Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The "Our Story" Part

Sometimes God works in surprising ways and every time He does I get re-surprised.  The "Our Story" part of my blog was something I knew I wanted to include, but was never sure what the gist of that section would be.

There is a part of our story that is changing.  I wasn't sure {and still am not 100% sure} of how much I wanted to share about it.  My reason for being hesitant to talk about it is the same as when I write about parenting and any other thing that I am in the midst of.  My heart is to encourage and maybe bless someone else.  The flip side of that is:  I am not an expertWe are in progress.  It is not information that I share in hind-site, it is real-time life.  That means that my well-intentioned efforts that seem so good today could fail tomorrow. 

So this new part of our journey?  It began a few weeks ago when I walked out of a Sunday sermon thinking about what had been said.

For days I thought on what was taught.

Want to know what I was thinking through and trying to figure out?

Idols.  I was trying to see what idols I have in my life.  And the frustrating part was that I thought and thought for days and couldn't think of any idols in my life.  Not one. Sin yes, I can list them, idols, um_____, nothing.  That in and of itself was sending up red flags because it let me know that I was probably blinded to them!

a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered

So I asked someone I love and trust very much if they could see any idols in my life.  And sure enough, there was a suggestion for me.  Could food be an idol in your life?  Yep.  That was it.  Food hit the nail on the head.

Here's the deal.  Obviously I'm not a health nut.  If we're at a party and I stumble into the circle of peeps talking about gluten or inflammation or sprouting things, I'm going to politely excuse myself and refill my punch glass and go find the crowd who's talking decorating or beach vacations.  No offense to anyone but health talk is just not my gig.

All this leads me to what I said earlier about our story changing.

The new part of my story is this.  I'm changing what I put in my mouth.

Part of the reason food health is such a turn off to me is because it seems to suck the fun and life out of everything.  It would be such a drag to be sentenced to ordering salads every time I wanted to go out to eat.  Give me fajitas or give me death, you know what I'm sayin'?

But this new part of my journey is not about becoming a health nut or remaining solidly in the foodie camp. 

It is about smashing down the idol that food has become in my life.

Grinding it to powder just like the golden calf.

Grinding it to powder like almond flour.

Just kidding about that last part.  It's just an almond flour joke.  Us healthy people like to talk like that from time to time.  You get used to it.

So there you have it.

If you want to follow along I'm going to be talking about our journey to make baby steps toward honoring God with how we eat.  I'll guarantee you that the journey is going to include a balance between enjoying the full-fledged good stuff, and making wiser choices on the in-between times. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coconut Chicken Curry Stew

I've purchased coconutty product before.  I usually go to this section to get my coco goods.  Somehow as I reached for the cream of coconut I felt like maybe this was not exactly what my recipe was asking me for.

Next I found myself meandering through the organic area feeling like everyone shopping on those rows knew I did not belong.  It was starting to feel stressful.  These boxes say coconut milk but they also say beverage on them.  It doesn't seem like this is what my recipe would be asking for but heck if I know what I'm looking for.  Since when do I have instinctive feelings on coconut milk varieties?  Who am I?

Then, lo and behold, I stumbled upon it.  The Asian aisle.  I had no. idea. we had an Asian food aisle.  And looky there.  Cans of coconut milk lining the shelf just waiting to find their way into my soup pot.

This soup right here is a big time keeper.  It was so packed with flavor.  It almost had the feel of a good, homemade chicken noodle soup.  I made this with the full intention that I'd be the only one in my house to eat it.  It turned out that the other two that tried it really enjoyed it. 

My advice for this recipe?  Use the fresh ginger and freshly pressed garlic.  And season with salt until it starts tasting really flavorful.  I think those are the reasons that this simple stew packed such a tasty punch.  Oh, and in case you don't know like we didn't know, fresh ginger is spicy.  Ouchy Mama!  I took the Mr.'s word for it.  He saw me grating it and took a tiny bite to try and meeee-maw meeee-maw it set his mouth on fire.  I kept asking if he was messing with me and he insisted he was serious.  I took his word for it.

Coconut Chicken Curry Stew

3 chicken breast, cubed (I used 4)
1 T ghee, butter or coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 T grated ginger
2 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 T curry powder
6 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4)
1/4 cup cilantro.
salt to taste

Saute' chicken in butter in a large saucepan.  When the outside of the chicken has turned white, add in the coconut milk and broth and mix well.  Add in carrot, celery, tomato, ginger and curry powder.

Cook on medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in garlic, cilantro and salt.  Cook 5 more minutes.

* I did not use cilantro, just because I didn't have any.  I used an entire 13.5 oz can of coconut milk and the entire can of chicken broth.  I just have problems 'saving' that last bit because it always gets thrown away.  My stew turned out delish!

** This was my first rodeo with buying fresh ginger.  Talk about stressful.  The label at the grocery store said ginger root.  Is that what I need?  After much angst, I settled on a yes on the ginger root.  I got the cutest little piece since I only needed one tablespoon.  Then I was so darn excited to check out because I wanted to see if the checker knew what in the heck it was.  She had no idea.  I was all, "Um, that is fresh ginger."  I think she could tell I love Jesus since I was buying stuff like fresh ginger, you know that I'm sayin?

*** I feel like I added my garlic at the beginning of the simmering process when I added the veggies and spices.  Man.  I can't imagine using 6 cloves.  I only used 4 and mine was really garlicky. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Here

From time to time I get the rare gift of a quiet house.  A quiet house ranks right up there on my list of good things such as the smell of walking into Dillard's with the bright hope of a day of shopping ahead of me, Sunday afternoon naps, freshly mowed and edged lawns, mom's roast...all happy things.

This morning I was surprised with the unexpected gift.  The big boys were out running errands with Dad.  I was at home doing schoolwork with our youngest son when the garage door opened.  All the boys were invited to head up to the church to work.  The baby was napping.  I was already ready for the day.

I moved into action right away.  Candle, blanket, cup of goodness, Bible, pen, book, lamps.

This place right here?  No one brings me here.  Days can go by on end and no one is going to bring me here.  Other things feel urgent.  The laundry mounded high with stained clothes.  The empty cupboard that needs to be refilled.  The sink full of dishes that need scrubbing.  The floor that needs attention.  My every sticking step reminds me. 

But this?  If I don't purposefully bring myself here it does not happen.  Most days this time looks like my Bible spread open on the kitchen counter.  It looks like reading together with my crew first thing in the morning.  It looks like grabbing 5 or 10 minutes here or there.  Some days it looks like putting one single verse before my eyes to think on through out the day.

This place can be hard.  If I've been away for too long, it all feels hard and unfamiliar.  Proverbs is always my starting place when I open to dive in.  Sometimes I choose a book to read through.  In those times, that is my starting place.  I like the short books toward the end.  Those are good ones to spend a week or so in.

But old faithful is Proverbs.

Just opening and flipping to the chapter that corresponds to the day of the month.

This is my other old faithful.  Streams in the Desert.  Sometimes devotionals can be kind of hokey, but I find myself always coming back to this book.  It is jam packed with wisdom.

Coming here is what I was talking about yesterday.  Making yourself go to the places that refresh you.  Yesterday my one verse I prayed through all day was simple and easy for me to remember.  "Please help us grow in grace and knowledge of you."  All day long I prayed that over myself.  Over Shane.  Over each child.  Over the members of our church family.  It was one simple request that was the focus of my attention.

Be encouraged if coming here is a struggle for you.  The more time you spend here and the more time you spend cultivating this habit the easier it becomes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Working with Joy

One of my biggest goals and prayers as a wife and mother is that I will do my work with joy.  My favorite verse in the Bible talks about a kind hearted woman.  A kind woman gains respect.  She is gracious and lovely to be around.  We've all been around women who are harsh and snappy.  Me no likey that.  I really don't like it when those two words are aptly describing me.

I have found that when I am being diligent to take care of myself, then I have more to give out and it is easier for me to work with joy.  Part of this process involves something which I think is really fun. 

Thinking about what gives you life.

Do you know what your life giving activities and spaces look like?  For years I've turned off our phones in the afternoon.  For two hours the world might be burning down but we are having quiet time at our house.  My slot looks different some days.  Last week as I was battling a terrible cold my time looked like dragging myself under the covers for an afternoon sleep.  Yesterday it looked like grabbing a blanket and a book and laying on the sunny spot on my comforter.  Some days it looks like making afternoon coffee and reading by my favorite candle.

It is not hard to create spaces that refresh you.  It does take a tiny bit of effort though.  No one is going to make us go to the spaces that refresh us!  I believe it is a false thought to think we are wasting time when we make time for ourselves every day.  You've heard it said, "If the enemy can't make us bad he'll make us busy."  I think of that when I think of making time to refresh myself.  If I am too busy to take time to fuel back up then I might be too busy.

All that said, taking care of myself on a daily basis is one thing that I do that helps me in my desire and efforts to work with joy.

Monday, November 17, 2014


It's weird. Even though I adore a sunny house with the windows open, I love cozy winter nights and rainy days.  There is something about these early evenings that make everything feel so warm inside the house.  Even heating up left-overs for dinner seems a little more festive.

I'm big into candle light dinners this time of year.  Even, especially, on left-over night.  We fill the table with our favorite drinking glasses and usually a bowl of whatever soup I've made that week and I just love it.  It is simple and beautiful.

Even though most of our dinners are nothing fancy, the candles always make it a little extra special.  This week I am super excited about making my chicken and dumplings.  I'll re-share the recipe with you.  This recipe is the darndest thing.  It looks so simple when you read the ingredients but I'm telling you we adore it around here.  It smells divine cooking away all day in the crock-pot and we all love it.  It is the perfect easy winter night meal.  I even pull my chicken straight from the bag in the freezer and toss it in FROZEN.  Have you ever?  I mean, really.

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplins
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 6)
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of celery
2 cans chicken broth
2 T butter
seasoned salt & pepper
2 10oz cans refrigerator biscuits

Spray crock pot with Pam.  (I'm assuming your Mama taught you this but just in case here is your friendly reminder).

Put in frozen chicken.  Cover with soups, broth, butter, salt and pepper.  Liquid should cover all the chicken so add water if needed.  Cook on low 8 hours.  About an hour before you are ready to eat shred the chicken.  (I took the lid off and just used two forks to shred the chicken right in the crock pot).

Pinch off the biscuits and add them to the crockpot.  Cook until dumplins are not doughy, an hour or so.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I'm sitting here on a 37 degree morning with my window open beside me.

I'm hot.

Always hot.

Last winter I loved the 14 degree evenings.  I slept in my summer pj's all winter.  I'd get up in the middle of the night to visit the powder room, and that cold bathroom always felt so good.

We hosted a lot of training dinners the last two weeks.  Cold weather is always a happy addition to this cook because I crack the back door to let the cold air in while I simmer and stir.  Before I head to the bathroom to touch up my hair and make-up I usually sit a spell on the patio for a bit to cool off.

My Hawaiian breeze fan is my side-kick but these arctic days are really much more preferable.

The menfolk around here keep turning on the fireplace.

Oh lawd today.

I'm all, "Honey, you know I love you but we got to turn that puppy off ya here now?"

So, about the fruit and vegetable eating.

If potato chips count as potatoes and fruit pies count as fruit then I've done above average on upping my fruit/veggie intake this week.  If they don't count then, meh.  I did, not great but better than the week before.  I managed to add in a serving of fruit most days and most days I piled lettuce on my sandwich at lunch.

Why are healthy foods so dang hard to like?

I will say this though.  I faithfully do my part to make salsa a part of my diet and what is more healthy than salsa I ask you?  Exactly.  Here are two products that have made their ways into my buggies for about the last two months.  Good gravy.  Amazing.

I've been serving up my fair share of taco soup dinners and these two beauties along with freshly grated cheddar are the perfect soup toppers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This Works Wonders

For your hardest kid on their hardest day, I have something for you.

Bless him and love him when he does not deserve it.

That child has been reprimanded more times than you can count.  He knows he keeps doing wrong.  Even though he knows he's going to get in trouble he does it anyway and you get weary from the battle.

Do something unexpected for the offender.  Bless him.  Maybe it looks like a cold drink and a cupcake.  Maybe a movie and extra snuggles from mom.  Coloring at the table together.  Think of any way you can bring him in, serve him, bless him, and give love when he is at his ugliest.  

Bring him in.  Serve him and love him.  Watch what happens.  It is amazing.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Settling In

This has been a week filled with celebrations.  We've gathered together with friends and family and shared meals around the farm table. 

The trees in our yard turned into brilliant colors overnight.  I think we've adjusted to the daylight savings time change, which always takes about a week.  Such a special time in our lives every 6 months.

This weekend I spent some time thinking through the baby's schedule and she is settling in to the new routine nicely.  After a month of travel mixed with the time change, we were kind of all over the place.  She is cutting two new teeth and they have been bothering her so much.  They bring the grand total up to 8 chompers!

Tonight I'm serving up a big pot of chili and I'm so excited.  I love the smell of chili simmering all afternoon on the stovetop.  I'm throwing  a Razzleberry pie and an apple pie in the oven for dessert.  Razzleberry pie is a berry pie filled with blackberry and raspberry.  It smells like heaven baking and makes a perfectly fine breakfast the next morning.

School is going good.  We have been using the Higher Up Further In curriculum this year and it fits our family beautifully.  Learning has become a fun thing and not a huge drag {on most days, anyway}.  I have found a community of other Charlotte Mason moms and am thankful for it.  I missed our second meeting in October but am so looking forward to getting together with them again.  We meet at a super cool coffee shop to discuss Charlotte Mason's works.

I guess the only other big news is that I am trying to learn to like wearing jeans.  I HATE the way jeans feel.  They are just not comfortable to me.  They are so versatile though, so I am trying to give it a go.  Oh.  There is one more big piece of news.  I've been adding my water drinking in every day.  This is the third week and it has been going well.  Today I am starting to up my fruit and veggie intake to 5 servings a day.  It's almost noon and I've already choked down a banana which technically is a really sugary fruit.  I thought about sharing some fruit and veggie creations as I discover them.  They always feel so hard for me to get in.

It's good to be back!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nester's Book

I have been reading Nester's book

The result is that I unearthed my house décor.  I got to looking around and was like, "Meh.  It looks OK but I am not loving the look in the living room so much anymore."  So, all my pictures on my collage wall came down and found a new home on the dining room table.  Most of my knick knacks were tucked in around the frames on the table and for days I stared at blank walls.

If you would have peeped into my windows you would have found me on the couch staring into the great blue yon pondering the great things of life.  Things like, "Does that wall need a big, gaudy mirror because I'm thinking the answer is YES."

When I looked around the house, it felt tired and cluttered.

Aww heck no.  We can't be having no tired and cluttered house now can we?

Rearranging the goods is such a process for Shane me.  I'm a firm believer in reusing what you already have.  You'll be surprised how moving something from here to there can breathe new life into a room.

I've pieced the rooms back together and it feels like I have brand new spaces.

Try it and see for yourself.  See that New Kids on the Block poster taped to your wall?  Wouldn't it look so much snazzier over there?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


We are back from taking the month of October off.  Because Shane has served at our church for 10 years, he was given a one month sabbatical.  What a huge blessing and opportunity that was for our family.

I'd been praying for this month for a couple of years now.

It was such an extended chunk of time that I didn't want to squander. 

Every once in awhile I pray and ask God to extravagantly bless us in His Presence.  To reveal Himself to us.  Like when I go to a women's retreat I usually ask this of God.  Not a material request, but I have this clear picture of being able to feast on the riches at his table.  I think about my favorite table-my Mom's Thanksgiving table.  It is just the best thing I can think of.  It is lined with pretty linens, plates, glasses, candles, and all of my favorite holiday foods.  It is an extravagant table.  So I had been asking if God would bless us extravagantly and let us feast from His Table during our month off.

Goodness.  He answered in such sweet ways.  It is hard to put into words the beautiful time we had together.  We reconnected as a family and were refreshed in every way.  When yesterday morning came we were are all ready to jump back into real life.  He blessed us with a spirit of joy and days filled with laughter.  I can't think of too much better than that.

Sunday was a joy as we gathered together to worship with our church family.  We feel so incredibly blessed to serve and do life with the people we've been surrounded with.

One morning near the end of our time, I sat on a dock by the water at sunrise, reflecting on the last ten years.  I committed the next ten years into His Hands and cannot wait to see what it holds.

"Lord, teach me to order my days so that I can present a heart of wisdom to you"