Dinner, OUT!

Can you sense the joy?


 My little man.


 His little darlings.


I let her try on some lip gloss from the MAC store and she picked out this darling hat to pose in. Pretty girl is growing up!


 Love them to pieces!


He insisted on pushing his own stroller. :)

Going out to dinner as a family may not be a big deal to some but for us, we were pretty much homebound all of last year. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times we ate out together.

Earlier in the week, Morgan and I purposed to go out as a family. We decided to go to the River. It was somewhere where we could not only eat, but walk around afterwards.

We hadn't really planned on going to Flemings but when we got there, we remembered we had a gift card. Score! Thankfully, they were able to seat us outside on the patio and Zach did GREAT!

We thoroughly enjoyed the sweet calamari, the mushroom raviolis, and the prime burger! Yum!

Needless to say, I felt a bit spoiled over the weekend. I got to spend time with my God at the mini retreat AND, I got to go out to a nice dinner with my family.


Mini Retreat


I had the pleasure of attending a mini retreat this weekend and it was exactly what I needed. I love the idea of a mini retreat. Unlike typical retreats where you're gone for the whole weekend, this was only for half the day, from 9-1:00. Also, it was held locally, in a beautiful home, which I felt made it more personal.

The day consisted of:
-Sweet worship
-Short teaching
-Quiet time of our own to reflect, pray, and study the word of God
-Brief time of group discussion and sharing
-More amazing worship
-Delicious lunch and fellowship

My time at the retreat reminded me of two very important truths:

Truth #1. Faith is just the beginning of our walk with the Lord. A profession of faith without progress in the faith is a DEAD faith. Our faith GROWS as we continue to seek Him in all things and all circumstances. When we take our eyes off of our surroundings and begin to search for Christ, His presence then, begins to change us.
The FAITH TO BE CHANGED begins with a WILLINGNESS TO SEEK HIM.
"I love all those who love Me. Those who search will truly find Me." -Proverbs 8:17
To be honest, last year, I was mostly in survival mode. I probably spent most days seeking sleep more than anything else. This year, with Zach being older and eating much better, I'm already a little bit more mobile. My goal this year is not only seek God but INTENTIONALLY PURSUE AFTER HIM with my whole heart.

Truth #2. On occasion, I NEED time to myself. Most of us moms are so busy taking care of our families. We sacrifice ourselves daily and while there is a great joy and obedience in that, I truly believe God wants us to take the time to refresh our souls. Even Jesus took time away from His ministry to GO AWAY BY HIMSELF to pray, meditate, and hear from God.

It's easy to get burnt out. Sometimes we don't even realize we're just going through the motions. We tell ourselves that this season will pass (and it will) but God wants me to seek hard after Him and sit in His presence TODAY. There is no shame in wanting to carve out a little time to be with Him. To BE STILL and to hear His QUIET VOICE is actually the best thing I can do for my family. God wants me to be the best version of me TODAY, not some day in the future when time is more accessible.

I'm typically an introvert and not too fond of big crowds but I loved the fact that all these women from around our valley came to DRAW NEARER to the Lord. The corporate worship was moving and meaningful and the individual private time we had with God was an invaluable gift to my spirit and soul.

I'm so grateful the Lord put it on my heart to go and then made it possible. I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli

Yum!


Well, it's been a while since I've posted a recipe, hasn't it? I've made this for the family a few times now and it's definitely a new addition to my repertoire. Don't you just love it when something new gets added to the mix? :)

When the girls get home from school and smell what's cooking, they get really excited about this one. Funny, because they've never cared for this dish at any Chinese restaurant. In fact, they don't even really like beef! Other than beef jerky, of course. :)

But this is different. The slow cooker makes the meat super tender and the sauce is delectable and slightly sweet.

What's not to love, right? Plus, it's packed full of my favorite vegetable: BROCCOLI.

I also love this dish because it's a one pot meal. No side dishes, salads, or extra veggies. Just pile it on top of your favorite rice!

And Costco makes it even easier with their big bags of organic brown and white rice in the freezer section.

Give it a try! I promise, it's better than take-out!

Slow Cooker Beef Broccoli
serves 4-5

Ingredients:
  • 1.5 pounds flank steak (this makes the meat more shredded at the end) or sirloin steaks (more intact pieces and equally tender) slice meat in pieces about 1/4 in. thick.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ⅔ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 4-5 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch + 2 tablespoons cold water

Instructions:
  1. Add steak, salt, beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 4-5 hours.
  2. About 20 minutes before serving, uncover the slow cooker. In a small bowl whisk corn starch and water until dissolved. Add to slow cooker and stir. Cover and allow to cook another 20-25 minutes.
  3. Just before serving, place broccoli in a large bowl, fill with ½ inch of water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Drain, stir broccoli into slow cooker, and serve.
Notes:
For a bit of a spicy kick, add a full 1-2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes!
Additional options: sesame seeds, water chestnuts, other veggies, or even cashews.

Recipe adapted from mother thyme 

Honoring Dad in Oak Glen

Snow on the ground!


Can these two be any cuter?


Morgan tries out the antique plow.


Sweet boy!


Wee!


Mama and her man cub.


Fun with sissy.


Halmoni and Gomo.

Even Halmoni played soccer.


Uncle Rich and his two little rascals.


Cutie pie.


Fun and games with the cousins.

We met up in Oak Glen to honor my dad on what would have been his 74th birthday. He loved this place. He loved picnicking, eating barbeque, and just being out in the fresh mountain air. Most of all, he loved being with his family and playing with his grandchildren.

I miss seeing the twinkle in his eye and the wide smile on his face whenever the kids were around. I miss his mere presence and his care over mom.


Dad,
Here, up in the mountains, we can feel you with us. You're watching as the kids play and in many ways, you're still taking care of mom. You've taught me that sorrow is only really sad when nothing good comes from it. Although we miss you every day, we're so grateful that our family has grown closer and more tender since you've been gone.

Many years ago, you brought us all here to these mountains. Time after time, we keep coming back... to play, picnic, and to make new memories but also to honor, remember, and to wait...until we can see you again.

Happy Birthday, Dad.