Friday, February 5, 2016

Oh To Be Loved And To Love

To feel loved. To feel needed. To feel that sense of making a difference. To have a place in this world.

To be loved AND to love is a beautiful thing.

Tonight I was rocking Mazy to sleep and as she quieted down in my arms, she turn to her side to nuzzle her way into my arms. Oh to be loved and to love.

Walking in from a day a work and seeing Mazy kick her legs, squeal, and give me her toothy grin. Oh to be loved and to love.

To see Dan at the end of a day, catch up on our days, and to feel a love that has been nurtured for almost 10 years now - oh to be loved and to love.

To think that Someone would send His only Son, to save me. An unselfish love. Oh to be loved and to love.

Those moments holding my daughter in the wee hours of the night, I can't help but think about the love that God has for me. God too, gets excited when we desire to know Him more - when we "walk in" from a long day and sit down with Him. Sit down and hear about what He has to say to us. The way He welcomes us to nuzzle into His arms through prayer, resting in Him, and reading the very words of God in the Bible. Oh to to be loved and to love!

Love has been complicated in a broken world. But I think God created love to be a simple thing. A simple taking time to just BE WITH. I look at how our love for Mazy and her love for us is nurtured and it is purely to just BE WITH her. I look at how our love for our Savior and His love for us is nurtured and it is purely to just BE WITH Him. Taking that time to just BE WITH.

I know I need to spend more time with God and just be with Him. I can do it so easily with my daughter and yet my Savior asks for the same thing. I pray that desire continues to grow for my Savior as well. The more I get to know Him, the more I fall in love with Him. Isn't that true for human relationships too?

Oh to be loved and to love!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

More Than Just A Mother

More than just a mother.

My dream has come true. I became a mother to two perfect children in heaven in 2012, and then became an earthly mother to Mazy Grace last year. Just today, I picked up my daughter from her crib after a nap and she saw a little banner that my friend had made for her that says "You Are Loved." I saw Mazy smiling and pointing at it so I read those 3 simple words to her and she looked at me with the biggest smile on her face. My eyes welled up. There I stood, holding the result of years of prayers (and the result of many other's prayers as well). A daughter who everyday, we hug so much she pushes us away as if to say "let me go, would ya?" You see, those hugs we had been waiting years to give.

I truly could not imagine my life any different.

But between the diaper changes, feedings, and even those hugs, there is someone else in there too. It doesn't take away the fact that I am a mother, but I am also a wife. I am also a daughter of the King. Not that those are duties, but those are gifts to me, that I need to make sure I nurture as well.

And you do too.

It is easy to let all of my love go to my daughter (b/c let's be honest, she is pretty easy to love), but I also have a husband who deserves my love too. Who I committed 10 years ago, to walk life with. It is easy to get into roommate-mode and parent-mode and forget about the relationship we need to nurture too. That is why we have committed to continuing our Skip-Bo tournament! That is why we have committed to go on a 10 year anniversary trip. Because we need each other too. In order to parent well, we need to make sure we are well. And don't worry, we are well, but we need to make sure we keep it that way. God has given us each other and that is something we don't want to take for granted. I could do a whole lot better at this. Dan once said "I just want 'Kristin'" and by that he meant ME - not the "mother" me, but KRISTIN. I need to make sure I am myself too - the person Dan married.

There is also this other aspect of me that is even more important. Even more important than me being a mom. And it's the fact that I am a daughter of the King. A daughter who is called to put Christ first in her life. So what does that mean to me? That means I have the opportunity to live out my faith, my beliefs, my convictions, and my love for my Savior, everyday. Between the diaper changes, feedings, and even those hugs, it's hard to know what that looks like. I know that I want to mother Mazy the best way I can and that is through showing her how much her Father loves her. But I know God has called me to more.

That is where I have struggled.

Parenting is always an adjustment for all parties. It is hard to find your niche after your schedule changes a bit, but one thing I know God is always putting on my heart, is to testify what He is doing in our life. Between the gazillion pictures of Mazy I share on this blog, I want to testify about the grace God has shown us. The grace He gives me in parenting and in life. That is why I love blogging. I can be a very wordy person (trying to self-evaluate here), and I am sure many of my posts make no sense, but only to me. Regardless, I feel it is an avenue God has given me to share of His love, grace, and workings in our life.

And that is why I want to share about one more thing that I have been working on. Something that I have felt prompted to do for a few years now, but feel "this" is the year.

I used to have a bucket list on the side of this blog. One of the things I have always wanted to do was write a book.

That is coming to fruition.

After having Mazy, I realized that she is part of the story that we are to share. She has made me a mother, but has also taught me that I am more than just a mother. Thank you Lord, for teaching me that! I am not sure I would have gotten that message any other way!

So, between the diaper changes, feedings, and even those hugs, I have been trying to put our life onto pages in a book. I am thankful God gave me the prompting to start a blog years and years ago (which makes writing a book much easier for a person who doesn't have a good memory). It is a bit harder to make it all flow into one single book, but that is what I am in the process of doing. I realize that this is a huge undertaking and I am not doing it for us. I am not doing it to make money. I am doing it purely because I know that is something God has put on my heart to do. I know nothing about writing a book, but I know that if this is what God is leading me to do, He will give me the tools I need to accomplish the calling.

The sole purpose of the book is to share about the very Savior who saved us. To share about the journey that He has given. To share about HIS love and grace in our life. To make HIS name known.

Those hugs from Mazy, will never get old (Dan just said that yesterday too). They never will. But I know that even though I couldn't ask for a better role right now in being a mom, I know God has created me to more than just a mom. And right now, that means writing a book too. I do not have a timeline, but I know it will come to fruition when it needs to.

So how is that "more" defined for you? What does that look like for you? What do you feel God prompting YOU to do, but are maybe hesitant to dive into?

Now I am going to step away and get more of those hugs...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Around The Home

Just another pretty normal week at the Sterks! Mazy has learned to turn around in a circle while sitting on her bottom, so maybe she will end up scooting across the floor instead of crawling! Her vocab is also becoming quite extensive, even though we aren't always sure what she is saying! I recently taught her to say "all done" - it is so cute how she puts her hands up and says it in her own little language. What joy it brings us to see her grow each week!

Mazy is doing so much better at eating pieces of food! She loves homemade waffles!


Such a happy little girl!

Hard to believe she used to fit this playmat length-wise! We thought she was done playing with it, but the other day we brought it out and sure enough, she had a blast playing on it again!

Just another day doing laundry!

It has been over 30 degrees here a few times this week, so that means walk time! Still had to bundle her up, but thankfully she was okay with that!

Her new favorite toy are her plastic measuring cups!

 My little snuggle bug! Those eyes...

All set for church!

Somebody had too much fun in nursery!

Dan and I also had a date night on Saturday, which was so wonderful! Thank you to the couple who watched her! It felt good to just get caught up on life again!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't Let Busyness Steal Your Life

Nights at home are pretty rare for us. Being in youth ministry, much like how teenagers are night owls, the majority of ministry happens at night too. I would love to say that I have the "night owl" gene in me yet, but unfortunately I don't think it ever was. Especially now. I have been known to go to bed soon after my child has at 9:00. No shame. It was awesome. And completely worth it. All those who are still tired? Try the 9:00 bedtime - it works great. So if we are home by 9, I'm good! Don't worry, average bedtime is NOT 9:00. Don't let me fool you.

While sitting on the floor, playing with Mazy, we brought out her playmat that we hadn't had her play on for quite awhile. We were thinking she grew out of it, but we put her on her back and she started to just play away. It brought all the memories back of when she was just a few weeks old and she would just gaze at the toys on it. Now, she literally grabs the bars that hold the toys with her feet, and basically almost takes the whole thing down. Really, it is a quite a violent scene, though she does this with much pride.

As we sat and watched, we both were reminded of how the busyness of life can really steal those precious moments. Don't get me wrong. We LOVE going to games, youth group events, and just being out and about. But those moments spent in the quiet of our home, with no other noise but our child, remind us of how fast time really does go by.

We used to shrug at the comment that time flies. I used to think people were constantly lying to me and that no one was telling them they were liars because at times, it seemed like time was at a standstill. Those hours where Mazy would just cry. And cry. And cry. And I would just join her. Those nights when she was wide awake until 3am. Trust me, those hours don't fly by. I've watched the minute hand.

But in reality, those days go by. We hate to admit it, but it's true. Those seasons pass and a new season blooms. I don't look back at those times with regret, but with thankfulness for the chance to spend those quiet hours of the night with her. It has made me the person I am today. It has been a gentle reminder that she will one day not want to lay in my arms, but run everywhere. One day she will overtake my lap and won't fall asleep on me. Those days are numbered. Those days are screaming by.

And the busyness of life can steal those moments away. We wish for the next day to come. Wish for life to slow down. Wish for "that" moment when everything changes. I am thankful that I haven't felt too busy or that I have missed out on anything in her life. But I can foresee that happening and I want to do everything in my power to combat that now. Those moments on the playmat will be gone one day. Those moments rocking her to sleep with be gone.

She will soon be driving off into the night in her own car. With a husband one day. With kids of her own. (All things we pray she will be able to experience as well).

Don't let the busyness of life steal the joy out of today.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Taking A Look Back

The other day Mazy and I were on our way to town and I took a look back and saw our sweet baby girl's face, just looking out the window. It's a drive we make often - the 20-25 minute drive to the grocery store, doctor's office, you name it. Really, this day was no different; except for that moment when I saw our beautiful little girl's face, just gazing.

A moment I will forever have etched in my mind. The fulfillment of a desire of our hearts.

So often in life, we are told to keep looking forward and to not look back. Yet on that day, I couldn't be more thankful for the moment I took time to look back.

My eyes started to well up with tears as I thought about the years prior, when I just dreamed about looking back in my rear view mirror, and seeing a baby, our child, in a car seat. I honestly thought that day would never come.

I take a look back and think about the road God has led us on. I take a look back and think about how we have not had the most "normal" journey towards having a child, but a journey that has been completely worth it!

When you take a look back on your life, even if it means just taking a peak into your back seat, do you see God's faithfulness? His goodness? His grace overflowing?

Even though a new year springs the idea to look ahead, but I believe that it's the journey behind us, that also makes us the people we are today.

For that, I am thankful for the reminder, the little nudge from God, to take a look back!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Recipe To Make Any Snow Day Spectacular

This post is sponsored by Wayfair, but all of these opinions are completely my own. I did receive compensation for this post. 

In Minnesota, we have had our fair share of frigid temperatures already this winter! Even though we have plenty of snow on the ground, I know that there are many other places that have been bombarded with snow lately as well! Can I just say SNOW DAY?!?!

Let's be honest. Snow days are some of the best of days. There is an excitement in the air the night before, wondering, just wondering, if your school's name will run along the ticker at the bottom of the tv. After the anticipation is confirmed, then comes the dreaming about how to make it the best snow day ever!

When Wayfair had asked me what would make a spectacular snow day, I couldn't help but think of my go-to, cold temperature, snow day recipe: a big ole pot of chicken corn chowder soup!

My husband works with youth and every Monday, we cook dinner for them. Dinner for about 15 kids means a whole lot of food (just think teenage boys). Not that they are picky eaters, but I like to make meals that they may not always eat.

This past week I made a spectacular snow day recipe - my go-to chicken corn chowder recipe. I was not able to make the youth group meeting, but I was thinking there would be plenty left over since I made a large crockpot full. I should have known better. When my husband came home, the soup was completely gone, including the rolls and dessert. Enough said, right?

If you are looking for something to do on a snowy day, look no further than this recipe! Pair it with rolls with garlic butter, and you will have yourself a hearty meal that will be sure to satisfy any appetite!

Chicken Corn Chowder

2 c. diced potatoes
1/2 c. sliced carrots
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/4 c. chopped onions
1 1/2 c. cooked chicken or ham
1 1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 c. boiling water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1/4 c. butter
1 1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
1 can creamed corn
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Heat potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, chicken, salt, pepper, water, and bouillon cubes in saucepan and simmer 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make a cream sauce using the butter, flour, and milk. Add cheese into cream sauce, stirring to melt. Combine vegetable mixture, cheese sauce, and corn. Heat but do not boil.

The chicken and vegetables I used:

Put all vegetables, meat, bouillon cubes, water, salt, and pepper in a pan and simmer 10 minutes.

 Make the cream sauce using butter, flour, and milk

Add the cheese to cream mixture

Mix everything together and stir often if set on higher heat, otherwise it will burn on the bottom

A hearty bowl of chicken corn chowder on a snowy day!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Around The Home

This past week has been filled with Mazy honing in on her new skills!

She is LOVING picking up food with her fingers and eating it. Her new favs are waffles and toast with peanut butter. Yes, I have introduced peanut butter and so far so good! I figured the range they say that you can introduce it is from like 9 months to 2 or 3 years, and she has yet to have an allergy to a food, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. She likes it so much that she will lick the peanut butter off the toast and then eat the toast. Silly girl!

I am also working on getting her to eat when we eat. She is starting to eat a bit what we eat, which is so much fun. The faces she sometimes pulls are just hilarious, when introduced to something new! We had pizza sticks the other night and those sure were a hit! Of course they are pea-size pieces for her, but she is learning well!

It was a hard and exhausting day grocery shopping with mommy!

She is SO proud that she can walk using her Sit to Stand toy! If I try to hold onto the toy or her, she will literally swat my or push my hand away. We have one strong-willed child! And I don't say that loosely!

Just making sure that I am watching!

We decided to make a little thank you card for someone, so I pulled out the crayons. I had these finger crayons from when I was younger, and she found it more entertaining to put her finger in it than to color, but it was fun!

Mazy is still so in love with dogs! As you can see, she just can't get enough of them! Thanks to our friends who let Mazy pick on their dog!

All we have to say is "big hugs" and she will give their dog a hug. She even "hugs" the refrigerator where all her cousin's pictures hang and pictures of this dog!

Mazy sure is my daughter - she LOVES cheese!

It hit above 30 yesterday, so that meant it was time for a walk! It was in the low 30s, so a bit chilly yet, but we bundled her up and she enjoyed it for about 20-30 minutes! I'll take it! It felt so good to go outside on a walk with her - last weekend it was so cold church was cancelled! This week it is supposed to get close to 40!!!! YAY!

Mazy is just learning so much so quickly! When we were facetiming with my family, we said say "hello" and she literally said "ehwhoa". Dan and I both looked at each other and said "did she just say "hello"? We are going to chalk that up as her first word, outside of dada and mama! They say time flies with babies and it's true, but I think the reason why is because they learn so much so fast. It is a blessing to see her grow into her own little personality and we can't wait to see how God uses her in His Kingdom and for His Kingdom purposes!