Good Friday

Day 100 – 

Tomorrow is Good Friday! I was thinking about this weekend’s holidays in terms of our quarantine situation. While Jesus was on earth there were crowds around him all the time. People were said to “push through the crowds” to get to Jesus. One person climbed a tree. Another group of guys shimmed their friend down through a roof to get to Jesus. What would I have done to get to Jesus when he was in my town? Would there be crowds even if we all had masks on?

The other day a friend texted me to ask if I was at the grocery store. “No,” I said, “Why?” She said she thought she saw a ponytail that looked like mine. It was a good laugh while thinking about how much our world has changed. So quickly we have gone to looking for ponytails of people we know instead of our faces.

There is a woman in the Bible (Luke 8) who had an issue with bleeding. She had spent 12 years being “unclean”. She not only had to quarantine because she was unclean, per the custom and rules of her day, but also because she could not touch anyone else. If she touched someone, they would also be unclean. The person she touched would have to be ceremoniously cleansed. In other words they would take the appropriate bath. She could bathe, but would remain “unclean” due to her illness. 

Social distancing has made me feel a little like this lately. My moments of anxiety over being separated from people has left me broken and tearful. I started videoing a friend today and burst into tears. I have done this stay at home thing as well as worked for a few weeks, not years. It has been challenging. I know I am not “unclean”, but I do feel like I am with this distance restriction between myself and friends.

The woman in our story heard Jesus was coming through her town. She covered herself up and hoped she wouldn’t be recognizable. She made her way through the crowd. No one parted 6 feet for her to pass by. Once she made her way to Jesus, she somehow knelt down and grabbed the tassel of his outer garment. Immediately she knew she was healed. 

There is so much symbolism in this story and I encourage you to learn about it. For today, here is the best part. Jesus felt the power go out from him and asked who had touched him. Our woman had began to sneak away. Her shame in being unclean and touching his robe, I would imagine, would be as great being out of her quarantined place. Unable to keep her presence a secret, the woman came forward to confess. Jesus, calling her “Daughter”, told her in front of the crowd that she was healed because of her faith. Jesus took away her shame as well as her illness. Jesus told her to go in peace.

Our perfect Jesus could have let her go unnoticed. The Bible says he came to earth to encounter those who were stuck in their ways of living, in their sin, in their pain, and in their illnesses. Jesus came to call us sons and daughters and to bring us out of our shadows and into His light. He came to give us life and life to the full. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)

This is my story. I once was lost and in the shadows. I once strove to earn a spot in Jesus’ love. I was broken and in need of healing. He called me “Daughter” and brought me from darkness into His light. He forgave my sins and made me a new creation. He was broken on a cross, dying for me, so I might have life in Him. As much as this “stay at home” has made me feel physically stuck, I am free and alive in Jesus because of his sacrifice for me. 

This is why we celebrate Jesus’ death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Let us celebrate both like never before during this unhurried season. Let us lay our worry, our emotions and our disappointments with our situations at the Lord’s feet. Let’s allow him to call us sons and daughters and worship with glad hearts over his sacrifice. May he encounter us with freedom and joy as we seek him! 

Happy Good Friday and Easter!

-ST

Walking on Dry Ground

Day 94 –

I thought I would figure out how to do a YouTube video. It’s my first one. It’s not perfect, but I hope you can hear my heart in it. We are going through a lot right now. Collectively and yes, with some united fronts, but we are also going through this differently, each one of us. I needed to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in my old mess while walking through this mess with old triggers popping up. Thank you for listening and I hope it blesses you today!

-ST

In This Together

Day 88 – 

It’s pretty ironic how my goal this year is to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life. By 11 a.m. this morning I had done so many things, yet felt unproductive. This is the battle I fight. I can clean the house for hours and still feel unproductive because it just gets dirty again. In CoVid-19 season I am being forced to figure out why my hurry. 

I am grateful to have a job. I know it will still be there tomorrow. While I am learning to be quiet, still and unhurried, I am keenly aware of all of you single parents attempting to work and to be at home with little ones, and the workers of deemed unessential jobs who are without a whole income or who have permanently lost your jobs because of CoVid-19. For this, I am so humbled and I am so sorry. The elimination of hurry probably means so much more right now. 

I may not being walking in your shoes in my own situation, but may I offer a little of God’s Word for us today? I know what it is to fear and to be anxious about the unknown. I have spent seasons of my life unsure where the next tank of gas, or even gallon, will come from. I have striven to make enough to pay my bills and to have enough left over to eat. I have had to trust God with my health and with the ability to get up each morning. I have gone through seasons of wanting life to end and looking for God to remember me.

God’s Word, I believe, is for the here and now. I am also aware that in moments of grief the phrase “God is not surprised by this” does not always help. So instead, let’s look at Exodus 14.

God has just called his people out of Egypt through the leadership of Moses. They had abundant gifts from their Egyptian neighbors and friends, good sandals on their feet, and provisions on their backs. They left Egypt with joy. They had barely travelled a day before they reached the Red Sea. They had witnessed miracles from heaven descend upon their freedom story.  Immediately and collectively, they found themselves in the first hardship of their new life.

The Israelites, having reached the Red Sea and being pursued by their old government and ruler, started questioning what God was thinking. They had left their homes and their comfort. It was easy when it was joyful and it was equally as easy to forget how captive they had been, even one day before. 

“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them! They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, ‘Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’ ” Exodus 14:10-12 (Message)

Put CoVid-19 in wherever you feel it applies for you. Put your job, your fears, or your bitterness towards whomever or whatever into the passage. “As illness approached, the people of God looked up and saw them—CoVid-19! Coming at them! They were totally afraid.”

“As the boss approached them, I looked and saw them—cut backs! Coming at me. I was totally afraid.”

“As the news approached them, I looked up and saw them —restrictions, orders, declarations! Coming at me. I was totally afraid.”

I get it. We all have fear about something. Being told what to do. Being ill. Loosing a loved one. Being isolated, depressed, or cut off. I can’t make it one full day at home without wanting to loose my mind. God is not afraid of our fear. God is not afraid of my instability of mind. I am not too much for him. You are not too much for him.

“Moses answered the people. ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.’ ” Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)

God showed up for the Israelites. He brought them up out of captivity. He brought them into freedom for his glory. Being free to enjoy God did not mean being free from hard things. God showed them this after just one day. God does not always give us rest before taking us to the next giant. 

Because of who God is, look at what he does say. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. The Lord will fight for you, just be still.” Exodus 14:14 (my paraphrase)

Again, put your fears in place of the word “Egyptians”. For me, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The isolation, restrictions, loneliness and uncertainty you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.” 

When I started writing this blog today I was on my front porch in the sun, escaping my children.  l had to find some stillness so I could relinquish my fears to the God who fights for us. In your stillness, your fears and your elimination of hurry, how can God fight for you? What do you need to ask for? Yes, someone may seem to have it worse than you do in this, but I believe God is for each one of us.. What do you need today? What do you long for today? Ask God to fight for you in those needs and desires.

The Israelites were in it together. They all experienced freedom. They all left with joy. They all needed protection immediately. They all had fear. They all had to be still so they could see the deliverance of the Lord. As we are socially distanced from each other, let’s keep remembering we don’t have to do this alone. We can all ask God to fight for us. We can all learn to be still together, even at a distance. How can you ask your community to stand with you? How can you be there to stand for those in your community? 

May you find blessing in your community and in our God this week. May we be in this stillness together!

—ST

Eating More while Stuck at Home?

Day 81—

We are getting real today! Let’s talk about eating and being at home. 

I know I can be an emotional eater and I know I have food at home for the quarantine period of this season. I also know when my children leave snacks uneaten, I don’t want to waste them. It would be so easy to eat what they eat and then grab a few more of whatever to make it worth my time.

What about you? Do you need to remember to eat when you have a lot going on? Do you eat more or less when you are stuck at home? If we aren’t sick, loosing weight isn’t going to be a thing. Because we are going to be more sedentary while we are at home (unless you have a two-year-old and you have done a good job of keeping devices away from them), are we able to maintain our activity goals?

My neighbor adheres to the step goals recommended for her age. Year round we can often find her walking her dogs late into the evening just to complete her steps. Now, because she won’t go out front, we will begin to see her doing laps in her backyard. She is dedicated. I want to be that dedicated right now.

It would be easier to Netflix binge and check out the latest memes or blogs all day long, but instead, I want to help us decrease our anxiety. Here are a few ideas:

Meal Plan: I have enough food, but I don’t want to my family to get bored. What can I make that is healthy and as fresh as possible for my family? I plan the whole week.

Workout: I follow a great workout/eating program. There are many gym or studios moving their programs to home workouts. Find one or more which can work for you! I am waiting for my weights to arrive, but in the meantime, a full Tide jug works as a Kettlebell or dumbbell. Involve your kids. My girls hung in there for the first 10 minutes of a Barre class the other day. (Mine: Faster Way to Fat Loss)

Rest: No one cares if you do your hair today. Side note: some people might care if you shower. Let yourself sleep in just a little bit more. Use the commute time you normally have to sleep in or go to bed early. Read a book instead of watching whatever. Giggle, laugh, open a window and breath in fresh air. 

Be grateful: We have some amazing people in our lives who are changing history. I have some incredible girlfriends who are running franchises, a city, and classrooms from a distance. I have friends who are working like crazy to take care of other people’s loved ones. Let’s be grateful. Let’s be thankful for what we are doing and that we are able to do it. Let’s be grateful for the rest, or health, or internet connection to stay connected. Wherever you are, be thankful.

So, back to eating. What we put in our mouths today can either help or hinder us for tomorrow! Let’s make the choice today to plan ahead, choose to recognized the emotions we are feeling and choose carefully why we eat, what we eat, and when we eat it. I’m talking to myself here! Give grace where it’s needed and then hold yourself steady for the next meal, the next snack, etc. 

Tip: Drink a whole glass of water before drinking coffee every morning. 

So grateful for you!

—ST

Virus or What?

Day 74 – 

I have been processing and praying about how to write about the Covid-19. Let’s face it. It seems to be infiltrating every conversation and action in our communities and in our churches. When it comes to anxiety in the midst of a crisis (emotional and spiritual) I get on my knees and I work every angle to be released from the anxious thoughts. When it comes to a health crisis, my heart and my mind go quiet and my nursing training/experience takes over. I am always ready to be a nurse those who are sick, to grieve with those who have lost and to encourage those who are afraid.

As a Jesus follower, should my response be any different than my nurse response? My peace can be greater in my knowledge of our God than in my knowledge in the medical things. My understanding of God in the midst of crisis has been increased from my nursing experience. My perspective comes from hours of processing His goodness, His sovereignty and His faithfulness as I have cared for hundreds of people in the middle of health scares, illnesses, viruses and unforeseen accidents. 

So what truths have I learned? Here are some of the ones I am focused on this time around.

From Numbers 21, Psalm 24 and 146:

  • He hears our grumbling — (My perspective on the story) The people of Israel grumbled against God and Moses, saying, “Why have you taken us out of our captivity where we feasted and brought us into the wilderness (freedom) and given us no bread, no water and hatred for what has been provided?” Because of their grumbling God brought snakes to redirect the people. 
  • He hears our repentance — The people went to Moses, confessing their sin. They requested he pray to God for relief from the snakes. Moses prayed for the people.
  • He lifts up our heads  — God commanded a bronze snake be made and placed on a pole, that anyone who had been bitten could look up, see the snake and be healed. (FYI-this is where we get the medical symbol – snakes on a pole)
    • “Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” Psalm 24:7-8
  • He can be sought  — “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who see your face, God of Jacob.” Psalm 24:3-6
  • He is the One to worship — “All my life long I’ll praise God” Psalms 146:2
  • He provides —  “God made sky and soil, sea and all the fish in it. He always does what he says—he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry. God frees prisoners—he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen.” Psalms 146:6-8
  • He is in control: “God’s in charge—always. Zions’ God is God for good!” Psalms 146:10

There are so many more promises God gives us in his Word in hopes we cling to him for our peace. I don’t have the answers as to why a virus has been running rampage on our world, but I do believe in God. Let us confuse our sins, our pride and our fear to the God who hears. Let us look to him, the Lifter of our heads, and worship him. He is worthy, he provides and he is in control. 

God also gave the world nurses. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay home if you are sick and be gracious to the world around you. Even if you have peace in the midst of the storm, your friend, neighbor or spouse may still be learning these things. 

May your faces be lifted up and your hands clean!

-ST

Unstuck

Day 72-

I have not known myself to rush into significant life change. I do not jump head long into it. I weigh my options, verbally process and talk myself into it. The one thing I do know is that I hate being stuck. I will fight to be unstuck every time. Sometimes I think when God wants to move me forward, and I won’t go, he allows me to feel stuck just to light a fire under my bottom.

At the end of this past year I finally realized how stuck I felt after a year of balancing my career, my business, my spiritual life, my marriage and most of all, my mothering with too few hours in the day. I would get home from work exhausted, not enjoying my job, but trusting in the financial security it created. My girls began to be surprised when I was home. I realized I want to be missed, and not expected to be gone.

Around the same time at my super club we talked about what we would give up now for what we want later. It’s a hard concept sometimes. Do we stay at a job we don’t want to be at just for the job benefits? Do we trust God with what seems so huge when really it’s only pennies to him? I had to really evaluate what I was willing to give up to slow down and to learn to drastically eliminate hurry from my life. If anything, I wanted to eliminate hurry so I can be present with my girls.

So here I am, months later, transitioning from one workplace to another one. It has not been a quick process. On one hand, I’m excited and eager to move into a new role, a new company, and a new life routine with fewer hours away from my girls. On the other hand, I need to process where I’m coming from. I have spent over a decade doing everything I can to help change culture and promote change in sticky situations. Change takes time in any organization. Time is all I had, until I felt stuck.

Once we decide to change, I think we can look back on what was and the time we spent, giving what feels like our entire wellbeing, and wonder if it was worth it. Was it the right thing? Yes. I believe with confidence I can say yes. I say this with certainty because the energy I spent and the timespan I took in that place, in those projects and in those relationships, brought me to where I am now. I would not have been ready or equip for what is next. I also had to choose to get uncomfortable in order to move forward. I had to head in the direction of peace or it isn’t the right direction. It doesn’t mean what is behind me was wrong. It means it’s just not for me now. 

This transition is occasionally overwhelming and scary. I have been loosing sleep and I have had moments of anxiety pop-up when I least expect them. I am still yelling more than I want to at my girls when I am tired. I want to blame everything at my old job. I am aware of all these emotions. They make me tired. Today, with Jesus time, worship and refocusing on where I’m headed, I can keep moving forward.

At the end of the day, I know this transition isn’t there to make me perfect in my mothering or that life will be less stressful. I’m still me. I will have new challenges of being home more and keeping my focus on the next right thing. I know I will wrestle with busyness. I’m wired to be productive so finding a balance will be ongoing. I will also encounter new opportunities for refinement at the new job. I am, however, eager to see how I grow in this new routine.

I will keep you posted! 

Intervention: Let go of one thing on my to-do list every day and spend the time playing a game with my girls. 

Date with Cam!

-ST

Productivity Planning

Day 63-

What a week! I started to work less at my traditional job in preparation to start my new job. My soul needs to rest. I also need to pick-up the pace of my photography business. I have far too many goals and ambitions to fit into each home business day. If I am not careful I will become anxious over my to-do list instead of allowing my soul to rest in the midst of creativity and productivity.

I rested yesterday. I spent the day with my birthday girl, who turned 4. Because it was my focus to be with her and to be present, I had near to nothing on my goal list. I ran to her beck and call. I laughed with her and hugged her often. I felt refreshed after making it her day. 

Today I was back at it. The morning was crammed full with tasks on my to-do lists. I maintain to-do lists in my mind for my new job, my business, my side hustle idea and my personal goals. I am well aware that the bullet points on my written to-do list are greater than I can accomplish in a week. I also know I could be quickly overwhelmed and start to worry that I wouldn’t accomplish enough during these two hours without children in the house. 

In order to stave off my overwhelmed mind for as long as possible I divided up my work. For the first hour I decided to focus on my photography business. I caught up on emails and planning only for my business. Once these tasks were complete and I went to the budget. Editing finished up my hour. I worked until everything for my business was complete. The next hour was for my new job. I have deadlines for two certifications I have to complete so I need to be focused. This morning I gave it my all for one hour.

I did get overwhelmed, but not until later. I had left a few home things off my to-do list and when I remembered them in the afternoon I felt anxious thoughts rising. My good friend (like a little sister) was my go-to and she brought me back to God’s plan for my life. I helped me cut off those thoughts, refocus and press on. 

Knowing my soul needs to rest, I need to find tactful ways to rest as well as to be productive. This afternoon I took time to study for a test while I watched a movie with my little one. She is thrilled when I am close by even when she wants to do her own thing. It brings rest to my soul to be near her for such extended amounts of time. 

Intervention: Continue making to-do lists, but schedule the time for each one or groups of them in each category of my life. Once the time or task is up, let it go until next set-time. I know this isn’t realistic every time, but on set-aside days this will be helpful. 

P.S. I grocery shopped online and picked up my order at the store for the first time today too! Life changing? We will see!

-ST

Date with God

Day 51-

My brain won’t turn off. I obsess over the next best thing. It’s no joke. I go to sleep planning my next project and wake up having dreamt about it. Annoying for sure. My mind has to be busy. No wonder I’m tired. If I’m not anxious about something I am moving at top speed to the next thing.

I have realized this while looking for a new job. Thankfully, I think I’m nearing the end of this process. I was beginning to obsess about job postings. I was writing and rewriting my resume. I have so many versions of my cover letter I’m not sure which one went to whom. Since I began to back off on my job search, my mind went to the next thing.

On Tuesday I was finally on overload. I couldn’t keep anything straight. I needed what I call a “Date with God”. In college I began to take dates with God. My friends were going on dates and I wanted to as well. I took God out to coffee shops or out to dinner. These dates became essential for my soul health.

I carved out time in my schedule and today I went on a Date with God. The plan during these dates is to study God’s Word, to journal, to pray and to stay until I feel released to leave. I can’t quite explain the release, but a lightness of sorts descends over my body, my mind and my heart. I breath easier and leave refreshed. 

The topics of my Dates with God have always different each time. I start with an idea of a topic and pick a passage to start reading. I pray for God to lead me where he wants me to go with him. Today’s topic started on bringing my burdens to God. I wanted to process my stress over leaving one job and finding another one. My date started in Psalm 55 which my pastor taught on it this past week. 

God moved my heart towards him and took me to Psalm 56:3-4a (Message Version)

When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. I’m proud foo praise God: fearless now, I trust in God.

During my date my fears, which propel my mind and my heart to run in circles, quieted. I rested my tired and overwhelmed soul. I slowed my pace, refocused by putting my fears into God’s hands, and returned worship to my tongue. God was gracious to be present and linger with me as I went through this process with him.

Here is the prescription for a Date with God. 

  • Find a place where there are no other distractions. For me, it is a coffee shop. Bring money for the coffee or the treat you want. This is important. This is not a time for worrying about calories. It is a time to bring enjoyment to this experience. If you are saving money, you can go somewhere free. I have driven up mountains and sat in my car enjoying a view. I have sat in a park with my water bottle. I have walked on a path or even sat in my favorite chair in my house. I prefer a coffee shop because I can zone into my date easily.
  • Bring the stuff you want. I have worship music on my phone with earphones. The music is just loud enough to drown out the world around me. You don’t have to buy music to have this experience. Spotify, Amazon, Pandora and YouTube all have free playlists with amazing music for your dates. I bring a journal, my Bible, my Bible study stuff, a pen I love to write with, and my computer if I want to write after. You may need tissues for tears. There is no shame in tears. They can be healing and God-given.
  • Time is important. Schedule it and keep it safe. This is hard to do. I recommend carving two hours for your date, if possible, so you don’t feel rushed. You won’t be bored. You might be released in a shorter time. You may also need to post-pone the end until later that day. That’s okay too, but don’t cut yourself short. If you only have 30 minutes, give it to God. If you can choose to linger, give him all the time he needs to restore you.
  • Be present. Pray for God to center your mind on what you are there to do. Slow your mind and be with him. Sit at his feet and stay there. The only time it has been hard to sit with Jesus is when I stubbornly avoid repentance. If my heart is right with him it is easy to sit with him. I hope this is true for you as well. Breath, exhale and listen.

I’m leaving my date now. I feel released. I feel joyful and peaceful. I am so grateful I took the time for a Date with God today. I hope you can start to incorporate Dates with God into your life as well. Blessings on your day.

-ST

Food Shame

Day 47-

I eat in light of my emotions. It’s true. I justify something I’m working on avoiding (sugar/carbs) by telling myself my body just used a lot of energy on whatever I was stressed about. I will even look at my watch to see if my heart rate is up so I have evidence of these calories I’ve burned. My watch has yet to support this idea. 

I do not taste food as well as others appear to and the taste bud test in anatomy lab confirmed it. Sinus surgery two years ago decreased my ability to taste even more. This leaves me to wonder why I still reach for chocolate or a buttery something when my mind is heavy. While keeping an anxiety journal, I realized my need for food comes from the desire to fill my anxious emotions.

Let’s be honest. When my day at the hospital is stressful I want coffee or dark chocolate. I would prefer something sweet over salty unless it is buttery. When I am overwhelmed at home my coffee pods are easily accessible. I rarely take a nap, unless I am working the night shift, so I just reeve up. In the moment, I probably think the caffeine has little effect on me other than calming me down. Let’s face it. My heart rate may not actually know what a resting state should be.

In 2019 I started exercising 5 days a week. I go early in the morning. Other than one cup of coffee, I do my best to wait until noon to eat. Some days I am genuinely hungry or hangry and I eat a preferred, healthy breakfast. Either way I get on with my morning. I worship, listen to God’s Word, focus on gratitude and fix my attention on something other than my worries. I love mornings and usually my morning routine carries me until noon.

By the afternoon, my focus starts falling apart with the busyness of a day of work, the long zoned-out hours of editing photos in my office, or the house which never seems to stay picked up. After my planned lunch, I can eat. By mid-afternoon, I choose, more often than not, to eat for my mood. Carrots rarely make the cut. Dark chocolate is welcome anytime. 

Food is more functional for me more than enjoyable, and I have enough food restrictions to be annoying. Food shame used to come quickly. Last year I realized my poor eating habits first came from not eating because I was worried about what I ate, to eating everything I said I wouldn’t eat because I was too hungry. I began to understand how negative food had become.

If I am not careful, exercise can become my fix to food shame. Exercise helps stabilize my mood and brings great joy in my life. If I let it take the place of the food shame I can easily beat myself up when I miss a work-out. I love the gym and want to keep it that way. Instead of replacing one self-medication (food) with another (gym) I need to continue working on these two things.

Intervention: 1. When I reach for something to shove in my mouth, pause to evaluate why I’m eating it. Is it to cover over something I’m feeling? If so, I want to place God’s truth in the gap instead of food. If it is because I want to enjoy it and have no emotions mixed with it, I’ll go ahead. I will give myself permission to enjoy it in moderation.

Who doesn’t love a plank!

2. If I am feeling guilty for missing a workout, I will pause to celebrate the rest my body so badly needs. I will use gratitude over the ability to use my body to move and to accomplish hard things. I can choose to have no more guilt. I’ll get back to the gym tomorrow.

-ST

Slowing Down with My Little One

Day 40-

My monthly goal of slowing down and enjoying a recipe happened over the course of two weeks. Our Christmas tradition of making and decorating sugar cookies to give to the police department or first responders in our neighborhood couldn’t happen because of our recurrent illnesses in December.. With Valentine’s day approaching, we invited some friends over to decorate heart sugar cookies.

My little one enjoys helping me in the kitchen. When she hears any dish come out of its cupboard she instantly appears, pushing a chair or her stool to the counter in order to help. Her two little hands washed and nothing in her mouth means she can help mommy. 

We first made the cookie dough. The basic recipe I grew up with was enhanced by some extra sea salt. I wanted to balance out the sugar a bit more than usual. This idea came from my coworker who finds downtime with new recipes in her kitchen. I was excited over the idea and added small amounts of sea salt until I could taste it in the dough. 

My recipe calls for the dough to chill for a few hours so we left it overnight. I put a bit less flour than what it called for since it would dry out a bit while it’s chilled. I cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and in the refrigerator it goes.

The next day my oldest was sick so we had to postpone our decorating. Since I had the dough ready to go Camryn and I rolled it, cut out the hearts and baked the cookies. They weren’t perfect, but they sure tasted good. The hint of sea salt make a huge difference. Camryn couldn’t wait to decorate them so I allowed her to decorate a few of the ones she rolled out—blue sprinkles for the win! We froze the soft cookies. I made sure they were slightly under-baked so they would freeze well.

The morning of our decorating party the following week I pulled the cookies out to thaw. I made my favorite buttercream and the kiddos decorated to their hearts content. Most of the frosted cookies went to the police department to thank them for keeping our neighborhood safe. It was more about the process than the eating!

The best part was spending the time with Camryn over several days and with our friends who joined us for decorating. I have to slow down when Camryn is helping me. I want her to be safe and I want her to enjoy these sweet traditions in the kitchen. It made the memory even better.

This month: recipe and coffee…time to look for something wonderful. I’m sure Camryn will be joining me in the kitchen.

-ST