Friday, December 16, 2011

While Mom's away...

Kate will play :)
This is from when I was at work this week. Thanks Liz for being such a great match up for my energetic daughter!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Just do something.

Elisabeth Elliott always quotes the phrase, "Do the next thing."
For me, it means being faithful to do something when I see a gap. For instance, I see some needs for our women's ministry in our church right now. So instead of grumbling about it, I did something. I talked with my pastor, who was very humble and willing to talk.

Whenever I start something, I always want to know why. So I started researching the purposes behind women's ministry so that I can encourage others to view our role through a faith-filled, gospel-centered, action-oriented lens. (is that enough dashes for you?)

How are you active in building up the women in your church?

Here's an interesting article by Susan Hunt, a writer and speaker, on women's ministry I found very helpful and inspiring. She also quotes the PCA statement about women's ministry:

"The purpose of the Women In the Church is that every woman know Christ personally and be committed to extending His kingdom in her life, home, church, community, and throughout the world." (From the WIC Resource Manual)

 This really plays off my interests on how our effectiveness as women starts in our personal life and moves outward from our home into greater and greater arenas. Is this how you view your self and role in the church?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

According to Kate, it is 'Maryanne, Jofus and Baby Jesus'.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Best. Face. Ever.

That's how good my turkey was.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks before Give.

So many years ago these two people go married. On Thanksgiving, I have to stop and reflect on their marriage, because it so aptly illustrates what this day is about.

What is Thanksgiving about?
Bounty.
Kindness.
Family.
Life shared.
Forgiveness.
Thankfulness.
Giving.

Through the last two years or more, my parents have been walking through a severe trial. My father is struggling against depression; and my mom is right there fighting alongside him. This year we are thankful that the worst of the depression has passed. But it doesn't mean it is over or easy sledding.

Their marriage is still strong. It has been difficult to walk together through the worst years. I have watched them closely. As I approach my own anniversary, I have learned a little of what this looks like in my own marriage over six years. I see that in my parents and my own marriage, you cannot give to another unless you start with thanks. Without a grateful heart, it is very easy to focus on all the "little foxes"--the hurt, the disappointment, the anger, the loneliness. If you see first the gift, the bounty, the kindnesses, the family, the life shared, you can easily forgive and give thanks.

As I sit around my table tonight, I am going to give thanks for how God uses marriage to teach us about thankfulness and giving to others. I have just started this journey of marriage compared to my parents. I have learned so much from watching. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad. Thank you for living the truth-- to give thanks, and to continue to give to each other.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just for fun

If you are heading to New York City anytime soon, I thought I would share some of my new favorite spots from my trip this past weekend. And just in case you are confused-- we really only do three things on any vacation: exercise, eat and shop :)

We started out at lunch at Toasties. Our nose drew us in and our mouth confirmed how fresh their food was. Travis reported it was the best Rueben sandwich he has every had. This is great compliment coming from a connoisseur of that particular sandwich.

We then wandered through Rockefeller Center fighting our way through crowds of people looking at them decorating the Christmas tree, which was unveiled today, I think. We showed my mother and sister Travis' and my favorite chocolate places-- Teucher and La Maison du Chocolat--but settled for a cup of the best hot chocolate at La Maison. As if it was settling. It's the best chocolate in the world, some say.

After fighting the crowds at Rockefeller and checking out the new couches my fabulous uncle made for Michael Kors new store, we wandered down Fifth Avenue. Here's a picture of Mr. Kors, sitting on those very couches. Because who else is going to brag about him, unless it is me??My uncle is so modest, he doesn't even have a website, so you can read about him here. The same fabulous uncle also made us a fabulous dinner that night.

A new spot that we happened upon was this store, Rain, of which there is only one store in the US. Don't you just love the elitism of NYC? It makes the average woman feel so special and privileged.  I fell in love with their scents as well as their bath salts.

The next morning we went to brunch at ABC Kitchen. We also had a celebrity spotting, where Jesse Tyler Ferguson sat at an opposite table behind us, enjoying the same kind of awesome brunch foods. The best part was that it was all hot. I burned the roof of my mouth hot.

After breakfast we wandered through the ABC store's, where I saw some very inspiring jewelry by St.Kilda, especially the piece she carved out of Victorian rubber into a chain on a silver necklace. Not to mention that her name happens to be Nora. No wonder we are in sync.





These are pictures from our long walk after our brunch on the Highline. I just loved all the textures of the buildings and architecture in contrast with the soft grasses and trees. It was super fun to walk through Chelsea Market as well... I think that it didn't even exist five years ago when Travis and I were there last.

\
Overall, my mom and sister and I had a wonderful time reinventing our "Shopping Trip" started so many years ago. It was a joy to spend time together uninterrupted and rejoicing in all that God has kept us through over the past five years. Here's to more eating together, exercising together and shopping together!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Off to the city!

My favorite city in the US. My favorite people. My favorite weekend (it's my birthday on Monday).
Here I come.
Off on a plane by myself. It has been years since I've had eight whole hours to myself--not since our trip to Italy. I am looking forward to trying out some of the places that she recommends, eating here, and enjoying my family and this guy.
Here we were on our first anniversary trip. It will be five years ago come December. How time snowballs faster and faster, gathering speed and growing our love stronger and bigger.  I've missed him, even in 48 hours since he left. Especially since there was no freshly brewed coffee awaiting me this morning. He was kind enough to leave me some already ground in the coffee grinder though. What a guy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I should call it....madness on Monday

What are you up to today, this Monday?

I am definitely in the "I am recovering and ignoring the millions of things I still need to do" mode. I am still in my Lululemon outfit. Which is really my version of pajamas. I am trying recovering from a busy weekend and trying to gear up for the next as well. I leave on Thursday for four days in D.C., also with a quick trip into New York City, my favorite city in the US. I work Tuesday, so that roughly leaves me with two days, including today (which if you didn't catch before that I am still wearing my pajamas, so I can't really say I have made much progress) to get it all done.

And if you haven't noticed yet, we have one week before Thanksgiving. Which means, Christmas is around the corner. O my goodness.

I love the holidays, but what I really enjoy is the activities-- the crafts, the baking, the visiting, the "holiday" experiences. NOT the shopping part. So I've got a gift stash working and I am working on my Christmas cards.

So I am going to try and get a few things done, without "making mountains out of molehills." If you haven't listened to Tullian's message on how to get perspective, listen here. He will help you get your madness right into perspective with a sobering reality of what really matters.

Here's one of the things I am trying to get done today-- holiday cards... I love sending them and believe that real, paper cards are an important tradition of love and care in an increasingly digital age. We already have the shot for our card and I am going to shamelessly promote my friend Megan for her glorious designs this year for her holiday collection, one of which I will be using.

Check out her slideshow of holiday cards here.
Here's our shot from last year....isn't it exciting to see how we have grown this year (some of us, I mean-- thankfully, not me and Travis)? A snapshot every year helps me to reflect on how much I have to be grateful for. So in the madness of this Monday, I am going to choose not to make my home full of molehills to trip on, and choose instead to celebrate the busy, but full, life I have.




Monday, November 07, 2011

Cobie-clean

On an aside, I grew up with a grandmother, Cobie, who inspired me to work harder than any one else. One of those ways she worked hard was to keep things clean. A friend of my dad's, who wrote this devotional, dedicated to her. After more than ten years of her passing, she is still fondly remembered by more than just her family.

Cobie-Clean by Ward Slager
For Monday, November 7, 2011

Today’s Readings:  2 Kings 20; Hebrews 2; Hosea13; Psalm 137, 138

Hebrews 2:3a  How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

When I was a teen, I had a friend (well, he’s still my friend), Dennis.  Dennis’ Mom, Cobie, was a “Dutch housewife.”  If you’ve ever visited the Netherlands and driven, especially, through the small rural towns, you,ve seen the incredible order, tidiness that seems to be genetic in the Dutch, as though their 11th Commandment is “Thou shalt keep thy house clean” or Proverbs included “Cleanliness IS godliness (not just “next to” it).  When Dennis and I roomed together as Freshman in college, one of the rules of our room was to keep things “Cobie-clean.”   Frankly, it was and is a blessed way to live.  You may respond “you can have too much of a good thing” implying that such living can be unhealthy or obsessive . . . but that’s not what being Cobie-clean was and is.  We have an orderly God.  Just look at Creation.  We have been given dominion, stewardship over many blessings in His Creation.  How could we neglect, then, such great blessings?  Such striving to see that not one thing in the order of daily living is neglected, is, I think, one of the good things, the good work we have been given to do – arising from God’s intention before man’s fall.  Adam tended the Garden of Eden.

Even today, my wife, also a “Dutch housewife,” is similar to Dennis’ Mom.  They are both Proverbs 31:27 women, whose “Cobie-clean” ethic “looks well to the ways of her household” and for which, I and our children do rise up and call her “Blessed!” (31:28).

Yet, we all experience how easy it is to excuse neglect.  “I just didn’t have time to dust the shelves before our guests came.”  “The faucet’s been dripping like that for years . . . it’s just a little water, no big deal.”  “I know I should have changed the oil more often but, well, I just didn’t . . . is that so bad?”  Most often, it is so easy to overlook such neglect that it becomes invisible to us and the popular proverb, “Out of sight, out of mind,” though not intended as a compliment, is treated as though it condones our neglect and releases our consciences from guilt.

From minor signs like dog fur, shed and collected way back under the refrigerator to major signs such as homes where tension fills the air with silence that can be cut with a knife or churches where seating on a Sunday morning reflects more dislike than love, negligence in life’s details can have life-destroying consequences.  Such neglect can result in what I call “’If-only” regrets.  “’If-only I hadn’t _______ - this wouldn’t have happened.  If only I had smoked that first cigarette, I wouldn’t have _______.  If only we had sat down and talked, we wouldn’t have _______.  If only I had listened when my mother (father, pastor, etc) said _______. If only I had exercise more.  If only . . .

Such neglect is, perhaps, most glaring and, yet, most invisible to you and I in the life of our spirits.  Cobwebs collect in our minds when they are not being conformed to Christ though the spiritual disciplines – prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word, worship, etc.  Soon, so much dust has settled on our souls, our hearts are suffocating, far from Cobie-clean.

As we begin another week after what (for me and I pray for you) was a blessed weekend of worship, let’s not neglect our great Savior who has given us at the cost of His life, our great Salvation.

C. S. Lewis said that every step of our way on the path of life is either towards Heaven or towards Hell . . . we cannot neglect or escape the consequences of either direction.  Let’s “escape” toward Heaven, asking for and trusting God to recreate in us Cobie-clean hearts which gleam from the reflection of His grace and glory.  Take time each day to listen as God speaks to you in Spirit (prayer) and Truth (His word).

Creator, Spirit, by whose aid, the world’s foundations first were laid – renew a right spirit within us, removing every hindrance of apathy and neglect so that our passion flames and our delight in you displays clean hearts


Friday, November 04, 2011

Work at.. Working Out.

Exercise is hard.
Let's not lie.
Exercise is what we do because we have to do. Not because we truly love it.
I mean, I used to love it. Now, it just takes a scheduling miracle and a mocha to induce the feeling I used to have before kids. Life is busy and my kids give me a workout every day just trying to keep up after them.

But, then my dietitian voice pipes in. You know as you age, every decade after your mid 30's can mean a lean body mass (i.e. muscle) loss of ten percent....

Yup. So get back on the wagon. I am talking to myself. After an especially busy season, I have find a new resolve. We all have those months when weather and holidays or parties and children try to deter the most determined from exercise.

So here's my suggestion for working out, if you need some new inspiration (thanks to the best mother-in-law ever Janis for recently inspiring me!)

Try this new workout video
The Bar Method with Burr Lenard -- you can see my favorite move here on You Tube, called "The Pretzel".
And You Tube is a great source for new and inspiring workouts. I like using HITT training when I feel slow and old to kick me back into that feeling of being 17 and doing basketball workouts.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Halloween, repeat.

A couple days off the sugar high is still going strong.
Kate was climbing up the side of my pie cupboard towards the enormous glass jar that holds all the loot just this morning, while I turned my back for a moment during lunch service. Not to mention that Grant keeps screaming, "CHOC!!!"at every meal rubbing his chest in a concerted "please" sign while pointing at the jar.

You'd think I'd move it or something. But I need it close by, for, ahem, "decorative" purposes.
Hands down, the best part of the evening was watching Kate wiggle down the sidewalk in her mermaid costume.

She has some serious wiggle, if you know what I mean.

Another highlight was to meet and see all our neighbors in our fabulous neighborhood. Apparently, some of them said that this is what our neighborhood does best. My daughter got right into the spirit, saying, "I think we met you before!?" to every new neighbor she had never seen before. She's not the shy one; but I just love how she is so sociable. She didn't waver in her dedication, with a, "Let's go to the next house, Mommy!" until the very end of the night after she had walked all the way around our block collecting treats while we carried (I mean, lugged-- thanks Janelle) Grant around.

In those fire boots, I think he weighed 50 pounds. He is such a moose. Maybe we could do that next year.



Ps. Thanks Grandma for the yellow fabric for Grant's jacket.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Silence

I have heard it a couple times lately.
"I am single. And God is silent."
Loneliness is very real-- we cannot ignore it especially the feelings that get jumbled around inside, mixing up our personal doubts with our beliefs of God.

I wanted to write this post to explain a little of what God taught me through my own journey. I will give one caveat--my singleness wasn't an extended period of time. My appeal is that this is what I wished I had known from where I stand now.

Loneliness peaked during the last few months of college for me. Everyone is preparing to move on. Now, at thirty, I have seen this cycle over and over. I can sense the shift and I, myself, am tempted to start moving away, distancing myself from those friends and people who will drift out of my life. When you are in college you see it clearly for the first time as people start marrying and making plans for their futures. And it hurts worst the first time.

Especially for a conservative Christian woman, loneliness can feel like rejection. Even more deeply, it can feel like a profound distance between you and God. In college, you create your first circle of community that is all yours. When you see that first circle change or collapse, it can feel like your world is over (well, not really-- in highschool you would have thought that, but in college, you pretend like you are more mature than that.)

What people fail to tell you is that those college years are the first chapter. In a woman's life, you practice making your own circle of society from a pre-fabricated one in highschool. Then, from eighteen to early twenties, you are building your first, independent circle. Highschool is more about relationships; college becomes more about first choices. College is the age or time frame where you really learn about becoming who are you going to be and identifying your passions and dreams.

I fulfilled my own dreams during those years-- I had figured out what I wanted to be and became it. I went to college, finished my degree and got my dietetics internship. had a boyfriend during the last year or so of my post-graduate internship, so I assumed it was all going according to plan. But as I rounded that corner towards the last few months, it all fell apart. Everything was ending. My plans were finished-- my internship was over. I was moving home. I had no job. My boyfriend and I broke up. Everything was ending.

Where was the next part? I assumed what God wanted me to do next was get married. This is a common, and reasonable assumption as a Christian woman. But if it doesn't happen like that, you feel rejected. I did. In fact, that was the worst summer of my Christian life. I even jumped to the conclusion that the gospel couldn't help me because I didn't get what I thought I deserved.

Instead of assuming, like I did, that God didn't have a good plan for me, I should have assumed that He had a good plan. We assume wrongly that God has the same plan for every woman. When, in fact, He has a uniquely good plan for each individual woman. It has to be unique or He wouldn't be a good Creator.

I should have asked, "What's next, Lord?" instead of "Why?" I am not saying that we shouldn't ask why. I am saying that we should see that God has a plan for us for our whole life, not just the first chapter leading to the second chapter. The next chapter after college is worth just as much to him as marriage. It is all a part of his perfect plan. It is not because you are not worthy of marriage, but because God has seen to make you uniquely fitted for the next chapter. He put some natural gifts/skills/talents in you that He wants to use and He wants you to use, too.

Don't be a drop out. Don't drop out of the story, as Paul Miller says in The Praying Life.
You've only finished one chapter. Don't assume there isn't a developing plot. The story He is fulfilling in you is uniquely yours. Just because you don't follow the college --> marriage --> baby track back to back does not mean that God isn't happy with you. Don't take his silence as a sign of his displeasure.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meaning in chaos.

It is so easy to let it all slide at night.
As a mom, your life is nothing but work. Life keeps going and you still have more to do.
So I turn on the T.V. and just unplug for just a few minutes.

But there is a subtle problem. Has television become my alternative?  Television can become my subtle educator if I let it. Without discernment and determination, entertainment replaces intellect.

I, too, love relaxing to a good movie, and enjoy laughing at the (some great) new sitcoms these evenings. But if I stop fighting for my brain, it will get lost. Trust me, it will. I mean, what could be more self-insulting than to choosing to become more and more stupid and out-of-touch?

So I read. At least I try. I live in Arizona, where we don't have a good local newspaper, so I have to find other ways to stretch my brain. Some options are:
- I read my husband's books (guaranteed brain stretchers)
- I read my husband's magazine (because The Economist quickly reaches towards a global perspective)
- I read my husband's other magazine, Fast Company (so that I don't look stupid when people talk about the impact of say, Job's death on the business world)
- I try to read well written blogs.

The other night, we had a visitor in our bible study. He is a physicist and told us how much he loves the intersection of math, theology and music. Wow. He argued that as a former atheist, he used to believe life in light of entropy . I thought Oh yeah! I know that word! I know what it means! Yeah! I felt so smart. That feeling quickly faded as he so clearly explained why it can't be true. He reminded us that although science argues that all things tend towards chaos, they fail to say that it only remains true in a closed system. A world without God does fall to chaos.

In my life, I may not understand quantum physics, but I can understand chaos.
And I can understand how things fall to disorder (noted: my newly cleaned chair cushions were clean for exactly two hours while the kids were napping; and then Grant promptly leaned over and imprinted a perfect impression of his chubby little chocolate face on to the white cushion-- why do I have white again?!?)

But things like entropy and math and politics, help me to remember that I have to keep learning. I can love God and know Him better when I think. Entropy reminds me that God is actively inserting himself into creation. He is with us. And life may seem to fall apart, but chaos is not God's final outcome.

Ready for your brain challenge? Do you know what this is? Try this blogger out-- she loves math and theology and she challenges us to really think here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why I cherish her.

She was supposed to be napping.
I was on the phone getting advice from another girlfriend.
I heard her say, Mommy, I need to go potty and I said okay.
But I forgot to listen for the sound of the door closing indicating her return to her room.
After twenty minutes of quiet, while I was still on the phone, it registered.
Is she in her room, asleep?! Wow! That would be nice for once.
I go upstairs to check.
Nope. Nowhere to be seen, but traces of her everywhere.
Makeup dust on my counter.
File folders strewn across the office floor.

I call her.
And then the smell registers.
Nail polish.
I yell. Tell me where you are RIGHT NOW!
I hear her little voice tell me she right here.
Right behind the white couch in my room.
With the red nail polish bottle.
All over her.
But only one drop on the tan carpet.

Little miracles.
Little mercies in the midst of messes.
Half a bottle on her and the window.
None on the white couch.
None on the new curtains.
Nothing permanent on the walls.
Only one drop of red polish on the carpet.

I couldn't punish her. She was just trying to make her hair red for Halloween (she is going to be a modest mermaid). Not that she has seen the movie Little Mermaid, but she knows her hair is supposed to be red.

I am freshly reminded of how precious she is as a girl.
This was me when she was born. I didn't know what sex she was. But my wish was born. All I had wanted was a girl. I read something so shocking different today. Michael Stokes Paulsen comments on the ethical debate in progress today on sex-selective abortions, stating,
Sex-selection abortion occurs in America, too, and the practice is likely to increase. In August, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that a simple blood test seven weeks into pregnancy can reliably identify the sex of the child. Watch for a spike in abortion rates over the next few years as parents find it easier and cheaper to “choose” to have a boy by killing the fetus if—in a bitter reversal of an expression of joy—“it’s a girl.
Under the current laws on abortion, a woman can abort for any reason, even if it is for sex-selection.

For me, I cannot imagine life without Kate.
Even her three year-old wiles do not deter me from saying that I have always been glad she was a girl.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Work at...Nutrition

Who doesn't love food? As a dietitian, I love nutritious foods. But as a caterer and not-so-secret fan of butter, I love good food.

Good foods comes at a price though. As we head into the holidays (Halloween to New Years generally generates a lovely five pound gain), consider how you take thought for nutrition, despite the busy season. Are taking care of your health with some good tasting, but good-for-you foods?

I have been seeing a lot of clients lately in my private practice who are having problems controlling their insulin levels, and thus, their weight. One of the ways you can start doing this is by cutting down on your refined carbohydrate intake (i.e. sugar intake).

Although I advocate for carbohydrates all the time, weight loss is easily achieved by following a modified low-carbohydrate diet (for those of you looking for more specifics, just email me here  for a free handout). Some of the challenges of these kinds of dietary modifications is that you really miss some textures, especially the crunchy one.

Here are three popular crunchy recipes I give clients when they are trying to follow this diet: Two of them use seasonal vegetables for salty crisp additions to your salads or snacks and one of them is a new way to think of chicken fingers.
from all recipes.com
Baked Kale Chips
1 bunch of kale, washed and thoroughly dried
1 Tbsp olive oil or olive oil spray
1 tsp. pink sea salt (or other rougher texture salts)

Lay kale in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Spray or sprinkle kale with olive oil. Bake at 350 preheated over for 10 to 15 minutes until brown, without edges burning. You may need to turn and shake the pan several time to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.

These add a great crunch to boring salads that are missing their croutons.
Crispy Leek Rings
2 leeks, thinly sliced (only whites and light green parts)
Cooking oil spray
Pink sea salt

Lay out thinly sliced rings on a baking sheet lined with Silpat or parchment paper. Separate rings as much as possible and spread in a single layer. Spray with cooking spray or olive oil. Toss to coat. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning frequently, until onions are brown. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with salt and let cool.

Lastly, an old favorite, that replaces bread crumbs with almond flour

Almond Chicken Fingers
1 lb chicken tenders, tendons removed
Wet mix: Whole milk yogurt, about 1 cup mixed with 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Dry rub: 1 1/2 cups almond flour (I use Trader Joes-- not too finely ground)
1 tsp pink sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Herbs de Provence

Heat oven to 400 degrees F and place oven rack in middle-high position. Dip chicken pieces in yogurt mixture to coat. Then roll individually in dry mix until covered. Shake excess dry rub off before laying each coated piece on a baking sheet covered in non-stick foil or parchment paper. Spray all the coated tenders with a non-stick spray or drizzle with olive oil. Season again with salt. Bake for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and almonds begin to brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
The yogurt coating keeps the chicken moist and tender and the cornstarch add minimal carbohydrates to the overall meal. The carbohydrates contributed by the yogurt is less than one might think as the proteins cook in the heat similar to the effect of heat on milk as you make cheese.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beholding him loved

As I sat on the floor yesterday afternoon picking up the memorabilia that Kate was exploring, I flipped through old cards. Most of them are from my childhood-- from grandparents now dead. In this past year as we have struggled along under financial and emotional stress, I find myself wishing they were alive still. I want to call and ask them, "How did you get through it?" and "What did you do to survive?" or "What will I wish later that I should have done?"


The words of the elderly are always so comforting, even if just from reading old "Happy Birthday" sentiments. It reminded me that I am so loved. If I look from their perspective, my life wouldn't be just about a dirt backyard, an untended tree and my old, broken van. They would be so proud of me. They would see things the way they really stand.

I find myself crying out to God, yesterday afternoon on the floor of my guest room, weeping silently as my daughter slept above me on the bed. Tears came again this morning when I called my only living grandparent, my 80 year old Grandma. I was so discouraged. Not only was my neighbor renovating away, reminding me of how we haven't gotten to anything new in our house in almost three years, but our van needs repairs (again) for the third time in less than four months. Should I let $150 dollars get to me? No, but it does. We have spent an unlikely amount on our cars this year. In my life it IS all about the money, by not having.

I keep coming back to Oswald Chambers quote from My Utmost For His Highest, September 28th, devotional :
"Then Jesus beholding him loved him." (Luke 14:26) The look of Jesus will mean a heart broken for ever from allegiance to any other person or thing. Has Jesus ever looked at you? The look of Jesus transforms and transfixes.
I can be real with God. I can hate every penny we have spent on our van this year and I can cringe that I spent so much time away from my kids to pay for it. But one look from Jesus reminds me. I am loved. Just like the old birthday cards reminded me of how much all those grandparents loved and rejoiced over me, He still does.

I am loved.
I am looked upon.
I am changed.

It is hardest to say "Hallelujah" when it hurts.I am reposting this great link from my friend, Carolyn.

Work at...Reading

Reading.
One challenge in my life is to keep reading--and in my busy life it becomes tricky. When? Ususally when the kids are bathing or during their naps (when I need a rest and not to get chores dones) and at night before bed. The other part of the challenge is what books??? My favorite source for less than junk writing is a magazine called Bas Bleu. I love their suggestions.

My new current/favorite reads are:
Tailor, Tinker, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre (takes a long time to get going, but very suspenseful)
all of the books by Kate Morton (great beach read if you want something light)
Unbroken by Laura Hilldebrand
Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (see my sidebar-- long but interesting)
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinback (I know, why did it take me so long to get to it???)

The other challenge is to find good  books for my kids, not the run-of-the-mill books, but interesting stories to engage their minds. Grant is at that age where he doesn't want to sit still but he still wants the experience of holding the books. Count so far-- Grant = 2, Library books = 0; this library experience is not turning out to be cheaper than buying my own books. But Kate is fascinated right now. Especially since we found a new section where they keep the fairy-tales. Nothing like wolves and witches to keep them engaged...


Amos and Boris by William Stieg
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown
Big and Small, Room for All by Jo Ellen Bogart
The Costume Party by Victoria Chase
Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg
Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? by Eric Carle
Little Red Riding Hood retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
St Goerge and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges
Peter and the Wolf by Vladimir Vagin
Rapunzel by Jacoband Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Dorothee Duntze
Cinderella illustrated by Charles Parrault

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life + Church

Within the past three years I have seen a lot more conflict than every before in my life + church. Growing up, I was trained in an atmosphere of incredible enthusiasm for the gospel and raw humility that gave me a deep loyalty to church. I have always felt like an alumni to a famous school, where history and loyalty run equally deep. Church, however, has never been a place to live in spiritual optimism. Conflict is inevitable.

That's when you have to go back to your roots.

I was reading my daughter a book today about trees. It describes the root system as something that grounds you. My church experience, no matter how imperfect, grounds me. As an adult, I can look back and say, "Sure. Not everything was great. Not everything they did was right or perfect." But you know what I can't do? I can't  pull up all those roots. My church experience, all of the good and all of the less-than-perfect, is rooted.

You should know a good church when you go back to God's word in the midst of conflict. I am grateful that all my "spiritual DNA", like my friend Carolyn say, tells me to go back to those roots--right doctrine.

Right doctrine is inescapable when you run in to conflict. Youthful optimism says that all problems can and will be fully resolved. But over time, you know it just takes time. God's word tells us that true wisdom means you can live without complete resolution.


I started living with understanding less when I was 17 and my best friend and her family left our church family. I started living with less friends after my own church went through some difficult changes two years ago. And I am going to grieve but accept the loss of even more stability as the church organization I grew up in struggles.

This is not easy. My best friend suffered. I lost friends. And now I am seeing the pastor and his wife who married my in-laws, my own parents and then me and my husband have to leave the church where we all met. All I can do is sink my roots into God's word. Then I know I can learn to allow winds to blow and droughts to come because I know life + church is adding another ring of growth.

I love what these writers have to say here about church.
The Church is THE plan God has for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.  There is no Plan B.  The Church is the Bride of Christ.  There is no second wife. The Church, these sinners we find in pews and chairs next to us on Sundays, they are the Church. These people you cannot stand because of their hypocrisy, their judgment, their rejection, THEY are the Bride of Christ.  Just like you and I in our hypocrisy, judgment, and rejection of them and of others are the Bride of Christ.
It is time we stopped being surprised by what we find inside these buildings.  These buildings ARE full of sinners.  These buildings ARE full of broken people.  These buildings ARE full of people who are just as desperately in need of a Savior as you or I.  It should come as no surprise, and yet we continue to use the brokenness of others as a reason to leave church*, as a reason to say, “I’m a Christ-follower, but I’m not a Christian,” or, “I’m a Christian, but I don’t go to church.”
The Church is not perfect, but it IS God’s perfect plan for sharing the Gospel with the world.  We can choose to enter into that identity as His Bride, aware of its brokenness, aware that Christ shows up in broken places, or we can continue to sow division, trying to separate ourselves from THOSE Christians.  But that does not change who the Church is.  The Church is not perfect, but it IS the Bride of Christ. -Haley

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Title : Home + Work

This blog isn't just a chronicle anymore. After six years, it isn't just the story of my journey from Maryland to Arizona. It is the modern version of a journal. I think we all need to know why we blog, which is what I wrote about here. As I was brewing about this whole idea, this quote surfaced back to me this morning as I lay in bed: We can never live rightly until we think rightly.

We have to get our priorities in order. It helps me to balance the many demands on my life, because I can't live without listening for God's voice to help me choose the most important things. For me, my true life starts with my inner, religious self. Then it grows outward. Where I see God at work is not just the secret and inward, but in the continuous growth that spirals around and outward from there.

I am trying to say that God is all about our real life. As a women, my life calling as a daughter of Christ is first expressed in the relationships closest to me. The avenue for this as a woman is in the home-- not the physical building but the idea of a community. For me, as a married woman, this means my husband first; then, as a mother, it means building relationship with my children. It also has direct application to the relationship around us in our church community, our neighborhoods, our local community.

I believe that our other sphere of influence is work. Women may or may not work in a professional sense. But they are always working. If you think about it, life is work. God intended it this way when he called us to subdue the earth in Genesis. Even if you are not a religious person, you can still see the reality of this in the world around us.


How do you, reader, view your life? Do you see life as home + work? What are the categories you use?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Work at...

This begins a series on things I am passionate to work on.
No particular order. Just a series of topics and hobbies that I love.
It's not to brag. It's to celebrate.

I think we all understand our role in this world to create order-- whether it's cleaning a bathroom or getting ahead at work. However, it can be easy to forget to celebrate the Creator God who has given us each a unique set of natural gifts and skills that He has grown in us throughout our lives in little, creative ways. It can be easy to ignore these as we focus intently on our roles-- as woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, church member. However, I am a fervent believer in continuing to grow; not just in the function of creating order around us, but in the creative, the risks, the intellect, the spirit, the qualities that God uniquely gives us as humans. If we merely live by order, we mechanize our lives into the mundane, and then I find myself wondering why I feel so depressed.

Do you find yourself giving up on having your own pursuits just trying to keep order?

It doesn't even have to be something that profound. For me, I took out the sewing machine last week.
I have always loved to sew since my Grandmother taught me at eight. However, sewing and children don't really mix quite yet in the toddler phase. It's not like my children were running around with ten inch scissors or anything.


I might not be able to do as much sewing as I want to but I don't have to give it all up. That is a fear and a wrong assumption of parenting. We don't have to give up everything. I can still sew during naps and little times when they are occupied. I've can still do a couple alterations. And a Halloween costume here and there. I just probably am not going to be a couture seamstress while I have toddlers.


It's good to remind myself how fulfilling creativity is and how we were intended to find JOY in the use of our skills, talents, and interests, however small or good (or not so good).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Checks and balances.

A recent radio broadcast caught my attention. A report from NPR spoke of a Saudi woman, where it is illegal for a woman to drive getting behind the wheel, because she believes she had to take a stand for the next generation. She couldn't imagine the next generation of women not being able to drive. This woman was doing something and communicating passionately about the difference she could make.

When I think of passionate women throughout history, many names come to mind. Start with women from the Bible and you get bold Abigail and courageous Mary Magdalene. In American history, we recognize Abigail Adams as a founding mother and Harriet Tubman for her persistent work against slavery. Around the world we have examples of women who are making strides against injustice and social inequality. Even the impoverished woman who is choosing to send her daughter to school is making a bold statement about how she wants to change the world. 

These women are making a difference by choosing carefully what they do and what they say as defined by what they value.


In our comfortable lives in the United States, it can be easy to forget and ignore the privilege we women have of equality and justice. I believe that our privileges allow us to promote our calling as Christian women; but we should steward this gift wisely. We should not be so quick to ignore how we can and should make a difference in the world.

When I say to make a difference in the world, I am actually applauding all the expressions of our passions and natural gifts as well as work. If I am passionate about nutrition, then I should teach it to others. If you have a beautiful eye for photography, then enlighten us! If you are awesome at cutting hair, then come fix mine! There is nothing more inspiring that someone passionate and gifted who shares their gifts.

This is why the internet is such a double edged sword-- there are many gifts to be shared. It is like what the Bible has to say about the tongue-- it can be used for great good and great evil. The internet offers us the possibility to communicate to large amounts of people lots of information. I think it is so easy to get dragged into just the simple problem of comparing what I am good at with others.

But.

We can also change the world. Even if it's just a slight improvement.

All I needed was a cute little picture of a child in a cute outfit while I stare at my grungy one in hand-me-downs and it changed my perspective.

Have you thought about what you spend your time doing and communicating? I am asking myself these questions as well. Is my online presence and participation meaningful? Do I use it for good, or just get dragged into feeling like my life is grungy, boring and meaningless compared to everyone else's world.

How do you, reader, keep your digital presence true with checks and balances?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Underneath it all

I am always asking the "why" questions? As I have been blogging over the past few days, I have gone with my gut on the overall principles of the Bible on communication. This morning as I read Oswald Chambers, I was led to a verse I think really illustrates what I have expressed.

  "  If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.  " 
(John 7:17-18 ESV, emphasis mine)
As we think about both developing and communicating our passions as well as exemplifying a gospel-oriented heart, Jesus gives us words to use.

Blogging isn't wrong. Pintrest isn't bragging. Facebook isn't just voyeurism. Social media and digital communication can be used for good. There are so many ways to use it for good. What I have been speaking about is to develop your own conscience about communication.

Jesus encourages us to differentiate between seeking our own glory and God's glory. He also makes it clear that there is danger in speaking with misplaced self-authority. I think we can avoid falsehood as the trap of digital communication, while still communicating the beauty we find in our lives with the world.

What are your guiding principles for using social media and digital communication as a part of your life? What are the traps of it for you, reader?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Developing a passion

What I said about not boasting in my previous post does not mean I think that women should just blog about spiritual matters. I think it is essential to a Godly woman to develop her sense of calling, and then to communicate passionately about her calling. Therein lies a complete difference between communicating your life and what you are passionate about instead of boasting about what you wish you could be, do or make.

A woman's calling is not primarily defined by relationship-- wife, mother or so forth. It is the calling of woman as a daughter of God. It is having a sense of her Creator and her creation as a woman with natural inclinations and skills. The expression of those, let us call them talents, is natural. If a woman is aware of her source, that God created her with those abilities, then there isn't much room to boast.


How many women do you know that have a sure sense of calling?
Yesterday, I spoke freely on what I sense is a warped sense of calling-- the call of a Christian woman to create and communicate a perfect impression of womanhood. The perfect body, the perfect marriage, the perfect children, the perfect home.

Even secular women have given up on this ideal. It seems like Christian women are still holding out that they can do it all. We think we have to embody the ideal Proverbs 31 woman, who was in fact, not really based on one woman after all but the best idea of a woman King Lemuel should marry.

This is where developing a passionate sense of calling becomes essential.

I can't do it all. But if I keep the priorities of what I am passionate about first (as under God's authority, of course), I am less like to burn out. I am passionate about my husband, my children, cooking, and nutrition. A clean house is very important to me, but I'll be the first one to admit that you work far too hard to keep it that way against insurmountable odds. If I had the money, I would totally pay a cleaning lady. And I did this summer when I had to work 2-3 days a week.

So my floors are dirty. Again. It is impossible to keep up with it all. If dirty floors aren't that important to me, then I can free myself up from irrational guilt and move on to the more important things.

Are you staying passionate about the things you are skilled in? Have you given up because you feel like it is crowded out by the urgent matters of life? I would love to hear how you inspire passionate living in your life and professions...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Absence

When I thought about blogging over the past six months, I must admit, I cringed.

It seemed like just another thing to do.

And the glory seemed to have passed. I mean, let's admit, it's not like there isn't a hundred of avenues of digital media to attend to.We have Pintrest, we have Facebook, we have Twitter, we have photo-sharing, among other things. There are so many ways to share. I mean, I have been doing this for seven years now.

So what's the point? No, absence doesn't just make the heart grow fonder. I have come back to blog because I believe in it.

Why? It is the why that brings me back.  Communication for the Christian is a core value to community. If we stop communicating, we stop connecting.

The reasons I have not blogged have been numerous-- computer problems, crises, travel, children-- but ultimately, I have shied away from blogging is the atmosphere of boasting. In our modern age, communication through digital media can become shameless self-promotion. Especially, I find, among Christian women. We blog about our seemingly wonderful life, we post pictures of our perfect home projects, we share digitally-enhanced photos of our babies, we link to recipes that make us look healthier than we really are, and promote our opinions in fields where we have limited scope of knowledge. It started to disgust me.

I say, yes, let's share. I want to blog. I want to post cute pictures. I love Martha Stewart projects. I want to Tweet pithy statements. I love spying on old friends through Facebook.

But in order for me to do something I must know why. I have to define why I do something. Communication for me must have a purpose-- "building one another up". Also, I have to be honest about myself. I have been draw back to blogging by reading secular blogs by people who don't hide their true selves in the process of writing. Let's not hide our true selves by projecting a perfect image. Christians know, of anyone, that we are not perfect.

I want to blog not because I want to boast about my perfections; I want to draw people into my real life. I want to communicate Who makes my life meaningful and gives me purpose. In the absence of God, digital communication can start to look like a Pintrest of glossy ideals that don't reflect the desperate woman that I am for God to help me get out of my workout clothes and speak kind words to my children.

So, if anyone is still following, I hope you'll read.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Planning.

My mother always made us new plans for the summer. It included summer reading lists, new chore lists and the fun planned activities or classes.

So Kate is now signed up for Princess Dance for July. And I found a reading list I will be working off for a while here. I would put a beautiful picture of a stacked books [here]. But my computer isn't up for it.

Still waiting Peter.

My kind brother is sending me his old, but newer than mine, laptop.

So while I am in exile from a truly working computer, I will just post the  link to this awesome book list I found for the 3-5 year old range..

Lastly, I completed this photo version of a chore list for Kate, which I'll post as a generic one so that you can freely steal.  I am giving her one penny for each daily chore she does and a nickel for doing some of the harder chores. And at the end of the week I plan on paying her from our large change bucket so that she can "save" and buy something at the end of the month.


Our fun summer activities include:
1) The Phoenix Zoo (it has a water park too)
2) The Phoenix Children's Museum
3) Sleepovers with friends
4) Storytime on Thursday at Barnes and Noble. I plan on trying to purchase a small book each time we go since we are enrolled in their kids program and it gives a discount. It will make it more exciting to "find" a book and bring it home, since we always get library books.

More sticky situations

For those of you who read my article on eating sugar in moderation, here is another interesting chapter in this sweet debate.

Agave nectar has been hotly debated lately and, for good reason, as it is derived by a heat process and is in fact  processed no differently in our bodies than other simple sugars.

Here is a very interesting (albeit technical) article and rebuttal from an owner of a company that produces agave nectar.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Man

Guess who is one today?
Our little moose has gotten a little skinnier with the flu this past week, but we every ounce just as much!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sufficient.

Things were very different six years ago.

People used to say, "What's a blog?" when I moved to Arizona and started writing online. What I said was very popular for a while. Because not too many people were blogging.

Then came the kids. Written communication takes time to craft. When you have two kids two years apart, you don't have much time. Even nap times become less reliable sources of "free time" because your chances of being uninterrupted are reduced exponentially by a boy, a girl and a dog.

So, instead of twenty posts a month, I am down to four or five.


I feel this issue has two sides: the essence of relationship and the essential nature of information. Electronic information is not going away. It is becoming more essential every day. But, I have begun to feel this pull in the opposite direction at the same time as the blog world, the information age and the electronic overload exist. I feel the need for real. Not a Tweet. Not a status update. Not a text. Real people. Real conversations. Real topics. I just always want to remember the purpose for communication is building. Information means nothing to me if it does not build something or someone.

Martin Luther is quoted for saying, "If one wants to change the world, he must pick up his pen". I too believe in communication.

I also believe communication must be balanced with silence.

So I write less. I post a few pictures for my grandmother. I am busy with life, the real parts. I try to build reality even if it is with my scrub brush and bleach. I aim to strengthen the relationships around me.

I could feel guilty in this age of information--but in the end it doesn't matter how many blogs I follow, or if I know the world news everyday, or I haven't learned the latest free coupon+sale price. I remember to keep building and that is sufficient.

The Three Amigos

 At Drew's Soccer Party
 The First Sleepover and our Garden Desserts
Easter Morning at Starbucks

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sticky Topic: Is Sugar Toxic?

My brother sent me this article in the NYTimes.com which raises the question by scientist and speaker, Robert Lustig.

My brother asked me: "Do you think sugar is toxic?"

As a registered dietitian, I know for a fact that glucose and fructose are NOT toxic. God would not have made it so that 50% or so of our calories must come from carbohydrates if he did not intend for us to eat foods with glucose and fructose in them.

This speaker makes a very valid point in his You Tube video.

However, I would argue that both honey and sugar have been around since ancient times (refer to Wikipedia's article on sugar here). We know they are toxic.

But Lustig's argument has some validity as he argues that the amount of sugar, in both glucose and fructose form, when they hit the liver in great enough quantities, trigger the liver to make fat.

I like this part of the article, which quotes another noteable scientist on this topic:
What we have to keep in mind, says Walter Glinsmann, the F.D.A. administrator who was the primary author on the 1986 report and who now is an adviser to the Corn Refiners Association, is that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup might be toxic, as Lustig argues, but so might any substance if it’s consumed in ways or in quantities that are unnatural for humans. The question is always at what dose does a substance go from being harmless to harmful? How much do we have to consume before this happens?  (emphasis mine)
Lustig recognizes that his view on sugar as toxic is extreme by conceding that the question is whether they’re “chronic toxins,” which means “not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.” I think we can boil this sticky argument down to one principle:

Moderation.

The phrase I have coined over the years in my field is based on this Biblical principle:

Moderation, not elimination, without excess.

The application is that we need to take what we know from science and research seriously, but with grace. So that means having the occasional cookie. But it does not mean allowing a gracious view of a potential vice to become consistent and allowable, like a cookie every day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My little mover.

videoWe are so excited that our little man is moving. He joins his sister in the 10 month walker club.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

According to my brother...

video
He's still got game after all those years :) It was so nice to have him visit us the other day on his way home from Sacramento. Kate especially liked your pink socks. Can't wait to see you again. Hopefully more than business will bring you back soon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rotations of foods, continued.

In response to my last post, another person asked this question:
I read your latest post and was interested in reading your answer and was wondering what the source was for your answer. This is a topic I have found very interesting because the holistic practitioner I see does tests on a machine called an Asyra and often finds foods that we are not allergic to, but just have to rotate. These foods change a lot and she has told me just to be careful to rotate through foods and not eat too much of the same thing in a given week. Outwardly we had no signs that we were not tolerating these foods, they just showed up when tested. It's interesting, because I didn't tell her what I was eating and in thinking back, I realized that I had eaten a lot of the food that showed up.
I have also heard that eating the same foods consistently can sometimes create allergies.
Have you heard any of this before?
Thanks for letting me pick your brain! Crossing over into the holistic world has been interesting and since some of it seems to work, but has no scientific backing, I'm trying to filter through things, but a lot of times, it's just hard to come up with solid evidence.
I guess I need to expound on my initial comments on the idea of intolerance to certain foods due to overuse!

I strongly agree with the principle of rotation. Most people typically buy the same 20 items and eat those very consistently, and this isn't optimal nutrition. Good nutrition principles include rotation, variety and moderation. This is the practical application of eating seasonally as much as possible.

I typically ascribe to a philosophy on nutrition summarized this way:
Moderation not elimination without excess.
This means that you should use a moderate, not extreme approach to nutrition. I believe this is biblical. There is no biblical basis for an "optimal" diet. In fact, Paul specifically warns people against using their dietary restrictions as a basis for superiority. I believe in wise nutrition and avoiding eating things that are harmful to your body. The parameters for using wisdom are very individual-- generally, most people benefit from eating a diet high in nutrient-rich foods and less in volume overall.

I also am a very firm believer that good nutrition means nothing if you are not physically active. Putting supreme gas in a high end sport car does nothing if you don't drive.

Most of all, I must reiterate/agree with you that holistic and traditional medicine are still both PRACTICES, not sciences. Most time people go astray in nutrition because, in my opinion, they are caught up in the "proof", when we have to remember all medicine is practiced based on best known practices, not absolutes.

There are very few things that are absolute in nutrition. Every year we learn additional, new evidence about certain chemical properties in food that are helpful or harmful to our body. It can seem at times like science contradicts itself. All we can choose to do is obey Him, eating with a faith-filled, wise approach.Sifting through all the information out there can be daunting. I believe we can choose to live in the good of what we do know is true and live in wonder, knowing that God knows all the million microscopic reasons for his edible creation.
 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

According to...

doctor "x"--
Here is a question I received from a friend about nutrition. I thought people might be interested in the answer:

I have a question for you. This may sound strange, but are there health complications or consequences of eating the same food many days in a row (ie eating an apple each day as a snack during the work week)?

  I just met with a doctor and he said that his problems are probably due to eating some of the same foods many days in a row. So he said if you have chicken on Monday not to have it again until Friday. That just didn't sound right to me so wanted to pick your brain :)
This was my answer:

The only scientific reason for not eating the same group of foods (like the same 20 items) every day is that you are missing the variety of nutrients from the variety of foods we have available. There is no scientific basis, unless for allergy reasons, that the same types of foods are not tolerated repetitively. However, it is good to have a variety; for instance, chicken has a totally different nutrient/mineral profile than beef-- beef being richer in B vitamins and iron--and an orange has a lot more potassium than an apple. These are just examples but you were correct in being suspicious. Repetition has also been clinically proven to be beneficial for defined periods of time in weight reduction/management.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

9 Months Old

Look at this guy...his newest accomplishment is all those (six!) pearly whites.

Friday, February 11, 2011

More new recipes.

This recipe, Bombay Style Sloppy Joes was fantastic. Especially if you are looking to add something just slightly different to your month. We really enjoyed the slightly spicy, very flavorful variation to traditional sloppy joes.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

New Year. another new recipe.

I am trying to add some soups to my repertoire. This one popped up in 101 Cookbooks called,  A Luxurious and Deeply Aromatic Noodle dish, that we tried and really enjoyed.  I added some raw shrimp as well as some shelled edamame and carrots carrots to the broth to increase the satisfaction around here. Even Grant like it!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sehnsucht

Read this blog.
I just finished reading her book, and it has won my heart with its poetry and prose, the content and the disclosure. She is an amazing gift herself as a writer and a champion of true Christian joy in life.
Ever heard of sehnsucht? It is a word that describes a deep longing, a mania, a true yearning--and I ran across this word in both her writing and Tim Keller's book, Prodigal God. As I finished both of these books this week I was so excited to read how they both use this German word to describe our need to fill our longings with that which is eternal. Ann though gives us a great way to begin living that way, by giving thanks. So I too, along with a body of believers, am looking for God's blessings in each and every moment, both beautiful and ugly, and trying to see it as a reflection of His goodness.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New year. New recipe.

We enjoyed this recipe, Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken, with Travis' brother and his girlfriend the other night. I enjoyed it but it was a little sweet for my taste. I will probably reduce the sugar next time. I served it with rice and a mixed stir fry of Asian vegetables.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Children's Books

This post is for Nicole, who asked me a million years ago to post some book recommendations. I am always looking for great children's literature for Kate and I to read. I started my search with some of the Caldecott Honor and Caldecott Award books, and included looking for seasonally appropriate ones. I have been really excited about a few finds. My new favorite is called Owl Moon by Jan Yolen. It is such a wonderful book with a wonderful message at the end that says, "Sometimes you don't need words. All you need is hope."

I have really fallen in love with the writing in the Stella books as well, especially Stella: Fairy of the Forest by Marie-Louise Gay. She has a real wit that kids get, at least mine.. There is a whole series with Sam and Stella as well and we have enjoyed some of the other ones as well. This is nice if you are a little sick of Angelina Ballerina.


My other favorite discovery has been a book called,  When It Starts to Snow by Phillis Gershator. I just love the way he writes and tells the story. Great rhyming and cute, cute illustrations.

Some new ones I have also found that are really age appropriate for the 2 year olds are:

A Tree is Nice
My Friend Rabbit. This one is quite funny and has great illustrations.

Some other new classics in our house are:
Llama Llama Red Pajama
A House is a House for Me

Joseph had a Little Overcoat
One Fine Day 
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New year, new recipes.

This menu is a little bit more work but an awesome special occasion recipe that we tried for Travis' birthday dinner called Blackened Swordfish with Sweet Potato Crab Hash.  Although I had to shorten the recipe a bit by using store-purchased BBQ sauce, I plan on making the Voodoo sauce sometime because it looks so good. Travis and I practically licked the sauce off our plates. If you are looking for a recipe for your husband that doesn't involve beef but satisfies...this is it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

He is discipling me?

I read a great quote in Timothy Keller's book Prodigal God that reminded me that the point of knowing Jesus is becoming more like him. I have heard this before, but as I thought about it again, I applied it to my current greatest challenge-- mothering--and it shed new light on the Christian walk for me.

It occurred to me, "What if the whole point of mothering--the training, disciplining, correcting, and instructing-- is really to make me more like Christ?" Of course I have understood sanctification through my circumstances in the past, but it suddenly came to light for me. As a mother, the endless times I am instructing, I am being taught to be like Christ. The countless times of disciplining, I am being disciplined myself in righteousness. The repetition of my words is working in me faith. The endless conversation with my kids is the word of God being worked into me.

It might not be new. But it was realized in a fresh way to me. The job of motherhood, especially to little ones, can be very wearying. There is usually less than one hour a day where someone is not crying or needing me. The joy in this life though is that this is the current circumstance which is drawing me closer to God, making me love Him more, and it is teaching me to be more Christ-like.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.~ 2 Corinthians 3:18

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year. New recipes.

Don't you get stuck in the same recipe rut? I love variety and generally have a large recipe repertoire; but I am just like everyone else-- I need to spice it up once in a while.

I will be posting some of my new favorite for you to try along with me.

Here is a new everyday recipe for one of those meatless nights off of 101cookbooks called Giant White Chipotle Beans. What makes it special and fresh is the gooey, creamy queso fresco, the toasted breadcrumbs and the cilantro pesto poured over it at the end.

Monday, January 17, 2011

6, 7 and 8 months.

Look at my not so little guy. He's growing up so quickly. He went from rocking on all fours. He followed his sister by going from crawling to pulling up in two short weeks. His favorite position is sitting on and pushing up on one leg with the other one stretched out in front---he is ready for action!