Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's In It? Wednesday: Ranch Chicken Penne Pasta

Another easy dish to whip up all in a skillet:



2 1/2 Cups uncooked penne pasta
6 to 8 Tablespoons butter, cubed
1 envelope ranch dressing mix (if I add pasta and veggies to stretch it out for guests, I use 2 envelopes)
1 Cup frozen broccoli and carrots (and cauliflower if desired)
3 Cups cubed cooked chicken (or turkey)

(Before doing anything, you'll of course need to thaw chicken out and then cook it however you like. Sometimes I sear mine, and sometimes I bake it
. Either way, I use garlic powder and onion powder for seasoning.)

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in large skillet (and I do mean large), melt butter.
Stir in ranch mix until smooth.
Add broccoli and carrots; cook and stir for 3-5 min.
Drain pasta and add to skillet.
Stir in chicken or turkey, cook for about 5 min. or until heated through.




I like to serve mine with homemade garlic bread.



And what better to top it off than orange kool-aid? (Or, maybe that's all we had...)



Ahem
...back to the main dish.
I think you'll find that it's pretty simple and tastes great!


Peace of Christ to you,
Cara

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Maryam and Marzieh's Story

I received an email today about this story I'm about to share with you. To ask you to PRAY FOR THESE WOMEN is a great understatement.

I cannot imagine how their lives have been turned upside down. Please read the story of Maryam and Marzieh, who suffer for the sake of Christ, and pray for their freedom.

And you may also want to say a prayer of thanksgiving that you are in a position of freedom yourself. I know I am.

Stories like these always make all my little ailments and complaints seem--petty.


Maryam and Marzieh's Story


Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Of Monkeys and Trains and Cheesecake

We visited the zoo on Sunday instead of going to and missed our church. No, really, we did miss our church family. But we also really needed a just-us-family day.

And I'm so thankful that we got it.

Back to our church: We really have an amazing leadership team and pastoral team who understands that families need time together and away sometimes, and they never turn up their noses when we take that time.

Now, on to the zoo: We had a great time, and we realized that the last time we visited it, we missed a TON of the animals! It's spread out so far, that I guess last time we just wore out and gave up. It also helps that this time, we actually got to ride the train, which gives you a tour of every exhibit. We rode past a giraffe, and Matt and I looked at each other with surprise, "They DO have a giraffe?!"

Kate's favorite part was the chimpanzees, hands down (or up, in their case). She waved at them and pressed her cute little nose against the glass. At one point, she slipped out of my sight, and when I spotted her, she was right in front of this other family, squealing and smiling at the monkeys. She had obviously squeezed through the family to get in the front.

Luckily, they agreed with me that she was adorable!

And guess what Keagan's favorite part was: the train. Go figure! We rode it a few times, to his delight! He was such a big, good boy. He obeyed quite well, and I was very proud of him for that. On our way out to the car, I carried him because he said he was tired, and I told him thank you for being such a good boy. I wish you could hear his sweet little reply of, "You're welcome!" It's a choppy, high pitched reply, and you can "hear" his smile!

We regrettably left the camera at home; we didn't realize it until we were already quite a few miles down the road, and there was just no turning back! So, we only have two pics taken with Matt's phone:

Here we are at the train station, waiting for our turn to ride:



And here's Kate waiting patiently on the train, too. You can probably tell from her flushed face that it was a little toasty outside--hotter than we'd anticipated.


To top our day off, we called in some Johnny Carino's to go. We got there, and they didn't have it made (they forgot the order, which wasn't a big deal to us), so the manager came out to give it to us for free! He even threw in a piece of cheesecake and another raspberry tea. What a blessing that was!

Peace of Christ to you,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The perfect ones...

Last night I found the perfect notebooks for compiling my letters to Keagan and Kate that I talked about here:

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I'm so excited to have found these!


Peace of Christ to you,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dear Keagan on Sept. 25, 2009

I've decided to keep a special notebook for both of my children and fill them with letters I've written to them. Letters on plain ol', regular days--not just "special" occasions. And I plan to give these notebooks to them when they grow up to keep as something they will (hopefully) treasure forever. I also thought it would be neat to share them here, if you'd like.

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Dear Keagan,

This morning we went to your speech appointment, where you dazzled your speech pathologist, Ms. Sandra—so much that she is going to test you next month and probably turn you loose! I'm realizing right now that this gives me joy as well as sadness...because it means that you are growing up.

And you are growing up; you really aren't my baby anymore. You do so much for yourself these days, like potty breaks, and if I leave the gate in the kitchen down, you even get your own cup out of the fridge! You run to find your sacred Spiderman shoes and put them on all by yourself, too.

I try to snuggle with you on the couch, like this morning, but you grin at me and squeal, “Okay. That's enough, Mommy!” And so I stop. Even though I don't want to.

Two nights ago, your daddy, your sister, and I danced with you in the living room to loud “fast” songs by David Crowder Band. You showed us your new dance moves, and your daddy and I laughed so hard. We nearly wet ourselves when you suddenly did your drop and roll, and without missing a beat, got right back up to dance some more! I'm so glad you love music. You fit well with us! Right now, your favorite song is, “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Chris Tomlin. My heart melts to hear your version of the lyrics: “Sing, sing, sing. And make mukis with the hebens.”

Oh, Keagan, you are loved.

Love, Mommy


Peace of Christ to you,

Friday Favorites: Fall Activity

It's early fall here in the U.S., although a few of my readers (like Gina!) are entering into spring (right?). Either way, I want to know what your favorite thing about fall is.

So, I'll go first:

My mostest favoritest thing about fall is the Balloon Festival we have each year in our city!

I look forward to it all summer long, and especially when I see pictures like these that my husband captures each year:

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So, what about you? What's something you get to do in the fall that you can't any other time of year? or What's your favorite part about fall in general?

(And of course, the day I post this, our spurt of fall weather is gone!) Oh, but the sunshine today is simply gorgeous!

Peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Isn't She Beautiful?

Meet Keagan's friend, Maddy:

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Isn't she beautiful?

Keagan thinks so.

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Yesterday ended up being a play date with Isaac visiting, too:

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And that's Maddy's little sister, Morgan in the hearts:

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Peace of Christ to you,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Silence

Do you ever wonder if God is listening? And if so, does He really care?

I feel like for the past (almost full year), I've asked God what He is trying to say to us in a certain situation...

and all I hear is silence.

Deep, long, tormenting SILENCE.

Have we missed God on decisions we made?
Did He try to warn us, and we disregarded His Word?
Why does it get worse instead of better?
Is He stepping back and allowing us to be sifted?

The more we ask, the less we hear.

Of course, things can always be worse, and we know that. We have sat together and looked for the positive points in it--to find the reasons it WAS God's leading. Either way, the question still sits heavy: What now?

I don't mean for this to be a whine session; I just don't want to be fake. I know many of you who read my blog actually pray for our family, and since we need those prayers and since we believe it works, it only makes sense to tell you what kind of prayer we need.

We need direction.
We need confirmation through God's Word--which is living and active and useful for teaching and directing and shaping and...we believe it.

I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to Him (2 Timothy 1:12).

We do know that God is sovereign, and He sees what we cannot. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Peace of Christ to you,

What's In It? Wednesday: Chocolate Gravy & Biscuits



My husband had not eaten this breakfast until he met me, and what a weird look I got when I introduced the idea years ago!

Who puts chocolate gravy on biscuits?

Now, he does...and he loves it!

So, this recipe (like most of mine) is from my mom.

Here's how:

BISCUITS:
You may use any type of biscuits you prefer. I make Bisquick biscuits by following the directions on the box. I roll the dough with a rolling pin and use a can to cut them out instead of making drop biscuits.

The key to this meal is timing. I blend the dry ingredients for the gravy together before I make the biscuits. Then, once I put the biscuits into the oven, I begin heating the gravy, and it usually comes out great!



GRAVY:
In saucepan, combine the following dry ingredients:
3/4 Cup sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
3 Tablespoons Hershey's cocoa
Mix these together well before adding milk to prevent clumps.



Add 2 1/2 - 3 Cups milk.
BEFORE adding heat, stir until mostly dissolved to avoid clumps.
Heat to boil, STIRRING CONSTANTLY.



Serve over biscuits...and ENJOY!


Peace of Christ to you,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Something out of Nothing

"By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible" (Hebrews 11:3 ESV).

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Stop for a moment and think about this: The God we worship and serve is like no other god or prophet or leader or president or dictator...etc. Only He can claim to have made something out of nothing. Only He not only lived a life on earth (Jesus), but also died and rose for that very cause in which He believed. Only He.

And this makes me think further into the fact that if God made all this, all of us, then surely He had an intention for it all, for us all, right? And if God made the earth out of literally nothing, then what is He capable of making out of our lives?

What is He capable of making out of your life?

Better yet: What are you willing to let Him make out of your life?

This question could be a little frightening, if you think about it--if you really ask with a sincere heart. What if God sends me somewhere I don't want to go? What if I am put in danger? What if I don't get my dream house? What if I don't get my dream job? What if I don't get my dream life?

I think we get bogged down in our everyday responsibilities (which are often good things and certainly can honor Christ) and feel hopeless, as if there's no way God could do something exciting with our lives. Some of us, even though we love God and want to trust Him, settle for simply existing.

A few days ago, I was listening to The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, where Eustace and Jill are contemplating whether to stay in Narnia to fight in the great battle for Aslan or to go back home to London where, it would seem, they might be safe. He says, "I'd rather be killed fighting for Narnia than grow old and stupid at home and perhaps go about in a bath-chair and then die in the end just the same" (Lewis 120).

Do we believe in something that much, that we are willing to fight for it--and possibly even die for it? Or do we want to live comfortably?

This is a source of great conflict for Christ followers (including me!) in wealthy lands--whether in America, or Australia, or Germany...you get the idea. Our hearts are inclined toward serving and living for God, but our human desires sometimes stand in the way.

New cars. New houses. Car payments. Mortgage payments.

(I'm not saying these are bad things at all. I am saying that they can hinder us from more readily following God wherever He leads.)

I'm the worst: I want things. I want security. I want certainty. I want provision.

And all the while, I forget that the same God who made something out of nothing...can and will certainly take care of His most valued creation--you and me--and that He made us with specific intentions for glorifying Him. We weren't made to simply exist. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we are to do it for the glory of God, not for our glory. And His glory in your life looks different than His glory in my life...but it's His glory all the same.

We just have to trust Him.


Peace of Christ to you,



Lewis, C. S. The Last Battle. New York: HarperCollins, 1956. Print.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Minimizing = Maximizing


***update***

So, after posting my new living room look, before pictures were requested. Naturally. And, naturally, I had not taken before pictures. See, this was really done on a whim...which is the best way to operate, right?

Anyway, this is really the best I could do--I didn't know it could be so difficult to find pictures of what the room looked like before:

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***original post***

Well, what good would a blog make-over be without a living room make-over?


We learned this weekend that minimizing (size of furniture) indeed equals maximizing (space).


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And we do have A LOT more space, now! As you can see, Keagan loves to walk around like a monkey with his new freedom of space. (And both our kids enjoy the larger circle in which they can run around at dangerous speeds.)

My next post could be a hazardous one.

Peace of Christ to you,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Favorites: Children's Book

In an attempt to be as cheesy as bloggingly possible, I want to try something else new:

Friday Favorites. I pick the topic, and you tell me your favorite.

Ready?

Children's book.

I'll go first.

The Jesus Storybook Bible.


I know I've posted about it before, but it's well worth repeating. These stories are so beautifully written, that they often bring me (and my friends who've read them as well) to tears. Even if you are not a parent, I think everyone should have this book on the shelf because each page truly does "whisper His name." I've had days where I've literally put aside my ESV and tried to see Jesus through a child's eyes...in color, in simpler words.

This book is exactly what I need on those days. And I guess my 3 year old kinda likes it, too, you might say! Right now, "David and Goliath" is Keagan's favorite story. He says, "Goliath! HA HA HA" (in a low, deep rumble, of course).


I'm just sure that if you'll get your hands on this book, you won't regret it.


Now, it's YOUR turn! This is where those of you who are usually shy and won't comment...CAN!

Peace of Christ to you,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's In It? Wednesday: Apple Cobbler


This recipe is from my mom. I make this when she gives me fresh apples from their tree! But if you are not fortunate enough to have a mom with an apple tree, granny smith apples will do!


I use our (amazing!) apple peeler/corer/slicer for this dish; it saves a lot of time! This one runs about $15 and is worth EVERY PENNY! This sweet dessert is deceivingly EASY!


Here's how:


Peel and slice 6 cups of apples.





In large pot, toss apples with:

1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Cook and stir over medium heat until almost tender.



Pour into 9x13 pan.




Unroll 1 refrigerated pie crust and place flat on cutting board.
Slice crust into long strips. Use the longest center strips to place over the apples length-wise.




Top apples and sliced crust with:
squares of margarine or butter
lightly sprinkled sugar
lightly sprinkled cinnamon



Bake at 400 degrees until brown (approximately 30 min.)



ENJOY!



Our family loves to top this with vanilla ice cream, of course!
I hope you enjoy this sweet dessert! Not too much effort, and not too much time.


Peace of Christ to you,