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Joy is not elusive

12/12/2020 - Author: Natasha Phillips

This time of year holds some of my favorite memories…as it does for so many people. Memories of cutting down a cedar tree on December 13th, my brothers birthday, from across the road…actually cutting down two or three because the first never passed mom’s approval. With cutting down the tree always came a game of hide and seek among the trees with my siblings and dad. There was ALWAYS caroling at our house which meant lots and lots of cookie baking to bring to all our neighbors when we sang and the elderly folks in the community that my parents made sure weren’t forgotten. When I was younger I loved those visits…because one could never just “drop off” cookies and sing a song and leave and those we were visiting always had goodies for us kids. As I got older and entered my teenage years I tolerated the caroling and visiting but dreaded it all…the old people were boring and I thought caroling was for children and crazy people. I wish I could go back and change my thought, change my attitude and soak up those visits as most of the people we used to share this time of year with, have passed. I loved the way anyone was always welcome at the house I grew up in…even more so at Christmas time. I loved the way the house looked, and of course I loved Christmas morning. We didn’t grow up in a house with Santa Claus or an elf or anything like that. We didn’t grow up in a house with much money. I never knew how poor I actually grew up, financially that is, until I was in college. In our house at Christmas time there was an abundance of gifts. You see, us kids always had gifts for each other. When we were younger that meant all the gifts were homemade, as we grew into our teen years homemade gifts fell by the wayside as we could afford to buy little trinkets for the siblings that were dear to our hearts. Gifts were never extravagant in the house I grew up in, but we all knew how much love went into each little thing. Being the oldest I got rocks from the little kids collections they had made from the stream across the road, I received wooden creations from board that had been assembled to look like a house and painted and always cards and drawings. Christmas morning we had to wait until my parents would get up. Mind you…364 days of the year we were being told to be up, dressed, hair done and downstairs by 6:00am. But on Christmas morning my parents wanted to “sleep in” until 8:00!!! Oh the horror. All us kids would be piled into the living room trying to keep the baby away from the tree and the current toddlers out of the presents, all while staying quiet so mom and papa could “sleep”. Haha, now that I am an adult and a parent I very much doubt they were sleeping. When they finally would get up, mom would prepare breakfast with her famous bear claws…a treat reserved for Christmas time or her “fat balls”…a Dutch donut. When the indulgent breakfast eating was finished, we would once again pile into the front room to read the nativity story from Luke 2 and put the nativity up. The figurines would be passed among us kids with admiration for whoever received baby Jesus as that was the real prize. Papa would commence to reading and we would place our beautiful figurines when it was time in the story. It would end with a prayer by my dad, which took about 5 minutes as he loved torturing us…and then, finally present opening commenced. The nativity tradition is still a constant in the house, now instead of us receiving multiple figurines, we are lucky to get one with all the grandkids that are around or in-laws…no one would change a thing though! A number of years ago, as a white elephant gift, I got our nativity set. It was given in humor…but little did they know I didn’t have one or that it would be one of my most loved Christmas decorations. This Christmas I have really been struggling. Struggling with feeling the weight of sadness around me, struggling with missing people, struggling with the social climate in the world…things just feel heavy. I haven’t really wanted to decorate or do holiday stuff…until last week when I put up my nativity set. So many emotions of my childhood washed over me, so many cherished memories. I’ve been thinking of this season we are in, this very long season of 2020…and then I started thinking of the Jewish people of so long ago. Of the season they had been in waiting for the messiah…it was hundreds of years they had been waiting. They had been promised by many prophets of someone coming to rescue them and no one showed up. The decades that went by. The sorrows they encountered. The loss of their lands, jobs, families and so on. I thought back over my life and seasons of my life, periods of waiting, darkness, emptiness and heaviness. Then I thought of Mary, young Mary and how she must have felt holding the messiah…her Son. What joy that must have been!!! Then I thought of my life, I didn’t have to wait for the messiah, I have Him living inside me…I should have joy all the time! Christmas holds a special place in my heart for so many reasons, but one of the reasons is that it gives me a chance to remember the joy…to have the reminder set on my piano for all to see, for me to see and for me to remember that I am not in a waiting period for the messiah, He is mine now, He is dwelling inside me…He is walking with me through this season and I DO have JOY!

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Our story

12/30/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I am not sure if there is ever an “appropriate” time to have a post like this after a divorce….I’ve asked other divorcees, my counselor and others I take advice from and each answer is a little different. It’s hard because I personally, don’t want to diminish the magnitude of marriage, the love that was shown at one time and the heartache of a divorce. The heartache and mourning that happens when the commitment you took to uphold the vows of marriage were “trampled” if you will due to sin, a broken world and a failure to uphold those vows. But….I have discovered even in the heartache come healing, joy and a restoration greater than I could have imagined.

Almost 14 years ago I was half was through a two year degree at Linn State Technical college going to school for a “commercial turf and landscape” degree. Boyd was two and life was in some ways…starting to feel “normal”. My program required an internship as did all the programs there did at that time. It was hard to find something close to home that i felt would be feasible with a little one but I eventually found one at a small landscaping coming in owensville…Hesemann landscape. The owner was just a couple years older than I, had gone through the same program as I did and was growing his business with his mom by his side helping him. I was so nervous working there….not only was I trying to “prove” myself being in a non-traditional job for a woman, but he wasn’t all that interested in me being there either as his mom had hired me….besides all that there was the fact that I thought he was just the cutest boy I had ever seen and he made me sooooo nervous….something that I never was! I can remember the first actual job I was out on with him….he had forgotten some plants and supplies at the shop and was working over by Washington and it was too far of a haul for him to come back so his mom loaded my car up with what he needed and I went to “help”. I got there and he needed things from lowes but couldn’t leave and his truck was needed for picking up the items. Problem was his truck was a manual and I hadn’t had hardly any experience driving a manual. I, of course lied, and said I would be fine trying to “prove” myself. He didn’t know until many months later I was “faking” my knowledge of driving a manual. I did it though and worked my rear off that day making sure I could keep up with the guys. Not long after that we were both coerced into going to a baseball game….some trickerie was used to get us both to go but by the evening there was no denying that we were “meant to be” and from that point on we we’re inseparable. I went on every job with him, helped at the farm and spent every waking moment with this guy who seemed too good to be true. Boyd spent his days at the shop often helping and if he wasn’t at the shop he was usually with us. Talk of marriage and the next step was part of our conversation from early on and that fall a house was purchased with plans of it being our home. We had so much fun together, never really fought and the kindness of his heart was something mine had needed and longed for a long time.

I was a mess though. Emotionally I operated like a young teenager. I didn’t know how to handle our relationship. I was going to a school where I was the only girl in my class….I enjoyed the attention and my flirtatiousness was unflattering and questionable. His jealously was something that I put completely on him even though looking back there is no way that he wouldn’t have been jealous. I was reckless, immature and unforgiving of what I thought were shortcomings. We broke up that late October without even really talking. I needed some space and other got involved and his stubbornness and mine led to a separation that both of us felt deeply.

Fast forward to this summer….I’m divorced and at this point his mother and I have been friends on Facebook for 8 years. She asked if I would come by the shop sometime just for a hug….I told her “of course at some point I will as long as John isn’t there”. After all those years I still couldn’t handle the thought of seeing him. Eventually I went by there and guess what….John was there and I couldn’t even make eye contact with him. A couple weeks later the gasconade fair was going on and I took the boys to see the parade. Elaine, John’s mom, had said I could set up where they usually set up and maybe she would join the boys and I but John…and his dad would be working. Once again….she was wrong as John was there. The next couple hours were filled with laughs and everyone had a great time. Shortly after that I received a text from him asking if we could talk….that talk was over a three hour road trip and was one of the best nights of my life. The rest is history. He never married or dated after we broke up….and the kindness and love he shows me on a daily basis feels like a dream. His love for the Lord and his desire to make Him the center of our family is an answer to prayer. We both have grown tremendously and our days are filled with laughter, love and an appreciation for each other that we didn’t have before. Maybe that is age or something else….I don’t know. The kids love him and a void that has been missing for far too long is filled.

John and I have spoke often on how divorce is never the Lord’s plan or desire…but how there is still protection, healing and grace given even through the hard times. I love this man so much and am so excited for our future! 

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An Apology

06/01/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I want to take a moment and apologize to those who find my blog or journey offensive. I have not meant bring defamation to (M) or his character. I am simply recording my journey…the up and down that it has brought to me, the confusion of my heart and soul, the things I’ve struggled with. I’ve tried to be transparent in my weaknesses and indiscretions in our marriage and relationship. As I reflect more and continue on the path I am sure my short comings will appear to me more and I will journal those as well. He has many great qualities and there are many worse than him. I simply have tried to write in transparency, honesty and not in a way to shame or place blame. My desire is not to appear as a victim or as someone looking for sympathy…I feel like a way to process this is to write and think out loud, maybe in the long run it will encourage someone else. To those who have been offended…I am sorry. I invite you to no longer read about my journey or my blog if it brings you so much pain and frustration. My goal has not been to bring you pain…do I am sorry.

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Beginnings are scary, Endings are sad

03/17/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I had a friend tell me tonight that new beginnings are scary and endings are always sad…no matter the circumstance. I have refrained from writing because it isn’t anyone’s business how I feel, how I am processing things, the thoughts I have or the person I am becoming. The criticism, opinions, negativity was  becoming too much…I couldn’t breath, couldn’t speak, couldn’t think without hearing someone else’s voice in my head. It was suffocating, still is…but tonight I have to write, I have to get this out because I am breaking inside. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era, that I missed the boat on people that “get” me…then I realized I am way too much of an open book to be anything other than open about my heart, my feelings, my thoughts. If that makes me wrong…so be it…but maybe…just maybe it will encourage another person, and if not…I ask that you pray…that you pray for healing of my soul, my kids hearts and protection over all of us. If I would have known what would have happened 3 months ago maybe my path would have been different, maybe I would have thought more, maybe I would have done and moved forward in a different direction. Hindsight is 20/20…even with the knowledge of the scriptures, reading, praying and trying to do the ‘right thing’…hindsight is 20/20. Did there need to be a change? YES. Was there abuse? YES. Did it take 2 people to make my marriage disintegrate…those two people being both Matt and I? YES. Was I perfect? NO. Did I make mistakes? ABSOLUTELY. Was it all about his drinking? NO. What I am saying is it isn’t black and white, negative and positive, polar opposites. I left in December praying and hoping for change…a recognition of his treatment of me…that it couldn’t continue that way any longer and if that meant he would cease drinking then that is what he needed to do…beyond that he also needed to see that the way he treated me was completely backwards. Did he eventually do that? YES. I am SO proud of him…he stopped drinking first…no recognition of what he did or remorse of his treatment of me, that followed…much later but it did follow. For that I am proud, I can forgive, I can rebuild, I can grow…and I pray that he does the same. However, I wasn’t prepared for what followed…the realization on his part that he no longer wanted to be married to me, that he doesn’t like me or love me, that he doesn’t want a life with me. I thought by him getting sober and recognizing his treatment of me…everything would be okay, boy was I wrong. Today he filed for divorce. We are going to counseling, we are talking, things are okay…we have a building block to start with and he is walking away…he doesn’t want me. He does want the kids and for that I am so very thankful. He is a good dad and will grow continuously to be a better one…of that I have no doubt. But why doesn’t he want me? Am I that bad? Are my mistakes that awful? Have I made things that miserable at home? These are the questions plaguing my mind tonight, tugging at my heart, and weighing on my very being. Should I have done things differently? I DON’T KNOW. Is this what needed to happen for him to become the father the boys deserve? I DON’T KNOW. Did I make mistakes and missteps since I left in December? HELL YEAH I DID. Am I embarrassed…disappointed in myself and sad? ABSOLUTELY. I don’t think relationships are easy. I think they take work. I still believe in marriage. I believe in God’s design of the union of a man and wife. My husband doesn’t want me anymore…I can’t fix that, I can’t change that, I can’t go back and do everything over from the last 5 years until now. I know I am sad, I am angry and I am frustrated. I know that those feelings may be different tomorrow and then again the day after that. I know that I am not perfect…so what now…how do I go forward? I go forward in the Lord, I go forward submitting my life to Him, not fighting Him, not looking for how I want my life to look in accordance to HIS plans on my life. I go forward by pouring into my kids. I go forward by loving Matt, by working with him, by not fighting with him and understanding that this is where he is and I need to respect it. I go forward by acknowledging my mistakes…taking ownership that it doesn’t just take one person for a relationship to fall apart…but it takes two. I go forward by not living in a place of shame. I go forward by putting one foot in front of the other and taking one day at a time. I go forward by being true to myself. I have people in my life that are going to be negative, that are going to hate me, that are going to put me down, that can not understand what I lived in and why I left, that are going to constantly throw my mistakes in my face…I GO FORWARD by accepting that they have their opinion and I do not have to own their opinion but I have to allow them to feel the way they feel like I am allowed to feel the way I feel. I go forward with these people by showing them that I love them and am not threatened by them. I go forward for my kids…I do not divide them from their dad but instead encourage them to have a relationship with him, to forgive him, to love him and to move on with him. I go forward by forgiving myself and understand that God isn’t punishing me…but instead wants to gather me to His arms and say, “my child…I’ve got you…put your trust in me.”

Tonight however I am sad…I am confused and I am torn. Tonight isn’t a good night. I can tell my brain one thing but my heart feels another. Tonight I feel like two people in one body and I don’t like the way I feel.

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It could have been disastrous…..

01/07/2017 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Love is an interesting word. Often times it is overused or not used enough. It can be used to express an enjoyment of something as in “man, I just LOVE this movie’, it can be used when talking to another person…usually family or friend in saying ‘I just love you’, and it can also be unspoken…in a marriage or in a relationship with our kids where it isn’t maybe said as often as it should be but you know its there. There are at least three different words in the Greek language to describe love and the word to describe the strongest sense of the word is ‘agape’. Agape means “love: the highest form of love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.”

Anglican theologian O.C. Quick cautions however that this agape within human experience is “a very partial and rudimentary realization,” and that “in its pure form it is essentially divine.” Quick suggests that,

If we could imagine the love of one who loves men purely for their own sake, and not because of any need or desire of his own, purely desires their good, and yet loves them wholly, not for what at this moment they are, but for what he knows he can make of them because he made them, then we should have in our minds some true image of the love of the Father and Creator of mankind.

If I understand what O.C. Quick is saying than I will understand that it is nearly impossible to love another with agape love. Isn’t that what many of us aspire to do though or would like to think we do? I know in my own life I look at my relationships and have such love for that person and want to believe that I am loving selflessly…but am I? I think that the closest we can get to that kind of love is for our kids or by our parents. Over the years I have received many graces or examples of love that they have had for me and many of those stories will unfold over this series. However…one of the earliest memories I have of an unadulterated form of love, where they truly wanted nothing from me other than what was the absolute best for me is when I almost burned our house down. Okay…that might be a bit of an exaggeration but it could have happened.

I was born in Chillicothe Missouri and when I was about 3 weeks old my parents moved to Kirksville Missouri to finish college. My dad had decided to become a teacher as did my mom although she became busy with my sister and I and her dreams were fulfilled in a different way. After my dad graduated he got a job in Hermann, MO and when I was three we moved, not knowing anyone or having any family anywhere close. Until I was 9 we lived in a rental property about 25 mins outside of town. The summer I turned 9 though we moved to where my parents currently live…and although now it has turned into a beautiful home…it was a total disaster when we moved. So much so that we had to work on it three months just to get it barely livable for when we moved in. But, it was theirs…they were going to own it, raise their family here and saw visions that couldn’t be seen by most for this place. While the house is large there was only 4 acres attached…to us though that felt like 100!! Us kids could do anything and our imaginations were our only inhibitor. We had this shed…kind of like a lean-to that was pretty small. It was open on one side…the perfect place to pretend was shielding you from a wind storm, housing you in a blizzard, the first home on the wide open prairie or even a hideout when you just needed space. It was located in our pasture and the grasses would grow tall around and beside it.  I was about 11 or 12 when the following event happened so far old enough to know better. I forget what exactly what I was pretending that day…probably that I was fixing dinner for a caravan of travelers and that we had to have a fire for the kettle of soup but also to keep the impending wolves and wildlife away. We were NOT allowed to play with fire…it was just something we could pretend we had. That particular day though it seemed like a good idea for me to start a real fire. It was dry, windy and of course the prime burning opportunity. You can imagine what happened next…the fire grew and started to spread in the tall grass of the pasture. Before I knew it there was about a 5 foot area that was burning and I didn’t know what to do so, of course like the responsible child I was I went and told my dad. NOT!!! No…I decided that the pain of telling him that I had disobeyed and played with something I knew was wrong would be too great so I decided to run away to the oasis found in the shed. I did a pretty good job of running too…the whole 500 feet that I had to run…because no one saw me. Pretty soon there was a great deal of the pasture burning and my dad was running around, stomping it out and asking my brothers to bring water and help. It took every bit of what seemed like eternity at that time to get the fire out. I, all the while, was crouched down in the shed crying and watching/praying that I wouldn’t burn down the house and everything my parents were working towards. Eventually my dad figured out it was me who started the fire and started calling for me. I stayed put…afraid of his wrath but more than anything embarrassed beyond belief and mortified that I could have done something so horrendous. I don’t know how long I hid out. It wasn’t dark when I went to the house so it probably was only about a half hour but it felt so much longer. My parents were believers in corporal punishment but that day, when my dad saw me, he didn’t lose his temper, he didn’t take me in the bathroom to spank me, he didn’t yell at me or even walk away from me…no, he hugged me. I don’t think that I can put into words the feeling that swept over me in that moment. I still felt guilt for disobeying but I knew, in that moment, without a shadow of doubt, that I was loved and forgiven. I knew that what my dad wanted for me in that moment was to forgive myself, to not carry the guilt or weight of what I had done. It was completely selfless, it wasn’t about what he needed to say or do, it was about me…his daughter. When I look at my boys I feel the same kind of love, the same kind of desire. That their life is valued above mine.

But…when is it okay to say “no…my value is worth more than this? I love you…I do not hold my desires as a measure for your love, for your attraction, for your devotion. I do not love you expecting anything in return but this treatment of me is not acceptable.” It seems to be contradicting ones self to say I am something to be valued, to be treasured and yet also to give love without expecting anything in return. I will write more on this later…but these are the questions heavy upon my heart. Questions of love, respect, value and forgiveness and how I, as a believer, shows that to others without expecting it in return? Or…can I demand value and respect while still loving someone unselfishly? 10404518_10152263673083401_1396866680189251726_n

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02/21/2016 - Author: Natasha Phillips

This morning is one of those rare, February days that give you a sweet taste of the weather that is right around the corner. After dealing with, and still dealing with the stomach flu in my kids this week, I desperately needed a quick run. While I expected to be revived in energy and sense of well being I wasn’t expecting the worship, joy and feeding of the Spirit that would happen on my run as well. Being married to an atheist I find at times, although the spiritual knowledge is there, I forget that it isn’t my “job” but a gift I have been given of a life within Christ. I get so caught up in trying to educate, protect, raise, and encourage my children that I do not feed my soul. I realize taking time daily to be in the word is a struggle for me and always has been. I usually combat that inner turmoil by saying my prayer life is great…but let me be honest…lately I have not been taking the time to truly be in prayer…in that place of uninterrupted conversation and leading that the spirit so desires. Matt often asks me why I am not stressed about the future, why I don’t lose sleep at night like he does and why I am not obsessed, as he is, with the future of this country. My response is always the same…because my future isn’t here but in heaven. He of course gets frustrated with that answer and lately I have been asking myself if I should be more concerned, more obsessed if you will. Not being in a state of worship and praise has given me the head knowledge…but not the true belief, the understanding, the passion and the comfort that is readily available to me through Christ. Sure I believe and have the head knowledge but it that all that is required, expected of me? Today on my run there were a couple things that happened. I was listening to Lecrae and also some praise and worship songs. Lecrae has a song.. Aliens…where he talks about us being foreigners here on this earth. The other song was called “In Christ Alone”, now usually on pandora a song only plays once but the last song I mentioned came on three different times by different artist. Now this is one of my favorite songs but a great deal of that is because of the melody,  and while the words have always struck me as “good”, it wasn’t until today that I really found myself pondering them. 

“In Christ Alone”

In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song;this Cornerstone, this solid Ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease! My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh Fulness of God in helpless babe! This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones he came to save:

Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied -For every sin on Him was laid; Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain: Then bursting forth in glorious Day, Up from the grave he rose again! And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, For I am His and He is mine – Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath. Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home, 
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

What powerful, powerful words. I encourage you to read, and then re-read those words. “No power of hell, no scheme of man, can EVER pluck me from HIS hand!” 

I came home and read Psalms 4. Psalms 4 verses 6-8 say: 

“Many are asking, “who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” 

While the future of the country and the nations around it are important, my prayer is that I don’t just have the “head knowledge” to combat or discuss other views…but that my heart is right, the Spirit is fed and alive within me, and that the love of Christ with shine through in such a way that He is seen rather than my words and viewpoints. 

I am so thankful I got out this morning as there was a message waiting for me! 

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Good-bye Grandpa

02/07/2016 - Author: Natasha Phillips

It is so hard for me to put into words what I have been feeling this last week Grandpa. Today, as we say our goodbyes to your earthly  
existence, there have been so many memories, tears and moments of laughter shared. You left quite a legacy grandpa, oh how you were loved. I don’t have a lot of memories with just you before grandma died, I was always with her. Of course I did learn rook at a young age from you and to this day I can never understand why, if my partner has a rook in their hand, they don’t lay it when I lead with the 1. You taught me that. I will also never forget the first time I heard such voracious snoring, it was on a trip home to Missouri with you and grandma….I thought I was never going to fall asleep that night!  
When you were in Ethiopia you wrote to me a few times, I will always treasure those letters. After grandma died there was the trip Micah and I took with you to California and then back the following spring. Oh my….what an incredible adventure. The memory of you teaching me how to order a steak by correcting my order of medium well to mid rare…well it will forever be etched in my mind. When I argued with you, you said you weren’t going to pay for it but if I wanted to ruin my food I could pay for it myself. Since that day I have never ordered a steak medium well. Because of you I got to see the Grand Canyon, Mesa verde, ride the train from Durango to silverton, experience the heights of Hoover dam, race the sunset because we had wrecked the car in Colorado but didn’t get it fixed until California, go to my first comedy show in Vegas and drive possibly the fastest I have ever driven in Kansas. I will never forget your love of good food, eating out and wonderful music. I can’t imagine growing up in the era you did, but because of your trials you were a hard worker and that has been passed down to me. You were a hard man sometimes but you loved us so adoringly and the only way you knew how to love. I am so glad my kids got to know you and have their own memories with you.  
This last week has been harder than I thought it would be grandpa, you were my last grandparent and there is now a chapter of my youth that is officially closed. But I have to tell you, I keep thinking of what heaven must be like for you. Your hands, which served so many and no longer worked on this earth are now fully functional. Your feet and legs that struggled to move, walk and bear your weight, now have life and energy back in them. Your mind and words which fumbled often are now free. Best of all, well aside from being with the Greatest Physician of all, grandma is there with you. What a reunion that must have been! So grandpa, although we will miss you tremendously, even your crabby times, I am so very grateful you knew the Greatest Healer of all because that means I get to see you again. I love you grandpa. 

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies

08/13/2015 - Author: Natasha Phillips

Serves – 24IMG_7139-0

-1 cup creamy peanut butter, unsalted (preferably organic although I often use JIF as that is what my kids like. )-1/3 cup honey

-1 whole egg or a flax egg (I have never tried a flax egg)

-1/2 tsp baking soda

-1/2 tsp sea salt

-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preaheat your oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, mix together the first 5 ingredients until a thick, gooey batter forms, then fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon, or cookie scoop, drop batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This dough is much stickier than traditional cookie dough but don’t worry, it will turn out just right.

Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350F, turning the pan half-way through the baking time so that the cookies brown evenly.

Once the cookies are lightly browned, remove the pan from the oven and allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. They will firm-up as they rest so this step is important! Once the cookies are cool and firm enough to handle, use a spatula to transfer them to a wire cooking rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature or chill in the freezer for a cold, chewy treat!

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Goals, we all have them

08/01/2015 - Author: Natasha Phillips

IMG_2576Goals are a funny thing to me. As I get older the more goals I set for myself. I don’t know if it is because I am trying to keep up with my kids and wanting to slow down the aging process, or if I have figured out that true success comes when you set goals. It is something almost all of us do on a daily basis but maybe don’t realize we are doing. Saying “I am going to cook from scratch tonight.” , is a sort of goal…one that we set for our self without thinking. New Year’s resolutions are basically goals that we allow our self to quit because I think it is easier to quit a ‘resolution’ than a ‘goal’. There is something so fulfilling about completing something we have put in front of our self, there is almost a sense of self-worth, of pride and contentment that washes over us when we finish. I am reading a book right now on how to be a successful person, how to create and complete challenges without creating excuses. It has made me very self-aware of everyday choices I make to sabotage goals I have set for myself. I thought it would be fun to write my goals for the year down, for all to see and in a way it will hold me accountable because I know people are watching. Here it goes:

Go Area Qualification with Arbonne by the end of August
Have two (at least) new people join my team and start building their business with purpose, dreams, and the realization that time and financial freedom is around the corner.
Run a half marathon by October.
Go zip-lining with Boyd.
Be completely debt free by January 2017…this includes school loans, house and credit card…all debt.
Be able to do 50 push-ups, REAL ONES!!!
Finish a new book every two weeks.

Teach Elliott how to read.

Climb a mountain.

Take a trip to Italy.

Right now that is all I have, maybe to some those seem small or mundane, but I am very excited to reach those goals. I encourage you, no matter what your goals are, to write them down and start checking them off. Something will happen when you do that, a new sense of security will wash over you, a feeling of pride and self-worth. There will be hard days and days you might want to give up on your goals, but in the end it will be worth it. I found this quote floating around on Facebook, I don’t know where it started or I would certainly give them credit, I really appreciate what it says. I would love to hear what goals you have, no matter

IMG_2547how important you think they are, I will be cheering you on if I know what it is!!!

No Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, Uncategorized

What happened to Summer?

08/01/2013 - Author: Natasha Phillips

I can not believe that in two weeks Boyd will be back at school. It seems to me that summer just began. This was a particular blessed summer for me as I was able to enjoy being home with all three of my boys. Last year was the first summer I have ever not worked since I was a teenager. Let’s just say that was a while back! 🙂 Last year Ivan was just a couple of months old and Boyd was working for his grandfather. Well this year I had all three of my boys home and loved every minute 2013 07 06_natasha's pics_0430 of it! Oh sure, there were the…I am going to pull my hair out and scream at the top of my lungs at you, or, ahhh lets just lock the bathroom door and turn the vent on and just sit here because it is the only ‘safe’ room of the house, but none-the-less I actually did enjoy being home this summer with my boys. Boyd was on a traveling baseball team this year and that added quite the dimension to our weekends. There were 2013 07 13_natasha's pics_0344some deep breaths and tense moments between the other adult of the house and I over the constant travel, but I am so thankful for the opportunity Boyd had to further his talent and grow his love for baseball. Elliott has expanded his vocabulary immensely this year to the point of one really having to take note of what one is saying in front of him. His incessant mom, mom, mom, mom, mom is music to my ears!! 🙂 He isn’t a very nice brother to Ivan but there are times Ivan is asking for it!2013 07 03_mom's photos_1811 We have already experienced Elliott closing Ivan between doors, handing out bloody noses and sitting on him constantly! Yes, my house is a house of true boys! Ivan is such a doll. He FINALLY started walking about 3 weeks ago and is now non stop. He looks a little like a bowlegged drunk when he walks, but its pretty entertaining to watch so I am not to worried. 🙂 He is such a little cuddle man and loves to hand out hugs a kisses. Boyd is by far the favorite person in both the boys lives although Noma (my mom), is a very close second.2013 07 06_natasha's pics_0412 2013 07 06_natasha's pics_0503

The Lord has been good and gracious to us. If someone would have told me two years ago that I would have had a summer like the one I just had, I think I may have laughed. Not working has brought this family closer together, made us more frugal, and taught us some important lessons. It is interesting to me that when one actually slows down, stops and takes time to see what they have in their life, how absolutely blessed they should feel, no matter what the social ladder rung is that they are on. I want the time to slow down but in the same breath I am so excited to see what is in store for our little family that what I really want to do is focus on the Lord, His faithfulness to us and be ready for whatever He sends our way! I hope that you all had as blessed a summer as mine. Watch for the post to start coming through of the fun projects we did to keep us busy this year!!2013 07 18_mom's photos_1678

2 Comments - Categories: Family Stories and Reflection, Just Because, My Kids, Uncategorized

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