No Bake Cookies

Love no name cookies! I love that you can take pantry items and make a yummy dessert!

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The cookies are delicious! They’re filled with quick oats, marshmallow, rice cereal, and cocoa powder and, best of all, they’re no bake. Perfect for summer! You’ve got to make these!

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Ingredients: Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

1 and 3/4 cups rice cereal

1 cup chopped marshmallows,

Recipe: Cookies

In a saucepan, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk to a rapid boil for three minutes.

Then quickly mix in the vanilla, oats, rice cereal, and marshmallows and drop tablespoons onto a sheet of parchment paper. Let cool and then eat!

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Enjoy!

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Teen Speak: On Faith, God and Prayer (or Lack Thereof)

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When I asked Mancub if he’d talked to God about his feelings on Watergirl moving away, he replied, “Not really. I’m kind of mad at him right now.”
“Why are you mad at God for this? He’s not making her family move.”
“Yes he is,” he explained. “He’s calling them to do a church plant and they have no choice but to do it.”

“God is tough enough to handle a bit of anger.”

Wow. This isn’t a difficult conversation at all, is it?

So we prayed together for a bit. I have to admit I don’t pray with him very much, and as a family we don’t spend enough time praying together. I experience a sort of anxiety when asked to pray out loud, probably because I’m intimidated by those who pray so well. You know the type, they are able to in a second’s notice create sheer poetry when asked to lead the prayer.
When I pray out loud it sounds something like this:
“Dear God, we just thank you for this day and for this time together. Please heal Mr. Smith’s bad hip so he can continue to play racquetball. In Jesus name, Amen.”
I’m a writer folks. Give me a pen and I can write a pretty prayer, but it doesn’t always translate verbally. This made me feel guilty (yet again) about how I’m raising my kid. I let him see me angry at traffic, frustrated from work, laughing at bad television–so it’s definitely a problem if I don’t let him see me pray. And if I don’t teach him how.
If I teach him to open doors for women, how to cook a cheese sandwich, but not how to pray, how am I preparing him for life? I’m not.
The University of Notre Dame recently conducted a study regarding teenagers and their views on faith and God. One of the main purposes of the study was to update findings which were deemed outdated. It’s pretty interesting and I plan on taking it apart bit by bit to see what it means for Mancub and our family.

http://youthandreligion.nd.edu/

Huge victories!

My sweet friend Jennifer shares how a diagnosis of Asperger’s is far from a tragedy. Love her and her sweet family.

About A Messy Life

schoolThis week my son went to spend the night at a friends house and has now been over there for 3 nights in a row.  He’s 12, and I’m sure this is very normal behavior for most preteens, but for him, this is the culmination of everything he has worked for over the last 5 or 6 years.  You see, he has Aspergers and spending the night away from home is one of his “fears” that grips him.  This week we’ve all been celebrating this HUGE victory for him, and holding on to the hope that some of his other struggles might be overcome as well!

The Mayo Clinic describes Asperger’s Syndrome as this:  “… is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.”

When my son, K…

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Help! I need meal prep in my life!

Need some help with meal organization during the week?

all things messy...

refrigeratorI don’t know about you guys, but summer is BUSY! I feel like I’m the cruise director of summer fun, and it is wearing me out!  Because of this crazy schedule, I’m eating out a LOT and it’s not only costing more money, it’s also making me feel horrible!  If I can stick to a regimen of good, healthy food then I feel so much better, and I feel better at what my family is eating. A friend of mine put this picture on Facebook and that was all it took, I had refrigerator envy and I needed to change my ways!

So, in lieu of that nonsense in my life this week, I realized that I seriously need to prep my food  better (like in the old days when we first started eating healthier), and to prep it better I needed to learn a few things about weekly meal…

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Women of the Bible: Rebekah and a Servant’s Heart

“Drink my lord…I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking,” Rebekah, daughter of Laban

Abraham was an old man, far too old to go tromping around to find his precious son Isaac a wife, and he didn’t want Isaac to choose a woman from the hood (especially the Canaanites). So he sent Eliezer, his most trusted servant to do the job. He took with him ten camels loaded with gifts. In our day, we would expect perhaps some top quality Apple products, but they didn’t have those back then.

Eliezer sat next to a well and prayed that the Lord would guide him and send the perfect wife for Isaac. He even had a test in mind.

When Rebekah showed up, she was true to her name, which has been connected to “a hitching place” or one who ensnares–possibly by her looks (Rockyer 135). This is supposed to be a compliment, or at least I think so. The bible describes Rebekah as “beautiful, a virgin” and when she came to the well (some translations say “spring”) with her jar, a servant hurried up to her and asked for a drink from her jar.

“Drink my lord,” she kindly said. Then she drew water for the camels as well. It was then that Eliezer felt confirmation that this was God’s chosen wife for his precious Isaac.

What touches me most about this story is that Rebekah wasn’t out to impress anyone. The man who approached her was clearly a servant, and even though her gender was not recognized as equal, it’s clear that Rebekah was no pauper. She had nothing to gain by pausing in the heat of the day to help this man. And she took the extra step by watering all those nasty camels. Underneath that lovely ensnaring exterior beat the heart of a servant.

Lord, please give me a servant’s heart. Let me not be too selfish to see someone in need and walk away. Open my eyes to the need around me and give me courage and a servant’s heart to help.

5 Reasons Why I Teach Stephen King’s “1408” To College Students

Have you ever thought of teaching Stephen King to college students? During my graduate work, I took an amazing class taught by Dr. Karen Sloan called American Gothic. It was one of my favorite classes of all time because it’s just right up my alley. I took it concurrently with Dr. Ross’s British Gothic and I learned so much about the roots of horror. Here’s 5 reasons why I teach “1408” in my English composition class.

1. It’s a great example of a short, well-written horror story that perfectly fits the Contemporary Gothic genre. King is the master of horror, and as much as I would like to teach an entire novel (The Shining, Shawshank Redemption or The Green Mile would be great to dissect!), I just don’t have enough time in a composition class to cover it.

2. It’s a perfect King bite. A bit scary, but not too scary for the faint of heart and those who hate horror. “1408” is a delicious sample, like the ones they give away at Sam’s Club on Saturdays. I might not really WANT to buy a whole lasagna, but a bite or two is perfect!

3. I love surprising students with King’s literary depth. Many people underestimate King’s writing–even he does–as simple, popular mass market paperback books. Not so. They are chock full of well-crafted characters, action-packed plots and quotable lines. His works are so much more.

4. If there’s a literary device I want to teach (symbolism, foreshadowing, point of view, unreliable/reliable narrators), I have a full arsenal in “1408.” It’s densely packed with everything I need in less than 30 pages, and students who balk at traditionally taught literature seem to be more open to the Kingster. Yes, I just called him that.

5. Reading “1408” automatically gives me an excuse to watch John Cusack at his best. Enough said.

 

Mancub and Watergirl: Where it all began…

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I refer to my teenaged son as Mancub–I have for a couple of years now, since he started (and hasn’t stopped) growing and is now currently 6’4 MAN who, since he is only 15–still a cub. Get it? Which easily makes me Mama Bear, which also fits.

When Mancub fell in love, I was thinking about it and it totally made sense. Watergirl! Who can resist? She’s pretty, sweet, a hard worker, and captivated Mancub with her very first blink.

They have been together for almost 10 months now, which you know in teen years is pretty long. Heck, for some adults that’s pretty long. They are super cute together and very best friends.

It’s with a breaking heart that I share this with you. Watergirl is moving away. And not just to Longview but to a little town outside of Seattle. Her sweet family are taking on a church plant up there and really feel that God is calling them. Understandably both Watergirl and Mancub are struggling with what this all means. I know I’m struggling to know how to help him get through it, and it’s heartbreaking for all those involved.

Is it crazy to say that I’m almost as sad as they are? It’s true. The brief interactions I’ve had with Watergirl’s family have been only positive–and no matter what they are having to deal with they handle it with prayer and a grateful heart. It’s true that though I don’t know them very well, I have been inspired by their spiritual walk–and they have had some pretty tough trials. I have to think it’s pretty unusual for a teenage boy’s mom to like her son’s girlfriend as much as I do. I’ve even had brief thoughts of trying to keep her and letting her move in with us, like Roseanne let David move in. I know that’s not going to happen, but I just want you to know how sweet this little girl is. If Watergirl is any indication of the deep faith I see there, then all I can say is that family is the real deal.

So, so sorry to see you leave, Watergirl. Please visit Mancub (and me) soon.

Love,

Your Mancub’s Mama.

On Resting and Prayer

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“There are days when we seek things for ourselves and measure failure by what we do not gain.
On the Sabbath we seek not to acquire but to share.
There are days when we exploit nature as if it were a horn of plenty that can never be exhausted. On the Sabbath we stand in wonder before the mystery of creation.”
Readings from The Shabbat, a Jewish book of prayer as quoted from Jen Hatmaker’s “7.”
Sometimes rest in his love is all that is required. Just rest, dear one. He who knit you in your mother’s womb knows your heartache and he sees.

9 Dos and Don’ts on How to Craft the Perfect Query Letter

If you’ve finished your book, the next step is representation or a small press. You’ve done your research and found the perfect agent who is simply gonna LOVE your work. But you have to make it from your email “Sent” box to her email “Read box” and this is not always easy.This means, of course, the dreaded query letter. Don’t know how to get started? Here are some quick tips.
1. Do find out who to send it to, specifically. Go on the agent’s website and find the name of the agent who is simply ON FIRE about your genre.
2. Don’t begin your letter with: “Dear Editor.” Nothing says “I’m a lazy writer who can’t be bothered with details” like a lack of research here.
3. Do follow the guidelines set forth on the website for submissions. If you go to all the trouble to write a query letter without checking the website first, you may miss the part where they decided to be “closed to unsolicited submissions.” Which, in this case, is yours.
4. Do pay attention to details. If the website says, “Send the first three chapters” or “wait for our response” follow their directions. Even if your query letter is awesome, if they don’t tell you to send it and you attach your manuscript, guess whose email is probably going to be ignored? Yours.
5.Don’t send out a spammish query directed towards many agents at once. You really have to make the agent believe that he or she is the perfect fit for your book–and this is the opposite of that.
6. Do be brief and value the agent’s time. Get to the point. Many agents quit reading after the first few sentences if it’s laborious to do so.
7. Don’t brag as if you’ve written the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games. It’s ok to mention that your book is targeted at the readers of a specific book, though.
8. Do mention previous publications, if it’s relevant. If you’ve won a writing contest or published a short story somewhere, mention it briefly. This automatically gives you a tiny bit of an edge over someone who hasn’t.
9. After hitting the “send” button, DO relax. Most agent’s websites give you a turn-around estimate of time you will probably have to wait to hear back from them. Don’t annoy them beforehand. This, dear writer, is the hardest part. Waiting.

Teen Speak: Three Things To Remember When Your Kid is Hurting

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It’s inevitable. As much as I’d love to take my  kids and bubble-wrap them from any sort of physical or emotional pain, it’s just not possible. Life happens to all of us, and sometimes it’s an all-up-in-your-face free-for-all that results in their pain.

Many times I never see it coming. A breakup or a giant fight with a best friend seems to come from nowhere and it’s intensely personal. It’s so, so difficult to remain a responsible adult when these things happen, meaning NOT going over there to give that brat a piece of your mind.

Yes, kids need to work out their own relationship issues…blah blah blah. Tell me that again when it’s two in the morning and your kid hasn’t stopped sobbing and it’s just heartbreaking.

Sometimes, it’s unavoidable and I can see it coming from a mile away. That’s the worst, I think. When I know when the day or event is coming that’s gonna cause emotional fallout and there’s just nothing I can do about it.

Sometimes I can help, gently suggesting solutions (if there are any) or hiring the Mafia to take care of the problem. Isn’t it infuriating when all you can do is watch someone mistreat and manipulate one of yours, knowing that despite your advice and pleas, it’s up to them to finally see the truth? It’s times like those I wish I had The Godfather on speed dial. “You come to me, on the day of my daughter’s wedding…”

Sometimes, though, there’s nothing I can do to fix the pain and that is an anxiety-ridden few days–or months–when I have to stand back and let things happen.

It’s so hard. I don’t want them to hurt.

But so very many things are out of my sphere of influence. When a best friend moves away. When a relationship breaks up leaving your kid as a casualty.  When those hard things life throws us hit us right in the eye and we can’t see for days because of it.

Here are 3 tips to help you through this time with your teen.

1.Be still, dear Parent. God loves your sweet teen even more than you do. He can see the bigger picture and he’s in control. Give your teen more hugs than usual and a bit more leeway than you normally would. Let him or her know that you are available to talk anytime.

2.Be available. Take him for ice cream to get out of the house. Invite another friend over to distract him. Be silly with him–watch a terrible movie together and laugh. Don’t be afraid to help him laugh.

3.Pray with him. Remind him of God’s presence. Pray for him also, basking them in the Spirit and speaking joy over them.

And for today, everything will feel a tiny bit better. And again tomorrow, a bit more, until the pain is in the form of a shadow rather than itself. The sun will shine again, and when it does you’ll know. Your kid will smile and you’ll see it, just there. See it?