Monday, December 9, 2013


Well meaning people have told me from time to time, "You deserve it!" in reference to good things happening or blessings in our lives.  And, while I appreciate the love behind the comment, I would have to disagree with it.  I want to take a minute to proclaim this to the world:  I *don't* deserve all the good things and blessings in my life.  I deserve eternal punishment for any shortcoming or sin I ever committed....we all deserve death, actually.  The Bible states that the wages of sin, the payment for works of death. 

Even if we try to live a perfect life, without making any mistakes or hurting anyone or transgressing against God Almighty, we would still be lost without a Savior, because of the iniquitous nature we each were already born into, since Adam and Eve originally disobeyed God, as accounted for at the beginning of Genesis.  Sometimes, we can be so deceived that we can't even know our own sin!  

Some would argue that we are all born innocent...  Babies are so beautiful and wonderfully pure in many aspects, but we soon see, as they develop and grow, that no one has to teach them how to be disobedient; every human born on the face of this earth is already inclined to sin.  This is why training up a child in the ways of the Lord, according to scripture, is so help lovingly guide children away from their selfish and sinful tendencies.  We all needed consistent discipline as children.  If ever I understood this at all, it is when I finally became a parent myself.  Children need continual guidance, not only to do what is right and to be considerate of other people, but also to do what is safe beyond their limited knowledge, obediently trusting loving parents who already foresee natural consequences and have the best interests of their children in mind.  If we know the Lord, our privileged role and responsibility is also to help them see glimpses of God's grace and experience love that looks like God's Love, until hopefully one day our children will themselves know God personally, trusting Christ Jesus as their own Savior, responding to the Holy Spirit themselves. 

Each of us has walked in sin to some degree or another, if we've ever lied, ever took something that belonged to someone else, ever disobeyed our parents, etc.  But, God, in His unfathomable Love, decided to make a way to prevent us from getting what we deserve (death),  through His only son, Jesus Christ, who was absolutely innocent, yet submitted to death on a cross for our sins and rose again to life.  Now, by God's Grace through faith in Christ Jesus, we are blessed to have what we never earned nor deserved: Life eternal and abundant blessings.  His Mercy [withheld punishment] keeps us from getting what we DO deserve, and His Grace [unmerited favor] gives us more than we could ever deserve on our own --> what we DON'T deserve.  This is the truth of His Word, whether we accept it or not.

So, while I acknowledge that I don't deserve any of the wonderful blessings I enjoy daily, I am truly and deeply grateful that God found a way to bless me so.  I encourage you to consider graciously responding to others, when they say something like "You deserve it!" with something like "I don't deserve it, but God is so good to have blessed me in His Grace."  Let's say what we mean and mean what we say.  And, actually, by acknowledging that we aren't deserving, but rather forgiven and blessed beyond what we deserve, we point others to Jesus and to the truth of His Word, and we ultimately give the Glory to God for His amazing work of redemption on our behalf...  

"Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." - Ephesians 2:3-7

"For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." - Titus 3:3-7

Pondering His Grace and Mercy today,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Winter Family Portraits and Special Family News!

We had planned for another talented photographer to do a mini-session for our family, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, but we had a few issues on that day and could not keep our session time.  So, on Wednesday, December 4th, we decided to do our own family photo shoot here at our new place in Springtown, Texas.  I got the girls dressed, Dave threw sweaters on the guys, and then he set everything up, and all we needed was someone to help the children look at the camera.  Our sweet neighbor Emily and her daughter Leah were so gracious and wonderful to come over at the last minute to help us, and as you will observe in the children's faces, they did a great job of not only getting them to look, but also to smile!  So, I wanted to share our favorite images with you, as well as share some other special news this holiday season...

This one is my favorite, because everyone is looking and looking good, 
and Emmi's smile is priceless.

This one of everyone turned out pretty good too...

And, I love how this image below captured Pierson's infectious laughing smile!
I love each of my children so very much...

This image turned out pretty grainy, due to the flash not firing, 
but I doctored it up quite a bit, because I love the natural, sweet moment captured here...  
Emmi, who will be 5 in two months, had just begged me to sit in my lap; 
Evie is enjoying her first organic lollipop ever, at almost 15 months old, 
and actually keeping her bow and headband on her head...another first; 
and, our 3-year-old Pierson, cozy in his new sweater that he *loves*, 
is happy to have finished his lollipop, but even more happy to be 
enjoying the time with everyone, social guy that he is.

The only image that turned out well of Dave and me together. 
I love the wonderful man God gave to me!

Our three children together...

Blessings indescribable; gracious gifts from God;  precious souls we get to steward...

 And, wait, there's more!  By August 2014,
our quiver of arrows will be FOUR!

 We feel truly blessed and are praising the Lord for all good gifts that come from Him, especially these precious gifts of life.  We do not take for granted the blessing of being able to have children, and we are so humbled that He has entrusted us with yet another baby.  We appreciate any prayers in the coming months, that we would walk out God's Word and trust the Lord in an even greater way, 
as we plan to parent yet another child and prepare for our growing family.

 "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. 
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth. 
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate."

Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, December 6, 2013

30 Days of Thankfulness, November 2013

God reminds me every single day how blessed we are...and I am so grateful every day of the year. However, during the month of November each year, I try to take a few minutes each day and jot dot some grateful highlights.  Hope yours was a truly blessed Thanksgiving with loved ones this year.

Day 1 of Thankfulness:
A ) I am so deeply thankful for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit beyond my limited knowledge at a given moment, beyond what my own eyes can observe, and beyond what my own emotional reactions might be...His Spirit which guided me even today, so that I could take care of my children to best meet their needs. Thank You, Father, that I do not have to parent my children without Your daily assistance!

B )  We are grateful that Emmi said our family bedtime prayer tonight, for the first time! Dave or I usually just say the bedtime prayer for all of us, and a couple of times in the past, we have asked if Emmi wants to, with no expectation, but she always has said, "No, Mama pray..." or "No, Papa do it..." with a smile, of course. But, tonight, when asked if she wanted to pray, she joyfully accepted, bowed her head, and said the sweetest little prayer.

"Dod, <God,>
Tant <thank> you for a won-erfuh <wonderful> day. Tant you for Papa...for Mama...for Pierson...for Evie.. and for Banjo. <Then she said another phrase or two that we didn't quite make out..> A-men."

This is the same girl who made us wonder a little over a year ago if she would ever put a complete sentence together. I love seeing her blossom and develop in her own time and way.

Day 2 of Thankfulness:
A ) I'm thankful for my dear friends Leslie and Symantha, who live within a reasonable visiting distance. These ladies have taught me so much since I've known them, and my heart rejoices to recognize God's mercy in placing them in my life during this season. It's special also to think all three of us met the men we were going to marry in the singles group at Glenview Baptist Church. Other dear friends of mine live in various states or cities that would require an overnight trip at least, and it's also a treat to spend time with those jewels when I can, but I'm so grateful to the Lord for these kindred friendships with such like-minded women, within daily driving distance.

B ) I’m thankful for Evie’s bent toward music...she was totally keeping beat to a Third Day song with her rattle in the Jetta with me this morning.  Fourteen months old...

Day 3 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for the various fun opportunities our little family has had lately to celebrate the Autumn Season. We've been to two different Fall Festivals at churches, a neat Pumpkin Patch in Decatur, and a wonderful Fall Festival Pot Luck and Hayride with our new church family this evening. This is truly my favorite time of year, and the cooler weather has been so refreshing. I loved even just witnessing the Glory of God, as I watched the golden leaves cascading from our trees out my kitchen window this morning...

Day 4 of Thankfulness:
Even though he dumped about a pound of ashes from the fireplace, with a toy shovel, all over various baby toys (including stuffed animals) into Evie's Pack 'n Play and onto the floor and rug this morning, while I was making our breakfast smoothies, I'm still very thankful for our son Pierson. Even though I had to postpone my own already-late breakfast for about 45 minutes while I dealt with the matter and cleaned up the mess, before it spread it everywhere, I still love my little boy and I would still want another one someday! Even though, after being disciplined, he then runs around the house laughing and proclaiming, "I'm not adorable!....I'm not adorable!....I'm not adorable," I'm still grateful he has the most adorable personality. While I was wiping the ash remains off of the Pack 'n Play mat, after meticulously cleaning off all the toys, Pierson asks, in a blissfully ignorant manner, "Is it a big mess?" and I say, "Yes, see what a big mess this made??" And, even though he responded by exclaiming, "It's a big mess!...A beautiful mess!...," I have to agree with him: Yes, son, our life is one big, beautiful mess.

Day 5 of Thankfulness:
Today, I am so thankful for the opportunity and privilege of homeschooling my children, including being able to participate in Classical Conversations each week. Emmi and Pierson are both always excited to sit down and learn with me, and my passion to teach them grows stronger continually, as God brings deeper inspiration to my heart and mind. It's not always easy, and sometimes I struggle with conflicting selfish desires to do something else with "my" time, but every week, God is growing my desire to home educate more than I ever would have imagined, and He alone is helping me to develop the needed discipline and consistency for the job. I'm also so thankful we have the ability to weave Bible lessons and scripture into their learning with our Heart of Dakota Pre-K curriculum, with various devotional books, and through our family worship time of reading the Bible, singing praise songs together, and praying in the evening as a family. We definitely haven't perfected the "train up a child in the way he should go" yet, but God is so patient and gracious to help us improve each day in this area, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Day 6 of Thankfulness:
A ) I am thankful for little learning milestones.  Emmi cut out her 6 days of creation for our number six page all by herself and glued them on! So proud of her improving fine motor skills. I helped Pierson cut out his 6 boxes with the funky scissors, and then he glued them on. Earlier, I had selected three different graphics to use for the 6 days, and this is what they each chose for me to print out.  Emmi also drew a very cool picture of an owl on the Magna Doodle today!  She ran over to me and said, "wook! I dwew a owl!"

B ) Today, I am so thankful for my Wednesday Night Bible Study group at Rock Island Family Church, going through this neat book and study guide called "People of the Spirit." The Holy Spirit is really using this study to teach and convict my heart in various ways, and God is also blessing my soul with these wonderful ladies, most of whom are older than me, with their wisdom, life experiences, and tender hearts. I'm also very grateful for my dear husband, who cares for our three little ones, feeding them, playing with them, and putting them to bed for the night, each Wednesday, so that I can go to this group.

Day 7 of Thankfulness:
A ) I'm thankful for Facebook to so conveniently keep in touch with people, especially those I am not able to see often, but I'm also thankful for the opportunities to serve others, that take me away from Facebook...opportunities to be a blessing in person.
B ) So thankful for and proud of Miss Emmi (4 yrs. old), who wrote her name twice by herself when I wasn't even in the room. We have barely even started our handwriting notebooks, and she is venturing out on her own already.

Day 8 of Thankfulness:
Tonight I am thankful for like-minded friends, like the dear Sommerville family, who came over this evening to visit and let the children play, before heading home with their gallons of milk from our co-op, and like the sweet McGaw family that we get to see tomorrow, expecting their 5th blessing (a little prince, after having 4 princesses!), and like LeeandMaia Forde, whom I get the privilege of meeting very soon, and who are also expecting their 7th little blessing any day now! :o) Thank you, Father, for the body of believers in Christ Jesus!

Day 9 of Thankfulness:
I'm especially thankful for my dear husband, Dave Matthews, who not only works diligently and honorably at his job with the Federal Government, but who also works regularly here at home to care for me and our three children. He is an exceptional, loving, playful father to our little ones, and he is also incredibly kind and gracious to me, in spite of my many short-comings. I am grateful for the gift of his life and that I get to share mine with him, raising these little people that God allowed us to help create together! I love you, Dave...glad you are home!

Day 10 of Thankfulness:
I'm so thankful for the three super precious children that the Lord has given us so far... Some moments are sweeter than others, some hours more delightful than others, and some days much easier than others, but overall, I am most richly blessed that God has allowed me the privilege of being their mother. God has used my children to teach me so much about what it means to truly love and to deny self and to put others first. I am so grateful to be able to witness also how they are growing to love each other along the way. It's a constant effort to discipline and guide them in the way they should go, in individual decisions and in relationships, but continuing to teach them God's Word and continuing to help them develop obedient, respectful habits is already yielding fruit for them and for our family. When I look at them, I see beauty, trust, life, potential, joy, and so much hope...every single day. Thank you, Lord, for our children!  

 Day 11 of Thankfulness:
I'm so thankful I get to be married to a United States Veteran!! I have such deep gratitude to my dear Dave Matthews for his faithful and excellent service to our nation. I'm so proud of him and all he has accomplished, serving 5 years in the US Army and also 3 years in the National Guard. So many of our friends and family have also completed honorable years of service in the US Military, and we salute you all today for the hard work, sacrifices, and years you have given to help protect people and freedom. A blessed Veterans Day to everyone! May we always show kindness, care, and generosity, demonstrating gratitude to our Veterans.
Day 12 of Thankfulness:
As simple as this sounds, I am truly thankful that I finally tried Norwex cleaning cloths! I was skeptical for a while and didn't want to participate in another MLM, but they really are the best cloths anywhere and amazingly really do clean surfaces with only water, as they have silver, which is antimicrobial, weaved into the fabric. I loved the cloths so much that I also ordered the mop system and two travel packs of mini-cloths to hang in kitchens and bathrooms, and a dust mitt for my children to help me clean! I don't plan on aggressively pursuing this as a business, but I am so grateful that we use Norwex is much easier and cheaper and safer. If anyone wants to order some Norwex cloths with my discount, sent me a private message, and I would be glad to help you out, before my membership expires.

Day 13 of Thankfulness:
I am so thankful that my talented, hard-working husband Dave Matthews was selected to participate in Fort Worth's largest and most popular event, one of the largest art festivals in the Southwest, the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival!!! This will be his 2nd time to exhibit his canvases and prints at the Main Street Arts Festival, and he was very successful the first time, in 2011, where he sold numerous photos and canvas prints! It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, and I am always delighted to see how his images bless so many people, reminding them of special events, places, and times in their lives... Dave is an architectural photographer and finds the coolest angles, perspectives, and hidden spots to capture, in Fort Worth and in many other towns and cities. Like his page and check him out at Dave Matthews Photography. We are so grateful for the connections, sales, and many opportunities God has given him through his artistic work!

Day 14 of Thankfulness:
Tonight, I'm thankful for the encouraging older parents that cross my path from time to time. Almost every time we go to eat at a sit-down restaurant (a few times a month), someone comments on how well behaved and beautiful our children are... This one lady, who kept playing peek-a-boo with Evie during dinner tonight, kept doting on all three of them, while we were heading out. Times like these, with our 4.5-year-old, almost 3-year-old, and 14-month-old, make the tough days of discipline and parenting all the more worth it. Reminds me to be an encouragement to other mothers I see, as well... Sometimes it takes someone else looking on from the outside to point out the progress and fruit of daily labor. Thank You, Lord, for Your Grace in it all, continuing to teach and guide us!

Day 15 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful we get to celebrate every new year in our children's lives, in fun ways that are special to each of them. Pierson has no idea all of this is going to be here in the morning... Our amazing little boy is turning 3!!!

Day 16 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for some Alison Krauss and Pandora helping me wind down this evening after a lot of hard work in the past few days...

Day 17 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for the opportunity to play keyboard with our worship music team at Rock Island Family Church! It fulfills a special longing in my spirit and pours into a unique crater in my soul, in wonderful ways! Our sweet new friends there had been been praying for another keyboard player, after their previous keyboard player of ten years just moved a few months ago... I'm grateful and delighted to "pick up the mantle," so to speak. Thank you, Lord, for the various ways in which we all can worship You and serve Your body of believers...

Day 18 of Thankfulness:
Today, I am overwhelmingly thankful for the gift of our son, Pierson Everett, who just turned 3 today. He arrived 2 weeks and 2 days later than his "due date," and he was also my first all-natural, non-medicated birth. He taught us so much in his first two years of life, as we never realized how troublesome, stressful, wearisome, and heartbreaking eczema and food allergies could be. But, now, at 3 years old, he is a beautiful, living testimony to God's healing and restoration...and, if I may add, *the* cutest, smartest, sweetest, funniest, most affectionate 3 year old boy I ever knew!!! His sisters adore him and his Daddy thinks he's pretty cool too. I can't imagine my life without this incredible little guy telling me he loves me, So undeserving, yet so grateful...

Day 19 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for the protection of God in so many ways, in our lives. Through the guidance and admonishment of the Holy Spirit, through actual angels He directs, through the blood of Jesus, by the Father's creation, and by His own almighty outstretched hand, we are shielded and protected from evil and harm, each and every day. Sometimes it's easy to imagine the worst, when surrounded by so much potential danger in the world, but how much better it is for me to imagine the best of Him and place my trust in Him, as the Sovereign Lord of all... He cares for us.

Day 20 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for Bellwether Farms who makes the most amazing sheep yogurt ever! Someday, I'd love to get our own sheep and make our own yogurt from the sheep milk, but we will likely get goats before sheep, as they may be more fun and manageable for our little ones in this season of life, and provide dairy also.

Day 21 of Thankfulness:
I'm especially thankful for such a loving, kind, gracious, and faithful husband. So grateful that my wonderful man sees beyond all my imperfections and still loves my heart. I'm so blessed to be yours, Dave Matthews. I love you always.

Day 22 of Thankfulness:
We are so grateful that Emmi's speech and language has been steadily improving this year. Today, as we were practicing together, she pronounced the /l/ sound more easily and better than she ever has, at the beginning of a word, several times. Before now, she has mainly just had success with that sound in isolation, not in words. We are pretty sure her speech delays have had something to do with her personality, but also they have had something to do with the fact that she had a mild - moderate tongue tie (which also explains her initial problems latching and sucking, when she was learning to nurse as a newborn.) Our pediatric dentist assured us that, as she practiced her speech and began to articulate more, her lingual frenulum would gradually stretch out more, enabling her to use her tongue in speech more easily, without requiring a surgical procedure to loosen it. And, he was right: it has done just that. I'm so thankful for the wonderful progress Emmi has made in her speech and language, but one day I will miss how she says things like "Tant you, Mama" and "Buzz Yightyeah!" and "I yuhv you too.." and "I'm a puppy dod!" and "mmm....I yuuuuhv bir-day tate!"

Day 23 of Thankfulness:
A ) I'm thankful for the opportunity to take a free self-defense class today at Keller ATA with my sweet friends, the Cody ladies. Thank you for organizing that, Ashlie...and, thank you for being my tackle partner, Tina - you are a strong woman! I learned so much, and will be all the wiser and safer and better prepared to "get away," if ever the situation arose.

B ) I'm thankful for our funny and adorably verbal 3 year old son who prayed for the first time on Thursday evening, quietly, yet sincerely. He said, "God, thank you for Mr. Steadham <our dairy farmer, whom we were going to visit the next morning>, Evie, Emmi, Mama, Daddy, Grandma, and Mr. Steadham <yes, again.> ... In Jesus' name, Amen." Then, today at Costco, a.k.a. "Saturday Sampling Feast-co," Pierson was begging Dave to get him these two samples, that Dave was pretty sure he wouldn't like...some brand of reconstituted mashed potatoes and some brand of ready-made green bean casserole. So, Dave just gave in and gave him the potatoes. Pierson got the sample, examined it, and promptly looked up at Dave (offering it back) saying, " it Emmi's?" When Dave later gave Pierson the green bean casserole sample for which he was begging, Pierson took it, examined it, and once again said, "Uhm, is it Emmi's?" We laughed ourselves to tears.

C ) I'm thankful for some phone time in the van, on the way home this evening, catching up with my beloved best friend. I don't care for hanging out on my cell phone anymore, for any length of time, but this lady is worth every minute we both can spare.

Day 24 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for health in all three of our children...something I do not take for granted. It's not an easy thing for parents to see their children suffer, and I'm so grateful God's healing hand has touched all three of these precious ones, in various ways. He has healed Evie of her dairy and soy induced reflux problems, healed Pierson of his dairy food allergy and eczema, and the Lord has also blessed Miss Emmi's mind with a better developed expressive language and her mouth and tongue with ever-improving speech and articulation. So grateful that I can't even remember the last time any of them was physically sick -- it must be a number of months now; if you have little ones, you will appreciate that, knowing how easily they can pick up bad bacteria or viruses. Thank You, Jehovah Rapha, for restoring and sustaining their little bodies!!!

Day 25 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful for our friends the Jensens. In a new season when most of our good friends are now over forty minutes away, it's so nice to live within ten minutes of these neat people and get to know them better. We also found our new church home, Rock Island Family Church, through the Jensens. I went to take them a bit of food tonight, and they had me in stitches with all their stories....these people are some of the funniest ever! "A merry heart does good, like medicine..." Thank you!

Day 26 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful today for our CC Tutor, Mrs. Jerri, who hosted all of the 4 year-olds in our homeschool class, including a couple of the younger brothers ;o), over to her home to watch The Lion King, which Emmi and Pierson had not seen yet. They have been talking about it for almost a week now, ever since I mentioned it, and Emmi especially loved it. Mrs. Jerri gave all the moms a chance to go run a couple of errands during the movie time, and so it was nice to be able to get a few things done with just Evie. Many in our group also went afterwards to Chick-Fil-A, where the children had a lot of fun eating with their friends and hanging out, climbing and sliding in the playscape area. Finally, I needed to run over to the Dollar Tree nearby, and Mrs. Jerri helped me out greatly by sitting with Evie, Emmi, and P in the van, while I ran in for a few things, without having to get them all out of their seats again. My heart is so grateful for this fun, sweet, servant-hearted, kind lady we've been blessed with as our CC Tutor this year.

Day 27 of Thankfulness:
Tonight, I am thankful for the inspiration and ability to break a few rules and create my own unique Thanksgiving table with many things we already had, mixed with some pretty disposables, topped off with some afforable Central Market flowers Dave brought home.

Day 28 of Thankfulness:
Happy Thanksgiving, dearest loved ones, newest friends, and everyone in is my favorite day of the year. I have so many things to be thankful for today, that it's overwhelming trying to think of what to list. First of all, I could have cried when Dave walked in the door this morning and told me Banjo (our border collie) had come home, after having gone missing for a week. He has a pretty bad flesh wound on his leg, and it looks like his back is out of alignment, so we'll be taking him to an animal hospital in the morning, but we are so thankful to have him home, after wondering if he was even alive anymore. I never thought I'd be willing to give a pet pain killers, but when I saw him suffering, I wanted the quickest thing to aid his relief, so we gave him a couple of pills in a spoon of peanut butter and then treated the wound with oils. In addition, I am so very thankful that we had such a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday today with some beloved family at our home (some blood-related and some spiritual family.) Grateful that today was the first time our children were able to spend time with both of their grandmothers together at one place. Grateful that we have a little guesthouse on our property to host family and friends, especially on holidays like this. Grateful for courageous pioneers like the pilgrims, who endured much more hardship, loss, and suffering than we can possibly imagine in our modern lives of convenience and luxury, in order to pave a path for many of our ancestors to settle and start new lives in this great land.  I am thankful for my husband and children, who represent in many ways the opportunity of a renewed Godly heritage for our future generations. Thankful for Christ Jesus and all that his birth, life, death, and resurrection mean to true believers, as we approach this holy Christmas season…

Day 29 of Thankfulness:
I am thankful for the 3-hour nap my husband let me take today, while he cared for the children. I am hardly ever able to nap, not just because of the children needing me, but because it is usually hard for me to sleep in the middle of the day. But, not today...

Day 30 of Thankfulness:
I'm thankful that, even when things may not go as planned and life is less than perfect, we still have a roof over our heads, food for our table, and clothes on our backs.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Amber's Spiced Layered Carrot Cake

Oh yes... another carrot cake recipe on the internet.  Oh yes... I adore me some carrot cake.  Really, it is a shame I don't make it more often.  I mean, a delicious dessert that contains such a nutritious vegetable too?! Who wouldn't want that regularly? ;)

Aida and one of her sons, Adrian...
Well, this very Saturday was my dear friend Aida's birthday, and I was determined to make her a yummy cake, as we are going to celebrate with their family tomorrow for lunch.  She picked carrot cake for our upcoming celebration of her life, and I couldn't be more delighted to make it.

However, I had one delay: which recipe to use...  I've have tried several different ones before, mostly recipes that my friends love and use, and I have certainly enjoyed them, but they are not quite exactly what my ideal carrot cake would turn out to be, if I could have it my own particular way, regarding various details and ingredients in the dessert.  So, I researched a while this afternoon, and I still couldn't find exactly what I wanted.

I knew I wanted a round layered cake, because, well, those are just pretty to serve and I like a layer of icing in the middle of the cake, as well as on the top.  Also, I knew I wanted more spices than just cinnamon, a combo of white and dark brown sugar, greek yogurt included, vanilla extract and some salt added, and I wanted a bit of texture from shredded carrots (instead of puréed), which I was able to do quickly and beautifully with one of my Saladmaster machine cones.  I wanted the egg count to be on the higher side, and I also preferred there be a higher percentage of baking powder than baking soda in the recipe. Finally, I wanted a unique icing to enhance this treat full of Fall spices.  I decided to leave out the raisins, pineapple, coconut flakes, or nuts *in* the cake that many people add to carrot cakes, even though I enjoy those things, because we have little people that will be eating the dessert this weekend also, and sometimes too much texture turns them off to cake.  So, rich, but somewhat simple was the idea.

Now for the full disclosure on how I constructed my own recipe...  Here are the three top contenders, all from which I based my own ideal recipe version of carrot cake and icing.  (Thank you Angie of The Cellar Door Stories, Alton Brown on the Food Network, and Robin of The Sugar 'n Spice Gals!!!)

Angie's Carrot Cake
Alton's Carrot Cake
Robin's Carrot Cake

If you find that you like one of these better, then by all means, please make that one to suit your taste buds and tummy the best.  I won't be offended.  (Actually, I will probably never know.)  ;)  I just wanted to share this little jewel that I came up with, because it was exactly what I wanted for now.  If you do make it, I'd love to hear how you enjoyed it!

Have a super blessed Autumn with your loved ones...
Enjoying His Bounty,

Amber's Spiced Layered Carrot Cake


  • 2 cups of organic white flour
  • 1 cup of organic white cane sugar
  • 1 cup of organic dark brown cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 teaspoons Rumford baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground hi-oil cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups shredded organic carrots (about 6 medium carrots)
  • 4 eggs from pastured chickens
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (generous) Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (for garnish on icing)


  1. Allow cream cheese, butter, and eggs to sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat (if needed early) oven to 350°.
  3. In large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine flour, white and brown sugars, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.  
  4. In another bowl, beat 4 eggs together well, and then mix eggs with shredded carrots and coconut oil until well blended.  Add vanilla extract and Greek yogurt; mix again by hand until well blended.
  5. Add wet mixture to dry mixture; thoroughly mix until no more dry mixture is found anywhere.
  6. Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans (I used coconut oil and by hand coated the sides and bottoms of pans; then, I added 1-2 tablespoons of flour in each pan, slightly tilted it, and gently knocked the side of the pan with my right palm, while holding pan with left hand, rotating it when needed, in order to evenly disperse and allow flour to coat the coconut oil around the sides and bottom of pan.)
  7. Next, cut out circular pieces of parchment paper to fit pans and add them to the bottoms of pans, on top of the flour coating.
  8. Carefully divide batter evenly between the two pans, pouring it and spreading it as needed.
  9. Bake the two round cakes for 30 minutes at 350°; test by inserting a toothpick in the center of cake to be sure it comes out clean.  (If batter comes out on the toothpick, bake for an additional five minutes.)
  10. Let cakes cool completely.
  11. Place one round cake on platter, and evenly frost with icing recipe below.
  12. Set the second round cake on top of the first cake; secure by inserting three toothpicks, if you prefer.
  13. Frost the rest of the cake, top and sides, with remaining icing.
  14. Garnish top and sides with chopped walnuts or pecans, if you like.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing


  • (1) 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, best from grass-fed cows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
  • 5 cups of powdered cane sugar  (Don't have any?  Make your own like this.)


  1. Beat the following together until smooth: softened cream cheese, softened butter, vanilla and maple extract.
  2. Next, add the maple syrup and beat well.
  3. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  If icing isn't thick enough, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup more of powdered sugar and blend well to reach preferred sweetness and consistency.
  4. Since the icing must stay cold, store cake in refrigerator.  (I made the cake the night before and let it sit at room temperature, covered in container.  Then I made the icing and stored it in a bowl in the refrigerator.  So, I just applied the icing and nuts right before serving.)

Aida's son, the-very-picky-eater Adrian, not only helped me frost the cake, but he gave it 5 stars!

Here is my funny man enjoying some of it, and he doesn't really care for cake.