Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Re-cap and Meal Plan Monday

Hey y'all! I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was busy, busy! Ben was out of town Thursday-Saturday, which makes things seem crazy no matter what. I had choir rehearsal Thursday night for our Palm Sunday/ Easter Cantata which we presented yesterday (Sunday) morning in both services. Friday morning, we had the PEP Moms spring luncheon, which was super-fun! Our speaker was a master gardener, and she helped us make some one-pot herb gardens. She even gave us some recipes to use our fresh herbs in! It was lots of fun, and the food was great too.

I tried to do my 20-mile training run on Saturday morning, but my start time kept getting delayed! I finally started a little after 11:30, and it was brutal! The high temperature was somewhere in the low 80's, and I am not used to that! I basically walked the last 5 miles, but at least I covered the distance. :( The marathon is only 19 days away!!! I also got just a little sunburn...

We had a huge family cook-out at my mom and dad's on Saturday evening, and it was lots of fun. My kids love playing at my parents' house; they have lots of property and lots of toys. I enjoy it too because I can let them have lots of freedom compared to being in our subdivision. Rush also got to go with my dad and my grandfather ("Papaw") to their garden while I was running. He helped them plant yellow squash and zucchini, and he rode the tractor and played in the dirt. It makes me so happy when my kids get to experience things like that with their grandparents. I hope that Rush has a love for home-grown foods like my dad and papaw. It would be awesome if one day he was running the garden!

Ben got home around midnight on Saturday, and I had to get up for early service on Sunday morning. I was almost late to church, which would have been a disaster since my solo was the opening song! But I made it just in time. Whew! The service was so sweet and spirit-filled. [The link will not be up on the church website yet, but if you're interested in watching it, check in about a week.] It was a great Sunday all around! We even got to take dinner over to my sister's house before the evening service! If you like salmon, you MUST try this recipe. It was the perfect spring meal: strawberry feta salmon wraps!

On to last week's meal plan. Like I said, it was an odd week, so the plan probably would not fill a four-person family's normal weekly meal plan. But life is life. You've gotta roll with it. 

Shrimp tacos with Mexican fried brown rice and hominy (recipe for the rice coming soon)

Southwest stuffed sweet potatoes with shredded slow-cooker salsa chicken

We even had take-out one night. Very rare for a week night. It was a nice break from the norm, and I was so excited to eat it that I did not take a picture. I had crab cakes with snap peas and mashed potatoes, and Ben had petite pork chops with spinach maria. 

I also made morning glory muffins. The recipe made 6 regular sized muffins and 24 mini muffins. I sent the regular-sized ones with Ben on his trip. 

This week should be a bit more normal. I am so excited to celebrate my Savior this Sunday! Happy a happy holy week!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Favorites and Why I Love April

It's officially spring, y'all! The signs are everywhere.
A momma bird laid her eggs this week in our Nicaraguan lantern. (This is the best photo I could get because of the location of the lantern. Can you see the eggs?)

Daffodils are everywhere!

We're playing outside and sweating! We even have some tan lines. :)

I am craving salads! {A true scientific sign of spring; don't ya know!}

An even truer sign of spring is the fact that the weather has been sunny with temps in the high 70's all week, and today it is stormy. I'm not complaining, though. I feel so blessed to live in a place where I get to experience four seasons. East Tennessee is such a great place!

You know, I always love the changing of seasons, and fall is definitely my favorite. But spring is a close second. My name is closely related to spring. April's meaning is "new life." Wow! Such power in those two words; only something supernatural can bring forth new life. I am filled with awe when I think about all the things that happen in nature during this time of year. But I am utterly overwhelmed when I think about the new life that I was given by Jesus when he died for me. He paid the price for my sins, and that price was death {but He didn't stay dead!} - I deserve death. But my Savior bore all the pain and suffering for me, so that I can have NEW LIFE. Not only does that mean spiritual freedom here on earth, but forever freedom and joy in heaven when this life is over! Wahoo! How awesome is that?! You can have a new life, too; and I would be thrilled to help you understand more about it. You can comment here at the bottom of this post. Or you can go to this website and find answers to lots of spiritual questions. 

It's very appropriate that we celebrate Jesus's death and resurrection (aka Easter) in springtime. Everything points to freshness, beauty, new life. 

I feel like I have quoted this song a lot, but it's one of my favorites, and it says perfectly what I feel about the spring season and Easter:
And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced Teaching us to breathe What was frozen through is newly purposed Turning all things green So it is with You And how You make me new With every season’s change And so it will be As You are re-creating me Summer, autumn, winter, spring ---Nicole Nordeman, "Every Season"

I'm so glad that I have new life in Christ Jesus, and that his work in my heart is ongoing, like the changing seasons. 

Happy spring, and happy weekend!

What's your favorite season?
What do you like about spring?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Loving Lately {Munchkin Meals}

It's Munchkin Meals time! I am excited to read all the other kiddie-food ideas in the link-up on A Healthy Slice of Life. 
munchkin meals

I have felt at a loss this month as to what I should share about my four and two- year-olds' meals. So, I've settled on telling you some of our current favorites. Some are repeats, so I'm sorry if they're redundant. But I figure, hey, if a toddler likes something that much, it must be worth mentioning again. ;)

Favorite breakfast lately:
Anything paired with peanut butter and/or turkey bacon

Favorite snack lately:
Orange cream yogurt raisins, banana chips, and Strawberry Crunchies

Favorite lunch lately:
Any kind of wrap. Whole wheat tortilla smeared with hummus, topped with desired veggies (chopped to toddler-friendly size), roasted pulled chicken, deli meat, or vegetarian, and sprinkled with cheese of choice (if desired). 

Favorite dinner lately:
Quiche (no surprise around here). My kids would eat it every other night!
Edy's Outshine fruit bars

The weather has been summer-like over the last three days, so cold treats are a must! These use real fruit juice and the rest of the ingredients aren't too shabby. I definitely prefer making our own Greek yogurt bars, but right now I'm not making much time for homemade "extras" because we are still trying to sell our house. My "extra" time that I normally would use to bake or make fun treats is currently being used to de-clutter and deep-clean for potential showings. Not my favorite way to use my time, but it will hopefully pay off soon. We have a showing today at 5:00. :)

What's your favorite summer-time treat to give your munchkins?

Super-Easy Tortellini Marinara with Broccoli

My kids gobbled this up like it was cake! I hope yours like it too!

Here's what you need:
1 package refrigerated tortellini

1 small bunch of broccoli, florets chopped into toddler-sized pieces

1- 1 1/2 cups marinara of choice

grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired, for serving

Cook tortellini according to directions. Throw broccoli in the pot with the pasta the last four minutes of cooking. (For this TJ's pasta, 4 minutes is the cook-time, so the broccoli went in right away.)

Drain the pasta-broccoli combo gently to avoid tearing any tortellini. 

Toss gently with the marinara; put into your munchkin's bowl; cut it up if necessary; top with grated cheese and serve. 

So easy and so yummy! I enjoyed this meal too! Hope your family enjoys it!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Re-cap and Meal Plan Monday (3/31)

It's Monday! I hope you had a great weekend! Ours was a little nuts-o, but still a fun one. 

We ended up going on a last-minute double date night with my sister and her husband on Friday night. Thanks to my mom and dad for babysitting on short-notice. 

I got up early on Saturday for my 18-mile marathon training run. The forecast was calling for a chance of rain all day, but it held off for the entire run! I was really grateful, but also annoyed, because I had to run with my rain jacket tied around my waist. Overall, the run went really well. I did a short yoga stretching session later in the afternoon, and I think that helped with soreness tremendously! Ben went to the dodgeball tournament fundraiser in the afternoon, and he had a great time. We went to his dad's birthday celebration that evening. 

Sunday morning, Ben did a great job teaching about suffering, trials, and temptations in the lives of Christians, and how they are really the only way for us to mature and increase our faith. The thing that stuck out the most to me is the point that even in blessings, trials and temptations can be produced; because when we are cruising along all jolly and fine, we can be tempted to become lazy in our faith, complacent, and even fulfilled by our state of "good". So often, this has happened to me, and when I fall into one of these states, I am so shocked when I realize that a bad attitude has crept in, whether it be self-destructive thinking, being critical of others, being jealous of others, being obsessed with my own happiness and contentment, etc., etc. I drift just far enough away from my dependency on Christ that I freak out. (The old song "Throw Out the Lifeline" comes to mind.) But the Holy Spirit helps me (us); he gently reminds me of my need for full reliance and intentional pursuit of God in all situations: good or bad, happy or sad, peaceful or crazy, smooth or unorganized. I cannot let the blessings of life blind me to my need for Him all day, every day. I bet you can relate to this too. 

We went to Dollywood all afternoon before evening church service. Needless to say,, the kids were exhausted last night when we finally came home! :)

Well, on to the meal plan. I haven't posted one of these in quite a while, but I'm doing it a bit differently. This is actually our meal plan from last week with some pictures and some recipes. Maybe it will give you some idea for a new meal for your family. 

Spinach tortellini with broccoli and marinara (recipe coming Thursday in my Munchkin Meals post)

Spinach quiche

Pulled pork sandwiches with slaw, roasted potatoes and mushrooms, and cornbread muffins

Homemade pizza

Brittany's Sweet potato and black bean chili

Check back in later this week for Munchkin Meals hosted by Brittany.

Have a happy Monday!!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Favorites (3/28/14)

Hey, y'all! I haven't been making much time for blogging lately, but I have really missed it. We've had lots of things going on lately... nothing major; but you know how it is. Sometimes life just kinda takes over. 

One of the highlights during my blog-break was getting to do a service project with the young marrieds small group Bible study that we lead. We stationed ourselves at both entrances of a local grocery store and handed out water bottles with our church invite cards attached while attempting to simply talk with people. 
We had hopes of getting opportunities to ask people what was going on in their lives and if we could pray with them/for them about anything. Our signs said "Free water, free prayer." 

Many people were very distrusting of us, refusing the water; (I think they thought we were going to trap them into something if they took the water but didn't want to talk.) There are lots of great stories from that day, but the thing most worth mentioning is how much our eyes were opened to hurt all around us that people keep hidden but will gladly tell someone about if they sense genuine care. I was humbled by the experience of showing compassion to strangers in this way. I was also emboldened; I know now that it is a very simple thing to ask someone the question, "Is there something that I can pray for you about?" The worst they can say is "no." But when they say yes, God pours out His love into us, as we pour it out into another person. "For whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Jesus in John 4:13-14

This past week has been a fairly normal one. The weather has been really wacky, but we have still gotten some outside playtime. Here are some of my favorites from the week:

Playing outside on Saturday afternoon, grilling turkey burgers for dinner, and eating on the deck. 

Getting back to reading My Utmost for His Highest in the mornings, now that our church-wide devotional is over. I love the teachings of Oswald Chambers. 

Trying out a new slow cooker recipe for pulled pork sandwiches. Oh. My. Heavens. 

Brainstorming a service project with the moms group at church related to low-income / at-risk expectant moms. I am SO excited about this!

Catching up on some blog reading. Becky's post blew me away yesterday!

Trucking on with marathon training. I did 16 miles for my long run two weeks ago and 12 miles last weekend. Both runs went really well. I am supposed to run 18 miles this weekend. It's only a little over a month away to the race!!! Eek!

Rush is sounding out words and spelling them!!! This little boy is blowing my mind! I haven't pushed this type of learning because he has never shown eager interest in it. He is much more concerned with riding his bike and scooter and playing baseball,etc. It is amazing watching his little brain develop. He is like a super-sponge right now at 4 1/2. 

We have NO plans for this evening, so we'll probably have homemade pizza and watch a movie in the living room. {My favorite!} Tomorrow, Ben is playing in a dodgeball tournament as a fund-raiser for a St. Jude fund-raising team called "AC and the Tough Kids." These are friends from our church, and they are amazing people. 

Sunday, Ben is teaching a lesson on suffering and trials in our lives and how  we are always responding to our circumstances, good or bad. I really enjoyed this chapter in the book How People Change, so I am looking forward to the lesson. 

I hope you have had a great week too!

I want to know:
What's the last service project you did?
What's your favorite meal to eat outside?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Waiting and Working

We've been trying to sell our house for quite some time now. 17 months to be exact. When we first listed, we were planning to move into the city where Ben works because he has quite a long commute that we felt was taking away too much family time. We also felt that his life and mine and the kids' lives were not in-sync, since my extra-curriculars and his were in different towns with different people. {You can read more about our original plan for moving here.}

Over time, our hearts began to change while waiting to sell. 

We are still waiting for the house to sell, but after all the waiting, things are looking positive. 

The hard part for me is keeping my emotions out of it all. I go from overly excited and hopeful to worried that things won't "pan out" in a span of 30 seconds. Really, I can do nothing in the situation except trust God. And that is so freeing. Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and  he will make your paths straight." 

Through my BSF study, I have been reminded recently that I should be living with more of an eternal mindset. And since the whole house-selling thing is what causes me more worry than anything, I realize that I must let it go. Yes, moving to the area that we desire will allow us to be more involved in ministry at church, but our current situation is not preventing it altogether. I need to focus on how I can use my current circumstances for God's glory. If I waste the time that I have been given here and now just because I want to live somewhere else, I am going to be missing out on opportunities to spread hope and love. 

“When circumstances rise to levels of importance way beyond their actual importance, they exercise more control over us than they should … The resurrection of Jesus and the hope of forever give us a sense of priority and proportion.” ~Paul Tripp, Forever (pg. 87)

I don't want my circumstances to completely control me. I want hope in Christ to be my priority. 

"we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” ~2 Peter 3:13

When I keep my eyes on the promise of my future (complete righteousness and perfect fellowship with God), joy and contentment will be the result. And I won't find it hard at all to keep working while I'm waiting.