Thursday, May 27, 2010

Some Tons of Assembly Required...but so worth it

Keagan and Kate got their very own swing set this past weekend, and they are loving it!




I'm sure I speak for their dad when I say: It was NOT an easy project!
But look how happy they are on it! Here's a picture from their first evening with it:


Thinking it was worth it, don't you?
Peace of Christ to you,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What's In It Wednesday: Taco Salad Bowls

These are yummy! Cutting up the veggies is probably what takes the longest, but they're not hard. They take about 30 minutes to prep and bake. If you preheat the oven first thing, you should be able to time the meal perfectly.

What You'll Need:
large burrito-sized flour tortillas
1 jar taco sauce (I use a large one so there's some left for extra topping)
1 lb ground hamburger or turkey
1 can kernel corn (or frozen) drained
1 can light red kidney beans drained
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon chili powder

sour cream
diced tomato
sliced olives
sliced green pepper
shredded cheddar cheese

What To Do:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly coat t
ortillas with vegetable oil on one side (the side you'll face up). Taking a prong fork, poke tiny holes all over tortillas. Using oven-safe small bowls, drape the tortillas over bottoms of bowls individually to shape into taco bowls and place on cookie sheet. The oil-coated side should be facing you. (You may coat even more lightly the other side if you're worried the tortilla may stick to bowl.) Bake these for about 30 minutes while you cook the meat and other preparations.

Cook hamburger or turkey meat with diced onion in large skillet. Add taco sauce, corn, kidney beans, garlic powder, and chili powder to cooked meat and onions. Taste and add more garlic or chili powder as needed (I always end up adding more!). Let meat simmer on low while you cut up vegetable toppings. This will take about 10 minutes. Once taco bowls are golden brown and very crispy (not soft at all), remove from oven and from the bowls. You'll want to eat them immediately, as they cool quickly. Mix the meat with the vegetable toppings as desired and enjoy!

This recipe originates from a Betty Crocker book, and I made my own modifications to it because some of their ingredients were weird or difficult! I hope you enjoy this!
Peace of Christ to you,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Early Riser, Hazelnut, and a Dirty Kitchen

This morning as I fumbled into the kitchen bright and early (and of course Kate was already awake, too), I looked at my disheveled kitchen with weary eyes. While I was pouring my coffee, Proverbs 31 came to mind: staying up late to take care of things and rising early to start again. I was up pretty late making last minute changes to my online classes. It's just not easy to stay up late when you a) aren't used to it and b) you're pregnant. So that dirty kitchen, the already-awake 2 year old, and the first day of summer classes just weren't looking so fresh this morning!

But it felt comforting in that moment of stirring hazelnut into my coffee mug that even the woman who supposedly had it all together in scripture could never seem to get it all done.

Because it never really ends.

If it isn't one child, it's another; if it's not the washing machine, it's the hot water heater (ours really did break today); if it's not one chore, it's twenty others on the list. Life is busy and sometimes just flat-out hectic.

I wrote in my journal this morning, asking God to give me strength to rest amidst the hurriedness and seeming chaos. I'm focusing this week on the gospels and specifically finding examples of the fruit of the Spirit in Jesus' actions and words. It's making me just stop and think more: Jesus walked out this human condition.

He knew stress.
He knew the push to be hurried.
He knew exhaustion.

And I'm glad...not because I rejoice in His sufferings that He endured, but because I can rejoice in His empathy with me. This helps me to breathe deep and take a moment to thank God for these things I allow myself to stress over.

The early riser.
The dishes.
The laundry.
My job.

And let me tell you, NOT having hot water sure makes you appreciate HAVING it.

I am blessed. Tired, but blessed.
Peace of Christ to you,

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dear Kate--May 21, 2010

Dear Kate,

Tonight Daddy and I bought you your first pair of sunglasses. The joy the rainbow colors brought you easily made them worth far more than the $2.50 they cost.

You look so beautiful in them.

But you can't sleep in them, and so we had a little...disagreement at bedtime. I rocked you in your rocking chair while you hugged me tightly and cried profusely about the injustice of my decision.

When God decided I would be your mother, along with that He decided to give me more than I could ever have prepared for. Just as you turn to me now and ask, "Mommy, you like it?", so will you look to me later with unsure eyes, asking for the right moves to make--sometimes without speaking at all.

What should I wear?
Which girls at school can I trust?
What sport or activity should I join?
What boy should I like?
he really be "the one"?

For now, our decisions to make are relatively simple, but I know as you grow in height and in beauty, they will become deeper and more complex. I'm waiting for you to ask about toe nail polish colors, but I must accept that before I'm through with that stage, we will be choosing a prom dress, a college, and one day a husband.

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

I pray that as I marvel at your beauty in those new rainbow sunglasses, I will also teach you what real beauty is. That God created you to long for Him, to run after Him, to ask Him, "Daddy, you like it?"
Peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Baby Update

I thought I'd update on my pregnancy since I haven't in so long, and some sweet cyber friends have been writing, asking if everything is okay--if I am still indeed pregnant. I am! Thank you for being concerned (those of you who were) and I apologize for leaving you questioning!

This little rug rat is doing just fine! He (yes, he is still a boy!) is ahead of growth actually--probably from all those Swiss Rolls I've consumed this time. What? I'll get back on a healthy track after he's here. Speaking of that, I have a doctor who is so amazing! He tells me not to waste my calories; make them worthwhile! He says not to just have ice cream--have ice cream with nuts and chocolate and whipped cream on top! Go all out.

I like him.

The real reason for that is usually because I have small babies (or I have both times before), and he wants to plump them up as much as possible. He has delivered both of my children and will this one as well. (This is the specialist I see in Tulsa for my heart--not my regular OB provider.) He is just great. But I think you already picked that up.

I had an appointment on Monday and learned some things. This pregnancy has been very different in that I am highly prone to injury. Seriously, crazy things keep happening to me that cause me to become Superman and perform absurd things! There was the fence scaling I did to save my daughter from what I thought was a snake in the woods behind our house. There was the full-on sprint down our road to catch her on her trike before a car got to her first. Then there was the downhill sprint after our pastor's son who had jumped on Keagan's bike and, in a matter of no less than 2 seconds, was barreling down our slanted driveway, into the road, and across to the other side with a crash.

With these events, I've learned that there are two types of people: Freezers and Jumpers. (My doctor got such a kick out of my analogy!) Freezers become paralyzed with fear--cemented to the ground while jumpers move before they fully understand what their mission is. I'm a jumper. Definitely. And you can't just turn this off when pregnant. Obviously.

So, usually, these events turn into some pain, cramping, and bleeding. It has always stopped quickly, and I've taken some bed rest time afterward to make sure I recover well. Anyway, back to what I learned at my appointment. (You had to know all that first; stay with me.) Once I explained all this to my doctor, he said he knew why I'm prone to bleeding more this time than the two times before: I have an abnormally low placenta. This doesn't seem to be a big problem right now, but he told me what measures I'll need to take if it happens again. Just having an answer and a game plan for it helps a lot. And he'll watch it now to make sure.

My appointments are getting more frequent now, which brings me to my next point: Yesterday I looked at my calendar and realized that the approximate scheduled time for this kid to show up is a whole week earlier than I'd thought. Because of my gestational heart condition (if you didn't know, don't freak out--it's not as bad as it sounds I'm sure), my doctor delivers at 37 weeks to avoid any added complications. This falls closer to my own birthday than I had thought and gives me less time after my fall semester of teaching begins. I've been a little stressed out recently. My summer already feels hectic, and it hasn't even begun yet! My summer semester of teaching begins next week and runs to the end of July, and my fall semester begins August 11--my birthday! Then, just a few days later, it looks like we'll be having our little boy. Woah.

I know how quickly time passes, and I'm really not that prepared for this baby (even though I technically have the major things I need). Mentally, I'm not there yet. I have right at or less than 3 months to get that way! I know I will; it just feels crazy right now.

So, this has turned out to be much longer than I'd planned, but I knew I had not updated in a while on the baby. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a restful summer...even if I can't. (Just kidding!)

Peace of Christ to you,

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Settling Into Love

I got to do something tonight that I haven't had a) time or b) energy to do over the past few months. I made a birthday dinner for my father-in-law: homemade lasagna and homemade apple cobbler. My husband and I joke about whether cooking for people is a spiritual gift or not! It's really something I love to do.

Life has been settling down lately, and I'm so grateful for the re-institution of routine, familiarity, somewhat of predictability. Change is nice, but not when it's such a drastic one such as unemployment! But truly, as I look back on the difficult time we went through (and seriously, when I say "difficult," I laugh now because we in no way resembled anyone living in a country you'd go on a mission trip to help), I can see all that God wanted to teach us and show us.




And we just wouldn't have gotten it had we not been in that situation. The ironic thing is that each of these qualities I so desperately hated during that time. I didn't want anything to do with either of them. Just tell me already why this is happening and how to fix it! But God in His sovereignty continues to over-rule my thick-headed protests and allows me to learn something worthwhile. And so I am thankful. Thankful that He knew why we needed to go through a time of dependence on Him. Thankful that He wasn't just ignoring us and chuckling as we floundered around. Thankful that He always sent the provision we needed in one crazy way or another. Thankful that He really did have something beautiful, something better for us on the other side. (And it is. My husband loves his new job so much, and I can't even tell you the blessing it is with time as a family.) Even better than we could have hoped. That's our Dad for you.

Speaking of Dad: I say it a lot, but being a parent has opened up such a deeper understanding of God and His infinite goodness, grace, mercy, acceptance, love, and sacrifice that I surely would never have known without raising children myself. A couple of weeks ago, it had been one of those stressful days where Keagan had pushed every cotton-pickin' button on me all day. And I was so drained...and even needing a break from him. I had my discipleship group that night, and I got all but 5 minutes away from the house and started crying. I was remembering a story a friend had just shared about a couple who had intentionally burned a little 4 year old boy in a bathtub. I started missing Keagan and wanted to go back to hug him. Wait a minute; wasn't I just rushing out the door a mere 5 minutes ago to get away from him? But really, in all the moments of frustration and annoyance I'd had with him that day, never once could I have conceived of purposefully hurting him, and it crumbles my heart that someone could do such a wicked thing to a helpless child.

And as I drove further down the road, the thought occurred to me that God loves us the same way--even more. There isn't anything we could do to push Him so far over the edge that He would desire harm on us. Nothing. When we are His kids, there is no need to worry about a harsh punishment or even abuse. Nothing can separate us from His love.

Just a couple days later, Keagan woke up early in the morning and came into the living room where my husband and I were having coffee and reading. Without saying much else, he asked to hear "How He Loves" by David Crowder Band.

Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves us all.

This very well could be what I've learned more than anything else over the past few months. And I'm grateful that He was patient enough to teach me.
Peace of Christ to you,