Friday, April 30

California Dreamin'

We had such a fantastic time in California - truth be told, we sure hated to leave! Today at naptime, Aaron told me that he wanted to go back to California. So we had a nice talk about how we have to wait on God's timing for our next trip, and we have to wait on God to tell us where that might be. We talked about how God wants us to be content no matter where we are, and discussed the blessing of the trip, and how amazing it was that God provided for us to go. We are so grateful for His provision for our needs all the time, and the BONUS BLESSING of seeing our good friends. It was neat to share that with Aaron, too.

While we were there, we visited a couple of fun touristy places - the Aquarium of the Pacific, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and various sights around Riverside. We also were blessed to worship with Heritage Bible Church and meet fellow members of the body of Christ there. It was such a special time for us. Other than that, we just enjoyed the time together and laughed a lot. It was great.

We also were re-acquainting ourselves with each others' offspring. It is fun to see how Emma & Olivia have been growing up - they are such fun! Aaron has changed a TON since the last time we were all together - Evan is about the age now that Aaron was when they moved. Plus, Andrea and the girls hadn't even met Evan yet. They were so helpful and patient with our boys.

Since our return, Aaron talks nonstop about Uncle Kris, Aunt Andrea, Emma & Olivia. And of course, Bailey, their miniature Yorkie. What fun for the boys to have a dog - albeit temporarily! Evan took awhile to warm up to her, but by the end of our trip was petting her gleefully.

Here and here are a few of the pictures we took while we were gone. There are hundreds - these are just excerpts!

We do praise the Lord for allowing us to go, and for working out the details of our travel beyond what we could imagine. Only with the miraculous price on plane tickets (yes, miraculous!) could we have ever made the trip. In some ways, I felt like I was on an up close and personal missionary slide show - we pray for the Stephens family often, but without a knowledge that comes from experience. Now we know a little better how to pray for our friends. What a great time together!

Before, After

Just continuing to keep it real -I've been trying to return the house to some semblance of order. Do you get crazy (and lazy) like I do after a trip? Here are some examples - for me, the empty spaces just beg for clutter. And, unfortunately, I oblige.

This area is by our mudroom door. Mail, remnants of travel, receipts, it's all bad.

The after is still looking kinda cluttery. I think maybe I need to go through the phone books and directories and pare it down.

This is my coffee station. Now I don't know how the pb & honey got stuck there, not to mention the entire box of stevia or the bag of dried chilies. All I know is that I'd ignored the area far too long. Oh, and neglected to put things away after I was done using them. Ooops. Um, empty printer cartridge? You do not a delicious cup of coffee make.

I got out my covered glass sugar dish that I do not use often enough and put stevia & turbinado sugar packets in there. So much better. Ahhh. Oh, and I moved the coffee maker so that it covers the outlet. Nice.

The last area is my fireplace mantle. Hello, Bibles, Cubbies goody box, etc, etc. And putting the goody box there was a mistake. There was a small bottle of bubbles in there that leaked all over the mantle, and now there is a nice stain. Good thing it hasn't been painted & primed yet. Yuck! (for the record, yes, Frank needs some attention - we've been gone for a couple of weeks - and the mantle piece is under construction - still needs some additional trim sections. I'll post a picture when it is complete!)

I would like to thank my napping children, without whom I never would have cleaned up all this mess. Check out the times. We are talking a matter of minutes to clean this stuff up, and yet, I neglect to do it on a LOT of days. Am I the only one??

happiest of Fridays

I have to praise the Lord for His goodness at all times. He has given me many blessings today! Here are five, in no particular order:

1. Sunshine.
2. A fantastic family.
3. Good health.
4. Tulips in my front yard.
5. Coffee, for free.

What are five of your blessings today?

Tuesday, April 20

Works of God

Well, I have to share the work of God in our situation last weekend. It wasn't our plan, but we do know that God has a reason for everything He allows to happen, so I can rest in that!!

Saturday morning, we got up and packed the van, I pre-paid for our checked baggage online with my debit card to save $5, and ran to the bank and then back to the house to pick up some "ah! forgot this!" items. When I was inside the house, checking for other forgotten items, I asked God to prompt me to remember anything we had forgotten. I actually said, "Lord, if there is anything else in this house that we need, please help me to remember." As we drove to the airport, everything was going so smoothly, traffic was fabulous and we were on target to be 2 hours early. Perfect.

Until, I had this flashback to my pre-paying for the bags. With my wallet. A mad scramble through my purse revealed the alarming evidence (or lack, really, thereof) that I had, indeed, forgotten my wallet with the driver's license I would need to board the plane.

Now, at this point I was just sick. I knew our tickets were the kind that you could change - for $100 plus the difference in fare (!!!!) which would have been substantial considering the deal we got on these tickets. I felt as if I would throw up. But I didn't.

Michael and I were blanking out on how to get the wallet to the airport, but we knew it would be cutting it close - even if we knew of someone who could drive it to Detroit, it still takes slightly longer than 2 hours for us to drive that distance and our flight would most likely have to leave. Plus, who would we call that would make that trip? My parents were in Ohio for grandma's 80th birthday, so that was out. We were drawing a blank - that is a lot to ask someone!!

Michael finally decided to call his boss to see if he knew of anyone traveling downstate in that day - and much to our amazement, he, while talking to Michael, yelled for his kids to get in the car and got ready to make the trip himself. He was taking care of his four children while his wife was at ladies retreat. What a sacrifice! We are so grateful for Matt - and for his willingness to eat up his Saturday for my blunder.

So the next step was to get to the airport and beg for mercy. We were pretty sure that the airline could not allow me to fly, and were were trying to figure out what to do - reschedule the whole family?! How much would that cost? I was feverishly running through each scenario. All sounded bad to me. I was crying. And then, I remembered my prayer before leaving.

I know God is good, that He is always working, that He doesn't forget about us, that His plan is good beyond my imagination. And that I had asked Him to prompt me to remember anything I needed, and that He had not allowed me to remember the wallet. And that was incredibly calming. I was reminding myself out loud that God's plan is best and that everything happens for a reason. But there was still a major hurdle. The money.

We got to the ticket counter and I must have looked quite dejected. I admitted my forgetfulness to the agent, who went to get her manager. This man worked on trying to figure out if we had any ID that would work, and then he started working on options for a different flight plan. I timidly said, "so what is the cost for that?" And he told me he would just change it. For nothing.

I could not believe my ears. I could have hugged him!! God also worked out the cost of our hotel - because of a not-so-good stay in the past, the manager had extended a half-off offer for any future stays, and so we did that - the hotel graciously included a park and fly package in the half off deals, so (drumroll please) we ended up paying maybe $5 for a mistake that could have cost us much more than that.

And Michael was the real hero of the day, with his "it could have been anything, it just happened to be the wallet" attitude and his lack of frustration with me. What a blessing I have in him.

We have been having SUCH FUN with our friends - more later on that - this post has already been long enough for today. I actually started it last week, but by the time I finished writing it all down, I decided not to post it until today. We head back Tuesday afternoon, so plan on hearing from me later this week on all the blessings and encouragement we've had here!!

What has God been doing in your life?? Share! Link! Praise Him with me!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the Linky Tools widget below, simply type your name in the title box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the specific link from your "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like

Sunday, April 18



Have you ever forgotten something while packing for a trip?

I wallet.

So, instead of sunny California, and church with our friends, the Stephens,

we are in a Detroit hotel,

waiting for the replacement flight.

It's actually a great story of love shown through a fellow believer and God's miraculous provision.

But now it's 4:00 am, and the kids are AWAKE!!!!! So the story will have to wait while we try to keep them busy until breakfast hours begin.

I'm so glad for a fantastic husband who loves me even when I make colossalish blunders, and doesn't even get a tiny bit mad.

Friday, April 16

and a teeny little favor?

I would love it if you would go to the Wojo Photography facebook fan page and vote for Evan in the Cutest Baby Contest. If he wins the contest, I will win some free photos from Naomi. And have pity, my children have never been professionally photographed. Today's the last day, so I'd love it if sometime today you could go over and vote. Poor kid only has 2 votes, so could you help?? ***I think you have to become a fan of Wojo Photography to vote, or you can email a "I vote for Evan" message to Naomi


just because I'm slacking off here...

Yes, the laundry mountain was demolished, and in its place has grown another. Thankfully, I don't seem to have many dirty laundry mountains - mine are more clean, or worse yet, clean and folded. It's that last putting away step that does me in.

I've been crazy this week, and have one more day of craziness before we leave for vacation in California!! We're so excited to get away and to see our dear friends. I'm looking forward to chilling out as much as our active sons will let us!! For some reason they seem to like to play more than sleep.

Please pray for us as we travel, for the boys to do well, and for Aaron to miraculously get over his new-found cough in the next 24-48 hours. I have been trying to coax him back to sleep for the past 45 minutes - he's been sleeping horribly the past few nights, but for some reason the "your body needs to sleep to heal" argument doesn't go over well with a 3 year old. Yesterday, I was hoping it was allergies, but this morning I woke up with a sinus headache, so maybe it's a cold. It's no fun to fly with sinus issues, especially if you're little. And taking a sickness to someone else's house makes me feel horrible - maybe we can camp out in the back, back concrete.

So, just because I'm slacking off in blogging doesn't mean I'm slacking off in real life. Today is one more load of laundry, then get ready for my one evening only of ladies retreat, pack our carryons full of activities and snacks, and clean the house. Tomorrow morning we add our daily items to the suitcases and head out. I'll try to blog at least once in California. Maybe a Works of God Monday, finally? I'll work on it!!

Friday, April 9

Laundry mountain, much?

Keepin' it real, people.

This is what else I'm doing today, besides canning beans. Thankfully Aaron has been a BIG helper this morning, and Evan took a big long nap.

My naptime challenge is to FOLD these clean clothes,

the ones that have been sitting there far too long.

like, maybe 27 days.

or shorter. I'll never tell.

To be fair, a lot of it is winter bedding, bedding from our extra (now disassembled) crib, some towels. Which means it will fold fast but put away slow.

And, here's more real embarrassment. I have folded and put away 2 baskets full already today. There are more loads to wash. Those loads will not fold themselves.


Gluten Free Jazzy Taco Pie

Pie Filling
3/4 lb ground beef
1 can or pint pinto beans (or other beans)
taco spices - cumin, paprika, garlic & onion powders, salt, (or spices from a taco packet) to taste
1 cup salsa

Cornbread topping
1 cup white rice flour (you could probably sub all purpose if you are not GF)
3/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey (I just put a squirt in and guessed on the quantity here)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 4-oz can diced green chilies
1 cup cheese

Preheat oven to 400* Brown and season ground beef to taste. Add rinsed beans and salsa, remove from heat. Put in the bottom of a deep dish pie plate or a square baking dish. (I used the Pampered Chef Deep Dish Pie plate, just to give you an idea of size)

Mix dry ingredients together, whisking to thoroughly combine, set aside, whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl, add to dry ingredients and mix to combine. Pour on top of beef and bean mixture, bake at 400* until the top of the cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean, about 35 minutes.

Serve with tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, additional salsa if desired.

I would also have experimented with adding whole kernels of corn into the cornbread topping, but my husband is not fond of that! The cornbread topping was not at all sweet, so if you like a little bit sweeter of a cornbread you might want to add a bit more honey.

Thursday, April 8

how's that?

Does it seem to anyone else that the days are flying by? I cannot believe the crazy speed of life around here!! And tomorrow, I'm planning to do something to ADD to the craziness.

I'm going to can beans.

So now, I am setting my house to rights and hopefully will get a huge dishwasher full of glass jars sterilized for prep tonight - soak, soak, soak away! Tomorrow, if you drive by, you might catch a whiff of pinto-navy-black-red bean juice goodness. My plan is - do the canning while the weather is cool enough to open the windows and take the smell out.

And to fill the pantry with canned beans for quick summer meals! Tomorrow, for dinner?? Something with beans, of course!

Do you have any Friday plans?

Monday, April 5

Works of God Monday

Sometimes it's just plain hard to see God at work, but when that is the case, I can be certain that it is ME and not Him who bears responsibility for that. I need to wash the glasses, that is all, and see God for who He is and what He is doing. There are areas where it is super obvious that He is working - we have a church whose pastors love God and we belong to a great body here. It's exciting to watch growth in our friends' lives - near, far away - and in our own.

It can be just plain discouraging, however, to continue to fail, continue to pull yourself up, and keep doing what you know is the right thing and yet see no results. It is painful, and I just wish I could change it, if I am completely honest. I know I am not alone. We are not alone. We are not forsaken, abandoned, neglected, or denied. We may feel that way at times, but feelings do not have to govern my actions.

And those feelings do not for one minute, one second, one millisecond change God's goodness. He is completely good, all the time. When the body hurts, when the emotions are out of control, when overwhelmed doesn't begin to describe it, He is in control and He is working. He is - no really, He IS - using the trying, discouraging, plodding times to chisel away parts of me that are not like Him. Despite His chisel, there are lots of times I remain stubborn and unchanged - locked in the same struggle as my 3 year old son finds himself. The struggle between what I want and what will be.

God is going to accomplish His best. I can (because of His grace) rest in truth, relax, and choose to see Him working. Even when it hurts. Maybe even especially because it hurts. And that fact is evidence that God is at work on this Monday, and every day.

What has God been doing in your life?? Share! Link! Praise Him with me!

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up..." 1 Thess. 5:11

In the MckLinky widget below, simply type your name in the title box, or a short description of the work that God has done, and then in the second box, paste the specific link from your "Works of God Monday" post. If you don't have a blog, use the comment section! Feel free to use the image from the top of this post if you like

Saturday, April 3

and the randomly selected winner is...

Thanks to all who participated in the Haiku Fest. Don't you think that was fun?? And thanks to, Kris is the winner, so his wife (or even he) should be very glad that he wrote, despite the fact that he was apparently coerced.

Here is his entry:

My wife is crazy
She talked me into this thing

I'm done with it now

And here is his prize:

This would be the Pampered Chef's brand-new-to-the-line color coated Chef's Knife, retail value $19.50. And let me tell you, while the cheerful spring color makes this not-so-little guy look innocuous, I assure you he is not. He is very sharp.

And fun to use.

And Kris, congratulations!! Now you and Andrea can decide who gets to use it!

Friday, April 2

Happy Birthday Nate!!

Happy Birthday to Nate!

I'm so glad to be your sister.

I can't believe you are still speaking to me.

I did, after all, use trickery and deceit to get you to play with me.

"Let's play kickball - you pitch first." and then I'd quit on you when it was my turn to pitch.

I was so mean.

And would you look at that hair? Crazy. And my cheeks - did I have candy in there or something??

It is no wonder that you didn't say anything

When I wore red culottes and ate ants off the sidewalk.

I deserved being grody.

Oh, and nice shorts.

Do you remember what we were doing here?

It looks creative and exciting (and knowing us...)

Why are church directory pictures Always Awkward?

Maybe it's just our family - this is not the worst of the bunch!!

Oh, dear.

That shirt.

That vest.

And all of us look like we're not quite all there.

I don't mind at all that you earned your Presidential Fitness T-shirt fair and square while I of little coordination and even littler athletic ability and muscular strength failed every year.

You look much better in royal blue.

I try not to mind that you tan so easily.

Happy Birthday, Dear Brother.


Wow, we're old.

Just think, by this time next year there will be another Forbes to help you celebrate.

Wished we lived closer. Oh, the fun we would have.

last chance!

Write a haiku by midnight PST for an entry in my fabulous giveaway drawing!!

Thursday, April 1

no foolin'

I thought about a great April Fool's post, but then thought better of it, remembering a college roommate who played a joke on her future in laws with her boyfriend at the time - calling to tell the family that they were engaged, and they weren't. Still makes me laugh, but I doubt the mom thought it was funny until they actually were engaged. So posting something fantastic would be funny, but not to some of you, I am sure.

Moving on, I love Qdoba and am happy that they have gluten free options - yay! I can eat there! So, we had this rice for dinner last night, and I can't stop thinking about it - and I also can't wait to try it again. I doubled the batch and added more cilantro - like 1/2 cup total, but other than that, just like the recipe. I cannot wait to make the beans. I served the rice with my "famous" salsa chicken, which is 2 large frozen chicken breasts with 1+ cup of salsa in the crock pot for 2-3 hours on high and then shredded.

So we had fake Qdoba burritos minus beans. Delicious. Even though I couldn't eat the tortilla, and I think we all know what Qdoba calls burritos without the shell. The kiddos loved the rice, too. Evan was two-fisting all the way through 2 or 3 bowls of it - so, big success. I used white rice, so that might have been part of it. I usually use brown.

On the gluten free front, the elimination of gluten has been helping some, but not all, of my symptoms. So as of yesterday I also cut out dairy. We will see how that pans out - and next week, I am planning to get in with an accupuncturist/BioSet practitioner who can, supposedly, eliminate allergies and sensitivities. Praying that will do the trick, and if it does, you have not heard the end of it!! How awesome would that be, really? I do know people who have had great success, so I am optimistic that if my problems are indeed from food, help is available. If not, to the traditional doctor I go *sigh*

Really, you must try this rice. I am going to grow cilantro in my garden this year solely because I know I will be making this recipe at least once a week or until I (or someone else in the family) gets sick of it.

And this brings the awesome rice recipe count to at least 4!!