30 June 2014

Welcome, Madilyn Rose!

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Hello, new cousin.

 

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She weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz.

 

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Aww, Gomo loves you.

 

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Perfection in a bundle!

 

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It was Halmoni’s birthday on Saturday and my brother and Emily had planned to have a birthday party for her at their house but the baby had other plans. Little Madilyn finally made her debut the night before (7 days past her due date). Praise the Lord, baby and mama are doing well!   

Instead, we met everyone at the hospital and celebrated TWO birthdays.

Our family is growing with the addition of more children and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

Congrats to my brother and his beautiful family!    

27 June 2014

On Losing Your Life

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Sometimes, during an ordinary moment between a mother and child, the most extraordinary thing can happen. A tender embrace and warm cuddle can lead to a child saying something that makes your heart break in a million pieces, yet those very same words have the power to give life and make you whole.

We were engaging in the back and forth volley of how much I love you. You know, where you say something like, “I love you to the moon and back.” And your sweet one tries to quantify her love for you by saying something like, “I love you to the moon and back PLUS infinity and beyond.”

And then, she said this: “Mama, you know how Jesus died for us? Well, I would die for you.”

My first gut wrenching response was, “Noooooooo…”

Which I must have verbalized out loud because the next thing she said was, “Yes. Yes I would.”

Talk about feeling unworthy.

In that moment, I felt all my inadequacies as a mother. My sins and selfish choices. That pride that sometimes wells up and that impatience and harshness that can get the best of me.

Yet at the same time, her words gave a voice to the beautiful gospel. Right there, in our living room, on the corner of our couch, my 8 year-old, wrapped in my arms, gave me of the gift of redemption.

True to her namesake, not because I deserved it or because I was worthy, but simply because of her great love for me. What a humbling reminder of the good news Jesus brings. He offers the same gift to each of us. Do we say no and reject it or do we accept it, rest in it, and allow it to change us from the inside out?

In a culture that screams, “It’s OK to be selfish!” and “I deserve better!”, selfLESSness is a rarity these days, much less the notion of giving up your life for the sake of another.

Dying to ourselves might be the quiet choice we make every day but choosing to die for another is quite a different kind of love. It’s a different kind of brave. Especially for a child.

It’s in these ordinary and simple days of summer that something delightfully rich is happening around here. My little girls are growing up. Not just in size but in spirit. It’s been fascinating to watch and an honor to be a part of. They inspire me with all that is good and right with the world and they encourage me to keep fighting the good fight and running the race with hope and perseverance.

And sometimes, it’s through them, His redemption story repeats itself all over again.

amazing grace

21 June 2014

You Are More Than Your Swimsuit

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Today is “officially” the first day of summer. It’s also the first day we’re supposed to hit 111. Summer means pool parties and swimsuits and for some of us, that makes us very anxious. We spend a lot of time trying to cover up, conceal, hide, and suck in the very bodies we’re living in. Every summer, it seems I write a post about swimsuits. Usually, it’s about modesty but today it’s about freedom.

This year, I’m approaching 44 years in this body of mine. Some years ago, I remember my sweet sister in law telling me that after 40, it’ll be harder to keep in shape. Everything just seems to want to gravitate or expand. I hear ya, Jen. I hear ya!

For me, I find that my physical health has a lot to do with my spiritual strength. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve been sick for a prolonged period of time. It’s during those times, when my body was weak, spiritual warfare seems to wage heaviest.

I’m definitely at the point where if I don’t exercise regularly, it might be a chore to move around, let alone live life to the fullest. Our summer schedule has given me some free time in the mornings and I’ve been adding exercises to strengthen my core. It’s a dance though, a sort of tug-o-war. We want to be strong and good stewards of the temple God gave us, but at the same time, we need to be careful that self preservation doesn’t become an idol. In a world full of selfies and self promotion, how do we balance it all and still manage to maintain freedom, confidence, and contentment? 

Well, I’m pretty sure Jesus came to give us freedom from all that. He came so that we might live life abundant. So it’s a choice, really. To believe that we are MORE than how we look on the outside.

Jesus doesn’t care what you look like in your swimsuit. But your children will miss you if you don’t get into the pool. 

“You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dented body… Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of giving your body to another.”

~Rachel Jankovic, author of Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

Long after our bodies wrinkle, sag, and weaken, our children will remember a mom who let them float around on our necks or swim through our legs. Our children will remember a mom who didn’t sit out on the sidelines, who wasn’t consumed about what she looked like in her swimsuit or how her hair might get wet in the pool.

They’ll remember a mom who was fun, spontaneous, and delighted to be with her children.

Let’s not hide this summer. Let’s age gracefully together and live.

Let’s spend it all… this life, this gift we’ve been given.

Let’s spend every last drop.

Because we are more than our swimsuits.

20 June 2014

Burgers and babes: a {belated} Happy Father’s Day

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Amen! So true.

 

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I’ve often wondered about the girls’ future spouses and who God might bring into their lives…          Whoever they are, they’ll have a tough act to follow.

Thank you, babe for loving them well and for all your daily sacrifices.

Our heart belongs to you!

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So on Father’s Day, the girls weren’t feeling too well so we postponed our celebration for another day. On the agenda were 2 of dad’s favorite things… well 3, if you count us girls. :)

1.  a good burger.

2.  dessert.

(And Faith was so sweet. She gladly declared that frozen yogurt was her treat!)

Thankfully, the girls quickly bounced back so we managed to sneak in a weekday celebration. We heard about Eureka! in Indian Wells. A while back, I had actually gone there with a couple of girlfriends for lunch but in typical girl fashion, I had a salad…not one of their juicy burgers I’ve been hearing so much about.

Rarely do I eat red meat anymore, much less a burger when I go out, but I had to see for myself what the hype was all about!

I ordered the Fig Marmalade Burger: with bacon, goat cheese, and arugula.

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   Ummm, yeah… it was delish! The flavors married so well. I really, really enjoyed it. In fact, afterwards, it didn’t make me feel full, in a yucky kind of way. It must be the fact that they use hormone and antibiotic free, 100% vegetarian fed beef that makes the burgers feel light.

Or, maybe I was just incredibly hungry? 

The girls loved the sweet potato fries with cinnamon and drizzled honey. It was almost like eating dessert!

Morgan had the Jalapeno Egg Burger with hand cut regular fries.

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This was hands down The BEST burger we’ve had in quite some time. We both loved it. Something about the over easy egg yolk spilling over and onto the rest of the burger… Seriously tasty!

I’d come back, just for this burger. 

All in all, we’re happy to have a great new spot in our hood for celebrations or a fun date night!

Three cheers for burgers, my babes, and of course, daddy!!

17 June 2014

Homemade Ranch Dressing

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Hey, at least there’s no crazy chemicals involved.

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Whisk it all together in a bowl…

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And store it in the fridge in a mason jar.

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Homemade Ranch… It’s about time!
I’m notorious for always having a veggie tray in my fridge at all times. Why? Because they are so EASY to pull out and serve throughout the day. I can pull it out for lunch, dinner, and a snack. When finished, I pop the lid back on and in it goes, back in the fridge. I sometimes make my own veggie trays and store them in large rectangular sized Tupperware. Other times, I just buy a ready made tray from the store. I know they’re much more expensive that way but hey, sometimes we pay for convenience. (Spoiled and lazy, I know).
The veggie tray is largely responsible for how the girls learned to eat different kinds of vegetables. At first, it started with the standards: carrots, celery, broccoli, and tomatoes. Then, I started adding veggies like cucumbers, tri-colored peppers, and sugar snap peas.
Sure, they liked some more than others but they always knew they had to eat 2 or 3 of every kind of veggie on the plate. (That’s a standing rule over here). We also made fun games out of it like, Who could eat a tomato without making a face? Which then turned into, How many tomatoes can you eat without making a face? See what’s happening here? Work with me.
Anyway, all this to say that we have a couple dippers in our house. You know, people who like to dip their veggies all. the. time. Ranch is the quintessential dip for crudité but I’ve never been super impressed with any of the store bought brands or packets.
Ranch was one of those things I knew couldn’t be that difficult to make. I just never did.
Well, this beats any store-bought ranch I’ve ever tasted. It’s light and lively. It’s got that fresh, “free of chemicals” taste. And, it only takes 5 minutes of your day to whip up.
Plus, it’s now a fabulous base for other dressings like Blue Cheese, Cilantro Lime, Chipotle Ranch…
Oh, the possibilities!
Homemade Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything together and store in fridge for about 30-60 minutes before serving.
*Use less milk if you like it thicker.
*Fresh herbs would be amazing here, too!

13 June 2014

On Bravery

Be Brave

“The most dangerous man on earth is the one who has reckoned with his own death. All men die; few men ever really live. Sure, you can create a safe world for yourself… and end your days in a rest home babbling on about some forgotten misfortune. I’d rather go down swinging. Besides, the less we are trying to “save ourselves,” the more effective a warrior will be.” –John Eldedge, Wild at Heart

Sometimes, I think we forget how it’s all supposed to end. That we are already victorious because of that Easter Sunday.

We forget that, “THE LORD is a warrior, the LORD is his name.” –Exodus 15:3

And that He promises,”As I was with Moses, I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Joshua 1:5

We forget what it means to be strong and courageous because we’re still living in the shadows of disappointment, fear, or discouragement.

Take heart, dear one.

The battle may be raging, but the war is won.

12 June 2014

Family Summer Visit

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My whole family!

 

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Emily, my sweet sister-in-law is due NEXT WEEK!

 

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Fun at the Shadow Ridge pool.

 

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We always look forward to this week in the summer when my brother and his family come to stay in the desert. This year, we had the added bonus of having my parents here for the weekend.

They braved the heat for a little while and we got to celebrate an early Father’s Day dinner with my dad.

A great addition to our summer memories!

09 June 2014

Living Free Animal Sanctuary

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On the way back from Idyllwild, we made an impromptu stop at this animal sanctuary.

 

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We ended up getting a tour of the facilities and met all the animals.

 

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Edgar, the Dog Whisperer.

 

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All the dogs that have been adopted.

 

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A walk through the kennels and the wood stove that keeps the dogs warm in the winter months.

 

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They have 153 sprawling acres of beautiful land and space for the animals to play.

 

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This is where they train the animals to be domesticated in a “home like” environment.

 

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The Cattery. Three rooms of nothing but cats.

 

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Since 1980, Living Free has operated as a non-profit, no-kill, animal sanctuary for dogs and cats. Their goal is to save the lives of dogs and cats that would otherwise be euthanized. They care for the animal, rehabilitate it, and hope that they will be adopted into a loving home. Otherwise, the animal will live at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives.

We were super impressed with the facility, the mission, and the people who work there.

And no, we did NOT come home with a pet but we may someday… soon. :)

Gotta love the spontaneous stops that lead to a field trip with daddy! 

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What a change in temperature an hour up the mountain can make!

Daddy’s been healing nicely and gets his staples out this week. Then, he’ll be able to go to the beach, swim, etc. In the meantime, we enjoyed some clean mountain air while hiking in the low 70’s this weekend.

After a stop at the Ranger Station, we learned the Ernie Maxwell Trail by Humber Park was mostly shady and made for a lovely scenic hike.

We picnicked at the Idyllwild Nature Center and just enjoyed being together in the beauty of the great outdoors. A fun summer day trip!  

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