Friday, February 29, 2008

Please...Help Me!

I'm in desperate need of a blog makeover.

I spend w-a-a-a-y too much time each day visiting blog after blog that is smart and sassy, beautiful and inspiring.

It's enough to make that green-eyed monster rise up within me and cause me to want to go all crazy, playing with my template and experimenting.

Except I know NOTHING about html. Or Photoshop. Or Photobucket.

Basically I know nothing period.

So I'm looking for recommendations of blog designers. But money is an issue - I'm looking for something that would be maybe $50-75. I don't think I could explain more than that to Hubby, particularly since we haven't had a full paycheck since Christmas.

If you know anyone that could help me, please leave me a comment - especially if they've done your blog and I can pop over and take a look.

'Cuz so help me, if I don't do something to pretty up this place, one day soon you'll come here and see nothing but scrambled letter and colors.

Or whatever happens when your template gets all messed up.
Thursday, February 28, 2008

See? I Told You So!



Not long ago I wrote a post talking about how great my kids are. My Thankful Thursday post today is all about how thankful I am for them.

I really don't want this blog to be one of those that just go on and on about my kids. I promise this isn't going to be a regular feature. But I do want to share what they did for me today.

They knew that I would be a little down since it was our 15th anniversary and Hubby has been gone for two months, with another one to go before we move over to Doha to join him. So the came up with Operation: The Plan. I know, I know. The name could have used a little more creativity, but the actual plan was fantastic.

Emily got my friend Jan to pretend to hire her for a babysitting job, but really she ran her all over town buying supplies. Then yesterday she corralled my friend, Mylinda, into taking me out of the house for some girl-time, while the kids worked on part of the surprise. There have been flurries of secretive phone calls requiring me to leave the room. Whispers between Emily and Daniel and furtive looks. I was ordered not to come out of my room before I was told to this morning.

About 7, Daniel came in to wake me up and call me to the family room. Once I got there, I found 15 roses spread around a poster-size cards the kids had created that was beautiful and had a list (dictated by Hubby) of 15 reasons why he loves me, a cute little stuffed puppy, Hershey's kisses, and a beautiful card. In the background they had taped from the radio the song, "How Do I Live Without You." Both kids were there to greet me and hug me when I opened the card and started crying.

Then this evening they organized a surprise anniversary party with a few of my girlfriends at church. It was just pizza and chips and soda, but they did their best to make me laugh and have a good time.

See what I mean? They are truly fantastic kids!

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him."
Psalm 127:3
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How To Get Married Without Even Dating

As I mentioned quite a while ago, Hubby and I did not date before we became engaged. I promised then to tell the story one day. Well, that day has come. It's our 15th wedding anniversary. Sadly we are spending it separately, but we will be together in a few weeks and celebrate then. But on to the story.

I had noticed a fine man in our church. He was a deacon and carried himself very well. He was always helping other people, seeking to serve and honoring God. One night there was a singles party and we were asked to carpool since parking was limited. We all met at the church and split up into groups. My younger brother, who was 8 at the time, and I went in Hubby's car (lots of single parents in the group, so my little brother wouldn't have been out of place).

At some point in the evening, my brother misbehaved. When we got back in the car, I scolded him. Hubby really rebuked him and I was sitting there thinking, "Who does he think he is?" I looked over at him , but in a godly way, and, believe me this really happened, I heard God speak to me. This is not something I say casually - it's never happened since and it had never happened before. But as I looked at him, I clearly heard God tell me, "This is your husband." Completely shocked, I sat face-forward and didn't say a word the rest of the ride back to church.
Now, I should mention here that dating was discouraged in this church. So not dating before engagement was not something unheard of. Typically how it worked was that one person felt that God was leading them towards someone, they would pray about it and then inform the pastor. The pastor would then go to the other party and say, "Someone has "submitted" your name. Pray about it for 30 days and see if God speaks to you who it is." The pastor DID NOT arrange marriages or tell anyone who to marry, got it? I mean really. Do you understand that?

So, this episode in the car happened in June. For the remainder of the summer I basically did all I could to avoid Hubby. I prayed and prayed and asked God to purify my heart. The feelings were definately increasing, but if there was something to develop between us, I didn't want it to be because I flirted and let him know how I was feeling. I wanted it to totally be a "God Thing."

I also didn't want to be the one that went to the pastor first. I saw that as a man's role. Finally, God spoke to me about my pride and stubborness and I felt led by the Lord to go to the pastor in late August. Then Hurricane Andrew hit, delaying everything but recovery efforts. Finally, in mid-September, I caught a few moments with the pastor on a Friday night after services and submitted Hubby's name.

Whew! I figured I now had 30 days to not worry about it while Hubby was supposed to be praying. I could relax.

On Tuesday evening, while at a Christian conference, Hubby pulled me aside and asked to speak to me outside. He proposed right then and there!

Amazingly, God had led him to go to the pastor and submit my name within 48 hours after I spoke with the pastor. He had been praying all summer too. According to the pastor this was the first time both parties approached him independently before he had a chance to talk to the other person. Hubby and I believe that the timing of both of us independently going to the pastor was just further confirmation that God was leading.

Believing that God led us together, we decided that there was no reason to delay our marriage with a long engagement and we were married 5 1/2 months later. Yes, there have been some difficult moments, as with any marriage, but the knowledge that our relationship is truly the work and the will of God has carried us through many a rough moment.

And it's nice to be able to tell our children the story of God's miraculous intervention.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blogging with a Purpose


Tracy over at Mama of Boys has graciously blessed me with the Blogging with a Purpose award. Tracy is such a sweet thing, with three adorable boys whom she homeschools. Be sure to go over and check her site out, particularly if you have a child with food allergies.

Anyways, on to the business of the Blogging With a Purpose Award Rules:


1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to the above linked site.

My nominees are:

Jenny at Life is Not a Cereal - Jenny always has amazing insights (well, that or amazing scrapbooking ideas!). I always come away from her blog thinking about what she's said and pondering it. Good stuff!

Jess at Mourning Into Dancing - Jess is an amazing woman of God who doesn't believe she is. Which, to me, is the best kind. She struggles and has regrets and yet she has an amazing relationship with Christ. Reading her blog helps me to remember that it's about my relationship with Christ, not what I do or who I am.

Laura at My Quotidian Mysteries - Laura has become my "orientation" guide to life in Doha. She's offered tons of advice and encouragement. But her blog is a wonderful site full of thought-provoking stuff. Plus her devotions at CWO are incredible.

Anya at Sanctuary Moment - Anya is a beautiful writer. Her posts are so moving and so well-thought out, helping me to find sanctuary in all of life.

Mrs. Fussypants at Marriage Hacks - Her posts are forthright and funny, and always encourage me to be a better wife to Hubby.

Now, I know that some of the women do not post awards on their sites and that's ok. I just hope that you might find something new to check out through this post. All of these women are well worth your time.

You know you've become too dependent on Tivo when...

  1. Your child asks you to pause the movie. In the movie theater.
  2. You actually move to hit the rewind button on your car radio.
  3. You belive it takes too long to fast-forward through the commercials at the highest speed.
  4. In conversation with people, you actually think you can rewind, um, REAL LIFE, if you've missed what someone said.

What will we do without Tivo?!?!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


Gosh, it's a new week already! Hard to believe.

Here's what we'll be eating at our home this week:

Monday - Pasta e Fagioli soup with crusty bread and salad

Tuesday - Going to a Missions Dinner, but I'll bring a salad to share

Wednesday - Church!

Thursday - Beef Stir Fry and white rice

Friday
- Small Group (I may take Apple Enchiladas - recipe below - to share)

Saturday - Turkey Chili and cornbread

Sunday - Honey Garlic Chicken with fried rice

For more menu ideas, please be sure to check out The Organizing Junkie. You can also refer to my 8-Week Menu Plan, which I hope to resume when Hubby and I are reunited and I'm cooking for the whole family again.

Apple Enchiladas

1 can apple pie filling
6 8-1n. flour tortillas
Cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water

Place approx. 1/4 cup of the pie filling on each tortilla, sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll up, tucking ends in. Place, seam side down, in a greased baking dish.

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a boil butter, both sugars and water. Reduce heat and simmer three minutes. Pour syrup over the enchiladas and allow to rest about 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.
Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sabbath


"I live six days each week in the awareness that God has called me to be his faithful servant in the world. I live the seventh day in the awareness that God alone is the giver of every good thing, that he alone runs the universe, and that I am a beloved creature, totally dependent on him as my provider and shepherd.

"There is a tradition in Judaism of avoiding intercessory prayer on the Sabbath. It's a day for prayers of praise and thanks, a day to forget the overwhelming needs of the world, a day to focus on the abundance of grace and mercy that God has lavished on us."

A Renewed Spirituality: Finding Fresh Paths at Midlife
Lynn M. Baab

Another To-Do List

As I was driving through the grocery store parking lot (the bane of my existence) today, I passed my favorite Chinese restaraunt and started thinking about how I would really, really like some Honey Garlic Chicken.

That got me thinking that Honey Garlic Chicken probably won't be readily available in Doha. Not that they don't have Chinese restaraunts, just that they probably don't serve the Americanized Chinese food we get here. It's probably, you know, authentic Chinese.

So then I started thinking about things I want to do before leaving Miami. Here's my list so far.
  1. Yeah. Honey Garlic Chicken.
  2. Lay out in the backyard and take a nap. Our house in Doha will have pavers throughout the yard - not grass. Not so comfy for nap-taking.
  3. Watch a sunrise on the beach. I could probably do this in Doha, but here I know where to go.
  4. Go to the movies. In the Middle East, many theaters sell assigned seats and people talk throughout. Not my idea of ideal movie-watching conditions.
  5. Go hang out in a bookstore and just browse. There are bookstores there, but I don't know how conducive to "hanging out" they are.
  6. Drive down to the Keys with the kids and wade out hundreds of feet into the water and still be only knee deep.

That's what I've got so far. Just small experiences that I might miss in our new life.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Honoring Our Husbands' Wishes

Recently I was telling a friend that before I leave to meet Hubby in Qatar that I wanted to get my hair cut and highlighted.


A woman standing nearby overheard me and stated that she liked my hair better when I had it long and dark. I told her that I liked it that way too, but that Hubby preferred it shorter and blonde. You would have thought I said my husband prefers me to rob banks with him rather than sit home and knit (neither of which I do, thank you very much!).


"That's just wrong! You are totally co-dependent and need to come to our recovery group! You should do what makes you happy!"


No amount of explaining my position calmed her. She was beside herself that I would put my husband's desires over my own.


This is what is wrong with marriage today. It's become all about getting our own needs met. But this is the antithesis of what marriage is ordained to be.


Paul tells us that marriage is designed to be a visual picture of the love between the Church and God. That love is a sacrificial love, one that puts the other above self. But in our modern culture, "self" is everything.


Biblically I think I'm on pretty solid ground here as well.


"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor..." Romans 12:10

" Love does not seek its own way..." 1 Corinthians 13:5

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." Phillipians 2:3-4


"The wife's body does not belong only to her. It also belongs to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not only belong to him. It belongs to his wife." I Corinthians 7: 4



We are called to honor our husbands. One facet of this is trying to respect their wishes. When we can do something that pleases our husbands, why would we choose not to? Ask yourself who are we seeking to please? If my husband prefers me with lighter, shorter hair and if he is truly the person who's opinion means most to me and the ONLY one whom I am trying to attract, why would I not want to do what he wants?

It's clear from Scripture that we are called to place love for others above seeking our own will. Furthermore, it's clear that we are to love others, particularly our husbands, more than we love ourselves.

I pray that you will endeavor to please your husband in every area - action, speech, looks, attitude. Unless your husband asks you to sin, try to honor his wishes. By surrendering your will to his, you also are surrendering your will to God's. God's Word tells us that by making ourselves less important here on earth, we are actually raising our stature in Heaven.

After all, Christ subjugated his will to his Father's when he went to the cross. And if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WFMW - Sure Fire Cure for Hiccups!


Have you ever hiccupped and hiccupped so much that it hurt? Sometimes it just won't stop, right?
We've all heard the tips of having someone scare you, holding your breath, drinking a glass of water from the opposite side (how on earth do you do that anyways?!?!). I've tried them and they don't work.
But I have a tip that actually DOES work.
The next time you, or your little ones, have the hiccups just pull out your sugar bowl. Take a spoonful of sugar and, 9 times out of 10, the hiccups will vanish. It's just that simple!
It seems as though the grains of sugar somehow modifies the nervous impulses that tell the diaphragm to spasm. Doctors aren't really sure WHY it works, but it does.
It's a sweet solution to an annoying problem. Just don't forget to brush your teeth afterwards!! LOL!!
For more great ideas, head on over to Rocks in My Dryer!
Monday, February 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday



With just five weeks left until we move, I've decided that it's time to start trying to use up all of what I have here in the house rather than doing a regular grocery store run. I know that there will probably be tons of food items that get tossed because they are opened, I'd like to use up as much as I can. Whatever is left at the time of our departure I will either give to friends or donate to the food pantry at our church.

Here's what I've come up with for this week:

Monday - Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn

Tuesday - Mexican Chicken with yellow rice and a salad

Wednesday - Church!

Thursday - Beef chili and cornbread

Friday - Hmm...I'm hosting a line dance for our homeschool group's teen group (in my empty house!) - I'll probably just make some appetizers.

Saturday - Spaghetti, garlic bread and italian salad

Sunday - Zesty Mac & Cheese (toss a can of Ro*Tel in), salad and steamed broccoli

Thanks, as always, to Laura at The Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday. It's a great way to find new ideas to shake up your family meals.

* * * * * * * * * *
In other news, the kids' passports arrived this weekend. Now we need to send copies of them, along with their birth certificates and our marriage license off to Hubby's company for them to begin processing our visas. Hopefully that won't take too long.
Had a couple of promising showings on our house and several non-promising ones, those people who just want to kill time and see what people's houses look like. The two promising ones are for renting, though one is interested in renting with a purchase option. We'll see what happens - I've heard it before, so I don't want to get my hopes up.
Ok, I'm off to get to sleep. Hope you all had a lovely weekend!!

We Interrupt This Broadcast/Bubble Bath to Bring You This Public Service Announcement

Ok.

This has gone past the point of being funny.

One of my favorite things to do to relax is to soak in my nice, big tub full of bubbles. Maybe I'll light some candles, maybe bring a book to the bathtub with me, maybe I'll just soak and dream.

I haven't gotten to do it much lately because I've been so overwhelmingly busy. Since Hubby left, I've had maybe 5 bubble baths.

Or should I say I've had 5 HALF bubble baths!

For some reason (apparently there is a signal light outside my home, which turns on automatically when I step into the tub, that draws people to my door like a moth to the flame), people feel the need to show up at my house at 9:00 at night, with no call or anything and expect me to show them the house. It's happened 4 out of the 5 times I've taken my little bubbly break.

It's just creepy and wrong to show up at her house unexpectedly and, when she answers the door in a robe, dripping wet, to expect her to let you in to show you around.

PEOPLE.

Just because someone has a "For Sale" sign in their yard does not mean you can just walk up to their door. At night. In the dark.

That's why there is a phone number on the sign - so you can call and make an appointment.

This concludes our Public Service Announcement. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
Sunday, February 17, 2008

Have a Blessed Sabbath



"I am no preacher of the old legal Sabbath. I am a preacher of the Gospel. The Sabbath of the Jew is to him a task; the Lord's Day of the Christian, the first day of the week, is to him a joy, a day of rest, of peace, and of thanksgiving. And if you Christian men can earnestly drive away all distractions, so that you can really rest today, it will be good for your bodies, good for your souls, good mentally, good spiritually, good temporally, and good eternally."

Charles Spurgeon
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Finding Freedom From the Scale

So my "frenemy" is gone. That's right - my scale. I haven't had a scale for about 2 1/2 weeks now as it's on a slow boat to Doha.

It's very unnerving for me. I bet it would be for a lot of women. Typically, I weigh every morning and sometimes more than once a day. I've heard that's a common habit for overweight people and that people who are "normal" (both in weight and in their mindset) don't focus so much on the scale.

But our worth (and our moods) are very often tied up in what those numbers on the scale say.

Down a pound or two? You feel on top of the world - attractive, successful, happy.

Up a pound or two? Condemnation sits on your shoulders, making you feel like a failure, unattractive and ugly.

It's so unhealthy and ridiculous, isn't it? And yet millions of us put our self-confidence in the scale. But what does God say about our worth?

He says that you are so valuable He sent His own son to die for you. He says that before you were born, He knew the days of your life and knit you together in your mother's womb. He says you are carried close to His heart as He tends to you like a lamb. He says that He loves you even when you don't love Him (not to mention yourself!).

In this culture it's very hard not to be thin and beautiful. It can make you feel so badly about yourself. But we, as Christians, need to rise above the culture of our day and live in God's culture. We need to remember that He loves us for who we truly are - His children.

All this is not to say that we shouldn't be healthy and take care of ourselves. This is something that I have struggled with and continue to. And, yes, I'll be curious to see where my weight stands when I and my belongings all meet up. I need to lose a good bit of weight myself so that I can be healthier and stronger.

But what I don't need is to have condemnation poured upon me from a scale. And neither do you, my dear friend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thankful Thursday



I'm so glad that Thursday is here again! I am happy because I have so much to be thankful for and Thankful Thursday is always a great opportunity to express my gratitude to God for all his blessings.

Last week was pretty hard for me. Well, actually, it was a pretty hard month. But I really feel as if I turned a corner this week with my realization (duh!!) that God didn't want me to bear my burdens by myself. Since then, I've been feeling so much better, so much more like myself.

Here are just some of the things which I am thankful for today:

  • I'm thankful for the Word of God. It truly brought me out of the pit and restored my soul this week. Nothing else could have healed me so completely.
  • I'm thankful for friends - for Mylinda (who sent me an encouraging article and just checked upon me), for Jan (who, when she was sick, spent hours with me trying to sell Hubby's car), for Debbie (who gave me a Valentine card), for Olivia (who calls just to check up on me and see if I need help all the time), and everyone else who has been so encouraging.
  • I'm thankful for wonderful Christian authors whose words bring enlightenment and understanding to me. Elizabeth George, Linda Dillow, Beth Moore and others allow God to use them to bring teaching to women like me.
  • I'm thankful for my husband. He often bears the brunt of my struggles and encourages me and loves me through them. As we draw near to our 15th anniversary, I am constantly in awe of how patient and kind he is.
  • I'm thankful for the opportunities awaiting us in Qatar. Travel, time together as a family and the chance to get out of debt are the ones I know about in advance. I'm sure God has many more surprises in store for us.
  • I'm thankful for the rain we had yesterday and today. We sorely needed it. Thankful also that no one was injured during the small tornado that touched down one county up.
  • I'm thankful that one of our properties is now rented. Just two more to go!
  • Finally, I'm thankful that Hubby found a home for us in Qatar. It sounds beautiful - and huge!! Five bedrooms (including 3 masters!), five bathrooms, two living rooms, two family rooms and more. Plus he said I can get household help once or twice a week - a new experience for me. Whoo-hoo!

I am so glad to be feeling like myself again. I really see now how I need to stay connected with my Creator in order to function. Without that communion with God, I feel like I'm spinning out of control. With him, I feel on top of the world!

Thanks to Iris for hosting Thankful Thursday once again. It's such a great way to remain mindful of the many blessings God gives us.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unfulfilled plans, feeling like a failure and God

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you might know that I had big plans for this time when Hubby is away. BIG plans to work on myself, to take time to take care of myself, something I've been neglecting since, I don't know, the day our first child was born probably.

I figured that without him around, I could relax and take life easy. I'd read my Bible lots more than I do, I'd walk every morning and eat healthier, I'd work on my clutter issues, etc.

Folks, it hasn't happened.

I have been truly overwhelmed with myriads of "stuff" that needs to be done and find myself even more frazzled than before he left. Yesterday was a breaking point and I found myself sobbing in the car over my failure to accomplish my goals; in fact my inability to do any of what I'm doing lately well.

I don't feel like I'm doing well in any of my areas - as a mom (I've become so short-tempered), as a teacher (we've hardly done any school in two weeks), as a wife (all those plans for an extreme makeover are out the window), as a business partner to Hubby (I'm paying bills late, not having much success with the houses, don't have time to do all he's asking).

As women I think we tend to take the weight of the world on our shoulders. We want to please everyone all the time. And, more often than not, we fail. We can't live up to what everyone expects of us. Many times those expectations are real, many times they are only our own perception.

But God doesn't want this for me. He wants me to live a life of freedom. Freedom from condemnation and guilt. Freedom from the expectations of anyone but Himself. Jesus tells us,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matt. 11: 28-30

That describes me for the past month or so - weary and burdened. But instead of coming to Christ and allowing him to give me rest, I've tried to carry it all on myself and driven myself to the point of desperation. I've neglected my Bible reading and my prayer time. How on earth do I expect to receive God's peace if I don't go to him and ask for it or spend time in his presence?

Only through Christ can we find the true peace that we are searching for. It can never be found through accomplishments of the world or relationships with other people. These things will always fail us and at some point leave us empty. I spent a lot of time in the car yesterday and just prayed, "God, give me you. I just want to be with you and please you. I want to be filled with you." Instantly I felt the weight of the world lift of my shoulders.

We have a God who wants to bear our burdens for us. The challenge is to let him.
Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


Wow! Last week went by really fast for me. I can't believe we are back at the beginning of another week. Time to think about what I'll be serving to my family this week.

Monday - Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday - Beef Stir Fry with rice

Wednesday - Church! We'll probably pick up Happy Meals on the way.

Thursday - Grilled Chicken, yellow rice and steamed broccoli

Friday - Pot Roast, mashed potatoes, corn

Saturday - Baked Ziti, caesar salad, roasted broccoli

Sunday - Curried chicken salad, fruit

If you could use some ideas for meals in your household, be sure to check out all the other Menu Plan Monday posts at The Organizing Junkie. You'll find tons and tons of great ideas and maybe make a new friend along the way!
Saturday, February 9, 2008

Catching Up on Random Thoughts

This will be a post that is full of the random things that I've been thinking I want to post about. I'll just get them all out there before I forget about them.

* * * * * * * * *
My friend, Leeann, submitted my name and story to win a wonderful prize for me. Last week we received The Enchanted Table - a game designed to promote family communication. My kids have really enjoyed sitting together and sharing their thoughts and ideas prompted by the cards. It's been so fun for them that I actually took it away so we can have some cards left to surprise us once we get to Qatar! They would have just gone through all of them in one sitting. Thanks to Dayna for arranging this great giveaway! And especially thanks to Leeann, who has been a rock for me as I go through this process.

* * * * * * * *

Things are looking up with regards to our houses here. I have a woman who wants to sign a TWO-YEAR LEASE on our townhouse! That means not having to worry about it for two years! Whoo-hoo!

Also, I have a couple who wants to rent our house with an option to buy. This is FINE with us. Since we will be renting in Qatar, we don't need a chunk of cash to buy something else with (although I would like to have had that money to pay off debt).

That just leaves one more house to get either rented or sold. Or course, I don't have money in hand for anything yet. I'm going to hold an open house today and tomorrow - I'd still prefer to sell.

Thanks to everyone who's been praying for these situations to be resolved!
* * * * * * * *

We have our church picnic this weekend. Because of my last name, I've been asked to bring chips and dip. I've decided to bring tortilla chips and black bean salsa. Here's the recipe (for a crowd!):

Black Bean Salsa

3 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (11 ounce) can Mexican-style corn, drained
2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, partially drained
2 tomatoes, diced
2 bunches green onions, chopped
cilantro leaves, for garnish

This is really, really good and a nice departure from your typical salsa (which gets a little boring).

* * * * * * * *

Thanks for wandering through my mind with me. I'll try to have a more cohesive post next time!
Friday, February 8, 2008

My Kids Are Great Kids


I have to tell you that my kids are amazing.

Really.

I mean, I know that I get a little cranky with them from time to time, but they are really, really good kids.

Daniel never fails to make me laugh. Today in the car a Bon Jovi song came on. You know, the duet with Sugarland. And, as I've mentioned, I have a bit of a thing for Jon Bon Jovi. So, being the little smarty-pants that he is, Daniel says from back seat, "Is this Jon Bon Creepy?" To which I reply (as any mother would), "You cannot be my son." His answer?

"Would you like me to do a fraternity test?"

I just looked at him and started to laugh and he goes, "Oh, wait,that's the college club thing, isn't it?" Um, yeah it is, cutie.

Later in the day I had a tremendous headache and Emily was such a good little caretaker. She got me something to drink and some ibuprofen, tried her best to keep Daniel quiet (no easy task!!), and just generally did everything she could to make me feel better. I'm blessed to have a daughter who loves to take care of people.

She's off babysitting now and is going to watch Daniel for me a few times this coming week so I can get out with friends. For an almost-13 year old girl, she is remarkably helpful and kind. She loves little ones and older people and is just a joy.

(The picture above is actually from Christmas 2006. I'm working with an older computer and all our newer pics are in the one on the way to Doha. But they look the same - just add several inches!)
Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thankful Thursday


"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Psalm 50:23

Truthfully, this has been a hard week for me. I think the reality of our situation has set in and it's not fun and exciting anymore. Now it's just annoying - annoying to not have something I need when I want it; annoying to be in a house that is so loud you could hear a pin drop from another room; annoying to be sleeping in a twin bed that is hard and uncomfortable.

I'm not telling you this just so I can whine. There is a point! In the verse above, Psalm 50:23, God tells us that what He wants from us is not "stuff" but thankfulness. And so I'm choosing to be thankful in the midst of all of this. And I am thankful. A bit whiny, but immensely thankful.

  • As we enter the Lenten season, I'm thankful for the sacrifice that Christ made for me and for you. I've never really celebrated Lent before, but this year I've made it a point to be more thoughtful during this time and more reflective on God's gift of His son.
  • I'm thankful that I have a home. Many people don't. And even though I may not have every convenience that I am used to, I still have more than much of the world. I need to remember that and be grateful for what I have.
  • I'm thankful that, though my husband is far away, that I have a husband. There are many women whose marriages ended either through death or divorce who are lonely. I have a wonderful man who is loving and supportive of me even from another continent.
  • I'm thankful for the many wonderful friends who have blessed us recently. We have been loaned many things, been offered help more times than I can count, and had more hugs than my shoulders can stand.

I do, indeed have much to be thankful for. I need to keep that in mind. And though sometimes it feels like a sacrifice to be thankful, I want to do it anyway. I want to remember that God is in charge, that He has the best for me in mind. Sometimes it's easier to just get swamped by one's cirucumstances and lose focus on God.

If that's happened to you, I hope you will take time today to honestly count your blessings. They are there, I promise

For more Thankful Thursday posts, head on over to Sting My Heart!


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WFMW - Romance, Web-Style!


Ok, ok, so technically I'm not giving you my favorite web shopping site. But to be honest, I don't really buy much off the web. I rather like the experience of shopping. I like holding something in my hand and feeling it, looking it over. I just can't get into ordering much online.

But I am sharing web sites that help me out this week. I am a sucker for romance. I love to give and receive signs of love. Fortunately, Hubby is the same way. Here are a couple of ways I like to help keep the spark glowing in our marriage.

The Generous Wife - This is an amazing site, chock-ful of great information. Not only are there articles and forums where you can find lots of resources and great ideas, there is a daily email that you can sign up for that gives you a little something you can do to bless your husband. This ranges from ways to pray for your husband, to sweet little gestures, to things to fire up things in the bedroom! I always love looking at the ideas. (BTW, there is a companion email for husbands to receive to bless their wives!)

Romance Calendar - I love, love, love this! It's a calendar with a different idea every day to romance your spouse. Now, I know we are all busy so we can't do every idea on the calendar, but it's a great resource for when you are needing an extra pick-me-up in the relationship department. It's part of the LovingYou.com website, which is another great source.

Do you know your Love Language? Do you know what your husband's Love Language is? If you don't know these crucial facts, you may be killing yourself to try to express your love for your spouse and getting nowhere. Conversely, you might be completely feeling unloved, even though your husband thinks he's doing all he can to show love to you. Take this quiz to find out what your love language is.

Finally, if you have any questions about more intimate issues, be sure to check out The Marriage Bed. This site just for Christian married couples frankly addresses every imaginable issue in a godly and Biblical way.

That's all I have to share with you this week. I hope that in some way you will be blessed by these sites. Be sure to visit Rocks in My Dryer for great shopping websites though - there's always a pick-me-up in shopping!
Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Steak & Spinach Pinwheels

Updated: I realized when re-reading this that I slice the beef rolls BEFORE baking them. Sorry for the confusion.

Bonnie
had asked for the recipe for this super-simple dish I'm making this week. They are very yummy and a great way to get your spinach!

Steak & Spinach Pinwheels

1 lb. very thinly sliced round steak
1 pkg. frozen spinach
8 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese (not the kind from the can - it's just not the same here)
salt & pepper to taste

Thaw and drain well the spinach. I like to squeeze it in order to make sure that all the moisture is out of it. Take one slice of beef and spread a thin layer of spinach over it. Top with cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Roll up beef slices and secure rolls with toothpicks. Cut through rolls into slices, forming pinwheel shapes. Each roll should yield about three pinwheels. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until beef cooks through. Serve.

I find that the Parmesan cheese adds a really nice tang to the beef and spinach. I've also used mozzarella when I'm short on the Parmesan and had good results.
Monday, February 4, 2008

Menu Plan Monday


It's been a while since I participated in Menu Plan Monday. With Hubby gone, it's been a little hard for me to feel motivated to actually cook. The kids and I have been having mostly "feed yourself" type meals around here. I was very convicted about it this weekend and have decided to pull myself together and make some nice meals for the family.


Monday
- Shell pasta with marinara sauce, garlic bread, and salad

Tuesday
- Bourbon Chicken, dirty rice, and cole slaw

Wednesday
- Sandwiches and chips (quick and easy before church meal)

Thursday
- Shrimp stir-fry with loads of veggies, served over rice

Friday
- Meatloaf, garlic roasted potatoes, and steamed broccoli

Saturday
- Steak & Spinach Pinwheels, salad and yellow rice

Sunday
- Pot roast, mashed potatoes and corn

That's the plan here! For more great menu ideas, be sure to visit Laura at The Organizing Junkie - you'll find tons of yummy ideas and recipes!
Friday, February 1, 2008

Favorite Ingredient Friday - Stuffed Baked Potatoes


Being now in the process of rejoining normal life, I'm trying to get back to regular things. One thing I enjoy doing is cooking and trying new recipes. This is one I've been using for years, but I thought YOU might enjoy trying it.
It comes from a cookbook called Home on the Range by Marabel Morgan (author of The Total Woman). This book was given to me by a dear friend just to bless me during one of Marabel's speaking engagements at our church.
The recipe is for Stuffed Baked Potatoes. My husband LOVES this recipe. Sadly, I don't make it often enough to please him, but when I do he always mentions how yummy they are.
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Serves 8
8 large baking potatoes
4 T. butter
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
3 T. finely chopped onions
1 minced garlic clove
1 t. salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 t. white or black pepper
2 T. melted butter
1 T. chopped parsely (for garnish)
Paprika
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  1. Wash potatoes; dry, rub with oil and bake at 400 degrees for one hour or until done. Saute onions and garlic in butter until tender; set aside.
  2. Cut 1/4 in. slice off top of potatoes and scoop out pulp, leaving shells intact and about 1/4 in. thick. Mash pulp and add onions and garlic, half the cheese, egg yolks mixed with sour cream, and seasonings. Beat well and restuff potato shells.
  3. Brush tops with melted butter and slide under a broiler for a moment to brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, bacon bits, parsley and paprika. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy these - we always do! For more great recipes, visit Overwhelmed with Joy!

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