Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Daddy Hoedown

Last week at Macky's Pre-School they had a Daddy Hoedown!
Since school gets out before Father's Day, they do something special with the Dads early.
It's a cute cowboy theme where the kids get to shave their Daddys!
They play some cute games and then have breakfast with their Daddys.
It was incredible - we had full attendance by the Dads!  Our teacher said this was a first for her - sometimes Uncles come or Dads are out of town or can't get out of work...
But this year all 13 Dads were there!
It was awesome to see these grown men sitting in kiddie chairs!
Heads bowed, praying with their child before breakfast.
I teared up a little!
Some Dads were in suits, heading to the airport right after the Hoedown.
Some Dads came in their cowboy attire!
But the amazing thing was that they all came!  They went to work late, took the day off, postponed flights, you name it - they did what they had to to be there for their littles.

There is something pretty powerful about a Dad that loves Jesus and loves his kids.
I'm learning more and more just how hard it is to be a Dad.  I've known how hard it is to be a mom!  But I've been listening to my husband and watching him and men really wrestle with the balance of work and family.  They want to spend time with their families, but they want to provide for their families which often means time away from them.
It's really tough and I don't give my husband enough credit for the balancing act he does.
We need to be telling our men that we're proud of them more often.
I made a little appearance at the Hoedown simply to serve the food!
I asked some friends for a breakfast casserole recipe to make and I got some great responses! 
Unfortunately I couldn't make them all! 
 But I wanted to share the awesome recipes in case you're ever looking for one!
(my friend recommends using sourdough bread)
Green Chili Casserole
(Also known as Christmas Morning Casserole)
 Cover sides and bottom of 9x13 Casserole with non-stick spray..
Cover bottom with white bread – crusts removed.
Melt 1 cube of butter or margarine and pour over bread.
Layer 2 cups grated cheese (Colby/Longhorn)
2 small cans diced green chilies,
 1 lb. Plain pork sausage (browned, crumbled and drained)
Separate 8 eggs and add salt to the yolks.
Fold egg yolks into beaten egg whites.
Add 1 and ½ cups milk to the mixture and stir.
Pour over top of casserole  - add more cheese if desired.
Refrigerate overnight
Bake at 325 degrees in pre-heated oven for 1 hour – checking periodically
Happy Tuesday!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Taste and See

  Psalm 34:7-9
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
Little Dude and I went strawberry picking on one of the craziest, hottest days!
Even though it was sweltering, a major bonus is that we can eat all we want while we pick!
There is nothing like a pump, bright red, juicy strawberry that is warm from the sun.
How many times have you heard this verse, "Taste and see that the Lord is good"?
I've heard it so many times, in all different kinds of circumstances.
But I love the true context of the verse.
David was being pursued by his enemies and he even acted insane to get away from them!
In the midst of all his battles, enemies and fleeing from Saul who was trying to kill him, David turned to God to be his deliverer, his refuge and his provider.
And in the midst of tough circumstances, he praises God and says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Check it out for yourself!  Take a bite!  God is so good to those who put their trust in Him.
We live in a society that wants to be guaranteed that something is good before they take a bite.  They want proven evidence prior to making the commitment.
But God doesn't work that way.  He says Put your trust in me first, then you'll see.
Take a bite.  Trust me.  Hide in me.  Confess your weakness.
You'll see that I am good!
Take a bite, and you'll see!
Happy Weekend

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mother Daughter

This past weekend my girls' school put on a little Mother Daughter Dance.
It was a Glow in the Dark Pajama Party!
There was a fun photo booth with props and a DJ with fun dance music in a dark room with a black light and lots of things glowing in the dark, including us!
I want to say she was dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller, but I don't think she was!
Sweet zombie moves though!!
We wrote on the wall in glow in the dark markers.

Did a little face painting.
I even let them paint my sweaty face!!!

Then back to the dance floor!

Super special evening with my little ladies

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thai Chicken Pizza

We tried something new this weekend, and it was a hit!
Thai Chicken Pizza
My herb garden is planted and I love thinking of new things to make where I can use my herbs! 
I have a bad track record with cilantro, so I want to use mine quickly before it dies!!
Thus, we made Thai Chicken Pizza where I could use my cilantro!
Pizza Dough
Thai Peanut Satay Sauce
Cooked, Cubed Chicken
Shredded Carrots
Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Lime
I always par bake my crust for 4 minutes, then pull it out and top it.  Peanut satay sauce, chicken, carrots, cilantro and cheese.  You can add scallions or peppers - I didn't have any!  Then pop it back in the oven for about 7 minutes at 500.  When it is done, squeeze a fresh lime over it before serving.  It was amazing!
We served a cucumber mint salad on the side.  Persian cucumbers, mint leaves, rice wine vinegar, dash of salt, pepper and sugar.
What did you make this past weekend?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dive In

Last year I was at a swim party with my daughters and there was a group of moms talking to each other, not paying attention to their young children in the pool.
All of a sudden, a little 3 year old jumped in to the pool and I had a heart attack.
I rushed to the side of the pool, only to see the tiny girl swim away!
I walked over to the group of moms and asked whose child that was and how in the world did she learn to swim so young?!
"Mean Marjene," She said.  And all the moms nodded.  Mean Marjene guarantees that after 2 weeks your child will be swimming and getting rings off the bottom of the pool!
So   we signed up!  Marjene, who must be in her eighties, and her daughter simply take a child and put them under water.  No big explanation.  No rules.  No demonstration.  They just speak quietly, "I love you, you're such a good simmer," and perhaps some other things I can't hear, and send the child off under the water!  And guess what?  The kids swim away!!  This is my son, day 2, who has never swam before!
It's unbelievable to watch!
Some kids scream and yell for Mommy on the first day and by day 3
they are jumping into the deep end!
PS- Marjene isn't mean at all.  She barely speaks above a whisper!
Sometimes  I think we over complicate things in life. We think too much and over analyze things.  Sometimes we just need to dive in and trust that small voice that says, "I love you.  You are great."
Is there a looming decision you need to make?
Are you afraid to try something new?
Perhaps you just need to stop thinking about it and dive in!
Happy Weekend!

Monday, May 13, 2013

What God Says Matters Most

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day being celebrated or celebrating your Moma!
I had a wonderful weekend getting some time off on Saturday and being celebrated on Sunday!
Church on Mother's Day always gets me.
Our church does baby dedications on Mother's Day, so we get to see all these precious babies and new moms and I always cry - of course!  And lots of the babies do too!
Then our pastor gave the message and it was like no other Mother's Day sermon I've ever heard.
He started by asking, "Are you trapped?"
Are you trapped in expectations?  Either yours or someone else's?
Are you under pressure as a mom?
These are things we talk about as moms and in moms' groups - but I've never heard a pastor talk about the pressure moms are under from other moms and ourselves!  And he wasn't speaking at a moms' group - he was talking to our whole church!
Pastors usually talk about the super holy mothers on Mother's Day - Mary or Ruth and Naomi! 
 They don't talk about us and our constant struggles to step out from under the oppression of judgment, guilt and comparison. 
But there he was, talking right to the moms in the room
 about our mostly private struggle of feeling trapped.
He then asked, "How do we experience freedom in the midst of the pressure, expectations and responsibilities as moms?"
"Yea, how do we?" I thought!!
He then read Romans 8:1,2
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death."
We are totally accepted in Christ.  We are not condemned.  And that truth is NOW, not once we've proven ourselves worthy, or potty trained our kids, or mastered organic purees for our babies or...  Right NOW we are accepted in Christ without exception.
Satan loves to make us feel trapped.  Trapped by other's opinions of our parenting.  Trapped by comparing ourselves to other moms.  Trapped by the guilt of being less than healthy with our kids' meals or bed times or discipline.  And the list goes on.
But all those other voices are just noise.  They are not truth.
"Great freedom comes when you understand what God says about you matters more
than what anyone else says about you."
LOVE that!
I want that freedom. 
I want God's voice to be louder than any other voice in my life.
My identity is found in Christ alone and He says I'm accepted, today, without exception.
Single Mom.  SAHM.  Breast feeding.  Working Mom.  Bottle Feeding.  Home Schooling.  Attachment Parenting.
These are not our labels or identity!
For those who are in Christ Jesus, we are Children Of God.  That is our identity.
And what our Father says about us is that He loves us.  We are His Beloved.  We are accepted.
We are free.
Mother's Day is over and my prayer for you and for me is that we will listen to the voice of God above all others about who we are and how we're doing! 
Happy Monday

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tree of Life

I've wanted to write this post for a very long time!  I'm a little overwhelmed with all that I want to say and my inability to articulate clearly my heart and thoughts, especially about these 2 special people, but I'm going to try!!
(Thank goodness they both have blogs, so you can read more about them there!)
In the midst of some of my darkest days and nights with my struggle with anxiety, I would think of 2 friends of mine - Koti and Lynnea.  I met them as college students when I worked in Seattle as a college pastor.  They have since become dear friends.
Koti is a phenomenal singer, song writer, and musician who was in a car accident 6 years ago that left him a tetraplegic - paralyzed.  (I'll write more about him in a future post)
February 2013
Lynnea is a brilliant engineer who married and moved to the Netherlands to work where shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and her marriage was shaken.
Through many nights while my body would shake and I would lay wide awake, I would think of Koti - how is he surviving this massive life change? 
A once gifted musician who can no longer move his fingers.
And Lynnea - how is she pressing through cancer in a foreign land with no family around?
As I would cry and lament my shattered dreams and fears of a less than "normal" life now that anxiety had taken over, I would think of those who had it "worse" than me (so to speak).  I could barely make it, how could they do it?
On one of my worst days that has not yet been written about, I shuffled to my computer and found a message from Lynnea.  She had been keeping up with my blog and read about my anxiety.  She shared part of her story that included her past struggle with anxiety.  I had written about surrender and she related as now, in her struggle with breast cancer, she had to surrender her marriage and husband as he moved back to the US, leaving her alone in the Netherlands fighting cancer.
Her story just kept getting worse.
I cried as I read her message and was struck that her purpose in writing me was to thank me for teaching her how to pray boldly when she was in college.
On this horrible day in my life when I could barely get out of bed let alone pray with any kind of strength, she thanked me for being the strong person who taught her to pray boldly in Jesus' name.
She, who was suffering physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually was pressing through by praying boldly.
It was just what I needed to make it through that day.
I later received a package in the mail from Lynnea.
I once again cried my eyes out as I opened the package and read her beautiful letter.

She made me this beautiful pendant of the Tree of Life

The story of this tree is so powerful.  It is about 400 years old!  And is thriving in tough terrain and circumstances.  It is in the middle of the desert with no other trees around it.  This particular type of tree has one of the deepest known root systems.
I love wearing this stunning pendant as a reminder of
God's faithful love and provision in the midst of hard times. 
This past year, Lynnea went to Bahrain to see this tree!  You can read more about it here.
In fact, you should really read her whole blog!  She's an amazing writer with powerful insights.  Her story is incredible and the encouragement that pours through it will fill your soul.
Her blog is Burning Brightly
And she just opened up a shop to start selling her Tree of Life pendants.
They would make a perfect gift for someone you know who is in a desert season of life or has survived one!  It would also make a great graduation gift
God is at work in the desert seasons of our lives.  He has not left us without hope or resources.  We just might have to dig down deep to tap into them and sink our roots well into His streams of living water.  Hold fast to Jesus and regardless of what life throws your way, you won't only survive, but you'll thrive!
Also, check out Koti's blog - God's up to something in that man's life!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Work in Progress

For 3 years I attended a discipleship / parenting class
and the teacher often said a little phrase that I've come to love!
"I'm not what I should be.
I'm not what I could be.
But I'm not what I was."

 We are all a work in progress!  And even the smallest changes are changes!
I can get discouraged with all that I should be or could be as a mom, a wife, or simply a person!
But I'm holding fast to the truth that I am not what I was!
I am changing and growing and learning all the time.
Our backyard reminded me of this this past weekend.
It's not yet what it should be.
It's not what it could be.
But it sure as heck isn't what it was!!!
The new grass is beautiful!  My husband and I just keep staring at it! 
And how perfect is it that after the last piece of sod was laid yesterday, it began to drizzle and has rained off and on through the night?!! 
It's almost like God is smiling on us, blessing our efforts, reminding us that when we work hard towards positive change, He ultimately will transform us and make us flourish!
We originally hired someone to dig up our yard that was horribly root bound from old trees. 
They were to remove all the old roots, fill in hole, level the yard and lay the sod.
They came and used the rototiller on the yard to removed a ton of old roots, but we were sad to
discover that they took a short cut and filled in holes with those dead roots and covered them up with dirt so it looked nice and level and new, but the truth was, under the surface there were still holes and with time, that dirt would settle and there would still be dips and ditches all over our yard!
My husband let those workers go and called his dad to come down and "do the job right."
It was a TON of work for them!  But in the end, they took care of the problem areas, filled them properly with dirt (not roots and debris) and now the yard will be flat and healthy for years to come!
You can't take a short cut when it comes to making life changes either.
If you do, the changes won't last!
Sometimes it's a lot of extra work to get in there, get rid of old junk and get filled up with new healthy stuff, but it's worth it in the end!
Don't get discouraged if change doesn't come fast enough!
Remember - you're a work in progress (like our yard)!
You're not what you should be,
not what you could be,
But you're not what you were!!
Happy Monday

Friday, May 3, 2013

2 in 1

Thank you to all of you who prayed for me on Wednesday!
I had a great time speaking to a group of some wonderful women.  They made me feel so welcome and at ease.  They are truly a unique group of women who are getting it right when it comes to supporting one another, loving each other and being in authentic relationship with one another.
I was rather nervous, but time and again God kept reminding me that I'm a mere broken vessel that He chose to use.  It wasn't about my words, it was about obedience.
I'm grateful that in the Bible, God promises that when His word goes out, it does not return void, but accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent!  My words felt a tad scattered at times and not as "tight" as I'd like, but it wasn't about me.  It was about His Spirit speaking through me.
And personally, it was a huge step in my journey with anxiety to get to do something I've dreamed about and thought I could no longer do, even if I was a bit rusty!
God is the faithful healer and redeemer and I know this was another step in His redemptive process!
So thank you!
Now, onto the 7th birthday party wrap-up!
 The girls really wanted a luau party this year with hula dancers, swimming and tiki torches!  Tall order girls!  Since we are re-landscaping (remember the trees?), I couldn't pull off an outdoor party, so I talked them into a little indoor cooking party where we kept it small and simple.
They chose the name "The Yummy Twin Café" for their restaurant!

They started by making little cookie cakes where they could, stack them, frost them, and take them home on a little cake pedestal.

Then onto making dinner
Stuffed Shells and Pizza

We played a little game of Guess the Food.
I got 5 brown bags, placed food in each (chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, marshmallows, cheerios, and cake balls)  I told the girls that we eat with our eyes, nose and mouth.  So they smelled the bags and tried to guess what each was.  Then we did blind taste tests and they guessed again.  It was fun!

Daddy switched out the table décor while we played.  He put down brown paper and crayons for the girls to color on during dinner.  The napkins were dish towels.
These little girls were wild!  I thought having a small group would make things easier, but those 7 little girls had more energy than 15 girls!!!
Time for our traditional vanilla cake with lemon filling and whipped cream frosting.  This year one wanted strawberry filling, so we did half and half.
 As we sang Happy Birthday, one little girl thought it would be funny to blow out all the candles first!
And it was really funny!!

So I re-lit the candles, sang again, and the other little lady blew out all the candles!
Each girl left with her apron, chef's hat, cookie cake, and cake pedestal.
A great time was had by all!
Can I tell you a secret?
Out of all the birthday parties I've given, this one was the smallest, most simple - the kids made their own dinner! (I had the girls make an extra pan of stuffed shells that I froze for dinner this week! - brilliant!!)
and I was by far the most exhausted after it!
But the little ladies had a blast and that's all that matters!
Have a great weekend!!


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