Sunday, July 29, 2012

Squash Casserole

Squash Casserole

When I was growing up, I remember my grandma making her squash casserole for every holiday dinner.  It was a family favorite.  My version has all of the flavor of grandma's comfort food, but is a little less heavy and has a bit more nutrition.  I had some mushrooms that needed to be used up and tossed them with the squash mixture, but this was not done in grandma's traditional version so I've left them off of the recipe.

-8 medium squash, diced (I used 4 yellow summer squash and 4 zucchini)
-2 Tbsp butter, divided
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1/2 c light sour cream
-1 c shredded cheddar cheese
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 pieces whole wheat bread, toasted and chopped or crushed into crumbs

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in large skillet, over medium heat.  Add squash and saute until just barely tender (about 10 minutes).  Remove squash and set aside.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp butter to pan.  Saute onion until soft (about 5 minutes).  In large bowl, whisk together sour cream, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Toss with cheese, squash, and onion.  Pour into medium sized greased casserole dish.  Top with bread crumbs.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

21 months

Here is what is going on with Noah this month according to;

Now that your child has nailed walking, watch him test his skill in new, more challenging situations. Balancing on a log or walking along the edge of a curb is a thrill now, as is climbing up anything that makes him feel taller. Many toddlers, in fact, have a natural inclination to climb that may take you by surprise. Though you may be worried your child will hurt himself, offering him safe places to practice balancing and climbing are a good way to channel this energy and encourage his physical development. Toddler-safe playgrounds are a good place to start. 
Playground fixtures that combine steps and ladders with slides and logs to balance on — and soft sand or rubber mats to tumble on — are the perfect place for toddlers to work on these skills. But you can indulge your child's fascination inside, too. Purchasing a low plastic slide with a few steps will provide endless hours of fun. Or, to save yourself a few bucks, pile up some big pillows in the middle of the floor (at least a few feet away from furniture or other objects) and encourage your toddler to play "King of the Mountain." You can also teach him songs about "up" and "down." 

Your child's physical ability to do things for himself is finally catching up with his desire to be more independent. Watch for displays of strength and agility such as rearranging chairs, climbing out of the crib (or attempting to), and moving large objects such as a toy box or even the family dog.

Not only can your toddler name most of her own body parts now; she can probably name, or at least point to, the same parts on a doll. And you draw a circle on a piece of paper, she'll try to imitate you, though she's still more skilled at drawing vertical lines. She's fascinated with little things, especially bugs (don't be surprised if she tries to eat them!). Part of the reason for this is that she has the coordination now to bend down and pick up small objects. Also, her awareness of her senses is increasing and she's very curious about how different things look, smell, taste, and sound. This month, your toddler may also have the patience to sit and look at a book by herself for a few minutes. And if you give her a large jigsaw puzzle, one with two or three pieces, she should be able to fit the pieces together.

You may notice that your toddler is a little more comfortable being away from you than she used to be. She may be willing to sit with a familiar adult, such as a grandparent, and listen to a story or try to tell one about herself. And her alternating demands for attention and autonomy may be less dramatic. In part, that's because her improving language skills give her a sense of control that she's lacked until now. She's more willing to attempt to master certain tasks on her own and might not need you to help her figure out how everything works, including her toys. Here's something else to watch for: By 21 months, many toddlers begin referring to themselves by their first name, or as "I."

Before long our little man is going to be 2, my how time flies!

Noah is SO. MUCH. FUN!!!  For the most part, he is such a happy, fun, easy going, goofy little kid.  He does have his moments and tantrums though.  I'm beginning to wonder if we have hit the "terrible twos" due to the level of the tantrums that he has now.  Good thing he's happy more often than not, because when he's not, we all know it!

He continues to talk, all of the time.  And continues to add new sentences to his repertoire.  Most used now are "mama, do it"  (which means he wants me to sing the alphabet), "I love-e the ..." (he adds a whole extra syllable, but it is too cute... this is usually followed by mama, dada, grandma, or Jesus), "no like this dance" (dance is what he says for song, so now he tells us what songs he does and doesn't like... which can be cute, or annoying), "I wanna kiss the ..." (most often completed with plane, bus, truck, car, etc.), and "I wanna go that way" (this will happen when we are walking, driving, or jogging with the stroller and I am going any direction other than the one he wants to pursue... most often commanding the direction to the closest playground).  He loves listening to me sing the alphabet and will say ABC on his own, a few times he has made it as far as I, but that's not the norm.  He also likes to count, and will always say 1 2 3, and every now and then he'll count as high as 6, sometimes leaving out a number or two in the process.  

He knows most of our friends by name and asks for them often.  Last month a friend brought me flowers and every day for the 2 weeks the flowers last Noah would look at the flowers and associate them with the friend who brought them over.  He also knows who is a couple, if I say Matt or Sarah he will normally say the other's name because he knows who goes with who, and that often both come together.  

He is apparently a little ladies man already.  Last Sunday when a girl his age was dropped off in the nursery at church he walked straight up and kissed her on the lips.  You gotta admire that confidence... he knows what he wants and likes!

He wants to read books all day long, usually the same 2 books constantly.  He'll play with blocks and trains/ cars/ trucks on his own for bits at a time, but more than anything this kid loves to read!  He also loves animals and is growing quite the collection of stuffed animals.  He sleeps with at least 8 of them in his crib at any given time.  For a while he was really attached to the giraffe, but I think his favorite changes every few weeks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

::this week::

praying:  for others... friends, family, cities, nations.  for all of my words to be used for His glory, to encourage others.  for deeper, more Christ-like, love for His people.  for the state and IRS details to be worked out for our ministry.

praising:  that He is good, faithful, loving, merciful, just, and present!  that He has been strengthening my faith and that His perfect love has been casting out fear in me this week.

reading:  Deuteronomy, Psalms, Dreaming with God

cooking:  carnitas, pizza, squash casserole, pesto tomato soup with pesto mozzarella tomato grilled cheese

doing:  getting to take a trip to visit family in VA.  we haven't been there in 2 years, so I am very excited for Noah to meet relatives that he's never seen!

creating:  still working on the pillow case, dish towels, and sign for our bedroom.  also, some finishing touches for a baby shower in 2 weeks

pondering:  That no matter what I try there is no shortcut to a relationship with God.  That knowing Him comes only by spending time in His presence.  That I can't box Him into a 30-60 minute time in the morning. That He wants so much more than that, and that's not the right heart and approach for truly seeking Him.  That sometimes (and this might tick some people off as they might not agree) reading His word can be a stumbling block to my relationship with Him... when I do it with the wrong heart/ in a religious (check it off my list) kind of way.  Making an effort to not make short cuts and formulas for my time with Him.  To set out with no agenda, no set amount of time, and to see where He leads me.  To fully engage my heart in seeking Him... sometimes I feel like I cut out either prayer or journaling time to speed things up, and then end up feeling distant from Him... realizing just how important each aspect of my time with Him is to having a balanced relationship with Him... and that the heart of "speeding things up" misses the whole point of starting my day off seeking Him!

I've been spending time getting to know God better and really pursuing a two way relationship.  I've been asking Him to tell me things about Himself that I don't already know.  Some of the answers have been random and funny, I'm enjoying getting to know that side of Him.

Realizing just how fickle I can be.  There were gifts and circumstances that I started off this year praying for, but after a few short months of not seeing much result I kinda gave up.  Stepping back into those prayers with a new fire and belief.  Knowing that sometimes it's about the process.  That sometimes His answers are delayed.  That sometimes I need to wait.  Wanting to believe and pursue without wavering.

loving:  my new tattoo!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

parenting in the authority and power of Jesus

I by no means am an authority on this subject or have all of the answers.  This is just a journey that the Lord has been leading me on over the last few weeks and it is changing me, my relationship with the Lord, and my child!

Until recently I have felt like I have been parenting Noah in the natural realm, seasoned with pop psychology.  The Lord is starting to teach me what it looks like to tap into His power and authority in my parenting.

Previously, when Noah would throw an uncontrollable tantrum I would try to distract him to snap him out of it.  Now, more often than not, I engage in spiritual warfare over him, binding evil spirits and loosing a spirits of peace and joy over him.  It is amazing at how he can be mid-tantrum and me saying the name of Jesus can snap him out of it.  That's power!

We've also been teaching Noah how to engage in spiritual warfare on his own.  That he can talk to Jesus, and call upon His name and power at any time, and that he can take authority over evil.  That he can say "devil go, in Jesus' name" and receive results.  By age 3, I believe that our son will be casting out demons and have a keen awareness of the spiritual realm.

I'm not saying that every misbehavior and/ or tantrum is necessarily brought on by the enemy (although maybe it is), but if it's possible that that is the cause then why not take a few seconds to renounce the misbehavior in Jesus' name.  Really, you have nothing to loose, just a few seconds of your time, and you have everything to gain... spiritual freedom and maturity for you and your child.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

::this week::

praying:  lots, but nothing that I want to share specifics on at this point

praising:  these healings!  how the Lord spoke to me in my fast on Monday, and what He said to me through it.

reading:  Psalms, Numbers, Dreaming with God

cooking: Chinese Char Siu, banana bread with chocolate chips, pesto grilled cheese, some sort of breakfast for dinner... pancakes, oatmeal, waffles, squash pickles, pumpkin bread, pizza

creating:  re-doing the 1 Corinthians 13 sign and the pillow case that I made last week... after my son and a sharpie ruined them.  :(  patchwork dish towels.

doing:  not much.  lots of down time at home.  taking a family trip to walk around the French Quarter this weekend and pray for people.  hoping to finally get my matching tattoo of Jeremy's now that my sunburn is healed.

pondering:  friendship with God.  This line from Dreaming with God as a lesson/ summary on how Moses related with God to change events/ outcomes... "His will is not always focused on events; it is focused on His friends drawing near into His presence, standing in their roles as delegated ones."  Basically, God is not always about specific events or outcomes, but is more about relating to us through them, and through the process, and the work in us.  That He wants us to be co-laborers with Him.

My God is an awesome God!!!!

This is the details of some super cool stuff that the Lord did through Jeremy yesterday.  I share this to document for our future reference, to give God the glory, and to activate faith for anyone who may read it.  We have video testimonials from the people involved, but have not sought their permission to share them, so for now all I can share is my recap.  Since this all happened around and through Jeremy, I may not get the details fully right as I was not present, but this should be a fairly accurate representation of the way things occurred.

I think it started 1-2 months ago.  While we were attending a Sunday evening church gathering Jeremy got a word of knowledge about a heart condition someone had, but he didn't know who the person was.  After the service Jeremy was standing out front, and happened to meet a guy with congestive heart failure.  Considering that God has been communicating this to Jeremy, he believed that the Lord wanted to heal this guy.  So he simply, in the name of Jesus, prayed with power and authority over this guy commanding healing.

Jeremy hadn't seen this guy since then, and had been wondering how the guy was doing.  He had been asking the Lord to bring this guy to him.  Then yesterday morning around 6 am Jeremy and a friend were grabbing coffee at a coffee shop and this same guy walked by. 

Said guy, had left home that morning to go to a church service.  He sat across the street from the church praying, but never went in, for some reason that he wasn't sure of.  Then on his way home, instead of going the way that he would normally go, down the main streets, he said his bike turned onto a side street on its own, without him planning it, or knowing why.  Then a couple minutes later he got off the bike and walked, again for no good reason, he just did.  (We believe it was to slow him down, because Jeremy was not yet outside at the coffee shop).  Apparently this guy's niece had been bed (or couch) ridden for a month(ish) with some condition that the doctors couldn't quite diagnose or fix.  This guy had wanted someone to pray for his niece, and thought of Jeremy, because of their previous encounter.  At this point, I should mention that since Jeremy had prayed for this guy, he had gone back to the doctor and had received results that his heart function had gone from 23% to 57%, 100% increase!  Praise Jesus!

Once Jeremy heard all of the details that had brought him and this guy back together, he was sure that God wanted to heal this guy's niece.  So he made plans to go pray for her that evening.  And he did.  This girl had not been able to walk on her own for a month.  She had been using a walker and having others help her to the restroom, and for baths.  She was in pain.  She had had surgery on her back in 2003, and it seemed as though something associated with that initial problem was what was bothering her.

Also, I should mention that the night before Jeremy had gotten to see this guy again, and later pray for this girl, a young (maybe 5ish) relative had told the girl that the next day she would be 100% healed.  So cool how God loves to use children in His work!

So, yesterday evening around 6 pm Jeremy and the guy headed over to his niece's house.  They arrived, had introductions, and then spent some time worshiping the Lord before all together engaging in spiritual warfare against this sickness/ ailment.  They prayed simply, but powerfully, in Jesus' name.  While they were praying Jeremy had a vision of screws turning in the girls back, screws that had been put in her back when she had the surgery, but screws that she had not told Jeremy were there, this was complete revelation from the Lord!  And when they were done praying, she was healed.  She was up around walking, telling Jeremy that he could take her walker home with him.  Her legs were a little fatigued from lack of use, but she was out of pain and was able to take care of herself.

My God is so cool!  I am so humbled about how He can do anything, and at how He chooses to use His people to accomplish His will.  I'm in awe at how nothing is impossible for Him.  I'm grateful that He likes to give us good gifts.  That He wants relationship with us, which is why He chooses to use us to accomplish the miraculous.  At how this same power, that raised Jesus from the dead, that healed this girl, is available through the Holy Spirit, to dwell inside all who seek Him.

Do you know this God?  If so, please DO try this at home!  This isn't a story about how powerful Jeremy is, although I do think he has a special anointing on his life.  This is a story of how such a mighty God, Jesus, can and will do the miraculous, through His ordinary people.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

thoughts from this fast...

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the day fasting.  God used this fast to bless me with a lot of freedom, a lot of clarity, and a new level of love and compassion for Him and others.  He took me into a whole new level of relationship with Him.  I feel like I went from just being His acquaintance and knowing Him, to really being friends with Him.  To not just loving Him because I'm supposed to, and because He is good.  But to loving Him deeply, because He's Him, because He is love (1 John 4:8). 

I feel like often times I spend time with Him out of duty and obligation, not really listening, not really expecting Him to show up and speak to me, not believing that He will.

I feel like He's taking me into a new season.  A season in which I pursue Him with passion.  A season in which He is my passion.  A season in which I am so consumed by love for Him that it effects everything I do, every conversation that I have, every step that I take.  Where that passion in me inspires and brings out passion in those that I'm around.  Where I pursue the one true God, Jesus, with the same passion in which I pursued Jeremy when we first started dating.  Where I want to know everything about Him.  Where I want to spend every moment with Him.  Where He is what I think about, what I talk about, what my heart longs for.  A season in which I wake up in anticipation, knowing that I get to spend time with Him, knowing He is here.  A season in which I long for nothing other than Him.  I hope this season never ends!

He's giving me confidence in who He created me to be.  He's freeing me from jealousy and intimidation of gifts that He has put in other people.  He's telling me that although my gifts are different, they are not inferior, or of lesser value.  He's telling me that it's okay to desire more of Him, more gifts, and a deeper relationship with Him, but that that's only okay when done in love and to see Him glorified, and not out of a desire to see myself exalted.  He's showing me that I can't use some one else's formula for hearing and experiencing Him, because it's about relationship, that when I relate to Him, He will relate to me... simple as that.  (Why do we make it so hard sometimes?)

I love that I serve a God who doesn't want me to pursue Him out of guilt, duty or obligation.  I love that He allows and waits for us to pursue Him in freedom, joy, and love.  I love that He is creative.  That He is fun and funny, and not stiff, legalistic, and rigid like religion makes Him out to be.  I love Him!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Today was the fourth time that I've fasted from food in the last few months.  Each time that I fast I love it so much, and think to myself that I should do it more often.  So I'm noting some of this here, in hopes to remind and encourage myself to fast more often.

I am not someone who likes to miss a meal.  I love food.  I love cooking.  I love eating.  I eat 3 meals, 2 snacks, and 1 dessert every day.  I think about food often.  My favorite recreational reading is cookbooks.  I love menu planning.  I love reading and trying new recipes.  Perhaps I love all of this stuff too much.  But it's because I'm so passionate about these things that I feel so passionate about fasting from food.  To take a day to step back and say that although I really enjoy these things, I love God more, so much more that it seems ridiculous to compare my affection for Him to my affection for food.  To take a day to let Him be my bread (John 6:25-29, John 6:35) my sustenance, my energy.  A day to use all of the time that I would normally spend thinking about, preparing, and eating food to meditate on Him and His word.  A day with less distraction from Him.  A day in which my hunger pangs continue to turn my mind to Him, reminding me to seek Him, His presence, and His strength to be made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It awes me at just how supernaturally God sustains me through my fasts.  On a normal day once I start getting hungry my mind seems to get cloudy, I become foggy headed, irritable, and preoccupied with food.  Yet on the days that I fast my mind is always so much more clear and focused than normal.  I tend to feel a lot closer to the Lord.  I tend to hear His voice more clearly.  He tends to surface icky things inside my heart that I've been suppressing, so that He may offer me freedom in these areas.

I do not have significant breakthrough with every fast, but I do tend to feel significantly closer to the Lord during the length of the fast.  Fasting is not a formula or manipulation tool for hearing God, but it is just one small way of being able to lay down my will and desires and put the Lord above them.

Fasting is not something to be dreaded.  It is not something to be done while groaning and complaining.  It is a privilege that we should joyfully undertake, and joyfully carry out.  If we spend our whole time fasting having a negative heart and thinking about how hard it is then we have preoccupied ourselves with the negative and probably missed the positive altogether.  So when you fast, remember that you are fasting for the glory of God, and do so accordingly!

Sweet and Spicy Quick Pickles

Sweet and Spicy Quick Pickles

A few friends and I attended a pickling class at a local grocery store a few weeks ago.  This recipe is an original recipe by the lady who taught the class, but since I don't know her name, we'll refer to her as unknown Rouse's chef.  This brine recipe could be used for any type of quick pickle (cucumbers, squash, watermelon rind...), but I particularly loved the squash pickles that we sampled in the class.  As we learned, cucumbers need to be pretreated/ soaked with salt or lime before pickling to draw the moisture out and enable them to be crunchy.  The squash however, can just be dropped in the jar and covered with hot brine.  Since these pickles are heat sealed (rather than properly canned and boiled) they should be stored in fridge and not at room temperature.  Our instructor ensured us that these would remain good in the fridge for several months.  

-2 c rice vinegar
- c apple cider vinegar
-1 c sugar
-1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp mustard seed
-1 Tbsp pickling salt (or Kosher salt, but that may effect color over time)
-prepared/ cleaned vegetables and jars (I used 5 smallish squash, washed, and sliced lengthwise)

Combine rice vinegar- salt in pot.  Bring to a boil.  Place vegetables in clean jars.  Pour hot brine over vegetables and place lids on jars.  Allow to cool to room temperature and jars should seal themselves.  Allow to sit at least 3 days prior to sampling for flavors to fully develop.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

::this week::

praying:  lifting up lots of requests for friends, family, our church, our city, the nations.

praising:  for answers to a few prayers that I have been praying for friends and family for a month or two... particularly for the provision for medical bills for a friend.

reading:  Psalms, Numbers, Isaiah, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind

doing:  not too much... another nice, quiet week.  a walk date with a friend.  some 4th fun with some friends.  hosting a morning ladies coffee.  a meeting/ dinner out with our women's ministry planning team.  a birthday party for a sweet little girl.  lots of time at home.

creating:  still working on the baby shower banner, sign for our bedroom, and pillow cover for our living room.

cooking:  un-stuffed shells, curried chicken pasta salad, mongolian beef, sesame soy baked tofu, peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins, spinach pesto pasta, sweet and spicy nuts
contemplating:  things that I'm learning from numbers... 1) when people came to Moses for counsel he went and spent time with God before he gave them an answer.  2.) Moses was imperfect, at times ungrateful, at times doubted, and yet God still used him in a mighty way.  3.)  the Israelites were guided one step at a time, with no prior notice, by God through the cloud and pillar of fire... they never knew whether they would be moving forward, or camping the next day, and had to rise each day seeing what God was doing.  4.) when the scouts went to check out the promised land they allowed their circumstances (the giants) to cause doubt in them rather than trusting in God's promise and power... and this was after they had just seen Him do miraculous signs in Egypt and on their way (the red sea, manna, quail, plagues...) 5) when we, like the Israelites, doubt God, we find ourselves wandering in the wilderness and not accomplishing anything  6)  we need to stay current with God and have a current word from Him, because yesterday's word may be outdated.... God had told the Israelites to take the promised land, but they doubted and didn't, but once he sent them to the wilderness they repented and tried to obey the old word (take the promised land), rather than the new word (go to the wilderness),  this caused a premature death to many of them.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mongolian Beef

I made this Mongolian Beef.  The only change that I made was to add 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes to the sauce ingredients for some heat and served it over brown rice.  This was good.  Not impressive or something that I would tend to make for company.  But it was quick, healthy, and good... perfect for a week night dinner.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Un-Stuffed Shells

Un-Stuffed Shells

I came up with this dish to use up the extra veggies and ricotta that I had lying around.  The spinach and ricotta combination remind me of my stuffed shells, so I went with that and opted for a small shell pasta.  This is unlike stuffed shells, in that it doesn't have red sauce in it, but you could stir a cup or two of marinara sauce into the ricotta for the full stuffed shell flavor.  You could add cooked ground beef/ turkey/ or italian sausage if you want extra protein also.  You could also substitute a 10 oz package of frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed of moisture) for the fresh spinach.

-1 box whole wheat medium shells, cooked al dente
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb fresh baby spinach
-2 c part-skim ricotta cheese
-1/2 c fat-free half and half
-1tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
-(optional) assorted veggies, cooked in olive oil and set aside... I used an onion, yellow and red bell pepper and mushrooms because I had them lying around needing to be used up

In deep skillet/ stir-fry pan heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add spinach in bunches, stirring until wilted.  Remove spinach from the pan and set aside.  Turn heat to low, place ricotta, half and half, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in the pan.  Whisk until well combined.  Stir in cooked pasta and vegetables and serve.