Wednesday, March 31, 2010

sweet potato souffle

i came up with a new recipe for sweet potato souffle if you need a dish to take to an easter gathering this weekend. i used canned sweet potatoes, so it's pretty simple and quick. it's not healthy at all (like horrible), and could double as dessert, but that's what holiday gatherings in the south are all about. even our ham and tea can fix a sweet tooth, so sides should be no exception. here it is...

40 oz can sweet potatoes (all i could find was ones in syrup, but you'll drain it anyway)
1 cup sugar
1/3 stick butter, softened
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
1 t vanilla
topping:
1 yellow cake mix
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

drain and rinse the sweet potatoes, then mash them up in a bowl (you'll be mixing it all up with a hand mixer, so just enough to make them not so chunky). put everything else through the vanilla in the bowl and beat until it's all mixed together good. put in a casserole dish (you can rub some butter on it to grease it, but between the eggs and butter in the recipe it shouldn't stick). pour the cake mix on top...just the powdery mix, then drizzle the melted butter on top. sprinkle it with chopped pecans and bake on 350. i don't remember how long i baked it so keep checking it, but i'm thinking about 30 minutes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

love and relationships

this is a daily reading from ransomed heart ministries that my friend kate sent me. god has been showing me lately the degree to which i try and protect myself in relationships, and what this reveals about my heart's trust being not in the lord but people. this excerpt put it well, so thought i would share...

"Honest communication in love is the only way to live and grow in friendships. There are ebbs and flows. There may be real hurt and disappointment. But with the grace of God firmly holding us, it is possible to nurture and sustain deep friendships. We are designed to live in relationship and share in the lives of other women. We need one another. God knows that. We have only to ask and surrender, to wait, to hope, and, in faith, to love. We must also repent.

For a woman to enjoy relationship, she must repent of her need to control and her insistence that people fill her. Fallen Eve demands that people “come through” for her. Redeemed Eve is being met in the depths of her soul by Christ and is free to offer to others, free to desire, and willing to be disappointed. Fallen Eve has been wounded by others and withdraws in order to protect herself from further harm. Redeemed Eve knows that she has something of value to offer; that she is made for relationship. Therefore, being safe and secure in her relationship with her Lord, she can risk being vulnerable with others and offer her true self." (Captivating pgs 181-82)

and one of my favorite quotes of all time...

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable . . . The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers . . . of love is Hell." (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

have a good weekend!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

forgot this...

thanks to all of you who pointed out that i forgot to post the link to the blog where i got the printables...

http://vintageprintable.com/wordpress/

low budget gallery

i like to re-decorate. often. our budget, and his friend brett, does not like for me to re-decorate often. thus, i'm always looking for ways to keep our house's look fresh without breaking the bank. here's my latest project...


*michael's frames $3.75 each...not the nicest frames, but they do the job and aren't too bad. plus, they come matted so you save that expense as well. they are normally $10, but they put them on sale often for $5, then they'll send out a coupon for 25% off your total frame purchase, thus bringing the final cost to $3.75 each.

the pictures are from one of my very favorite finds (thanks to some random blog i stumbled across...can't even remember which one it was, but i saw it and so did my friend tyler, then she re-found it and sent it to me.). anyway, the layout of the site is pretty hideous, but it's content is great. there are TONS of vintage printables that you can turn into your own cheap artwork. i went with vintage birds and nests and printed them on linen paper, using the rough side to make them look even older. with the paper and frame, each of my pictures came to just $4....that's $32 to fill an entire wall with artwork, which is pretty unheard of. i printed one for my guest bedroom as well, and will be finding some more for k and b's new room.

the wall still may need more on it, so if any of my readers who are talented decorators want to shoot some advice my way it's always welcomed. decorating is not my strong suit, so i'm definitely not offended by suggestions. here's the whole room...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

hooked on phonics

i know i've mentioned before that my kids talk a lot. i don't know if this is normal 3 year old behavior or if they've inherited it from me (please say it's normal). they usually entertain me and make me laugh, but the hot topic of our conversations lately is making me desperate for silence: i have to spell words all.day.long. everything i say, i have to spell it. if i say somebody's name, we have to sound it out and figure out which letters it contains and why. if it doesn't make sense (like in those weird words like "know" where the k is silent), we have to have a debate where i must convince them all over again that i went to school for 17 years to learn these things. k pretty much believes everything i say, but i spend half my day arguing with b over letters. how would you answer these?...

blakely confused by kennedy's lisp...
b: "s is a hard letter. sometimes it says 'ssssssssss', and sometimes it says 'thhhhhh'. th-th-thunder. that might start with an 's' but it might start with a 't-h'"

and blakely the know-it-all...
k: "my name ends with an 'e'. kenne-deeeeee. eeeeeeee."
me: "actually, it ends with a 'y'. the eeeeee sound is made by the letter 'y' in this case"
b: "so elephant starts with 'y'?"
me: "no elephant starts with 'e'"
b: "i know it used to, but now 'y' says eeeeeeeeeee"
me: "y only says eeeeeeee sometimes"
b: "ya-ya-yelephant. ya-ya-yelephant. elephant starts with a 'y'"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

cheesy

if you don't have to have organic, this week is the week to stock up on kraft cheese at kroger. they do this every year around this time it seems, and i always stock up. last year i bought 27 packs and this year 24. embarrassing. both krogers i've been to have those kraft coupon things that blink at you right beside the cheese, and the coupons are to save $1 on 2 packs of shredded or chunk (the bar kind). they're on sale for $1.49, and if you buy 8, you get $4 off your order. pull out 4 of those coupons and that takes 50 cents off each one, plus the 50 cents off each from buying 8, and you get each pack or bar for 50 cents. better yet, i went to publix and took the kraft coupons by their cheese because they were save $2 on 2, so kroger paid me 1 cent for each pack of cheese i took home. the only thing that beats free is getting paid for it and if you buy 24 packs like me, you make 24 cents :) i'm not hoarding...we really will eat all of that between now and june when it expires, but if you live close to me and run out of cheese, stop by and i'll give you some. now i've got to find every casserole recipe i can to use it, so if you've got any you love, send them my way.

applesauce bread

i don't remember where i got this recipe or i would gladly give the creator props. it was from a blog somewhere, but i don't remember where. i tweaked it a little, but it was her (whoever that is) original idea. it's slightly dry, but i still like it, and maybe adding more applesauce or some mashed up banana would fix that. make a few and freeze...good and healthy for breakfast:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup honey or sucanat (i think that was what the recipe called for, but i cut it down to 1/4 or 1/3 cup)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
3/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted

mix dry ingredients. make a well in the center and add applesauce, eggs, and butter. stir well. pour into a buttered bread pan. bake for 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.



--
Nicole Lane

Monday, March 15, 2010

homemade: shampoo

i just realized i never posted this. this is our household all-in-one shampoo and body wash, so it makes our shower pretty clutter-free. for me, it's not as good as shampoo you can buy, but it leaves my hair soft enough to skip conditioner and full enough to skip styling products, and once again it's natural enough to eat. sometimes i'll rub an extra dab of coconut oil through my hair once it's dry for added shine, but it's good enough to stand on it's own. brett loves it and says he'll never use another shampoo. for some reason, it works better for him than anything we've bought. my hair is straight and really thick and brett's is really thick but has more body and these proportions work for both of us, but you may want to play around with it based on your needs. i don't love it in k and b's hair since theirs is thin, but it will do until i find a good natural alternative for them. in the original recipe i used (from passionate homemaking), there's no oil, but it left brett's hair frizzy (no offense, babe). let me know if you come up with something else and i'll try it...

1 cup castile soap
1 cup water
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
about 1/2 T tea tree oil

mix everything up and put it in either a squirt or spray bottle. i use a squeeze bottle (one of the ones you would put ketchup or something in) from bed bath and beyond. i like it because i can point it into my scalp. either this or a spray bottle would work best because the mix is really liquidy. not sure how to change that? hope you like it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

more thoughts

psalm 16
"preserve me, o god, for in you i take refuge...you are my lord; i have no good apart from you. the sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply. the lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed i have a beautiful inheritance. i bless the lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. for you will not abandon my soul or let your holy one see corruption. you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

i don't trust god's control in my life. i don't trust that he really gave me the kids he wanted for his glory and for my good. i don't trust that he really gave me the husband or the financial situation or the body or the friends or family he gave me for his glory and for my good. before you send an e-mail to share "the good news" with me, hear me out...

i think i know what life should look like. i have this perfect plan i've put together for my life, and the life god has given me lines up close enough to the one i think i should have for me to believe i've had control over it and made it this way, but because it falls short JUST A LITTLE in every area, i still fight and scramble thinking i have control and if i just fight a little more, i'll get it JUST RIGHT. maybe if it were way off, it would be a little easier to know i wasn't in control. maybe if i wanted kids and didn't have them, hated my husband, and was on the verge of losing my house and going hungry, i could easily believe that life is full of pain and i was made for another world. but the life i have looks so close to my "perfect" one. so i keep fighting for perceived perfection. and i keep winding up short. and i despair because i feel hopeless to ever get it right. so what am i looking for? heaven on earth. i want life to feel right. i want to stay in a state of peace. i want to pretend, even if i don't say it out loud, that i was made for this world. i want life to serve me well, and offer me the right husband, kids, look, friends, house, energy. i think all of these things are the real keys to life. so ultimately, i think having control and being able to move my life circumstances around like chess pieces is where true peace and life lies. i don't know how to play chess, but i'm guessing you win if you make the right moves. i keep making the right moves...the ones that should lead me to win, but just as i'm on the verge of winning, my opponent moves in and blocks my move. in the past, i might have thought this opponent was satan, but now i'm thinking differently. god hasn't let me get it "just right" because his "just right" is different than mine. his plan is for his glory and for my good; not necessarily the good i think is good.

i want ______ plus or minus ________:
- brett because i think he's pretty much perfect, plus _____ ( i won't air a flaw in cyber world, but fill in the blank for whatever you wish your husband did or didn't do :))
- the kids i've got because i love them more than i could ever love another kid, minus blakely pooping her pants every day for 2 weeks or kennedy asking to eat 28 times a day
- the way i look because i'm "fearfully and wonderfully made" (right?), plus 6 more inches, plus a bigger head (i have a peanut head), minus a few inches from my hips, plus bigger eyes and a smaller nose, blah, blah, blah
- the mind i have, plus more creativity, minus a constant need to maintain perceived order
- the schedule i have, plus more naps
- the house i have, plus a california closet.
- etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc

get my point? do you like my equation? it looks good to me, and i think if all of it really happened, THEN i would be happy, because THEN i would be in control and THEN god would really be good (and i wouldn't just be saying it out of truth). but this has been the story of my life. i know god has been gracious to me. my life is full of blessings, and i can honestly say i wouldn't trade my life for anybody's in the world. but i also think it's funny that god has allowed my life to keep lining up more and more closely the older i get to my perceived perfect life. because now i think he's showing me that i'm "almost there", and i live in more despair now than ever. i lived my whole life dreaming about the future. when i would feel hurt in my heart, instead of entering into the pain and asking the lord to meet me there and heal me, i would suppress it and think about something fun. for example, when i was working, i felt a lot of anxiety regarding my unhealthy fear of authority and quest for approval, but instead of taking those 2 years to enter into these dark places of my heart and ask god for healing, i spent 2 years dreaming about the day i would have kids and be a stay-at-home mom since that's all i ever wanted to do, because then all my problems would go away. i didn't deal with those fears; i suppressed them and lived for the future. so here's one of the (probably many) things that have led me to where i am today: the future i've "lived for" for 29 years is here, and i'm still the same me with the same baggage. when i thought about my perfect future, i forgot that sin and brokenness would exist there too. i guess i thought that girl i saw in my future would be a different person. i'm changed, yes, but i'm still me. duh. so i thought restoration and redemption came through fixed circumstances, not through the person of christ (even though i would have said it did). my "fixed circumstances" are still broken. the kids i've lived to have still disobey me and embarrass me in public and hit each other and demand every ounce of energy i've got. the husband i counted on to fix my life still has flaws (imagine that). the perfect days i had planned for myself as a stay-at-home mom are often marked by exhaustion and loneliness and telling k and b to read to each other because i don't want to read the same freakin book again. the countless kingdoms i've built here on earth...the places i've tried to find life...aren't lasting. i don't know if you got this message from the song "eve" by sandra mccracken i posted awhile ago, but my favorite line is "when your kingdoms have crumbled down, where are you now?". my old answer would have been "screwed and depressed because life didn't work out like you wanted it to". the words of the song, and the refreshing and life-changing truth, is "sweet redemption rings in the air; sweet redemption will hold you there". god dwells in our broken places. he is a god of redemption, and he loves entering the filth of our hearts. he lives in the rubble of my broken kingdoms, even knowing that i'll build more today, tomorrow, the next day and the next. growing in a knowledge of his unconditional love and grace towards me...letting it grip my heart and not just remain a truth in my head...is leading me to trust the only one who is good.

"you are my lord; i have no good apart from you." - psalm 16:2

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the boat movie

thought you could use something a little lighter from my blog this morning...especially on a rainy day like today :)

on days we're at home, most of our time is spent either watching the sound of music ("the boat movie" as k and b call it) or acting it out...they come up with the parts themselves and act out different scenes. if you've been to our house, i'm sure you've acted as their audience. they think everyone who steps through our door came to watch them perform. if you've seen the movie, here's the scene where the kids march down the stairs to introduce themselves to maria. k is "lisa" (liesel) and i still can't figure out who b is ("moesa"?). the first video is them (or i should say blakely) working out their positions. can you tell who rules the roost?



do you like how "fregren" is really standing there?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

long and candid

*all quotes are from from fear to freedom by rose marie miller*

i'm in the middle of reading a book that god is using to change me. i'm not a reader and i can honestly say that in 6 years i haven't read a book cover to cover. isn't that crazy? when i was little, i would go to the library every 2 weeks and check out 14 books and read one a day. i would get sucked into fiction series and not be able to stop reading. i think it's why i love writing and grammar and editing and spelling and probably missed my call as an english teacher. in my really young years, it was the boxcar children, then i moved on to babysitter's club, then sweet valley twins and high. i wanted to be elizabeth or jessica wakefield so bad, or atleast have an identical twin. kind of funny that i got my own set (and for those of you who intimately know these characters like i do, k is clearly elizabeth and b jessica). anyway, i'm sure i would like fiction now, but i just really haven't found something i love, and i think that in my bondage to performance i've always felt that if i was reading a book, it needed to be self-help. the problem is, i get excited about the book fixing me, then give up because i become bored with getting fixed and see that words on a page don't change my heart. which leads me to what's going on in my heart right now...

i read from fear to freedom (or skipped around in it. that's what i always mean when i say "i read ____") about 2 years ago. i loved (the parts i read) then and even recommended it to people. i recently found it in brett's office and decided to pick it up again, and i'm almost done. seriously. i know this doesn't sound like an accomplishment to anyone else, but it's pretty huge for me because it shows that my heart is being gripped in a way it hasn't before. it doesn't speak of a magical solution for the sins and fears that grip my heart. it is pointing me to the one way out; the one way to be rescued from myself. nothing will grip you like the freedom you get from being released from fixing yourself.

you know how characters in a musical walk around like life is normal, then all of a sudden break out in a random song? i feel like that's what my blog is like. i talk about my kids and maybe share a random recipe or idea here and there, then all of a sudden i break out in these deep thoughts and share depths of my heart that you might find inappropriate for a blog that anyone can read. but the truth is, if i've learned anything over the past 3 years, it's that i sin and you sin and there's no use in trying to pretend like we don't. our hearts are dirty and there's sin beneath the sin, and the filth doesn't end with our outward actions. i know when i share things going on in my heart with who knows what audience, i am exposing myself to potential criticism and judgment. but i'm tired of hiding. trying to act like you've got it together all the time is exhausting, and if the bible didn't tell you i was born sinful, i might could keep trying to fool you. but even if you bought it, i'm tired of running. i've known in theory for the past few years that i was born completely depraved and hopeless without the grace of a savior to step in and rescue me. my change in theology began in college when i was under the teaching of gary purdy. it was the first time that i really heard, or atleast my heart heard, the teaching of our total depravity and god's perfect grace. i had never understood justification by christ's death alone. i loved the ideas and loved gary for preaching this message week after week for the 4 years i was under his teaching. these are the truths that i have clung to since hearing that message 10 years ago. the weird thing is, i feel like in some ways my heart is just now grasping the theology that has been in my head for a decade. i think life was just so good and easy in college that i didn't see the deep need for a savior like i do now. this book has not been a magic fix, and maybe it will touch no one else like it has me, but it is definitely a tool god is using to help me put words to my story.

from fear to freedom is rose marie miller's self-written biography (is that called an autobiography? i can't remember, but she wrote it and it's her own story, so whatever that is). i obviously can't go into her life story in one blog entry, and it's not that our life stories and circumstances are the same, but i've never identified so much with someone's stream of thinking. the entire book is covered now in pink highlighter because there are so many statements that i just want to scream out "ME TOO!" about. i didn't even know some of these things about myself, but the way she puts them into words explains what i was thinking and didn't even know i was thinking.

the subtitle of the book is "living as sons and daughters of god" and is an encouragement to relinquish the role of spiritual orphan and embrace my role as the daughter of god. i've heard these words before. i've known in my head that i was a child of god. my heart hasn't known that, and it has been the basis of the hiding game i've been caught in..trying to cover up sin or pretend like it isn't really that bad because i ultimately haven't believed god's unconditional love and grace was real. i'm his daughter. even in my imperfect love, there is nothing k or b could do to change my love for them. and the amazing thing is, them being really good all the time wouldn't make me love them more either. christ's death on the cross rejects our bad AND good works. i feel like i need to have a whole series of blogs to document the truths that are penetrating my heart. i know i could just journal and keep these thoughts to myself, but they've been too life changing and brought too much freedom to my heart to not share them. and no, this isn't some evangelical, religious speech to those of you out there who don't believe in god. it actually kind of makes me sick to know that there are probably some of my readers that i knew in high school who i tried to "share christ with" by telling you to straighten up your act. after all, wasn't i good at being good? couldn't everybody get it together like i could? i know i've spoken before about the self-righteous pride i carried around, but i want to say it again to make sure you understand my heart here. that's not the gospel, so if you've heard that message from me in the past, pretend like you didn't. this (really) long monologue is not a bunch of religious words meant to make you feel like christianity is weird if you haven't had much exposure, or have had exposure of the wrong kind. it's just a story of my heart that is real and changing me and writing it down helps me process it.

so just getting down to the honest issues of my life and letting you (whoever "you" is) on me: again, probably inappropriate to be so personal, but i don't know what harm i can do other than have you think less of me, and frankly i'm starting to not care so much about that. i never thought i would say that because my reputation has been my god and the thing i idolize and strive to protect more than anything in this world. at the same time, i feel like the past 3 1/2 years have been a roller coaster for me, so if somebody else is feeling the same way, i like to atleast offer the hope i've found because there was a time i thought it didn't exist....

i haven't sugar-coated the fact that i struggled with the first few years of k and b's life. it wasn't just because they screamed their heads off all.the.time. i was depressed. i think i might could be the poster child for post-partum depression...if it was just post-partum. the truth is, it is still a struggle that i go in and out of. go ahead and think i'm weird if you've never been depressed, but i wouldn't be too quick to judge because i never in a million years thought i would struggle with it. i used to think depressed people were weird and just needed to get happy. call it hormones that still swing in and out of balance, or call it the thing god has used to get my attention and show me his goodness, but i can't get it to go away. i tried to get through it on my own for 2 years, then finally went to a psychiatrist a year ago and found the right combination of medicine. i thought i was fixed and was so happy to be happy again. the truth is it's back and i'm wondering if it ever goes away forever. it's the reason my blogging has been sporadic and the reason i might not have called you back if you've called me. on low days, i crawl into a hole and feel paralyzed in relationships and in life. i don't want to talk to anybody and i don't want to do things i usually love to do. there have been more low days than high lately, which is what ultimately drove me to a desperation for answers. my first instinct was to call my psychiatrist and see if he could up my medicine. in half-heartedly praying through it, my heart felt like this phase is a spiritual battle. i do feel crazy if i miss my medicine for a few days, but i think medicine in me has been used to get me to a place where i can think straight and process my thoughts. it's not the total fix i had hoped it was going to be. so, here i am...in the valley, forced to deal with real thoughts, real hurts, and real issues of my heart. "crises become god's means of forcing us to turn away from circumstances, feelings, and our own strength, and to turn toward god."

if you've never been depressed, i don't expect you to understand why it's a struggle for me. i'm well aware that my life is really, really good. i can honestly say there is not one circumstance in my life right now that is bad. so it doesn't make sense to me either. or atleast it didn't up until now. i do believe depression is very often a chemical or hormonal problem, and that has been part of my problem. but i know the valley i'm experiencing now is different, and something god is using to show me issues i would never face if i wasn't forced to out of desperation. which is where from fear to freedom is coming into play in my life. it's showing me some patterns of my heart that have left me where i am. my life probably doesn't look any different from the outside, but my heart is being changed daily in a way i haven't experienced before. i've been a christian for so long, but every time i go through times of heart changes like this, i realize i just didn't get it before.

i had a day last week where i was lower than i've been in awhile. i was praying through what was going on in my heart when god revealed it to me. this doesn't happen that often, but it was real and i knew that as much as i didn't want to admit it, it was a truth that would begin to catapult me into everything else i'm learning right now. i realized that when things go wrong in my life, i do 1 of 2 things: blame or medicate. when things don't go my way, my first instinct is to figure out whose fault it was. and it's usually brett's (poor thing) because he's safe and i know i can beat him up and he'll still love me. if i can't find someone to blame, i medicate. i don't mean medicate in the sense of lexapro (though i obviously do that too). i mean that instead of facing the hurt, i pick up a magazine or turn on keeping up with the kardashians or go shopping or re-decorate my house. sometimes i even do "good" things like make my family their shampoo...further proof that our actions aren't the problem. i'm not coming down on any of these things, because there are times i do these things when i'm emotionally healthy and they're fine. at other times, i do them to avoid having to deal with real issues. i've become an expert at medicating to suppress hurts and disappointments because to admit them might make me face one of my biggest fears: feeling out of control or tarnishing my reputation. control and a good reputation are the 2 things i've always thought were the key to life. i've never said that out loud, but these seem to be the 2 roots of most of my sins: maintaining control and approval from others, both of which i think are ultimately rooted in pride. and this has been the cycle of my life. i've medicated for 29 years, and so often it's looked so good and felt so good that i didn't feel a need to change. it's usually helped me get ahead in the world's eyes. my usual methods of medication have contributed to an improvement in looks (i'm not saying i'm a beauty queen...just that you can learn some pretty good hair and makeup and fashion tips when you medicate through reading magazines like i do), so i've felt more loved and successful, and less of a need for life through christ. and that's the beauty of depression. depression has made me lose interest in my old ways to medicate. this is not a medical problem. this is god's goodness to me because he wants me to meet him in this valley. he wanted to bring me to a point of desperation, where i finally learned that i am a "caterpillar in a ring of fire" who crawls to the things i think will save me, but really i have one hope of rescue...god in his grace reaching down and picking me up. "think of the human state as one of stubborn blindness. we will rely on everything but god. he in turn will prepare us for grace by closing our favorite escape exits until there is only one way left. healthy despair drives you to drop pretenses and seek god from the heart. it ends with a real beginning - new life energized by grace. unhealthy despair drives you into the role of victim, in which all responsibility is denied and blame is shifted to others. it ends with immobilization, intense self-preoccupation, and false humility. most of us want quick solutions to our problems. we have more interest in immediate deliverance from pain than in what god wants to teach us through the pain. but the father does not let us escape; he lets us alone until we become fed up with our own self-centered attitudes. when a healthy despair of self sets in, then god begins quietly to breathe into us a new teachability". this is where i am. i'm tired of the cycle of feeling hurt by life, blame-shifting, then medicating, because when none of these work, as is happening right now, i enter into depression. why am i just now learning this?!? i've been a christian for so long, so why am i just now learning that i have one hope? i don't have to blame anyone and i don't have to cover sin or ignore it through my methods of medication. i think deep down i thought it would go away if i pretended it wasn't really there, but the truth is, i've been relying on myself while talking about god's power. "the confidence i had always had about my life was not faith, as i had assumed, but a reliance on my own competency, be it real or imagined." i'm tired of depending on people or life to make me happy. i didn't think i was doing this because i knew in my head that god was the only source of true joy, but if i really believed it in my heart, i wouldn't put so much stock in others liking me or everyone, especially brett, performing to my standards.

so these are just some of the truths that are making my heart more alive. i'm sure there will be more. and along with that, i'm sure there will be more low days where i forget all of this and go back to my usual methods of coping with the pains of life. my hope is that i will continue to be reminded of christ's work on the cross and the way his death justified me and set me free from having to perform and hide to ensure his love for me. my prayer is to rely on his grace since he's the only good thing in me anyway.

i'm not done with my thoughts, but i'm tired of writing (and thinking :)). i'm too tired to edit it too, so forgive any typos :). plus, i have so many thoughts running through my head that they're all getting jumbled, and i've written so much already that i feel like i've been all over the place and might not make much sense. i'll continue some other day. hope you had a good weekend!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

chicken pot pie

i used to use my mom's recipe for chicken pot pie, but i came up with a new version that is similar by replacing canned cream of chicken soup, which often contains msg, with a homemade cream sauce, and replacing the crust with a homemade whole wheat version. if you're scared of fat, this dish is not for you, but in my opinion, if you eat real food with real fat in it you don't need as much to be satisfied. it is pretty time consuming (i divide it into 2 days), so whenever i make it, i try and get 3 or 4 out of it and freeze the others to use over the next couple of months. this is a great example of a way you can feed your family organic on a budget. i'm going to give you my freezer meals version, which will make several casserole dishes full, but you can obviously divide it by 3 or 4 to make 1. you'll need the following ingredients:

- chicken (see step 1 below)
- 3 sticks butter
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- salt and pepper
- 8 cups chicken broth (you'll have some from your cooked chicken if you want to use it, but you'll probably need to supplement to get this much)
- 4 cups milk
- 2 or 3 bags frozen vegetables
- 1 T baking powder
- 2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk + 2 T white vinegar)

1. start with bone-in chicken and a crock pot. i've used a whole (big) organic chicken, or when i wanted to cut costs, bought bone-in split chicken breasts for 99 cents a pound at kroger. 6 or 7 breasts should be enough. boneless skinless chicken is easier and can definitely be used, but i think something about cooking chicken with bones and skin, while gross, adds flavor. sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, add water to the crock pot so you end up with more broth when it's done, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. remove the skin and bones, shred the chicken and put it aside, and put the broth in a bowl to cover and refrigerate (i leave it overnight. you'll want to give it atleast a few hours).

2. dealing with the broth is gross, so you can throw it out and use canned if you want to, but i don't like to waste anything (especially when i've used organic chicken). if you want to use it, after you've refrigerated it, take it out and look at the lovely chunk of fat on top. it's a whitish color. scrape all of that off and don't gag when you look at the chicken jelly underneath. once you microwave the "jelly", it becomes more broth-like and you'll feel a little better about using it. sit it aside to combine with your other ingredients soon.

3. in a saucepan, melt a stick of butter and add a cup of olive oil to it. whisk in a cup of whole wheat flour and 4 teaspoons of salt. stir in 4 cups of chicken broth (either canned or from your cooked chicken) and 4 cups of milk (i use 2%).

3. combine the following in a huge bowl:
- shredded chicken
- 2 or 3 bags of frozen veggies. i use peas and corn because brett doesn't really like carrots or anything else, but you could use mixed veggies if you like it all.
- 4 cups of chicken broth (again, canned or from cooked chicken)
- cream sauce you just made
- salt and pepper to taste

4. pour your combined ingredients into however many casserole dishes you're using (you can spray them with olive oil, but i think there's enough fat in the recipe to keep it from sticking.)

5. combine the following in a separate bowl: 2 sticks melted butter, 2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups of buttermilk (i usually don't keep buttermilk on hand, so i make it out of milk since i always have that. just mix a tablespoon of white vinegar into each cup of milk you're using, let it sit for atleast 5 minutes to sour it, and pour into your recipe as usual. i finally figured this out after throwing away carton after carton of half-used buttermilk).

6. spoon your crust mixture onto the casseroles and smooth it with the back of your spoon. it will seem really thin, and some of the vegetables might poke through, but i've tried it with more crust, and i like the taste of a thinner crust much better...not as doughy.

7. bake one casserole on 350 for about an hour. cover the rest tightly and freeze...probably up to 3 months or so.

it's hard work, i know. maybe it's considered part of a good diet since you're too tired to eat it once you're done cooking it, but you can try one of the frozen ones next time ;) enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

randomness

i feel like it's been so long since i've talked about everyday life with our family. i had the best intentions of starting a blog to record random everyday events both to share with family and friends and to have a virtual scrapbook of sorts to look back on one day and see what these crazy years were like. i've gotta get better about it; it's just that by the time i sit down at the end of the day, i'm too tired to think, much less write out my thoughts.

nap times are pretty inconsistent now because kennedy has pretty much given hers up. she takes one a few days a week, but the other days, she follows me around the house, bored and lost without blakely to entertain her. naptime was always my time to get things done that i couldn't do with k and b, so i'm trying to figure out how to still be productive. also, we're trying to figure out what our evenings look like because when k hasn't taken a nap, she needs to go to bed at 7, but since b usually has, she's not tired until atleast 9. try getting one to bed while the other stays up...no fun. plus, i don't mind no-nap days because it's worth me not having that break during the day if it means brett and i have our evenings together, but as it stands now, there's a kid up from 7 to 9. i love my kids and all, but do you know how much a 3 year old talks?

this weekend was a much needed time of marital connection for brett and i. we dropped k and b off in dacula with gabby and grandcoach and headed to athens for the weekend. we try to have a weekend away every 3 or 4 months, and to go back to what i said earlier about being too tired at the end of the day to think, we just don't have it in us at the end of a lot of days to talk and connect, so we depend on these weekends to talk through issues so we don't crash and burn. pre-kids it seemed so easy to stay connected. i'm probably idealizing what life looked like because i usually do that to the past, but if we were fighting about something (is "working through an issue" the more appropriate way to say it on a public blog?), we could talk about it when we needed to. i'm a yeller when i fight (lovely) and now we've got an audience of 4 little ears, plus a day that doesn't end when work ends, so we sometimes put off issues until these weekends away. we had the intention of going to charleston or st simons or somewhere exciting, but truth be told, the drive sounded exhausting. i think we're getting old. in my mind though, you just can't beat athens. it's only 45 minutes from my mom and coach, so if we needed to get back to k and b for any reason we can, and i never ever get tired of the food and shopping there. not to mention, it seems like our town since it's where life started for us. it was a busy weekend there, but i love a bustling town, so it was perfect. there was a baseball game, ga/fla basketball game, and i'm guessing some parents' weekends for a few sororities because the foundry and hotel indigo were both booked and stores were crazy full of sorority girls and sorority moms shopping on daddy's dime. lucky girls. we had to stay at a sleep inn that just opened near the mall, which sounds sketchy, but it was actually pretty nice and only $60 a night (actually it lists for more than that, but remember i'm married to the clark howard of our generation so we rarely pay what someone tells us we're gonna pay). we ate at all of my favorites...big city bread (which if you haven't been there in awhile, they opened up the area next to it so there's more inside seating...woohoo!), last resort, transmetropolitan, and a reeeaaaaalllly good addition to athens, taqueria del sol. also, i thought i might cry when cookies and company closed, and i'm still mourning over it a little, but there's a yogurt shop in it's place that i LOVE, called yoguri. it's the pink berry kind of yogurt, not the tcby kind, but real yogurt is so addicting, especially because you can think about the good things it's doing for your body while you eat it. i highly recommend the original and dark chocolate swirled. so even though food is my favorite topic and i could go on and on about these places, we also shopped a lot and had really good conversation and just enjoyed being together kid-free and uninterrupted.

today was back to the daily randomness. k and b went to school as usual this morning, but i got a call while i was at the gym that blakely had had an "accident" in her pants. i'll spare the details so she's not embarrassed one day reading this, but i'm not sure what's going on with her here. this is the 3rd time in a week now, and she has since proceeded to pee in her pants 2 more times today. any advice from those with older kids? we had a talk with her about what would happen if she did it again, but i also don't want her to be scared of accidents and hide it. i remember when i was little i used to pee in my pants and throw my panties behind a chair in my room. my mom moved the chair one day and discovered where all of my undies had disappeared to. the apple doesn't fall far from the tree ;) anyway, she thought it was SO fun that i picked her up from school (you would understand why i went ahead and took her home if you saw her. i had to throw her pants away and she had poop all down her legs. sick.), so i'm kindof worried she's going to do it again just so she'll get to go home.

no more random thoughts for today. if you're wondering, blakely still wears her hair every day, even to sleep in, and kennedy has had no more injuries. that's about it for now.