Thursday, March 29, 2012

From My Kitchen Friday (and some outside fun)

What is the best way to use up a whole loaf of bread so fresh that it was still steaming when I sliced it? Turn it into french toast for Wednesday "Brinner Night!" Of course!

We have been getting several hours of warm and sunny weather (in between the cold mornings and evenings), and we are taking full advantage. Remi even had her first face-plant on the sidewalk today. 

And the kids asked for hop-scotch, so I made one up for them. I know it's not technically how it's supposed to be, but it worked for them!

Perfect Peace

(By the way, all photos I use on my blog are my own, and most appear on my Flickr stream)
Who doesn't want a little more peace in their lives? I sure could use more peace (is there ever enough?) when it comes to the stress I feel daily in the ins and outs of life, putting the necessary effort into my marriage, raising our three beautiful (but at times SO exhausting!) children, homemaking, and finding enough time in there to put adequate energy into homeschooling. On top of that, I am a sinner, saved by grace, who struggles at times to leave behind the selfishness, neediness, and grumpiness of my former self.

Isaiah chapter 26 has just the answer for those needing peace. The truth is that we cannot find true and lasting peace in anything of this world, not in eating right, or exercising, or saving the earth, or saving the whales, or "going green." I'm not saying that those things are wrong, but sometimes they can take the incorrect place in our lives. True and lasting peace can ONLY come from the One who created us, and who is the Author of Peace.

   Isaiah 26:3  "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."

My best friend has an 8 year old daughter who loves to read. Most anywhere you find her there will be a good chance that she will have her nose in a book. When she is really into a story, it takes nothing less than an atomic bomb to get her attention. "Bella, Bella, BELLA!" her mama sometimes has to say just to get her to look at her. This is what comes to mind to me when I read this verse. I want my focus to be so fully on Christ, that nothing (not selfishness, or anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed, or tired, or cranky) can change it.  

Lord, please help me to remember to keep my mind focused on You, no matter what else is going on in my life.    

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


This sweet boy has had us laughing from the very beginning.

This past Sunday, our pastor was talking about the treasure that is found between the covers of the Bible. It is a gift for us to grow on and also for us to share with others. As a demonstration, he asked if anyone wanted a Snickers. They were small-sized Snickers that came with two in a pack (get it, one for you, one to share!). After handing a few out, he went on with his sermon. Hudson, who was sitting with my mom a few feet away from me, looked up at her and said, "Where are MY stickers?" Confused, my mom asked him what he was talking about. He said, "He asked if anyone wanted stickers, and I raised my hand but I didn't get any!"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

That which is in our minds

Princess by *megan_elzey*

I came across a verse this morning that made me think in a completely different way than it has on all the other million times I have read or heard it. 

 Philippians 4:8
   "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."
 This morning, instead of looking at this verse as a list of things we should have in our lives, it hit me that Paul chose the words "think about such things" instead of just "do such things" or "fill your life with such things." Normally you hear that the heart is the root of all actions, but where do things originate before they make it to your heart? In your mind. Everything that we do or say or fill our life with is a result of the things that we believe about ourselves or our situation or the people around us. If you think that you are unlovable, you will believe it in your heart and will act in a way that is unlovable. If you think that a situation is too big for you to handle, you will focus on that and will begin to feel anxious.  

Think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If you want to change a certain behavior or the way you feel about yourself or a situation or a person, change the way you think. Make a decision that you will believe the truth (that God paid a price for you and you are incredibly lovely to Him; that even situations that are too big for you are not too big for God; that no matter what is going on around you, you can only control yourself and you can act in a way that is loving even if others aren't), and then when thoughts begin to invade that do not line up with what you want to believe, take them captive (*2 Cor. 10:5) and offer them to God. Ask Him to take the lies you believe and replace them with His truth, and He will. What you think affects what you feel, and what you feel determines what you do. So make sure what you are thinking lines up with what you want your life to look like. 

 2 Cor 10:5 - "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make is obedient to Christ." 

, The Alabaster Jar

Monday, March 26, 2012


I had a most wonderful, relaxing, refreshing weekend with my Sweety. My mom and step-dad kept our three children, and he and I ran away for a day. First, we went and watched The Hunger Games, and then went on to an adorable little inn in Amish country where we stayed the night. The last time we took a trip for just the two of us was 7 years ago, when it was still just the two of us and we had only been married a year. We laughed as we realized that this trip was a little different than that trip, because then we were in our early twenties and newly married, and now we are 30 and have three children. We rested, we ate yummy food, and we just enjoyed having uninterrupted time together. It was wonderful. I highly recommend that if you haven't been able to take some time away with just your spouse, do it! Even one night away (though two would have been fantastic!) will do so much for you and your relationship.
Now it's back to the normal ins and outs of our homemaking, homeschooling life. But, I feel much more relaxed and focused than I did this time last week.
Thank you, babe, for making our trip happen! I love you so much!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Philippians prayer

(My babies from two years ago, they have all grown so much!)
I recently came across a few verses in Philippians (I love the books of letters!) that have since become my prayer for myself, my husband, and my children. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the people of Philippi, and this originated as a prayer from him for them. I have taken it, written it down in several places, and daily pray it over my family.

Philippians 1: 9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what it best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.

These verses are packed with so many things that I desire desire for my family. I have prayed for so long for discernment to know what is truth and what is not, that our love would continue to grow more and more and would have Christ in the center, and that we would seek to know God more. Interestingly enough, when I read over the chapters in Philippians a few weeks ago it was other verses that stuck out to me. This time God opened my eyes to these and I loved them immediately! It is wonderful how God can take the same verses and speak to you differently at different times depending on what you need.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My sweet sweet boy

 I was blessed with an enormously sweet boy.

He is tender hearted, gentle (for the most part, he is a boy after-all), sweet, and loving. He tells me multiple times a day that he loves me. He loves to cuddle, and his heart gets broken very easily.

And his face melts my heart. Even when there's pizza all over it.

Garlic and olive butter

I made some garlic and olive butter the other day that was just awesome. Ever since a bad case of pneumonia went through my kids earlier this year, it seems like their immune systems have been struggling to keep up. One of the things I have been doing to try to naturally boost their germ fighting abilities is to give them lots of garlic. Fortunately, my kids like this stuff :)
At first I was just planning on making some garlic butter to put on fresh bread for the kids, but then I remembered a yummy olive butter that I had at a restaurant and loved one time. I didn't think my kids would be crazy about the olive part, so I made their garlic butter first and then added olives to the left-over butter for me.
To make the garlic butter, I finely chopped up 4 cloves of fresh garlic, and sauteed/roasted them over low eat in just a dab of olive oil in a small skillet (so that it was basically dry cooking). I put a lid over top of the garlic as it was roasting and stirred every minute or so. I cooked just until the garlic was softening and starting to smell yummy. I added the garlic to about 3 to 4 Tbsp of room temperature butter (I knew I was going to do this ahead of time, so I set out my butter while I was making the bread) and mixed it together, adding just a pinch of salt.
I only had about a tbsp of butter left once I had buttered my three kids' pieces of warm bread, so I added another few tbsps more of the plain room temperature butter. Then I got a spoonful of green olives, finely shopped them, and added them, with another pinch of salt, to the garlic butter. 

 This was delicious!
 This was the first round, and each of us had seconds. The kids actually preferred the olive butter to the garlic butter. Now you can see why I need to make bread two loaves at a time :)

Monday, March 19, 2012


(sorry for the funky angle, but this was the only way I could get the whole rainbow in; seen from my back door)

I'm going to be honest with you. Sometimes I struggle. I struggle with my purpose, with my ability to be a good wife, mother, and person altogether. I hope that this doesn't come as a surprise, because I have a feeling that all of you struggle in some way or another, too.

I have mentioned before that two years ago my marriage went through the very hot, very painful refining fires of God. That refining became a gigantic blessing, in that we are happier now than we ever were and our story has the wonderful opportunity to be a blessing to other people's marriages, but it also at times seems to come back to haunt me. Those times come fewer and fewer these days, but when they do come they bring with them pain, doubt, and times of struggle for me. This weekend was one of those times. By Sunday, though, I was able to once again see past the hurt and remember how far God has brought us. I have to make the choice, each and every time, to not allow the pain of our past negatively affect where we are today.

During our worship service on Sunday morning, as we were singing a song of praise to God, I raised my hand in the air in worship. My 5 year old, who was standing beside me and singing along, raised her hand in the air, too. She knew why she was doing it. She has seen me do it both at home singing along to the radio and also at church. In that moment, with my eyes closed in worship but also aware of what Libby was doing, God reminded me why. He reminded me why I have gone through all I have gone through in my life. He reminded me why having a strong marriage is so incredibly important. He reminded me why I need to seek God's strength in my life and press on in my marriage and with my children. The reason why I need to continue to be strong was standing there right beside me, with her hand in the air praising God just like her mommy. There are two other reasons just like her, and countless others that God knows about but I don't yet.

This morning I was reading in Phillippians and I was reminded once again of one of my favorite verses. Chapter 1 verse 6 says, "Be confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  

Times of struggle and trial may come, but be confident! He is not finished with His good work He is doing in you.

Shared on Wifey Wednesday, Women Living Well, Good Morning Girls 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Right here!

Me: "Where's my pretty baby?"
Remi: (raising her hand) "Right here!"

It is my prayer that she would always know how precious she is, that God loves her more than she could ever dream, that she is priceless and won't ever settle for a man who treats her less than so, that she would always have a willing heart to hear God calling for her, and that she would always answer "right here!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

From my Kitchen Friday

This is lunch our-style: tortilla chips and the very last bit of our homemade salsa, chunks of cheese from our new favorite Amish bulk food store, and fresh veggies and dip. Mmmm!

Happy Friday!!

Homemade taco seasoning

I have had a few requests, both here on this blog and in "real life" for the recipe that I use for taco seasoning. As I have mentioned before, we love Mexican food, but I don't like the idea of getting pre-packaged and processed food items if I don't have to. I have really loved my Healthy Choices cookbook for this very reason. The recipe that I use for taco seasoning comes straight out of there. It is easy to make up right when I need it, although you could probably also make up a big batch and use it as needed.

Taco Seasoning Mix
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. oregano

Mix and use as 1 store-bought package.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Of all the books in the Bible, the ones I love the most are the letters. Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians, James. They, among others, are letters meant to send a message of encouragement or warning to the people who would be receiving them.

The book of James begins with a lesson on persevering through trials. Right out of the gate it says "consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance" (James 1: 2 & 3). You will face trials of many kinds, and through them you will grow. Have you ever asked God to give you more patience? How about more peace, faith, or love? I can't say for sure, but I would guess that when you ask God to fill you with something that you lack (patience, kindness, self-control), He doesn't just pour it right in and fill you up. Chances are, if you ask Him for more patience He is going to put you in situations that test your patience. Probably, if you ask Him to make you more kind He is going to put in your presence someone who is very difficult to tolerate. If you ask Him to strengthen your faith, most likely you will soon find yourself in a situation that will require tremendous faith to get through to the other side. Our initial reaction in these situations is to react negatively and say, "but God, I asked you to give me more, not show me how much I lack!" But, if you take the opportunity to let these situations actually grow and strengthen you in patience, kindness, etc., you will persevere. Your patience will indeed grow, your faith will be strengthened, you will be more kind.

"Consider it pure joy whenever (when, not if) you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."  (James 1: 2 & 3)

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Poor sick baby girl
Here is a round-up of the things I have been loving this week:

* Darlene at Time-Warp Wife is doing a three week Bible study on Esther. I love the story of Esther, and was so excited when she announced the study. This has only been the first week, so there is plenty of time to jump in!


 *Over at Keeper of the Home there is a great post on waiting on God. I am sure most all of us have been in a place where we were waiting on God to move in our lives in some way or another. Check our her post to find some encouragement.

* Sheila from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has just finished up a great series called 29 Days to Great Sex leading up the the release to her new book titled The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex. If you are married and are interested in improving your sex life (whether your sex life is suffering in any way or not), check out her series. If you click on the 29 Days link, scroll down just a bit and you will see the whole list of posts.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, March 9, 2012

From my kitchen

Sick 2 year old on my lap during all of her awake hours for the past 3 days = a quick "From my kitchen" Friday post. I hope you don't mind :)

German Pancake with Strawberries

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Food on the brain

It seems like since my success at finally having a working meal plan began, I have been making lots of yummy new recipes. This has resulted in there being more pictures of food on my camera's memory card than there are of my kids. As I have mentioned before, we love Mexican food. So, I was delighted with the result of a new salsa recipe that I came across. I changed it up quite a bit because I didn't have fresh tomatoes and I didn't want to use any hot peppers because I knew my kids would be eating it. It came together very nicely.

 Halve one red and one orange bell pepper, chunk up a small onion or halve a large one, and add 7 or 8 garlic cloves. Roast until blackened.
Pulse in food processor just until chopped up, not until pureed. 
Measure out one cup of fresh cilantro and then chop it up. 

Pour can of tomatoes into a bowl, add your chopped up pepper mixture, and mix until well combined. Add cilantro, salt, and cider vinegar. Mix together and it will look something like this. And yes, I put that whole bite in my mouth. 

 It went well with taco salad made with bulgar burger, and it was the first to disappear on my kids' plates.

  Fresh Salsa
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 orange and 1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
7 to 8 garlic cloves
Bunch of fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cider vinegar

1. Slice up the peppers and onion and place them on a sprayed cookie sheet. Add whole garlic cloves. Roast in a 450 degree oven, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes or until blackened.
2. Put roasted vegetables in a food processor and pulse until chopped up, not until pureed.
3. Add chopped veggies to the tomatoes in a medium sized bowl and mix well.
4. Measure out 1 cup of cilantro leaves and then chop them up.
5. Add cilantro, salt, and cider vinegar to salsa and mix well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

To move a mountain

In the book of Mark in the Bible, we read about an account where Jesus was hungry. Just like you and me, he got hungry. He went to a fig tree that was in leaf to see if it had any fruit for him to eat. When he got to it, he saw that there was no fruit. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." His disciples heard him say this. The next day they passed by that very same fig tree. Let me show you what the Bible says happened next.

Mark 11: 20-24 "In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!'
 'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.'"

Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it. Now, let me just say that I don't think this is saying to go and ask to win the lottery and you will win it. I think that when we are really praying, really seeking God's will for our lives, really asking for God to lead us, He will honor our prayers. Even when it seems like we are asking Him to move a mountain. There was a time in my life where I was truly asking God to "move a mountain." My marriage was falling apart, crumbling at the very core, and I was crying out to God to fix it. My prayers were, "Lord, change hearts, change situations, change me, change him, put us back together." At the time, it seemed very unlikely that this would happen. There was a huge mountain in the way. I prayed knowing, truly believing, that it was not in God's will for my marriage to fall apart. I prayed knowing that He could fix it. I prayed these things even though I had no idea HOW or WHEN he would do them. And He did. In His time. In His way.

If you are facing a mountain in your life, I encourage you to take your eyes off the mountain and plant them firmly on God. Believe that He will carry you, believe that He can help you even if you don't know how. Believe that He will take care of it, will take care of you. He will!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ground beef substitute

My kids are picky meat eaters, and pretty much always have been. They really have never liked any ground up meat, and the only way this affects me is when it comes to recipes for ground beef. Most of the time I either quit making something or find another way around it (adding chunks of chicken rather than shredded chicken, etc).  However, we really like Mexican dishes, and Italian dishes with meat sauce, so I was happy to find a substitute for ground beef that my kids are cool with! It is made with bulgar wheat, which I have never used before making this. I found it in the health food section of our local grocery store. If you can't find it, I'm sure you could inquire about getting it in stock. My Libby will tell you that she doesn't like beef and instead eats bulgar wheat. I also like the idea of have a "meatless" meal without really realizing it. 

 First you pour your bulgar wheat in a pot.
 Then you chop up your onion and garlic (I always use more garlic than what is called for)

 Add onion and garlic with the rest of the sauce ingredients (tomato juice, water, pecans, molasses, and taco seasoning) in a blender.
I don't prefer to use store bought taco seasoning, because I try to stay away from pre-packaged stuff when I can, so I found a recipe for making my own, which I love. 

Blend it all up until it's smooth...
and add it to the bulgar.

Cook it for 15 minutes, and then let it sit for an hour, and it has a consistency very similar to ground seasoned beef. The first time I made this, my husband saw it in fridge and thought it was beef. It also freezes well. This is great for many things! I made it into homemade spaghetti sauce for dinner last night. I used half the batch and put the rest in the fridge to make taco "meat" for taco salads tonight.

Bulgar Burger (recipe from Healthy Choices cookbook)
2 C bulgar wheat
1 C water
1 C tomato juice
1/2 med. onion, cut into pieces
1 garlic clove
1 C pecans
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp taco seasoning

Place bulgar in kettle. Blend all other ingredients in blender until smooth. Stir blended ingredients tino bulgar in kettle. Cook over medium heat for 15 min, stirring frequently. Let set for 1 hour with lid on. Use immediately, or can also be frozen.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Never Once

We have been so busy the last week, filled with many games of basketball (both Scott and Libby, our little athlete), a trip to a sort-of local Amish bulk foods store to stock up on my baking goods, getting to experience another amazing home birth with my best friend, and, of course, lots of homeschooling. Also, I haven't taken any pictures (except at my friend's home birth, sweet sweet Baby Sylvia :)), so I don't have much to share.

What I will share, though, is my current favorite song. It is Never Once, by Matt Redman, and it is really resonating with me right now. Take a quick listen. It will rock your world!

Happy weekend!