5 Things I’ve learned from Josh Duggar

I was a Duggar fan.  You know the Duggar family?  From Arkansas, Jim Bob {you cannot make some of this stuff up} and Michelle and their, well, 19 kids.  They are conservative Christians, perhaps ultra-conservative would be more fitting.  They home school. They organize their pantry like a grocery store {dreamy}.  The kids do chores {actually do them & smile – at least on t.v.}.  They wear ridiculous swimming costumes {pulling out my British on this one}.  They talk a lot about God & the Bible.

I have to admit I was skeptical at first sight.  I know absolutely no one with a family that large & I know no mother who never raises her voice at her children, especially with 19 of them.  They’re a bit of an oddity.  But like any good freak show, I had to rubberneck it & couldn’t stop watching.  {not that I think they’re a freak show…just something SO different it’s freaky…in a good way…maybe…or not…i don’t know} Perhaps I admired Michelle a bit for the way she remained calm & peaceful, the way she lowered her head to look directly into the eyes of her little ones when correcting their behaviour.  So unlike my own way, which often involves my flailing of arms & yelling into the abyss hoping words land on the child they are directed towards.  I’m more of a tornado.  Michelle?  A calm wave washing up on the shore.  At least on t.v.  Which is the trouble with reality television.  Anyway…

josh duggarIf you haven’t yet heard, let me fill you in.  Seems the eldest Duggar child, Josh, has run himself into a humdinger of a situation. After last month’s scandal in which he confessed to making bad decisions as a young teen & behaving most inappropriately with his sisters, this latest yuck involves his inappropriateness as an adult.   Seems he decided looking at porn & cheating on his wife were excellent decisions.  Yikes!  All this while he tooted his horn about the importance of family values and morals and ethics.  Double Yikes!  His name appeared on the Ashley Madison hacker lists & he fessed up & said he was sorry.  I don’t know if he’s sorry he cheated on his wife or if he’s sorry he got caught cheating on his wife…and really that’s not for me to determine.  I can’t see his heart {thank heavens!} so this matter lies only between him & God.  I’ll keep my own self out of it.

What I do know is the more I thought about the whole thing, the more I read the ick that folks posted on social media, the more I had to sit back & do some thinking.  Here’s what this simple mind thought:

  1. Sometime Reality Isn’t Real.  For the past how many years, I cannot even count, I’ve watched Josh Duggar on t.v. with his wife, Anna.  I watched them awkwardly side hug upon his proposal.  I watched them more awkwardly kiss when they said “I do”.  I watched Anna give birth at their home {more than once} & I’ve watched them hang out at Josh’s used car lot, just so they didn’t have to be apart so long.  It all looked like it was on the up & up.  Awkward.  But genuine love.  But reality isn’t always real.  What happens behind closed doors sometimes {many times} is different than what we actually see.  On t.v. and with our friends down the street.  No ones life is exactly on-point at all times.
  2. People Fail.  It can be good to have people to look up to, admire, think are worthy of imitating.  I’m all for finding friends & mentors to help with life.  But remember #1 {reality isn’t always real}.  People are going to fail.  Even the most upstanding citizen with all the character qualities you’d like to fill yourself with is not perfect.  To elevate them to a place that only Jesus should occupy will leave you, well, feeling like you have to rub their face in the dirt all over social media.  Reserve the pedestal for Jesus!
  3. We Are Not Called To Critique Everyone.  Speaking of social media, where in the name of all things good in this world did we get the stupid idea that we can go about being the critiquers of everything on the social media airwaves?  Let some things remain unsaid.  Shut up. It doesn’t all need to flow from your fingers to the screen.  Even if it’s the truest truth that’s ever been true, you may not have earned the right to say it.  Save your criticism for people you have built actual relationships with.  And then social media may not be {is not} your best avenue.
  4. Mama, You’re Doing A Great Job.  I don’t know Michelle at all.  But I can imagine that at least once in the past week she’s questioned what she did wrong.  It’s what us moms do.  All us moms.  We have this idea that if we do just what we’re supposed to do, at the absolute correct time, in the right way, with the exact tone of voice & proper balance of grace, then we get kids that are perfect.  It’s like a math equation: A+B=C.  And then if our kid goes all rogue, we assume we have failed.  But breaking news, our kids are not us.  They are them.  And, regardless of our attempts to control them {or is that just me?}, they make their own decision. Good ones.  And bad ones too.  Not because us moms failed, but because they’re human.  Just like us.  They wander! We do the best we know to do.  We love them with as much love as we know to give.  They grow up & fly.  Sometimes they fly high & straight.  Sometimes they fly directly into a tree.  But it’s not all on us.  They get to chose their path.  And our success as moms cannot be determined by the flight path that our children take.  Look at Adam & Eve.  Two sons.  One kills the other.  Did Eve fail?  I don’t think so.  I think her son did.
  5. God Still Uses Losers.  This is not just good news for Josh.  This is great news for me.  Because truth be told, I’m a failure too.  Maybe not as a registered user of an adultery website cheating on my spouse while whacking people over the head with my family values Bible verses, but I’m equally as awful.  And I seem to remember a certain Bible guy who was pretty awful too.  David.  If he had Ashley Madison available to him, he’d have been on.  Absolutely.  But old school BC required just a lady next door taking a bath on her roof {and being the king helped too}.  He got her pregnant.  And then had her hubby killed.  Can you imagine the social media backlash?  {course, as king he’s more a kin to Pres. Clinton so maybe never mind}  But God still used him.  His life was covered with God.  Covered.  Not tomorrow, but after time & growth & strengthening.  God covered his life with Him.  God can use a loser.  Hope is NEVER lost.   hallelujah!

I would not in million years want to be inside the Duggar world right now.  The pain.  The lies.  The betrayal.  The hurt.  The, well, yuck!  I don’t want to be a fly on their wall.  I cannot fathom the thoughts that are streaming through Anna’s mind as she is up feeding a newborn baby.  Sin is ugly & it lays a path of disaster from it’s center, reaching more than the one in the middle, but to all those standing near.  I have no opinions on how anyone should handle anything about this…I’ve not lived this…I have not earned the right to speak into their lives…and truly, I honestly have no idea.  But I hope that whatever direction they fly, they fly with the strength of God beneath their wings & with the hope of Christ leading the direction.  May they ignore the noise, be still & listen to the voice they know as truth, even if they’ve ignored it before.  He still uses losers.

Kickin’ Tomato Jam Recipe

My garden is overflowing!  In particular my 3 cherry tomato plants are heavy with all the goodness of summer. We’ve eaten cherry tomatoes like candy, in salads, in bruschetta, in salsa, in marinara sauce…I was beginning to get really tired of these little wonders. I googled cherry tomato recipes & tomato jam popped up.  What?  Could that even be good?

Kickin' Tomato Jam Jar

Holy Hannah!  Let me tell you all about it.  It’s sweet, kind of like any ole’ jam.  But it’s spicy too.  With a kick!  It’ll add a little zip to just about anything you slather it on.  It’ll kiss you at first & then bite you.

So let’s get cooking:

Start with a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes.  Wash them up & take off their stems.  Throw them in a pot.  Do not peel them!  Do not seed them!  Just toss them in the pot.

Add everything else to the pot.  Fresh ingredients, my friend.  With so few things making up this pot of deliciousness, make every ingredient count!  Get the heat on about medium-high & get it boiling.  Stir it to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom.  That sugar will burn if you let it & that is definitely not what you want.

After it gets boiling, cut that heat WAY back.  I sat my gas burner on “simmer-high” but if you don’t have a simmer setting, turn it to low & keep an eye on it.  Again no burning that sugar!

Get your canning supplies ready while your watching the pot-of-yum simmer away.  Wash up your jars & lids.  You’ll want your jars warm, so when it’s close to filling time, put your jars in a pot of simmering water on the stove.

When the tomato jam is all thick & ooey {you’ll know} it’s ready to can.  Fill your warm jars, leaving a 1/4 inch of head space.  Wipe the rims of the jar with a clean towel, place the lid on & screw on the ring.  Place the jars in the canner & process in the boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

kickin' tomato jam jars

Pull them out.  Set them on a towel & let them cool.  Let them sit there a good 24 hours.  The happy sound of lids plinking should fill the air soon.  If a jar doesn’t seal, no big deal.  Open it up & slather it on some cheese with a cracker.  Taste buds scream yum!

FullSizeRender 52 Put the sealed jars in your pantry for up to a year {as if they’ll last that long} & throw any unsealed jars in your refrigerator & eat in the next week or two.  Or finish it off today – I’m not judging.  It’s that good!  It is.  I’m imagining this delight on sandwiches, on hamburgers, used to dip fries in – oh my!  It will jazz up anything you might have thought to put boring ketchup on before.  Give it a whirl.  It’s amazing!  Print the kickin’ tomato jam recipe here.

kickin' tomato jam recipe

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Big Day @ Weed Acres

I love chickens.

I never thought I would.  But I do.  Chickens became a part of my world in the summer of 2014.  A box arrived from My Pet Chicken through the post {yep, the good ole’ mailman delivers} with 9 two-day old chicks inside.  Unfortunately 8 of those chicks were not peeping {it was a fluke due to weather conditions…or the one left living was a serial chicken murderer…you decide}.   The one chick alive in that box, all yellow & fluffy & cute, stole my heart.  {regardless of her possible serial killer-ness} We named her Frieda Solo.  The following week a replacement box arrived full of eight peeping, very much alive baby chicks.  And thus began the chicken adventure at Weed Acres.

We watched them all grow from cute little downy fluffballs with legs, to happy hens roaming the acres.  By late autumn is was pretty clear that my happy hen house also housed two boys.  Seems Freda & Katondra were actually Fred & well, Katondra {my ginger haired named Katondra & didn’t like the idea of changing it’s name due to a gender change}  On a side note you may be  thinking that I made a spelling error.  Earlier I had said the first chick was Frieda Solo & now I’m saying Freda was actually Fred.  Good story here.  These chickens were named after my two grandmas {because everyone names their chickens after their grandmas} who had the same name with different spellings. It’s a wacky life.  Anyhow, I wasn’t against roosters.  Until I had a couple.  They’re mean.  Nasty. They were violent!  They were upsetting the ladies & chasing me.  They became soup.

Five ladies ruled the hen house.  Frieda Solo, Mabel, Opal, Bek-kah & Myrtle Louise.

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They calmed down after the terror of the violent males was removed and on December 26, 2014 they laid their first egg.  You may think it odd that I remember this day.  It’s not…move on.  Since then, these lovely ladies have been fairly consistent little layers of the most delicious farm fresh, pasture raised eggs ever.

This spring we added some more to the hen house.  Seventeen to be exact.  They arrived though the post with greater success than my first batch, at only 2 days old on April 20.  I had a little fun with them while they were cute & fluffy & little bundles of adorableness!  They LOVED being dressed up in all kinds of fun.

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They officially moved in with the ladies in June after the addition to the coop was complete.  After working out their pecking order battles {it is a fierce fight for supremacy in the hen house, friends} they settled in.  Oh, there are still some scuffles {they are ladies after all} but they seem to get along alright.

So this brings me to the latest news from Weed Acres.  Today is a day which I will certainly remember! {partly because it’s chronicled here & nothing ever disappears from the internet – we say that to the three little Weeds all the time…it’s true.  never.  this stuff you post will haunt you.  some. day}  But today I will remember because one of the little ladies laid her very first egg.  IMG_2156 2At the ripe old age of 4 months 2 days old. I have no way to know which of the 17 little ladies it was, but I congratulated them as a whole.  They were thrilled with my excitement.  That or my red toe nail polish.  No telling which.  It’s a big day at Weed Acres.  A very big day!  Delicious eggs come from Happy Hens & Weed Hens are the Happiest!

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Good Run

Finished up those 8 miles soaked {i am a cheater & a liar! it was only 7.56}.  I looked like I just jumped into the river with all my clothes on.  Every step was squishy under my feet, water bubbling up between my toes.  It was a hard fought finish complete with strange looks from passerbyers, water logged everything & a bee sting.  Yes!  A bee sting.  At mile 2.   Sucks to be a runner.  Why exactly am I torturing myself this way & then taking to the screen to complain about it?  Well…

IMG_2143Twin Cities Marathon.  At the time it seemed like a challenge worth trying.  Today?  It seems stupid.  Stupid!  Who, in their right mind thinks that 26.2 miles of running will be fun?  It’s not.  Well, actually I wouldn’t know.  At this point I have no idea how it will be to go 26.2 miles.  I’ve never gone that far. {and it seems I lie about how far I do actually go-so there’s that}  But I can say with all certainty that the training leading up to those 26.2 miles is dumb.

But I’m doing it, ’cause, well, to be completely honest, I’m a list crosser-offer & I have a training plan with everything listed out & I MUST cross each & every mile off {with rounding allowances of half a mile}.  That and I paid the money to do it.  See, it gets even worse.  Not only am I planning to run 26.2 miles, I actually had to fork over cash to be tortured.  Who does this?  Who?

I know.  I know.  It will be so worth it when I finally cross that finish line on that cool autumn morning {or afternoon, realistic expectations here folks}.  But today, dripping & swollen from that darn sting, yeah, not so much.

And it worsens!  I’m sitting on the edge of a 15 mile training run this week. {rain, rain go away!}  I have never run more than 13.1. So a new distance.  yay {sarcasm dripping heavy!}  Another several hours of my life left on the pavement.  I suppose I’m a little excited to reach a new goal, to set a new record.  To hear my little purple gps watch profusely congratulate my accomplishment, {love that encouraging lil’ gadget}.  But as quickly as it’s said “way to go!”, it’ll tell me to go farther next week.  Never satisfied that purple watch is?  never.

But I am.  I am satisfied with where these little shoes take me. Around the bends of our tiny town & out the gravel roads to the barns & corn fields. It is good.  I’ve been running for over a decade now.  It began as sanity & has morphed into insanity {just kidding…or not…you decide}.  Runners’ high.  I get it & I love it.  Every time.  Even soaking wet with a swollen bee stung shoulder.  Love it.  When it’s over. {it’s true!}

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Homework Wins!

homework winsI’m treading water here folks.  Barely afloat.

I was so determined way back in June.  I had plans.  Plans!  We would be that family.  A mom and her lovely, clean, fresh-smelling, well-behaved children touring here & there.  We would experience culture.  We would enjoy picnics & lake swimming.  Heck, we’d learn to paddle board together.  While smiling.  Picture perfect moments would be occurring.  Regularly.

I sit here in the latter half of August.  Where is that mom with the plan from only 2 months ago?  Where did she go?  She is flopping and a flipping in the water, friends.  Trying to keep this ship above the bottom for 3 more weeks.  Plans?  What plans would you propose?  At this point, getting children out of pjs & fed something besides sugar before noon is the only plan rising to the top of this body of water.  A picnic?  Are you kidding me?  My children would no less go in a body of water filled with sharks than sit in a mosquito infested park with all awful kinds of stinging insects buzzing about us.

It was so dreamy back then.  Back when summer seemed full of potential.  When all I could see was the endless stack of homework & the thought of having none seemed like the land of greatness.

Bring on the homework!  Bring. it. on.  All the spelling words, the projects with last minute trips to the dollar store, the tests, the organizers, the math.  I’m to the point where “i love to read month” even looks appealing {on second thought…keep that}.  But please, pretty, pretty please keep these lazy children busy.  Keep them doing something besides consuming large quantities of food & leaving wrappers & cans & bottle & dirty dishes & general dirtiness all over this house.  Homework wins!  Homework wins!

I realize as I type this, that i am only about 6 weeks away from a school hatred. But let me, please, relish the thought that they will go to school & be not making a disaster of this space where I live for about 7 hours each day of the week.  Let me imagine how amazing it will be to clean the kitchen up in the morning and it remain clean until dinner.  Let me imagine the tv not being on.  The bickering-silenced.  The computers-not eating up my wi-fi speed {glorious}.  Let me imagine sunshiny faces at the crack of dawn, eating breakfast together with no arguing, yelling, rushing.  No last minute “where’s my ________?” as we’re running out the door to my voice yelling “WE ARE LATE!!!  GET MOVING!!!!  NOW!!!!”  Let me imagine Leave It To Beaver Weed style, just for a moment.  It will screech to a halt all too soon & I’ll be complaining.  Bet your bottom dollar on that.  But for this moment.  Let me be a dreamer.  A mommy dreamer.

I love my children.  You may question that.  I understand.  But I do love my little Weeds, adore them, cherish them!  And I love to watch them sleep.  And equal to sleeping, I love to send them off on their way because that gives them wings {that was sappy}.  It’s good for us though.  I miss them then.  Not the first day {or the first month} but eventually I miss them.  And that’s good.  In a weird way.  But it’s good to be tired of their messes{and never-ending talking} & then miss them and wish them home for a while. That’s good.  At least let me think that so I don’t feel like a sucky mom.  Let me!

Three weeks.  No summer dreaming here.  No more museums, no culture, definitely no picnics & forget the paddle board!  I’m already nesting for the school year.  Highlighters & sharpies & new folders.  Hooray!  Let it begin.  Now.  Homework Wins!

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ThredUp

Was it just a couple of weeks ago that I sat for two days in a hot barn while people shared too much & rummaged through our belongings?  It was a delightful time.  absolutely.

When the door closed after that final long, quiet hour of no one, I imagined packing up all the unsold stuff & dropping at my local thrift store.  Unfortunately, great plans at the Weed house sometimes lack follow through.  Bags of belongings have remained stationed at the door {just in case} for nearly a month now, waiting to be taken away.  waiting.

Then, I discovered ThredUp.  And then this little envelope arrived.

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Have you heard of it?  Here’s the gist:

They send you a postage paid polka-dotted package.

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You fill it up with nearly new, name brand, freshly laundered items you no longer want.  They go through your stuff & pay you for what they want.  They will return the things they can’t accept {for a fee of $12.99 paid in advance by you} or will donate them.  You receive your cash & smile.  happy!

They have some specific brands they take and {more importantly} those brands they will not. Everything is listed & detailed here.

I’m not kidding myself.  I know I’m not going to get a ton for any of the things I’m sending in this first batch.  From their estimated payouts they have listed, I’m not going to be swimming in my pools of cash.  But that’s ok.  It’s less work than a garage sale.

And you can shop the site too.  Everything they take in, they resell.  It is a consignment store, after all.  And there are some deals to be had.  I do love a bargain. Why ever pay full retail?  This site has quite a selection at a great price.

Here’s what I packed up & shipped off:

  • 4 shirts from White House Black Market
  • 2 pairs of shoes from White House Black Market
  • 2 pairs of girls colored jeans from P.S. Aeropostale
  • 2 pairs of girls denim from P.S. Aeropostale
  • 1 dress from Gymboree
  • 2 coats from Gymboree
  • 1 sweater from Justice
  • 1 sweater from P.S. Aeropostale
  • 1 shirt from P.S. Aeropostale

Wow!  Full package for them.  I’ll keep you posted on whether it’s worth it.  And if you want to give it try {either buying or selling} click here.

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exodus 14:14

exodus 14.14

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tiny parts…

I was about 14.  I was a GA at my local church.  We were helping put together layettes for the local crisis pregnancy center.  I remember I didn’t even know what a layette was.  Turned out it was all the cutest of the cute things for babies – onesies, diapers, little bitty socks, binkies, bottles, tiny pink & blue hats & blankets.  How could a 14 year old girl not love sorting through all that cuteness?  We meticulously made little girl baskets & little boy baskets, imagining how fun they would be to receive.

I didn’t know what abortion was.  I didn’t know it even existed.  I had only recently realized that people who weren’t married were having sex & having babies.  Naïveté.  The day we delivered our little blue & pink bundles to the crisis pregnancy center I learned all about abortion & pro-choice & pro-life…anti-abortion & pro-abortion.  There was a line with two sides clearly drawn. No straddling the line.  Pick a side.

You may say that I was “brainwashed”, “indoctrinated” into a pro-life position that day.  Perhaps.  Fourteen year olds are quite impressionable, I would agree.  But I’ve done some research since those teen years, and I still cannot find a way to change my mind on this issue.

To me, that fetus is a baby.  Alive from the very first moment it is created.  I cannot believe otherwise.  No argument will change my belief on that.  None.

Likewise, if you hold a pro-choice position, believing abortion is alright, I doubt you will change your belief on that no matter what the argument.

We have all seen the same 4-D ultrasound technology of babies/fetuses in the womb.  We all have the ability to decide if that’s alive.  We all have the ability to determine whether removing that from the mommy’s womb is killing or something benign.

So here’s the thing, we seem stuck.  A line with two sides.  I’ve picked my side.  You’ve picked your side.  Maybe we’re on the same side, maybe we’re not.  Regardless if we agree, we must still be kind to one another.  We can go about without name calling, without degrading each other, without being cruel.  Both sides. We can.  We must.  This isn’t about who’s a moron or who’s an idiot.  It does no one any good to throw those names around.  No Good.

So, per the buzz of today…

Do I care that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts, if in fact they are? I guess.

But the bigger issue to me is that they have baby parts.  They have baby parts.  From babies.  Parts.

I’m saddened that there are parts.  I’m saddened that in the safety of a mommy’s womb, babies are taken apart.  I’m saddened because I believe these are babies, not just bundles of tissue.  Babies.

Do I believe that tax dollars should fund abortion? No.

So here’s my deal.  I pay taxes.  I have no legal choice to not pay my taxes.  None.  And my tax dollars get all cozy & commingled with everyone else’s tax dollars.  And they pay someone to perform abortions.  These dollars pay for babies to die.  And I don’t want that.  I don’t want to pay for abortions.  I say “defund” simply because of this.  Not because I want women to go without healthcare.  Absolutely not!  I will gladly contribute to women’s healthcare.  But I cannot agree with paying for abortions.  I disagree with abortions.  Fundamentally, from my core.  So deeply is this belief rooted.  I don’t want to pay for abortions.  I don’t.

I think my wanting to defund Planned Parenthood comes from my grief that they are taking the lives of babies, rather than the fact that are possibly selling baby parts.  Tiny hearts and little brains and livers and kidneys and more.  What has been wrong with me?  I should have been outraged already that my government is paying for babies to be killed, regardless of whether the parts ended up in the rubbish or on the black market.  Does it really matter?  What’s better the landfill or a research lab?

But if I truly say that I don’t want to pay for abortions, then I need to look at my consumer dollars as well as my tax dollars!  Thing is, I might be {most likely 100% sure I am} paying for abortions regardless of the feds because I purchase products & services from companies that fund PP.  These are choices.  To have a Starbucks coffee, to buy Energizer batteries…and I’ll have to settle that in my conscience.  And it’s something everyone standing on this side needs to examine & consider before chanting “defund!”  Otherwise, how hypocritical.

To call for defunding, means to look at my wallet, to see where I give my dollars.  Planned Parenthood is funded by all kinds of companies in all kinds of industries.  Not just the federal government.  I must take action, regardless of how inconvenient {heeeelllllllooooo, Starbucks!} if I’m serious about what I’m wanting.  I must also defund.  I cannot be a hypocrite.  Can I eliminate 100% of my choice dollars from going to Planned Parenthood.  I wish.  But most likely some of my dollars will still fund abortions.  It’s an unfortunate part of legal abortions.  But to be aware & make the decisions without blinders on, is necessary.

This is no easy issue.  It’s a “hot topic” for a reason.  It is heated & the discussions surrounding it are intense.  I think it’s ok to be passionate about it, after all it is a life or death topic.  But it must be a civil conversation, no matter the level of heat surrounding it.

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