Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Greetings

God is so good. Every year He shows Himself faithful. I’d surprise you and tell you we’ve moved again, but I don’t thing that surprises anyone anymore. We moved this last October to Nashville, TN for a big promotion for Matt in WayFM. He is now a co-host/producer of a national afternoon show. It’s been awesome to see God reassure Matt of his talents and move him to a position to use them. He loves the adventure so far! The boys and I are busy getting into a routine of homeschooling and finding our way around the city. Noah, now 7, loves gymnastics, dance and music. This little kid loves the lost and has a heart for everyone to know the Lord. I can’t wait to see God use him! Isaiah is now 5 and continues to be the quiet observant one. His big heart makes the least of these feel loved. When he isn’t using big words to describe his latest thought, he is plugging away at a sketch book of creations. Canon will be 3 in a week and continues to be a whirl wind of activity. He’s constantly trying to keep up with the big boys and keeps me on my toes. His big smile and giggle gets me through the day. I’ll admit that after as many moves as we’ve made and absolutely falling in love with Wichita I have had a harder time adjusting in this next season of our lives. But God’s grace is so amazing. With each struggle He imparts His peace to me and encourages me to get up and dig in. And so the McNeillys keep growing and stretching in God’s will for our lives and look forward to the new year expectantly.

Every year I gain a new perspective on Christmas and add to my understanding of God and who He is. This year I was struck with the realization that it’s not all about me, my life, and my ups & downs. From the moment history began it has been about God. Think of history as a movie – the entire storyline points to God as the main character and to the grand finale ending in the entire world knowing of His holiness and glory. Christmas, Jesus’ birth is the climax of this story. And we are mere extras with an eighth of a second appearance in His movie. We tend to think that the short span of our lives is important and has great meaning. In reality it is nothing in the scope of the big picture. Yet, in all of His greatness, the Creator of the Universe chose to make it about us. Jesus came for us. In His big moment he made it about a humble young woman, about dirty shepherds, about the wise and rich men. Born a humble babe to one day die a violent death- all for us! Why? Because, He delights in us. He loves us. He desires us. It is our hope this Christmas season that you grasp the magnitude of who Jesus is and the absolute absurdity of His love for us. In that moment of clarity, we pray that like the shepherds and wise men of old you are brought to your knees in worship of the Almighty God. Merry Christmas and may the new year continue to show you the greatness of Jesus!

Matt, Kelly & Boys

Friday, November 25, 2011

Soft Ginger Chews

I love the flavor of ginger snaps, but I'm not so in love with their crunch.  Call me a sissy, but they make my teeth hurt.  So at our house we enjoy these Soft Ginger Chews.  They're so good that I'll have even you crunch loving people converted.  So give them a try and see what you think...

2 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. cloves ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1tbs. water
1/4 c. molasses

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Cream butter & sugar, beat in egg and added water.
3.  Stir together dry ingredients and slowly add to butter mixture and mix thoroughly.
4.  Shape into balls & roll in sugar.
5.  Bake 6-8 min. and allow to cool.


Giving Thanks

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good...
~Psalm 118:1a~

I admit that when it comes to Thanksgiving traditions our family is lacking.  We've moved around so much, you'd think I would have made it a priority, but alas I am not perfect.  Now you know.  So this year I decide to change my track record for Thanksgiving.  I start three things that I plan to do every year for now on.  We started our morning with homemade cinnamon rolls and a thankfulness jar. I decorated a mason jar- one that my dear friend Jami had shared some organic goodness with me.  We sat around the table and shared the things we were thankful for and then put them in the jar.  I look forward to the coming years and looking back on the things the boys were thankful for. After sharing lunch with new friends we decorated gingerbread houses and watched Elf.  It was a wonderful day.

I am thankful and I give all thanks to the Lord.  Mostly I am thankful for His grace that pours down and rushes through my life.  I feel this rush in my marriage.  I am thankful for my husband, his goodness to me and faithfulness to our family.  I see the flood of His grace in my boys.  I am thankful that as my boys grow they delight in Him and wonder at the world around them.  Our home is warm and toasty, cupboards are full, hubby has an amazing job and we have the most amazing family and friends. I am blessed beyond what I deserve.

...for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
~Psalm 118:1b~

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wowser!  The last three months have been some of the craziest of my life.  I have had to endure hush hush meetings and interviews that would throw the balance of my life into chaos, the excitement of the hubbs receiving the promotion of a lifetime, the pain of saying good bye to dear friends and don't forget the adventure of packing moving and unpacking.  To top it all off, I decided to throw myself back into the world of teaching by homeschooling my kindergartner and second grader. While all this was going on my brain was moving to fast to keep up.  I had list upon list of things to do, cute moments with the kiddos I wanted to record and thoughts both simple and deep I wanted to share.  But alas, I had zero time to sit and pound them out and into existence.  I told Matty that I need a recorder that attached to my brain and made record of important thoughts and details.  It would probably look quite strange, but would be effective.  All that to say, I have much I want to share and hope to put into words in the coming week.  Some are only random thoughts, others are topics impacting my heart in a huge way!

Keep your eyes peeled for these upcoming topics:

~  What, It's Not About Me?!
~  I Believe in Evolution.
~  Heaven, Through The Eyes of A Child.

But just to make you smile...

This evening before praying with the boys, Canon was lying in my lap and I noticed he had some boogers in his nose.  I apologize if that seems gross, but I am the mom of three boys.  And so I naturally did what any mom of boys would do - I picked it.  Unfortunately I came up empty.  But not to be discouraged I tried again. I was unsuccessful a second time.  Canon lay there with a big smile on his face, patiently letting me pick at him.  Finally he told me, "Momma, yous fingers too big.  See, mine tiny.  God made them for my nose.  I get it."  Though silly and slightly gross, I was reminded of this truth - we were created for a certain purpose.  Our personalities, convictions and abilities are unique to us.  We only "fit" in the will and path that God has for us. I am "too big" or "too small" to accomplish what God planned for your life and vice versa. It encouraged me to know that I have a Maker that laid plans for me to "give me a future and a hope".

And just for the record, we got a Kleenex and washed our hands after our little adventure!

For I know the thoughts I thinks toward you,
says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, September 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Spelt Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I know it's kind of a long title, but really I could have made it a whole lot longer - Whole Wheat Spelt Banana Chocolate Chip Fantabulously Tasterific Yumminess!  I could think of several other adjectives, but I'll spare you the obsessiveness that is my brain.  All that said, I made these wonderful pancakes for the kiddos this morning and thought I'd share the goodness.

~ 1-2 Mashed Bananas
~ 2 large eggs
~ 1 cup white whole wheat flour
~ 1 cup spelt
~ 1 1/2 cups milk
~ 2 tbls sucanant
~ 1/4 cup applesauce
~ 2 tbls baking powder
~ 1/2 tsp salt
~ handful of chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients until just combined. Cook on your skillet til golden brown and enjoy in normal pancake fashion.  Hope you like them because they're going to rock your skillet!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Change On Firm Foundation

Do you like change?  Have you ever met someone who does?  I honestly don't think I have and no I'm not a big fan of it.  Funny thing is my life has been one of change since I was little. My parents didn't own their own home, and though we stayed in the same town, we lived in six different houses growing up.  I went to five different schools, not including college and then graduate school.  Since I've been married I have lived in nine different states and 15 different homes.  Matt and I have worked for four different radio networks and have accomplished multiple jobs for those networks.  I'm not sure if I should be bragging about these stats or humiliated.

I remember as a small child going to a new church and my wise Daddy forcing me to go to Sunday School.  I remember standing in the corner terrified to speak or even look up from the ground I was so intent on.  There were many times like that, and every time I was encouraged to step out of my comfort zone.  Little did Daddy know that he was setting me up for my future, teaching me a lesson to step out in faith even when filled with fear.  I'll admit that I have failed sometimes to face the change with the hand of God at my back following His lead and there are others that I glory in the strength He has given me.

At times I have grown weary with the change.  I lack the desire, even the ability to try.  I once had a dear friend tell me that no matter where I am in life to put down roots and go as deep as I could for that season.  She told me that some day I would be able to not only get through the change and trial to find joy in God's work, but actually know joy as I go through the next one and have joy in anticipation for future change. 

When I see change on the horizon I cringe a little, but as I prepare my heart I am always filled with a sense of awe.  I wonder at how God's hand always leads and provides.  I am reminded of all that He has sacrificed for me.  How can I deny Him the pleasure to change and shape me with the events of my life for His glory.  Herein lies the difference- change without Jesus leaves wandering to and fro on the waves of life.  But with Jesus, change happens on a firm foundation.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Breakfast Cupcakes

If you're like me, you get bored with the everyday cereal routine.  And when we do eat cereal every morning we go through it like there's no tomorrow.  So occasionally I try and whip up something different.  A favorite at our house is whole wheat banana muffins.  The boys call them Breakfast Cupcakes.  They have a few twists in them that will make your morning routine do flips and the breakfast judges (ie, your kiddos) score you a perfect 10! Hope you enjoy!

1. Preheat your oven to 375.
2.  Mix the following:
     ~1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
     ~1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (if you're not the whole wheat kinda person all propose works too)
     ~1 1/2 tsp baking powder
     ~1/4 tsp cinnamon
     ~1/4 tsp salt
3.  In separate bowl combine the following:
     ~1 tsp vanilla
     ~3 large bananas
     ~2 eggs
    ~3/4 brown sugar
    ~1/3 cup Greek yogurt
    ~3 tbs butter, melted & cooled
4.  Fold banana mixture into flour until combined.
5.  Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake 18 to 20 minutes.
6. Turn onto wire rack and allow to cool.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's quiet. I don't hear anything rolling down the stairs, no one is screaming, there isn't any thumping on the ceiling above.  It's peaceful.  Canon is content with his trains and I feel slightly lost. The big boys have started the school year.  Yes I said boys plural.  Both Noah & Zaiah are away at school this year. And I can't believe it!!!

When you're holding your small wee one for that first time, flashes of Kindergarten are not the images you see.  You imagine hours of cuddling, learning to crawl and then walk.  But one day they are going to walk right out that door to a classroom teaming with other curious kiddos.  Even when you think you've prepared yourself, you're still not ready for that fateful day. And that's where I stood yesterday.  He didn't even look back and I was embarrassingly shaking from my tears. And he was the second child to take that step!!

Day two wasn't any different.  In fact this time I didn't even get out of the car.  They both jumped out and ran off for the day's adventures.  It felt a little more normal this time and I know by the end of week it will be old hat.  Change though uncomfortable at first, always strengths us and in the end brings joy.  Nothing is more joyful for a mother than to watch her boys grow into polite, kind, Jesus loving little troopers ready to explore this great world each day. So happy New School Year all and here's to your little troopers! Oh and to you and a quiet morning cup of coffee as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


We have a tradition in our family called "sale-ing".  It happens on Saturday morning and begins with a trip to our favorite local doughnut shop.  We then proceed to every yard/garage sale we can find. Usually the excitement wears off and the kids get whinny, begging for McDonalds. But a few weeks back I hit the jackpot.  It was late afternoon and usually most of the good stuff is gone, but I spied some dining room chairs as we drove by and begged everyone to hang in for one last stop.  The kind lady was ready to unload it all and offered me all three chairs for a dollar.  One stinking buck, one clam, a single, one little bill. Matt was skeptical, but I was ecstatic. I had plans for these babies.

To be honest only one of the three were useable right away.  I cleaned it up and quickly made a new chair cushion for it.  Viola! New to me chair, and extra seating.  The other two were in desperate need of repair.  They needed gluing, sanding, paint, and new cushions.  Over the course of a week, I loving labored over these two chairs until they were completely restored and given new life.  As I spent time investing in these chairs, I saw a beautiful picture of our lives and what the Lord does for us.  Bear with me, my brain dances in allegorical pictures, but sometimes drowns in forming the words.

The word Restoration means the return of something to a former, original, normal or unimpaired condition.  It is the restitution of something taken away or lost.  Are you seeing the same same alluring picture I did?

Jesus Restores our lives.  He paid the price demanded, seeing in us a delightful finished creation.  When others are skeptical of our worth He lovingly labors over our lives.  Pouring into us all of His creativity, He returns us to our original unimpaired condition - a sinless being bringing great pleasure to our Maker.  He is our Restitution. He gives back to us the life He first breathed into us.

You can look through scripture and see His Restoration.  It's an ever flowing story of His love.  He healed Job and restored him to an even greater place than before.  He restored Israel her land in Joel chapter 2. In the New Testament He makes the blind man see, the lame walk and raises the dead.  Finally He promises to one day return and complete the Restoration.  Just check out Revelation chapter 21 & 22!

While contemplating this idea of Restoration, I came across a detail in the picture that peaked my interest.  In every example I found that restoration went hand in hand with repentance.  Job repented and God Restored him.  Israel repented and God Restored her land.  Whenever Jesus healed someone, they were always forgiven first and foremost.  Repentance signals a willingness, a desire to change.  No, my chairs did not come to life and seek Restoration, but they were able to be fixed - willing. Are you? Am I willing to repent and allow the Savior's hands piece my life together, sand away my rough edges, and recreated in me a loveliness that brings Him joy?

By the way, the other chair that didn't need as much work - it's still a center piece in my home.  Still has amazing worth and brings me just as much joy as the other two chairs do.  What ever our state, be it completely broken or just a little tattered, Christ desires us all.

Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted
out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of
the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ 
who was preached to you before, 
whom heaven must receive until the times of Restoration
of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His 
holy prophets since the world began.
Acts 3:19-21 


Thursday, June 30, 2011

 Life is a race.  Isn't that what we are told in Hebrews 12:1, "run the race set before us with patience?" Do ever feel like you are racing around in every area of your life, never reaching the finish line?  I believe the key is in the verse - "with patience".  For example...

Like most of this country, I started the year vowing to eat healthier and get to the gym.  I can say that despite a few short hiatus' due to sick kiddos, traveling, or the general craziness of life - I have cleaned up my eating habits, hit the gym,and lost a little weight. It's been a process though.  Matt and I have had to go through our cupboards and clean out all the junk - all the stuff that is not healthy for our bodies & replace it with good stuff.  I have had to make the effort to go to the gym, even when I didn't feel like it.  I have had great days where I eat super healthy and days where all I ate was chocolate. And when I fail I have to get back up and try again. Some days it feels like I am running in place to be honest.  But that's where the patience must come in.  It took seven years to put on the baby weight and it might take that many to get it off.  Gosh, I hope not really.  But I can't be discourged.

Or maybe it's this race I joined called parenting.  There are many times I feel like it is longer than a marathon.  For all of my good intentions, when the day starts with screaming at o' dark hundred and flows into petty fighting and the laundry pile is beginning to chase me I tend to loose my cool and fall flat on my pretty parenting face.  I have to get back up, add a few Batman band aides to my emotional attire and keep trying.  Every once in a while I am given a glimpse of a patience payoff.  Lately, my oldest son who is seven has shown a real growth in maturity.  While still prone to getting into trouble, when reprimanded he takes it calmly, adjusts his attitude and apologizes.  This gives me hope and if I may brag a little, makes me a proud momma.  And so I keeping running.

And what about the foundation of it all - our walk with God? That is a constant struggle to keep running.  Not that I stop loving Jesus, but that I continue to strive for holiness and daily sanctification. I had recently done a Bible study called, "Me, Myself & Lies"  The basic premise of the book is that our minds are thought closets and there is a constant flow of thoughts.  We need to take note of these thoughts, evaluate them & measure them against God's truth.  Are we telling ourselves lies or speaking God's truth into lives?  It's been a good process of assessment and cleaning out of my thought processes.  But I cannot just clean out the closet, I have to replace it with the "good stuff".  That "good stuff" has to be God's word.  But how do I do that when some days it feel like I can't even remember my own name.  It takes patience. I have to keep running for that day when my sanctification is complete and I am standing in the presence of my Lord & Master.

I found the parallel between the physical changes I have been making & the spiritual changes an interesting one. Dump the garbage and replace it with the good.  And I love the picture painted in my mind of running toward a finish line no matter what area of my life.  I am comforted by the idea that no matter how many times I may fall down, I can patiently get up and keep trying.  So no matter what stage of your race you are running, keeping going and do so with patience.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pie Is The New Cupcake

So have you heard that pie is the new cupcake? That's right, pie is in and cupcakes are out. Cupcakes are old hat. A memory to be looked back on with fondness. Well I love pie, but my love affair with cupcakes hasn't come to an end quite yet. Though I admit I have taken some what of a hiatus. I still love to pour my heart into something that will make you smile.

The funny thing is that life is like the cupcake fad - ever changing and sometimes hard to keep up with. I know for me and my family the last year as been a whirlwind of changes. My husband's job as changed three times and we've moved across the country twice. My boys are getting bigger and conquering new challenges everyday. The baby days are on their way out and I have a future of two kiddos in school and one trying to keep up with his big brothers.

Just like a cupcake is short and sweet, so are the moments that make me smile. Those moments in my day that put a little sweet in my cheeks...Zaiah reciting his verse for the week, Canon snuggling on my lap in front of the oven watching this batch of cupcakes, Noah excitedly telling me about some new science project or Matty's smile across the room while wrestling the boys. Jesus, my Master Baker and creator of everything beautiful gives me these simple pleasures. These are the things that I must treasure in the face of change and the ups and downs that come with it.

Sometimes I have a batch of cupcakes that fail completely - a total disaster! Or maybe the batch is just slightly off and needs to be tweaked just a little. Isn't that the way of life sometimes? The great thing about baking is you can always start over and try again no matter how epic the fail. Jesus gives us that second chance as well. Over and over, til one day He finishes the work He started in us.

So my hope is to get back into my baking when I can, but more than that to let the little moments in life sweeten my day and bring a smile my heart knowing that Jesus loves me. My prayer is that you can do the same. Allow the opportunity that mistakes bring to change you and enjoy the little cupcakes of life to brighten you day.