Preparing the Soil

May 31, 2014
by Janet
0 comments

I Love Three

I LOVE THREE

I’m running on empty and scraping the barrel. Nine more days until dad comes home. We’ve been apart for 24 days and although physically I feel great, emotionally I am struggling to hold it together.

Over the last few years I have learned a lot about self-care. Jason and I have figured out many ways to make sure I am at my emotional best so that I can give him and the kids my emotional best. Mom’s emotions set the tone for the entire home and I am very intentional and proactive in making sure I am doing all I can to set a happy and calm tone for our family. This involves getting the sleep that I need, caring for my body through exercise and food, making sure my Bible time happens first thing in the morning, and working hard to make sure I get the time alone that my introvertedness requires.

But with dad gone and me on solo duty, those tried-and-true ways to make sure I am emotionally healthy are much harder to achieve. I can’t just go for a walk when I need it. I have to go to bed and wake up when the kids go to bed and wake up. I can’t take 20 minutes alone to refresh. I can’t run errands alone.

Heck, I can’t even shower alone.

However, I am trying to fit in some of the things that fill me…things I can do with a baby clinging to me and a three-year-old always at my side. Baking fills me up (and I mean an emotional fill-up, not just physical!) Photography fills me up. Seeing beauty and expressing gratitude in all I see fills me up. So, I am doing a lot of those things. Thus the many photo posts.

And speaking of that three-year-old, I LOVE THREE.

Sweet Bethany is at an amazing age. She’s old enough to do some things independently and watching her try to do things she thinks she can do independently is priceless. She still loves to cuddle, she has learned to obey, she is capable of sitting still when needed, she says the funniest things, and I can’t help but swoon when I she wraps her arms around my neck and says,

“I SO love you!”

Yep, this girl is pretty much perfect and I could stare at her all day. I really do love three.

I Love Three_1 I Love Three_2 I Love Three_3 I Love Three_4 I Love Three_5 I Love Three_6 I Love Three_7 I Love Three_8 I Love Three_10 I Love Three_11 I Love Three_12

May 30, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

A Day With Friends

A Day With Friends | Preparing the Soil

 

We’re still ten days away from dad returning from Indonesia. And let me say…we’re ready. I’m ready.

In the meantime, though, we’re trying to find the balance between keeping busy and resting before what will be a pretty eventful summer.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of spending the day at a friend’s house. With thirteen kids between the two families, there was never a dull moment (I think Michelle and I sat on the porch together for no more than three minutes). But the kids had a great time and it was so refreshing to get out of the house.

As the first twinges of missing Indonesia start to be noticeable, I am thankful for friends and the reminder that we are starting a new life here. I don’t know how long we’ll be here, but there is much truth to the proverb,

The grass is greener on the other side where you water it.

 

So we’re going to water while we’re here and enjoy the beauty.

Lots of trampoline fun (with only one minor injury!)

Lots of trampoline fun (with only one minor injury!)

Beautiful Flowers welcoming us to the house

Beautiful Flowers welcoming us to the house

A Day With Friends_3 A Day With Friends_4

Lots of kitty love

Lots of kitty love

A Day With Friends_6

Zach LOVED the kittens. I am not sure they returned the sentiment!

Zach LOVED the kittens. I am not sure they returned the sentiment!

Caleb is always happiest with animals nearby.

Caleb is always happiest with animals nearby.

Kitten racing!

Kitten racing!

Kitten racing!

Kitten racing!

Lots of fence climbing

Lots of fence climbing

Love my outdoor-loving boy!

Love my outdoor-loving boy!

A beautiful flower picked for me (sorry Michelle!) by my sweet girl.

A beautiful flower picked for me (sorry Michelle!) by my sweet girl.

Lots of swinging

Lots of swinging

Little brother pushing

Little brother pushing

Too-small bike riding

Too-small bike riding

A Day With Friends_17

A walk around the property

A walk around the property

A Day With Friends_19

A walk that ended with pine comb bombing!

A walk that ended with pine comb bombing!

May 22, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

Survival Mode

Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil

There is a big push out there to move from surviving to thriving. I get the sentiment, I really do.

However, there are times in life when thriving isn’t an option. But survival is.

Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil

Our lives don’t always come to us wrapped up in neat and pretty packages. We don’t always have days (or weeks or months or years) when we can truly thrive.  To thrive means to prosper, to flourish. And thriving is a great thing. But it isn’t the only thing.

  • In winter, plants don’t thrive. They survive.
  • Hibernating animals don’t thrive. They survive.
  • Sick people don’t thrive. They survive.
  • Hurting and broken people don’t thrive. They survive.
  • Sick and pregnant women don’t thrive. They survive.
  • And mamas playing the single mom for five weeks to six kids? They don’t thrive. They survive.
Baby snuggles on the front porch

Baby snuggles on the front porch

I know my situation of having my husband on the other side of the world while I reign in the crazy here in the States for five weeks is a small thing. And yet, it doesn’t feel like a small thing when

  • We have all been jet lagged and just downright tired
  • Almost all of the kids have been sick (and we rarely get sick)
  • Bethany did not handle jet lag well and spent more than a week waking up ready to start the day at 2:00 am
  • Zachary has four molars coming in, is sick for the first time in his life, and broke out in a horrendous case of hives (which we later learned was due to the ibuprofen given to help with the cry-all-day teething pain)
  • We’re all dealing with reverse culture shock and a feeling of not belonging anywhere
  • We all miss dad!
  • We are living in someone else’s home, which while is a blessing at times, leads to a lot of adjustment on everyone’s part
  • We are living without our normal, everyday things (dishes, toys, decor, bedding, etc)
  • We have no norms, no routines, no real schedule

Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil

So yea, we’re in survival mode. And I am okay with that. There is an ending in sight (18 days, in case you are wondering). And in the meantime, I am sticking to my “survival mode” rules (many of the same ones I employ when I am pregnant):

  • Make sure everyone gets lots of sleep (a little tough with jet lag, but I think we are officially over it now!) This means no late nights, even for “special” things.
  • Watch what we eat (we are especially mindful of things like sugar intake when emotions are already running high).
  • Get lots of fresh air
  • Try to ensure that the introverts get time alone (which for me means getting up at 2:30 am in order to have a few hours of peace and quiet) and the extroverts get some people time (which means going on a few outings with church and friends)
  • Lots of extra snuggles and kisses
  • Keeping spaces clean (it is amazing how much better we feel emotionally when our surroundings are tidy)
  • A very light (but predictable) schedule
  • Accepting help when needed and offered (I’m having a young lady come over today for a few hours so I can get some much needed work done)
  • Extra time in the Word and in books (quiet reading soothes the soul)
  • Extra doses of patience and compassion
  • Not a time for learning new things or working on trouble areas in life
  • Finding times for things that fill the soul (for me that is creating, either through photography, writing, designing, or baking)
  • Little things first (I try to get all the small and pesky to-do things off my list first thing in the morning so they don’t weigh me down all day)
  • Cutting out any and all things possible (for example, school time is down to reading and math)
  • Getting exercise (I haven’t been able to run every day but I have gone out for the last few days and it has been GLORIOUS!)

Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil

I am sure there is more, but these are the things I am intentionally doing this time of single-parent survival. We’re a flawed bunch and we’ve had some really hard days, but we’ve had some really great days as well. The slower pace and lowered expectations for “getting things done” allows us the time and freedom to just BE together. Yesterday we snuggled on the couch and watched America’s Funniest Home Videos. Later we sat around the dinner table discussing all the different ways that people eat (vegetarian, vegan, paleo, Atkins, clean eating, the American out-of-a-box diet, etc.) The kids came up with a plan for us to try each of these for three days, just to experience them (I’m already feeling sick at the thought of eating frozen food out of a box for three days!). But as I sat there at the table, my kids surrounding me, listening to the laughter and creativity, I thought to myself, “Maybe survival mode isn’t so bad after all.”

Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil

Vanilla Oat pancakes with Blackberry and coconut milk topping

Vanilla Oat pancakes with Blackberry and coconut milk topping

Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil

Survival Mode | Preparing the SoilSurvival Mode | Preparing the SoilSurvival Mode | Preparing the SoilSurvival Mode | Preparing the Soil©Survival Mode | Preparing the Soil-1

Bathtime is so much more fun when I don't have to say, "Don't drink the water! You'll get sick!"

Bathtime is so much more fun when I don’t have to say, “Don’t drink the water! You’ll get sick!”

Check out those hives! And this wasn't even close to the worst of it!

Check out those hives! And this wasn’t even close to the worst of it!

A trip to the park with some people from our church

A trip to the park with some people from our church

Survival Mode | Preparing the SoilSurvival Mode | Preparing the Soil

 

And for your viewing pleasure, the jet-lag and 2:00 am cereal chronicles…

I constantly found kids in my bed at random times in the day

I constantly found kids in my bed at random times in the day

Day four of jet lag

Day four of jet lag

Day 8 of jet lag...at least she fell asleep on her own bed

Day 8 of jet lag…at least she fell asleep on her own bed

1:30 am cereal time

1:30 am cereal time

2:00 am cereal time (day 3 of jet lag)

2:00 am cereal time (day 3 of jet lag)

2:30 am cereal time...day four of jet lag

2:30 am cereal time…day four of jet lag

 

May 13, 2014
by Janet
2 Comments

Traveling Mercies

Sweet Beppy

We made it.

37 hours door to door.

23.5 hours on a plane.

6 kids.

1 parent.

And we survived.

 

It was a long trip and definitely not easy, but overall, things went very well and I am very thankful for the kids and how well they did. During our 14 hour flight we weren’t even seated together and yet the older kids took turns sitting with me and the two little ones and checking in periodically to see if I needed anything. They’re traveling pros.

We arrived in N.C. on Thursday afternoon and have been easing our way back into life in America and life on an American clock. Bethany, our one child who has never handled jet lag well, is slowly inching her wake time forward. Today it was 3:50. That is a huge improvement over 1:00, 1:50, 2:00, and 3:00.

I’ll be checking in more over the next few days, but I just wanted to check in since I knew so many people were praying for us as we traveled. Life is good and I am blessed.

 

May 3, 2014
by Janet
0 comments

Nine Years and Counting

International Scrapbooking Day

We’ve just finished “birthday season” around here. Alaina starts us off on January 30 and Caleb brings up the rear on May 1. In an eight week stretch between March 6 and May 1, we celebrate SEVEN birthdays. That’s a lot of cake.

I have a lot of photos and other things I want to share about my kids as they “grow big and change numbers,” but today I need to talk about another special day.

(inter)NATIONAL SCRAPBOOKING DAY

It’s been nine years. Nine years since I started digital scrapbooking. Nine years since my life changed.

I love that my scrapping anniversary coincidently falls on (inter)National Scrapbooking Day weekend. Obviously scrapping and I were meant to be.

In the past I have shared my story about how I got started and why I love it (you can read more about it HERE and HERE), so I won’t rehash all of that again. But I do want to take my once-a-year opportunity to talk about this hobby that I love so much. I decided that this year, I would create a short video so you can actually see what digital scrapbooking is and how it is done.  So enjoy this quick video and let me know if you have any questions.

 

WATCH ME SCRAP Click  & Create class: Get it HERE

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 6.35.06 PM

 

Also, Sweet Shoppe Designs has kicked off its celebration and is having a storewide 30% off sale.

iNSD2014-store

 

My semi-annual SCRAP YOUR HEART OUT template pack is up and ready to go. With the sale price this weekend, each template is only $0.70!

Alrighty…back to your regularly scheduled non-scrapbooking talk.

May 2, 2014
by Janet
1 Comment

The Pursuit of God

The Pursuit of God

We’re counting down the days until we say goodbye to our beloved Indonesia. It’s hard to believe that a week from now we will be in America and Indonesia will no longer be “home.” My emotions are all over the place, especially as I think of leaving Jason behind for a month.

I hope to do some catch up posts in the near future, but right now, packing has to take precedence. I do have another audio post for you, though. I recorded this last week and I pray that it will be a blessing to you. You can listen here on the blog or download below. When I get back to the States I will be working on getting these to iTunes so that you can subscribe and have them download automatically.

THE PURSUIT OF GOD

 

April 25, 2014
by Janet
5 Comments

Happy Anzac Day (with a recipe!)

The yummy cookies are the perfect match for an afternoon cup of coffee!

The yummy cookies are the perfect match for an afternoon cup of coffee!

 

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was at my house and we were talking about food (one of my favorite topics!) She told me that I should start posting recipes for some of the things that I make. I always think about it, and then never do. But in honor of my British friend who grew up in India, is married to an Australian, and now lives in Indonesia, I’m posting a recipe. Today is Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, a day similar to our Memorial Day. ANZAC stands for  Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. So Debs, this is for you!

I had my first Anzac biscuits when we were living in India. We served in a British school that had staff from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America, and more. I loved the truly international feel to everything we did. I also learned that Americans, the British, and Australians are separated by a common language!

Let’s start with the word biscuit. It means cookie. I remember trying to explain to my British friends what a biscuit is and even made a few batches for them. “Oh, they’re like scones!”

Nevertheless, these biscuits cookies are some of my favorite. I love oats and I love coconut, so it was pretty much love at first bite.

 

ANZAC BISCUITS

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

ANZAC BISCUITS

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 4 Tbsp honey*
  • 1 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Add flour, oats, sugar, and coconut into large bowl and stir to combine.
  3. In a small saucepan add butter and honey* and stir over low heat until butter is completely melted.
  4. Mix baking soda and water together in a small bowl.
  5. Remove butter mixture from heat and immediately add baking soda & water combo (it will cause the mixture to bubble).
  6. Pour into the dry mixture and stir to combine.
  7. Roll the mixture into one inch balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Press down slightly.
  8. Cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Like with all cookies, it is best to leave them on the cookie sheet for about two minutes before placing them on a cooling rack.

Notes

*The original Anzac biscuit recipe calls for golden syrup, an ingredient most Americans are not familiar with. I made two batches, one with golden syrup and one with honey and both worked great.

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April 23, 2014
by Janet
3 Comments

Big Changes Ahead

Big Changes Ahead | Preparing the Soil

Fourteen days.

It’s all I have left.

In fourteen days, the six kids and I will say goodbye to dad and to Indonesia.

We’ll say hello to dad again a month later. But Indonesia, well, it is going to be a (probable) permanent goodbye.

It’s a long and winding story — one that I hope to share more of over the next few months —and along the way are amazing markers of God’s love and faithfulness. Never did we expect to arrive back in Indonesia last July only to be back for one school year. And yet, it became clear to us back in October that this would be our last year. We wavered a bit (because we are so sad to leave) and yet every time we took it to the Lord in prayer, we felt sure once again that we were headed in the right direction. Even when other opportunities presented themselves, we heartbreakingly had to turn them down knowing that America needed to be “home” for a bit.

In the coming months I will share more of our future plans, but suffice it to say, God seems to be up to some pretty amazing thing. Oh the stories I will have to tell! For now, though, we will be headed back to North Carolina. We will be living with my amazing Aunt & Uncle (who really aren’t my aunt and uncle but it is easier than saying “my first cousin once removed.”) and wallowing in their love until September. At that point, we will move back into “our” home at the missionary center in North Carolina.

©janetphillips_june2012-101
January 18

We are so sad to leave Indonesia and the last six years of relationships, ministry, and memories. And yet, we are thrilled to be heading back to our home church, family, and friends we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with last year. We have no idea what our lives will look like over the coming months, but we are anticipating great things.

One of the main reasons for us leaving Indonesia is to seek help for our sweet Caleb. His learning difficulties have reached a point where we need outside help. Unfortunately, the help we need isn’t available to us here. However, God’s faithfulness has shown through in amazing ways and as always, He is looking out for Caleb more diligently than we ever could. I have made a number of connections with people over the past few months and we are starting to map out a course for our dear boy. One of the (very unexpected) things that we are doing to help him is for me to undergo the first of three levels of training in order to be certified in educational therapy. We hope and pray that God allows us to come back overseas in the future. With me having been trained, I can be confident that Caleb (and any of our other children who might struggle) will always have someone who can help. We also want to be a resource for other struggling families. Walking this road without connections and resources overseas has been incredibly challenging. We want to prevent other families from having to make the decision to keep on in ministry or meet their child’s educational needs. Ideally, it should never be an either/or decision. We’ve had to do some financial and calendar juggling, but Lord willing, I will complete level one this summer. Level two will be summer 2015 and level 3 (if we are still Stateside) in 2016. We’d appreciate your prayers for our boy. He’s an amazing kid and we just want to help him be all that God created him to be.

Yes, there are big changes ahead. Thankfully, we walk with a very big God. These words reverberate in my heart on a daily basis:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.

Isaiah 43:2

April 19Caleb and I ran our first 10K together this past weekend. We both got first place in our age divisions (which was easy since it was just the two of us in the entire race). We’re looking forward to a “real” race back in the States. He melts my heart. He said to me a few months back, “On the days when I don’t feel like running, I just imagine myself running a race with you and holding your hand as we cross the finish line. That thought just makes me keep going!”