To be honest, I'm being lazy around here! Christmas has been wonderful, and our celebrations get to continue for the rest of the week. I'm not going crazy, I'm simply loving life. As a result, I'm going to take a week off from my Heart For Home Thursday tomorrow. Probably. Unless inspiration hits me at three o'clock in the morning.
While waiting for me to post, I thought you might enjoy some pictures of my sweet Christmas baby! I love her!!!!
It's 3:00 in the morning. I just fed my sweet little baby, changed her as she stretched and kicked in her half awake state. Her eyes open and catch mine. Even in the dark I can see her eyes smiling. My heart melts.
In this moment I pray, "Lord, teach me to worship YOU, in all circumstances, at all times, in every way." It is one thing to find joy in the blessings of life. It is another thing to worship the One who holds all things in His hands.
So Lord, as I kiss those sweet, sour lips, let it call me to worship.
As I play with my nieces and bask in time spent with my dear sister-in-law, let it call me to worship.
As I wash my dishes, make my bed, sweep my floor, let it call me to worship.
As my heart fills with wonder at the lights, the presents, the joy of the season, let it call me to worship.
As I pray for my dear friend, who's arms are empty while they wait to be filled, let her example of worshipping you call me to worship.
As I pray for my friend who's arms are empty after saying good-bye to her precious little one, let her example of worshipping you call me to worship.
As I live today with my arms and my heart filled to the brim, let it call me to worship, not for my earthly blessings, but for the eternal blessing of a loving, gracious and sacrificial Father, who sent His own Son as a baby to be the sacrifice for me.
I think it's easy, while being thankful for the Lord's blessings, to slip into worshipping the blessings instead of the Maker. With this beautiful season as a reminder, let us not forget who really deserves ALL of the worship!
I know I am woefully late in posting Esther's monthly picture since it is the twenty-first and she was born on the third. But here she is! Better late than never!
Esther seems very content to just stay a baby. She's not crawling, or sitting or even rolling yet. If she was my first I know I would be inpatient for every milestone. But she's my fifth, and I'm enjoying my baby!
She still is a rather horrible sleeper, but she is such a darling I don't even mind. She is a joy. Joy. Joy. Joy. We are all totally in love with her.
I knowsay this all of the time, but I have to say it again because it is soooooo true. Every baby that enters our home, multiplies our love many times over. We're not spread thin by our children. We are encouraged, energized and overwhelmed with love. Tiny little Esther makes every day just that much more wonderful!
It may have taken a LONG time, but Mmmmmmmm, this ones a FAVORITE!!!
8 baked potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. chicken bouillon
2 cups hot water
Cooked, crumbled bacon
It's best if the potatoes can be baked ahead of time and then cooled, peeled and cubed. The bacon too should be cooked ahead of time. Now I've made this soup MANY times at the last minute, throwing the potatoes in the microwave and then burning my fingers as I try to peel them. It works. It's just not preferable.
Melt butter in a pot. Add chopped onions and saute until tender. Mix together flour, basil, salt and pepper then dump into butter and onions. Whisk together and then slowly pour in hot water with the bouillon mixed in. Bring to a boil while whisking. Reduce heat and stir in the cooked potatoes. Add milk until you reach the desires consistency (pretty thick !).
Top with Bacon, cheese and sour cream. I usually mix the bacon into the entire pot, that way if there are leftovers, it is all mixed together!
Everyone loves this soup. At least everyone says they do. I've given this recipe out more than any other recipe ever!
I hope you all have had a wonderful week. It's been a little up and down for me, but it's always good for me to get back here and be reminded that I truly am blessed. And you all are a great blessing to me!
It's true. I skipped "Heart For Home Thursday". And it wasn't totally an accidant.
Yesterday was pretty busy. The morning was spent baking, and then we girls all loaded up to take Daddy his lunch in town and to go shopping. If you've never tried it, going shopping with five little girls is quite the adventure. I love it! But it is SUPER slow. Five car seats to buckle, unbuckle, buckle, then unbuckle again. You walk slowly through the store and take twice as long to make any decisions because there are just a few interruptions along the way. But it really is fun.
After coming home, we unloaded the van and then got ready to go to Auntie Anna's basketball game.
Wooohoooo!!! We bring the cheering squad! The team may have lost, but Anna did GREAT!!!
We got home for a late dinner, and then it was my time to blog.
But then it hit me. My heart really was for my home. It really was for my FAMILY. At that moment it really wasn't for my blog. So I hope you will all forgive me! I am still going to post that last soup recipe and I will resume with my usual "Heart For Home Thursday" posts next week, but I'm not going to feel any guilt this week! Thanks for the love!
A friend brought me this soup after I had just had Bethany. I fell in love with it instantly. A few months later I stumbled across the recipe and I've been enjoying it ever since!
Start with 2 cups sliced carrots, 2 cups chopped potatoes, 1 cup chopped celery and 1 chopped onion. Cover them with water and boil until tender. (If I have chicken bouillon on hand I usually add a tsp. while boiling, but it's not required.).
Ladle 1/3 of the cooked vegetables and broth into the blender ( cooling beforehand would be ideal, but I never take the time to do that! If using hot liquid, BE CAREFUL!!!).
Cover and puree until smooth.
Add pureed mixture to the rest of the soup (I know it looks strange, but it's going to taste great!).
After mixing these vegetable components together, add 1 cup grated cheddar cheese and 1 cup diced ham. Season to taste with salt and pepper (wait until AFTER the cheese has melted though as it adds it's own saltiness!).
Mmmmm! This is my idea of the perfect chilly afternoon bowl!
(This is for you Charlene M.!) I grew up eating this soup. Often. Probably because it it soooooo easy to make, the ingredient list is super short and because none of us ever got tired of it. It always sounds good!
First, dice up some peeled potatoes (I do about 1potato per person that will be eating). Boil them until they are tender and then drain off the water. Add 1 qt. frozen corn (last time I added 2 qt. which made it EXTRA "corny" but I liked it that way!). Add 5-8 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled or cut into tiny pieces. Now simply add milk to the desired consistency, warm and season with salt and pepper.
(I have started adding a couple tablespoons of butter or a dash of whipping cream to give it an extra richness, but it is not crucial!)
My stomach is growling!!! All my girls love this soup too (and apparently friends who come and visit!).
I love this soup. It's simple. It's quick. It can be made way ahead. Leftovers are as good as the first time around.
2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I prefer "petite diced")
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
1 qt. bag frozen corn
1 lb. browned ground beef
1 chopped onion
2 cups water
1 envelope taco seasoning
salt to taste
(If you are a normal person, you would probably add kidney beans too.)
Put everything in a pot and cook until onions are tender (or keep in the crock pot all day, or simmer on the stove for HOURS! You can't really hurt this one!).
Top with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.
Okay. I confess. I took the picture and then added more sour cream. I like it best when it's good and creamy!
I was introduced to this way of making stew when I started going camping with my in-laws. After a full day of camping this ALWAYS hits the spot. I came home from our last camping trip so in love with this stew that I decided to make it at home too.
Now, I'm almost embarrassed to tell what I did in the making of this soup. Something completely unheard of in the Willamette Valley. I BOUGHT zucchini!
For me it is the part of the soup and I just couldn't do without it!
In a pot add 1lb. cooked ground beef, diced potatoes, sliced carrots, chopped onions, chopped zucchini, 14 oz can of tomato sauce and as much water as needed to cover everything. Now, when cooked over a campfire it takes on a delicious smokey flavor so when I make this at home I give the pot a few splashes of liquid smoke. Bring to a boil and simmer until everything is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
I really really really love my life. Being a wife and a mommy is more than I could ever dream of. Then just when I thought things couldn't get any better, God made me an auntie too!
There is something so unbelievably fun and joy filled about having such a special role in these precious little one's lives.
Jonathan, Laura, Talia and Eliana came to stay with us last weekend so we all drank up our time with them. The girls are growing sweeter and more precious everyday. Talia knows all of our names now so that makes us all feel especially loved!
Talia and Ella are only two and a half months apart, and already they are turning into great little buddies!
And of course we are pretty crazy about this little man too! We can't believe our little Caleb boy is almost a year old!!!!
This is one of those " It can't get any easier" soups that just always hit the spot. My mom would make this when I was growing up, and I love it as much today as I did then.
I start with a thawed package of stew meat (about 1 pound). I trim off the large pieces of fat and cut the meat into bite size pieces. I put it in a pot of water and simmer for H O U R S!!! The longer the better! Watch your water level periodically and add more as needed. After the meat is falling apart and tender, add chopped carrots, potatoes and onions. After the veggies ahve cooked, mix about 1/4 cup flour with some water until you have a thick mixture, then slowly add it to the boiling stew, stiring as you pour. If it's not thick enough, mix some more flour and water and add more slowly. If it's too thick, just add a little water. Once it's the right thickness, season liberally with salt and pepper.
That's it! YUM!!!!!!!
(Yes, I eat soup while my husband cleans his gun!)
I know you've heard it probably a hundred times from me, but I LOVE SOUP!!!! Now that it's cold and chilly outside, we're eating soup here TONS!!!
I thought it would be fun to share just a few of my favorites over the next week. Now, I'm no gourmet here. I'm not even a Pioneer Woman. But these are some of my easy favorites that are practical for a big family and ones that all my children enjoy too!
I'll start out with one of my VERY favorites!
This recipe came from my mother-in-law. I didn't try it until last year, but now it is a favorite of all of us. Even my sisters get excited when there are leftovers in my fridge! I'm a known "tweaker" of recipes, but I've only changed this one slightly.
1 lb. ground beef
4 medium carrots~ sliced
1 large cup onions~chopped
2 cups celery~ chopped
1 small cabbage~ chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
5 cups water
3 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 cup uncooked rice
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf
Brown the ground beef. Put all of the ingredients in a pot. Bring it to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Make sure veggies and rice are cooked, remove bay leaf and ENJOY!!! I recommend starting with a small bowl. cause you'll want seconds. And maybe thirds.
Mmmmm! Makes me hungry!!!!!! This is one of those soups you just want to EAT!!!
Our family has attended the same church our entire married lives. David has gone there since he moved to the area when he was three. My family attended there before I was born, until my dad started a small church in our home town, then when that church closed we went back to our home church. The body of believers there truly are family and we are tremendously blessed to be able to worship together with them. Both of our families attend there, as well as my grandparents which makes four generations often in one pew.
I could go on forever about things I love about our church, like how the beautiful women who used to babysit me and even my dad now get to hold and be a part of my children's lives, but the thing that I am most thankful for these days is the heart of our pastor and his commitment to preach the word of God.
He has been teaching through Galatians these last few weeks and it has been challenging me daily as I think over what he has been drawing out. Mostly, the whole concept of freedom.
Over and over we have been encouraged to watch out for the two enemies of freedom. Legalism and Lawlessness.
Galatians 5:1~ It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:13b~ only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
I think these hit home especially hard for me as I can see them both regularly creeping up in my life. Legalism is a direct affront to the grace of God. Galatians 2:21~....if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly". There is absolutely nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous before the Holy God. Any attempt to do so makes us guilty of attempting to water down the all sufficient sacrifice of Christ. How I dress, speak, eat, live does not make me any more worthy of salvation then anyone else.
But then we swing to lawlessness. We see it all the time. We see it because we DO it! Because I am free in Christ, does that mean I can do anything I want? Listen to whatever music I choose, watch that tv show I know promotes sinfulness, dress in whatever fashion I choose? I guess that depends on your view of freedom.
Galatians 2:20~ I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The truth is, there is no "free zone". Anytime we choose to live how "we want to live" because "we're free to do whatever we want", we choose to be slaves to sin. When I choose to live for Christ, my choices reflect my love for Him. I choose to dress, speak and live in a certain way, not because I'm bound by law, but because I'm in love with my Savior and I can't bear breaking His heart. How I wish that was true of me every moment of every day!
Obviously these play a role in our big, life changing decisions, but how do we allow them to shape our every day lives? First of all, it looks VERY different for different people. It shows up in little areas we not have even considered. I found that the main reason I was holding onto not getting my ears pierced was some warped sense of legalism and pride, something I wanted no part of. Focus on looking at your own life.
Please encourage me as you can to not run in either incorrect direction, but to joyfully rest in the grace of God and to live a life of love. I'll try and encourage the same in you!
While it's true that most of my days are spent quite happily at home with my wonderful girls, occasionally I find my inner wild side and have a day that surprises even me!
Last Friday my sweet sisters arranged for my mom to watch my girls so we could all go Black Friday shopping. I had never been before and I wasn't quite sure what I was jumping into. But ready or not, Rachel, Anna, exchange sister Jana, friend Tessa, Esther and I headed to the mall at 6:00 on Black Friday. Turns out, 6:00 is actually amazingly tame on Black Friday. Seems we missed the "stay up all night" die hards, and beat the "let's sleep in and then go to the mall" crowd. It was great!
We may look like fun and games, but we're really rather serious.
Esther was a fabulous little shopper and all the extra arms were wonderful!
It really was a day of firsts for me.
Yep. Got my ears pierced for the very first time. It was premeditated though! Now you can all buy me earrings for Christmas, although I wont be able to wear them for 6-8 weeks. Bummer!
There are really only a few times and places my crazies come out. Mostly girl parties at the Thomas' house and late nights with my sisters. Now added to that list, Black Friday shopping with the nearest and dearest!
I've been sooooo excited about this week!!! It's going to be my week of "Rapid Fire Stocking Stuffers!". Here's how it is going to work. Between now and next Saturday, I'm going to post several small giveaways at random times. The person who is the first one to comment on that post, wins! Got it?
See the post with no comments, COMMENT and it's yours!!!!! But check back often, because you never know when another giveaway might pop up! The great thing about this series of giveaways is that even if you never win, all of these items can be found at http://gracenotes.biz/ for $5 or sometimes much, much less. Perfect for stocking stuffers or small gifts!
The first rapid fire giveaway is for a set of these Winter Wonder Mini-cards w/ envelopes.
Be the first to leave a comment and their yours!!!!!
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
In whose hands are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! No matter what our earthly circumstances, let us never fail to remember that we are more than abundantly blessed. We serve a great and mighty God, who loves us, died to redeem us, and who is coming back to take us to Him. Every day we live in an outpouring of His indescribable grace on our lives. Praise the Lord!!!!
Today..... I'm realizing that Saturdays were not the best days to plan on changing out my giveaways. I think I've missed every single one! Last week's winner was...... MARSHA!!!! Please e-mail me at email@example.com and I will send you your Candy Cane Sugar Scrub.
Today..... I'm deciding to wait until next Friday to start my final giveaway (it's going to be TONS of fun so when you're making leftover turkey sandwiches, make sure you drop by and check it out!!!)
Today..... I'm enjoying my beautiful Bethany and remembering five years ago when she was born. In fact, right now I'm still wrapped up in a blanket and my pj's, getting ready to pull the coffee cake out of the oven for our pajama tea party birthday breakfast/brunch.
My birthday girl!!!
Today..... drink some tea, smile, paint some toes, give loads of snuggles, or whatever else you can think of to enjoy this amazing life God has blessed you with. Remember to be thankful for the incredible grace poured out on lives through Jesus!