Thursday, September 27, 2012

::this week::

This has been a hard week for me.  I was hurt by some circumstances that have arisen.  I've been attacked with fear and worry about other circumstances.  It has seemed like most of the plans Jeremy and I have made over the last few months are no longer possibilities... plans that we felt were God's will.  It has been hard to see things that we thought were from Him fall through.  I have a lot of questions.  There is a lot that I don't understand.  I'm still processing it all.  I'm taking my thoughts captive and guarding my heart... I don't want to end up bitter... angry... resentful.  I don't want to dishonor anyone.

It's not like me at all, but out of hurt, out of fear of further hurt, I just want to board myself up in my house and never leave or talk to anyone again.  But I know that is not of the Lord, I know he created me for community, and so I refuse to give in and let the enemy win.

I know that He is faithful.  That His grace is sufficient.  And that whether these circumstances are His doing or not, He wants to use them for my good, and for His glory.  So I try to see where He is at work through this.  What I can learn about Him, and how I can grow closer to Him.

When my plans fail, and people hurt me, I cling to the only one who is worth clinging to.  I stand on my Rock.

praying:  for wisdom.  discernment.  healing.

praising:  that God is sovereign.  that He is bigger than my troubles.  that He is faithful, perfect, and unchanging.  that He is present. always.  that His love is higher & deeper & wider than I could ever imagine. 

reading:  1 Samuel, Proverbs, 1 Peter, Dreaming with God, Desperate Women of the Bible

key verses:  James 1:2-4, Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 1 Peter 3:15-16, Proverbs 19:21

creating:  some activities for some upcoming birthday parties, some Christmas presents

doing:  hosting community group, ladies Bible study, and a few dinners with friends.  enjoying lots of time at playgrounds with the little ones, and lots of quiet time around the house.

cooking:  pizza, sesame honey soy baked tofu, fish tacos with black bean and corn salad, tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole, salad with tangy tomato dressing, broccoli and cheese soup with whole wheat artisan bread, blueberry baked oatmeal

23 months

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

Your 23-month-old can probably follow a simple two-step command such as "Come here and sit down so I can tie your shoes." Her vocabulary likely includes at least 20 words that she can say clearly (and many more that are harder to understand), and soon she'll be adding words so quickly that you won't be able to keep track any more. Your toddler may utter short sentences, like "Juice all gone," or "Dog run out." And she can answer simple questions such as "What is your name?" and "What does the cat say?" She will use words to tell you when she's hungry and thirsty, so you no longer have to guess if that's why she's a little bit crabby... at least some of the time. She may also understand opposites. If you look at a book with pictures of, say, a big dog and a little dog, or a big car and a little car, and ask her which is which, she should know.

You already know that reading to your child is one of the best ways to boost her language skills. But up until now, you probably focused on familiar stories that you may have been reading together since birth. Now's the time to start broadening your book choices. Look for stories with a wide range of objects in them that are both familiar to your child and not so well known. When you read, pause occasionally and ask her questions about the book ("What is the kitty doing? Where is the boy?). Point at objects, and give her the opportunity to say aloud the names of those she knows.

When your child was an infant, out of sight meant out of mind. But now she has the cognitive skills to remember that she left her doll in the car, for instance, even after several hours have passed. She can also associate items she's seen in real life — monkeys at the zoo — with ones she sees in a book. If you have a shape sorter, you'll probably notice now that she can put several pieces in their proper spot. Many toddlers are also experimenting with dramatic play, such as pretending to eat a plastic banana and reporting to you how yummy it is. It will be a few years before you see elaborate fantasy play where she makes up stories and characters, but this is the foundation for it.

Give your toddler plenty of opportunity to engage in "unstructured" play. Give her a set of blocks and let her build towers or trains, for example, or give her a puzzle made of just a few pieces so she can have the satisfaction of completing it herself. Props such as toy telephones, grocery carts, tool boxes, and tea sets give her the opportunity to mimic the activities of the adults she sees around her.

Noah is bursting at the seams with energy, enthusiasm, and personality!

He is so smart.  Seriously.  I know every parent thinks that, but he is.  His memory is unreal for his age.  He doesn't seem very interested in learning colors yet, and hasn't made much progress on his numbers and letters over the last month, although I still think it's impressive at how much of them he does know.  8 times out of 10 he'll get his right hand or foot correct if you ask him.

He is fearless, jumping, climbing, and more, and even if he falls or gets hurt he'll go back and do it all over again right afterward.  He is all boy!  Curious, energetic, tough, and tough.  But he has such a sweet sensitive side.  A side that is so empathetic that he cries when others cry.  That he gets upset if he knows I get hurt, for example, when I stub my toe.  He can feel others pain, sadness, fear, etc.

He communicates so well, and understands almost everything.  He talks mostly in phrases and sentences.

He loves to play hide and seek, and hide from us behind the shower curtain.  He LOVES the new trick his daddy taught him of doing forward rolls on the bed.

We are working on potty training.  He has gone several times by us putting him on the potty, but only a few times has he come to us asking to use it.  Instead he goes in his diaper more often than not, and then announces it to us when he's done.

He still has a fairly picky palate, but is slowly starting to eat things other than just fruit, cheese, yogurt, and dry snacks.  He still will not eat meat for the most part.  One of his favorite things to do is to go get frozen "yae-gurt". 

Now that Hayden is getting a little older he is really loving getting to play alongside her Monday-Thursday.  They are so cute together!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

This is my mother-in-law's recipe, with a few of my adjustments (adding whole wheat flour and replacing 1/2 the butter with yogurt).  I list the chocolate chips as optional, but Jeremy will tell you that chocolate chips are NOT optional in these muffins, they make the muffins.  These are not a dessert muffin, they are a healthy muffin, but the chocolate does add a bit of indulgence should you choose to use it.

-1/2 c butter, softened to room temp
-1 c sugar
-1 c brown sugar
-1/2 c nonfat plain yogurt
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 c pumpkin puree
-1 c whole wheat flour
-1 c all-purpose flour
-1 c rolled oats
-1 tsp baking soda
-2 tsp cinnamon
-(optional) 1 c nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, or any combination of the above

Cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer.  Add egg, mix to combine.  Add yogurt, vanilla and pumpkin.  Mix to combine.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Stir in any desired optional ingredients.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, September 21, 2012

::this week::

This was one weird week!  Last Saturday a baby was born to a close friend in our community group, then Sunday we learned of the death of a friend from our church.  This week was been a whirlwind of life and death, and the things that surround them.  I've received an answer to a prayer that I've been praying for months, but am not ready to share on that yet... soon.  We've had some confusion regarding the direction of our ministry, and desperately need the Lord to make our path straight, as Jeremy will only be working at his office for a few more short months.

I've been crazy busy and buried under plans for meal delivery for the family with the new baby.  And also organizing and planning meals for the wife of the deceased man.  And the visitation.  And for the family after the funeral.  And for the life celebration event the day after the funeral.  I feel like I barely came up for air this week, and am looking forward to some down time, and time to process and reflect this week.

Amidst the craziness and chaos, I can say that Edmund's funeral was the most beautiful, and glorifying to the Lord, funeral that I have ever attended.  It was sweet.  Sad.  Funny.  Christ centered.  People encountered the one true God, and will never be the same as a result, and there is nothing more that anyone could have asked for than that.  I was so encouraged to see the way our church pulled together, a church made up of such a young congregation who has never had to deal with a funeral before.  Everyone chipped in, gave, loved, served, prayed, comforted, celebrated, remembered, and clung to Christ.  Each body part performed their role, and I am so honored to be a part of a body that clings draws to each other, and our Saviour, so tightly in hard times!  This week I have been constantly meditating on God as the giver of life.

praising:  the sweet little life of baby Caroline, born to our friends.  an answer to one of my most heart felt recent prayers.  the body of Christ.  new life in Christ for many as a result of the testimony that Edmund's life has left.

praying:  for our church.  for Edmund's family, widow, and friends... there will be a few tough months ahead for them.  for wisdom on the next steps for our ministry, that the Lord would make our path straight.

reading:  Proverbs, Ruth, 1 Samuel, Dreaming with God, Desperate Women of the Bible, Kinfolk

pondering:  Like I mentioned last week, I'm continuing to learn my need for margin in my life.  Despite my love of being social I'm realizing just how much I do need lots of quiet, unscheduled/ unrushed time (I've always known that I'm an introvert, but I think I've been denying it with my actions recently).  When I'm not always engaging in conversations, when I'm not always rushing from one thing to the next, when I'm not constantly stimulated by distractions, then I have more time to listen to God.  To rest in His presence.  To be present in, and cherish each moment.  For His peace and joy to permeate me, that my cup may overflow to everyone that I do end up encountering.  Eventually, I'd like to be a lot better at listening to God and resting in His presence even in the presence of other people, even with lots going on around me.  But in this season, He has me really cultivating those disciplines in my more quiet and slow time with the kiddos, to then build on that in a later season.

cooking:  slow-cooker Indian curry, shrimp and grits casserole, butter beans and corn, baked oatmeal, spinach & mozzarella breakfast casserole, sausage & cheddar breakfast casserole, chai bars, pizza, Chinese Char Siu (roast pork), sriracha/ lime/ honey/ peanut brussels sprouts, pumpkin muffins, wine simmered mushrooms

creating:  the beginnings of some Christmas presents

doing:  Still protecting my week day mornings/ days so that I can have margin in my life.  A little more plans than we have had lately though, hosting a few dinners with friends, bringing food to a dear friend who just had a baby, hosting community group, hosting and leading our ladies study/ Desperate Women...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

::this week::

praying:  that I would have eyes to see each and every person the way that God created them... that I would see each and every person as created in His image... that I would see their destiny (not their current struggles, conflicts, circumstances), and that I would be able to call those forth from them spurring them to step into those destinies.

praising:  some additional favor and provision for us as we continue to pursue the open doors that God is giving us as Jeremy will soon no longer be at his job and will soon be in full-time ministry.

reading:  Judges, Psalms, Desperate Women of the Bible, Kinfolk, Dreaming with God

cooking:  lettuce wraps, garlic noodles, cinnamon roll cake, chai bars, lemon bars, pumpkin bread, skinny pasta carbonara, warm lentil salad, jerk chicken with rice and beans, pizza

creating:  some cupcake wrappers and toppers for upcoming birthday parties, as well as some fun activities for said parties

doing:  starting an 8 week ladies Bible study (Desperate Women of the Bible) that I will be leading at our house. 

attending a ladies Scavenger Hunt in the French Quarter. 

other than that, not much.  I've been enjoying a slower pace the last few weeks, one with lots of margin, and not many plans.  I've been enjoying lots of extra time to play at the park with Noah in the mornings, and afternoons tinkering around the house while the kiddos play and nap.  I've been enjoying enjoying... with a more relaxed pace, one without rush or pressure, I'm able to better be present in, and cherish each moment.  As much as I like being social, seeing people, and doing fun things, I think that me, the kids I watch, and my family all thrive when I have a slower pace.

pondering:  gratitude. (inspired by this post by a friend).  wanting to read 1000 Gifts, and wanting to start my own list.  Philippians 4:8.


worshipping the Lord with all that I do/ doing ALL to His glory. 

the difference between tools of the devil (i.e. pride, judgement, gossip, etc.) being common vs normal for Christians... they are NOT normal for Christians, but are common... I no longer want to accept them as normal, making excuses for behavior that is not from the Spirit, behavior that is contradictory to who I am in Christ... constantly coming back to my identity in Him, that I am the righteousness of Christ... and I will act like it.

being slow to speak (James 1:19).  not having any idle words (Matthew 12:36).  using all of my words for good/ to encourage others (Ephesians 4:29). 

listening:  lots of IHOPKC, I love how such a large amount of their songs involve singing passages of scripture, it's SO.  VERY.  POWERFUL. 

been listening to lots of Todd White meetings via itunes... he brings Truth, so much truth that I have to listen to each talk multiple times to let the Truth sink in that I want to glean.  one of my favorite things about Todd White is that he NEVER makes fun of anyone... I find that so many pastors use humor at the expense of someone else, and to me that is not love, so I LOVE it and find it quite refreshing when someone doesn't do that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Skinny Pasta Carbonara

Skinny Pasta Carbonara

This isn't exactly authentic, with the whole wheat pasta, turkey bacon, peas, and mushrooms, but I like the added nutrition from the vegetables and pasta, and reduced fat from the turkey bacon.  This is a quick, inexpensive, yet healthy meal.  Use regular bacon or pancetta if you want a more authentic version, and leave out the veggies.

-1 box desired whole wheat pasta (spaghetti would be most traditional, but I used penne)
-1 Tbsp  olive oil
-1 package (12 oz) turkey bacon, cut into 1/2" slices
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-3 eggs
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 package mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
-1/2 c parmesan cheese
-1 c peas (I used frozen peas and cooked according to package directions

Cook turkey bacon, in olive oil, over medium high heat, stirring often.  Once bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes, add garlic, cook 1 additional minute, then remove from pan and set aside.  Cook mushrooms, in butter, over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes, then add to the bacon.  While mushrooms are cooking cook pasta, in salted water, according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking whisk together eggs, pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt (in large bowl).  Once pasta is desired tenderness drain and immediately toss in bowl with egg mixture.  Toss mushrooms, peas, bacon mixture, and cheese with pasta.  Garnish with extra parmesan and parsley if desired and serve immediately.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken

I made this Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken.  This wasn't the best meal that I had ever eater, but it was good, a solid B.  And due to ease in prep and cooking I would definitely make this again, especially for entertaining on busy days.  I think it would please most palates.  To brighten up the flavor a bit, next time I might stir in some hot sauce, lime juice, and/ or fresh cilantro right before serving.  Top with green onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, or avocado and you have yourself a simple, tasty, healthy meal.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

::this week::

praising:  a huge answer to prayer regarding our living situation.  a possible answer to prayer on some provision for us/ our ministry.  lots of small and sweet gifts from my Lord this week, and that He has opened my heart to see these blessings and not take them for granted. 

praying:  for the families still recovering from Isaac... for our city... for friends... for our family... for the nations... for revival in this city...

reading: Psalms, Judges,  Desperate Women of the Bible, Kinfolk

thankful for:  some super sweet and thoughtful gifts from friends.  settling back into our routine.

enjoying:  watching 3 super sweet, fun, and unique kiddos and the blessing they each are.
cooking: have been in a food rut lately... experimenting this week and coming up with some skinny versions of classics including fettucine alfredo and carbonara.  plus green curry lentils, blueberry breakfast cake, jerk chicken, slow cooker sante fe chicken, lemon bars, pumpkin bread
pondering:  a culture of honor.  taming the tongue and using my words and thoughts for good.  something Jeremy said this week (really roughly paraphrased); about how you can know things about God that other people tell you, but those things don't become real to you until you know them out of relationship with Him... he used an example of our marriage, and little things that he has experienced and knows about me as an example.

creating:  some activities for Noah's birthday party.  a shirt for him to wear for his party.   another recovered living room pillow.

doing:  settling back into our routine.  catching up on laundry and cleaning.  watching the kiddos some extra hours to make up for last week.  baking and distributing goodies to our neighbors.  a few visits with friends.  a zoo trip with some moms and kiddos.  a date night with my love.

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

This isn't nearly as rich tasting (or heavy in your stomach) as a traditional alfredo, and considering the reduced calories, I prefer it this way.  I tossed steamed broccoli in to add some color and nutrition.  Sauteed mushrooms or zucchini would be great in here also.  And/ or some cooked chicken or shrimp and you'd have a complete meal.  Garnish with extra parmesan and fresh parsley if desired.

-1 box whole wheat fettuccine, cooked to al dente
-2 Tbsp butter
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-3 Tbsp flour
-1 c chicken broth
-1 1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c fat-free plain yogurt
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-pinch of nutmeg
-1 c shredded parmesan cheese
-2 c cooked broccoli (optional)

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic, and saute 1 minute.  Add flour, cooking for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Whisk in milk and broth.  Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until sauce thickens (about 5 minutes).  Add yogurt, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, stirring until well mixed.  Stir in cheese, cooking until cheese is fully melted (5-10 minutes).  Remove from heat, stir in broccoli (and protein choice if using).  Garnish with fresh cheese and/ or herbs if desired.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

doily pillow

I managed to squeeze in a quick nap time project and recover another living room pillow.  I'm loving adding some delicate, neutral touches to living room.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Curry Coconut Lentils

Curry Coconut Lentils

I started out with the intention to make these Coconut Green Curry Lentils.  And then I realized that I was almost out of spinach.  And that my green curry paste went bad during hurricane Isaac, but I had red curry paste around.  And then I basically changed the amounts on the entire recipe.  This was such an interesting combination of flavors, I really enjoyed it for a simple, frugal, nutritious dinner.  I did enjoy the bit of spinach I had in the dish, but would have liked more and therefore listed the amount below based on what I would have preferred if I had more spinach on hand.

-2 c uncooked lentils, rinsed
-2 c bulgur
-6 c water or vegetable broth
-1 small can (I'm guessing about 1/4 c) red curry paste
-2 tsp turmeric
-1 small can tomato paste
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-5 tsp garam masala
-2 tsp sea salt (less if you use broth with sodium)
-2 (15 oz) cans coconut milk
-1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
-1/2 lb fresh spinach

Place lentils, bulgur, 4 cups water, curry paste, and turmeric in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer, over low heat, for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are mostly cooked. Add the remaining water during cook time if lentils and bulgur have absorbed all the water. Cook it until all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Stir in the tomato paste. Add garlic and garam masala; stir to combine. Add coconut milk and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until thick and creamy.  Remove from heat and stir in ginger and spinach until barely wilted.

the tongue

I've been thinking today about taming the tongue...

James 3:5-12 How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

Matthew 12:46 And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.


Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

I've been thinking about how many idle (or worse) words that I use, and regularly.  About how I'd like to use ALL of my words for good.  To encourage and build up others.  To speak life.  To speak truth.  To dwell on Heavenly things, and not my emotions and circumstances.

I've been thinking a lot about something Jeremy said lately (paraphrased), about how he doesn't want to spend his time talking and thinking about what the devil is doing and giving him credit, but how he wants to use his words to give glory, praise, and honor to God.  (This to me adds perspective to Phil 4:8).

This has me thinking.  A. LOT.  I think that a large portion of my conversations with others involve giving credit to the devil.  They involve talking about our challenges, struggles, frustrations, and more.

And I'm wondering if there is a balance between transparency (which I highly value), and using my words and thoughts to dwell on my Lord, His works, and His ways.  I don't want to appear perfect and that I have it all together by only sharing the encouraging things in my life.  But, I don't want to waste extra time, energy, and words on the bad.  The more I dwell on those things, the more my focus is on myself, and not on Jesus.  I want everything that I say to ultimately point back to Jesus, to His perfect love for all people.

And then I think more, about how we can't tame the tongue ourselves, but only through surrender to Christ.  That the tongue is merely a vehicle through which my inner heart problem flows.  (Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.)  And I soak in more and more of His love, that it may overflow to others.
Psalm 51:10  Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

::this week::

this was one weird week!  we got back home from a night away to celebrate our anniversary.  (our anniversary weekend was wonderful!  best ever.  glad to have some quality time alone with my love.)  we returned home to hear that a hurricane would be hitting New Orleans in a few days.  and Jeremy returned home with a stomach bug that made him throw up, and feel sick for a little over 24 hours.  so we packed up our stuff (and our kid who was already a little out of his routine and comfort zone from us being away for a day) (and my sick husband) and we drove to Alabmama.  we stayed in a timeshare there with Jeremy's parents for a few days, during which time both Jeremy's mom and sister caught the same throw up stomach bug that Jeremy had.  then we packed up again, this time me feeling icky from previously mentioned stomach bug, and drove back to NOLA.  our home is still without power, so after throwing away a few water logged items around the house and cleaning out my fridge full of spoiled food, we headed to J's parents house, which did have power.  and here we are... still. 

we have definitely been out of our routine, and the environment in which we all thrive.  but it has been good.  I really enjoyed the time away.  my schedule recently had been getting a little busy for my taste, leaving me distracted and slightly exhausted.  it was really nice to have some time away to refresh, to be free from distractions and hang out with Jesus.  it was really nice to have some extra family time and enjoy each other.  it was nice to be out in the country, enjoying nature and creation, and meditating on how Christ is knit through that, displaying His character and nature to the world (Romans 1:20).  it was good, definitely a way that God used this storm for the good in my life (Romans 8:28), and for all of that, I am grateful... evacuations, spoiled food, stomach bugs, and all.

praying:  for the families in our area that experienced loss, damage, and devastation as a result of hurricane Isaac.  that my Lord would be glorified through these circumstances.  that the church would respond and love and care for those in need, and that as a result lives would be changed and He would be praised!

praising:  that us, our friends, and family are safe, and suffered very minimal damage. 

thankful for:  safety. for a unexpected vacation.  for lots of time with family.  for modern luxuries that I often take for granted.  for my God, who is faithful, loving, unchanging, and good.

reading:  Psalms, Joshua, Dreaming with God

cooking:  fajitas and concoctions using any unspoiled food that we had with us in Alabama... the available groceries here now do not include meat, eggs, or produce, so my cooking and eating will be very limited until power comes back on and conditions improve.