to a new year

Twelve years ago, I wrote my first blog post.  Blogspot was brand new, and I’d never heard of wordpress. Or blogging.

I opened a new draft and wrote “Let’s see what this does.” For these 12 years, that’s pretty much been what’s happened here.

I’ve written, and learned. I’ve shared a lot of crazy words, a few good ones, and a lot of living with the web. And it scared me sometimes. Writing is an art. It’s one I’m very much still attempting to master. But I’ve learned a lot in 12 years. Enough to know that what “blogging” meant 12 years ago is not what “blogging” means today.  And enough to know that in 12 years, it’ll have changed all over again.

A part of my heart resists the changes. I miss the old days of long newsy posts. Of comments instead of likes. I miss the days when blogging wasn’t about all the rules, or about trying to make a living, but about making connections.

And as time went on, I found that I didn’t think I could do it. I couldn’t follow all the rules. I couldn’t keep up with all the latest trends.  I just wanted to write, but words started to trickle instead of flow. It was all fog and fragments.

Life got hard and personal. I lost people I cared about. The things I wanted to say couldn’t be said in public places. And I was so tired of always trying to find the balance between sharing too little or too much. Tired of the fog and the fragments. Tired of trying to figure it all out when it came to directions and this bloggy space.

The thought of walking away from writing was a crazy one. But I considered it. I stopped opening up pages only to spend hours late at night staring at the empty spaces with everything to say but nothing to write.

I stopped because I realized that my blogging journey had been good, but that in order to continue, I had to reinvent my blog. I had to take a step back and stop trying to force myself and my blog into the mold without accounting for the fact that along with blogging, I’ve grown and changed too. And that is how it should be.

I needed to figure out where I wanted to go from here, and what I wanted now from my blog. I needed to figure out how to make writing a part of my new life and to align with my current seasons and focuses instead of it just being one more thing that I thought I needed to do.

Words–they have and always will be a part of my life.  But how blogging works, and how it looks for me can’t always stay the same.

So in January, I did something a little crazy. I took the last 12 years of me “seeing what this did” away.

Not because I’m ashamed of my journey. I’m proud of how I’ve grown, and unspeakably grateful for the people who have been a part of my life for so long, and the opportunities God has given me along the way.

I took it away because for me, after 12 years very little is the same in my life. And because now I know more about blogging, there are some things that I would do differently–that needs to be different than it was back when I started. And I needed a fresh start.

I was a bit scared and sad to remove so many pages of the history of my blogging journey, but I felt instantly relief.  I could finally start figuring out what I needed to do and not be held back by what my blog use to be like. I knew I’d done the right thing.

That was January 1.

Since then, I’ve let the dust settle. It’s done a lot of good. As I continue to work hard on growing as a Virtual Assistant, and to reach the place that our little family needs so much right now, I needed blogging to work with me and not be just one more thing going in a completely different direction. I needed a place for an outlet, but I needed to be able to focus my energy a little more, too.

And finally, I think I’ve started to get some of the clarity I’ve been waiting for. I think I know what I need to do and what my blog will be like for this season.  I’m excited about it. It’s been far too long since I’ve had a direction for this blog.

So what’s changing? Well, maybe not a lot of obvious stuff.

But I’m excited to write more about books (because I’m not going to stop reading, anytime soon!), and sharing more about some of the things I’m excited about and about some of the journeys we’re taking right now towards our dream of living more self sustainable lives, and of my work at home dreams. Because really, all I ever wanted to be was a farming family. And I’m willing to do what it takes to get closer to that dream. Because we really need it.

So…12 years after my first post, I’m hitting publish again and thinking, “Let’s see what this does… Again.”

 

Until Morning

She fell asleep today. As the clock struck out the first hour of the new day, her last breath breathed out.

No more pain.
No more struggle.

Just rest. Quiet, peaceful rest.

The next thing she hears will be the sound of trumpets. The next face she sees will be Jesus’ face. The next thing she knows will be a brand new body with no cancer, no scars, no pain.

I’m happy for her. I’m happy that she can rest now.

But for those of us who are still awake, it is a sad day. We miss her. So very much.

So now we are waiting on the trumpets.

Until Morning, Auntie Lauren.

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Lauren Harding Douglas

P.s this is not the post I planned to open out the year with weeks ago. My aunt’s sudden decline was something no amount of knowing prepares you for. She passed away Wednesday morning. Please keep her daughter and the family in prayer. It was a third blow to our family this year and the hardest. Thankful for the blessed hope.

I will be back soon. I have so many ideas brewing, and things to say!

A week gone wrong

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My week went all wrong.

Monday morning dawned with the extermination team knocking on my door giving me five whole minutes to grab our stuff and leave again. This time I had to be gone for 6 hours at least.

Well, I grabbed everything I needed for Charlotte and me to spend the day at Scott’s work.

I could work there. It would be an adventure. But not how I expected.

I grabbed the wrong cord for my computer. It’s old and won’t hold a charge.

I forgot a lunch or snacks for either of us.

Charlotte nose dived off a chair and bit her chin and lip. It bled a lot and she was mostly hysterical for the rest of the day.

I was exhausted. Behind on work. And the day felt way too long.

The week finished out with more interruptions, and disappearing Internet.

And the toilet flooded the bathroom. It took every towel in the house to dry it up.

But ultimately that week gone wrong was still filled with good things.

1.Time at the park with Papa for Charlotte.

2. A coworker of Scott who ” just happened” to have the same computer type as me and loaned me her cord.

3. Charlotte’s fall did no permanent damage.

4. Gorgeous fall leaves that I had time to enjoy.

5. And the bathroom floor needed to be mopped anyway.

Sometimes gratitude is all about your perspective.

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Which side of today are you going to try to see?

Just for rest

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It was one of those days. The kind that start our by lingering in bed late, staying in pajamas all day and sipping “coffee” curled up on the couch together.

We’ve had crazy weeks. Weeks low on sleep, higher on stress and busy. And I’ve been tired. So tired.

But today, we loaded up on resting. We enjoyed doing nothing. We read books ( and more books!). We watched nature videos. Played. Napped. Ate soup.

It wasn’t productive. It might have been a little lazy.

But I’m so glad that at the end of crazy weeks, there is a day just for rest and worship. It’s always exactly what I need.

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Morning turned beautiful

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I woke up to the sound of rain drizzling down. I sighed.

Our landlady and the bug guy decided that early morning was a good time to treat our house. Early enough that the baby would still be asleep.

And then? He showed up even earlier than scheduled. I wasn’t thrilled.

After all, one of THE rules of motherhood is you don’t wake up a sleeping toddler. And today, I had to get her up an hour early. I didn’t have a chance to do anything but grab her shoes and go outside.

But here is where it gets good.

Somewhere between the early morning drizzles and me rushing around trying to pull things away from the walls and then rushing my baby awake, the sun had come out. The last of autumn was glowing in all glory. It was warm. It was beautiful. I felt like I had stepped into something magical.

What I feared would be one of the worst mornings of my crazy week ended up being one of the best.

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Charlotte had a blast. I walked around trying to soak in the joy and the glory and feeling awed at each new glimpse of beauty.

Thank you, Lord for redeeming ordinary and even annoying inconvenient moments and making them beautiful.

 

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what’s on our table

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zucspizza

Art comes in many different forms. For me, making a pretty plate with local food is one of the ways I unwind. When I try something new, and it looks appetizing on the plate, it makes something in my heart feel alive. Here’s what’s been on the table at the Brankshire home this summer. Best part? Most of the vegetables came from a tiny little patch right outside of my door. Can’t beat the flavor of food that was picked 10 seconds before it hit your table.

What’s been cooking for you guys this summer?

The Beauty of Broken—a book review

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“There’s no such thing as a perfect family.” If I’m honest,  I don’t like that sentence even a tiny bit. If I’m still honest, I’ll admit that it is true.

We’re all a little broken. Either by our choices, by our parents’ or grandparents’ choices, or sometimes just because life is broken. It’s ugly. It’s messy.

It can be hard to lift up your face and look the world in the eye and admit that you don’t have it all together. It is for me. 

But, the good thing about being broken? It is the perfect thing for finding The Source of inner strength. It’s the perfect thing for finding what true beauty really is—something that shines out in spite of the less-than-perfect way our live story often goes.

In Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan shares her story. And how brokenness shaped her story—and ultimately, how God used it to create a kind of beauty in her life.

I appreciated Elisa’s honesty, and the encouragement she gave to not be ashamed of our stories, even if they are broken. It could be that the brokenness that Satan meant to destroy us is the very thing that God will override and use to be one of our greatest blessings.  And that, I think, is really beautiful.

*I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Book Sneeze. The opinions are mine entirely.*

a tradition is born

It’s been a while since it’s looked like Christmas here.

Last year we were in California. I had only just dragged in the Christmas Boxes when we got our tickets and I had to drag them back out to the shed again. The year before that I had worked a super stressful job and was too exhausted to feel much Christmas energy.

But this year…this year was different. It’s Charlotte’s first Christmas. We don’t celebrate in all the same ways that a lot of people do. But there’s something about lights and sparkling things that make winter much less dreary.  Scott loves Christmastime.  I love creating memories and looking forward to our little traditions. That’s what makes it so special.

We hauled in the Christmas boxes last Sunday and decked our little halls with lights and christmas cheer. It takes a long time to unwind the lights and hang the sparkles on the tree, even if it is small.

When the l ast the last candy cane is hung, and the last bit of garland is wrapped around the tree, THE moment of the evening arrives: we light the tree for the first time and put the gold star at the top to remind us of the Angels who sang at Jesus’ birth.

Charlotte gets to do the topper, Scott says. He took her in his arms and helped her tiny (grabby) fingers hold the gold star for a minute and then they put it on the highest little twig right at the top. She likes the sparkle and babbles in approval.

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Our tree is done. It’s beautiful. And just like that, a tradition is born.

Quick & Easy: Burrito Shell Pizza

We love our pizza around here. Loaded with veggies and just enough sauce? It’s a perfect way to round out a day. But, cooking pizza from scratch can take a long time. Ordering out isn’t always an option with our budget. And I don’t always think ahead well enough to have pre-made crusts on hand for when we really want it right now. So I started making a little short cut pizza using burrito shells. We could have our pizza within minutes, and hardly heat up the house on a hot day. I’d say it was a win for us.

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What You Need

  • Burrito Shells
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Diced veggies of choice (we will put just about anything on ours!)
  • Cheese of Choice
  • Oil
  • Herbs

What You Do

  1. Brush shells with olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and dried oregano (or italian seasoning) on them. Put them in the oven to warm up.
  2. Spread pasta sauce on the shell.
  3. Top with your favorite veggies. We go for just about anything we have on hand: spinach, broccoli bits, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, olives, onions and fresh tomato slices. But you can just use what you like in a pizza! Return to oven to let the veggies get tender.
  4. After the veggies are just about perfect, top with cheese of your choice. We’ve used soy cheese, nut based cheese or even crumbled, seasoned tofu as vegetarian options.
  5. Slide it onto your plate and enjoy your personal sized pizza

Notes

If you’re in a real hurry, you can start cooking the veggies in a pan on the top of the stove. This will cut down the time that they need to be in the oven and also can help keep the shell from getting too crispy!

Quick & Easy: Garbanzo Salad

I ate a bowl of garbanzo salad for lunch. For supper we had our version of fresh spring rolls. (for the third time in two weeks, I might add. Yum!)

What do these two meals have in common?

Both of them are simple, fast, and require minimal or no cooking. Those are the kinds of meals that I like to keep ingredients handy for on busy, summer days. When it is too hot to think of turning on the oven, and I’m too busy to spend much time on supper, it feels good to have some simple options that are delicious, cool, and quick!

Today I want to tell you about the first recipe in a mini series I’m starting that will tell you some of our favorite summer time menu items. Not all of them are cold, but they are all quick & easy! Some of them are simple enough that there’s no real recipe. Just a few ingredients mixed together and served!

Here’s the “recipe” for what I ate for lunch: Summer Garbanzo Salad

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What You Need

  • Cooked Garbanzos
  • Fresh Tomato, diced
  • Fresh Cucumber, diced
  • Dollop of Mayo (or dressing of choice)
  • Mustard (just a tiny sneeze)
  • Fresh Parsley, minced (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

What You Do

Put everything into a bowl, season to taste. Mix and serve with lettuce or just buy itself. Yum!

Variations

Here’s another way I like serving this salad!  Before I add the veggies, I’ll sometimes lightly mash a few of the beans. Mix it up, and serve it with a little extra dressing and some finely shredded lettuce inside of a whole grain pita pocket. It’s perfect for a summer picnic!

What do some of your Quick & Easy Summertime meals consist of? I’d love to hear!

P.S Don’t miss out on this amazing Homemaking eBundle that’s on sale for just a few days. 97 eBooks for $29.97. There’s even some simple summer recipe eBooks in there!

linked up today with One Project At a Time