Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh how my garden grows!

So as I have posted about our garden before I figured I would update y'all with the progress it has made! It is getting huge! It is over at my parents house and I think my dad and I have some planting to do this weekend since he of course is a procrastinator, lol. Here are some new pictures of all the yummy zucchini, squash, radishes, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers we will have. We still have lettuce to get planted along with spinach, cantaloupe and watermelon. At least it continues to grow in the containers!

Despite the grass growing around the edges of the beds it looks great!
These are our tomato plants. (above)

Squash Plants

Bell Peppers (above)
Some tomatoes
A beautiful squash flower!

I think we will have a TON of squash. I am so excited to freeze it to use this winter! I hope to get to can some stuff this year too. I know we will at least do some pickles!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Exodus Trip

We just got home last night and I finally feel settled into home again. I have loved on my kids a bunch, cleaned a little, did lots of laundry from our trip, and cooked a meal...well 3 if frozen pancakes & Kraft mac & cheese count. :-) I almost feel like I don't even know where to being when I write about our trip to Exodus because it was such a mind altering experience for me.

The week before we left I kind of felt overwhelmed with the responsibility that we had to go and minister to people that had experiences and baggage that I could not relate with. I felt so uneducated. I felt scared, anxious, nervous, down right stupid because how could I possibly be used to minister to them? Would they think less of me because I have never struggled? Would they judge me because I am not like them and think I am judging them in their sin? How could God possibly use me? I felt kind of isolated in my thinking. Bill was ready, pumped and couldn't wait to go. Yeah, I was excited to go. I was anxious to see what God was going to do but I was also terrified. But hey as far as I knew of we would just be doing registration, greeting people, checking tags and what not. No big deal.

Well, once we arrived in California we waited for our rental vans to show up so we could go to the hotel and check in and get settled before we headed out to a nice dinner at P.F. Changs before the crazy week began on Wednesday. We enjoyed our evening out at this nice outside mall where we did a little window shopping, followed by dinner and then returned to our hotel.

Wednesday morning I woke up at like 4:30 and tossed and turned until 5:15 when I finally decided to get up. The time change was kicking my butt. It was really 7:15 here in TX when I got up. So, I got into the word, worked out and then got ready to head out to breakfast at IHop with the crew and go to Concordia University where we would scope out our room where some of our meeting were going to be and start our volunteer training. Upon arrival we thought our training was at 1:00 which we soon found out it was actually at 11:00...phew at least we made it! So, we all got trained and then got into our positions for the night. Instead of registration (where we thought we would be) Jessi & I paired up and were greeters at one end of the breezeway from 1:30-7:00 PM. We did stop and have dinner where I was able to meet 2 girls who sat at the end of our table. So unsure of what to say. It's not like I can ask why they are there. That would be kind of dumb. Even though not everyone who does attend struggled. In fact one of the girls I met that night didn't struggle; just there to obtain information for her possible ministry opportunity. I also didn't want to miss out on an opportunity that God would have planned for me to minister to someone. So I spoke up, engaged conversation, and enjoyed meeting 2 nice ladies. Then we went to the evening session. That evening was also our first night of Steadfast which is where married couples could come and enjoy a snack and get to know some of us from Stonegate and other married couples who had a spouse who was struggling with SSA. Being unsure of how many people to expect the first night we had a great turn out. We would do Steadfast each night from 9:30-10:30ish. We were also going to do some breakout sessions on Thursday & Friday from 3-5.

This was casual greeting....I was going to be in contact with them. So insecure in what to say and how to relate I enthusiastically greeted as couples came in and directed them to our refreshment table. I felt scared. I felt pressure to make my mark. To not miss out on my ministry opportunity. So, I finally engaged in a conversation. Never asking which partner struggled just simply talking about where they were from, if they had children, what they liked to do...etc. Okay, so it wasn't so bad. Bill on the other hand is the outspoken, funny guy who people love. I wasn't worried about him figuring out his part. Before the night ended we were engaged in wonderful conversations and met lots of new friends. Our first night came to an end and we collapsed into bed around 11:30 at night to be up and in the lobby by 7:45 the next morning. I so hoped the time change would adjust quickly because if not I was going to be tired!

I slept good and got up early on Thursday and praised God for Starbucks in our lobby. A grande caramel macchiato with fat free milk is what kept me going all day. We got to the college in time for some breakfast and then went to the general session that morning. Kathy Koch, founder of Celebrate Kids, Inc. spoke that the first morning session. Kathy was such a down to earth, funny speaker who totally felt the same way I did when she spoke at her first Exodus could a non-struggler possibly relate? What could we possibly offer them? Well, she offered a ton of encouragement and insight to my non-struggling soul. Like she said God is God, Sin is Sin... We all have issues. It's the same playing field. God is love! I have my own sins and who am I to classify them? That is my own sin! Just as much as homosexuality is gossiping, over eating, adultery, coveting, pornography, drug abuse...Sin is Sin and God is God, Period!

"For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is a guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws" James 2:10

Thursday morning we took a trip to Sam's to pick up more food for our evening Steadfast as well as flowers and stuff for our banquet that night for all of the Steadfast attendees. So, during the 3-5 Steadfast breakout session Jessi, Jake & I decorated the tables for our banquet that evening. Bill got paired up with Nita (another lady on the team) to lead one of the small discussion groups. I was kind of relieved it wasn't me since I was so...well you know...scared. Once again, how could I relate? Well, we decorated the tables and finished up and headed back to our room to see that the breakout session just ended and the small discussion groups were just being divided out. Oh no....I was going to have to actually engage them on a more personal level. Well, I thought I would just sit in Bill & Nita's group and take in the discussion and maybe I would feel more comfortable to interject here and there. Well, as Bill started asking the questions he decided that we would ALL ANSWER them by going around the circle. I was panicking inside...what if I say something offensive? What if it comes out wrong? What if I turn red? What if I can't get enough air? Yikes! We started going around the circle and then the next person went, then the next, the next and then it was my turn. I was so nervous and I answered the question and I don't even think my voice quivered, haha! That wasn't so bad as I looked to Bill for a little support. If anyone knows me I am not a public speaker, talker, entertainer....I am a behind the scenes kind of gal! Question number 2, phew it was over! I felt like I connected with each person in our group despite my nervousness. Once again I was reminded that these are just people journeying through life and their struggle just so happens to be SSA. It breaks my heart that the church ostracizes them like they have leprosy or something contagious instead of embracing them, guiding them and loving them. Sin is Sin! Who are we as the body of Christ to expell them from the church because of their SSA? Seriously? Don't we serve a mighty God? A God who heals? A God who is a miracle worker? A God who loves each one of us? He is the great provider & is faithful!!!

Instead of eating in the dining hall for dinner we all joined together and ate in the tent and had a catered meal. It was so nice. We sat at a table with a couple that was around our age. We were joined by a couple dating and 2 other who came to the conference alone and the other was just at the banquet alone the rest of his friends were resting. It was such a fun time! We laughed so much and just enjoyed each other's stories and experiences. I think we have swayed them all into attending CPM at Stonegate next Spring. I sure hope they do! I cut out early to man my post at the bottom of the stairs in the general session area as I greeted our guests and checked tags before each session began. We concluded the evening with a Steadfast fellowship time.

Friday morning was much like Thursdays where we attended the sessions and then took a little break and headed back to that outside mall for a bit. We headed back for 2:45 so we could set up refreshments for Steadfast and then Patrick spoke from 3-4 and we had our small discussion groups from 4-5 and today was so much better. It felt easier since we had built relationships with some of the couples and we felt like we were actually connecting with them on a little deeper level. It was so great to see how God was wrecking our perspectives and expectations and drawing us closer to the truth. We were able to experience God's true, all forgiving love! We saw it work in the lives of those around us. We are all just broken people. We were blessed out by the strength people had to expose their innermost weakness and expound upon the hurt and struggles they had and to see wives standing next to their husbands supporting them in their weakness was amazing. We saw such boldness & courage. We were once again reminded that sin is sin no matter what and that we all stand broken before the Lord with our sins exposed no matter what they might be.

"If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness." 1 John 1:8-9

I was super excited about Saturday...not so much for having to BE AT the school by 6:30 in the morning! Needless to say it was going to be a long day. Today was going to be Love Won Out! It has so many general breakouts for people who just want to gain knowledge and become more educated. They also have sessions for those struggling. I was especially looking forward to one titled Practical Tips For Reaching Out! Well, we kicked off the morning with greeting and directing people to registration and then we went to the first half of the general session. Part way through the second half we went and got all of our left over snacks from Steadfast and brought them outside the conference center to pass out to the guests for free. For lunch part of our team went out while Bill & I stayed and had a wonderful bagged lunch and went to that breakout session. Some of the main points I learned were this:
  • As believers we are uneducated and often times ignorant to the heart of Christ
  • The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality it is holiness
  • 5 Common Myths
Homosexuality is the worst sin (Prov. 6:16-19)
Homosexuality is a choice
Homosexuality is all about sex
Homosexuality is determined by one thing
The opposite of homosexuality is heterosexuality
  • As believers we need to evaluate our attitude
  • Just Come-don't we minister to them, too?
  • Cliche-lose them they sound condescending
  • Evangelize-what has God brought you out of?
  • It's all about relationships-be vulnerable.
  • Freedom for others may look different from what you envisioned.
  • Finally, have a plan. We need to reach practically.
After our breakout session & lunch I went & heard Nancy Heche speak. It was a great! We waited for everyone to be done and then headed back to our hotel and got ready for a relaxing evening out on Huntington beach before we caught our plane the next morning.

I hope you made it to the end I know it was very lengthy but God truly gave us a new respect & insight for Exodus. I learned some of my own weaknesses and struggles and learned what I need to work on. I also learned how to relate and that we don't have so much different after all. It's my own critical, judgmental, uneducated spirit sometimes that makes me ignorant. Praise God that everyday is a new day!

"So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor." James 4:7-10

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Healthy Taco Salad

This taco salad will leave your belly full afterwards! It's so yummy! I am sure their are a million taco salad recipes out there but I just kind of threw this one together last night and it was so good! I even had leftovers for lunch today! It seems pretty healthy to me! Hope you try it out!

Healthy Taco Salad

Fresh Spinach
Canned Corn, no salt added, drained
Canned Black Beans, drained & rinsed
Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
1 lb. ground turkey
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 cup whole grain or brown rice cooked according to directions
1/4 cup salsa
sour cream (optional)
cheese (optional)

Brown turkey, drain. Add spice packet according to directions. Cook rice according to directions, mix in 1/4 cup salsa into rice.

In a bowl layer the fresh spinach, black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, and then layer on the rice, but just enough to cover the top. I didn't use all that I cooked. Layer with cooked & seasoned ground turkey. Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese. Once served add a dollop of sour cream as your "dressing" or you could use a dollop of salsa.

While eating it last night I totally could of put some avocado in there too. Bill & I both loved it! Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Greater Joy

As a parent our children bring us joy all the time. Simply watching them play brings me joy. One of my new favorite things is to see Lily snuggling with Bill or laughing & loving on Gabe...such joy. Gabe has been going to VBS this week at First United Methodist Church which has an amazing campus I might add....very beautiful...but also very confusing to get around. He came home from the first day of VBS and told me the entire story of Paul in prison which is found in Acts 16....not just that they talked about a guy in jail. He told me the details of them singing songs, their handcuffs falling off, the earth shaking...he really got the story. Today it was Noah and he told me all about it. It has brought about such great "car talk." We went through the whole holy trinity today...several times! My heart overflowed with joy. My almost 5 year old is grasping God's word. I beg God that Gabe would come to know Him at an early age. I plead for Lily's heart to be captured by our One True Love and that God would protect her from the enemy. For now my heart is over-joyed with Gabe's knowledge of His word & listening to the melodies he sings to our King even though he doesn't fully grasp the love of God. Praise Him!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday & Thursday Dallas Adventures


We took off early in the morning to go out shopping. We headed out on I-30 to see what was around and we ventured out to the Goodwill and scored some great things. We decided to drive down I-30 to see what was around to find our self getting closer to the city so we turned around and then headed back towards River Rd. We detoured off Motley Dr. and somehow got our self twisted around and we headed back to Fair Park for a second time. Ugh! I drove in pouring down rain, on the interstate, with traffic! We made a quick stop to Sports Authority to see if I could find a swim vest for Gabe but we had no luck. So, we kept on going...I think we spent half the day driving and the other half of the day shopping. After much driving & looking we finally found The Children's Place where we found some great deals on kids clothes. I sure wish Midland had one. You can't beat 3.75 for shorts! It is one of my favorite stores for kids. We grabbed a late lunch at Steak 'N' Shake and got 1/2 price shakes. It was so yummy! I ventured outside by box and got the BBQ Burger & it was delish! I also had a carmel turtle shake...yummy! After lunch we found TJ Maxx....wish we had one of those too.

Then we went back to the William's house and my mom and I went to Firewall to top off the night with a little more shopping. We went to World Market! So much fun! We could of shopped their all day but we just stayed a little while, grabbed some popcorn and headed home.


We hit up McDonalds for breakfast on our way to the Dallas Zoo. We ventured through the zoo all morning into the early afternoon. Gabe was kind of clumsy there today. He fell 3 times and once before we left the house and he dropped 2 souvenir cups and blew out the bottoms to them. Thank goodness they were kind enough to replace them for us both times. They were such a great deal because we could get free refills all day with them. I think my favorite part was the baby chimpanzee. It was just so cute and it tumbled and rolled all over the place...adorable! We got to explore everythng! It was a lot of fun but it was super humid which made it tiring by the afternoon. So we came home, had some lunch, relaxed a bit and then played in the pool for 1.5 hours! Lily is fearless when it comes to the pool! She doesn't want any help and would do it all by herself if her legs were just long enough! Gabe is like a fish...when we gets a vest on he is just swimming all over the place! I am so glad my kids love the water!

Over all we had a great day! Getting ready to relax and hang out for the evening before our long drive home in the morning.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday Dallas Adventures

I kicked off my morning with Day 1 of my Beth Moore bible study that I will be journeying through this summer with a group of ladies from Stonegate. I am super excited about it and what God is going to teach me through it.

I came downstairs from my shower to find that Gabe already had some milk, cinnamon rolls were made, Gage had pancakes, Lily some lucky charms and Gabe's cinnamon sugar toast was being buttered as I walked through the kitchen. All by an 11 year old girl! I need to get me one of them, lol! It was so nice. Not only did she take time to get all the kids breakfast but she then cleaned up from it too. I was impressed.

We then all got ready, loaded everyone up in the car, including Autumn and took off to the Dallas Children's Museum of Nature & Science It was so much fun! We got to meet up with Lacy's sister-in-law Jen and her sweet little kids. It was so nice to finally meet her. We got to explore everything from the earth and the human body to digging for dinosaur bones and splashing around on the water table. It was so much fun! I can't wait to get home and upload all of our pictures from it.

We then came home to have some lunch and take a little break. We got a little rested up, threw on our swimsuits and took off to Surf & Swim Gabe & Gage swam so much. It was a blast! They had a great little splash area for Lily with these little jumpers like you would hang in a door way but they were in the fun! They also had lots of things that squirted water, shot water, sprayed fun fun! I think she loved the little toys she could climb on and rock back & fourth and then she would slide back down like it was a slide. She did that like 25 times before someone came along and stole it from her, lol. Gabe was so brave swimming in the deep end with his life vest on. Gage too. I was shocked. They would of gone all the way except that I couldn't reach...I was holding their little adventure back, ha! It was so much fun.

Around 5 we came home to dinner being all ready by Mr. James. We ate and hung out for the rest of the night. I did finally convince myself to get on the treadmill and get a run in before the night was over though! I am so glad I did.

Well, we are off to go shopping today. I am sure I wont have as much exciting stuff to share about this day tomorrow. :-) We shall see!

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Road Trip Details

I tossed and turned all night since Bill was already gone and I finally dragged myself out of bed at 6:15 to get my devotions in before we leave, have some coffee, and hopefully get the car ready to go before the kids get up. This is how it has gone down so far...

Gabe got up, had his milk & cartoon time, got dressed and was ready to go
Lily took a little longer, finally got up, got dressed and was ready to go
Gea showed up, Poppie checked my fluids
I programmed the TomTom in 2 minutes, then another 10 to put the mount back together & get it stuck on the window
First turn out of the driveway...I was already heading in the wrong direction.
Left at 7:45....hoping to be on the road by 7.
30 minutes in & Gabe was already asking if we were almost there yet.
Snacked on some fresh fruit Gea packed which was a big hit.
Stopped at Jack In The Box after 2 hours in to take a potty break, grab some coffee & a snack
Gabe came to the conclusion that Lily has curls in her hair because she ate curly fries
Had some candy...Lily begged for more.
We jammed out to some Latino music, dancing like no one was watching, and pointing, and
laughing. ;-)
Gabe asked some more if we were there yet. Lily begged for more candy!
Had a detour
I almost had a panic attack as to why my car wasn't working come to the conclusion that my mom accidentally shifted my gears into neutral.
Drove next to K-rails, drove slow in the fast lane, hesitated to pass the big truckers...more than once.
Gabe asked some more if we were there yet. Lily begged for more candy!
Stopped once more for a quick potty break.
Drove in traffic.
Finally made it to Rockwall...then got a little lost on our way to Lacy's house...but we finally made it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Keep It Together

Bill has officially left for camp today. I am so glad that we have plans to go visit some friends in Dallas otherwise I think we would sulk and be bored all day. It is kind of lonely packing by myself. Being responsible for all the "guy" duties before a trip along with all of my own duties kind of stinks. I am going to suck it up and actually pump my own gas for once and appreciate my sweet husband who always pumps it for me. I will clean out the car, vacuum it, and wipe everything down. I am going to humble myself and take out the trash. I am going to pack the car. I will use the GPS and drive all the way to first time driving long distance ever. (I once drive 1.5 hours to see my mom but that is the longest I have ever driven...I know I'm quite pathetic. ) I will be sure the dogs are settled and ready for Poppie to take care of them. Then I will start my duties of packing the suitcase, cleaning the house, changing the linens and remembering everything we need including DVD's and we can survive the car ride. I will water my plants once more so they don't die then pass off the responsibilities to my Dad while we are gone. All while taking care of 2 kids. I am so glad God did not intend for us to be alone....I love my husband so much and appreciate all he does to keep me together.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Loving Me Some Jennie-O

Here is a recipe we are going to have for dinner tonight. We tried out the Jennie-O Italian turkey sausage a couple weeks ago and loved it. I am not a big sausage eater but I loved this one. So, tonight instead of the traditional sausage and peppers on a hoagie I am going to do kabobs. I saw the idea in a magazine recently but I am just going to keep it a little more simple.

1 Package of jennie-o turkey italian sausage
1 onion
1 red & green bell pepper
wooden or metal skewers

I slice the peppers & onions up and thread them onto the skewer alternating them with the meat. Throw them on the grill until they are done & voila...serve with a side dish and dinner is served!

I also tried the Jennie-O turkey burgers and they were amazing too. They were very flavorful...just don't over cook them because they aren't very good dry and they don't take long to cook.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Recent Projects

So along with everything else going on lately I have been working on some projects like refinishing a boring white cabinet we had, some curtains, and getting our garden up and running.

This is what the shell looks like. I am still working on the drawers and will post pics when I get them all done.

My Dad and I have been working hard on getting our garden up and growing. Since we had our house on the market we waited and waited to put in a raised bed at our house so we decided to just do it at their house. I started all the seeds at the house and then we brought them all over and planted them at his house. When we had that awful rain storm a few weeks ago it ruined some of my plants so we had to pretty much start over. Our goal of one raised bed has now turned into three. :-) Hopefully we will have lots of veggies to freeze! I am so excited about it. Here are some pictures of what we have so far.

I also have been sewing some curtains for my mom's dining room/kitchen as well as Lily's room but I only have pictures of the kitchen/dingin area.