Feb 27, 2012

The Facebook Conundrum

Ahhhh Facebook. You're a very divisive topic. We either love you or we hate you. You've reconnected relationships and ruined others.

Suddenly, I'm just not sure how I feel about you.

Last Spring, I took the Facebook app off my phone. I had spent one too many evenings, while giving The Boy a 2am feeding, scrolling my wall. I also paused one too many games of "Go Fish" to check in on everyone in the middle of the afternoon... or upload a picture of my precious kids... or tell about some great thought I had just had. Having it on my phone was allowing FB to consume me. I was thinking in status updates.

More recently, a few friends have given up Facebook for Lent. Noble. I don't consider myself an "addict," but I am now wondering what Facebook really does for me.

Spilling the truth of this conundrum is even more radical for me, as I am a certified continuing education instructor for the use of social media in Real Estate. Don't get me wrong, there are many great uses for this website, I don't dispute that at all-- especially in the business realm-- but that's not what I'm using it for any longer.

A few months ago, The Hubby and I deleted our individual accounts and created a joint one. One of the reasons we did this was that starting a new one was easier than deleting the more than 500 real estate related "friends" I had after teaching those CE courses-- and no longer felt I needed to foster those relationships after being called home to raise our children. Having a joint account also created an accountability that neither of us realized we needed. For the most part, we were communicating with all the same people via individual accounts. As we "accepted" friends to our new account, we asked ourselves the question "Is this someone that I would mail a birthday card?" (Those of you that are reading this that ARE FB friends know that we don't actually do this... but I digress...)

Some small group friends brought my attention to this Piper quote:
“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” --John Piper

Ouch. I am SO convicted, SO guilty.

I spend more time scrolling through the happenings of my "friends" and "followers" than I do at the feet of my Savior, interceding for them in prayer. It's true. Ew. Sick. Gross.

So, now I'm doing some soul searching, and dragging The Hubby along with me. (Honestly, I don't think he really cares whether or not we have a FB account.) Some thoughts to ponder: Does FB still distract, even after you've whittled down to your nearest and dearest? Is it keeping me from authentic conversation with these nearest and dearest because it's as if I already know what's happening in their lives when we're actually together? Am I communicating via FB or coveting?

As I mentioned before, The Hubby and I are revisiting "Purpose Driven Life" during Lent. A few days ago, I was reminded of that huge question I will be asked of the Lord when I stand at His feet on Judgement Day: "What did you do with what I gave you?" This is a loaded question, which deserves a full blog post. But, relating to this specific topic, I would be highly embarrassed to answer.

So, if one day we vanish off Facebook, you'll now know why. It is not a judgement to our friends that continue to use the site. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of things I would miss. There are friends across the country and around the world that I don't get to see regularly, and FB allows us to "keep in touch." I get a lot of breaking news from FB, and can keep tabs on politics, sales and incoming weather. And, who knows? We might actually feel the call to jump back in.

But you can rest assured that if I'm no longer on Facebook, I'm spending the time praying over you. You're worth it.

Feb 22, 2012

Lent, not lint.

Okay fine. I'll confess. I let The Hubby catch me making notes about belly-button fuzz.

It was such a great small group gathering. A girlfriend was sharing some sweet thoughts she gleaned from a sermon at her old church. I was writing, writing, writing... and then, as commonly happens, The Hubby stole my pen. "Oh, she's said something that's struck a cord with him," I thought.

On the contrary...

His hand approached my page of notes. "What it's going to be? What did she just say?" I thought.

"Lint" became "Lent" on my sheet of lined paper.

1st thought- BAHAHAHHAAAAAA.
2nd thought- Duh.
3rd thought- He's right... again.

Honestly, I hadn't thought about the season of Lent until small group last night.

According to the always-right Wikipedia (sense the sarcasm there), Lent is:

"... the penitential preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ."

In past years, I've given up things like chocolate, checking email more than once a day, and drinking soda. I've never had the urge to do something like "give up Facebook" and I simply couldn't "give up Pinterest." (What would we eat? What would we craft? Oh, the horror!)

What I took away from the conversation last night was different, however, from the usual "What am I going to sacrifice this year?" thought process. For the first time, ever, I was more focused on "What am I going to put in this new-found time in my day or space in my brain?"

The question was asked, "What's keeping me from my first love, Jesus Christ?" Quite simply, what isn't? I'm selfish. I'm tired. I'm busy. I'm sinful.

What am I willing to give up? What am I being called to put down so that I can voluntarily enter the desert wilderness and commune with my Savior?

The Hubby and I have decided to give up Netflix. Sounds silly, but we watch a lot. of. Netflix. In my laziness, I will miss the few hours each evening spent snacking on the couch watching "Mad Men," "Downton Abby," or "Cheers;" however, I cannot wait for some eye contact, game playing, talking, and reading the Word together. We're going to revisit the first study we ever did together, waaaaaaaay back in college when we were "just friends"... Purpose Driven Life.

For the first time ever, it's not about what I'm "giving up." It's about  actively pursuing JESUS.

I'm accepting the invitation to 40 days in the wilderness.

Who knows, I might find that The Hubby is right about more than just how to properly spell "Lent."

Feb 19, 2012

Roast Beef with Horseradish Sauce

Disclaimer: I do NOT like horseradish, but something about this one intrigued me... and I am SO thankful! This was absolutely delish! We served it with green beans, cous cous, fresh strawberries and some foccacia bread.

1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 (4 lb) boneless sirloin tip roast, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 Cup beef broth
Horseradish Sauce (see below)

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub salt mixture evenly over roast halves. Coat roast halves with cooking spray.
2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add roast halves, browning well on all sides. Place roast halves in a 3.5 to 4 quart electric slow cooker. Add broth to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Pour broth mixture over roast. Cover with lid; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting; cook 6 to 8 hours or until tender.
3. Remove roast halves from slow-cooker, reserving au jus (meat drippings) in cooker. Let roast stand 15 minutes; cut diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve with au jus and Horseradish Sauce.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 3 oz. roast, 2 Tbsp au jus, and 4 tsp Horseradish Sauce.)

Horseradish Sauce:
2.3 Cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 Cup light mayonnaise
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Yield 1 Cup (serving size: 4 tsp)

Mexican Black-Bean Chili

1 lb dried black beans
2 Cups water
2 Cups chopped onion
1 Cup coarsely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 Cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 Cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 Cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) Cans chili-style chunky tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz) Can tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt
6 tsp (1.5 oz) shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
6 Tbsp low-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro

1. Sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans; bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes. Removed from heat; cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans.
2. Place beans, 2 cups water, and next 12 ingredients (through garlic) in a 4-quart electric slow-cooker, stir well. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat setting 8 to 9 hours or until beans are tender. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and salt. Ladle chili into bowls; top each serving with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 Cups chili, 1 Tbsp cheese, 1 Tbsp sour cream, and 1 tsp cilantro.)

Again, thank you Cooking Light. SOOOOOO GOOOOD!

Rio Grande Meat Loaf

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 Cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp minced seeded jalapeno pepper (I left this out.)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 taco shells, finely crushed (I used crushed tortilla chips.)
2 large egg whites
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs ground round
1/2 Cup salsa

1. Coat a 3.5-quart electric slow cooker with cooking spray. Tear off two sheets of aluminum foil long enough to fit in bottom of slow cooker and to extend 3 inches over each side of slow cooker. Fold each foil sheet lengthwise to form a 2-inch-wide strip. Arrange foil strips in a cross fashion in cooker, pressing strips to bottom of cooker and extending ends over sides of cooker.
2. Combine beans and next 11 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Crumble beef over vegetable mixture; stir just until blended. Shape mixture into a loaf the shape of slow cooker container. Pleas loaf in slow cooker over foil strips. (Foil strips become "handles" to remove meat loaf from slow cooker.)
3. cover with lid; Cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting; cook e2- to-3 hours or until done. Use foil strips to lift meat loaf from cooker. Let meat loaf stand 10 minutes; cut into wedges. Spoon 1 Tbsp salsa over each serving.
Yield: 8 servings

Makes GREAT leftovers. Thank you again, to my friends at Cooking Light (Slow Cooker Cookbook, 2004)

Feb 16, 2012

Chocolate Lovin'

I put these lovely little numbers together for my MOPS table Mama's... "Grove's Gals." I get to spend 2 Thursday mornings each month with these ladies, sharing Mama joys and horrors. I'm so thankful to them for making me feel more and more normal.

My goal was something inexpensive and cute, and involving chocolate. So, Pinterest gave me this:

You need: Hershey's chocolate nuggets, scrapbook paper (but I found Valentine's themed lunch-sacks at Dollar Tree), letter stickers, index cards and cellophane bags.

1. Cut strips of paper to wrap the Hershey's nuggets.

 2. Wrap the nuggets, keeping the paper in place with some scotch tape.

3. Place the letters on each piece of chocolate.
4. Using scotch tape, adhere the "lettered" chocolate nuggets to the index cards
(to hold them in place.)

5. Slip the chocolate name pieces into cellophane bags.

6. Admire your handiwork. Find a cute bowl or platter and place creations in as a centerpiece until the day comes that you give them away!

Feb 14, 2012

The explosion

I am going to attempt to summarize what just happened, but rest assured, I can do it NO justice. There really are no words to express the way, as The Hubby said, "God just exploded out of the box I had put Him in."

"Hope at the Cove" became "Hope in my heart."
Hope that God follows through on promises.
Hope that prayers of the faithful are powerful and effective.
Hope that Jesus fills all voids, with no discrimination.
Hope that the Holy Spirit's indwelling can lead to incredible richness.
Hope that God can, and will, use his people in Mighty Ways... if we just get out of the way!

I saw my friends, our small group, my brothers and sisters in Christ-- BEING the body of Christ. It's no coincidence we were studying 1 Corinthians 12 in BSF this week. I got to see it LIVED OUT.

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is apart of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having fits of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts." -1 Cor. 12: 27-31

I prayed for opportunities to grow relationships beyond this evening... that this banquet would be a spring board. But what? What can I do with these new friends and share the love of Jesus? The first words from a gal I sat with, "I like your scarf." HA! Yes! I see a late-evening-scarf-making-coffee-drinking-treat-enjoying event on the horizon. THANK YOU, LORD!

I prayed for hearts to be moved. Then, I sat at a table with one gal, and five men-- most of whom were mid-40s or older. As our friend got up to introduce the group games, the Holy Spirit just poured out of him. He said to the crowd, "We have been praying for you. We love you, and this night is not just one event. It's the start of a long-term relationship. You're going to get sick of us." And then he paused, "You don't receive enough recognition." The gal at my table said, "That's nice to hear-- I'm getting choked up." And then he said, "God sees you." And with that we all-- including the five guys-- wiped tears from our cheeks. Hearts were moved. THANK YOU, LORD!

I even prayed that this evening wouldn't be a burden on our sweet babysitter. When we got home, she told me that she had enough quiet time to get all of her homework done for the whole week. THANK YOU, LORD!

God is so BIG! And yet, even in His unmatchable majesty, he cares about the "little things" like our babysitters 7th grade homework. I just want to keep following hard after Him!

One of the gals asked how she could get to our church on Sunday. "Do you have a bus?" We do now!
Another guy said we should come and lead chapel one night. Yes, please!

Oh, Lord, my heart is overflowing. We don't deserve to be a part of this, but thank you thank you thank you for counting us worthy of this calling.

May we show them, and ourselves, that YOU, JESUS, are the only thing that gives worth.

I keep singing the words to Paul Baloche's "What Can I Do?"--

What can I do but thank You,
What can I do but give my life to You
Hallelujah, hallelujah
What can I do but praise You,
Everyday make everything I do a hallelujah
A hallelujah, hallelujah


... but the greatest of these is Love.

It's Valentine's Day, and something Big is happening tonight. There won't be roses, and I don't think there won't be chocolate. But, there will be a whole lot of LOVE.

For several months our Grace Church growth group has been praying about how we can live out our faith. About four weeks ago, God laid something Big on someones heart, and tonight we get to see it come to fruition.

Tonight, by the grace of God, we get to lavish the love of Jesus Christ on the residents and staff of Hope Ministries in downtown South Bend. We were going to do something easy... something simple... something quiet... something that came from our hearts, and fit in our wallets. But no. God called us to something Bigger... something Better... something Ordained... something Pre-Planned... something Involved... something Complex... something Expensive. Funny God, eh?

In just four weeks, and only by the Power of the Great I AM, 25 finite people have pieced together a banquet, that will be held downtown South Bend at Coveleski Stadium. It is a dinner buffet, with cloth linens... a professional photographer... live music... games for kids... and oozing with JESUS.

We need prayer, big time. If you have even 15 minutes tonight, would you read below and find a way to cover us in prayer?

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:13

We're calling it "Hope at the Cove."  Below is the schedule and suggested prayer points with a few verses for the time slots.  If you feel led, pray as much as you can. Please feel free to choose a designated time, set an alarm, and go on your knees before God.  We truly believe that God is able and willing, we need only ask in faith and trust that His will be done!

May Christ be glorified in and through all of us! (Shout out to my sister @ChristenSnavely who put this together!)

6:00 Arrival of our team
Pray that our hearts would be filled with Gods love, the Spirit would fill us, use us, speak through us. We would have joy overflowing. Final details, too... That everything would come together.
**"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
** "Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  I am the Vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5

6:15-6:30 Arrival of beloved guests
God's presence would be felt. People will feel comfortable, and loved.
**"For this reason I bow before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Eph 3:14-19
** "And He said, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' And he said to Him, 'If Your Presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and your people? Is it not in Your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and Your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?"

6:30-6:45 Welcome, opening prayer
For Kyle Jones' music--to impact their hearts, and bring God glory... For the men leading and welcoming (Christian, Dustin, Philip and Tim)... For God's peace and His Words.
** that we would "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Phil. 2:3-4

6:45-7:15 Meal
That we would have enough food. ;) and that the people would feel Christ's love and favor and joy. Conversations would be fun, deep, and beaming with love. That our team would relate and trust Jesus for words to speak and for His ears to hear and eyes to see.
**"And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
**"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." 1John 4:7

7:15-7:30 Sharing time
That God would speak through Christian, Dustin and Philip. That God would give them words and discernment, and they'd trust that as He has called them to share, He promises to go before them and equip and lead them. Open hearts, too, to hear the Gospel. It would be clearly shared and perceived. That Jesus would be magnified more than anything, and lives would be changed.
**"...and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." Eph. 6:19-20
7:30-7:45 Large group games
For laughter and joy and smooth gaming by all. :)
** "For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." Philemon  1:7
**"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, 'The LORD has done great things for  them.' The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:2
Fill them/us with your JOY!  Because of all that we have in Christ!

7:30-8:15 Kids' games, photos, caricatures
That the kiddos would have a sweet, fun time... That the adults would be engaged in conversations as well, and that again, Jesus would be glorified.
** "And this is eternal life, that they know You, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." John 17:3**Jesus, move amongst us! "And the Word become flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and Truth."  Through Your Spirit, allow Christ to be seen and felt and dwell among the precious people of Hope!

8:15-8:30 Giving tshirts, Bibles, closing up
Oh that the people, and us, would be drawn closer to God, and each other!  For protection from the enemy, as opposition is expected.
**"He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:3
**"For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in our prayer, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of HIS great might, that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1:15-23

Thanks so much everyone!

Feb 11, 2012

What a difference a decade makes...

Last night we wrapped up three weeks of birthday celebrations. It started a few days before my birthday, when The Hubby took me on a surprise getaway to Chicago. Then came the actual date-- which caught me by surprise. And, finally, last night I enjoyed yet another amazing cake made by a dear friend, along with games and merriment with people I love.

A week ago I turned 30. To anyone born before 1980, I am still very young. To anyone born from 1980-1984, I'm normal. And to anyone born after 1985, I'm closer to their age than they thought ;)

Regardless, the last few weeks have included some intense reflection. So much has happened in the last 10 years! (Well, honestly, so much has happened in the last 30 years, but I'll spare you all of those details...)

Since 2002, I--
-got baptized
-was an Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess
-became an Aunt
-lived, studied in Mexico for 6 weeks
-graduated from college
-traveled to China for 2 weeks with ABC's "Nightline"
-stood up for 11 girlfriends in their weddings
-married the man of my dreams!
-owned 4 homes, and one investment property
-gave birth, twice
-ran 3 half marathons
-helped more than 200 people buy or sell a home

Of course there are a lot of other things that God has done over the last 10 years, and some painful stuff too, but those are the "highlights."

I was telling a friend last night that after one week, I think thirty feels good. Since 6th grade I've been trying to figure out who I am (I know, I'm a slow learner) and I think I've finally got it. It's not because of the list of events and accomplishments above.

It's because of Jesus.

I'm learning, daily, more about who He is, and therefore, who I am IN HIM.

"But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me." -Psalm 13:

The Roommate

Many of you have asked, "How is the sale of your house going?" And, ashamedly, I have to admit that it is not... not because the market is terrible, or our Realtor isn't doing their job... but because we took it off the market. And, my shame doesn't come from our decision, but in my lack of time to sit down and blog about it.

When I started this blog, I committed to keeping it pressure free. It's not chronological, and has very few photos of our kids. It's not an online scrapbook, but a random assortment of thoughts, insights, and tasty recipes ;) Most importantly, it's an online testimony what God is doing in "our world" and the housing situation is a "biggie."

The Hubby and I believe God called me out of the Real Estate business-- at least for a time-- and asked us to trust Him with the details, including our financial situation. As we looked around our home, and dug into an incredible study ("The Gospel in Life" by Timothy Keller) with our small group, our eyes and hearts were turned more and more from the selfishness of our comfortable life, and more towards the needs of the people around us. Our home is lovely, welcoming, warm in the winter, cool in the summer... but it's also more house than we NEED. As we dug deeper and deeper into God's Word, we felt convicted of how much more we could do with our (His) money... and how much less we could live with (and simplify our lives!) So, last fall-- November-ish-- we listed our house for sale.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction." -1 Tim. 6:6-9

The showings were plentiful. Our house was ridiculously clean, and yet our kids could still make messes here and there, without getting into too much trouble. (Prepping for a showing, as a former Realtor, with two young children, is tireless. I have some thoughts on that... here.) We had a good amount of traffic, but no offers, and Christmas was just a few weeks away. Besides the holidays, my bigger concern was the weather. As I always told my clients, once it starts snowing, things in the Real Estate market tend to slow-- if not come to a screeching halt! So, after much prayer, we decided to take our house off the market and continue to trust the Lord with the details-- and the funds ;)

Meanwhile, I had a chat with my cousin who asked if we had considered renting our guest room. Considered- yes; Seriously- no! That night, I read a blog about a family of 7-- in a 3 bedroom home-- who put all 5 (yes, FIVE) of their children in one room (the master bedroom.) The parents lived in one of the other bedrooms. Brilliant! We could live in our guest room and rent our master to a young couple-- it could be like a little suite. But where to find this couple?

The next day (talk about bam-bam-bam), a friend in small group mentioned that he had gotten an email about a recent Bethel College graduate who was looking for a room to rent. (Really, Lord? You're going to piece this together this quickly?!) I got the email, touched base with her Dad, and had her over to check out our house within the next few days.

It was less than a week from when we took our house off the market, to when she committed to renting our guest room.

"You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance." -Psalm 66:12

Then came all of the weird connections. She's from Lafayette- where I grew up. She has family in Plymouth- as do we. She had been to our home previously-- for the final year that we served the college ministry at our church.

God was farther ahead of us than we could have imagined!

We prayed for God to fix our financial situation, and allow us to do more for His Kingdom. He answered, not how we expected, but far better than we could have even asked.

We are still in our home... not having to prepare for showings amidst nap times and snowstorms. We are still in our home... enjoying the amazing neighbors that we have. We are still in our home... not having to pack, uproot and unpack our children's lives. We are still in our home... a place that we pray is used for ministry, not just comfort and shelter. We are still in our home... living in community with a beautiful young woman, who has a heart for Jesus, is incredibly patient with our children, and can appreciate all that IN-25 from Rochester to Delphi encompasses.

"Perfect submission all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love."


This was a great reminder this week, sent from a friend...

(By: Louie Giglio)

When you cry out all the things that you are not, you'll know His answer is, “I AM." 
For every cry, there is one answer:

I need help.
I need hope.
Who could possibly be smart enough to figure this out?
What works?
What lasts?
What’s the latest thing?
What's the hippest thing?
I need a fresh start.
I need a bigger story.
My vision is bigger than my resources.
Nothing's real anymore.
Who can I trust?
I'm not sure who's on my team.
Nobody's listening to me.
I don't have a prayer.
My marriage is sinking and i don't know where to turn.
I can't hold on.
My kids deserve more.
I'm pouring into others, who's pouring into me?
If we fail, who will get the job done?
I'm not sure why I'm here.
I've given all I can give and it's not enough.
I'm tired.
I quit!
I can't!
I need a drink.
I need a fix.
I need a lover.
Somebody just hold me.

Feb 8, 2012

Mediterranean Beef Soup

This was so G.O.O.D., courtesy of our friends at Cooking Light in the Slow Cooker Cookbook, circa 2004. I wasn't sure about the cinnamon, but it made the dish!

2 medium zucchini (about 1.25 lbs), cut into bite-sized pieces -- I used yellow squash
1 large onion, cut into 6 wedges
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
3/4 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 (14.5- ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, undrained
1/2 tsp black pepper
3.5 cups hot cooked orzo (about 1.75 cups uncooked rice-shaped pasta)

Place first 6 ingredients in a 3.5 qt. electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray; stir well. Cover with lid, cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting, and cook 7 to 9 hours. (Mine only had to cook 4-hours on low, after the first hour on high.) Discard cinnamon stick. Serve over orzo. Yield: 7 servings (serving size: 1 cup soup and 1/2 cup pasta)

**I did not serve ours over orzo. We just ate it like stew, and it was still delicious!

Greek Bruchetta

I made this for a Super Bowl party, and then again for small group on Tuesday night. It did not disappoint either time. You gotta love 6 ingredients, too!
You need:
Olive oil
3-4 Roma or Plum Tomatoes
Scallions (green onions)
1 lb. of Feta
Greek seasoning (approx. 3 tsp)
1 loaf French bread, baguette
a large platter (the kind that you registered for when you got married, and have only used once)

Pour enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the platter. Dice the tomatoes and chop the onion and toss them into the oil. Crumble the feta and toss it into the oil, too. Sprinkle the Greek seasoning over top. Gently stir it all together. Slice the bread and serve with the dip.

If these directions are too vague, get the official recipe where I did... here.

Cathy's Banana Bread

I have a great recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana bread; however, I've recently found myself with bananas and no chocolate chips. (I know, terrifying!) So, I found this one here, and it's baking as we speak...

  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch pan, or two 7x3 inch loaf pans.
  2. Combine banana and sour cream. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and banana mixture. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; stir into the banana mixture. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan or pans.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

To be mailed...

The Girl and I also enjoyed painting some cards to mail to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. This one requred purchasing one item: card stock. Everything else was in-house. Sweet! (Pun intended.) It's pretty self explanatory...

After several minutes, all fine-motor skills were thrown out the window and she decided she'd rather use her paintbrush. I'm sure all recipients will be equally thrilled.

At the risk of saying the "P" word again, I'll let you figure out where we got the idea...

Butterfly lovin'

The Girl and I had a great time putting together Valentine's for her "school" friends. Yet another lovely Pinterest find. And, the best part, I only had to buy 3 things: clothes pins and pipe cleaners ($1 each at Dollar Tree) and conversation hearts (from Target.)

First she colored each of the butterfly "bodies." 

Then, she practiced writing her name.
And my heart ached a bit more with each confident swipe of the marker.

We were thankful for some "snack-sized" baggies I scored for us while helping Auntie J clean out her basement!

 Then, we measured and poured...

 ... and admired our handiwork!

And there are our butterfly friends.

Pinterest, I continue to thank you.