Thursday, December 11, 2014

I'm Mary and I'm Martha...

"I'm Mary and I'm Martha all at the same time;
I'm sitting at His feet and yet I'm dying to be recognized.
I am a picture of contentment and I am dissatisfied.
Why is it easy to work but hard to rest sometimes..."

Wake up. Make coffee. Pray. Sit in silence. Map out day. Prepare for family waking. 

Stand. Make healthy breakfast. Serve. Ask for child to pray. Bless. Talk in peace.  Show love. 

In the midst of the sitting and standing tango of motherhood service, there is a constant pull to be Mary and Martha. To be Martha, we serve with an intent filled heart. Serving to fulfill a physical need. As Mary, we step away from the lack of thankfulness for grace at Jesus' feet. 

Floors ask to be mopped. Child asks to "Hold me..." So I hold and rock and assure that all is well. You are loved. I can show love. Because it was given to me... the child can feel it too. 

The ever present ding of the phone is a friend whose heart is incomplete. Struggling with the loss magnified this holiday season. I want to bake cookies and drive to give a hug. I want to deck her halls as she naps with a newborn. But despite the intent of service in my heart, only the Mary in me can console. Only words of joy and remembrance. Because I have been shown peace... I can assure that it can be found. 

Six loads of clean laundry needing to be folded is the only thing standing between me and a perfectly clean house. The ever punctual child reminds me that 36 minutes ago I promised that we would make ornaments in 30 minutes. The heart to serve is now torn in two. They need clean clothes, organized and placed just so. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, I am reminded of the times I have split His calling in two. He has shown me flexibility {because that is one face of mercy}... so I can turn my heart to the desires of the child. 

"I'm restless, and I rustle like a thousand tall trees;
I'm twisting and I'm turning in an endless daydream.
You wrestle me at night and I wake in search of You...
But try as I might, I just can't catch You
But I want to, 'cause I need You..."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

They said... He said...

"For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10 

"Buy a white slipcover," they said... 
     "It will show stains. But you can wash it and put it right back on! It's a clean, simple, look to pull a room together." 

I inherited a good couch from my sister. It was tan and in good condition- minus the cat scratching post that the sides had become. It was perfect for the playroom. I had always wanted a white couch, so I took to blog land to seek the expertise of veterans of the white slipcover. One such blog had a seamstress make an inexpensive shabby chic, ruffle, couch slipcover from heaven... I jumped over to the chic seamstress's website for a quote on my couch. Two days later, I received the practical quote of $750... And by practical, I mean someone who has a trust fund set aside to specifically purchase a slipcover. I contemplated following the advice of one thrifty blogger by throwing a white sheet over the couch and strategically tucking and pinning until a desirable fit was achieved. I found an old green sheet turned drop cloth before dropping the big bucks at Wal Mart for a new white sheet... No tucking or pinning could keep the sheet in place with 3 kids, 2 cats, and a husband that abused the new to us couch on a daily basis... I found a friend in blog land who had purchased an Ikea slipcover and did a happy dance while typing in my credit card information to get me one. The husband put it on the day it was delivered. It took me a week to get over the imperfect fit (an inch or two too short in the back). But really, it did provide a type of serene sense of relaxation in the middle of what was usually a battleground of dolls and play trucks. However, my friend, if I can even call her that anymore,  forgot to clue me in on how frustrating it was to put the piece of happiness back on once washed. I let a few stains happen. You know, the usual I'm going to use the couch as a chalkboard, jump on it like a
Trampoline with muddy socks, pee on the couch like its the best cloth diaper ever to touch my hiney, and let's sleep on here forgetting we have a Frappuccino in our lap kind of stains... My handy dandy Norwex detergent and hot water, heavy soaking washer removed the stains with one cycle. Woo hoo! I do love this slipcover, I thought... My friend had said to dry the cover to dampness and then put on so I would not have to iron. Isn't she a gem for getting me out of ironing. I mean, I do enough ironing with the hand towels, underwear, and fancy silk dresses we wear daily. I came upstairs to re assemble some peace in the playroom, occasionally glancing at my son doing his seat work all on his own, the gas logs bringing a warmth up to us, and my cat preparing her paws for her bed to be made. After halfway fitting the first cushion, I had to remove a jacket, then socks, wind my hair up in a bun and give myself a pep talk to do the same thing 5 more times. It was a full body workout. I deserved a Coke and sugar cookie for my efforts. I pushed, squeezed, kicked, twisted, and finally had it all together. I laid down and cried... Really yall, I cried... So to the sweet real life friends that came to my daughters birthday and said, "I love you, but white? Really..." Well, I love you back, so much so that the next time it's wash day for the dreaded white slipcover, you're coming to help me. 

While I let my tears dry and sucked in my silly petty ways of letting things get to me, I started in prayer. You see, getting those cushions into their place was therapy for me. I have had many adjustments in the past four months. All have been met with either skeptical words of love or wise discouragement. But it really hasn't taken me long to be shown God's grace in taking me through the impractical to a place that can only show His glory. 

For starters, homeschooling Dallas was the absolute last choice on "my" list of options for his education. Plenty of people told me it would be too hard with two babies under feet. And they're right, some days are too hard... because I let them be. I rely on my strength and patience. But the Lord reminds me "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13 

When Whitney Gallaway moved from Georgia to South Carolina to serve where God needed her family, I had well meaning friends tell me not to get any ideas in taking her place at our church. I was too busy and just learning how to say "No" to overwhelming responsibilities. However, I knew that their moving would reposition my place of service. I determined in my heart to seek Gods will above mans. Two Bible lessons, a Bible study group start up, and a few ladies seeking counsel later have shown that I do not even have a clue what my life's purpose is in connection to God's timing. Palms up, head down, I will not be listening to naysayers... "Watch ye and pray, lest he enter into temptation. The Spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." Mark 14:38 

I woke up the other morning feelkng discouraged and lacking... My biggest enemy had my number and called me out on it. It wasn't long before I was unsure of my husband's faithfulness, my children's preparedness, or my own hearts motives. The Enemy doesn't have a blog or iPhone to direct thoughts into our minds, but he does work through others. Those people saying there are "9 signs of a cheating husband", "Public school is the only way for your child", or "Your judgement is leading others to hell" have no clue what my God is doing. 
"The Lord will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." Exodus 14:14 

My God has painted a pretty picture for each and every person's life. I'm not about to let someone else purchase mine, frame it in a distasteful way, and hang it up in their front room to have their guests criticize. I will take it home with me and hang it in my prayer closet. Untouched and admired by me, myself, and I... 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beach is to Relaxation as God is to Goodness

If you've been around me more than once, I hope you know that I KNOW that God is good... All the time. Most recently, I have strived to look for Him in the corners, closets, and open spaces of my life.

 I started reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp about 10 months ago when I had just given  birth to Mindy.  I felt like I was in a tornado similar to the one that led Dorothy to Oz. I wanted so badly to leave my "Kansas" to go to a perfect Oz. But my tornado wasn't calming down. The things, people, and ideas I had about my life and purpose were sucked up into my storm.

 Realizing that I was the tornado, I was the source of the storm, was rain to my parade. I needed help, the Lord was my help,  the Lord was my strength. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)

These things, this tornado, it wasn't draining strength from me. It was giving me the strength for future things. Things unknown to me. My tornado landed me back on Larry Drive in Ringgold, GA. Surprisingly the things and people that had recently spun out of control were in a place. The perfection of their placement isn't, and won't be important, what mattered was that my focus was focused on the joy of the things provided.

I like the little things best that just work out through God's grace. The son that sees the goodness of the day when I just can't. When the husband smiles, shakes his head, and says, "Oh Elle..." The time the dogs ran away and brought back a half starved black kitty cat to their home, where they knew there was love enough for it. Checking out at the grocery store and wincing as the cashier prepares to tell me my total, only to my amazement it is half of what I had anticipated. 

Life can be so busy and full of the little things yet we still feel like God is holding back on us. For me, I am usually the one holding myself away from His goodness. Fear, anxiety, obsession over details are all things that keep me in the shallow end. If I really want to be honest, sometimes I am tip toe-ing on the steps into the shallow end with a life vest on; watching people jump from the high dive, submerging feet first down as far as they can go; rising up with a smile of triumph. If that same water in the deep end is the that is tickling my toes, why am I not diving in? If God is still the God of Abraham and Moses, can He not lead me to a Promised Land that is just as fulfilling? 

Being able to go away to the beach with my family for a week showed me that my Promised Land was home. The fruit and other food is there, I just have to harvest. Blessings and purpose don't come without some work. Plowing and sowing can be enjoyable when you put a whistle to it. And you know what the best tunes are? The ones that have the most memories are the songs that stick. 

I've got a river of life flowing within me;
It started gushing up when God set me free.
That I keep the flow is my only plea. 
I've got a river of life springing within me. 

Spring up, O well, within my spirit!
Rise up and tell, so all can hear it!
Spring up, O well, so I experience
That life abundantly.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Believing God

"I don't want to be counted among the faithless who never claimed the land God promised them... I know I'm going to heaven because I've trusted Christ as my Savior, but I want to make it to my Canaan on the way."

Are you living today for yourself or for the Lord? My prayer most recently is that God will show me what He has for me today. What task? What blessing? What of His glory will be shown through me? He has your life written out. Had it all planned while you were in your mother's womb. What separates us from God's plan is a lack of faith in Him. 

How many times have you heard someone say, "I believe in God; I'm a Christian." There is a difference in believing in God (His existence) and believing God (His plan for your life).  I believe we go through some trials to be put into a position where only God showing up and working things out could put some order into our lives. I am currently in a place where I don't even have a wheel to turn to get the gears going. I frequently ask Chris, what should we be doing right now? Have I missed an assignment; misheard what God has asked of me? And his response is always just to have faith... Believe God. At this moment, God is not silent. He is there when I am completely worn out. He is there when I am rejoicing over a letter in the mail saying a bill has been paid in full. He is there when I am saying, "Oh! That's what You had planned all along!" 

My Papaw would always say, "There's only two things you have to do in life: be born and die." What's in between the being born and dying is really up to you. 

{I hope this post has started a small fire making you want to know more on how to "believe God". Go and read Beth Moore's book, Believing God. It holds so many little nuggets of direction for a Christian.} 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nine Years

Nine years ago, I met my husband for the first time. I thought he was a new student and was introducing him to our classmates. I came to find out later that we had shared classes for the past five years. Guess that's a good example of cliques- I was in the band and he was a jock. We dated most of high school until I made the {stupid} decision of "breaking up" with him at the beginning of our senior year. I still have no reason why. We had made plans while dating to be married within seven years time, living in New York City. We would be well awarded graduates from the University of Georgia. Chris would be working as a graphic designer. I would do modeling on the side, because we really wouldn't need my money from all that he would bring in. The closest we came to planning for children was picking the name for a boy-Dallas and a girl- Kinley. 

I often get stuck on the "What if..." train. While I believe God knows my life from beginning to end, free will is mixed into the situation. Bad choices on my part can become God's best work! Why? Because God is good- all the time. Not just "God is good when I am good." But also "God is good when I am bad, wrong, hurtful..." 

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Some days I just wish that I could lead my life in a way that others only saw the good. But without also seeing the mistakes that I am mostly ashamed of, they wouldn't see God's faithfulness. His love! God's complete protection over my life. He has kept me here on Earth with an able {and willing} body to serve Him. "It's not about me, it's all about Him." 

Nine years ago I was "only 15" as my parents would so often remind me. Now at 24 years of age, I could look back and say "I wish I knew then what I know now..." But instead I will look back and thank God for all He has done for me despite myself! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Birth Story- Mindy Lynn Guess

The anticipation for Mindy Lynn's arrival was greater than any I had ever felt. Planning a home birth in our new home was full of uncertainties, but yet I was so sure of her birth. I just knew it would be "easy" like my previous birth- labor for a few hours then push for about thirty minutes. I was preparing for the best. Whereas last time I was preparing for the "hardest"- long labor with plateaus in progression, pushing that felt like it would not accomplish anything, pain that would be unbearable, and me possibly giving up and being transferred to the hospital. You could say I was locked into a mentality of comparison. But Mindy's birth was different than anything I could have planned for.

Her due date was always uncertain. We became pregnant sometime around Lillie-Mae being five months old. My first signs of pregnancy were fatigue, ravaging hunger, and Lillie-Mae started to turn away from nursing often (my milk had most likely changed). I had a feeling my due date was October 1st. My measurements, and the changing of my body and baby throughout continually lined up with that due date. When nursing became almost impossible, I decided to take a pregnancy test. Positive! I had instant excitement mixed with apprehension. The racing thoughts of being enough of a mom to meet two babies needs were consuming. Yet, I was so glad to have them be so close in age. I already started hoping this would be another girl. At seventeen weeks into my pregnancy, we found out that we were in fact having another baby girl! 

Pregnancy went smoothly. I saw the chiropractor weekly from about 25 weeks until the day before I delivered. I did decide this time around that I really disliked my physical activity being limited. I tired easily, didn't have much endurance to play with Dallas, then five, and I constantly felt like my job as a mother was sub par. Thankfully I do have a wonderful husband who is helpful and encouraging. I learned through this pregnancy to let other people help me. Moving, remodeling, and preparing for a new baby was too much for me to handle.

The end of September I started having constant contractions. I called Chris to come home from work, and we visited the midwife. She checked my blood pressure, position of the baby, and baby's heartrate. All was perfect! This could have been the day of Mindy's arrival, however, the more time I spent with Chris the less intense my contractions became. I think having him with me was relaxing, showing that stress was causing the labor signs. I took a backseat to unpacking my house- my mom, Nana, sister, and many friends organized and cleaned for me. Plus side to moving when nine months pregnant! 

I had false labor again the next weekend. Intense, consistent contractions for over 12 hours. I was beginning to become disappointed. I spent a lot of time alone, talking with God, searching my heart for what could be holding me back. I knew Mindy was ready. I started to daily think positively about the labor. Mindy and I had many conversations before her delivery. I cherished the last moments she would be a part of me- safe and protected in a perfect environment.

On October 2nd, my water broke in the early morning. It was not a gush, no "popping" sound, just a small amount of fluid. I quickly called my midwife, and she had me come in. My contractions were not consistent or strong enough to do anything. I talked with her about stripping my membranes. The actual process was not painful, until I had the strongest contraction yet while she was starting. Having to lay still was torture! I am used to standing, walking, swaying through painful contractions. After that, we hurried home because if this were to be anything like my previous birth, we could have a baby in a few hours.

Nothing was progressing- I started to take black and blue cohosh, alternating every hour. I knew that if my body was ready, this would help things along. Passing whatever hesitations I had emotionally and give me the push I needed to help baby girl arrive. I did the black/blue cohosh routine two days in a row. 

Labor would intensify and then stall out. On Friday, October 4th, I had a conversation with myself and decided today would be the day!! I shut myself up in my bedroom, left my phone with my husband, and asked him and my mom (politely) to leave me alone. I did squats, I walked, I took hot showers, I ate fruit and protein, drank water, and tuned out any negativity or disappointments. After a few hours of that, I had one last "trick" to try. I used my breast pump to initiate nipple stimulation. I would "pump" for twenty minutes, every hour. The first session, I had heavy contractions every five-six minutes, the second session, contractions came every four-five minutes.

  By the third and last session, contractions were every two minutes lasting about 45 seconds. During this time the midwife did check me. I was nine or so centimeters dilated! My birth photographer, mother, sister, midwife, and midwife assistant were all there to help me. I looked for distractions after contractions by playing games on my phone and talking to anyone near me. Then, I walked around and stopped to sway when a contraction came.

I needed Chris every two minutes. I had to be leaning on him while he talked quietly to me. His words took me to the warm beach with a nice breeze. Contractions can seem bearable when you are completely relaxed. I focused on letting every part of me relax- from my head to my toes. The midwife suggested a hot shower.

 At this point, I was not happy with anyone- a sign that delivery was close. I either have a high pain tolerance or great coping skills, but my mother knew I was in a lot of pain. After the shower, the midwife suggested I sit on the toilet. This hurt but brought the relief I knew I needed for baby girl to move down and prepare for pushing. While sitting I complained to my sister, "This is stupid. It hurts. I don't know anyone who wants to do something that hurts more when the pain is already there. I'm getting up! Mindy doesn't like this!" Pretty sure I saw both my sister and Chris smile at each other.
After standing up, I grabbed onto Chris and just cried. I told him I could not do this! And he smiles again. At the time I didn't see any humor in my pain. But that man knew me and he knew the time was coming.

Chris suggested I get on the bed. I got into the same position that I was with Lillie-Mae's birth- on my hands and knees. I began to push- breathing out and concentrating on where I needed the pressure to go. I relaxed my body in between contractions and those around me reassured me of progress. The midwife's excitement was uplifting! I just did not feel right in this position so I rolled over to lay on my back. This still was not what was best. It wasn't that one position hurt more than the other, I just knew that wasn't the way my body needed to be. I had a very strong contraction and jumped from the bed. I stood up in front of the midwife while she sat and said, "She's coming!" The midwife directed me on when to push and how strongly. With one "big push!" Mindy arrived. She screamed and flailed her little body in the midwife's hands. I quickly got back into bed to hold my perfect baby girl.

 She did not stop crying until she latched on to nurse. She took just a second to get comfortable- I was so happy that she did not have the struggles her sister did with nursing! It was such a humbling moment to see that she was content to just be with me. She weighed only six pounds, taking after her Daddy who was six and a half at two weeks past his due date. My Tiny Mindy was perfect. She had an angel kiss on the back of her neck to match her sister and Daddy's.

Chris could not take his eyes off his precious baby girl, and he told her how proud he was of her Mommy. He kissed me and loved me, and I could tell that like me he was thanking God for another blessing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Changing Seasons

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22 

I am not one to grasp to change with {initially} a positive outlook. Comfort and routine are my two best friends. The changing of seasons has been known to flip my boat a few times. Spring has fully arrived here in North Georgia. Birds sing all day. The mornings are a crisp cool. Days are breezy and just the right temperature. Tulips, iris, daffodils, and white phlox are awake in full bloom. I have not had quite enough time to accept this change- however gradual it may be to welcoming the swimming pool and sno cone days of summer. Not only do I thrive in the unchanging circumstances, but I love a rainy, foggy, cold day. I have gone so far as to research careers and homes for sale in Washington state just to have my perfect weather. For the Twilight fans who will understand- pretty sure Bella and I would be good roommates. 

With the change comes the shift in playful activities from inside to outside. I love my home. It is new to us, and the first season we had spent here was a snowy winter. With my two oldest kids, there is nothing more enjoyable than being outside. The other day I parked at the battlefield, told them to hop out and run. I was able to make some uninterrupted phone calls. I know they enjoyed not being hushed by me from inside a house while I was able to do so. 

Season changes are not determined by us. In nature and in our lives- we cannot decide when the best time to grow and evolve will take place. Could you imagine having to tell your pansies, "Okay, you can bloom now- it's warm enough." Or waking the birds, commanding them to "Go fly and sing from sun up to sun down. The cold will not hinder you anymore." As humans, we cannot see the needs of the bees to pollinate the flowers. In our own lives, we cannot possibly know when to stop and start a season. If it were up to most, then we would have spring and summer all year long. Happiness and  carefree living would be our norm.

 Would that teach us to appreciate the seasons for what they are? If we never experienced the loss of a family member, could we truly appreciate the ones left? If husbands and wives never disagreed would they learn to discern a situation differently? Changing seasons is hard! Not because of the kids clothes that need to be changed out of closets or the grass that will need to be mowed. But because we cannot grasp the reasoning until we see the good in the difference. We live our lives in comparison- good vs. bad and black vs. white. I know God wants us to see that He is good, all the time. (Psalm 100:5) His ways are perfect, in every matter. (Isaiah 55:8) 

The "good in the difference" is that we are growing. God sends us into hibernation- waiting periods, and He opens up our petals to full bloom- showing His glory. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cheeseburger Soup (The Hard Way)

I'm one of those people that like blog posts that have step by step pictures and go on and on in elaborate detail about how to make (what should be) the easiest recipe. It's so nice to see their nice clean kitchen and stylish glass bowl measuring cups perfectly filled with their perfectly diced ingredients. After reading a recipe I had pinned a while back for "cheeseburger soup", (classy, right?) I decided to try it out. 

Let me set the stage for you. I started this recipe at 12:45 after running to the grocery store and a craft store where I was purchasing much needed supplies to change my front door wreaths from snowflakes to dogwood petals- hopefully before I need to make the things into fall leaves. Lillie-Mae was eating "chichin" from Chick-fil-A (am I the only mom that gets fast food every time we just spend money on food to make at home?). Mindy was taking a nice peaceful nap. The house was clean and I had two hours before I had to go pick up Dallas from school. I should have time to cook, shower, and do laundry then sit down with some cookies and a book!

I got out the crock pot and started calculating how long and what temperature to set it on to be ready by 5:30. The original recipe was made on the stove, (P.S. Prep time should only take 15 minutes) but I only cook things on the stove when I am home alone and even then it's just scrambled eggs. I then started to get out the ingredients: ground beef, carrots, celery, onion, basil, parsley, chicken broth (wait! that's downstairs, let me go down quietly into the basement so as to not wake up Mindy). I start to defrost the meat, but first had to figure out how to separate 1/2 a lb. from a 2.5 lb. block of frozen meat inside a ziploc bag. I decided to throw the whole bag in the microwave until it was defrosted enough to break apart. Do not judge! As I was deciding which skillet most resembled the fancy stainless steel skillet the blogger had used, Mindy let out a blood curdling cry. I thought for sure she was being attacked by a large animal. Alas, she only was upset that a random object- her own hand- had pulled the paci from her mouth. Back to sleep she goes just in time for Lillie-Mae to realize that she wants to go night night with a bottle. Problem is, she hasn't realized that she doesn't get a bottle anymore... I lay her down all the while she is nodding her head and saying "I eat... Bottle... I eat bottle... Mae's bottle..." The cry she let out when I shut her door without meeting her precious demand was enough to wake the neighbors, but most importantly awaken Mindy. I quickly put Mindy in a play seat, but she is not happy that the batteries are out. I brown the meat while singing "Jesus loves me" one hundred times. I got to dicing and using my handheld food processor from Pampered Chef. This is my most favorite kitchen tool besides the microwave. I neatly pack the diced veggies into their own glass measuring bowl. After throwing the half stick of butter in the skillet to melt, I realize that I only need 1 tablespoon. Burning my hand while attempting to grab a half melted half a stick of butter almost made me question if Jesus really loved me. Veggies and spices are simmering and for a moment I imagine I am a chef at Earth Fare demonstrating how to make a fancy dinner for two. Mindy interrupts my thoughts to let me know she is hungry. Now. I feed her and then lay her down on an unmade bed. This reminds me that I need to switch the laundry over. I head to that task and meet the Griffin cat who is quick to tell me that he needs some fresh water. His 8 am refill has became stale. I head back upstairs to start peeling and  dicing potatoes. At this point I just want to throw them in the crock pot and mash them up. However, I am big on presentation, and I want the cheeseburger soup to match the bloggers finished product. Oh yeah, the recipe includes all purpose flour. I cringe at my once healthy reasoning for buying whole wheat, unbleached flour, and hope that my first time using it won't ruin this soup. I melt butter, add flour, and cook until bubbly without catastrophe. Feeling satisfied with my progress, I double check the recipe. At the bottom, as an afterthought that seemed unimportant to the author, is a footnote saying "use 1 lb. ground beef instead of 1/2 lb."... Um... Pretty sure the meat I partially defrosted then returned to the freezer is already refrozen. I'm not going through that process again. If anyone asks, we are slowly becoming vegetarian- subtracting meat from our meals 1/2 a pound at a time. One more check over the recipe reveals I need to add a toxic waste product to my soup... Velveeta. Don't ask me where my hate for Velveeta started, because I don't know. I've never cooked with it. I'm sure it tastes fine- actually I know it does because my friends that (don't) love me serve it in the form of an amazing chip dip at almost every get together we have. But something that turns into a hard rock if left unheated cannot be good to digest. It's fake. As fake as that plastic stuff people call margarine. Ok, long story short, don't use Velveeta. Instead, use sharp cheddar cheese. 

Something else was left off the recipe. In between prep time and cook time should be "clean-up time". I naively think this will be a quick torture, but the dishwasher is full and dirty. Hand washing the tools I first thought necessary is now time consuming enough to knock off my cookie time from the to do list. Flashback: we started this task after twelve and it is now 2:00. How does 15 minutes prep time turn into almost 2 hours?! Now I started the 30 minute process of waking up the girls, feeding, changing diapers, and buckling them in the car so they can say the whole way to pick up Dallas, "Bubba... Buuuuubaaaaaa.... BUBBA!" 

We made a chiropractor visit where I was asked by the doctor after completely failing a strength test, "what have you been doing today..." "Oh, just making soup for two hours." We couldn't leave Ringgold without seeing my grandparents and having a Frosty. After a lovely visit, I had almost forgotten the craziness that happened around noon. The rich smells filled my house making their way to welcome me home in the garage, yet reminding me that I still needed to add milk, cheese, and sour cream. All the way up the two flights of stairs, I was hoping it would somehow go smoothly- Dallas wouldn't see me putting sour cream in, I would measure correctly, everything would melt and blend nicely. Surprisingly... The finale was magical compared to the beginning of the journey. 

And here is Bubba. He proclaimed that this was his third favorite food ever! "First is steak, of course. Second, spaghetti. And third is this hamburger soup that doesn't even taste like a hamburger." 

Cheeseburger Soup: 

• 1/2 lb lean ground beef (but really 1lb) 
•3/4 cup celery
•3/4 cup onion 
•3/4 cup carrot
•1 teaspoon basil
•1 teaspoon parsley flakes 
•1 tablespoon butter 
•3 cups chicken broth 
•1/4 cup all purpose flour 
•3 tablespoons butter 
•3/4 teaspoon salt 
•1/2 teaspoon pepper 
•4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
• 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese 
•1 1/2 cups milk 
•1/4 cup sour cream 

Prep Time: Your guess is as good as mine. 
Cook Time: however long or short you need it to be. 

Brown and drain meat. Add meat with broth to crock pot. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in same skillet. Sauté onion, carrots, celery, basil, and parsley until tender. Add to crock pot with salt and pepper. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in skillet then add flour and mix for 3 minutes until bubbly. Add to pot and mix well. Add potatoes. Cook on high for approximately 4 hours. Turn to warm. Add milk, cheese, and sour cream 30 minutes before serving.