Sunday, May 24, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday Elisha!!!!



I can't believe you are 2 years old! The time has flown by!

Elisha, you are such a joy to your daddy, brother and me.


You are so fun and sweet. You are my little snuggle bear and I love our hour of snuggle time each morning and all of the random hugs that you give me each day. You are brave yet still aware of what you are doing and almost cautious. You are confident. Some of our friends having characterized you as having swagger, and I couldn't agree more. You walk around confident and comfortable in different situations like you are comfortable in your own skin and not easily intimidated by others. You are tough physically and take injuries and harassment from your brother with such grace, yet you are a little on the softer side emotionally. You are such a helper. If you hear me open the dishwasher you come running into the room to help me unload it. If you make a spill you grab a towel and try to clean it up. You are more of an introvert, completely happy to play by yourself for long periods of time, although your extremely extroverted older brother doesn't give you much time to yourself. You love babies and want to engage and show physical affection to them all. You are going to be an amazing big brother to our little baby! You have THE best smile in the world, your eyes squint completely shut as your big grin crunches up you entire face. Overall you are a very happy, laid back, easy going little guy. You are so much fun, so happy and easy going and you make each person in our family laugh everyday.


We almost never call you Elisha. We often call you Eli, but more than anything these days we call you E.

We recently moved you from two naps to only one afternoon nap and you don't seem to care either way. Each night while you're watching your evening show we tell you it's bed time and you pause your show and run straight to your room waiting for us to put you in your crib. You immediately lay face down and we almost never hear another peep out of you from that point on. You and Noah share a room and yet somehow both good to bed so quickly and quietly (even with all of your toys in the room). We have yet to have problems getting y'all to go to sleep or needing to keep you from interacting with each other.


You are talkative and babble a lot, as well as have a good vocabulary of words. I love the way that you yell "NO-ah" each morning when your brother wakes up and walks into the room (about an hour after you get up). You are always so excited and happy to see him. You two really are best friends and love each other and look out for each other. If one of you gets a snack or treat you are adamant on making sure that the other one receives one also.


You love to read books, draw and color, play outside and go for walks. You have a few favorite shows right now, mainly Bubble Guppies and Creative Galaxy with some Yo Gabba Gabba and Tumbleleaf thrown in there as well. You enjoy playing with trucks and cars and old Mardis Gras throws that light up. You love dogs and animals and point to them all, but tend to be a little timid about getting too close to them and very cautious if petting them.


You are a pretty good eater. You eat almost all fruits, assorted veggies, beans, eggs, cheese, chicken, sausage and most types of snacks or sweets. You eat all of the time yet don't seem to grow very much either up or out, you've been roughly the same size for the entire last year.

 
You are quickly learning so much and can count to 5 on your own and can recite the alphabet one at a time after us if we say each letter first. You know a few colors (mainly red, yellow and blue) but you don't get them right 100% of the time.


Over the next few months we are going to start transitioning you to potty training and to sleeping in a big boy bed rather than a crib so that you are ready for the arrival of your little brother.

 
You love it when garbage trucks drive down our street and (much to my dismay) you have learned how to open our door and lean out to watch as the trucks go by.

 
You are such a great combination of a sweet nature... thoughtful and caring and yet rough, tough, silly and "all boy". You have a disposition of wisdom about you that we can already see at this young age. You are thoughtful and discerning. You are going to do great things, you were destined for them. You are going to be a peace keeper... level headed, unemotional yet with a deep caring for others. We believe in you and are your biggest fans. I'm so honored to get to be your mom and get a front row seat to watch the as you continue to learn who you are and who God created you to be and to watch you thrive.

 
 



Monday, May 11, 2015

::this month::



the last 3 months have been a roller coaster of varying highs and lows for us. they have been jam packed with information, experience, chaos, excitement, celebration, joy, loss, sadness, worry and confusion.
 
some of the lows have been; the death of 2 friends, a fire in our current rental home, the deal for the home we're buying hitting bumps in which it almost fell apart on multiple occasions.
 
some of the highs have been; jeremy got a book deal from a publisher to translate and publish his book, the longest bridge across water, into german. god prompting a generous friend to promise us the gift of a car that we should receive in the next couple of months. new friendships and business partnerships. seeing fruit and life change happening in some of our street friends that me and a few friends encounter weekly. creative and generous ways that the deal on our home has been salvaged at moments where we were about to throw in the towel and give up hope and pursue rental options rather than buying. some new projects and groups that we have been working on that are taking shape and starting over the next few months.
 
this multitude of experiences has not been easy along the way, but i can see fruit taking shape in my character as a result. 2 months ago we had a friend pass away at the same time that it was seeming the deal on our home was going to fall apart and i reacted to those circumstances with stress, worry, desperation and loss of hope. yet just last week we had another friend pass away at the same time that it was looking again like our deal on our house was going to fall apart and that we would need to find somewhere else to live by this saturday (when we are supposed to be out of our current rental) but i handled the unknown and unfavorable circumstances remarkably different this time around. this time i did not lose hope. i did not become irrational or frazzled. i was able to stay at rest and at peace throughout the circumstances. i was able to think clearly and unemotionally and to efficiently proceed forward to look for solutions. i responded in trust this time around. trust knowing that god is with me. that he is good. that he has good things for me even if they aren't the things that i had planned for myself. this last week has been a testimony that my peace, joy, security, strength and hope are in christ and not in my circumstances. it has been a time of living from rest amidst the chaos of life and complications along the way. this is the place that i always want to live from, dwell in, and inhabit all of my days.

praising:
 

that two of our "street friends" from our weekly outreach have decided to enter into long-term rehabilitation treatment programs and that 2 others that we've been seeing regularly for the last 6 or more months have been given housing. it makes my heart so happy to see god provide for these people. to see his work in their hearts. to see lives be changed.

answered prayers. god has poured out faithful answers to many of our provisional and relational prayers over the last couple of months. i am so grateful to know a present, relational god who i can talk to at any moment, who will guard my heart with his peace that surpasses all understanding, who has promised us that prayer is powerful and effective.

praying:
 
in spirit and in tongues more than anything this month. less with words, less with my mind but when i don't know the right path, or answer, or approach to a situation i'm letting my spirit and heart lead me and cry out to god knowing that he knows my needs and longings.

reading:

psalms, romans, 1 corinthians, savor, all the light we cannot see
 

thankful for:

god. the source of all hope, joy, peace and love. having a solid foundation upon which to stand when my circumstances seem to be chaotic. knowing that he is trustworthy. that he is with me, always. that he is working all things for my good. that his grace is sufficient, always!
 
a super fun week with family as jeremy's brother, his wife and their kids were in town. it made my heart so happy to see my kids enjoy playing with their cousins all day everyday.
 
the generous people in our lives that god has used over the past month to unexpectedly provide for our needs regarding a car and housing. i am humbled that we have such great people in our lives that believe in and support us.
 
friendships. i'm in a season of lots of gratitude for many unexpected new relationships that are developing as well as the ones that we've consistently had over the last several years.
 
how much our boys love each other and how well they get along and play together (overall, they of course have their moments of fighting over toys etc).
 
simple, delicious, fresh, seasonal food. an abundance of it easily available to us. god has been so creative in all of the delicious things that he gives us to eat. he could make fueling our bodies something boring, or unnecessary, but he has chosen to make it a rich, enjoyable process for us and i'm really appreciating that right now.

our church. becoming a part of our church over the last 7 months has been an increasingly life giving process for me. god has used this time and these specific people to heal some wounds that i've had, to reignite my hope and vision and belief in the local church. he has used this time to prune some of the weeds of cynicism that were in my heart regarding church as an organization. he has given me a great appreciation for the low pressure environment at our church and how well our body lives out the values of relationship, fun, celebration and enjoying life. he has used this body to give me a vision of how leaders can function together well while having good, healthy, thriving personal relationships with each other, sowing that into the body they lead.

cooking:

huevos rancheros, whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni and jalapenos, grilled cheese and tomato soup, whole wheat banana bread muffins with chocolate chips, green well salad, white bean soup, black bean soup, curried chicken salad, greek salad, greek pasta salad, 4 cheese turkey sausage lasagna, white chicken chili, cornbead, sautéed butternut squash and kale, gumbo, veggie tray with curry dip, maple balsamic pork tenderloin, Korean beef, tacos, black beans rice and corn casserole
 
baby update:

i'm currently 22 weeks pregnant. i finally went to the doctor and now have now confirmed that we have a normal, healthy, baby boy developing in my belly. i can feel him moving around all of the time and am savoring these moments knowing that this will probably be our last baby, and therefore the last time that i am pregnant. we have a name that we both agree on and like but i think that we're going to let it sink in for a few more weeks prior to announcing the name to the public. if you want a little teaser it's another old testament bible name (like noah and elisha). i'm still feeling great, growing larger by the day. i haven't had any new or different cravings this month although i'm still particularly drawn to fruits, veggies, orange juice, pho and sushi. a friend did give me a jar of her grandma's sweet and spicy pickles and they made this preggo lady super happy... there's something about sweet, spicy and tangy all combined together that takes me to my happy place right now. our third baby boy will be making his debut the first week of september and we are getting very excited to meet him. both noah and eli are starting to notice my growing belly more and giving their little brother lots of affectionate rubs and pats.
 

doing:

all the usual activities; weekly homeless outreach, monthly book club, radiant monthly ladies gathering, lots of playdates and dinners with friends. a week staycation as we had family in town visiting. i led a street outreach for our church as we hosted 30 bible school students and unleased to love on those in need in our city. lots of packing and de-cluttering as we will finally be moving this sat.

pondering:

spending lots of time considering my passions, gifts and purpose as god continues to reveal to me who he created me to be.

if you know me in real life or follow me on facebook or instagram it is probably not a surprise to you that i love food. i love the diversity of it, the process of preparing it, the process of consuming it, especially when that process is shared with others and includes conversation.

along with food my greatest passions are friendships/ relationships/ community and conversation.

the place where these two categories of interest meet is my happy place, my sweet spot that gets me giddy and fills me up. i love hosting and entertaining. i love being hosted and learning about others through the food they serve and the ambiance they set. i love celebrating any occasion or day or person. i love gathering people together for a purpose, and especially love it when once we are gathered there is delicious food and interesting conversation. this is what i do naturally and effortlessly. this is who i am and was created to be. it's not an agenda that i set, a program that i create or a ministry that i'm involved in. this is a natural overflow of who i am. food and conversation (within the context of relationship) are the currency of my love language.

just this week god gave me the epiphany that this is why i love doing street outreach with homeless people. it's because nourishment of all kinds (physical, spiritual and emotional) is so important to me. it's because feeding people and listening to people and connecting with people is my priority. it's because i get to do this on the streets, with people who don't have their own home to relax in, their own food to nourish their bodies with, who may or may not have friends to connect with. i love being able to bring this atmosphere to those who need it most.

have you found your happy place, friend? do you know what fills you up and what naturally flows out of you? do you know the gifts and talents that god has given you? i hope that you do! and if not, i pray that you are receptive as god makes your path straight and makes those clear to you. i pray that you find your sweet spot and thrive. because i need you to, the church needs you to, the world needs you to. you are an essential part of the body of christ, uniquely created gifted and equipped and without you and your giftings the rest of our body is incomplete.

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Black Bean Soup




Black Bean Soup

I had a ham bone lying around to use up so I added it to the mix and used water instead of the broth listed in the recipe below. This soup is an easy vegan meal, but you can add some kind of sausage, crumbled bacon or diced ham if desired. In a hurry, you could even substitute 6 cans of black beans for the dried beans and have dinner ready in just a few minutes of simmering to heat the ingredients through. I intended to puree this soup entirely, but realized that I had packed up my immersion blender months ago so I left it chunky. It's delicious either way. Serve with your favorite assortment of cilantro, chopped onion, hot sauce, sour cream, shredded cheddar and/ or avocado for topping.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
-5 cups veggie or chicken broth
-1 Tbsp sugar
-2-4 Tbsp hot sauce
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp oregano
-1/2-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
-2 Tbsp lime juice

Heat olive oil in medium large pot over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes, until it softens. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute, until fragrant. Add beans, diced tomatoes, broth, sugar, hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans reach desired tenderness (1.5-2 hours). Taste and adjust salt and spices. Stir in lime juice. Either serve soup as is, or puree with an immersion blender, food processor or blender and serve with desired toppings.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sauteed Butternut Squash and Kale with Cranberries, Walnuts and a Balsamic Reduction

 
 
Sauteed Butternut Squash and Kale with Cranberries, Walnuts and a Balsamic Reduction
 
Butternut squash and kale are in my current flavor pairing obsessions, right along with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, sweet potatoes and black beans and goat cheese and anything. This is such a versatile side dish... you can leave out the cranberries and walnuts and turn it into a quesadilla or burrito filling, use it us a pizza topping, stir into a risotto, put in a lasagna or add broth for a soup. You could add goat cheese to the finished product for a little more decadence. Or you could leave the kale raw, add the goat cheese and turn it into a tossed cold salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.
 
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
-1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/3 cup dried cranberries
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 cup pure maple syrup
 
Heat oil in large stir fry pan over medium high heat. Cook squash, stirring often, until squash is brown and begins to soften (about 10 minutes).
 
While squash is cooking, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the vinegar and syrup, simmer and stir for at least 10 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by half.
 
Once the squash reaches desired doneness reduce heat to medium, add kale, and stir until it just begins to wilt. Remove from heat, toss with salt, pepper, dried cranberries and walnuts and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
 


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Turkey Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole


Turkey Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole

I love breakfast casseroles! They are my go to for using up extra (or past their prime) breads, meats, cheeses and vegetables. The possibilities are endless. Plus, I usually assemble them the evening before making breakfast completely fuss-free the following morning. I make this casserole every Christmas morning. It's a more healthful twist on one my grandma used to make. We also have this as breakfast for dinner once every few months or so.

-1 package regular flavor turkey breakfast sausage
-10 eggs, lightly beaten
-3 cups milk
-2 teaspoons dry mustard
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-10-12 slices (based on whether you are using small of large sandwich bread) whole wheat bread, cubed
-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-1 large can mushrooms
-6 green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 325 F. In large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper; whisk until well incorporated. Stir bread, meat, cheese, mushrooms and green onions into egg mixture and mix well. Pour egg/ bread/ meat mixture into a greased 12 x 9 pan. Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes, or until eggs are set. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly. Note: May be assembled ahead and refrigerated up to 12 hours before baking (I usually assemble it the night before and bake in the morning).


White Bean Soup



White Bean Soup

This soup really is so versatile. I had a ham bone lying around so I used the ham bone and water (instead of the broth listed below) and I shredded the extra scraps of ham from the bone to put in the soup). You could also add some diced tomatoes, spinach or kale to this soup if you have any needing to be used up. I have recently become a big fan of the way that Shauna Niequist tops her white bean soup with curls of parmesan and a drizzle of vinaigrette, but the soup is still great without them. You can even make this more quick and easy by using canned beans instead of dried, rinsing and draining them, and combining them with 2 cups of broth (instead of 8) and the rest of the ingredients according to the directions. Don't forget some crusty bread for dunking in the soup.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-2 big (or 4 small) carrots, diced
-2 ribs celery, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
-1 lb dried white beans (soaked overnight and rinsed)
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp salt (if needed, based on the saltiness of your broth)
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
-(optional) 1-2 cups meat of choice, either cubed ham, chopped prosciutto or crumbled cooked sausage

Heat olive oil in medium large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots and celery until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly. Add broth, beans, dried rosemary, dried thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes and meat of choice (if using). Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low. Continue to cook, stirring every now and then, until beans reach the desired tenderness (about 1-1.5 hours). Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Mash some of the beans with a potato masher or wooden spoon to thicken the soup. Stir in the sugar and vinegar.

Serve with parmesan curls, crusty bread and a balsamic vinaigrette (see link in intro paragraph) or plain balsamic vinegar for drizzling.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

::this month::




the week that i typed my last monthly update we had a ton going on! we were in the midst of funeral plans and preparing for what jeremy was going to say at said funeral. we thought we were going to have to be out of our current place 3 weeks before our closing date on our new home, causing us to move twice and get storage and stay with friends. then a few days later we were wondering if the whole contract on the house was going to fall through all together causing us to have only one and a half weeks to find a home to rent for the next year and move. let's just say that we had a lot up in the air. i wish that i could say that i handled it all with grace and faith but there were moments when i cried, worried and felt anxious trying to resolve all of the details. then, within 3 days most of the difficult circumstances were resolved and provided for in miraculous ways. i was left looking back wondering why i had wasted time worrying and not trusting god, when i have so many prior memories of him making the impossible possible in my life. fortunately he is better than we know, better than we give him credit for, and he can and will do far beyond all that we could ask or think.

despite all of the ups and downs that have been in the process, we still hope to close on our home in april, and jeremy will be doing some traveling, and then we'll have family in town for a week. it looks to be another full month.

i am so glad to say that i am finally over the first trimester hump and am feeling so much better! i feel like myself again. i have energy, have been getting a lot done, and have been able to really enjoy and be present with the people around me. after months of feeling awful i am so unbelievably grateful to feel good and really live each moment. all of my senses seem more keen and aware and everything around me seems so wonderful, as if i have on rose colored glasses. i have been doing a lot of processing this month... possibly correlated to reading the book make it happen and asking myself all of the questions it entails. i've been looking at how i spend my time and energy, the things i invest myself in, my passions and overall values and evaluating all of these things considering what is and is not working in each of these areas right now. for the most part, i feel like i'm right where i'm supposed to be right now, but there are a few things that i'll be changing over the next month or two, and i'm also planning to start taking active steps towards some of the long term (5-10 year) goals that i have, rather than passively waiting for them to happen in the far off future.

last month jeremy was on 2 podcasts. he's still working on his next full length book, as well as 2 shorter ebooks. he also has a few upcoming projects and groups that he's working on putting together, more details on those to come.

praising:
that despite my fickleness and lack of faith at times that god is faithful, constant, unchanging, and always working all things for my good, even when it doesn't seem that way. i'm grateful for the ways that he miraculously provided us favor and changed circumstances to move forward with our house.

that my god is a living god, who died and rose again, who has defeated death and sin on my behalf so that i can truly live.
 

praying:
for a smooth and speedy process for our home to close

for wisdom and discernment as we continue to process some upcoming changes.


reading:
psalms, john, romans, 
make it happen, savor, all the light we cannot see
 

thankful for:
to be feeling well physically, emotionally and spiritually.

spring. we have had lots of sunshine. me and the boys have spent lots of time outdoors. it seems that the whole world around me is coming to life just as i'm emerging from a several month slump. i see flowers blooming, butterflies flying, hear birds chirping, and am just so grateful for it all.

our time living by the bayou. seeing as how we will be moving into our home within the next month and leaving our current neighborhood behind, i am so grateful for our time here. we are very excited about our new neighborhood and new home, but there is something so special about the area that we've been in the last 3 and a half years. we have really enjoyed this area, taking almost daily walks along the bayou and to the nearby parks and playgrounds. this is currently my very favorite neighborhood in new orleans, but i'm pretty sure i'll feel that way about our new neighborhood before too long.

cooking:


huevos rancheros, whole wheat pizza with turkey pepperoni and jalapenos, thai chicken pizza, vietnamese noodle bowls, chicken sausage on buns with sauteed onions and peppers, gumbo, caesar salad, grilled cheese and tomato soup, four cheese lasagna with turkey sausage, whole wheat banana bread muffins with chocolate chips, taco soup, tacos with homemade salsa, italian stuffed peppers, chicken pavlava, fried rice, maple balsamic pork tenderloin, chai bars, veggie tray with curry dip, green well salad, lemon bars, coconut lemon chickpeas with sundried tomatoes and spinach, zuppa toscana, spinach and feta pie in puff pastry, baked risotto with peas, white chicken chili, cornbread
 
baby update:
i still haven't been to the doctor yet (i've been working with our insurance to change my plan so that i can go to my doctor whom i love who did not accept my prior plan). i do have an appointment next monday, so we will know more soon. as of right now, we think i'm around 18 weeks pregnant. that said, we've been joking that by the time i finally go to the doctor they will be confirming my pregnancy and telling us the gender all in the same appointment. i've been feeling much better, and more like myself again, although still a little nauseous here and there and still unable to consume caffeine and fried or greasy foods. in addition to the cravings of sushi and pho that i mentioned last month this month i've also been craving lime popsicles, homemade salsa, beef, lebanese grape leaves and orange juice. as of now i've gained a few pounds and think that my belly officially popped this month and has started truly appearing to be in the early stages of pregnancy. we have not discussed, or even thought of names for this baby yet, because it has been a crazy busy few months, but we still have a girls name leftover from eli, so we have one unofficial girl name idea and no boy names. good thing we still have several months to go.
 

doing:
all the usual activities; weekly homeless outreach, monthly book club, monthly community group, radiant monthly ladies gathering, lots of playdates and dinners with friends.

pondering:


proverbs 23:7 for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

i've been thinking about this verse. that how a man thinks of himself so he will be. so he will act. so will be his fruit.

what are you/ i thinking of ourselves? are we thinking that we aren't good enough, aren't talented enough? are we thinking that we are lesser than others? worthless? insignificant? flawed? broken?

or are we believing the truth? the truth that we are redeemed. whole. holy. loved. accepted. valuable. forgiven. reconciled. clean. without sin or flaw. that we are covered in and defined by the blood of christ. worth his coming to earth. worthy of his sacrifice. that god loved us so much to send us his son. and his holy spirit. that we have been equipped, empowered, sent out. that we have the fullness of god's power dwelling in us.

i want to believe the truth about myself, and so be those things. act those ways. bear that fruit.

may we do that together, friends. may we see ourselves as god sees us and define ourselves by what he says about us. may we live in constant communion with him. basking in his love and rest, manifesting his kingdom on earth. may all of the lies have no foothold or roots in our hearts and minds.