Thanksgiving thoughts

It’s November. I love November, but for the first time in my married life, I’m not putting out one STITCH of fall decor. Really. I’m being serious. We’d have to go to the storage unit and find the Rubbermaids, haul them over here, unpack them, find a place for the items, pack up the Rubbermaids, and haul them back to storage. All of this for a few items because, honey, we ain’t got no room for no decorations. It’s a little liberating, actually. After Thanksgiving, we’re going to go get our Christmas decor and do what I just mentioned, because we aren’t ready to go without Christmas yet. Baby steps.

As I type this, Mr Darcy and middle son are doing Greco-Roman style wrestling on the floor. That’s how we roll over here. (Pun intended) The two other boys are having a lively discussion downstairs about country music vs techno music, and I’m debating if I should make an espresso or not, while rubbing my aching muscles from a push-up marathon last night. No, not the frozen sherbet treat…

Next week, we are going to head north to Chicago for the holiday. It’s just a couple of hours away and it’s our family tradition. I love it. We stay at a hotel that we love and have a great time. This year, I have several family bonding activities planned. We are going to make vision boards, do a silly scavenger photo hunt around the city, and bond. I’m trying to think of some fun snack foods for the room – any ideas?

Boy, I wish you could be here enjoying this wrestling match 3 inches from me.  Boys…

I invented a new family favorite dinner.  The guys like it so much.  I think I just might need to share it with you! It’s a crockpot dinner, so I like it. Take a roast and put it in the crockpot. (I put mine in frozen, even though there are varying opinions on the safety of doing so – what can I say? I like to live dangerously) I drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top. Then I start sprinkling on the following spices to cover the top of the roast: cumin, garlic salt, salt, cayenne pepper (not as much as other spices),and chili powder (not as much as the other spices). I turn that bad boy on high, put the cover on, and don’t think about it again. This morning, I put it in at about 7:30 and we ate at 5:00. About 1/2 hour we are going to eat, I shred the meat with two forks and take the lid off for 15 minutes. This lets the meat absorb a lot of the liquid.  I get out tortillas, avocado, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. I also made cilantro-lime rice. Wowza, this is good. When I see a cheap roast at the Krogers, I always buy it and put it in the freezer. This is Mr Darcy’s favorite way to eat roast. Let me know if you try it.

The wrestling has ceased, but the downstairs discussion has now moved on to Kanye West and his religious-undertoned lyrics. They don’t like it. Me neither, boys.

Because I’m now so cold that I’m shaking and trying to warm up with the heat on the bottom of my laptop, I think I’ll sign off for now and do my night-time chiropractic exercises. Oldest son just informed me that if my muscles hurt this bad after only doing the measly amount of push-ups that I did last night, it should tell me something. I told him I didn’t want to hear his muscle interpreting skills any longer.  He just laughed and flexed his biceps as he ran downstairs. He’s quite pleased with himself. So, I really feel the need to start my warm-up so I can show him my biceps.  I hope you are warm and no one in your house is wrestling at your feet.

~Janna

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Scissors

Recently, I had a moment. Yes, a moment. I realized that I had been wearing my hair in a ponytail every single day. When had it started? I didn’t even know. I don’t really even like the way I look in a ponytail and my hair is seriously heavy, so what was I doing with all that long hair?

It was Saturday afternoon and I walked upstairs, inspired. I took my shower and promptly took the scissors out of the nightstand drawer and started whacking away at my thick, curly, misbehaving tresses. When it was all said and done, I took about 5 inches off. I applied some product, diffused the newly-cropped hair and checked myself out in the mirror. Not bad.(I actually said that out loud.) I already felt lighter. Not just my head, but my whole self. My mind felt like I had released it from burdens that it just couldn’t carry anymore. All with a few chop- chops of those scissors. Magical. After getting some makeup on and getting ready for church, I floated downstairs to where my beloved was watching basketball on tv.

Ask me now if Mr. Darcy noticed that I had just relieved myself of 5 inches of hair on my head. He did not. He did look at me a little strangely, but that was it. Now, as soon as I got to church, a friend noticed immediately. 🙂

Why do we notice some things and just absorb the other things as “status quo?” What takes us so long to notice subtle changes and maybe even the not-so subtle things that we come face to face with?

Why did a haircut make me feel like things were going to be okay in my life?

I have been having some “health challenges” for many months and have an appointment to see a doctor this week. I have looked up every weird symptom I have and I either have something I picked up in Africa (which would be really crazy because I have not yet been to Africa!) or some other dreaded, horrible thing. The internet can be a scary place. I’ve since stopped trying to diagnose myself on the internet and I am waiting until I see the doctor to figure this out.

In the meantime, I have been working on some core issues. They have become burdens that I was never meant to carry. Burdens that start with “what if?” and things I don’t need to think about. Fear. I have been in combat with fear and I haven’t been equipping myself the right way.

You know, faith is a growing process. You can’t just say that you have faith and that’s it. It’s constantly changing-emerging – hopefully it’s growing so it will permeate more and more of you. Fear destroys. It pulls up all the beautiful faith that you have planted and throws it away and mucks up the beautiful soil you prepared in hopes of a sweet-tasting harvest. You can’t have a sweet-tasting harvest when you are tending and fertilizing fear. I am making a choice to weed out the fear and let faith flourish.

Just like the scissors I wielded on my hair, I am boldly cutting away the fear that weighs me down by applying The Truth. The book of Hebrews says this:  For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Hebrews 4:12) Everyone knows a two-edged sword is sharper than a pair of scissors, right? Right!

It feels good. The truth is liberating.

I don’t know what I will hear at the appointment but I know it will be okay. In fact, it will be better than okay. It will be an opportunity to praise the Lord, no matter what I find out. He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21) It will be a chance to get down on my hands and knees and work in my faith.

I can apply this scissor/sword combat to everything… EVERYTHING in my life. Not just weird medical symptoms. How about my children? My husband? My friendships (or lack of them in a new town?)  YES!!

He is with me always…even to the ends of the earth. (Matthew 28:20) (Or when my boys go away on a van with a STRANGER driving, or when my Mr. Darcy goes on a trip to the other end of the world, or even when I wish for a friend to sit with over a cup of coffee). He is with me always.

Them’s fightin’ words.

~janna

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Late last night, I snuck downstairs to put my guys’ cards and candy on the kitchen table. I found Star Wars cards online and printed them up. So cute – even one for Mr Darcy.  A few weeks ago, I bought a box of conversation hearts candy and I have had them hiding in my desk area. It’s scary around my desk area so no one enters….unless they want to steal my tape and then they are full of bravery!

Yesterday, I made some bread. I made two loaves of sandwich bread, 5 bread bowls, about 25 tortillas and I made a loaf of this:

for my babies

For lunch, I sliced this up and put it under the broiler with some shredded cheese and one pepperoni slice per piece. I served it with leftover poppy seed chicken and the boys were thrilled. I was thrilled. We were all thrilled.

Tonight, we’ll have chili in those bread bowls along with a heart shaped cake that I am making as I type this. I used this recipe. However, instead of using the the dark or bittersweet chocolate it calls for at the beginning, I am using some Abuelitas Mexican Chocolate. Yum. I think the cinnamon in that chocolate will be so nice after the chili, don’t you? I brought the Abuelitas all the way from Bville. If you click on the hyperlink, you’ll see what I am talking about. I think you should be able to find it at most mainstream grocers, if you are interested.

You know, Valentine’s Day is all about L.O.V.E.  If for some reason, you just aren’t feeling it, you don’t feel loved, or this day just is stinkola for you…I want you to know that you are loved. The One who created you- loves you more than you could imagine.  He can’t stop loving you.

It’s true, you know. He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. It’s better than any heart-shaped boxed of chocolates, or roses or sappy love song. But if you need to read His love letter for you today (and really, who doesn’t?), here’s one of my favorites:

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will rejoice over you with loud singing.

In Hebrew, the word rejoice is translated as giyl or gul and it means to spin about wildly. Dancing.

Yes, this is how He feels about you. YOU. He’s so in love with you that he dances around you. Can’t you just imagine it? The closest I can imagine is that it’s like when I dance around my husband when I am so excited to be going on a vacation….like when I danced in the car after bringing Mr Darcy home from the hospital when he had surgery for what the Dr was certain was lymphoma-but wasn’t…when my boys dance and jump and shout around me when I say I’m serving cake for breakfast…when I danced around, crying with joy as I realized I was going to be a Mommy…We dance a lot at our house, for lots of different reasons but His dance? It’s better, stronger, louder and certainly more rhythmic than all of those. He dances around us, loving us, smiling and rejoicing.

You are loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

~janna

Have I mentioned that I’m perfect?

Hey…Have I mentioned that I am perfect? Yes…me.  Have I told you how utterly amazing my house looks at all hours of the day? Have I gently whispered how all of my children not only obey me 24/7 but keep their rooms so clean it looks like this months’ Pottery Barn catalog?  Oh, and did you read my post about how I am even-tempered and never overeat and how kind I am to everyone I meet?

I didn’t?

Hmmm….that’s because if I did, it would be a big chunky lie.  And that’s the truth. I would love to have the boys’ room look like remotely like anything in a Pottery Barn catalog, though!  And I sure wish I was kind all of the time. But I’m not. Right now, I am sitting in my favorite chair in my slippers with a pile of papers on one side of me and a pile of books and magazines on the other. And that’s what’s normal.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, you may or may not have noticed that I haven’t written anything on this blog in a while. Here’s what happened. In my zeal for sharing (and I do have zeal) and learning and getting excited about people taking charge and not feeling helpless in their own homes, I wrote. And I wrote some more. And many of you wrote me or told me in person that you liked what I wrote and even more of you subscribed to my blog. Some of you I don’t even know in real life.  And then, as my Grandmother used to say…

I got the big head.

I started thinking about “me” a lot. And in my mind, I was getting cooler and cooler. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know what’s in my mind? I started thinking about where this little blog could go instead of enjoying it where it was. I got a little full of myself. When I realized this. I quit. I had to. I really did.

Maybe you are sitting at home or at work or on an airplane going to Paris and reading this and saying to yourself, “Yeah, I never thought she was all that.”  And you’d be right.  I’m not.  But I will tell you something: I serve the One who IS ALL THAT. Anything good in me or good that I might do is because of Him. Period.   By His mercy I sit here at my house, in my favorite chair with beautiful children making mess and noise all around me. Because of His Great Love can I ever imagine to have the grace to face the challenges that each day brings. He saved me. He rescued me. Even when I turned from Him, He never turned from me.

I’m not perfect, but I sure am blessed.

So, tonight I type while my freezer poppy seed chicken bakes in the oven with no door handle.  I look to my left and see a new recipe for a freezer-friendly meal I want to try. I plan the details for the final lifegroup meal I will make tomorrow night. I think of each of you who might read this. Do you know you don’t have to perfect? Do you know that you are loved? I hope so.

I’ve missed you, adventures in Jannaland….

xoxo

~janna

Rest and Receiving

I haven’t blogged in a bit. I was busy – but only part of the time. The rest of the time I have been blissfully resting. I’ve been enjoying the little things in life and am being filled with hope for what’s to come. I love having hope. I love finding it.

Mr Darcy and I have been on a drastic (to me) eating plan for the past week and a half and therefore I have nothing exciting to talk about in the world of food. Let’s just say I am tired of meat and I want to dive into a sandwich. With a side of cake, please.  Oh dear.

I was at a bridal shower this afternoon and was reminded how blessed I was at my bridal showers. Such lovely ladies hosted and attended and extravagantly blessed us as we began our life together.  We returned from our honeymoon to our new apartment filled with even more gifts for us to open. After opening several gifts, Mr Darcy came upon a gift from his friends, Jeff and Norm. It was a ceiling fan.  Later, he opened a box from his friend, Bruce.  It was a leather basketball. Now, this girl did not know why anyone would give anyone else a basketball or fan, but my new husband was thrilled beyond words.  He still talks about those special gifts. Now, 18+ years later, I wouldn’t trade those gifts for anything.

How wonderful it is to belong to One who give such good gifts to us!  How often do I receive the gift and think, “um, wait a second here, Lord…this is not really what I had on my registry. What were you thinking? This isn’t even my color or pattern!”  Forgive me, Father, for when I have responded this way and didn’t have eyes to see that the gift was exactly what I needed and even wanted later down the road!

~Janna

Things that make you scratch your head

This morning, I was throwing the load of laundry into the drier (dryer?) and something dropped on my foot. Because I am consumed with being efficient, I did not stop to check it out until I had loaded all of the clothes from the washing machine. When what did my wondering eyes should appear, but this:

Laundry Supplies...

So, can you see what that is? Yes, it’s a piece of beef (Milanesa cut) from dinner last night.  It was the yuck part – with a chunk of fat that was supposed to go in the trash but somehow made its way in either a napkin, towel or placemat. Um, yuck.

I am quite proud of myself for not throwing up when I realized I washed meat. I almost became a vegetarian this morning. I will, however, forget it all the next time I smell a cheeseburger. That’s the truth.

The past two weeks have been crazy busy. Mr Darcy and I went to a conference up in the DFW area. It was awesome. We are refreshed and didn’t realize how much refreshing we needed until we were on the plane home. It was good – better than good to be alone with him. We were able to see some beautiful friends and family and I even got a power lunch with my sister and my sweet nephews! We also had dinner with Mr Darcy’s sister (who really is my sister, too!) and her hubby but we totally forgot to get any pictures! Nuts!

Me and She (and two of the four)

4 boys and the auntie that introduced them to soft drinks

While we were away, my precious Mom drove down here and watched the boys for us. They had a great time. They like Grandma rules. They painted, they went to the museum, they ate, they baked. When we returned, (after a longish flight delay in San Antonio), we had Charro Days.

Lest you start thinking, “coochie- coochie Charro”, this is an entirely different ball of wax. Charro Days is the festival our city has each year to celebrate the special relationship we have with Matamoros, Mexico. Um, right now our special relationship is “please keep your grenades pinned and your gun chambers emptied.” It’s really scary over there and “over there” is 5 minutes down the road. In any case, we have three days of parades and more. Our church had a food booth and Mom and I worked it. For three days, we made corn dogs, funnel cakes, nachos (con jalepanos y no), raspas (snow cones) and more. We were exhausted, but we had a blast. Mom left the day after it was over (maybe she ran away?) and we have slowly been trying to get back on course over here since.

So, that’s it. No new recipes, no new tips and techniques. Just me, trying to get the laundry done and finding squeaky clean meat in the darks load.

This is my life. I am living the dream

~Janna

 

PS. If you have loved ones and you have access to a video recorder. Tape them. Let yourself get lost in listening to them talk in their normal way with their regular mannerisms. What a blessing this is! Yesterday, I found a recording from a couple of years ago of my sweet Mother-in-Love. Oh, how I needed to hear her voice! I cried while I smiled. I will be better about recording. This I know. ~J

Spruce Goose

I am attempting to spruce up the blog today. Making it pretty. (Making it easier to read) and to see! My Mom is here visiting. She is going to watch the boys while Mr Darcy and I go to a conference. We get to spend some time together first, though. I love it.

Right now, she’s across the room talking about art with my middle son. They are going to do pastels and paint while I am gone. He has been so excited about this. He got out all of his art supplies in anticipation.

So, what would you like to see on this blog? What would make it easier to see? What is missing?

Do tell.

~Janna

ps – I added a subscription button. I know – fancypants

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