Monday, January 31, 2011

January Reading

11 in 2011

I made a resolution to read more books in 2011.  Some of you are joining me on this journey and have committed to read eleven books in 2011.  Each month I'll post what I read, and you're welcome to share in the comment section what you've been reading lately too!

Here are the books I read in January!

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic
This is a wonderful book that my mom gave me for Christmas.  It's written by a mom of five children five and under, and it's a quick read (just 102 pages) filled with lots of wisdom to "chew on."  I was blessed by so many of the chapters in this book, and as I read it (twice this month, actually), I kept underlining like crazy and wishing I could post half the book on my bathroom mirror to read each day!  If you read one book on motherhood this year, this should be the book! 

Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman
If you're wondering how you can train your children to be faithful worshippers who love God and His church, you need to read this book!  Castleman explains that children need to sit with you in church, observing your example and receiving your instruction in order for them to know how to properly worship God.  She offers practical advice throughout the book, as well as the biblical basis for her philosophy on keeping children in the worship service.  Tad read this one too, and we both enjoyed it!

Apples of Gold: A Six-Week Nurturing Program for Women by Betty Huizenga
I read this book because my sister-in-law, Stephanie (who needs to start a blog, btw!), is going through the Apples of Gold study at her mom's church.  I wanted to see what this study entailed so that I would know if this is a possibility in our church in the future.  In an Apples of Gold study, mentors (older women) train mentees (younger women) to love their husbands and children and to be keepers at home (Titus 2).  This is accomplished through a six-week program that teaches women how to cook new recipes for their families and disciples them through lessons and one-on-one mentoring.  It's a great (biblical) concept!

Currently, I am reading (I never read just one book at a time!):

Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (re-read; studying all year in our women's Bible study; I'm one chapter in)

Don't Waste Your Life (studying for 10 weeks in our seniors/college students Bible study; I'm two chapters in)

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (I'm about half-way through this one)

Things We Wish We'd Known (50 Veteran Homeschoolers Share) compiled and edited by Bill & Diana Waring (I'm about a third of the way through this one)

I'll share about the ones of these that I finish next month!

So, do tell... what book(s) have you had your nose in this month?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cloth Diapering Full-Time

We did it! We made the transition to cloth diapering full-time!  (We were using disposables at night and sometimes when we traveled.) 

Here's our stash (the diapers we use every day):
-1 bumGenius one-size 4.0 with staps
-3 Fuzzibunz (snaps and adjustable/replaceable elastic)
-14 bumGenius one-size 3.0s (with Velcro)
Total: 18 diapers
(We also have about 25 cloth wipes.)

We use our Planet Wise wet bag to store the diapers waiting to be laundered.  We do diaper laundry every two days and use bumGenius cloth diaper detergent.  After we change Vera's diaper at bedtime, I put in the load of dirty diapers.  I hang the outside pieces to dry on a rack inside, and I dry the inserts in the dryer.  (I'm looking forward to doing some drying outside this spring/summer!)

So that's about it!  I was worried at first that cloth diapering would be a TON of work, but it's become so much a part of our lifestyle now that we hardly notice!  The diapers have paid for themselves by now, and we'll just continue to save money as we use them with Vera and any future babies!

That's how it works for our family.  How does cloth diapering work for you?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Word

(I almost titled this post, "She's Communicating!" but decided not to, since only my dad and brothers would get the slightly obscure Brian Regan reference.) 

Yesterday Vera started saying "Dada"!  She said it yesterday morning when Tad was at work, but later when he was home, she said it again.  When I say "Dada," or "Daddy," she looks at Tad.

It's amazing how much babies understand at this age, even when they are not able to communicate verbally.  When I change Vera's diaper, I say, "hold your feet!" (in the same tone of voice each time) and she grabs her toes, which definitely is more fun than when she used to stick her feet in the dirty diaper.  When I was telling my mom about this on the phone, Vera grabbed her toes even though I wasn't changing her diaper at the time.  It's so neat to see how much she understands! 

I started teaching Vera the ASL sign for "milk" when she was three months old.  I know she knows what it means now, and I'm pretty sure she signed it to me last night at church when she was getting hungry. 

We rejoice with each milestone, knowing that Vera, like each one of us, is "fearfully and wonderfully made"!

I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Soup

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to recipes!  This soup is easy to throw together (I made it in 30 minutes earlier this week) and is surprisingly filling.  I try to keep the ingredients for it on hand so I can make it often!  I buy my tortellini and spinach at Aldi, so it's pretty frugal for me to make.  For us, it gives plenty of leftovers for lunches later in the week.  Hope you like it as much as we do!  (I found the original recipe here and modified it slightly.)

Tortellini Spinach Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken (or vegetable) stock (I use low-sodium or homemade)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, for a little heat (optional)
1 package cheese tortellini (1 lb.)
several large handfuls of raw spinach (around 4 cups, but you can add more or less as desired)
salt & pepper
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot on the stove top over medium. Saute onion in oil until translucent.  Add garlic and saute an additional 1-2 minutes.  Pour in chicken stock and crushed tomatoes. Add red pepper flakes (optional).  Bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook about 3 minutes (follow package directions).  Add spinach and heat just until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
Serves 5-6.  Enjoy!

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Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tatertots & Jello

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Only One Life

We love the kids in our youth group so much we decided to have an extra night of ministry with some of them (in addition to Sunday School, Sunday nights, and Youth Group on Wednesday nights, plus other events/trips).  And because they love the Word of God so much, they (the seniors in high school and up) are choosing to come to our house once a week for a study through John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life.  Whether you're 15, 30, or 85, this book will resonate with you and challenge you to live the remainder of your life for Christ's glory and not your own.

The thing that stood out the most from tonight's study (aside from the iced caramel macchiatos and homemade cinnamon rolls, cookies, and peppermint bark...ahem...) was the concept that only the things we do for Christ matter eternally.

Think about it. The ONLY things that have eternal significance are the things we do for Christ!

Piper shared part of a poem that was influential in his growing-up years:

Only one life, 'twill soon be past;
Only what's done for Christ will last.

I made a printable for the girls in our group (I might also make a more masculine one for the guys), and I wanted to share it with you too!

(Click to enlarge; right-click to save. For personal, non-commercial use only. If posting on your blog, a link back to this post is appreciated.)

Live your life with eternity in sight!

P.S. I'm also writing over here today.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Menu Monday

homemade hummus and tortilla chips
tortellini spinach soup (second time making this...I need to post the recipe!

leftover soup
whole-wheat waffles and fruit

tuna salad plates
southwest chicken wraps (new recipe)

creamy tomato soup (new recipe), grilled cheese
chicken enchiladas (also a new recipe)

with family
totally yummy herb-butter salmon with herb-butter penne and roasted tomatoes that I made last week!

Home Inspiration

We're making some decisions about some major re-dos for our home.  We are saving towards some big projects, so we're in the planning stages right now.

Well, no need to be vague.  We're planning a kitchen makeover (low-budget) and trying to figure out what color to paint the living room.  I thought I was set on the living room colors (warm brown/tan), but I'm backpedaling quickly. 

Here are some pictures that have me inspired lately.

I don't remember where I got this image


Decor blogs that inspire me:
Young House Love
Nesting Place
A Dash of Humble Pie
House Tweaking
Lettered Cottage

Fly Through Our Window

As you can tell, I'm loving grey walls, crisp white trim, white furnishings, and pops of green. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homemade Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

I love granola bars, but because we are trying to buy less processed foods, I stopped getting them.  Sometimes, though, it's nice to have a quick snack to grab on the way out the door.  I have been meaning to make these for a while (original recipe here), and finally got to it today!  They didn't take long... 30 minutes start to clean up (with a 3-hour wait until they're ready to eat).  Whip up a batch today!

Homemade Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup steel cut oats or wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)
2 Tbsp. flax seed
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or try walnuts or peanuts)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey (local, if possible)
4 Tbsp. butter (not margarine)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup dried fruit (your choice: raisins, Craisins, apricots, pineapple, etc.) - I used orange and cherry infused Craisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine oats, seeds, and nuts in a shallow baking dish.  Toast in oven for 12 minutes, stirring mixture every 3 minutes to prevent scorching.

Prepare a 13x9 pan by placing a sheet of waxed paper in the bottom and spraying it lightly with cooking spray.

Meanwhile, heat sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

In a large bowl, combine toasted oat mixture, dried fruit, and honey mixture.  Stir well to coat.

Using a wooden spoon, press mixture into prepared pan.  Cut another sheet of waxed paper and lay over top of the bars.  Press firmly and evenly to help bars stick together.  Allow to cool for 2-3 hours.

Turn pan over a large cutting board and carefully remove the waxed paper.  Using a large chef's knife, cut into bars.  Wrap bars individually or store in a large container separating bars with waxed paper.

Yield: 18 bars

"They look like real granola bars!"


Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tasty Tuesdays
Tatertots & Jello
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vera's Five Months Old!


Our sweet baby girl turned five months old today!  Here are some of her milestones:
-Laughs more often
-Rolls a lot more often
-Discovered her toes and enjoys playing with them
-Loves being read to
-Will sit through most of a church service (on Mommy's lap)
-Still seems to be teething (chews on everything)
-Sucks her thumb!
-Trying to sit up on her own (not quite there yet)
-Soooo aware of everything going on around her
-Takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap
-Goes to bed around 9:30
-Weighed 14 pounds two weeks ago

We love our darling little girl so much!
riding in the bjorn with Daddy on a walk around the neighborhood

Motherwear Review on SIMPLE

Today on SIMPLE I'm reviewing a dress from Motherwear... and giving away an item to one reader!  Check it out here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Mmmm...just thinking about this recipe again makes my mouth water!

Stuffed chicken is becoming my "go-to" recipe, meaning a recipe that I can make without a recipe and using what I have on hand.  You can substitute like crazy when making this recipe; just call it artistic license!  My inspiration came from these two recipes here and here (the mushroom wine sauce with this recipe is fantastic!).

Goat-Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

chicken breasts
goat cheese (or feta cheese or...)
herbs (basil, oregano, Italian seasoning...)
finely chopped onions (optional)
salt & pepper
breadcrumbs (or crushed up crackers)
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Cut a pocket in your chicken breasts (alternatively, you can pound them really thin and roll them up around the cheese filling).

In a bowl, combine goat cheese or feta cheese, herbs, onions, and salt & pepper (to taste).

In another bowl, beat the egg.

On a plate or in a shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs with some herbs (I like Italian seasoning) and a few grinds of black pepper.

Fill your chicken breasts with the cheese mixture.  Dip them in the egg, then into the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat.

Place chicken breasts in a greased baking pan and dot with melted butter.

Bake in a preheated (350 degrees) oven for 25-40 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are.


Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tasty Tuesdays
Tatertots & Jello

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Endeavors

This year, Tad and I are embarking on some new ministry opportunities!

Tad started a new blog for the youth of our church.  It's called The Good Book Before Facebook, and you can read more about it here.  Tad is encouraging the youth to read the Bible each day, and he is writing a short devotional for them to read each day as well.

Tonight Tad is starting a study for the high school seniors (and up) in our youth group.  They'll be studying John Piper's book entitled Don't Waste Your Life.  They are meeting at our house every Monday night.

Tomorrow night, Andrea and I are starting a ladies' study for women in our community.  We're really excited about going through Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book entitled Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free.  We'll be meeting every month at our church and studying a new chapter each month.

We're so excited about these new ministry opportunities!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Baby Bera

That's not a typo... "Baby Bera" is just what Cousin Haley calls Vera.  :)

Andrea took some pictures of Vera this afternoon, and I wanted to share them!  They turned out so cute!

Thanks, Andrea!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mantle Re-Do: Winter White

I haven't put all of my Christmas decorations away yet, but I did re-do our mantle in a fresh winter-white theme!


Things might change over the next few days, but overall I'm happy with how the arrangement turned out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu Monday

Beef Stir Fry

Chicken Marsala

Broiled Salmon, Rosemary Potatoes, Broccoli

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Basil in a Mushroom Wine Sauce

Tacos & the fixin's

Homemade Sausage Pizza

Praying for Your Children

This past weekend I had the privilege of sharing at a women's Bible study in Richmond (started by Tad's mom at Tad's home church!).  The topic I chose was praying for your children, and I thought I'd share a bit of the lesson here as well.

We looked at five prayers from the Apostle Paul and discussed how we can pray many of those same things for our children.

Colossians 1:9-12, "9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light."

Philippians 1:9-11, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God"

Ephesians 1:15-19a, "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe."

Ephesians 3:14-19, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, "To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Outside of their salvation, the main thing we should be praying for our children is that "the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified" in them!

Here is an excellent resource on some other ways to pray for your children from Nancy Leigh DeMoss of Revive Our Hearts:  31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Have a Hard Shell, but a Soft Heart

Being a pastor's wife has its challenges, but so does being a military wife, a politician's wife, a teacher's wife, or a doctor's wife.  With every man's work or ministry, there are things that are difficult on the wife and family, whether it be the hours he works, the amount of time he spends away from home, or the criticism he receives. 

That said, know that the following post is not an attempt to say that being a pastor's wife is harder than any of the other professions I mentioned above.  This is just what I know, and I write from that experience.

Few things are harder than hearing my husband criticized.  I would rather someone tell me to my face that they hate my guts than to hear in passing that they are upset with my husband.  (I know this is not a unique struggle to pastor's wives.)

Recently, the Lord has, I believe, placed on my heart a phrase that He would have me live out.  As I have reflected upon how He would have me live my life as a pastor's wife, I believe I am to have "a hard shell, but a soft heart."

Allow me to explain.  Having a hard shell allows me to deflect the darts of criticism, anger, gossip, dissension and ignore the ways the enemy (Satan, not people) is trying to bring me down.  When I have a soft shell, I get hurt easily, feel wounded, and am bogged-down by the negative things people say about me or my husband.

Having a soft heart allows me to continue to love the people to whom we are called to minister, and to exude grace to those around me.  When I have a hard heart, I become bitter, feel neglected, and am focused on ways to "get back at" people who have hurt me.

To my shame, I get these turned around all the time.  I am a sinner saved by grace and I desire to walk victoriously over sin.  There are days and even season where I stumble, yet the Lord is always patient with me.

My prayer continues to be that I have a hard shell, but a soft heart.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not Down, but Through

image source
I read this poem in Streams in the Desert this morning, and I thought it would encourage you all as it did me!

When you pass through the waters,
   Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our refuge,
   And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself has said it,
   He, the faithful God and true:
"When you come to the waters
   You will not go down, BUT THROUGH."

Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
   Bitter anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
   Sweeping over heart and brain--
They will never overflow us
   For we know His Word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
   He will lead us safely THROUGH.

Threatening breakers of destruction,
   Doubt's insidious undertow,
Will not sink us, will not drag us
   Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise will sustain us,
   Praise the Lord, whose Word is true!
We will not go down, or under,
   For He says, "You will pass THROUGH."

{ Annie Johnson Flint }

"When you pass through the waters... they will not sweep over you" (Isaiah 43:2).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Do You Want More?

Since getting pregnant with and having Vera, people have asked us, "So... do you want more?"  Our answer was and continues to be a resounding "YES!"  Of course, when we respond this way, many people roll their eyes and say, "Well, just wait.  You might change your mind!"

So far, having Vera hasn't changed our mind.  If anything, it's made us more excited about the wonderful little future blessings God has in store for our family!  Every cuddle, kiss, snuggle, smile, giggle, and hug is a constant reminder to us that children are indeed a blessing.

It saddens us that our culture (and, sadly, even the church today) has depicted having children as simply a financial burden or an intrusion on one's personal life.  The Word of God says in Psalm 127:3-4, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth"(ESV).  Throughout the Bible, having children is always seen as a blessing!

For now, we are grateful for Vera and content to continue smothering her with lots of kisses.  We had no idea how wonderful it would be to be parents!  We earnestly pray that God gives us wisdom as we love and disciple Vera. 

And, we will be thrilled whenever God chooses to give us the next member of our family!

SIMPLE Review & Giveaway

On SIMPLE today, I'm reviewing (and giving away!) a product for nursing mothers.  Check it out here!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recommended Reading

As promised, here are some great books I recommend as you prepare your 2011 reading lists!  I'm sure I'm missing a whole bunch of other favorites, but this list is at least a start!

Biblical Womanhood
Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (there is also one called Lies Young Women Believe for teen girls)
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem

Dating/Courtship/Preparing for Marriage
Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
Of Knights and Fair Maidens by Jeff Myers
I, Isaac, Take Thee Rebeckah by Ravi Zacharias
Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

When Sinners Say "I Do" by Dave Harvey
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Sheet Music by Kevin Lehman 

Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
Gospel Powered Parenting by William Farley
Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic
Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman

Humility by C.J. Mahaney
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung (about biblical decision making)
Get More Done in Less Time by Donna Otto
Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Tad's Top Picks - Non-fiction
Fear and Trembling by Soren Kirkeguaard
Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung
Desiring God by John Piper
Grasping God's Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hayes
Conversing with the Emerging Church by D.A. Carson

Tad's Top Picks - Fiction
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkein
11 in 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quick Visit

Last week when I was up in VA visiting my family, I got to slip over to Lynchburg for a couple of hours to see one of my best friends, Kristin! The last time we saw each other was in June at her wedding.

In the last six months that we haven't seen each other, I've had a baby and she has gotten pregnant! Her little baby will be here in June.
It was fun to talk about everything from ministry to babies to marriage and more!  I wish we lived closer to each other, but the Lord is using both of us where He has placed us!

Kristin gave Vera a really sweet little outfit with frogs on it. I love this picture I took of Vera wearing it!
I told Tad we need to plan a visit to Lynchburg JUST to see friends!  But I'm thankful that I was able to see Kristin, even just for a quick visit!

11 in 2011

image source
In my recent post, I shared a favorite quote that speaks of the importance of reading good books.  I've realized that I've been a little slack in my reading since Vera was born, and I really want to step that up this year!  I've started reading a couple of books already, and I want to keep on doing that all year long.

I'd like to encourage you to commit to read 11 books in 2011!  For some of you, this is no big deal at all because you read many more books than that in a year.  For others of you, this might sound like a HUGE goal!  At any rate, setting a reading goal of some kind will help keep you motivated.

Sometime this week I'll post a few titles I recommend if you're not sure where to get started.

Happy reading!
11 in 2011
(Feel free to grab the button.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Printable

Happy New Year!  Are you making resolutions?  While you are, you might want to keep this quote in mind.
This is one of my mom's favorite quotes... and it's so true!  Feel free to save (click to enlarge, then right-mouse click and save) & print for your personal use.
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