Monday, June 19, 2017

She Gone

Well, it is official.  Madison moved out of our home this week.  This may be a shocker to some of you, and it was a shocker to me as well when I heard her idea for the first time.  She was welcome to stay in our home as long as she wanted, but she wanted to make the choice to move out and live on her own.

I have always been one of those moms who did not like to mix the colors of the Playdough together.  The red Playdough should never get mixed in with the green.  Do you know what I am saying to you?  Those that know me well can totally see that I am that kind of person I am sure.  However, if each emotion I felt this week were a certain Playdough color, my emotions would be a big mixed-up ball of rainbow Playdough!

I have run through excitement for her, sadness, tears, hurt, fear, doubt and back full circle again to excitement.  The first night she slept in her apartment, I was up for at least 3 hours of that night.  I stared at the ceiling.  I got up around 3 am to eat a snack, because I had been up so long I had gotten hungry.  I tossed.  I turned.  My mind would not turn off!  I prayed.  I worried.  I shed a few hot tears.  

I am one of those moms who will stay up until all of my kids are home.  Having two teenagers in my home, sometimes that can be kind of late, but I know I will not be able to sleep well unless I have "all of my chicks in the nest" as I like to say.  How many times has one of my kids come in the door, and I will then say, "Now, all of my chicks are in the nest."  I will then proceed to lock the doors, set the alarm and go to bed.  

That night all of my chicks were not in the nest nor would they most likely ever be again.  The questions would not turn off.  Had I done enough?  Could she afford to live out on her own?  Does she have a good lock on her door?  What if something happened to her?  Did I truly trust God more than my fears? My baby girl was out on her own, and I can say that most of what I felt was fear for her.  I have spent all of my life as a mother protecting my kids from what I thought or knew could hurt them, and now I had no control.  She was truly in God's hands now.

When I woke up in the morning, I was truly exhausted and decided to look at Facebook while I tried to pry my eyes open.  What did I see on there but words of encouragement from my sweet friend, Melissa, who wrote the following words to me.

"...So crazy how fast time goes.  People tried to tell us but I really thought I would potty train FOREVER! You've raised an incredible girl! This next stage of parenting brings with it so many great joys! Parenting an adult, from my perspective, has been character building for me to trust the Lord with what I don't know but it has also been incredibly fun! I wouldn't trade it. Enjoy this process friend, the Lord is with you!"

Tears filled my eyes.  God knew exactly what I needed, when I needed it, and who I need it from.  Melissa and her husband are who would take our kids if anything ever happened to Carl and I.  I trust their parenting and their devotion to the Lord implicitly.  These words permeated my spirit.  God would watch over her just as He always had.  Her age and her location would not change that fact. He would also give me whatever wisdom I needed as I crossed this new bridge of parenting an adult.

Carl moving Madison's stuff

We met Madison at the mall later that same day.  She beamed her beautiful smile, and I hugged her so big and so tight.  When I asked her how her first night was on her own, she said she had a great night in her new apartment.  She also proceeded to tell us later that she had gotten a promotion and a raise that very day as well so she would have more than enough money to afford her rent and other expenses. 

God is so good.  There are those moments in my life when I worry and wonder if He has got me, a particular situation or someone else.  Why do I doubt?  Why do I worry?  I think He just might have Madison and I right where He wants the palm of His hand!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34, NIV

Monday, June 12, 2017

Taco Pasta Shells

This recipe is so good it will make your tongue want to slap your brains out.  OK, maybe that is a little extreme, but let's just say that this recipe is super duper delicious. 

This is definitely a family favorite.  I got this recipe from a friend to use as a freezer meal.  You wouldn't think that pasta would make a great freezer meal, but this one really does. 

Taco Pasta Shells

1 pound ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning mix or 3 TBSP in bulk
3/4 cup water
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
12 jumbo pasta shells, uncooked (plus a few extra for breakage)
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 can enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese

In a medium skillet, brown ground beef and drain.  Return meat back into skillet.  Add taco seasoning and water.  Simmer taco meat for 5-10 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed/evaporated off.  Add cream cheese and simmer until cream cheese is melted and incorporated into the meat.  Remove meat from the heat.  Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven, cook jumbo shells in boiling water.  I usually add a few extra shells just in case some shells fall apart or break during cooking.  Cook according to package directions.  Drain the shells and return to pan with the butter.  Toss shells gently with melted butter until shells are coated.  Careful!  The meat and the shells will be hot, and now you have to stuff the shells.  I use a latex glove (not the powdered kind) to protect my hand from the heat.  Take a shell and add a heaping tablespoon of meat into each shell.  If you have extra meat left over at the end you can distribute more meat into each shell until all the shell are pretty evenly filled.  

Place shells in a greased 9 x 9 baking dish.  Pour the enchilada sauce over the shells.  Top with cheddar cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and shells are bubbly.

Tips and Variations
  • You can use ground turkey instead of ground beef for a lower fat version.
  • You can use fat-free cream cheese instead of the full fat version.
  • You can serve this with an easy corn succotash type dish.  I drain and rinse a can of black beans, a drained can of corn, and 1 cup of salsa.  For the spices, I use cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.  I fry it up in a skillet until warm and bubbly.  Easy peasy!

  • You can double this recipe.  One to eat that day and one to freeze.  This does freeze really well.  Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until bubbly.  It will need to cook longer due to being cool from the refrigerator.

Enjoy, Andrea

Monday, June 5, 2017

Pomp And Circumstance

It is official.  Madison graduated this weekend!  What an incredible experience to watch your child walk across a stage and know all of the education they technically have to complete is done.  What profound knowledge to know that your job as a parent is slowly coming to an end.  What a mixture of sadness and excitement to see her walk out into the rest of her life and wonder what the Lord might have planned for her.

I am excited for her, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive or nervous for her future.  She's still my baby.  Not a real baby I can hold in my hands, but she is still that to me in my heart.  

A million questions have been going through my mind.  What if she gets out in the big wide world, and she doesn't know what to do?  Who is going to keep her safe?  Who is going to make sure she comes home at night?  Have I given her the tools she needs?  Have I done enough?

I posed that worry to a friend last week who quickly told me, "Yes, Andrea, you have done enough.  You are a good mom."  I sure hope so.  She is a good girl, and I am super excited to see what God has in store for her!

We celebrated this weekend by having a BBQ at our house after the graduation with family and friends.  My mom and mother-in-law were there so that was super special to us.

One of our friends created this beautiful verse on our chalkboard for her graduation party! 

I need to remember that my plans and hopes for my daughter pale in comparison to the plans and hopes that God has for my daughter.  I look forward in expectation to what God has planned!  They are unknown to us but known to Him.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11, NIV 

Monday, May 29, 2017

What We Take For Granted

Memorial Day is a day where we remember those who have lost their lives serving for our country.  They have given their life so that we can live free in America.  It is also a day in my family and many others for remembering those who have passed on.  

I know my mother and grandmother would always talk about putting flowers on my great grandparent's graves.  Family members who had passed on would be talked about.  It was a day we remembered all of those who had passed on before us not just the people in the military.

This weekend we went to Carl's dad's grave.  Someone, we think the VA possibly or another group, had put flags on every gravesite in the Veterans' section of the cemetery where he is buried.  The scenery was beautiful, and I was just so glad he was there in such a beautiful spot.

I went exploring around which is what I like to do when I go to a cemetery.  I like to see the death dates, the marriages, and the inscriptions on the stones.  It is a glimpse into the lives of the people that are there.

I came around a tombstone and there 3-4 feet directly in front of me was a coiled up rattlesnake, rattling, hissing and ready to strike.  I froze for a split second to register what I needed to do.  Without even thinking about it, I concaved my chest and stomach, arched my back, flanked both of my arms along my sides and backed away slowly.  One slow step at a time.  I wonder in hindsight if I was trying to defend my kids who were somewhere behind me.

I called to the kids to stay back.  Lauren thought I was telling her to stay away from a big bee, because she could hear what she thought was a buzzing sound.  Nathan did come around to see it too.  Talk about an adrenaline rush.

It has been a very interesting week for me.  I saw a dear friend have an accident where I had to call 911.  I walked up within a few feet of a rattlesnake.  This week has really shaken me up.  It really has reminded me how quickly life can change, how life is fragile, and how much I take it for granted.

I take for granted I am going to be ok when I get in the car.  I take for granted I am going to be ok when I walk around the cemetery.  I take for granted I will live to see another day.  I take for granted that I will live a long life when maybe that will not be true at all for me.

Today in the car as we were driving home, Carl and I couldn't help but think about those who have passed on before us and talk about it.  Carl said, "Do you know we have seen a generation and a half pass on since we have been married?"  Then he said emotionally later, "Unless we die together, one of us will be without the other."  

It is sad, when I think about what that means for me in this life.  I can't even go there in my mind.  However, what really matters is where we stand with God in the end.  That is what is eternal.  So, we better be ready and be right with God.  

Hug your family tonight and truly know that you are blessed to have them.  Pick up the phone and ask for forgiveness if you need to set a relationship right today.  You might not have tomorrow to do it.  Tell your parents everything you would want them to know or want to say to them.  As someone who has done this, I can't tell you how much peace this has given me.  Don't take your loved ones or your health for granted. 

"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." 
Job 12:10, NIV

Monday, May 22, 2017

You're Going To Win A Trophy For This

With Mother's Day in the rearview mirror, it is easy to peruse the posts on Facebook or Instagram from that day and feel less than.  With Pinterest perfection glaring all of us moms in the face, it is easy to beat ourselves up by feeling that we could do better and are not good enough. 

Is it true?  Could I do better?  Yes, sometimes it is.  I could do better.  Sometimes, I don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything, but my daughter wants to go swimming at the gym.  I say no, but I really could take her if I would put my own wishes aside. 

Those are the things I beat myself up over.  Being selfish.  Not discipling enough or discipling too hard.  Having too much grace or not having any grace at all.  Have I asked too much of them or not asked enough.  Those are the things which I beat myself up over in my heart and mind.  

The truth is that no mother is perfect.  I am not the best mom ever, but I am a good mom.  

I remember when Lauren was about 3 or 4 years old, she had gotten up in the middle of the night and was sick.  I can't really remember the circumstances of why she was ill, but I remember being up with her for quite a while.

I remember rubbing her brow with a cool, damp washcloth.  The only light shining in the darkness of the house come from a nightlight plugged into the wall.  I will never forget how she reached up and stroked my cheek with her little hand, and said, "Mommy, you're going to win a trophy for this."

There have been times in my life (and probably in yours too) when someone says something to you whether it be a friend, a family member, or a pastor, and you know beyond a shadow of doubt that God has just used them as a vessel to give you a message.  God had just spoken through them.

In that moment, my heart was caught up in my chest, and tears welled up in my eyes.  The truth was I was tired, and I selfishly wanted to get back into my bed.  My snoozing husband would have no idea the amount of time I had been up that night with our daughter.  My other two children would not know.  There would be no pics on Facebook or Instagram, but God knew.  God saw my sacrifice.

The unseen and unsung moments are what make great moms.

These are the unseen and unsung moments that makes great moms.  Those hours in the middle of the night where we are changing soiled sheets, taking children to the doctors, making homemade birthday cakes, snuggling while watching a movie, spending two hours in the kitchen to make dinner, or giving a child some discipline they desperately deserve. 

God knows and He sees all of the unseen and the unsung moments.  I don't know if I will receive a trophy for being a mom, but I do know that God knows and sees the sacrifices I make.  My trophy would be to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  Now, that would be perfect!

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 
1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

About a month ago, Madison was out with her beau, and I texted her to let her know they could come have some Chicken Pot Pie for dinner.  She thought I meant a frozen Banquet Chicken Pot Pie so they treated themselves to some fast food instead.  When they came in the door, they were disappointed to learn that what I had been talking about my homemade version.

This is definitely a family favorite in our house and is usually gone within a 24 hour period.  Get ready for some yum!
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups milk
3 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

2 cups Bisquick
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
1 stick butter

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender.  Add the flour, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce and basil.  Stir in the milk.  Bring to a boil.  Stir for 1-2 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.  Add chicken, peas and carrots.  Spoon into large greased baking dish.  Mix Bisquick, milk and butter together in a medium bowl for the topping until smooth.  Pour evenly over the chicken filling.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling around the edges.

Enjoy, Andrea

Monday, May 1, 2017

Prayer Pyramid

What is your prayer life like?  Maybe your prayer life is on fire like Clara Williams from the War Room movie.  Maybe you don't ever nod off to sleep when you close your eyes to pray.  Maybe you never drift off in your thoughts onto what your grocery list should be when you pray.  Maybe you never sit and wonder what to pray for next.

Maybe your prayer life is great, and if so, I am so glad for you.  However, I am one of the ones who might nod off occasionally or get sidetracked into thinking about so many other things which have no place in my prayer time.  If you are like me, I might have something to help you.  I know, because it sure helps me.

Two years ago, I was able to get a Prayer Framework sheet which was created by a wonderful mentor of mine named KJ.  He gave me the Prayer Framework which has helped me to keep track of what I need to be praying about, intercessory prayers, reminders to pray for our nation, our military, etc.  I have used this tool so many times that by the end of the year my copies are ripped and tattered.  

The goal of the prayer framework is to pray for yourself first so that you can be filled up enough to pray and intercede for someone else. 

"I pray for my own soul first. Not because I am more deserving than others, but because if God doesn't awaken and strengthen and humble and fill my own soul, then I can't pray for anybody else's. So I plead with the Lord every morning for my own soul's perseverance and purification and power." 
John Piper 

I have reconfigured the framework into a Prayer Pyramid.  I write specific prayers on the side, if needed.  I write the names of friends and family who need prayer in the Friends/Family box, I write the names of all of the staff members of my church in the Church box or church members who need prayer.  I write the name of our president in the Nation box to pray for him.  I write things I am struggling with in the Self box.  

I print it out, fold it up and put it my Bible.  I write names on it as the year goes on for new prayer requests and start a new one at the beginning of the year.  It is neat to look back and see all of the answered prayers, and it is a good reminder to look back and be reminded of the prayers which will never drop off of your list.

Click below for your downloadable copy of the Prayer Pyramid!

I hope you enjoy the Prayer Pyramid as much as I do, and it proves to be a useful tool for you.  When you find something good that works for you, it is natural to want to share it.  I am thankful to KJ for sharing it with me, and now I am thrilled to be sharing it with you.  I hope it is a blessing to you.

Blessings, Andrea

"Christ Jesus who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Romans 8:34b, NIV