Friday, May 30, 2014

French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole

This is such a quick and easy way to enjoy the flavors of french toast for a crowd, rather than cooking up a bunch of individual slices of french toast.  Savory breakfast casseroles are my favorite way to use up bread, meat, cheese and veggies that need to be eaten and this sweet version would be a great way to use up any expiring fruit.  The applesauce is not necessary, and could be replaced with extra milk, but I like using it to add some extra nutrition into the casserole.  I almost always make this the evening before and let it sit overnight so I can just pop it in the oven in the morning and have a hearty breakfast ready with minimal effort.  I sprinkled the top with a little powdered sugar to make it look pretty, but that step is entirely optional.  Serve with syrup for a hearty, soul soothing breakfast. 

-8 eggs
-2 c skim milk
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 c sugar
-1 c no sugar added applesauce
-1 Tbsp vanilla
-1 tsp cinnamon
-12 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, cut into cubes
-(optional) 2 c blueberries or other fruit, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, sugar, applesauce, vanilla and cinnamon.  Combine with bread cubes and fruit (if using), stirring until all of the bread has absorbed the egg/ milk mixture.  Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.  Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, until set.

Roasted Tomatoes

I had some tomatoes on hand needing to be used up so I made these Roasted Tomatoes.  Roasting really brings out their flavor and sweetness.  Such a simple, yet sophisticated side dish and a great way to serve tomatoes that aren't quite ripe or are on their last leg.  I ate them over some mashed white beans for a nice lunch.  I followed the recipe mostly, except I didn't remove the seeds (because someone recently told me that's where the flavor is) and I used dried herbs.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Elisha's 1 Year "Play Ball" Birthday Party

Yesterday was Eli's first birthday party.  I went a little low key (by my standards) for this party because he's too young to remember it, or ask for anything specific.  We did the party at Jeremy's parents house because they have a better outdoor space for the kids to play then we do.  And with multiple kids I feel that they tend to do better outside, unless you have a big house, which we do not.

I love a good party theme and chose "Play Ball" for this party.  I could say it's because Eli loves balls, which he does, but my real motivation was a whole bunch of ball noisemakers that my MIL had bought for Noah's first birthday party and then we had forgotten to hand them out as favors, so I think the more accurate answer is that I planned a whole party around some favors that we wanted to get rid of.

Here's a recap of the party;

I made a few basic decorations... these tissue paper tassels and a bunting banner in the colors that I chose for the party
the favors
the cakes... I kept the food themed around ball park food with some sausage balls and spinach balls thrown in

the backyard had all kinds of fun activities set up for kids... a tent, pool, kitchen, soccer goal, basket ball hoop and sandbox

It was a fun party and I think all the kids had a great time.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

1 year

To my sweet Elisha,

Your daddy, brother and I love you so much!

We have so many nicknames for you; Eli, Eli-ka-loo, Echo-loo, Eli-kazam, Eli Eli O, and my snuggle bear.

You are such a sweet boy.  You have a tender, sensitive heart.

You are so happy.  You can light up a room with your smile.  Your joy and excitement is contagious to our whole family.

You have a bit of a stubborn side... never seeming to give up... a great trait of determination in an adult, but a little more difficult to manage in a child.  You also have a bit of a temper and throw yourself on the ground in a tantrum when you don't get your way.

You have 4 teeth (2 top, 2 bottom), with 2 more on the way.  You take 2 naps a day and sleep from about 8 pm- 5 am each night.  You have been walking since 10 months and are very stable and skilled at it now.

You love to be outside, to eat and to play with balls.  You love watching your brother play and be silly, egging on his shenanigans with your amusement.  You enjoy wrestling with daddy and are physically tough.  You are a tank and can take a fall or injury without being phased.  You constantly drag all of my tupperware out of the cabinet and open the fridge grabbing small yogurts and running away.

Your favorite foods are applesauce, yogurt and muffins.  You eat pretty much everything except meat and eggs.  You still nurse twice a day, but will be weaned soon.

I love that when your daddy comes home from work you walk into the room grinning exuding with excitement to see him.  You help us all to appreciate each other and celebrate the small things.

I've been a different mom with you than I was with Noah... more confident, calm, laid back, relaxed and comfortable.  Being a second child with a very attention seeking older brother you'll don't often know what it's like to have my undivided attention, but you get a whole lot of extra love and attention from your brother, who is your biggest fan and best friend.

You were named Elisha Samuel after 2 prophets, and I do not take that lightly.  Multiple people have commented about the wisdom they see when they look into your eyes.  A deep sense of wisdom and knowledge.

God has a plan for you.  A calling on your life that is deep, profound and meaningful.

I'm so honored to be your mom.  So excited to watch you grow up.  To walk through life with you.  To shepherd you along the way.  To watch as you figure out who you are and why you were created.  To see you step into your destiny.

You make me a better person.  Help me to slow down, enjoy life, savor each moment and be present.  Thank you for that.  Thank you for each smile, snuggle, and laugh.

Happy Birthday, son!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Lie of Feelings

A big lesson I've been learning is that feelings are often misleading and downright untrue.

When I look back through my journal a lot of my entries start with confessing to God how I feel. Me pouring out to Him how I feel distant, dry, lonely, like a failure, unworthy, etc.

And then the next line in my journal is usually His soothing words to me that my feelings are not true, they are not reality, they are lies!

So friends, I want to encourage you with that today... that whatever you are feeling is just that, FEELINGS. Let's not live in our feelings or accept them as reality but let's live in the truth that we are one with God, that He is present, that we are righteous, and that we are loved.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why I Make Lists

I am a list maker. I make lists. And lots of them. I have 3 books that I carry with me everywhere a calendar (yes, I use an old school, hand written calendar), a journal and a miscellaneous notebook. These 3 books are filled with lists. Just some of the lists they contain are my grocery list, a to do list, a to write list, a to read list, a wish list, a to give list, a monthly prayer list, a list of the most influential verses in my life right now, a list of things God has said to and through me this month, and more.

The reason that I write lists is that the writing of lists frees me up to be more present where I am. Lots of things swirl around in my heart and mind constantly. Things I don't want to forget, things I need to be responsible for. These things would constantly swirl around, and when undealt with, I find myself unable to fall asleep at night and frequently distracted as I go about my day due to the massive amount of information floating around in my head.

But when I write these things down I feel the freedom to let go of them in my mind and heart and deal with them later. I don't have to worry about forgetting them and can now focus on what is in front of me, rather than things in the future.

The act of writing lists may not sound or be very spiritual, but it frees my heart and mind up to embrace the present and to embrace God in the present. It is most definitely a spiritual discipline for me.

I find journaling to be the same way at times. I have thoughts and feelings that swirl in my head endlessly but as I put them on paper it helps me to get in touch with the actual feelings and thoughts, to embrace or reject them. To bring truth to them. To have closure with them and move past them. It's like once I process them out on paper I have space to move on, let go, and be present.

As with everything in life, I don't think this is a formula or for everyone. I'm pretty sure there are people who would be stressed out just by the idea of having lots of ongoing lists... these lists would frustrate and frazzle them and put them in bondage. But for me, they bring life and freedom.

So if you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of information you are responsible for I suggest you give it a try and start making one (or some) list(s). And if this brings you stress and not peace, then please stop immediately and tap into what produces order, and peace, and stillness in your own life.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Lifestyle of Awareness

I've never heard such a painful silence as when a room full of Christians are asked "What God is doing" and everyone uncomfortably squirms in their seats without having an answer to give.
I've been in that position of being the one squirming in my seat all too often. Of not having a good grasp on what God is doing in, through and around me that moment... or day... or week... or month.
I've felt disconnected from God at times.

Felt being the key word because any disconnect between me and God was not a reality. He is always present. He dwells in us. We are one with Him, inseparable from His being. Therefore any disconnect is perceived on my end, and nonexistent in reality, only existing in my mind and understanding.
I doubt the believers in the early church sat around and got uncomfortably silent when they came together. I imagine their meals as lively celebrations and story telling of all that they were seeing and experiencing. A time for everyone to encourage each other and be built up and truly excited about what they were a part of.

I think we need to create a culture of awareness. A culture of calling out in those around us where we see God, what we see Him doing and how we see Him being expressed. We need to make this a lifestyle. Always encouraging others. Always testifying of and proclaiming His works.

My husband Jeremy often says that hearing God is a lifestyle, and I think awareness is the same way. The more we become aware of Him and see Him in and around ourselves and others the better we get at it... the better we get at recognizing and looking for Him. He fine tunes our senses and gives us spiritual muscle memory through experiences.

When discipling people who want to know how to hear God, I usually ask them to recount times and ways that they know they have heard Him before. Moments that He has spoken to them. By connecting those dots they can begin to get an understanding of how they hear God, and how God speaks to them (keeping in mind that God can always speak in a different way, and is not a formula to be mastered, but in general I think he speaks to visual people in visual ways and so on, so taking a look at the past helps us going forward). I think this also applies to awareness. When we look back and are aware of God in our past it makes us more sensitive to Him in our present.

So let's be a people who are aware of Him. Who can't contain our excitment and stories about all that we see Him doing.