Friday, December 5, 2014

Come Visit the New Blog!

Welcome!  Only From Scratch has moved and changed names!  Come, and visit us:

Lauren is still the author, and she'll be writing about the same kinds of things, so if you want to keep following along, visit us here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Thankful List

Our Pastor here read a verse from Psalm 33 a few weeks ago that has been running through my mind a lot:  "Praise befits the upright."  Praise, thankfulness, adoration, gratitude...all these words we use when we talk about praising and giving thanks to God.  They are suited for us.  Let's wear ourselves out with praise, not just because it's Thanksgiving, but because it is beautiful for the people of God to live lives of praise.

My friend Julie has been writing Monday Gratitude posts that I've really enjoyed.  She always inspires and encourages me in my walk with the Lord, so I thought I would put feet to what she's taught me, and make my own Thankful List this week.

1. warm bedding
2. coffee with cream and sugar
3. electricity
4. healthy children
5. the ability to have children
6. a husband who "loves me more than babies love breast milk" (he just told me this)
7. a husband who keeps me laughing (see above)
8. in-laws who came to visit us and have watched my children, helped around the house and spent precious time with us this last week.
9. 10 hour date with my husband on Sunday
10. direction about our future
11. parents who celebrate 37 years of marriage today
12. siblings who love God
13. God's Word that I can open freely every day and read in my own language
14. the gospel
15. family who is hosting us for Christmas this year, since we will be in transition
16. Down syndrome
17. leaves that change color in Florida
18. neighborhood children that play in my backyard
19. a playground for my kids
20. the ability to walk and run
21. good books
22. steak and shrimp for Thanksgiving dinner
23. my education
24. people I've met on Instagram that point me to Jesus
25. technology
26. the conviction of the Holy Spirit
27. friends who live all over the world
28. sunsets
29. quiet early mornings
30. music
31. tickle fights between my husband and children
32. daughters who care for their brother
33. vanilla lattes
34. a gift card to purchase said vanilla lattes from my favorite coffee shop
35. a sister who's opening her home for my girls' birthday party this year
36. a new Advent book that looks incredible (order yours here in time for Advent which begins on Monday!)
37. Jesus--the greatest gift of all time
38. the love of a great God

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Home I've come to love

During the 8+ years we've been married, we've lived in seven different cities, purchased two homes, and rented various apartments.  Each place has been unique in style, age, and function.  All of them have been home.

This place that we've been in for the past four months in Florida didn't feel like home when we first moved in.  We were without belongings for almost two weeks which stretched us, contributed to my closing the blinds and refusing to answer the doors, and we were frustrated living here for about two months.  The carpet and fixtures are dingy.  The rooms are smaller than we're used to.  We don't have a beautiful yard like our home in Georgia.

But something changed.  We began to feel at home here, not because the interior became more beautiful, but because our hearts accepted that this was the place God had for us right now.  Our home, this town, this season of life.  These months have been a gift, and our home has been a part of that gift.

Things are not centered on the walls.  My children decorate their room in ways that I dislike, and they love it and get much delight out of creating their own space.  Mason's bed is on the floor and doesn't look how I would want, but at least he's not falling out of it every night.  Our front porch has a random assortment of items on it, including a dead mum and fishing poles.  But these things are evidence to me of a fun hobby to enjoy, and not being overly worried about appearance (something I needed to work on).   The living room is missing two lamps because my son finally broke them after pulling them onto the floor multiple times.  You will see items where they 'don't belong', books placed haphazardly on bookshelves, and dead branches, pine cones, and seashells on the piano.  The upstairs bathroom door stays off of the hinges at all times (unless we have company like we do right now) because it's almost impossible to bathe my children with the door on.   And you'll notice a pillow behind the headboard in our master bedroom.  (When your bedroom backs up to your neighbor's bedroom, you have thin walls, and your bed squeaks....well, you get the reason for the pillow...)

I miss my granite counters, deep bathtub, large windows, window treatments, and extra square footage.  I look forward to the day when I have space to store papers and use my seasonal decor.  I would love to have neatly made beds and clear surfaces at the end of every day.  I like pretty things and beautifully decorated spaces.  Some day I'd like to have those things again.

But do you know what I've come to learn?  Those things are not necessary for me to feel at home.

Home is created when I cultivate an attitude of gratefulness and joy in my heart.  When I  accept God's plan, regardless of how different it is from my own.  I can choose to be thankful for what He has given me because I don't deserve any of it.  I can embrace the different places and circumstances He gives me because I trust that His purposes are good and best and He is at work in my life.

Today, I want to invite you into our home, the home I've come to love.

You won't find these pictures on Pinterest or in a magazine, but this is our life right now, and it is good.

May you have a blessed weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Next Steps & New Blog Name

Living in Florida has resulted in a new hobby for Bradley.  And, we found out yesterday that we'll be able to take this hobby with us!  Virginia Beach, here we come!!

We're looking forward to being closer to family and still being able to live near the water.  Now, we have a lot of decisions to make before the kids and I head out of here in just 6 weeks.  I already started looking into housing and schools yesterday.  This process can always be a bit overwhelming, so we'd appreciate your prayers as we strive to be wise in our choices.  I couldn't get to sleep last night thinking through all of the things that I need to get done.  I'm asking the Lord for calmness of spirit. 

It's been over a month now since I shared that I'll be launching a new blog.  Well, October was a full month for me writing every day, so I didn't have as much time to work on the finishing details of my new blog.  But, things are underway now, and hopefully sometime within the next 2 weeks, I'll be ready to start writing on my new space!

In the meantime, I've had to request a change to my Facebook page, and because of that, I decided to share the name of my blog with you now.  Here's my new name and logo:

I tossed around many ideas for a name, and finally landed on this one, and I love it.  It summarizes exactly the things that I enjoy writing about, plus it gives me the freedom to truly be what's called a 'lifestyle blog'.  That means I'm not limited to cooking or decorating, or even motherhood.  I can write about my life--whatever is happening--and my desire is to share all of that in light of the truth of God's Word.  Again, a more eloquently written description will be coming. :)

During the first few weeks of my blog launch, I'm planning to host some giveaways.  I'm really excited about this next step for my blog and I want to celebrate it.  For you, it's just a treat, because you'll have the opportunity to win some fun new things.  This is where some of you come in!  

If you own an Etsy shop, online store, sell a product that you think my readers would enjoy, or know someone who does, please contact me!  I'm looking to highlight some great products during this celebration giveaway.  You can email me at onlyfromscratch (at) gmail (dot) com.  

Here's what I'm looking for:

1. A shop who would be willing to donate an item(s) to be given away.

2. Shops who would provide discounts for Life with Truth readers.

3. Shops whose products I LOVE that I can purchase from and highlight in a blog post/giveaway.

Happy Friday to all of you!  

May you have a refreshing weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What I Learned in October

It seems hard to believe that we're already into November!!  I went to the mall on Saturday and was shocked to hear Christmas music playing.  While I love the holiday season, I also really love November and I refuse to think about decorating and getting ready for Christmas right now.

Emily hosts these end of the month link-ups every month, and I love to think back through the different things I've learned.  Some serious, some silly, but all lessons worth noting.

1. Southern food continues to be my favorite to eat and cook.  I was sent a copy of the new Southern Living Community Cookbook to review, and let me just tell you it is hands down, the best cookbook I've ever used.  I've made several recipes from it, each of them being a hit.  Sweet Potato Biscuits, Butternut Squash Soup, Grillades and Grits, Sausage and Pinto Bean Dip, just to name a few that I've cooked so far.  I look forward to trying out more recipes, including a Hummingbird Cake, which has been on my 'to-do' list for awhile.

2.  Persimmons are a fruit that grows on trees.  They look like oval oranges, but aren't supposed to be eaten on their own; usually you put them into jams or baked goods.  We didn't taste any, so I can't comment on the flavor, but I had always been curious about these things.

3. Cotton fields are beautiful, particularly when the cotton is ready to be picked.  It's like big snowballs growing in a row.  We found this patch on a back road near an Alabama farm.  I might have picked some to take home...

4. Losing weight in my 20's was way easier than losing weight in my 30's.  In college, I could simply cut back on my calories.  I've found now that doesn't work.  Exercise and cutting back are necessary.  But, when I combine them, it works.  As of this morning I've lost 62 pounds since giving birth to Jennavieve 15 months ago.  This is very exciting to me, and it's fun to finally wear some clothes that have been collecting dust in my closet for the past few years.  My favorite pair of  red pants will be worn this year, without fear of ripping the seams when I bend over. Ha!

5. Running is way better with a friend.  I had a goal to try and do a 4-mile run by the end of October.  My sweet friend Trish was in town for the weekend and she agreed to accompany me on Friday.  With her help I did it!  Having someone to talk with made it go by more quickly, and I didn't even want to give up.  Now, my goal before Christmas is to try for a 6-mile run.  I may need to find a running friend :).

6.  Writing everyday on this blog is not realistic during this season of life.  I thoroughly enjoyed the #write31days challenge, and had fun with my topic, Made to Pour, but it's been nice to take a break the past few days from writing.

7. Fall does come to Florida, it's just not full of cold weather, brightly colored leaves, and snuggling under blankets.  There is beauty to be found, though, and the colors on these plants by the ocean are gorgeous.  I have always loved wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt, so this weather is perfect for me.  My sandaled feet are quite happy each day, and it's possible I'll still be wearing them come Thanksgiving.  I'm very much okay with that.

What did you learn in October?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 31 :: Concluding Thoughts

This month has been a fun challenge for me to try and write on the same topic every day.  At the beginning, I wasn't sure if I would make it through the whole month, but here we are and I didn't miss a single day.  I made a deal with myself that I would only keep going if it wasn't interfering with my family's needs.  The other part of the deal was that I had to enjoy it.  I'm thankful to say that I kept both ends of the deal with myself :)

But, here are some of my concluding thoughts on Made to Pour, Living a life of Blessing, and the #write31days challenge:

1. There is MUCH more about living a life of blessing than I have written in these blog posts.  I crammed some of my thoughts into my posts, but many more are swirling in my head, and surely there are things that I'm still yet to learn.  It's a process.

2. My family is teaching me how to be a blesser as I live with them every day.

I asked Mallory one day, "What makes you happy?"  Her answer?  "Eating doughnuts makes me happy."  So, one of the ways I've learned to bless her is by doing fun things throughout the day.  She often gets lost in the shuffle of Isabella's schooling and Mason's therapy.  When I plan specific things for her to enjoy in the midst of running errands, she lights up.  We get muffins or doughnuts from the coffee shop, throw coins in the fountain, she puts the groceries in the cart at the store, and she even enjoys helping me clean the house.  I'm learning to understand each of my children and strive to minister to their hearts in special ways.

Mason--oh my, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to count the number of lessons I've learned from him.  Recently, though, he's been teaching me that being a blesser is rejoicing with others.  He finds great delight in others' happiness.   He loves watching kids play on the park and wants to join right in with them.  If we laugh, he laughs, and usually he has no idea what's so funny.  Everyone we encounter is a friend to him and he eagerly waves and says "Hi" to each person we pass by.  He doesn't hold back his joy, and I'm learning that in this freedom he feels, other people find delight in the things that make him happy.

Isabella thrives on playing with the kids in our neighborhood.  It doesn't matter who is out there, she wants to have fun with each one and says, 'Goodbye!  We'll play with you tomorrow!' a million times when we call her in for dinner each night.  If her friends are thirsty, she runs inside, fills up cups with ice and water and brings them a drink.  She gives without hesitation and her joy in giving inspires me. She loves her siblings well, and each of them adore her!  There is clapping and exclaiming from all of them when we pick her up from school each day.

Jennavieve is our little firecracker right now.  She can be full of delight one minute and cranky the next.  But she loves her brother.  Their relationship is precious and each day as I observe them I get to see firsthand what it means to love someone unconditionally.  Yes, they steal each other's toys and get mad at one another, but they have a bond that won't be broken and I love it.

My husband (I mentioned him earlier this month as one of my amazing blessers) just keeps on.  The sacrifices he makes for our family are wonderful and I couldn't be more thankful for a husband who fiercely loves each one of us.

3. I cannot continue to write a blog post every day.  This was not a new realization to me, but having it confirmed was quite helpful.  My new blog should be launched very soon (stay tuned for more info on that next week!!) and I've been thinking through how I'm going to make that transition.  Knowing my limits is wonderful as I look toward making my new blog really be a place where I can write, and hopefully write well.  Yes, challenging myself to write everyday certainly helped in some ways, but in this season of my life, it's just not realistic on a regular basis.

4.  There might be a few more posts coming on this topic, specifically some stories that I'd like to share with you.  The nice thing about writing on a blog is that you're not limited to a number of pages or confined by a publisher's deadlines and restrictions.  I can write whatever I want, whenever, and I can keep writing about living a life of blessing as God teaches me more and more what that looks like.

Thanks for joining me on this journey this month.  It's been fun for me, and I hope you've come away with some things to think on.

Happy Friday!  Happy end of October!

And, stay tuned for more info on my new blog coming soon...

This is Day 31 of a series:  Made to Pour, Living a life of Blessing

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 30 :: Pouring comes from a deeply contented heart

When I am content with what the Lord has given, or taken away, or not yet revealed, I can bless Him.

A heart that is content can see the success and joy in others without becoming envious.  Envy rots the bones and is a hindrance to blessing others.  When I compare my life to someone else's it becomes very easy to withhold serving and blessing them because I begin to feel they are undeserving.  

If I want to truly live a life of blessing, pouring out to the Lord and those around me, I must have a heart that is content.

"God carries his children through this world through a variety of conditions.  Sometimes we lack, and at other times we abound.  This allows our graces to be tested.  We will find that God's love is stable, certain, and constant in a variety of conditions.  God does not change, and his love is constant however our lives might change.  We must learn not to quarrel with God's government.  Let God do as he pleases as he brings us to heaven.  It is no matter what the way is like, or how rugged it is, as long as he brings us there.  God's grace is able to carry his children above all conditions."

Richard Sibbes, Voices from the Past, p 323

This is Day 30 of a series:  Made to Pour, living a life of Blessing