Domestic Felicity

#HackingMotherhood #MommyHacks

Easy Salt Dough Ornaments

DIY, Living-life, MotherhoodChristina GavendaComment

Easy as in "easy." Transparency, right? If you only have one kid, or if they're 3 and up this would be lots of fun. Especially if you went into it NOT expecting to get artsy-fartsy works of art. However, I'm forever setting myself up like a newbie mom for disappointment (and maybe a little yelling, and peeing on the floor, and the wrong recipe... oh my!).

This was no different. My non-crafty 2 yr old made balls and threw them and my one year old choked and had to hack up salt dough. 3 times. I would like to say I do learn from my mistakes, next time we'll have lots of fun! ;)

It's wise to learn from the mistakes of others, so here ya' go!

How to have a successful ornament making party where no one looses their mind and all come out smiling:

1. Flush your perfectionism down the toilet. There's no quicker way to SUCK the fun out of something than to make it about your own expectations.

2. Choose the right recipe. It's super simple- 1 cup salt, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, mix well then knead until smooth. Roll out on floured surface or parchment paper.

I followed the cute lady over at The Imagination Tree. In looking for her site again I also found this little gem, The Long Thread and I am again feeling some serious holiday guilt over being too busy to create beautiful things for people I love... *sigh* Her stuff is worth looking at!

3. Make sure you poke holes in anything you'd like to hang. I used a knitting needle, others have used a straw. It can be easier to roll out your dough on parchment paper and pull away extra dough from any cut outs you have, if that's what you're doing.

4. HAVE NO EXPECTATIONS! :D Seriously though, do yourself a favor.

5. Do not place dough in reach of a 1 year old.

6. Do not get this recipe confused with another and so bake it at 350 degrees causing your ornaments to puff up and an hour and a half of frustrating "fun" and late naps to be wasted on RUINED ornaments. Ya, this was def my favorite part.

My ornaments took a few hours in the oven and the ones put in at the correct temperature of 200 degrees look great! I am consistently finding that my expectations are among my greatest parenting enemies. What causes mommy guilt? I have a standard (expecations) for myself and miss the mark. I then sit and feel sorry for myself saying awful things which in some sick cycle makes me feel better in feeling worse.

The answer is so simple... realistic expectations, grace with others and myself and true repentance- when I truly do wrong asking forgiveness from my children and then going a different direction- these things would serve us all better than a pity party which further makes things about myself.

Of course I'm the only one who has imploding plans and pity parties, right? ;)


Thoughts on the death of my brother

MiscellaneousChristina Gavenda2 Comments

I'm a terrible blogger. I don't think it's a good idea to use social media as your primary way to feel connected with the world. In fact, I know it's a terrible idea. People were meant to touch, talk, listen, empathize and look in each other's eyes.

With that said, there have been a couple of blogs over the years whose owners were honest about their losses that I have found very useful. People who opened up about very personal experiences in a way that was not unhealthily dependent on the "internet people" hearing them, but sought to give a voice to others who also knew loss...

My brother committed suicide. He wasn't sober. He was desperate and not thinking straight.

The days full of adrenaline were unexpected and exhausting. The thoughts of his loneliness in those moments unbearable.

Almost a month later, what's left?

Guilt. Moments of piercing saddness. A desire to be angry at him.

Life is often normal, but with a threatening storm cloud always overhead.

I think of my parents and their crushing loss...

The guilt is incredible... What if I had gotten his prints of our family portrait to him for his fridge like he'd asked? Would he have thought of us and stepped away? What if I had been more supportive of his hobbies? What if I had listened more compassionately? What if my husband had developed a closer friendship with him? What if I had offered our house to him more often? Offered to come and get him and bring him down for a visit? What if I had taken his threatening words a few days earlier more seriously?

I can't change any of that, I don't need your words of affirmation.

I have read a few blog and article series on how to help your grieving friend that I've found helpful in the past, Molly at has a great series, she hasn't blogged in over a year but is a great resource. Also, Amy at has a great series on the death of her daughter. They both can offer so much more on this topic than I can.

What I can say is, if you love someone who is experiencing a life altering, wounding loss is:

I can tell the difference between people who have taken a moment to ask themselves, "How would I feel if my young sibling died or committed suicide? What would it do to my family?" and those who have not. When they look me in the eye and say, "I am so very, very sorry." It means more than any card, any word of advice or comfort can.

They took a moment of their life to witness our grief, to share it, and then say so.

What a gift- to share a burden.





Is breastfeeding easy?

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

I would say this is in the top 5 mothering questions I get. I have a few theories on why... What’s new is scary. Also, what’s perceived as “not normal” is even more scary and for the many reasons it’s true- nursing is no longer seen as normal in lots of communities throughout the US.

My immediate thought is, “Yes it’s easy! No way would I want to get up, measure formula, mix it in a bottle, have to smell it while my baby eats it (yuck!) and then have to try and get the gross stains out from spit up that leave impossible stains!”

But I forget those first few weeks with my now 2 year old. 2 extra days in the hospital because he couldn’t nurse, weeks of nipple shields, dropper feeding and pumps. I forget about engorged breasts and learning how to nurse in public.

Even remembering those issues, I think nursing isn’t hard and I think that is 100% due to my perspective: I have no other option. If I’m ABLE to nurse, that is what I will do and to have problems in your nursing relationship is normal. Not all moms are able. I hate when moms feel guilty they couldn’t nurse. Sad? Sure! A little cheated? Definitely! But Guilt? Did you do everything you knew to do in trying and it still didn’t happen? Then what’s to feel guilty about? Happy, healthy babies also come from bottle feeding mommas :)

To succeed in nursing I think there are three things you need. This may be different for different people but I think it’s pretty basic.

1. A supportive community. This doesn’t have to be your family or even your main friends. Some options are: lactation consultants, Le Leche League, a breastfeeding support group, or WIC. Though it’s of course wonderful if the people in your life are supportive. If they aren’t then maybe it’s time to find a few new friends.

2. Learn how to nurse in public. Who wants to be tied to their house? If you’re terrified to nurse outside of your home or around other people, thoughts of quitting may be close at hand. Find someone who is a breastfeeding ninja and tell her you need help! There are lots of kick butt public nursing women. With my first son I used a nursing cover with a wire in it to see him. He wasn’t an easy nurser for the first few months and it was really helpful to get used to nursing in public. Now I use a scarf or shawl if my shirts aren’t conducive to discreet nursing.

3. Don’t take the problems you have personally. You didn’t decide on how your nipple was shaped, how well your child latches, health problems they might have, or how much milk you produce. If you do everything you know to do, what else is there? At that point, while sad, it’s just food. It’s difficult but how blessed to have a healthy baby with a momma dedicated to them!

Those are the things I’ve learned- I’m sure I’m missing some! What did you find most helpful?

Lazy co-sleeping and how it grew my shriveled mommy heart

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

Attachment parenting is a big deal right now. Last time I checked it was at the top of the mom judgement pile- is that still the case or have we moved on? I'm mostly surrounded by people who do not practice attachment parenting and probably wouldn't know what the phrase meant. That doesn't matter, they're good moms.

I'm an obsessive researcher and when I was pregnant with my first son I started scouring through blogs to see what life looks like as a first time mom. I was happy to see easy to use cloth diapers- I hate trash so I bought some! I was also happy to see baby carriers like Ergo and Moby wraps- I dislike being tied to a stroller, so I bought them! Breasts produce milk for a reason and formula was never even considered as an option, so we nursed on demand! My little man rarely cried, if he did I answered it because he needed something- "CIO" wasn't an option until that rough "I have a voice and will be heard" 9mo old stage! I love my sleep and had realistic sleep-through-the-night goals so I put the cradle right next to my of the bed so baby was within easy reach.

It all made sense to me, though I'd still never heard of attachement parenting.

My first son is naturally very routine oriented and from birth wanted to be laid down while awake and go to sleep on his own. Only when sick or teething would he lay on me or be rocked. He and I had a hard time bonding. Some emotional baggage encouraged me to keep him at arms length. He was loved, cuddled, and talked to however the kisses and affectionate feelings were lacking. I also think my expectations regarding how his birth *should* have gone hindered me.

I don't feel guilt over this, just sadness. I missed a part of motherhood. My son missed a part of his babyhood. I rest in the fact that God knows me. He knew what he was doing when he led me to my husband. He knew what he was doing when he gave us children. He knew it would be painful for me. But he knew the pain was self-inflicted- I needed to see it so it could be replaced by freedom.

Our relationship didn't start to really grow into what it should be until the birth of my second son, Isaac. Kartsen was 21 months old.

I am a serious sleeper- like a rock and I LOVE IT. I seriously love to sleep. Worst part of motherhood? Waking up. I enjoyed my 3am time with Karsten (bad nurser) but not so this baby. I had a toddler who was a little traumatized by this whole thing to deal with and wanted nothing to do with missed sleep. Isaac was a good sleeper but would wake up 3 or more times to nurse

A few nights in a row I fell asleep with him next to me while nursing. I was horrified. This was around a month old and still in the danger co-sleeping age. However, he only woke once to nurse! I decided I was open to him staying in bed with us if I set up some precautions.

Isaac goes to bed in his cradle and around 4 wakes up to nurse and stays in bed with us. This has been the routine since he was 2 months old. This isn't a how-to or why you should post. As a past nanny and parenting coach I remember repeating to parents the dangers and inconveniences of co-sleeping. I know what they are. The dangers were addressed. As far as the inconveniences- I don't care.

I experienced an unexpected benefit from co-sleeping. The same benefit I experienced on those rare nights Karsten would lay down with me. Connection.

I don't connect easily. My laziness has led to deeper love and learning what it really means to nurture. How often can a parent say THAT?!

Tonight, right before Karten went to bed, he leaned back against me and I kissed his cheek and he smiled this "I love you" smile. And again I said a prayer of thanks for my needy little attached baby who the Lord has so used to heal my heart.

So there 'ya go! Do you co-sleep? And remember, co-sleeping doesn't only mean in bed with you! it also means next to the bed in a co-sleeping attachment or bassinet as well. I'm not advocating co-sleeping for others. Good moms co-sleep. Good moms don't co-sleep. Some people should not co-sleep and it should always be done safely.

New items added to Etsy!

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

I have this thing for pillows and vintage fabric. Mostly my throw pillows end up on the ground- not really a throw pillow user, but before I take them off the sofa or bed I gaze at them adoringly and this fabric is definitely gaze worthy! LOVE!


Last year at a flea market I bought this gigantic pettiskirt, took it home and made a couple of skirts out of it.

Recent happenings

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

I have new hair pieces I'm about to add to my Etsy site, until then... New quilt gift! Love these prints. I found most of the gray and yellow prints on clearance at Joann's. Much of their cotton prints are sub par but it was nice to find some fairly good quality fabric. I'm not a huge fan of the yellow-gray fad going on (I don't dislike the color combo- I dislike that every one is doing it. Hater. I know. But I'm not the one who will be changing my whole color scheme in 2 years ;) but this is for someone else and combined with the bright reds and teals it makes it look less fad-ish and some thing that can stand the test of time.

This picture might not look like much. That's because it's not! Introducing my failed attempt to build raised garden beds without a drill gun. Like always, my aversion to the drill has created MORE work. When will I learn this lesson? For some reason digging out the drill feels like SO. MUCH.WORK. It's not.

And finally! Introducing one whole wall finished. When we bought our house we REALLY wanted to avoid it. This old house is not a jewel in the rough. It was literally the only house over 1,000 sq ft available to rent or buy in our price range for over 3 months. I'm not over exaggerating. It was like the Lord had put a big ugly arrow over it and gave us no other options.

2 points to make:

1. I know they're dark.

2. I know my kitchen is dirty. I have bronchitis and am in the middle of the previously mentioned projects ;)

And lastly: IT'S spring!!!! Karsten was a hot item among the animals.

How to drive your husband crazy

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

1. Decide that your discipleship group (like a Bible study group) should host a dinner. 2. Group decides it should be a community dinner.

3. You suggest a benefit dinner.

4. Decide it’s too big for you to plan so hand it over to more skilled planning hands.

5. Head up all decoration and oversee dinner set up while juggling said group, wedding invitation design for SIL, a home, 2 small children and secretarial work for husband’s business.

Shaken, not stirred.

He’s a patient man, but even patient men have their limits. I’ve gotten better at saying “no” recently. Having a second child has forced some sense of moderation. I’ve also been asking myself why I said yes, and what is making it hard to say no... I had been thinking where I wanted to go with this- I said I would give another stab at being a regular blogger. However, most blog are lame and the rest of this post fit in to the “lame” category.

The short answer of why it’s hard to say no, why I’m willing to make my family miserable or drive myself crazy to make something “perfect” and "beautiful" is this:

I make it about me.


Mom guilt.


I did it.

It’s all about me. Sometimes I hear that ugly voice motivating me, whispering, “you’ll never be as good as them. No one will ever love you once they know you.” These words spoken to me by one who was meant to be trusted... listening to them is an excuse to serve myself. I am free. Christ has set me free. To live any other way is make myself a slave again to sin. It’s to pick up the shackles and clamp them on myself. So since this post is about forgetting yourself, I think I’ll leave you with the words of someone else and ask you where do you need to be laying down your yolk and picking up his light and easy one?

Freedom in Christ

5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the lawhave been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesusneither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

Life by the Spirit

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Better picture tips for the mommas out there!

DIY, Motherhood, PhotographyChristina GavendaComment

{Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional. I do hire out my services occasionally but I am very much still learning under the training of videographers and artists. These are just basic pointers! My portfolio can be found at}There are lots of mommas out there like me with babies they take pictures of. Have you ever taken several pictures of your children and wondered why they were blurry, grainy, or (to be blunt) just not good? Ya, me too. My pictures have ranged from awesome to pooptacular.

Look familiar? Tiny kid, huge bush, totally uninteresting picture. I wanted to give a couple of pointers for the person who isn’t looking to win any awards but wouldn’t mind not cringing every time they downloaded their pictures to the family computer.


It’s not as complicated as you might think. Maybe you’re not an artsy person- that’s ok! Here are a few factors to consider:

Subject- When you take a picture of someone or something you want the subject to be the star, not tons of grass or the whole blanket they’re sitting on. Change your position to get closer. Even if you have the option to zoom it’s better not to IF you have the choice. When zooming on your phone you’re quickly losing any sort of clarity you might have had. If you’re zooming on your point and shoot, depending on the quality, the further you zoom the less light gets in to the lens and the worse the image quality. Be sure to leave enough room around the person for cropping if you’re going to print it. Most prints are on a different scale than digital images.

Light: Unless you’re using a flash or half way decent DSLR your camera needs a lot of light to take a clear picture. Turn on the lights, get beside a lamp, window, or go outside. Overhead, whether light bulbs, fluorescent or the sun is very harsh. Step back away from the overheads, get in the shade or go outdoors before 11 or after 3. Remember those pictures with funny colored skin, squinty eyes, or weird shadows over the face? Overhead light strikes again.

Composition: This is how you’re framing your subject. Sorry to say it but no one cares to see up your child’s nose. As you’re looking through the lens or at the image think about what you’re seeing and how you can make it better. Maybe move so you’re in front of them, bend down to see their faces straight on, or give them an object to help focus their attention.

Better? In both of these situations I made sure there was plenty of light available. That gives your camera the ability to take the picture fast enough that there isn't much blur if someone is moving and then you also don't have to turn on the flash (talk about funky skin colors!)! In the top picture they'er outside around 11 am and in the bottom is taken infront of a window. While they can't be described as a revelation, they're also not worthy of the trash can!

You can even play with the manual settings on your point and shoot if you’re really interested. If you’re not an artsy person I’d encourage you to stick to the basics and hire a professional for special occasions.

Have FUN and don't worry- everyone has different skills and talents. I'm terrified of future high school math homework. Thankfully (Lord willing) I have several years to take another stab at Algebra and Geometry and I plan to be plenty rich to hire out calculus!

Bad blogger... again.

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

I am a BAD blogger! I think if that’s how one starts the majority of their posts, they shouldn’t blog. How time flies... We have met our financial cliff and by God’s grace my husband is pulling in enough web work for us to stay afloat and enjoy an occasional morning Panera date. Mmm... hazelnut coffee and cream cheese :)

My year of hosting is coming up and I’m contemplating moving this site to my photography site, I haven’t made a decision yet. This blog was started as a practice project for my husband and a way to network with my ehow work and their media business. I avoid writing and have been contemplating what I would do if I continued a blog. I occasionally make “expert” videos for ehow, am leadership in our church, and love learning new things. I felt this pressure to perform and I hate that- it breeds self-righteousness or feelings of failure. I need neither of those. I’ve decided for the next month I’m going to take another stab at it and blog on things I find helpful as a mom, wife and Christian minus the “Perfecting Raw Cheese” and “How to home can anything!” posts. I don’t have time for that nonsense.

But before I go any further I want to make something clear: I’m a mess. My house is a disaster. I FINALLY conquered laundry mountain last night though I know it will be back by Friday. Don’t misunderstand me, It’s not dirty (hear that cps happies?). It’s simply a reflection of my thinking which is mostly chaos- and my two year old just now chewed open a pen, really? Sometimes I yell at my kids (like just now) and Years of unbiblical responses to disappointment and fear have built walls. I don’t love like I want to love. I don’t relish life like I want to relish. This isn’t the fault of circumstances. I’m jealous of people’s pretty houses. Vacations. Stylish clothes. This is something I continually preach the gospel to myself over- I choose freedom from it. HE is so much better.

The Lord is faithful to me- he’s bringing about a righteous life in me but it’s still pretty bad. It’s worse than I can even know but I have freedom in Christ. It’s where I choose to live.

So where am I going to go with this?

I have a little list in my mind... nothing too genius. I’m not perfect, remember?

Begging God

MiscellaneousChristina Gavenda3 Comments

For a year now we've been among the ranks of the unemployed. We have worked, planned, and searched for ways for my husband to stay in his trade (graphic design/graphics specialist). We've partnered with people and advertised. We've learned new skills.

And I have begged God.

Next month is what my nightmares are made of. Much of our savings depleted because of traveling to NY to see family (recent hard news has made it impossible to not go), our shingles are literally sliding off our roof- THAT needs to be addressed, and our unemployment will have run out. We will be 100% on our own with no net catching us except for the Lord our God.

Of course he is always our only sustainer but a good, steady income and healthy family make this appear to not be so. I've been here before and I'm SO easily tricked.

I believe in why we moved here. I believe our presence and work here (the work in us and through us) is work he wants done. And I know if he wants us to continue to be here, he’ll provide a way.

So I’ve tried to stop nagging my husband which has left me nagging begging God. Instead of working to not fear, I’ve tried to simply take a breath and choose to rest. This means a lot of breaths throughout my days. Breaths when the racing heart and twitching eye come. Breaths when the tears are close. Breaths when my fear turns to anger and threatens to lash out against my husband.

I have always been at this place- hanging by a thread sustained by only One. Always. The only difference is now I know it.

Truly, my idolatrous heart longs to not know.

People have told us “God will take care of you” but honestly, sometimes I don’t like the way God takes care of me. These sweet people mean a job will be provided, income will be found. It might be. But memories surface of another time when God took care of me... A house reposessed. A family shattered. A fatherless daughter. Fear of loss weighs heavy. I didn’t like how God cared for me but oh, the communion in grief and sorrow. That is something to long for. That is something to treasure even when problems bigger than a job and mortgage press down.

As I wrestle with my thoughts the conclusion is always: He is good and this all can be used as good, if I let it. So, I breathe. Rest. Pray. And believe what he says- he loves us and has a good plan for us. Even if it’s hard.

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares upon the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Confession time.

MiscellaneousChristina Gavenda2 Comments

1. I don't like 100% grass fed beef. It tastes too... beefy. I like my meat corn finished. There. I'm out of the wanna-be organic closet.

2. I mostly hate salads.

3. I like epidurals.

I thought I could be a natural birther. I read the books. I breathed the breaths. I listened to the hypnotic lady telling me how much I was made to do this.

And then I spent 4 hours in active labor dilating to 5 centimeters and decided I was a wimp. I like an epidural and I'm not ashamed!

My husband was in charge of me going as long as I could with out pain medication. However, he is: a. a bigger wimp than I am and b. was watching the Bills game (with my permission). He gave me a "code word" that I won't repeat because decent people visit this blog. One that I also don't use but since he's a bit of a heathen, enjoys when I say it. Knowing I loathe the word, he said he wouldn't "ok" an epidural until I said it. Jerk.

The conclusion that I've come to: I'm educated about child birth. I know my rights. I know the risks of pain relievers and epidurals for the mother and baby. Intervention begets intervention. I WANT to be that woman who fights through it. However 3 long back to back hard contractions and I'm done in... Chicken? Yep. And this is not a hill I am willing to die on. I love my epidurals.

End of confessions.



He puts my soul back together...

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me by still waters, he restores my soul.”

Our pastor pointed out that the literal translation of the Hebrew word here, translated “restore” means “to put back together”.

I have been tempted to write and have drafted a few posts about struggles I've been currently facing. However, I don’t believe that airing out suffering, especially when others are involved, simply to speak it or try to benefit others on the internet is always beneficial. How does that benefit the one who imposed the suffering when someone they know might read it? Especially when that relationship is being used for the glory of God? Yet it’s been hard to think of anything else to write.

So I haven’t posted them because I haven’t come to a place of confidence that it’s truly good to share simply because someone might relate and be challenged to think biblically about their struggle.

When things get painful I get cognitive and academic about my situation. I’m separated from it. It’s happening but not right here where I feel it. This is a long practiced habit that has been hard to get rid of and it usually ends with an emotional meltdown of tidal wave proportions.

Not cool.

The most recent event was around March when my theme (not resolution ;) for this year passed the level of eye twitching and moved on to a full-on panic attack that lasted a week.

“What might cause such drama in the life of an average, growing 20-something Christian wife and mother?” You might ask. A small, simple word. My theme is invest. Invest in my husband. Invest in my son. Invest in the people around me. But my well practiced habit is there for a reason. Abandonment, abuse, shame, they foster lies I believe that I don’t even know exist. Years of handling suffering and sin biblically and still I hear whispers of, “If you love them they will leave you...”

1 year olds don’t leave by choice. By the end of that week I was mourning the death of a very alive, very well son. I felt like I had gone crazy.

I have felt compelled to share this part of my dealings with myself and my history and have wrote a few things, rewrote them, and ultimately discarded them because each time it was too much and not to the point.

I think I feel compelled because I see so little written on the effects of parental abandonment and rejection that is actually helpful. I’ve read some things on how to help your children through divorce and abandonment that were helpful for parents but little for adults who still feel the ripples of their parent’s choices in their lives from a truly Bible based perspective.

I can walk in obedience to the Lord without knowing WHY I’m freaking out about something that shouldn’t be such a big deal or why I am emotionally unavailable to my husband or why I fear having children. I can choose to put on faith, hope and love and put off fear, worry, and self-protection. The fact is though- if I don’t know why it’s like cutting down a stink weed tree- give it a few months and it will pop right back up. I want to dig out the root so I can burn the whole thing.

I have met so many ladies and girls who are driven by emotions they don’t understand to do things they, when they think about it, don’t want to do. When we sit down and talk it out I meet so many who have the same tree that just won’t go away. They had no idea how far reaching the effects of the sin of others, and then our childhood or sinful responses, would have. How far reaching the very nature of life is.

The Lord has put my soul back together. I am no longer a person walking around wounded and he has truly been my Father in my fatherlessness.

I love and forgive those involved and know the Lord is making it for good because he says he is and proves it to me regularly. This isn’t recent. For a few years now I have had quite a bit of freedom about it.

When I was 15, a year before things were really in the crapper, I read a book called, “Have we no Rights?” by a Christian missionary lady. I remember little about this woman’s story except that she served in China for years and that I agreed with her- as a Christian I handed over my “rights” to be defended by another. My right to a stable home. To a loving father. To a safe future. All of those things were given over to my Heavenly father. In deciding it wasn’t about me nor was it my job to fight for my rights, I was free to look at family members with the Love of Christ.

I didn’t know it then, but this helped build a worldview through which to filter my experiences. Of course I haven’t handled it perfectly. There were a few years where confusion, anger and fear dominated. And I still have experiences like the one this spring where I am completely debilitated. These are fewer and farther between and I’m so thankful for that. I’m also so thankful that I don’t look at this part of my life with performance in mind (everything else is a different matter). This part is hard to describe. I feel a push for growth, for this thing to not rear its ugly head once again in a different way. I am sorry for my sin and repent. But at the same time- This too is covered by grace, forgiveness and patience. I don’t even feel guilty for the months of emotional detachment from my son. Maybe I should? But the Lord knows me from conception to completion. He knew the family he put me in. He watched me struggle to understand and love. He has watched me stumble along and he knew much better than I that this whole marriage and motherhood thing would come at a high cost. And still he has woven it in- He saw March coming long before I did and still he covers me. This is freedom and rest. These are still waters and a soul put back together. I rest in a Great High Priest who knows.

This is all I’m going to post on the subject for now. If there’s interest shown in more practical how-tos in looking at the past Biblically and moving forward in Christ, I’d be happy to share the awesome wisdom of others in the biblical counseling movement that have so blessed me.

Great resources in the mean time:

Romans 5:1-4 and chapter 8 have changed me and continue to. The books of Psalms, Isaiah, and Philippians Instruments in the Redeemers Hands Calm my Anxious Heart I Really Want to Change, So Help Me God Sacred Marriage When I Don’t Desire God

Dill pickles!

MiscellaneousChristina GavendaComment

Ultra Domesticity. I have a garden. It’s quite ambitious for a first time big girl garden. Never mind that I don’t know why my onion stems are falling over, when my potatoes are done or how to string up tomatoes. No biggie. I also tried to transplant a potato plant forgetting that it was a tuber. I think that was my lowest point.

However, I am vindicated! Today processed THESE:

Super easy as long as you have the right recipe. Don't over think pickles. Before I go any further I need to thank Meghan for this recipe! They are dill PERFECTION!

All you need is:


fresh dill

GOOD garlic (yes, there are different kinds of garlic)

4 cups white vinegar

1/2 cup salt

3 quarts water

glass jars with lids

I made refrigerator pickles. Unless you're planning on canning them you won't need canning jars with sealing lids. I did can about 8 jars to see how it went but for the rest I mostly reused salsa and sauce jars.

Boil the vinegar, salt, and water for about 10 minutes. This is called a brine. It still needs to be hot when you pour it over the cucumbers.

You will need to wash and sterilize your jars before hand. I do this by throwing as many as I can in a stock pot of boiling water. My grandmother microwaves hers. I prefer this because I'm going to need hot water anyways if I'm canning.

Cut your cucumbers

[Edit: Right after this picture, while using my very safe Pampered Chef slicing mandolin, I sliced off the top of my thumb. Please- save time by using a mandolin but utilize the finger guard. It's NEARLY idiot proof.]

Pack your sterilized jars with a couple of garlic and some dill

Then pack in your cucumbers, pour over your still very hot brine and lid! When it's cooled place your jars in the fridge and you're done!



The Minefield of Modern Motherhood

MotherhoodChristina GavendaComment

Last week I finished several eHow baby videos for Mates Media. It certainly wasn’t painful work, I love talking to moms about motherhood, exchanging ideas, and sharing information. I have an insecurity about being online with a blog and videos. Not all moms are as comfortable sharing “what worked for me” and “this is what really reliable research is showing” sort of conversations about parenting. We’re all sensitive about different things. I generally deal with my “sensitivities” pretty bluntly and being wrong about how I’m handling something with Karsten is usually not a super soft spot for me (not that I don’t have my moments...). I’ve worked with so many moms and helped tackle so many issues that it would be incredibly arrogant of me to think that I wouldn’t also have blind spots. I’ve done it for so long that I’m not as sensitive as I think I would be if it were new to me.

This isn’t the normal “new mom” story. I’m insecure because (though I have years of care-taking and educating experience) to be labeled a “parenting expert” feels silly when you only have one child. It also gives an air of importance, one that might try to usurp the authority of the mother. I’m insecure because I know that I’m no expert. I’m not an expert on you, your child, or your family. You are the only expert on your family- you are the “professional”.

I easily retain and categorize information that I find interesting to me but it’s information available to all mothers. Some great resources:

  • Dr. Sears (
  • A local lactation consultant (like from the hospital you delivered at)
  • WIC (
  • Friends/family who have kids that are (overall) well behaved and respectful
  • A GOOD and RELAXED family doctor or pediatrician
  • For pregnancy and labor I highly recommend Active Birth


The best resource? Educating yourself, deciding what is important to you, and trusting your gut.

I have heard doctors (even good doctors) repeated as saying things like, “You won’t be able to produce enough milk,” “Your baby is too heavy”, and “It’s fine to feed them solids at 4 months.”

You are the greatest advocate, source of nurture, and caregiver your children will know. Loving them well is so much more than a full time job. You are to be the professional and expert on your children. If a doctor, teacher, or family member says something to you that doesn’t seem to make sense it is your job to question, research, and decide what's right.

I’m thankful to be given the opportunity to share videos like these. There’s so much pressure put on moms, from within and without. Partner that with conflicting information from the medical community, family and motherhood becomes much more complicated than it needs to be. The importance of "image" feels to be at an all-time high. Maybe that's just because coveting is no longer aimed at the limited friends and neighbors you come in contact with but is now a global and connected obsession. Don't know what I mean? Visit Fearing judgment and not living up to an image is probably the most draining pitfall I see in my own heart and in the lives of so many moms around me.

My prayer for other moms is my prayer for myself: do what’s important and don’t sweat the small stuff. If you do the research, ask the questions, and we come up with different "important issues." Then who cares? Some moms are "co-sleeping" fanatics. I love those moms. Some moms are "get those babies in the crib" moms. I love those moms too. We have different definitions of important and I'm ok with that. It's small stuff.