Marriage- In light of All the Things

I have gone back and forth in my mind about whether or not I should write this post.  It is kind of putting it all out there, but my blog is about all the things.  Life is big and creative and messy and although I want to be pleasing to the eye, like an Instagram photo, I also want to be real and relatable.  So, if I haven’t scared you off yet, continue reading.  😉

If you read my post about our beach vacation, I was open about things being a little tense between Steve and me that week.  Honestly, they have been a lot tense for a while now.  We have been married for over 25 years.  We still love each other.  Things are just hard right now.  Any marriage that is perfect or happy ALL of the time, in my opinion, just isn’t real.  Don’t get me wrong.  We are a really good team.  We work extremely well together.  We are both quick to apologize and quick to forgive.  We can work around a kitchen and whip up a week’s worth of allergen free meals and get them delivered to a university an hour away in a flash.  We can work together to get the hours of homework done with our youngest.  We can work together smoothly without argument and get our daughter moved into her first apartment.  We can handle ALL the things of family life well together.

We are just in a new phase, stage, chapter – whatever you want to call it- of life.  Our oldest has started her first career job, moved into her first apartment, and is officially off the payroll now.  Our middle one, with the food allergies, is moving into an apartment for the remainder of her college life and will be able to do most of her own cooking from here on out.  She has been practicing all summer and she will have a kitchen to be able to do it.   Our youngest will be starting high-school in the fall.  He will be the only one living with us when the school year starts.  I thought that things would be easier, less hectic and that we would have more time for each other, as the focus for the last 25 years has mostly been the kids and their special needs, etc…  We DO have more time, however, we seem to be floating in different directions.  I have found myself with hurt feelings more and more often because our visions just don’t seem to line up anymore.

I have started reading a book called, The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie OMartian.  In the first chapter, she advises that love is diminished if we dwell on the negatives.  Love grows if we focus on the positive.  She encourages you to pray from the right heart and that it is impossible to truly give yourself in prayer for your husband without first examining your own heart.  I cannot expect God to answer my prayers if I harbor unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment.  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. Psalm 66:18   She states “God wants our hearts to be right so the answers to our prayers are not compromised.”

Hmm… thinking.  Mulling that over…

Sometimes, that’s hard.  What about when you feel he has been indifferent, or uncaring, or just makes you mad?  But what about me, Lord?  Don’t my feelings count?  Can’t I just pray for you to change him? If I’m honest, these were the first questions that came to my mind.  From reading just the first few chapters, I am learning that powerful and effective prayers come down to a matter of the heart.  God wants our hearts to be one with His.  He is waiting for me to lay all of my expectations and desires at the foot of the cross.  He wants to change me.  He wants to change Steve, too, but in His time and on His terms.  That’s hard because that means that I don’t have control over what happens.  I have to be patient and wait on the Lord.  I have to trust that All things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

Steve and I have talked about things, how we seem to be struggling right now and as my impatience with him has grown, his irritability with me has, as well.  Not a pretty picture, but honest.

ALL the things.

I started to say that sometimes it feels like it would just be easier to give up and start over, but that isn’t true…and I believe that is the enemy speaking lies.  I had that thought because having tough conversations is hard.  It is draining.  It isn’t happy.  You get tired of disagreeing and seeing no way over things when you just don’t see things the same way.  So, what do you do?  Well, pray. Hard!  We are both working together to get on the same page with each other.  We are each trying harder than I think either of us has been for a while.  It is easy to just put it on auto pilot and continue on with all the things of life and not address issues.  That comes back to haunt you.  We are praying together, consistently.  Praying together has never been consistent in our marriage.

Instead of just asking me out to a movie or out to eat, Steve called me up one afternoon and said he had a change of plans.  He said that there were 2 tickets left to see Beauty and the Beast at our Community Theatre, if I wanted to go.  I cried.  You see, I was a Music Education major in college, vocal major, full tuition vocal scholarship, coloratura soprano, and I love musical theatre and all things singing.  Just so you get the full picture.  My husband does not sing.  He loves all things racing.  That’s cars – full size or remote control, motocross, BMX.  As a matter of fact, I am still nursing him back to health from a BMX injury, broken rib and all.  Have you ever had to take care of someone you are mad at?  That’s a whole ‘nuther blog post.  Anyway- He is also a drummer.  He does not sing or dance or like to watch it.   He was trying.  Putting forth effort to make things better.  I have been trying harder, too, or at least I think I have.  I try to have dinner at least started if not on the table when he gets home and a pleasant look on my face, instead of a complaint about something on my lips.  I just mean that I am putting forth extra effort to show him that I love him and he is appreciated, too.  Now, I’m not saying that we can’t do things apart from each other.  That is not our problem.  Of course, I won’t go into minute details of our struggles.  As like any other couple, we just have some things we need to work on and one of those for me, is allowing God to make my heart more like His and trust that He is working on Steve’s heart, too.   As we grow closer to the Lord, I know that we will grow closer to each other.

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Romans 15:5-6 says, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just keeping it real this post.  I am trusting that we can get back to a happier us.

Lover, giver, and endurer of All The Things,

 

Cindy

 

 

 

A Good Home-Cooked Meal (allergen-free, of course)

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fried pork chops, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy

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peach cobbler

Well, I just knew after I decided to be home with the kids this summer that I would get it together and lose some weight.  Haha!  I crack myself up.  Uh, yeah, that hasn’t happened.  I have decided that instead of fat, we would use the word voluptuous.  Merriam-Webster says: adjective – of a woman: very attractive because of having large hips…  Yes.  That sounds much better.  I like the very attractive part.

Have y’all ever watched The Pioneer Woman.  Oh. My. Word.  I honestly DID have a very productive day yesterday.  I got loads of laundry done – literally, dishes washed, cleaned out the refrigerator, and started cleaning out a closet, and took Lauren driving, but the TV was on and the Pioneer Woman! I just had to make that meal…but I had to make it Lauren friendly.  So, we took a trip to get the items that we needed and came home and I got to work.  We purchased thin, bone-in, pork chops.  I think the ones she used were boneless.  We then got the green beans.  I love Pero Farms Organic green beans, a red bell pepper, a Vidalia onion (is there any other?) and some fresh peaches.

I put the peach cobbler together, first.  Now, since I have to make our meals wheat, dairy, egg, nut free, I did not use her recipe.  I have been trying to find one that doesn’t taste rubbery or just not good.  It is a difficult task, without wheat or eggs, to make a bread pudding or cobbler texture.  A few weeks ago, I used a combination of brown rice flour and tapioca flour and too much coconut oil.  It was okay, but not much like the real thing. More like that rubbery consistency that happens when I am still trying to figure it out.  I always try to get as close as possible to the real thing, so that Lauren can enjoy what the rest of the family does.  This time, I found one of her yellow cake mixes in the pantry, so I thought that would taste good and be easy.  Not 10 million ingredients or steps.  If you are an allergy parent, you get that last statement.  I will post the recipe I came up with below.

The next thing I did was made a mistake.  I started frying the chops.  I should have started the green beans first, as they take longer. Also, I have no pictures of the process of these because my nickname could be the messy cook.  It looked like a bomb went off in my kitchen.  If you follow some of the same people I do on instagram, pictures of my kitchen at the time would only traumatize you…and ain’t nobody got time for that!  So!

I used grape seed oil to fry my pork chops in.  I set my temperature on medium to medium-high heat.  A little salt, pepper, and chili powder to season.  I dredged through some brown rice flour and into the cast iron skillet they went.  Two and a half minutes on each side and done.  For Lauren’s mashed potatoes, I peel and cut up 4-5 russet potatoes and boil until tender with a fork, about 10 minutes.  Drain and then place in our kitchen aid mixer.  I whip the potatoes with the wire whisk attachment while adding rice milk.  Salt and pepper to taste.

For the green beans, I basically used Ree Drummond’s, The Best Green Beans Ever recipe.  I did change just a tad.  I used 1 clove of garlic, instead of 2, just because I have become sensitive to too much garlic, lately.  I don’t know why.  My body has gone haywire, since I hit my 40’s.  I used 1/4 cup red bell pepper, instead of the 1/2 cup that she uses.  I also fried 2 slices of Applegate Farm’s bacon to saute’ the onion and garlic in, and crumbled the bacon on top just before serving.

To make the gravy, I just poured some water and rice milk, and a touch of chicken broth  into the cast iron skillet and turned up the heat until it got bubbly.  Then, I used arrowroot starch and brown rice flour to thicken.  I salted and peppered to taste.  I crumbled any bacon I had in it and a little of the sautéed onion from the green bean mixture.  It turned out great.  I wasn’t sure if it would taste good or not.  As a southern girl raised on Mississippi cookin’ (my momma, meemaw, and grandma), we use just a pinch of this and a dash of that, so I can’t really say what the measurements were for the gravy.  I just winged it.  They usually put a pat of butter in things like gravy, but I can’t do that with Lauren, so that is why I used all the other things to give flavor to the gravy.  It really did turn out nicely.

Funny thing.  The guys, who do not have food allergies, loved the peach cobbler.  Lauren has decided after 2 tries that she just doesn’t really like peaches.  We topped her cobbler off with Rice Dream Frozen Dessert in Vanilla.  She, at least, loved her ice-cream and all the rest.  This meal was definitely a hit!  Here’s hoping that all of your favorite yummy foods of summer are as delicious as we found this meal.

Lauren’s Easy Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

2 cups of peaches peeled, pitted, and sliced

1/4 c water

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free/Wheat Free Yellow Cake Mix (also peanut, nut, dairy, egg free)

3/4 full fat coconut milk (canned coconut milk)

cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, add peaches and water.  Bring to a boil.  Then, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Place 1 tbsp of coconut oil in 8 x 8 baking dish.  Set on top of stove so that oil will melt.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup cake mix and coconut milk.
  5. Pour batter on top of the coconut oil, drain the peaches, and spoon them evenly over the batter.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.
  6. Bake cobbler for 25 minutes or until done.
  7. Serve warm with your favorite non-dairy topping.

Ree Drummond’s, The Best Green Beans Ever and Pan Fried Pork Chops on foodnetwork.com is where you will find the other recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

An unconventional beach trip

Well, when I started this blog, I told you that it would be about ALL the things and this past week has definitely fit the description! Our summer vacation this year was a trip to the beach.  We had not been to the beach in 4 years.  That is a long time when you live in Birmingham, which is relatively close.  We, as usual, cooked meals for Lauren before hand, so she could eat safely and packed all of the essentials such as sunscreen, towels, swimsuits, and sunglasses, but included in our items to pack was also a suit with dress shoes, a tie, and plane reservations for one.  You see, we received a phone call the day before we left that Steve’s uncle had passed away.  Steve is very close to his family and loved his uncle very much, so he made arrangements to fly out of Destin to Illinois and back while the younger two kids and I stayed in Destin.  Our oldest had to stay home to work.  She is learning about the joys of the adult world, being new on the job, and all that entails.  It was very different not having her with us.  I think it was the first time vacation did not include our entire immediate family.

Our first night in Destin we went out to eat, and just like always, Lauren took a meal with her.  She is anaphylactic to multiple foods, so that is what has been safest for her to do.  We went to Lulu’s and received what would turn out to be the brightest spot on our trip.  The waitress came up to our table to take our order and, just like every time we go out to eat, Lauren explained that she had severe food allergies, but had everything she needed and thanked her.  Our waitress advised that they had an allergy menu and offered that to Lauren.  Now, we have had restaurants tell us that they had special items on their menus for allergies before, but it is not like Lauren has a gluten intolerance or is allergic to just one thing, but Lauren politely obliged and took the menu to glance at.  As she perused the menu the waitress stayed and began to explain that the managers there are trained to handle all food allergy orders.  She walked away for a moment and brought back a manager who knelt down and discussed Lauren’s allergies with her at length.  He took notes, made suggestions and asked questions and then advised that he is anaphylactic to fish and shellfish and has worked for this company for 9 years and never had a reaction.  He went on to explain that the allergy free food is prepared in a separate kitchen area and with separate kitchen staff and he would bring out her food to her staggered with our orders.  They are a peanut free restaurant and have tree nuts on a dessert and that is all.  We were flabbergasted and elated at the lengths this company goes to accommodate someone with food allergies, like Lauren.  Lauren is anaphylactic to wheat, dairy, eggs, and peanuts.  Due to cross contamination possibilities, she also has to avoid tree nuts.  She wound up ordering a fresh and fancy salad with grilled chicken and vinegar and oil dressing.  She couldn’t finish it and had takeout for the very first time!  To someone who has not been so extremely limited in their life, this may seem trivial, but to us, it was everything.  They are right on the beach, have live music, a laid back atmosphere, and a fantastic gift shop.  They are in Destin, Florida and Gulf Shores, Alabama and we will definitely be going back.

As I said earlier, that was the one bright spot on our trip.  Not only did we receive the phone call about Steve’s uncle the day before our trip, but Lauren’s “friend” came to visit that day, too.  She has also been in a severe eczema flare that has covered her entire body.  This is the second severe bought she has had like this.  Bless her heart!  She was miserable.  She was itchy head to toe.  I am constantly amazed at how gracefully she handles all that she deals with on a daily basis.  She has the trifecta: food allergies, asthma, and eczema.  She is almost 19 and handles life, like a pro.  I am a 47-year-old that sometimes feels grumpier and grumpier about life.

Steve left our second day on vacation and was gone for essentially 2 days.  The kids and I went out to the beach for a little while, but then just came in and watched movies together.  This is the latest in the summer we have ever gone to the beach and it was  crowded.  The public access has grown smaller and the large condos on either side of the public access is now roped off and chairs and umbrellas set up along the shore as far as the eye can see in each direction.  This creates a tense environment where people kind of have to stake their claim for a spot on the beach.  It can get tense and we were actually bullied off the beach one morning.  We evidently set our chairs too close to another family that did not appreciate it.  The passive-aggressiveness was real, y’all!  We had no tent or umbrella, just 2 small beach chairs, but we were there and I guess that was enough to just be taking up a space at all.  It was disappointing.  I was so looking forward to just relaxing and listening to the waves and looking out at the ocean.  One does not go to the beach to be stressed about being in someone’s way.  It was kind of awful.  Throw in a strong disagreement or two with your husband on your what was supposed to be a much-needed relaxing beach vacation and you decide that the saying, “A bad day at the beach is better than a good day anywhere else” just doesn’t sit very well.

I didn’t want this to be a negative Nellie post, but I did want to be honest because this blog is about ALL THE THINGS, so ALL THE THINGS is what you’re gonna get.  Sometimes life goes smoothly and sometimes it does not.  This vacation was not the easiest.  We did not get the everybody dressed in matchy clothes, beautiful sunset, hair and makeup just right and all bright smiles and no blemishes family photo this year.  It. just. did. not. happen…and I don’t think it was supposed to.  Life is messy.  Lauren is dealing with not fun health issues, family members pass away unexpectedly,  marriages go through rough spots.  The beach isn’t always sunny or uncrowded,  or a yellow flag, perfect wave day.   Sometimes it rains.  Sometimes it storms.  Sometimes it’s a double red flag day and the beach is closed.  (Yes, that happened, too.) but in the grand scheme of things we can be thankful that God is still God and His mercies are new every morning and we have a home to come home to, a job to pay the bills, and my garden is flourishing in my backyard.  Sometimes, it’s the little things.  So even though our beach trip wasn’t the most relaxing or conventional, we were able to go this year and Lauren had a reaction free meal at a restaurant on restaurant dishes and a drink in the restaurant cup with a straw.  That sounds silly, I know, but not to her.  I promise.

Praying that ALL THE THINGS of your summer are drama and stress free!

Cindy

 

 

Playin’ in the Dirt and Pullin’ Up Weeds

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I love having a garden!  This may sound weird, but I like the smell of dirt when I water it.  We live in a subdivision, so it isn’t like we have a bunch of land or anything like that, although, I tease and say that I just need some land, a tractor, and some overalls and I’d be a happy gal.  We haven’t planted a garden in a few years, so I am so excited to have one this year.  We are kind of late getting it in the ground AND we are doing things a bit differently from the way we have in the past.  I did not go and buy plants from the store.  I purchased organic, heirloom seeds from a seed company that supports organic gardening.  Lauren and I planted the seeds together.  I didn’t know if anything would even come up.  We have never done it this way before, but figured, what the hey, we’ll try something new!  Well, it has been 5 days and guess what?  We have plants!  Yay!  Little pea and squash and zucchini plants have poked through the soil.  SO EXCITED!

I love tending a garden.  Waking up in the morning and going to see how much the plants have grown.  We have had plenty of rain, so far, thanks to subtropical storm Alberto.  I know that weeds will begin to sprout up and that is just part of it.  Have you ever noticed how deep the roots are on weeds?  Clover and grass.  It doesn’t take much and they grow strong and deep.  As long as the ground is moist, I can pull the weed out by the root.  All of the rain we have had has helped keep them easy to pull up by the root, but once it gets really hot and dry here in Alabama, that will be harder to do.  Just like plants need water and care to keep out the weeds, we need the living water  to keep us spiritually healthy and strong.  Staying in God’s word helps us keep the weeds of life from taking over.  When we neglect to stay hydrated by the living water, the weeds can take root and become harder to get rid of.  Hebrews 12:15 says, See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God: that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble…  Just after a rain, the next morning, I always see new weeds that have sprung up, so I have to get at them early to pull them up and not allow them to take root in my garden.

It amazes me how a tiny seed can be placed in the dirt, covered with more dirt, rained upon and then push through to emerge from the ground a little green plant that looks so fragile, yet it continues to grow stronger, in spite of the hard rain, wind, hot sun and those nasty weeds!   Some of these elements are necessary to make the seed grow into a strong plant that eventually will grow into a vegetable or flower.  Just like in life, sometimes we have things thrown on us.  Sometimes storms come or a season of drought  or weeds spring up and try to choke the life out of us.  This makes it hard to persevere.  Each of these things, though trying and hard, makes us stronger.  Stronger in character, stronger in our convictions, and with God’s help, stronger in our walk with Him, as long as we do not give up…and just as eventually, the plant bears fruit, we too bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Instead of a tomato :), we bear love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23.

 

I think each of these makes a beautiful garden that I am sure God loves to tend.  Praying that All the Things in your garden, whether vegetable, flower, or your heart are beautiful and plentiful this summer!

 

My Happy Place

 

IMG_4188Wow!  The month of April flew by!  Life has been crazy here at the Bierman house.  I decided to resign from my job just in time to go with our youngest on a field trip to Disney with the middle school choir and band, got to go on an awesome women’s retreat with our church the very next weekend and began alterations on several costumes for the middle school musical right when I got back.  I have to tell you, my sewing machine was broken and the costumes were due for dress rehearsal 3 days after I got back from the retreat.  Thank goodness for good friends that sew and are willing to become part of your craziness for a while to help you get things done!  Throw in catching up on the laundry and cleaning the house because your mother is coming to see her grandchild and you can’t have a messy house!  The choir also had a citywide concert they sang in just 4 days after returning from Disney, so it has been crazy in the choir room at school, too.  Choir directors, as well as many students and parents all working to put together an amazing performance.  After school rehearsals every day, cooking dinner, helping with homework…the list has been endless.  Throw in some missing costumes, last-minute running to the fabric store for buttons and such and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going by the end of the day.   I have gone to bed exhausted pretty much every night these last few weeks,  but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  I have found my happy place again.

Moming can be stressful, but it isn’t the kind of stress that leaves a bad taste in my mouth or an ache in my heart.  I don’t dread Monday mornings anymore.  This is what I have been missing the last 8 years while working outside of the home.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  If working outside of the home is what is best for you and works for your family, then you do you.  As for me, I love doing dishes.  I love getting the house back together (cause it has been a hot mess for a while now!).  I love being able to pick Michael up from school.  I love being able to volunteer again.  I love being able to cook breakfast and dinner for my family and eat at a decent time in the evening again.  I love it!  I let Michael sleep in this morning and checked him in.  He was SO tired after all that he has been involved in at school.  He has great grades and we don’t do that kind of thing all of the time.  Actually, we never do that, but I LOVE having the option now.

I have missed all of this so very much.  I decided since it is close to Mother’s Day, I would write about being a mom and these are the things that make me feel like a good mom.  I decided to go through pictures and I had this beautiful scene in my head of having pictures of me and our children at various times throughout their childhood…and you know what?  There aren’t any.  Ha!  No, seriously.  Well, maybe 1 or 2, but that’s it!  You see, I am also the photographer of the family, so I found lots of pictures of the kids separately, the kids together, the kids with my husband, the kids with their friends, the kids at soccer tournaments, birthday parties, Halloween, playing in the rain, with their cousins, with their grandparents, prom, Girl Scouts…and that’s alright by me.  I just pray that in the end, they remember me behind that camera lens and know that their mom was there.  She was  there to make the wheat, dairy, egg, nut free birthday cake.  She was there to stay up late and help them write the paper.  She was there to make the Halloween costume.  She was there to take them to the midnight premier of Twilight.  She was there to take them prom dress shopping.  She was there to cook them dinner.  She was there to give them a hug and ask them how their day was.  So, whether you are a stay at home mom, or a work outside the home mom, or a work part-time mom,  whatever kind of mom you are, I hope you have found your happy place that helps you be the best mom you can be.   As for me, I love to do All The Things from home and I hope and pray that my children will look back on All The Things we did together and it makes them smile.  Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Oh!  I did find a picture of me and my sister when we were new moms and a few of my mom and Steve’s mom and my grandmother.