Uncommon Blessings

motherhood, ministry and a million little things

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It’s another rainy day. The rain is falling into deep puddles. Puddles that the J-man stares at longingly, well aware of their “splash potential.” The April showers have yet to transform the dark earth of winter into the flowers of Spring. Sometimes it seems the rain will never stop, the sun will never shine, and the beauty that promises to emerge from the darkness is forever lost. The same is so often true of life.

I know too many who are in the throws of a mighty storm in life, standing soaking wet in the midst of a storm with their pain dripping off of them into puddles they wish they could splash away. There is joy in the rain – lessons to be learned, beauty in the fog and mist, refreshment in the fragrance of the dew. But let’s face it, even if you can find joy in the rain, you still get wet.

Just a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a treasure. With some trepidation  I left my sweet babes in the care of my very capable husband and went to a short conference.  During this conference I had the great privilege of learning from the wisdom of Gail MacDonald – wife to Gordon MacDonald, a pastor for 40 years. Gail has lived through heartache & loss, joy & triumph. As I sat in a room of fifty other women, Gail shared a great treasure with us – her life, her wisdom, her experience.

Gail reflected on the story of Hannah (1 Samuel) – a “devastated woman” – a woman in the throws of a storm.  Like other “devastated women” of her time, Hannah was barren. This is a struggle near to the heart of many women – a timeless tragedy that haunts every generation.

Enter with me into the story of Hannah. Step back with me into the pages of history – the pages of Scripture. Hannah was married to a man named Elkanah. Unlike any custom of our current day, it was not uncommon for a man to have more than one wife. And Elkanah had two – Hannah & Penninah. Hannah was Elkanah’s true love. But despite his passion for her, their love had not birthed a child. While Penninah had given Elkanah children, Hannah had not. I am confident that Penninah longed for the affection that Elkanah showed Hannah. So Penninah played her one card – her trump card – to make Hannah feel worthless.

Each year, Elkanah and his family traveled together to worship God at the tabernacle. And each year, as they traveled  Penninah would taunt Hannah – she would “provoke her until she wept and would not eat.” Each year, Hannah arrived at the tabernacle, to worship God, broken & battered – her soul starved and her stomach empty.

Hannah was in the rain. A fierce storm surrounded her and the sun seemed to have disappeared. Hannah came to God each year, hurting – battered and bruised after a long journey in the storm.

If you are in a storm – let your story meet Hannah’s story as we look at how she endured the pain. (Part 2 coming soon)


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Ready for May Flowers

Spring in Asheville has greeted us with a steady drizzle of rain and a mist of fog. During the day, I hear the patter of little feet & at night, the patter of the rain on my roof. I must confess that the dreariness of it all has me longing for sunshine.

I love that God uses, not only the seasons of life, but the seasons of weather, to teach us. I love that little nuggets of truth can creep even through the fog and into our hearts. Today I was reminded that sunshine is coming, but it’s important to enjoy the rain.

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Bob Dylan
“April showers bring May flowers.”

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Play Dough Fun!

Just a few ideas to make your play dough adventures a bit more fun!

1. Cookie Cutters

  • Seasonal Cookie Cutters are extra fun & you can usually find them in the Target dollar spot or at a dollar store. Just keep them hidden until the “right” time & then surprise your kids with a fun new toy!
  • Alphabet & Number cookie cutters are fun & a great teaching tool. Better yet, check in at school to see what they are learning & reinforce it at home!

2. Seasonal Colors

  • Red, White & Blue for the 4th of July (with a star cookie cutter & maybe a little glitter mixed in!)
  • Green & Red for Christmas
  • Blue & White for Hanukkah
  • Pastels for Easter & Springtime!

3. In the kitchen

  • Plastic dishes – pull out the plastic dishes and make a play dough dinner! Just don’t let the kiddos eat their yummy creations!
  • Pizza Parlor!
  • Kitchen Tools – use the opportunity to teach your kids how correctly to use kitchen tools, just stay away from anything sharp! (fun tools: potato masher, garlic press, pastry wheel,

4. Hide the toy. Hide small toys in the play dough and have your kids find them!

5. Make your play dough sparkle and shine by adding a little glitter and mixing it in! A much less messy way to enjoy a little sparkle! Keep your play dough white & add a little silver or white glitter to make the snow men below extra fun!

3. Snowman – make a snowman (teach them how to roll a ball – it’s fun to watch them try! and help them count to three!) then sing this little diddy to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”

I’m a little snowman, short & fat (as you finish building the snowman)

Here are my buttons, here is my hat! (use a plastic fork to poke buttons in the front of the snowman)

When the sun comes out I cannot play

I slowly, slowly melt away. (smash the snowman to make it melt!)

7. Playdough self portraits

8. Playdough Potatoe Heads


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A Great Temptation for One So Small

The J-man is always on the move. His little pudgy legs carry him quickly to places sometimes I wish he wouldn’t go. The stage at the church is his favorite. It’s from there that the strings of the worship pastor’s gleaming guitar beckon his tiny little fingers. I often catch him quickly waddling that way, eager to hear his hands strum the strings. 

But today something magical happened. Today, as he stared longingly on the stage, pondering the perfect climb, I  told him to “Stop.” He looked at me. Then he looked at the guitar. The he stopped. He turned around and he ran away from the stage.

The surge of pride that welled up in me was indescribable. I quickly looked around, searching the faces of those around me, and wondering, Did you see that? That thing my boy did? Have you ever seen anything so wonderful? But my search came up empty. Everyone was busy with other things or if they had seen anything, they thought nothing of it. It was so small. Just a boy looking at a stage and listening to his mommy.

It may seem like such a small thing, but this act of obedience revealed that my sweet boy is beginning to understand the world in a new and more mature way. In short, he is growing up. It wasn’t the first time he had followed my instructions, but the temptation of that fun-filled stage was a great one to overcome.

The well of pride threatens to overflow into tear – tears of both sadness and of joy. Sadness that he is growing up too fast & joy that he is growing up just right.

In this moment, I recognize that a new weight of responsibility has been heaped upon my shoulders – a new burden I carry on the adventures of motherhood. My responsibility, which I embrace with both eagerness and trepidation,  is to nurture my child’s will. This is my task, my honor, my privilege as his mommy.



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Keep Clean Play Dough Tips

IMG_0153Lot’s of moms have a strict No Play Dough policy. I get it. Play dough can be messy. But its also tons of fun & the clean up can be really easy. Here are a few tips:

#1. Play dough will come off clothes in the wash, so don’t stress about your child getting play dough on his/her clothes.

#2. Wash your play dough toys by putting them in a small mesh laundry bag & throwing them in the washing machine. They will come out nice & clean.

#3. Clean up your play area right away. It’s just easier to clean up play dough before it dries. Toys & Clothes don’t count, you can throw them in the wash even if the play dough is dry.

#4. Do not play with play dough over carpet. While not impossible to get out, it is much easier if you don’t even have to try.

#5. Supervise your kids or better still, Play with them! I guarantee things will stay much cleaner if you are right there!

#6. If the kids start eating or throwing the play dough, its time for it to go away for another day!

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Perfect Playdough

20130223-224132.jpgI love homemade play dough. I love the salty smell as it cooks on the stove. I love swirling a drop of food coloring into the mix and waiting to see which shade will emerge. I love squishing the play dough between my fingers right after it comes off the stove, while it is still soft and warm and rolling it into a perfect ball.

For some reason, homemade play dough is just better. It’s softer. It doesn’t seem to dry out as quick.

Here is my favorite homemade play dough recipe.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I use veggie)
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tarter (I’ve seen recipes that call for WAY more. Ignore those recipes, they are just trying to make you waste money)
  • food coloring


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large sauce plan.
  2. Heat on stove over low-medium heat until dough forms, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly.
  3. Remove from heat when dough has clumped together but is still a little sticky.
  4. Form the dough into a mass & remove from pan. Knead with your hands until smooth and no longer sticky.
  5. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  6. Have Fun!

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