29 January 2013

“Is it almost summer yet Bruschetta”

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So, is it almost summer yet?
Yes, I AM SERIOUS.  
And Yes, I do realize I may be the only person in this desert to ask that CRAZY question!
I'm so not a cold weather person and when I say cold, I'm talking anything under 65.
I know, I know...

I can almost hear you laughing.
Thankfully, I guess I'm living in the right state! 
(Actually, it's the wrong state for so many reasons but that's another post altogether).
This weekend, I caught an episode of the Pioneer Woman where she made bruschetta.  On Monday, I promptly added cherry tomatoes to my grocery list and for the last 2 days, my lunches have been packed full of flavor, happiness, and yes, a little slice of summer. 
I call the concoction,"Is it almost summer yet Bruschetta" because one bite and it whisks me away to warmer temperatures and everything that's good and right about summer. 
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We adore the Pioneer Woman but her use of butter (and sugar) scares me. Sorry, Ree!
I opted for a healthier version using multi-grain loaf and a smidge of EVOO.   

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Perfection on a plate, I tell ya!
 
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I really have to be on guard around here.  As soon as the garlic hits the pan, the kids come running to see what that "yummy smell" is.  One turn of my back and it's like a piranha frenzy. :)

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My belief: Kids will eat anything us adults think is delicious!  At least that's how my kids work. 
Plus, this is a colorful dish and fun to eat with your hands. (As evidenced by this photo!)  
Besides, they know good flavor when they taste it.
Funny thing is... I'm not even crazy about cherry tomatoes.  I don't care for them by themselves or in my salads.  However, when they're marinated in garlic, balsamic, and basil... they are absolutely scrumptious!  

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So much for my lunch today...
Oh well, it became more of delectable shared snack!
Is It Almost Summer Yet Bruschetta
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 5 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 1 pint Red Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
  • 1 pint Yellow Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 16 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade)
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste
  • 1 whole Baguette of your choice
  • 2 Tablespoons EVOO
Preparation Instructions
In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir, lightly frying for about a minute, removing before the garlic gets too brown (it can be golden.) Pour into a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Add tomatoes, balsamic, basil, and salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine, then taste and add more basil if needed, and more salt if needed (don't over salt, though!) Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two if you have the time.  I eat half now and half later!
Cut the baguette into diagonal slices to allow for the most surface area possible. Drizzle some EVOO on the slices and grill the bread in a grill pan, skillet, or under the broiler. Cook till golden brown on both sides.
To serve, give the tomato mixture a final stir, then spoon generously over the slices of bread.
Enjoy your slice of summer! (any time of year)























23 January 2013

The only words that really matter...

 
 
The only words that really matter? 
 
Are the ones I live.
 
I keep writing it out here everyday, the words I am seeking to live — about this wondrously messy, everyday-holy life...
 
about finding the beauty and quiet,
 
about slowing to see the sacred in the chaos,
 
the Cross in the clothespin,
 
the flame in the bush.
 
Just listening – laundry, liturgy, life, — all of life, holy ground.
 
A holy experience — because God has flaming bushes everywhere.
 
~Ann Voskamp
 
 

Is it any surprise I like words?  I like to read them, write them, speak them, and ponder them.
 
However, God asks us not to only read or write words, but become them.
 
 
Herein lies the difficult challenge. 
 
 
 
Could it be? 
 
*
 
 
*
 
 
*
 
 
If we don't actually live out our words, they become mere lies?
 
 
Ooh, ouch.
  

For me, it comes down to these two words... 
 
 
"Choose Love" 
 
 
I'm learning that love is really the same thing as sacrifice.
 
 
I'm also learning that I'm not so good at it. 
 
 
It doesn't come naturally or easily for me.  
 
 
If I don't take every thought captive, I can become selfish, prideful, and whiny. 
 
 
I can also be easily irritated, put-out, or demanding.   
 
 
And what really convicted me is for all the words I speak (or write) to encourage others,
 
 
Was I really living out my words to my own family? 
 
 
 
When I grow up, I want to become my words. 
 
 
 
Not only on the page but in flesh and blood... 
 
In laughter and tears...
 
In praise and sorrow... 
 
In life and death.

 

God is always good and we are always loved. 

  

22 January 2013

Pineapple Cilantro Green Smoothie

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I made this for the family yesterday before we set off on our hike. Since we love Mexican flavors around here, cilantro is something I always seem to have on hand. This bright and flavorful herb has many health benefits. 
Cilantro is primarily a detox herb and heavy metal cleanser. It naturally removes mercury, lead, and arsenic from our bodies.
Do you know some dental fillings have mercury? And so do most flu shots?  Um, no thank you.
Between the cilantro, pineapple, ginger, and kale, this smoothie is packed with some serious ammunition.
Another winner from Green Plate Rule.

Pineapple Cilantro Green Smoothie

Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup water
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup greens (kale or spinach)
  • 1 cup of pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 of an avocado or half a banana
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • pea size amount of ginger
Instructions
  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender
  2. Start on low speed, slowly increasing to high
  3. Blend until smooth


Painted Canyon/Ladder Canyon Hike

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This may be my favorite shot of the day.

 

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The girls said it looked like a Castle Tower!

 

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We capped off the long weekend by taking a drive up to Mecca Hills and enjoying an awesome hike at Painted Canyon. This was our first time here as a family and we had so much fun!

In fact, the girls can’t wait to go back!

The ladders provided an element of excitement. Some of the dark and quiet canyons added a bit of suspense at every turn. And last but not least, the beauty of God’s creation was not only intriguing but also incredibly peaceful and serene.

A perfect day of adventuring!

21 January 2013

Humana

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The girls with Coach Dustin.

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Blending my own smoothie while burning some calories.

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Kids Day!

 

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Gary Player stopped for picture.

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We just watched Phil Mickelson on the 18th.

 

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What a gorgeous day for golf in the desert! We enjoyed temps in the high 70’s all weekend long.

(Now that’s what I’m talking about!) 

The Humana Challenge (formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic) is a professional golf tournament played in our valley each January. With roughly 125 golf courses and 350 days of sunshine per year, you might say we’re California’s premier destination for golf.

Golf, tennis, and swimming seem to be the way of life around here... And we love it that way!

The girls had a blast at their first professional golf tourney. They even practiced being extra quiet as they watched the leaders tee off. :)

18 January 2013

Valentine’s Decor

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It’s nothing much but my girls were so delighted to see this tassle banner I made. Thankfully, they’re easily impressed. :)
It probably has to do with the fact that it’s frilly… and PINK!
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We also made some mini brownies with flax egg and coconut oil.  Perfect to share with friends!
Ok, I admit it. I love hanging homemade banners around the house for different seasons and holidays. It makes me feel like there’s something to celebrate everyday... And there is!
I’m also a sucker for anything “mini”.  I don’t bake often but since it’s one of my family’s “love languages”, the mini-sized treat is perfect!  Plus, they’re so cute!

15 January 2013

The Living Gospel

Have you heard of I Like Giving?  It's an online campaign created to inspire generous living…

Not necessarily through money but through action.

I stumbled onto 2 videos in the past week and both were moving... to tears. 

We all have the opportunity to give generously... of our resources, of our time, of OURSELVES. 

Not because of guilt or duty, but because of the deep joy and gratefulness that comes from our security and salvation in Christ. 

As a family, we are only beginning to scratch the surface in this area ourselves. 

Generosity begets generosity.

Whether it’s sharing your life and loving home with orphan children…

Or providing generously for someone who gave sacrificially…

We all have the opportunity to be the Living Gospel.

 

14 January 2013

What's new on my nightstand?

Now that I have a little more free time on my hands, I'm looking forward to enriching my soul with some good reads. I've ordered 3 very different books and I can't wait to get started! 

 
In this warm and wise book, Sally invites you to experience for yourself what happens when you trust God to lead you into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose.

Weaving biblical insights with real-life stories that reflect every Christian woman's deepest longings, Dancing with My Father reveals how any woman, in any circumstance, can daily live in beauty and grace, joy and peace.

(Sounds perfect, right?!)
 
 
What would cause an eighteen-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee, to disobey and disappoint her parents by forgoing college, break her little brother’s heart, lose all but a handful of her friends (because they think she has gone off the deep end), and break up with the love of her life, all so she could move to Uganda, where she knew only one person and didn’t even speak the language?

A passion to follow Jesus.

Katie Davis left over Christmas break of her senior year for a short mission trip to Uganda and her life was turned completely inside out. She found herself so moved by the people of Uganda and the needs she saw that she knew her calling was to return and care for them. Katie, a charismatic and articulate young woman, is in the process of adopting thirteen children in Uganda and has established a ministry, Amazima, that feeds and sends hundreds more to school while teaching them the Word of Jesus Christ.
 
Kisses from Katie invites readers on a journey of radical love down the red dirt roads of Uganda. You’ll laugh and cry with Katie as she follows Jesus into the impossible and finds joy and beauty beneath the dust. Katie and her children delight in saying yes to the people God places in front of them and challenge readers to do the same, changing the world one person at a time.

(I'm probably most excited about this one!)


 
A “cheerfully engaging” novel for anyone who’s ever asked herself, “How did I get here?”

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, , she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

(Um, this book is totally not me. Most of all, because it's fiction. However, after reading various reviews, I thought I'd give it a try and go for something light-hearted, less-weighty, and fun!)


So, anything good you've read lately?  I'd love to hear about it! 

13 January 2013

Labor of Love

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Sunday morning church!

 

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Can I play in that brown stuff, too?

 

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So sweet!

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The girls placed his bunny there when he feel asleep. Too cute!

 

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Such a bundle of JOY!

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The big kids wanted to feel little again, too. :)

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Sweet angel is praying!

 

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So fun to have a real live patient to play doctor!

 

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30 days…

That’s how long we had the littles in our home. Yesterday, we had the joy of returning them to their parents. If you knew just how far their parents have come, you could only say it’s a MIRACLE. 

When we first met them, these two were so desperate and broken, they actually considered giving their children up for adoption. 

Thankfully, Safe Families was something they found through the internet.

Let me start off by saying this experience was nothing like I thought it was going to be. I had no idea that caring for these children would be just a part of the ministry my family was about to embark on.

It wasn’t long before Morgan and I realized what we were being called to do.

For those that know us, you know Morgan has the same passion for biblical fatherhood as I have for biblical motherhood. It certainly doesn’t mean we have it all together, it just means that God calls us to encourage others towards His vision of parenthood and family.

As the days passed, it became very clear this is was our primary mission. This family had no outside support, no friends, and no family. We were it. Through countless texts, emails, phone calls, Skype, visits, etc. we began to help these folks get back on their feet and embrace their God-given roles as parents.

I was privileged to witness God’s amazing faithfulness as I stepped WAY out of my comfort zone. And lest you think I have some sort of warm, fuzzy, gynormous Mother Teresa type heart, let me assure you, I don’t.

I’m just an average mom and a selfish sinner who on some days, can barely take care of the family God gave me. But because of God’s sacrificial love for me, He gave me the courage to say YES to Him.

I had no idea what that would look like. I thought it was going to be all about taking care of a child. Little did I know it was TWO!  And I surely had NO CLUE that He would use my family as a living testimony to His amazing power of love and redemption.

Today at church, some friends asked, “Isn’t it sad, you had to give the babies back?” 

My answer: “No, it’s a good thing.” 

Although we went into this being open about whatever God called us to do, our goal has always been to get these children back to their parents. Why? Because we believe that’s what God would want.

And that, ultimately, overrides any sort of loss we may feel. 

In fact, this whole experience has made me appreciate my own little family even more. It brought us all closer to the heart of God and it allowed our children to see what it truly means to serve the least of these. Talk about a homeschooling lesson on love! 

So, don’t let the pictures fool you. It wasn’t always easy… or fun. In fact, it was down right hard at times. However, with the Lord’s strength, we prevailed.

After a few days, we fell into a rhythm and soon enough, I found myself doing regular things like grocery shopping twice a week with 4 kids. I’m actually quite proud to say that I cooked dinner EVERY NIGHT of those 30 days. Whew! 

It has certainly been a season of life we will never forget! 

We will continue to keep in contact and encourage this family in the Lord. In fact, we realize the first week or so may be the hardest adjustment for them all. They still need our prayers. 

As for us, it was a little quieter around the house this morning… I slept wonderfully and uninterrupted ALL NIGHT. It’s been a day full of worshipping God, spending time with the treasured family He gave me, and taking a moment to share a little piece of my story, here with you.

Saying Yes to God is sometimes scary, never predictable, but always, always WORTH IT.

As we drove home from spending the day with the family and dropping off the littles, we heard this song on the radio and the girls both said it reminded them of the babies. 

To God be the Glory!    

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