Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for coffee. I wonder if I could function without my morning cup? Isn't that canvas cute?! My sister made it!

I'm thankful for sisters, biological and in-Christ. I had such a great time at our exercise class at church last night. It is always so uplifting to be there no matter what kind of day I have been having.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Haven't Been Hiding


January. 

That was when I last wrote. 
It's been a whirlwind of a first quarter of a year. 

I got the flu on January 8, developed bronchitis two weeks after onset of the flu, somehow planned and pulled off our third annual Couple's Night dinner at church on February 12, then left for New York City the next day with my Valentine, Ben. 




I turned 30 during an ice storm on February 18. 

We got an offer on our house in early March and put in an offer on a house a week later. 

We had a church conference on March 13-14, then another PEP Moms meeting on March 20. We made the adorable succulent mason jars: 

Ben and I have also been taking ballroom dancing on Thursday nights for the last six weeks. It has been so much fun!

I was able to go out on a Mom's Day Out with my sister and friend, Sarah to see Cinderella and get coffee. It was so much fun!

This month, I started getting sick again, and the day before Easter, my eardrum ruptured! I'm on the mend now, and still managed to have an enjoyable Easter Sunday despite being in pain. There is not a more joyous day in my Christian life than the Sunday that we celebrate Jesus's resurrection!

This week, we got to go to the aquarium with friends and a playday with Nana. 




And now the packing has begun. My house is full of boxes- some already packed, but most are empty at the moment. I have realized something about myself that I did not know before: I do not like the smell of cardboard! 
Here's my living room:

It's been a fun first quarter of 2015, but I hope to be more intentional about personal reflection and spiritual introspection in the rest of the year. I need a good book to read that will help me grow. I'm thinking about re-reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. 

I may not write again until we get settled in the new house, but I'd like to share a new recipe that I've been working on.

Vegan Peanut Butter (PB2) Banana Walnut Muffins

2-3 ripe bananas
1/2 unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 cups flour (I prefer whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp PB2
1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350°. 
Grease a six muffin tin.
Combine wet ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Dump dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients, and combine gently without over-stirring. 
Fill each tin almost full. (These are BIG muffins!)
Bake 15-20 minutes.  

Thanks for stopping by and checking in. I promise to try and be more regular in posting. 






Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Hug From God

As a stay-at-home-mom, I am sometimes prone to feeling isolated, lonely, separated from the "real world." When Ben and I decided that I would not work full-time once children came along, I had no idea how emotionally exhausting it would be hanging out with little ones all day. There are so many moments when I could just use a hug, and hear "It's going to be okay."


If you are a parent, you know what I'm talking about. So many different situations arise at every level of your child's development that affect the parents emotionally. I won't even try to make a list of scenarios that I've experienced  personally that have left me feeling helpless, alone, and like I'm the only one going through it. But what I do want to share with you is how God has made himself even more real to me as a result of being a parent and stay-at-home-mom, and how over and over again He wraps His arms around me in a great big hug!

The Bible,which I believe is 100% true and without error, promises us that we can give all of our cares to God because he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) Before I became a mom, I was aware of this truth in scripture, but it has come to mean so much more to me. When my children are testing me with their behavior, and not showing progress; when my son is struggling emotionally; when the two of them seem like they will never get along, and I just want someone to talk to, God is there. He cares. He loves me. Some translations call cares "anxieties." And I don't care who you are or what your lot in life is, I'm sure you have anxieties.  


I can pause anywhere at any time, and tell Him about my worries and troubles. Isn't that just like a big hug from God?!

Do you have any favorite verses that bring you comfort? (There are so many throughout the Bible!)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Goal-Setting for 2015


I have mentioned a few times how I need to write things in order to remember them. Things like appointments & meetings, social commitments, grocery lists and meal plans, marathon training plans, and etc. would dissolve in my brain never to be remembered if I did not write them down! So when I recently read a blog about writing down goals for the new year as a family, I was inspired to do just that. 

The categories that we came up with are "personal," "family," "household," and "travel." I will not be disclosing our entire list to you, in case you had started drooling over an opportunity to get a bit of "dirt" on us! �� However I do want to share a few things on our want-to-accomplish in 2015 list. 

In the personal category for me, I listed:

  • find my joy and contentment in Christ (see yesterday's post)
  • Write (blog and journal) more
  • Read more
  • Less phone; more face

In the family category:

  • Read the Bible with the kids more
  • Pray with Ben more
  • Lottie's letter recognition
  • Rush's handwriting and reading

For the household list:

  • Replace carpet in main living area 
  • De-clutter several cabinets and closets
  • Organize the garage
  • Paint the master bedroom

Travel:

  • Go back to NYC (to celebrate my 30th birthday in February!)
  • Start saving for a 2016 Disney trip

Writing down year-long goals is definitely new for our family. But I can already tell that I feel more ready to tackle, prepare, and plan the carrying out of these things, simply because I wrote them down and discussed them with Ben. 

I'm excited about 2015! I pray that you are too. 

Do you write down goals?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Different Kind of Resolution

A new year; a fresh start; a clean slate. Such hope and potential in these phrases. 

Most new year's resolutions are for keeping up appearances: healthy eating, exercise more, lose "x" pounds, clear the clutter. Those are all good, and I would never tell someone not to set such a goal. But in 2015, I want something that goes deeper.

I feel a longing in my soul to be transformed on the inside. To truly let the joy of The Lord be my strength in every circumstance (Nehemiah 8:10). To fend off the temptation to conform to this world's standards (Romans 12:2), and to strive for contentment (1Timothy 6:6) knowing that in all things, God will be working for my good (Romans 8:28). 

What makes these changes different from the typical New Year's resolution is 1. It is something that I hope to strive for every day for the rest of my life. I don't want to just be content in my current and near-future status; I pray that I will always be able to give thanks in all circumstances! (1 Thessalonians 5:-17) And 2. It's not only in my control. I have a helper, The Holy Spirit, to guide my heart and mind. If I am going to be able to resist the temptations of materialism, discontentment, etc., I need to arm myself with supernatural strength. I can exercise and build my spiritual muscles by studying and memorizing God's Word (The Bible), and by repenting of my sins daily and resting and trusting in The Lord (Isaiah 30:15). 

I hope that you take advantage of the opportunity that a new year brings. Whether your goals are physical, spiritual, organizational, financial- whatever- I pray that you will allow the joy of The Lord to be your source of strength, and that you will be content with what you do have and strive to honor God in it.


Source

I can't wait to see what happens in 2015!

Happy New Year!!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Favorites (11/7/14)

I know... I've been most irregular with posting lately. We've had a lot going on. (I know, who doesn't?!) 

I'm going to post a few favorites from last week along with this week. 

Rush's 5th birthday!
We went to Jump Jam, an indoor tramping park, and had a great time!

Friday was our church fall festival. The weather was TERRIBLE, but the kids still had a great time. 

Saturday, we had a party for Rush, and it SNOWED! We had lots of fun hanging out with family and friends. 

In our small group Bible study on Sunday morning, we discussed the first chapter of our new study A Couple After God's Own Heart. It was based on Adam and Eve and what they did to fail one another in their marriage and how they moved on.


Since last weekend we've had veggie soup with cornbread muffins, chicken enchiladas with brown rice, and baked ziti with steamed broccoli. It has been so freeing already having dinner ready ahead of time!


Exercising!
I had been taking it easy for the last month because I was pregnant and not feeling very well. Then we had our first ultrasound at 8 weeks and discovered that I was experiencing a type of miscarriage called a blighted ovum. I won't go into details, but I did have to have outpatient surgery two weeks ago, and I am finally feeling like myself again this week! I have exercised almost every day! Here is my workout that I did on Wednesday night on our church's indoor track:



During the miscarriage, my sweet mother-in-law got me a gift card to the spa. I am going to use it today, and I'm so excited! I'm getting a one hour facial and spa pedicure!

I'm excited about the weekend, especially Sunday. We are studying Abraham and Sarah in class, and our pastor will be starting a new sermon series on Psalm 107. I'm also looking forward to choir Christmas music practice tomorrow morning.

I hope you make time with God a priority this weekend (and every day)!

Thanks for stopping by and catching up!

What are you learning through the Bible currently?
Just curious: what's your favorite Christmas song? (I can't pick just one!)


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Freezer Meal Recipes

My sister and I have finally "buckled down" and followed through with making freezer meals to swap with each other. She is a wife to a college pastor/teacher/coffee roaster and busy mom of three with not much time to plan and cook dinner for every night of the week. And don't we all struggle to make time for meal planning and grocery shopping AND getting it on the table?! No matter the phase of life we might be in, this is a chore that is hard to do sometimes. So we decided to plan ahead.

We discussed what meals we could make that would freeze well and be generally healthy. We talked about how many meals to make and how many duplicates of each meal we should make. We decided that for us (two families with two young kids plus one infant), 16 meals for each family would be enough to get us through the month by eating leftovers occasionally and possibly making a non-pre-planned meal or two late in the month (it's our first time, so we'll see!). We each made four duplicates of four different meals. I chose spinach and ricotta stuffed shells, chicken pot pie (my own recipe), quiche, and crockpot vegetable beef soup. My sis made chicken enchiladas, chicken and corn chowder, red beans and rice with sausage, and baked ziti. We kept two of each dish that we made and swapped the other two, giving each family two of eight different meals for the month. Score!

Here are my recipes:
Broccoli Pesto Sundried Tomato Quiche
Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup
Chicken Pot Pie (recipe below)

Southern Biscuit-Topped Chicken Pot Pie (Freezer-Friendly)

by April Mills
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
Ingredients (6-12 adults)
    For the biscuit topping
    • 1 1/4 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    For the filling
    • 1 lb. cooked and shredded chicken breasts
    • 1/2 onion diced
    • 2 cans unsalted mixed vegetables (or small bag frozen), (or fresh chopped and blanched veggies)
    • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
    • salt and pepper
    • Homemade condensed cream of chicken "soup" (recipe below)
    Condensed Cream of Chicken "Soup"
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/8 tsp. celery seed (optional)
    • 1/8 tsp. dried thyme
    Instructions
    Poach the chicken by bring it to a boil, then simmering for 15-20 minutes.
    While the chicken is simmering, get your creamy "soup" going:
    Add chicken stock to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and flour until the flour is dissolved.
    Slowly pour the milk mixture into the boiling chicken stock, whisking to combine. Whisk in remaining seasonings. Reduce heat to medium, and bring the mixture back to a very low boil, stirring constantly so that the bottom of the pan does not burn. Let the mixture boil for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside until ready to use.
    Once the chicken is cooked through, let cool slightly, then shred to desired texture. (I use my paddle attachment in my stand mixer to shred the chicken- it's amazing!
    If you plan to cook the pie immediately, go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350°F.
    In a large mixing bowl, stir together the shredded chicken, homemade soup, diced onion, and veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into a 9x13" casserole.
    Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese on top of the chicken mixture. Rinse out the mixing bowl to use for biscuit dough.
    Make the biscuit topping:
    In the mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the melted butter and milk just until combined.
    Pour the biscuit dough evenly along the center of the chicken mixture and shredded cheese. Use a spatula to spread the dough evenly over the entire pie.
    To freeze for later, wrap thoroughly in foil, and freeze.
    Thaw in refrigerator the night BEFORE you plan to bake the pot pie.
    Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.
    Enjoy!
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    This pot pie is cold-weather comfort food at its finest! I also have an emotional attachment to this meal because my mom used to make a similar recipe when I was growing up. I hope you enjoy it too.

    Check back for more recipes soon!