they have a killer gift shop! Most everything I saw was super reasonable including this beauty!

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I’m so happy I have it and every time I look at it, it makes me smile. And those are the best kind of purchases. 🙂

 

Strawberries with Ice Cream

 

 

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It’s strawberry season here in Krakow! You can find baskets heaping with these bright red berries all over town. They’re super sweet and not expensive- a win win. I bought a basket, brought it home and ended up staring at it not sure what to make. There’s the obvious chocolate dipped ones which of course we made, but what else can I make with them? So…I decided that I’ll make a compilation of strawberry recipes for myself, and you reader, to refer to.

I’d love to hear of your favorite recipes that include strawberries!

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This first one isn’t really a recipe. OK it’s not. But it screams summer- simple ingredients and fresh fruit. And it’s what happens when the kiddos have 10 min before bed time but want a dessert. They helped put it together which made it taste even sweeter for them. 🙂IMG_20150624_182726

*Bowls from Istanbul, Turkey

Crusted Parmesan Salmon

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Beautiful colors right?! The flavor was just as vibrant- you need to make this! And with a 20 min cooking time and with three ingredient it’s just as easy as it is tasty. Have I convinced you? 😉

OK, first you need a good cut of salmon. Our family is from the Pacific Northwest so we are used to high quality salmon. When we moved here to Krakow I wasn’t sure if there was good salmon or how to find it. Turns out we get great salmon here shipped in from Norway!

Here is the first in the ingredient list: Herb butter. About 1/2C butter.

I used my own homemade spice mix which is a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic and basil. I then added fresh cut chives to the butter helping to add flavor and prettiness. 🙂

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Mix the butter with your favorite spices and any fresh herbs you have in your kitchen/garden. Next add juice from half a lemon. Mix and spread on salmon.

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Seal in aluminum foil and bake in your preheated oven at 170’C. Cook for 10-15 min, depending on the size and thickness of your slab on fish. Till it’s almost firm throughout, then it’s time for the last ingredient to be added!

CHEEEEEEEESE!!!!

IMG_20150616_135830This might look like a huge bowl but it’s about 1/2C freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Mmmm, the saltiness of the cheese marries perfectly with the fish.  Ok, now that you’ve sprinkled and covered your fish with the cheese, KEEP UNCOVERED and put back into the oven till the cheese is bubbling. I like it once it turns a bit dark. The nice part is that the butter keeps the fish from drying out.

Then you’re done! Sprinkle with any fresh herbs if you like. 🙂 Enjoy!

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Parmensan Crusted Salmon

One large cut of Salmon

1/2C Herb Butter (room temperature)

Juice of half a lemon

1/2C Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350’F or 175’C. Mix butter and lemon juice. Spread mixture on fish and wrap in foil. Bake for roughly 10-15 min (depending on thickness of fish) then sprinkle cheese on top and cook uncovered till cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Enjoy!

Intentional Living

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Travis has been gone for about a week and I’ve found myself hunkering down and staying home with the kiddos. And because I’m an analytic person and I had more time to think, I started to ask myself why I didn’t make fun plans during the days.

There’s the easy answers of laziness or the fact I’m an introvert and alone time makes my heart sing.

But I had the feeling I hadn’t dug deep enough. So I took some time and came to realize I was reacting to life’s busy schedule and not being intentional with my days. The word, ‘intentional’ has a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth but being objective and trying to see my schedule through different lenses allowed me to see my growth areas. I was going with the flow of our schedule. Not bad but who’s in charge? Me or my schedule? I was seeing the areas that were busy and so I became focused on forcing ‘rest time’ for my family.

We don’t need rest. We are well rested. In fact my kids receive so much rest that they’re bouncing off the walls when they’re at home! 🙂

I began to ask myself how I would change my days if I wanted to actually see people, get out of my neighborhood and be intentional with my time. It started with hanging with friends. Going to the Center of Krakow more alone. And practice my Polish!!!

So I hung out with a friend a couple days ago (Hi!) and went to Krakow’s main Rynek. Beautiful day (33C!) and I loved being out exploring the town, cementing neighborhoods and streets in my mind. Here are some pictures 🙂

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(I’m going to do a review of this cafe. Incredible)

1908145_10152931481897379_4112460266886160951_n(typical horse drawn carriage through town)

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Surround yourself with Beauty

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I’ve found that if I have pretty things around me then it’s not so easy for me to fall into a negative attitude. There have been days where I feel like penning my own, ‘Not so good very bad day’ book’, and the odd thing is typing that feels like, ‘well, duh. Of course it would help.’ But I’ve found changing one’s attitude is so hard to do!

Discovering this small and easy idea has really helped with not only my attitude but also with my focus on eating/exercising. And flowers in particular make me smile. In some weird way they give me the to motivation keep pushing forward.

So Keeping fresh flowers in our home is a norm now. Try it! 🙂