Saturday, February 23, 2013

Eatin' Time!

Don't know what to cook for the upcoming week?  Do what I did...let Pinterest plan your menu!  We tried 4 new recipes last week and loved them all.  Here are the links to those four and a couple of other tried and true recipes from pinterest.  All recipe links have a print happy version except for the "loaded baked potato chicken casserole" recipe, but it is easy to copy and paste.  Happy eating, you all! 

1.  Creamy White Bean Stew with Bacon
(notes...this is stick to your ribs hearty stew...I will decrease lemon next time)

2.  Skinny Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Scones
(notes...these are "skinny" which means you can eat the whole batch if you want...ha! I followed the directions and wouldn't change anything. These are good with omelettes!)

3.  Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
(notes...these are super fast and super delish for a busy night.  Instead of making the cheese sauce, I just used provolone slices.)

4.  Tortellini Sausage Soup
(notes:  I accidentally thought it said apple cider vinegar instead of apple cider, so I used half the amount and increased the chicken broth...this soup is awesome, but I think I will follow directions next time!)

5.  New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
(notes:  hello budget friendly beans!  This is our fave way to eat them...I decrease the amt. of creole seasoning for the kids and increase the amt. of polska kielbasa (instead of andouille) for the man!)

6.  Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole
(notes:  I used a whole cut-up rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken breasts.  I cooked the potatoes for about 45 minutes, added the goodies, then cooked for another 20 til nice and warm.  I will decrease the amt. of olive oil next time.  It recommends ranch or sour cream, but we found that BBQ sauce was mighty tasty!)

So there you have it...a week's worth of recipes!  I'd like to try the two ingredient lemon bars this week...all it takes is a box of angel food cake mix and a can of lemon pie filling...mmmm..have you tried those?

Friday, February 22, 2013


I've said it before and I'll say it again, "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life" by Hannah Whitall Smith is simply a must-read for believers.  I read it the first time last year, then reread it the past couple of days.  I can't believe how much wealth of wisdom is in there for how to practically live a life of consecration/abandonment to God and also a life of faith. 

The book was written in the 1870's by a woman who had more than enough suffering in life (death of four children, a husband who had mental breakdowns and later was not faithful, a child who became an atheist and on and on.)  It seems appropriate that through all this struggle, the title of her final book was "God of all Comfort."

We will either look to Him during our trials or we won't.

One of my favorite concepts in the book is the idea of chariots.  It is always easier to put our trust in the earth's chariots because they are visible.  God's chariots are never visible unless we cry out for eyes to see them.  Remember Elisha and how he prayed that the Lord would open his servant's eyes to God's realm of the impending battle?  God did, and the servant saw God's army of horses and chariots of fire.  His whole perspective changed in that one moment of being able to see.

The thing is that God uses certain chariots that will carry us to victory that we would have never dreamed up.  He isn't afraid to use chariots that look like our enemies or suffering or trials or defeats or misunderstandings or disappointments.  These are the chariots that we are to mount upon and let God use as vehicles to take us to much needed triumph and victory in our faith walk.

If we refuse to mount them and see what God wants to do, we will allow them to roll over us and crush us completely.

Perhaps you have an annoying or bossy acquaintance.  What if this is the exact chariot that God wants to use in your life to produce patience and love?

Smith also speaks on how we can come to trust in earthly chariots more than God's chariots.  These things can even look good on the outside.  They can be friendships, bible studies, or even preachers...but if we are putting our trust and faith and reliance into these things more than God himself, they are idols.  Where do we turn first when we need help?

"We will mount the invisible chariot when our souls can say "He only"...when He's brought us to the place where all other refugees fail us."

Will you pray for eyes to see...and then hop out of the earth's chariots and into the one true chariot of God?

The next time I blog, I will try and share about what Smith says about the Kingdom of Heaven.  That topic is always so confusing to me and she breaks it down real Lulu-style.  I am so obliged!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rainy days can be the best days.

I am reminded that rain in the Bible was a precious thing....early and latter rain. As I have listened to the downpour, this has been my view since 9 am. Being reoriented to God's heart and his tender love always make surrender a tad sweeter.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Flea market!!!

So, I have always wanted a flea market booth! My friend is letting me rent some of her space. Come see us at Through the Years Flea Market in Spring Hill, right before you get to Greenbrier!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

5 years

I am trying to muster the courage to write.  I need to get it down for myself.  For another added layer of remembering and a touch of healing.  Five years.  My sister has been gone for five whole years.

Every January 1st, I take a big breath, knowing it will be my last until February 13 passes once again.  For whatever reason, the first six weeks of the year bring a sense of dread, knowing this day is right around the corner.  I know if I can simply get to this day, then I can let out some angst and allow myself another breath.

It especially hurts this year because I am carrying a child that Kiley will never know.  She went through my pregnancies.  She went through the joy of meeting each new nephew.  But not Asher.  She will never know Asher.  My heart breaks over that, and yet I know I am blessed that she knew three of my four boys.

Suicide is a hard topic.  I know now why people don't ever talk about it.  It simply always hurts.  Albert Hsu says that "traumatic grief is a journey filled with twists and turns, unexpected detours and dead ends that force us back over ground we thought we had already covered.  Often several different, overlapping emotions may assault us at once, and we find ourselves caught in cycles of good days and bad."

Even after five years, with God lifting the mass of the burden, I see that grief is circular.  The smallest things can send us back into a depressed state.  For me, recently this was when someone approached me to pray for someone who lost his son to suicide.  While I long to pray for people who have been on this journey, it is such a sensitive subject.  One day I may be able to handle it and another day I may break down completely.  Because the truth is that even though my experience makes me very empathetic, it always sends me into a spiral of awful memories. 

I feel like God gave me an analogy of a way to describe this.  I can vividly remember when the movie "Saving Private Ryan" came out.  At the time, it was the most vivid and heart wrenching film of war that had ever graced the big screen. The movie broke my heart and I had certainly never put a single foot on the battlefield.  I remember hearing stories of War Vets getting up during the movie, sobbing, and leaving the theater.  They simply couldn't handle it.  All those years later, and they still were incapable of reliving such an experience. 

It is that way with suicide.

It is a sacred subject.  I can talk about it with family or those who walked beside me during those hard years, but my heart remains closed to others because I know they simply cannot get it.

And that is why the subject of suicide as a whole doesn't get talked about in our culture.

On a positive note, I believe sassy Kiley is with her Major-Awesome Creator right this minute.  It was grace that saved her years ago.  It was grace that carried her into the presence of Jesus that day five years ago.  She is a daughter of the King.  None of her actions could take away her identity. In Heaven, she has been healed of all depression.  She is protected from the enemy's attacks.  She is safe and is living it to the hilt with her Redeemer.

If you are or have contemplated suicide, please remember your worth.  Jesus dreamed you up, knit you together in your mother's womb, and breathed life into you.  All the days of your life are written in His book.  It is the enemy that says life isn't worth living.  Jesus died on a cross for you to tell you that life is definitely worth living.  He sees you as precious and worth more than all the money in the world.  You have tremendous value.

From the voice of one left in the quake of such a tragic decision, please, don't do it to those you love.  Anne-Grace Scheinin says that "Suicide doesn't end pain.  It only lays it on the broken shoulders of the survivors."

That statement is so true.  I assure you there are people that love you dearly that would never be the same if you chose this course of action.  In my life, there is a black thick line.  There is everything that occurred before Februar 13, 2008 and there is everything that occurred afterwards.  Because that day changed me.  It changed everything.

The American Psychiatric Association says that the "level of stress resulting from the suicide of a loved one is ranked as catastrophic--equivalent to that of a concentration camp experience."  I love the Jewish people and would never want to belittle what they endured, but my heart resonates that this quote is true.

Choose life.  For the sake of those you love, choose life.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Baby Asher {28 weeks!}

Dr. C asked if there was anything he could do for me today and I flat out asked if he could put a rush on the next 10-12 weeks!  He laughed and said he could quit his job if he could figure that one out.  I am telling you, I am so thankful for sweet baby Asher!  At the same time, I am so tired of having achy feet, a heavy abdomen, back aches, nightmares about bears (ha!), and inconsolable crying fits.  Despite mourning the loss of my sister, I have never cried so much in my life!  {And then I start laughing hysterically, cause it is ridiculous that I am crying!}  Gotta love those hormones!

I am asking God for some precious grace during these next 10-12 weeks.  (I am not due for 12 weeks, but 10 sounds so much more do-able for me!)  Soon, we will have three boys on three baseball teams and one of those boys on a soccer team, as well.  I know our evenings are about to get crazy, which makes me nervous since I am worn out physically and emotionally by then.  I asked God for some extra energy, some emotional stability, and some relief from pain these next weeks.  I know His grace will be sufficient.

Our house still isn't selling, but I am content with that right now.  It has been a nightmare trying to vacuum all the time and keep everything in perfect order.  Yesterday afternoon, a realtor and her clients showed up at the door ready to show the house.  I WAS ASLEEP IN BED!!! We never received a phone call to set that appointment up and I am telling you, it was all I could do to be gracious and not start cussing the world out.  {Hubs did treat me to a cherry limeaid, so despite the interrupted nap and the messy house that got shown anyway, it was all good.)

As far as not having a place for baby Asher, I seem to have settled down a bit.  If we turn our bed the other way, we can squeeze in a pack and play.  We can also convert the top of our dresser to a changing table.  I guess as long as I feed him, he won't care one bit!

We finally got in the stroller and infant car seat.  We got so tickled because it sat in the box forever.  Finally, we took a peek inside and asked each other if we were ready to put it together.  Naw, we laughed, and stuck it in the garage.  I guess with the 4th baby, you don't get quite as excited about baby things...but that doesn't mean we aren't tickled to death about what is going inside the stroller and car seat! 

Here is sweet Asher's face and his little cheeks that are filling out!  (Can you make out that little rounded cheek on the top?)  He weighs a whopping 2 pounds and 12 ounces!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

High Esteem

I hold him in high esteem.  I don't tell him that often enough, but the truth is that my words wouldn't do my heart justice, anyway.

He is my Dad.  Always was.  Always will be.

I can see his wisdom as I get older.  I appreciate those hugs more and more.  I hear him laughing at my boys and remember that laugh from when I was young.

I want my boys to see the value of hard work.  My Dad has been an excellent example.  Owner of a construction company in Northwest AR, site manager for job sites, cattle owner and keeper of land, the list could go on and on.

Last April, his company was hired to put in the new Chevrolet dealership here in town.  Even though my Dad lives 2 1/2 hours away, he agreed to it.  So, practically every work day since, he has gotten up at the crack of dawn to drive down here, work a full day, then drive back. 

It would have made me insane.  He tried parking a 5th wheel camper at the site to stay in sometimes, but I am not sure he enjoyed being away from my Mom. So, he was back to driving.

Being the owner of a company, he often has more than one site to run at a time.  So, he somehow managed to run one to three other sites that were 2 1/2 hours away while he was working here.

Pretty amazing.  Hard worker.  Diligent no matter the cost.

Now that the Chevrolet Dealership is pretty much finished, I took the boys on a tour with Dad alongside.  Call me an English major and incapable of reading architectural plans or building a single thing, but what my Dad is able to accomplish and create always wows me out of my britches.

I remember the first time I really got it.  I was in High School and Dad had just completed the add on to the Methodist Church in downtown Fayetteville.  During the building ceremony, I just stood in awe, taking all of it in.  I stared at the gorgeous wood, the functional rooms, and the new gym.  I couldn't have been more proud of him than in that moment.  I saw the end product and I was totally in awe of the talents and abilities that God had blessed my Dad with.

I wanted my boys to have a similar experience.  As we were touring the dealership, I tried to point out things that were extra cool, like the window that overlooks the maintenance area, or the garage doors that fly up faster that I can say garage doors.

I think they loved it all, but it was hard to notice anything besides the super huge concrete area to play football in or the car jacks that they got to take rides on.

It will stick, though.  They will look back on that day and have one more reason to appreciate their Sir.  They, too, hold him in high esteem.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Eli's 10th bday

{This post is a little late, hey I am preggers!}
Ten years.  The same number that you entered the world ten years ago.  I can hardly believe it goes so fast.  My Dad always warned me that it would...and that it would even go more quickly the older I get.  I hate that he is right!
Eli, you have been the biggest blessing to our family. Just this year, I have seen how certain gifts from God are starting to mark you and become who you are.  I believe with all my heart that He has given you the gift of mercy.  In a house of boys, it is always you that seems to know if my heart is OK.  You are the first to recognize if I am not physically feeling well.  I see the compassion in your eyes and the longing in your sweet being to want to make everything better for others.  I can't wait to see how God uses this gift for His glory.
You simply have the eyes to see see their needs and hurts...and you have the desire to make it right with them.  We praise God for you! 
For your party this year, we did it all boy-style with some dodge ball, relay races, win, lose or draw, cake, and basketball.  I think you all had the best time ever! You sported your Messi soccer jersey (your fave player) which Dad brought back for you from a recent business trip to Argentina.