Monthly Archives: April 2013

Adoption Day Reflections

It is a busy Monday. A day filled with errands, laundry, picking up endless toys and shoes and books. A day filled with plenty of the usual things that make-up a typical weekday for me.

But it is not a typical day.

Today is my baby’s adoption day.

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Four years ago today, the documents that made my husband and I his parents were signed, stamped, sealed and filed. Official.

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But I have always been his mommy.

So really, April 29, 2009 was simply the day the State of Arizona finally caught up.

My husband and I are over the moon with joy to have our kids and we are blessed to be adoptive parents but we don’t make a big deal on adoption day. Every family is different and for some it is a day for a party and that is wonderful.

For us, it is a quiet day of thankful reflection. No party, no fuss. That may seem strange, but there are reasons.

For me personally, the pain of our journey through the foster care system remains and while that journey has a happy ending, I feel the welling in my chest as I think back on the struggle.

No, the filing of a piece of paper is not what I celebrate. I am happy and relieved to have it but it is not what I celebrate.

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I reflect and I celebrate the moments I spent rocking my son as he attached to his new life.

I celebrate the dimples and the smiles and the energy and the laughter.

I celebrate the hundreds of times I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear as his tiny hand excitedly turned to the next page.

I celebrate all of the memories yet to be made.

I marvel at and celebrate the depth of the love I feel for this child God has blessed me with.

I celebrate the miracle of him.

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April 29, 2009 is not the day Nathan became my son.

He was my son from the moment God placed the desire for him in my heart.

He was my son from the moment I first laid eyes on him and held him close to me.

He was to be my son from the moment he took his first breath.

But he is not my son alone. My son was not an orphan. My son has another mother. Barely more than a girl herself when he was born. My gain was her loss. I think about her today. I’ve thought about her all day. And I’ve prayed for her.

It has taken me a while to get to this place. A place of forgiveness and understanding. And while my heart is bursting with joy at being my boy’s mama, balloons and cake and celebration just don’t fit.

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I think about the day he will ask me about adoption. The day his daddy and I will explain it to him. He is still too young to completely understand what it all means.

I want him to know that he came from her to me not because he was unwanted or because there was something wrong with him but because he is loved by a Heavenly Father who has a great plan for his life.

I want him to know that before he was her child or my child, he was His child.

I want him to know that he healed my broken heart.

I want him to know that it doesn’t matter that the color of his eyes, his skin, his hair are different from mine. He is my son and I am his mommy. God has made it so.

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II want him to know how his sweet spirit and adventurous nature brought life back into our world. Just when we needed it most.

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I want him to know how much his joy for life and laughter consume me.

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I want him to know that I will always be his mommy.

Always.

I want him to know that he will be covered in my love and prayers.

Wherever he goes, whatever he does.

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So while April 29th may be his adoption day, I want him to know that every day with him is a party and a cause for celebration!

Your mama loves you sweet boy. For ever and always. And I celebrate you Every-day.

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The Pizza Night Tradition!

In our house, every Friday night is Pizza & Movie Night. It is “tradition” and it is our favorite night of the week because we have made it to the end of another busy week and get to relax and have fun together.

As a family, we have many “traditions”. It is important for all kids to have some sort of structure, routine and predictability in their daily lives but for kids that have experienced a whole lot of unpredictability, stress and trauma, it is absolutely crucial. So, we have traditions.

Heck, who am I kidding, routine and structure are crucial for me too. I like order and predictability. I am a girl who has a plan and a list for everything. Flexibility is not my super power and I freely admit it. Thankfully, I am not a control freak. I am a recovering control freak who is now able to appreciate the fact that God gave me three little people who are perfectly wired to test my resolve help me grow on a daily basis.

Yup, that God, he’s a funny guy. Have you heard the saying the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans? Well, I am absolutely certain that I provide Him with constant amusement, in oh so many ways. Thankfully, I have learned through His endless grace and constant mercy to trust Him even when the need for plan B or C or even D arises. That being said, I will always have a list or two going. I can’t help myself.

So while control is not the goal (hmmm, alliteration, I’m not usually a fan but I think maybe that should be my new motto), we are still very intentional about how our daily lives are lived. We have to be and meal time is no exception. Every night, we eat together at the dinner table as a family. If daddy is going to be late then the kids eat together and I sit with them and then enjoy dinner with Gary when he gets home. We practice sitting still, eating with manners (and forks) and we talk over our day like ladies and gentlemen; or at least we try.

But not on Fridays.

Yes, built into our structure, routine and predictability is pizza night.

Every Friday night, we eat with our fingers, slurp on a root beer (or a glass of wine – I do try not to slurp my wine but it really just depends on how much “growing” I have done during the week) in front of the TV while we watch a movie. It is messy and a little unhealthy (everyone needs a root beer once in a while) but that is good because it is fun and it is tradition and no body ever said order and routine had to be boring.

Come to think of it, neither does pizza.

Sometimes we order our pizza but often times we make it ourselves. The most fun is to have a bunch of different toppings laid out and then everyone makes their own individual pizza.

Sometimes the crust is homemade, sometimes it is Trader Joe’s dough or my favorite Archer Farms brand Ultra Thin and Crispy, sometimes it is a ciabatta roll, whole wheat tortilla or a piece of pita bread; see, I can be flexible. More and more we make our own pizza. It is just tastes better and after spending $60 or more on delivery only to have each kid eat one piece compared to watching them devour every bit of the homemade stuff, homemade wins.

I’m going to share my favorite homemade pizza with you because I’m the mom and because my pizza is the best. In fact, let’s just call it “Mom’s White Pizza is the Best”, because a) it is a white pizza; b) that is what I dance around and chant after every perfect bite; and c) it is the best.

Then, I will share a list of some of our favorite pizza toppings. Because lists are awesome.

Mom’s White Pizza is the Best (that part can be optional – look at me being flexible)

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Here’s what I do …

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Pizza-Crust-2Decide on my crust. These Archer Farm’s crusts (found at Target) are wonderful. I am totally a thin and crispy devotee and these are convenient, low cal and really good. I have not been asked to endorse this product in any way (hello, small potatoes here) I am just sharing them because I have tried them and think they are great!

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Spread a generous layer of plain old Ricotta cheese on my thin and crispy crust.

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Drizzle on some olive oil.

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And add whatever toppings sound good.

Here I’ve got fresh mozzarella, freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil.

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Bake it according to the crust’s directions. This was baked at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.

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On this one I added a little bit of Sun Dried Tomato Pesto. Amazing.

And there you have it, Mom’s White Pizza; which is not entirely white but we’ll stick with that because of the Ricotta “sauce”. I also love to top it with arugula and fresh halved grape tomatoes, placed on the pizza just after it comes out of the oven.

For the record, while this is an individual pizza, I do not eat the entire thing in one sitting.

Well not unless I have “grown” considerably that day.

Moving on.

A big hit with my kids is a recent discovery.

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I had some left over ciabatta rolls and decided to make pizza with them. I topped them with traditional pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, fresh mozzarella and freshly grated parmesan.

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I just popped them under the broiler and crisped them up (3-5 minutes) and my kids inhaled them. In fact, they have requested them for pizza night again tonight. David wants me to add bacon to his though. I will. Because I love him.

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Serve this ciabatta pizza with a few hot wings, yogurt blue cheese dressing and a side salad and it’s perfect for mom and dad too.

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As for dad, his basic pizza requirements are no white sauce (it has to be red or it isn’t pizza) and it must be covered in jalapeno peppers. Good. But not “the best”.

There are a lot of different toppings that we’ve tried and enjoyed and everyone certainly has their favorites. As promised, here are a list of some of ours (I will let you guess who likes what) …

  • Pesto as pizza sauce
  • Asiago Cheese
  • Romano Cheese
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Red Peppers
  • Hamburger and Onion
  • BBQ Sauce, BBQ Chicken, Cheddar Cheese and Red Onion
  • Caramelized Onions or Shallots and Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Brown Butter Fried Sage Leaves and Sausage

Truly, the possibilities are endless. I would love to know what some of your favorite pizza toppings are and if you have pizza night too or any other fun family traditions.

Happy Pizza Night!

Enjoy! 

No More Bird Watching in my Pajamas!

My sweet husband, apparently unimpressed with my Ninja skills and tired of my less than socially acceptable early morning wild life photography in my PJs, called me in from the backyard this morning to have the kids give me my Mother’s Day present early.

A new 55-300mm lens for my camera. How did they know? You’d think I’d been talking about this lens for months. They know me so well, it was just what I wanted.

You see you have to get VERY close to your subject to get a great picture with an 18-55mm lens. Which is fine when your subject is a cake but when it is a quail, well that’s when Ninja stealth is required.

Giddy, I popped that lens on and raced out the back door; still in my PJs. Here’s what I got …

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I love quail and we have them everywhere!

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This may be an indication that we are getting old but we love to sit on the back porch and watch the birds as they come to the feeder hanging from the Palo Verde Tree in the center of our back yard. We each have our own chair. Side by side. We always sit in the same spot. We are old.

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Pretty soon we will have bird watching books and I will be able to tell you every species of bird that comes to visit.

So very old.

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I can tell you that these visitors are Peach Faced Lovebirds and a Mourning Dove who have landed to enjoy breakfast at the just filled feeder (it will be wiped out in only a couple of hours). There is something in the mixture that the Lovebirds are partial to, you should see the seed fly as those sassy birds fling it out in search of their favorite snack. We joke that they are picking out the cashews – mixed-nut reference, no body wants the Spanish peanuts. I know you know what I’m talking about.

We make bird jokes and laugh at our “cleverness”. We are old.

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Luckily, there is quite a cast of characters gathered below just waiting to clean up the mess.

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I have to tell you about these little guys. I have no idea what they are other than absolutely adorable; remember, I don’t yet have a bird book.  They are still babies but are old enough to fly and are starting to forage for themselves yet are still little enough that they make quite a fuss for their mom’s attention, fluffing up their feathers, flapping their wings and sqwaking for a nibble. Watching their antics is so much fun; could it be because their demands are somehow so very familiar.

Old people use the term “antics” when referring to the actions of the young.

Morning-Doves

This one is my favorite. Mourning Doves, perched just outside the back gate, waiting patiently for me to move away from the bird feeder. Incidentally, I have always thought they were “Morning” Doves until a google search just revealed that they are in fact “Mourning” Doves; boy do I need to get that bird book. I find that somewhat depressing and much prefer “Morning” Doves.

Cottontail-Rabbit

Ooooh, and there was a bunny too!

So for now, I will no longer need to build the “blind” I had planned or sneak around in my jammies and slippers disturbing the wildlife.

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These two pictures were shot a few weeks ago with my smaller lens. I was crouching down taking a picture of a hibiscus blossom when this little guy came in right next to me to get a drink.

I simultaneously heard him and saw him out of the corner of my eye.

He didn’t even know I was there.

Ninja.

Pretty good for an old lady.

Disclaimer: This post was in no way intended to offend the aged. I have three young exhausting children. I am tired. Don’t judge.

Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

As I have worked my way through so many of my grandmother’s incredible recipes, I have come to notice a few things about her “style” or signature touches, especially with baking. Two big stand outs are the use of orange zest and sour cream as so many of her recipes call for one or both.

In her coffee cake recipe there is no orange zest but the addition of sour cream makes for a wonderfully rich and moist cake. I have made the cake a few times now and have been playing around with it, gilding the lily a bit.

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The first time I made it, I made the mistake of questioning grandma Ibby. Why would you want to top the cake with the streusel mixture and then end up with all of the “good stuff” on the bottom of the plate when you invert it out of the pan? So I put the streusel in the bundt pan first in order to have a pretty crumbly crunchy top to my cake. What I ended up with was an unattractive just about burnt mess. Sorry grandma, you do know best.

Still determined to update the recipe a bit and add my own touches, I decided to embrace the current salted caramel craze (a craze I am very fond of by the way) and add Fleur de Sel to the streusel. Let me tell you, that crunchy hit of salt on your tongue mingled with the sweet of brown sugar and spice of cinnamon – glorious. I’m talking Hallelujia Chorus G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.

But how to finish the cake? How to add a little flourish to it without overdoing it or taking away from the beauty of the base recipe. I opted for finishing it with a simple maple glaze and Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze was born; a most welcome addition.

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Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

Streusel

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel or coarse sea salt
  • 1 Cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (I just do it with a fork, not with a mixer) and stir in the Fleur de Sel and chopped pecans.

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Cake Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream

Cake Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Grandma’s Tip: Cream the butter for a few seconds before adding the sugar. Add the sugar slowly, a little bit at a time and then add the vanilla and cream 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated.

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Grandma’s Tip: Crack each egg into a small bowl, not directly into the mixer. This way you will avoid any stray pieces of shell and the potential for a bad egg ruining your whole mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the sour cream; start and end with dry and mix each addition until just combined being careful not to overmix or overwork your batter.

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Take your time, do it right, enjoy the process and  you will end up with one gorgeous batter.

In a prepared 10 inch bundt pan (buttered and floured or coated with baking spray) spoon half of the batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Top with remaining batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with remaining streusel mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto a cake stand or serving platter – make sure your serving dish has enough room for the maple glaze to pool around the cake. Let the cake cool completely (about an hour) before icing with the glaze.

Maple Glaze

Maple-Glaze

  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

MIx together until smooth.

Maple-Glaze-2The glaze should leave a sturdy “ribbon” when drizzled back into the bowl as you want it thin enough to run over the cake but thick enough to form a beautiful icing.

Drizzle over the cake and decorate the top with a few pecan halves or a light sprinkling of chopped pecans.

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Let me tell you what happens with the addition of the glaze.

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It puddles and pools around the base of the cake, seeping underneath and mingling with the salted pecan streusel creating a gooey almost caramel like sauce that is plate licking delicious.

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How I would love it if you could pull up a seat at our backyard picnic table under the blooming Palo Verde tree and enjoy a leisurely late breakfast. Happy conversation, a gentle warm breeze, bird song and the soft buzzing of honey bees in the tree’s yellow spring blossoms.

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I enjoyed just such a morning this past Saturday with a wonderful group of ladies who make up the prayer team I am blessed to be a part of. We spent some peaceful time in the comfort of the spring sun praying together and then enjoyed each other’s company as we shared this very special cake. My grandmother would have loved it; the prayer and the fellowship. And the cake.

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My grandmother’s original coffee cake recipe specified only “nut meats” in the streusel ingredients; leaving the possibilities wide open. I started with pecans, which is the recipe you have here. Next up, a walnut orange combo using the same basic batter and then having a little fun with orange; a bit of a tribute to her love of orange zest. I also have a hazelnut chocolate chip version rolling around in my head. Stay tuned!

Kitchen table, dining room table or backyard picnic table, I hope you find a moment to slow down, gather round and enjoy!

“Our Creator knows just what we need. God, who made food for our provision and pleasure, made the table for our souls.” – Joanne Thompson, Table Life

The Sacred Table

For the past several weeks, I have been blessed to be part of a weekly Beth Moore bible study entitled “The Law of Love; Lessons from the Pages of Deuteronomy”. If you are wondering how the book of Deuteronomy could make for an exciting study, I too wondered the same thing. But I have done several Beth Moore studies and have come to trust that God will speak through this woman in incredibly profound, life changing ways.

What I did not know is just how deep an impact this study would have on me.

Have you ever had one of those moments in church when the sermon begins and the words coming from your pastor seem to be aimed straight at you. Squirm in your seat, how did he know – right at you? “Wow, I feel like he is talking just to me.” He is. No, not he, your pastor; He, He is talking to you. Exactly what you needed to hear. Just when you needed to hear it.

I heard Him yesterday, through Beth Moore’s teaching, as if the entire day’s lesson was written just for me. The understanding and affirmation I have been so desperate for.

I have been struggling lately. Struggling with comparison and uncertainty and I have been praying for clarity and for direction. Yesterday, He answered me. Doubts laid to rest. Uncertainty lovingly reassured. The debilitating whisper of untruth silenced. Affirmation. And I left that bible study feeling like I could burst out of my skin. Freedom.

Even my sweet friend Kristin, who I am just beginning to get to know better, heard how God was talking to me. She may not have realized it but she did because as I walked out the door she shouted “oh, my gosh, I thought about you the WHOLE time today!” Affirmation.

I have been struggling in my purpose. Not with motherhood or my role as a wife and homemaker but with what I need to be doing beyond that. Particularly with blogging. I love blogging and I love writing about food, sharing recipes and family stories. I feel such peace, joy and fulfillment in doing it. As if it were exactly what I am supposed to do at this point in my life. And while it isn’t always easy, it is effortless because it feels so right.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And yet, I have been struggling.

I struggle with the nagging doubt in the back of my head that tells me I am wasting my time. I am wasting God’s time. How can spending so much time and effort on food possibly make a difference in this desperate, hurting world. Should this be what I am putting my heart into when authors like Lysa TerKeurst, Anne Voskamp and Jen Hatmaker are changing the world and women’s lives in profound, soul saving ways?

There it is. comparison. A deadly trap.

I am not Lysa TerKeurst, I am not Jen Hatmaker, I am not Anne Voskamp. I am REALLY not Anne Voskamp; she is so deep and soul wrenchingly poetic. I am sarcastic. Yeah, really, really not Anne Voskamp.

While I am not gifted in the same way these women are, I do share a passion and a heart for women’s ministry and for strengthening families, just as they do. I read the words these women write and I am moved beyond imagination. I want to do that. I want to help like that. I want to change lives like that. Well, I don’t want to speak in front of people – can you imagine? – but I want to make a difference for women for wives for mothers.

With all my heart.

You know this Lord. And you also know that this is what I think about …

Mmmm, what is that extra little bit of spice I’m tasting? That cookie is the wrong consistency, what do I do to adjust it? Oh, my this is good, _____________ would love it, I need to make it for her. We haven’t seen ______________ for a while, we need to have them over for dinner.

Lord, why is this stuff rattling around in my brain? I want you to use me. I am here. Use me. If this is not what you have for me, please Lord, take it from me. Your words. Your will. Not my own. Prayed in earnest and still …

  • What should I serve for dinner tonight?
  • Which family recipe should I try and then share on my blog this week?
  • Should I do a series of posts next week on summer salads?
  • Oh and easy, nutritious dinners for busy moms. I need to start working on that.
  • _________________ is coming over this weekend, I need to get that menu and grocery list planned.

Yup, these are things I think about, with joy and excitement and purpose and guilt. How can this matter. With all the work to be done all the hurt to be healed. How can what’s for dinner matter.

But it does. And He filled my heart with that conviction just yesterday.

Our mission field isn’t always what we imagined it would be. While we are all called to help the poor, the needy and the hurting and to ease suffering, we are not all called to fly half-way around the world to do it; bless o’ Lord those who are. We may be at some point but our current mission field is just that, ours – and it matters.

And yes, some of us are simply called to the table. Yesterday, Beth reminded me that “there is something sacred that takes place at the table” and it is food that brings us together around it.

She referenced a book in her lesson called “Table Life; Savoring the Hospitality of Jesus in Your Home” by Joanne Thompson. Let me just tell you that what she shared from that book was enough to have me on Amazon ordering a copy the very minute I was able to get to my laptop.

As women, particularly women in America, we have ongoing battles with food. We have demonized it, misunderstood and misused it and now, we fear it. We have forgotten that food is a blessing “neither to be feared or abused.” We have forgotten our way to the table and need to remember that we aren’t just there to eat. No, food isn’t just about eating. Food brings us together and when we come together around the table, we aren’t just saying “I need food” we are saying “I need you”.

The table is sacred.

“Every time we are sitting down at a table, we are sitting at one of the most sacred symbols we have. And we are eating before the Lord. The table is not sinful. It is sacred. It is what we’re driving through and eating on the way that is killing us. Everything sitting on that table is a gift from God.”

While these words from Beth Moore were not all said together as I have quoted them, they are the message I heard loud and clear yesterday.

Food matters to you because I have made it so. Because the table is sacred.

“There is something sacred that takes place at the table. The main course at the table is not meat, it is memory.”

It is memory. It is connection. My family comes to the table together every day. EVERY day without fail. I share my home and my table openly and with joy with family and friends; new and old. That is the point, that is why food matters to me; that time around the table, our table. Our table is sacred. “I don’t just need food. I need you.”

He has called me to the table for a purpose. Not for guilt or comparison or pride but for a purpose. He has given me a calling, a passion, a gifting and I have faith in Him to know that He will use it. He has reminded me that nothing is insignificant in His hands.

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Audacious longings, burning songs, daring thoughts, an impulse overwhelming the heart, usurping the mind – these are all a drive towards serving Him who rings our hearts like a bell.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Anywhere the Holy Spirit lands on you is your Canaan” (your promised land). Anywhere.

The Holy Spirit has landed in my kitchen. At my table.

Where has the Holy Spirit landed on you? How does He ring your heart. What passion has He given you? What gift? No matter how insignificant you might think it, especially compared to the gifting of others, it is not insignificant to Him. Ask Him how He wants you to use it. He will put our gifts and passions to use in ways we could never have dreamed, if we seek His will in them and offer them up to Him. Not for our glory but His.

So instead of comparison and doubt, I choose to gratefully accept that right now,  at this particular season, the table and food is my mission field. He can use even my simple blog to His glory and it is not a waste of my time or His. He might even be able to bring people out of the McDonald’s drive-thru and back into the kitchen and more importantly back to the table – miracles still happen, you know.

Incidentally, I popped over to Lysa TerKeurst’s site this morning and you wanna’ know what her most recent post was about? Healthy Summer Recipes. Yup, food. Can I get an Amen!

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” Deuteronomy 8:7-10 (ESV)

Never Tire of Doing Good

With the bombing at the Boston Marathon, our world faces yet another violent, senseless tragedy.

Such an absence of regard for human life.

We get comfortable. We forget or remember less and less. Daily life continues and the realities of the ongoing horrors of this world become removed. War, human trafficking, slavery, abuse, murder, unspeakable brutality. The pain and suffering of rampant disease, hunger, starvation; all a world away.

But this, this jars us awake.

Our own backyard. We are not immune and we cannot live as if we are. There is an enemy and his insidious evil reaches into every corner of this world.

But so does light.

We are all grieving the injury and loss of life in this tragedy. We grieve with the family of an eight-year-old boy. A boy who’s heart carried a message of peace. A life filled with promise. We grieve with a father who right now can’t imagine how he will draw his next breath. How he will tell his wife. How he will help his daughter to cope and to heal. I have fought for that same breath. Not in exactly the same way but enough to know that the next breath will come and then the next and then the next.

I am the mother of an eight-year-old boy who came to my husband and I an abused and neglected toddler only to leave us just after his third birthday, returning to uncertainty; taking my breath with him.

I am the mother of an eight-year-old boy who has experienced the worst of this world. Abuse, neglect, trauma at the hand of the very person who should have loved him the most. But he was not defeated and the next breath came.

I am the mother of an eight-year-old boy who has been delivered from the darkness and who’s light now shines brightly. Piercing that darkness.

Monday afternoon, as I watched the early news reports with him, we talked about what we saw. Not the horrors or the violence.

No, we didn’t talk about you.

We talked about the people we saw helping other people. People rushing to the aide of strangers. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Selfless acts of courage; the best of people. That is what we saw.

We didn’t see you.

We didn’t see an enemy at work. We saw good, people doing good.

And while we watched, do you know what my son said to me? My precious eight-year-old son who has been through so much. “I will be like them mommy. I will run to help.”

He is awake.

I am the mother of and eight-year-old boy who will NEVER tire of doing good.

You have made sure of that.

Your injustice has only made him desire what is right. He will be a “righter” of wrongs.

Your pain and hurt and horror has given him a heart of empathy and understanding; a deep desire to relieve suffering. He has overcome the worst and he will be a light in the darkness.

You have lost.

Yes, another eight-year-old has fallen. His precious life has ended; but still, you have lost. His message is alive. And it has been heard.

Martin Richard Peace

“No more hurting people. Peace.”

If your aim was to strike fear. We are not afraid. We are awake. And you have lost.

If your aim was to devalue, destroy, defeat; know this, the battle has already been won and it is  you that has been defeated. It is written. It is our promise. It is our hope. And we will never tire of doing good.

In the midst of the most unspeakable darkness, there will always be someone there to do good. To shine a light. To shine His light. You have lost. My eight-year-old has picked up the banner of Martin Richard and will carry on. He is awake and he is not alone.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we
do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

Cub Scout Cub Mobile – Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

This past Saturday was the annual Pack 371 Cub Mobile.

Yes, once a year we strap our children into a wooden “go-cart” that is steered awkwardly with the feet, has very little maneuverability, a questionable braking system and is highly likely to be over-corrected and driven into a hay bale or worse, a cactus (yes, I know the singular is technically cacti but it just sounds so weird).

Thankfully, Cub Mobiles do not actually have engines, gravity does all the work; which is enough, believe me.

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Why would any sane parent do this? Because it’s FUN and the kids have a blast!

And Cub Scouts are tough and always up for adventure!

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So every spring, we block off a road, lay out a course, strap our young into a questionable vehicle, load them onto a ramp and let ’em hurl down the street.

Welcome to Cub Mobile 2013

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The Brewer Boys, ready to race!

In Lane 1, Nathan “Shark Attack” Brewer

and in Lane 2, David “Had to Wear my Cool Quad Helmet” Brewer

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But it sure does look cool.

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Nathan sizes up the competition …

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and he’s off. I think his dimpley smile could be seen from space.

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This was his first time racing and he laughed and squealed the whole way down.

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After they launch from the ramp, the boys race to the end (this is another set of brothers racing) of the “track” …

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where should they forget to brake, there is a self-sacrificing dad waiting to catch them.  This particular heroic dad just happens to belong to my kids. Somehow, he always seems to end up in this enviable position, having to catch a hurtling go-cart with a wide-eyed boy who has forgotten where the brake is.

While we do have a few scrapes, bumps and bruises, safety is first and the boys wear helmets, long pants and no flip-flops – in Arizona, you always have to specify NO FLIP-FLOPS when necessary – and the danger is pretty minimal. I was just joking about the “cacti”, those are strategically blocked by hay bales; although those boys seem to do their best to try and hit them.

Really, the greatest danger is to those poor dads who catch the cars at the bottom of the hill. They are rock stars!

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Next year though, we will be adding elbow pads to the list of safety equipment. I don’t have any pictures of David racing because his second run ended in dramatic fashion with a big crash and a pretty nasty scraped elbow. That was enough for him and he was done for the day. Hangin’ at the snack table was a much safer option.

Cub-Mobile-3Meanwhile, Nathan was bouncing himself silly in the bounce house when he wasn’t running up and down the track playing “first responder” at every crash. Giving the thumbs up signal to let us know the driver was okay. He cracks me up.

In the end, a good time was had by all and no Cub Scouts were harmed, well mine was but he’ll live and he has a great story to tell. And, just in case you’re wondering, we did not just close down a city street. Well we did but we had permits and official barriers, which did not stop a few angry neighborhood motorists from expressing their disdain at our great inconvenience to them. I’m guessing they won’t be buying any Cub Scout popcorn at our next fund-raiser.

All I can say to that is …

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and we’ll be back next year.

So, aside from a scraped elbow – incidentally, he would not allow me to put a band-aid on it this morning; he said it was fine and he didn’t need one. I, however, know the real reason – cool points with his buddies; boys, particularly 7 and 8 year old boys, are very impressed by all things scabby and gross. My son will be a hero today. Who am I to stand in the way of his glory with band aids and infection preventing precautions.

Anyway, as I was saying, aside from a few minor injuries,

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a couple of maintenance issues

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and a small zombie apocalypse,

Cub Mobile 2013 was a huge success and a whole lotta’ fun!

Thanks to all of the incredible Pack 371 parents who worked hard to make it a safe and awesome event for some pretty darn great kids; zombies included.